[OPE-L:4668] Re: Books 4-6 Revisited

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Tue, 8 Apr 1997 05:16:30 -0700 (PDT)

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Mike W wrote in [OPE-L:4663]:

> >Within a systematic dialectical presentation, how would you go about
> >ordering the more concrete determinations of these subjects?
> Not in advance of creating the presentation. A dialectical systematic
> presentation is not a Friedmanian filing system into which categories are
> to be sorted.

I'm not sure I understand what a "Friedmanian filing system" is ... but,

a) I think that the process of interrogation and investigation extends
into the process of creating the presentation. I.e. in the process of
presentation, one develops ideas and their inter-relationship more
concretely. In other words, when you begin to "present" a subject, you
also revise and deepen your understanding of that subject -- and often
realize that further investigation is required. This is, of course, part
of the challenge of both investigation and presentation. I believe that
this was a major reason why it took Marx so long to write and re-write
_Capital_ (see Beamish book for examples).

b) It seems to me that once one has identified the subject that one is
investigating and has conducted a preliminary amount of empirical research
(broadly understood to include review of existing literature and
historical + case studies), then a preliminary step to presentation
involves developing an initial conceptual outline of the subject to be
presented that identifies and sequences the topics to be presented.
Embodied within such an "outline", of course, are both certain
understandings of the inter-relationship of the subjects to be presented
and certain methodological understandings concerning the logic of
presentation. Thus, Marx developed an "outline" of sorts, in a rough and
preliminary way, in the _Grundrisse_ for the "6-book-plan." Yet, that
outline was made _in advance_ -- and in anticipation -- of the
presentation. Another example, closer to home of most listmembers, is that
before one presents a dissertation, one must first present a dissertation
proposal in which -- among other things -- the subject to be investigated
is identified and a preliminary concept of the topics to be presented and
their ordering is suggested. Yet, this is done in advance of a significant
part of the research and investigation and in the course of the subsequent
investigation one often observes modifications in the original "plan" (as
one frequently comes to realize that the subject to be investigated is
more complex and requires further research than one originally
anticipated). This is one major reason why it takes many authors (like
Marx and many PhD candidates) much longer to complete a presentation than
was originally anticipated.

In solidarity, Jerry


Rob Beamish _Marx, method, and the division of labor_, Urbana and Chicago,
University of Illinois Press, 1992