Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Moral Marxist-G. A. Cohen and the Need for a Marxist Morality.

In my last post I berated several of the leading proponents of Marxism, particularly Cohen and Wood for becoming "moralizer(s) and utopian(s) rather than critic(s) of capitalist theory."

It turns out I am hardly alone in this criticism: From The Future for Philosophy, by Brian Leiter. An entire chapter of his book has been excepted for our benefit. Chapter Three: The hermeneutics of Suspicion Recovering Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud.

[Then click on the pdf file. It's a rather lengthy treatment, but we will concern ourselves only with his Marxian critiques.]

The paper has as it's goal,"to displace the the antipathy to naturalism often thought to be constitutive of the Continental tradition." Leiter describes his view of naturalism as "fundamentally a methodological view, which holds that philosophical inquiry should be both modeled on the methods of the successful sciences." It is Leiter's view [I might add mine as well] that the methodology of hermeneutics does not violate the the prescription of being modeled after successful science.

Leiter must first respond to the obvious objection that the originator of the term " hermeneutics of suspicion" would have disapproved of his use of it with Marx, that it would have appeared "strange to Ricoeur, who was in the grips of a fairly crude philosophy of science. He thought the hermeneutics of suspicion stood in opposition to a scientific understanding of phenomena."

Leiter can begin his defense of the naturalism that is to be found in Marx [ and by that the hermeneutic method and Continental philosphy ] by taking the premise that science has evolved from the purely positive account of empirical matter that dominated the "mid-20th-century scientistic philosophy." In turn, this should have required Anglophone philosphers to take seriosly the claims that Marxism is science.

The failure to find Marx as a naturalist has allowed Anglo philosphy to abandon the science of Marx in favor of moral justifications. Anglophone philosophers like G.A. Cohen believe that “Marxism has lost much or most of it's empirical carapace, its hard shell of supposed fact..." and as a result, "Marxists...are increasingly impelled into normative political philosophy."

Leiter sees the abadonment of observation in favor of the use of moral justification not because Marx 's work is not scientific enough, but becasue,"these moralizing philosophers are not interested in the explanation of phenomena [but] favor ...the more traditional philosophical enterprise of justification, whether of the just distribution of resources or the possibility of morality's authority."

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