Theory and Practice in Marx

Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures 14:157-176 (1982)
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The identification of theory and practice is a critical act, through which practice is demonstrated rational and necessary, and theory realistic and rational . In contemporary sociological and political theory the opposition of theory and practice refers to a number of aspects of the relationship between theories of various kinds and social life. It can refer, for example, to the relationships between the various sciences and their ‘objects’, between scientific knowledge and its necessary practical applications and broadly between social science and politics. Many Marxist writings since Lenin attempt to unite those three levels in a theory of the total society with a practical intent. This theory is intended to inform practical political activity in order radically to change the complex of social institutions which make the theory itself possible, in this way abolishing the theory in practice. That theory and practice in this sense can inseparably inform each other in this way within the politics of the labour movement, is one meaning in Soviet Marxism of the phrase ‘the unity of theory and practice’



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