[OPE-L:1760] Re: Definitions and subject matter

Paul Cockshott (wpc@clyder.gn.apc.org)
Sat, 13 Apr 1996 14:07:24 -0700

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Jerry [1722] asks if capitalism is not a representation
in thought (a "abstract concept") of an underlying
material and social relationship?

It is now. In 500 years one hopes it will not be.

He also asks if it was only Marx's mode of presentation
that was idealist. Was Marx's mode of investigation
not as well?

I think that Marx's mode of investigation probably was.
But this was an accident of history: that he was German
and had had an early 19th century German university
education. People bring to their subject matter such
conceptual tools as they have available.
Today we have a lot more tools available to us, so
we should not demand that such hegelianism persists.

Insofar as it exists today, it is a second hand
reflex of Marx's own training revealed in his work,
an affected anachronism that all too often disguises
an ignorance of the conceptual tools of the modern
scientific world view. This is somewhat ironic given
the meticulous care that Hegel himself took to acquaint
himself with the sciences of his day shown in his
Philosophy of Nature.