Sunday, October 11, 2009

Marxian Methodology: Theory must be developed dialectically

Clarification for Last week's Conversation.
For Marx the scientifically correct method arises from the movement from simple abstract determinations i.e. in modern society, the commodity, value, waged labor- to their relation to the whole, the real concrete i.e. capital. As he states: ‘the method of rising from the abstract to the concrete is the only way in which thought appropriates the concrete, reproduces it as the concrete in the mind’. Only through this method that we move from a ‘reality of few determinations and relations’ (political economy and bourgeoisie science End Result) unable to grasp the concrete whole, to a reality that is a ‘rich totality of many determinations and relations….unity of the whole’. The latter is the internalization of a totality of determinations in thought, appropriation of the real concrete, ‘the working up of observation and conception into concepts’. This totality is a totality of a thinking mind, ‘which appropriates the world in the only way it can a way different from the artistic, religious, practical and mental appropriation of the world’. This method, movement from the abstract to the concrete, is the only way that we are able to understand what the social forms of production and organization historically. In modern society we see in Capital, Marx moves from the simplest abstract categories i.e. commodity, Value etc. to their relation with the developed concrete whole, this being Capital which for Marx ‘is not a thing but rather a definite social production relation, belonging to a definite historical formation of society, which is manifested in a thing and lends itself a specific social character’. Capitalist social relations in this sense, is a developed/developing concrete whole in that epoch (at least for the most part in England or the U.S. at the time). This developed concrete whole can only be realized through the most general abstractions, thus they are the point of departure. These abstractions arise as a result of history and function differently through history, sometimes dominant, sometimes subordinate to a developed or ill-developed concrete whole. The dilemma of the Bourgeoisie science takes history as a point of departure and not as a historic result, developing dialectically. Bourgeoisie science always begins with the living whole, according to Marx, and arrives at a linear ahistorical argument of the development of society along with history. The abstract determinations arrived at in bourgeoisie science and the relation of these determinations to the social forms of organization and order are a chaotic conception of the concrete. The historic specificity, order and place (subordinate or dominant) of these abstract determinations and relations to the whole are chaotic and one sided.
Please, any corrections and comments welcome.

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