[OPE-L] 'demonstrates ad hominem'

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Fri Apr 14 2006 - 11:23:16 EDT

Anyone have a good answer to this question from PEN-L? Did 'ad
hominen' mean something different then? Is there a question of translation?

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>Date:         Thu, 13 Apr 2006 17:51:44 -0400
>From: bitchlab <oudeis@PULPCULTURE.ORG>
>Subject: Re: [PEN-L] effects of human population, part n+1
>I like it best presented in fuller quote. But, I have a question, What does
>Marx mean by "demonstrates ad hominem"?
>"Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and
>also the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the
>oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the
>spirit of spiritless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
>To abolish religion as the illusory happiness of the people is to demand
>their real happiness. The demand to give up illusions about the existing
>state of affairs is the demand to give up a state of affairs which needs
>illusions. The criticism of religion is therefore in embryo the criticism
>of the vale of tears, the halo of which is religion.
>Criticism has torn up the imaginary flowers from the chain not so that man
>shall wear the unadorned, bleak chain but so that he will shake off the
>chain and pluck the living flower. The criticism of religion disillusions
>man to make him think and act and shape his reality like a man who has been
>disillusioned and has come to reason, so that he will revolve round himself
>and therefore round his true sun. Religion is only the illusory sun which
>revolves round man as long as he does not revolve round himself.
>The task of history, therefore, once the world beyond the truth has
>disappeared, is to establish the truth of this world. The immediate task of
>philosophy, which is at the service of history, once the holy form of human
>self-estrangement has been unmasked, is to unmask self-estrangement in its
>unholy forms. Thus the criticism of heaven turns into the criticism of the
>earth, the criticism of religion into the criticism of law and the
>criticism of theology into the criticism of politics.....
>The weapon of criticism cannot, of course, replace criticism by weapons,
>material force must be overthrown by material force; but theory also
>becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses. Theory is
>capable of gripping the masses as soon as it demonstrates ad hominem, and
>it demonstrates ad hominem as soon as it becomes radical. To be radical is
>to grasp the root of the matter. But for man the root is man himself. The
>evident proof of the radicalism of German theory, and hence of its
>practical energy, is that it proceeds from a resolute positive abolition of
>religion. The criticism of religion ends with the teaching that man is the
>highest being for man, hence with the categorical imperative to overthrow
>all relations in which man is a debased, enslaved forsaken, despicable
>It's also quite relevant given that it feveals the deep humanism in Marx's
>thought at this point, a humanism which is something folks like the author
>Ravi quotes often reject -- man as center of the universe and all that.

Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6

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