Re: [OPE-L] Absolutes in Marxian Theory?

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Sun Jan 01 2006 - 11:17:32 EST

>  Lack of  attention to realism's concerns gives rise to e.g.,
> "It follows that the social predominance of one theory over others depends
> upon a precise set of social conditions of existence, that is, a precise
> set of the divers processes comprising the social totality . . . Thus, for
> Marxian theory, the conditions of existence for the theory's social
> predominance over others include, for example, the class processes within
> that society, the technical process of transforming nature, legal
> processes of conflict adjudication, and so on."

Hi Howard,

The claim that R&W are making above does concern an issue of
realism: i.e. that the dominance of one theory over others "depends
upon a precise set of social conditions of existence".  This seems to
me to be consistent with  materialist claims, e.g. that the ruling ideas
of a given society tend to be the ideas of the ruling class.  To substitute
a few words, would you object to:  "the social predominance of
marginalism over heterodox theories of economics depends upon
a precise set of social conditions of existence ...."?  Read in this way,
one sees that the quote concerns the coming into being of the
historical conditions which give rise to the ascendancy and dominance
of a particular social perspective.  Note that this is not an ontological
relativist claim: the world depends not merely on theories and is
relative to them;  rather, the theories themselves depend on a whole
"set of diverse processes comprising the social totality."

In solidarity, Jerry

> In sum, we need the explanation of the ways in which our epistemologies
> are relative.  Good.  A necessary underlaboring.  But without equally
> thoroughgoing attention to realism's concerns, ontological relativism will
> overrun the premises by default: the way the world is depends on our
> theories and is relative to them.

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