Apocalypse, it seems, is everywhere. Preachers with vast followings proclaim the world's end and apocalyptic fears grip even the non-religious amid climate change, pandemics, and threats of nuclear war. But as these ideas pervade popular discourse, grasping their logic remains elusive. Ben Jones argues that we can gain insight into apocalyptic thought through secular thinkers. He starts with a puzzle: Why would secular thinkers draw on Christian apocalyptic beliefs--often dismissed as bizarre--to interpret politics? The apocalyptic tradition proves appealing in part (...) because it theorizes a special relation between crisis and utopia. Apocalyptic thought points to crisis as the vehicle to bring the previously impossible within reach, thus offering apparent resources for navigating challenges in ideal theory, which tries to imagine the best and most just society. By examining apocalyptic thought's appeal and risks, this study arrives at new insights on the limits of ideal theory and utopian hope. (shrink)
Engels’ name stands and falls today with a variety of his contributions to socialist thought and Marxist philosophy. Yet there is one particular component of the Marxist body of thought that has been subject to a group of controversies for quite some time for which Engels is usually held responsible: dialectics and dialectics of nature. It is curious and ironic that a theoretical contribution to an intellectual tradi tion within the history of European political philosophy could be perceived and depicted (...) as a major distortion of that tradition. In Engels’ case, this irony is captured by the phrase “the Engels problem.” In this chapter, I will first briefly summarize what “the Engels problem” is about and lay out its connection to the reception his tory of Engels’ dialectics. Then, I will delve into the general outlines of Engels’ dialectics and focus on his intentions, tasks, and purposes in pursuing dialectics in some of his prominent works on this theme from 1870s to 1880s, most notably in Anti-Dühring and the Dialectics of Nature. In the final section, I will briefly discuss some of the open questions of Engels’ natural dialectics. (shrink)
What follows is an attempt to question the ways of how Engels coined the term “dialectics” in his Dialectics in Nature. My focus is directed by an interest in re-reading Engels’s undertaking from the perspective of his much-celebrated and downplayed Plan 1878. I would like to make clear from the outset that, by Engels’s dialectics, the Plan 1878 and Dialectics of Nature, I refer neither to a complete and compact account of dialectics nor to the list of contents of Engels’s (...) work nor to a “book.” Rather, I occupy myself with a “work in progress” that reached some stage of maturity at the end of 1870s (documented in a plan), and a work before it posthumously became a “book.” In this regard, a couple of remarks seem to be in order. (shrink)
Reading different or controversial intentions into Marx and Engels’ works has been somewhat a common but rather unquestioned practice in the history of Marxist scholarship. Engels’ Dialectics of Nature, a torso for some and a great book for others, is a case in point. A bold line seems to shape the entire Engels debate and separate two opposite views in this regard: Engels the contaminator of Marx’s materialism vs. Engels the self-started genius of dialectical materialism. What Engels, unlike Marx, has (...) not enjoyed so far is a critical reflection upon the relationship between different layers of this text: authorial, textual, editorial and interpretational. Informed by a historical hermeneutic, inquiry into the elements that structure the debate on “Dialectics of Nature,” and into the different political and philosophical functions attached to it, makes it possible to relocate the meaning of “dialectics” in a more precise context. Engels’ dialectics is less complete than we usually think it is, but he achieved more than most scholars would like to admit. (shrink)
Este ensayo presenta una descripción de los escritos inéditos de Jacques Derrida sobre Marx y Louis Althusser en la década de 1970, y un estudio de conceptos como ideología, diferencia sexual, reproducción, violencia, dominación o hegemonía en perspectiva deconstructiva. Se trata de pensar en una otra economía, más allá de la economía del cuerpo propio. El artículo fue publicado en el Volumen 7 de la Revista Demarcaciones, "a 25 años de Espectros de Marx.".
