Is it immaterial that there's a 'material' in 'historical materialism'?

Inquiry 32 (3):323 – 342 (1989)
G. A. Cohen's influential ?technological determinist? reading of Marx's theory of history rests in part on an interpretation of Marx's use of ?material? whose idiosyncrasy has been insufficiently noticed. Cohen takes historical materialism to be asserting the determination of the social by the material/asocial, viz. ?socio?neutral? facts about human nature and human rationality which manifest themselves in a historical tendency for the forces of production to develop. This paper reviews Marx's writings to demonstrate the extensive textual evidence in favour of the traditional interpretation ? that for Marx, the ?material? includes the economic, and is thus ineluctably social in character. Thus those critics of Cohen who have urged the inclusion of the relations of production in historical materialism's explanans do seem to have Marx's terminological and conceptual backing
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DOI 10.1080/00201748908602197
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