Re: [OPE-L] Fwd: [PEN-L] an ad hominem response

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Sat Apr 15 2006 - 09:25:33 EDT

At 20:15 14/04/2006, Hans wrote:
>Here is another conjecture: Perhaps "argumentum ad hominem"
>is meant in contradistinction to "immanent critique"?

snip. re CAPITAL

>I.e., in addition to Marx's immanent critique, which shows
>the inherent contradictions of capitalism, this additional
>material also shows that capitalism is inhumane, bad for

snip. re the censors

>I.e., the illegal activity of the censors is not a direct
>proof that censorship itself is wrong, but it is an indirect
>critique by showing what kinds of people are involved in it.

snip. re theory grasping the mind

>If my conjecture is right, this means: a radical critique is
>not an immanent critique, i.e., not a critique which looks
>at the thing itself on its own terms, but one which looks at
>the *root* of the things, which for humans means, it looks
>at the implications of the things for humans.

Very interesting, Hans. I wonder if we are not saying the same thing
but coming at it from our own philosophical/critical readings. What
you are designating as 'in contradistinction to "immanent critique"',
I am distinguishing from a logical argument. Ie., that only an inner,
logical argument can demonstrate 'necessity' whereas an empiricist
account can suggest probability but not necessity. Thus, that
'additional material' would not prove that capitalism MUST be
inhumane, the experience of the censors cannot prove that  censors
must act the way they did and the masses (as distinct from
philosophers?) need the demonstration of the exoteric. In this
respect, the ad hominem argument is important for the purpose of
convincing people but, Marx's use of the term 'ad hominem' (with its
negative connotations) may reflect the perspective that an exoteric,
argument by reference to empirical events, is in itself logically
fallacious. This position has philosophical antecedents (Hegel
certainly but going back at least to Hume).
         in solidarity,

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

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