The purpose of this article is to explore the relationship between revolution and violence in Marxism and in a series of texts drawing on Marxian theory. Part 1 outlines the basic normative frameworks which determine the outer limits of permissible violence in Marxism. Part 2 presents a critical analysis of a series of later discussions - by Sorel, Fanon and Žižek - which transformed the terms in which violence was discussed by developing one particular aspect of Marxist thought. By teasing (...) out the implications of revolutionary theory for the commission and permission of violence, it is possible to specify those points at which it tends towards excess. This in turn points towards limits that an adequate normative theory of revolutionary violence should establish. (shrink)
Soweit Engels' Position zum Geltungsanspruch der Naturwissenschaften seiner Zeit aus diesen Texten hervorgeht, kann man sie kaum als konsistent bezeichnen. Erkenntnisse, an deren Gewissheit in der Naturforschung der zweiten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts nicht ernsthaft gezweifelt wurde, werden von ihm teils umstandslos übernommen, teils aber auch einer geltungskrltischen Analyse unterzogen. In weitgehender Unahängigkeit von seinen weltanschaulichen Ambitionen kommt Engels über die Untersuchung der Struktur naturwissenschaftlicher Erkenntnisprozesse zu einer bisher erst wenig beachteten und seiner Zeit vorauseilenden Einsicht in die relativen Geltungsbedingungen (...) des experimentell erzeugten Wissens. Die widersprüchliche Form,in der er seine heute noch sehr aktuelle Kritik am Wahrheitsanspruch der Naturwissenschaften vorträgt, ist der damaligen Umbruchssituation dieser Disziplinen geschuldet und gibt seinem Werk ein hohes Mass an Authentizität. In Anlehnung an Engels' Klassifizierung der Wissenschaften sollen hier die wichtigsten geltungskritischen Ansätze rekonstruiert werden. In dieser Perspektive, die seine Skepsis gegenüber den naturwissenschaftlichen Erkenntnisleistungen hervortreten lässt, erscheint die von ihm behauptete ausgezeichnete Geltung der Dialektik in einem neuen Licht: Sie ist nicht mehr die immer schon vorausgesetzte Grundannahme seiner wissenschafts- und naturtheoretischen Auffassungen, sondern Reaktion auf einen Relativismus, der aus der Reflexion über die Entwicklung der Naturforschung unabweisbar zu folgen scheint und jedes Streben nach einem wissenschaftlich fundierten, einheitlichen Naturbild zunichte macht. (shrink)
Russian Marxism is the outcome of two distinct traditions, namely, nineteenth-century Russian radicalism and Western European Marxism. In this paper I shall briefly trace its descent from these traditions and try to distinguish those features of it which differentiate it both from the older radicalism and from the Marxism of Marx and Engels. I shall deal in turn with three main topics, the nineteenth-century radical tradition, early Russian Marxism, and finally, Leninism.
By dialectical fundamentalism I mean the view that maintains the inerrancy of the orthodox classical scriptures of dialectical materialism; by flexible scientific naturalism I mean the view recognizing the past heuristic value of dialectical materialism, but also the realization for the need to develop and change it along lines suggested by complementary philosophies relevant to the scientific outlook.
“A millennium has gone by since the idea of the relationship of all things, the chain of causes was born. A comparison of the meaning of what we call causes throughout the history of human thinking could give us, no doubt, a conclusive epistemology.”.
Frederick Engels and Karl Marx were among the first to develop systematic perspectives on modern societies and to produce a critical discourse on modernity, thus inaugurating the problematic of modern social theory. In most of the narratives of classical social theory, Marx alone is usually cited as one of the major founders of the problematic, while Engels is neglected. It is Marx who is usually credited as one of the first to develop a theory of modernity and a critical social (...) theory that links the rise of modern societies with the emergence of capitalism. Yet Engels preceded Marx in focusing attention on the differences between modern and premodern society, and then on the constitutive role of capitalism in producing a new modern world. As I show in this study, from the late 1830s into the 1840s, Engels played a leading role in theorizing the distinctive features of the modern world, and he inspired Marx to see the importance of capitalism in constructing a distinctively new modern society. Consequently, I argue that Engels preceded Marx in his analysis of the historical originality and novelty of modern societies and their rupture from traditional societies. Study of the work of the early Engels and the beginning of his collaboration with Marx thus provides fresh perspectives on their relationship and the role of Engels in creating their shared theoretical and political positions. This analysis will also suggest that the critical theory of modern societies and political economy of capitalism remains a major contribution of Marx and Engels to contemporary thought. (shrink)