Tuesday 5 August 2014

Herbert Marcuse on Dialectical Logic

In order to really know an object, one must grasp and investigate all sides of the object, all its relations and 'mediations' ... Second, dialectical logic requires that the object be taken in its development, in its 'self-movement' ... in its transformation. Third, the whole of human praxis must enter into the 'definition' of the object, as well as the critique of its truth, since as a practical determination the object is bound together with what is necessary to man. Fourth, the dialectical logic teaches that 'there is no abstract truth'; truth is always concrete.
Cit Douglas Kellner (1984), Herbert Marcuse and the Crisis of Marxism, p.52.


Sixth Monarchist said...


Mark Walmsley said...

I don't understand that. Is it worth it? Outside of party conversation, I mean.

Kapitano said...


(1) To understand a thing, you've got to know everything about all its relationships of all kinds to every other thing.

(2) You also need to know how it's changing. Plus apparently it changes itself in some mysterious way.

(3) You also need to know everything that everyone could possibly use it for or feel about it, in any social context.

(4) Every answer to every question depends on the context in which one is asking.

(1) and (3) - impossible
(2) - impossible and meaningless
(4) - platitude

You know, one of the tells of falling into cultishness is treating banalities as revelations, and gibberish as profound.

We'd better hope marxism doesn't really depend on this pseudo-philosophy.

Phil said...

You think that's gobbledegook try some bourgeois philosophy.

It's quite simple really. What is the 'object' Marcuse speaks of? As he's a social theorist the object of his writings are social relations. Not plates, computers, or asteroids.

So if you want to understand how, say, a particular firm works you'd have to look at it from all its angles. As a market actor, employer, supplier of services, tax payer, and so on.

Staying with out firm, it has to be considered in relation to its history because that too is essential to understanding how it operates now. Does it avoid bank loans? Does it pay high wages? Why has it got an excellent reputation for customer service?

Third, from Marcuse's standpoint, where does it stand in its relationship to society becoming conscious of itself? This isn't some mumbo-jumbo. The amount of information society produces about itself allows for the possibility of its economics to be democratically planned by the people who live in our society. Is the firm against the unionisation of its workers, operates draconian management, trains and educates its employees, operates shared ownership schemes? How are these governed by the tendency for its workforce to struggle for higher wages, greater personal autonomy in work, and the number of hours worked in total?

Lastly, the 'truth' of said firm lies in analysing it with all these considerations being operative. It does not lie outside of it.

You might think this is mysticism. I call it the beginning of wisdom myself.