Praxis and Action

Praxis and Action: Contemporary Philosophies of Human Activity

Richard J. Bernstein
Copyright Date: 1971
Pages: 368
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt3fhdvj
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    Praxis and Action
    Book Description:

    From the Introduction: This inquiry is concerned with the themes of praxis and action in four philosophic movements: Marxism, existentialism, pragmatism, and analytic philosophy. It is rare that these four movements are considered in a single inquiry, for there are profound differences of emphasis, focus, terminology, and approach represented by these styles of thought. Many philosophers believe that similarities among these movements are superficial and that a close examination of them will reveal only hopelessly unbridgeable cleavages. While respecting the genuine fundamental differences of these movements, this inquiry is undertaken in the spirit of showing that there are important common themes and motifs in what first appears to be a chaotic babble of voices. I intend to show that the concern with man as an agent has been a primary focal point of each of these movements and further that each contributes something permanent and important to our understanding of the nature and context of human activity.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0549-7
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. xiii-xx)
    R. J. B.
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-10)

    This inquiry is concerned with the themes of praxis and action in four philosophic movements: Marxism, existentialism, pragmatism, and analytic philosophy. It is rare that these four movements are considered in a single inquiry, for there are profound differences of emphasis, focus, terminology, and approach represented by these styles of thought. Many philosophers believe that similarities among these movements are superficial and that a close examination of them will reveal only hopelessly unbridgeable cleavages. While respecting the genuine fundamental differences of these movements, this inquiry is undertaken in the spirit of showing that there are important common themes and motifs...

  6. PART ONE PRAXIS: MARX AND THE HEGELIAN BACKGROUND
    (pp. 11-83)

    The chief defect of all previous materialism (including Feuerbach’s) is that the object, actuality, sensuousness is conceived only in the form of the object or perception [Anschauung], but not as sensuous human activity, practice [Praxis], nor subjectively. Hence in opposition to materialism the active side was developed by idealism—but only abstractly since idealism naturally does not know actual, sensuous activity as such. Feuerbach wants sensuous objects actually different from thought objects: but he does not comprehend human activity itself as objective. Hence in The Essence of Christianity he regards only the theoretical attitude as the truly human attitude, while...

  7. PART TWO CONSCIOUSNESS, EXISTENCE, AND ACTION: KIERKEGAARD & SARTRE
    (pp. 84-164)

    I argued in Part I that Marx’s distinctive orientation emerges from a radical critique of Hegel’s philosophy. The dominant concept of praxis in Marx represents a dialectical transformation of Hegel’s Geist, and Marx’s own analysis of the conflict of classes can be read as a critical commentary on Hegel’s brief, but penetrating, analysis of the dynamics of Lordship and Bondage.

    In this part, I want to show how another major strain in contemporary philosophy can also be interpreted as a dialectical critique of Hegel. The leading ideas of existentialist thought can be interpreted as a critical commentary on another stage...

  8. PART THREE ACTION, CONDUCT, AND INQUIRY: PEIRCE AND DEWEY
    (pp. 165-229)

    In my discussions of Marx, Kierkegaard, and Sartre, I began by first exploring relevant aspects of Hegel’s thought which set the “problematic” for their own investigations of human action. In the case of Marx, this approach enabled me to clarify the dialectical context of his theory of praxis. Marx himself had engaged in a close study and critique of Hegel. Even more important than Marx’s explicit critique, we could see how deeply he was influenced by a Hegelian orientation and how his successive analyses of praxis, labor, and production represent attempts to overcome what he took to be radical deficiencies...

  9. PART FOUR THE CONCEPT OF ACTION: ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY
    (pp. 230-304)

    Marxism, existentialism, and pragmatism are all deeply rooted in nineteenth-century philosophy. One who is unfamiliar with this philosophic tradition—especially as developed during the period from Kant to Hegel—would be at a severe disadvantage in making sense of the primary concerns and fundamental thrusts of these movements. Each of the thinkers we have examined thus far was struggling with the issues raised by this tradition, appropriating what he took to be sound, rejecting what he thought to be misleading and false, and developing his own point of view against the background of this thought. But when we approach analytic...

  10. EPILOGUE
    (pp. 305-320)

    In approaching the end of this inquiry, I have arrived only at a beginning. My primary concern has been to present fair, sympathetic, although critical interpretations of each of the four positions discussed: Marxism, existentialism, pragmatism, and analytic philosophy. In each case I sought to “enter” into the distinctive perspective and to be true to the insight and idiom characteristic of these different approaches. I have argued that the concepts of praxis and action are central to these positions and I have attempted to explore how they became dominant, what problems they were intended to resolve, what aspects have been...

  11. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 321-333)
  12. INDEX OF NAMES
    (pp. 334-336)
  13. INDEX OF SUBJECTS
    (pp. 337-347)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 348-348)