Social Structure and Forms of Conciousness, Volume 2

Social Structure and Forms of Conciousness, Volume 2: The Dialectic of Structure and History

Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: NYU Press,
Pages: 528
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  • Book Info
    Social Structure and Forms of Conciousness, Volume 2
    Book Description:

    In The Dialectic of Structure and History, Volume Two of Social Structure and Forms of Consciousness, Istvan Meszaros brings the comprehension of our condition and the possibility of emancipatory social action beyond the highest point reached to date. Building on the indicatory flashes of conceptual lightning in the Grundrisse and other works of Karl Marx, Meszaros sets out the relations of structure and agency, individual and society, base and superstructure, nature and history, in a dialectical totality open to the future.The project is brought to its conclusion by means of critique, an analysis that shows not only the inadequacies of the thought critiqued but at the same time their social historical cause. The crucial questions are addressed through critique of the highest point of honest and brilliant thought in capital's ascending phase, that of Adam Smith, Kant, and Hegel, as well as the irrationalities and dishonesty of the apologists of the capital system's descending phase, such as Hayek and Popper. The dead ends of both Levi-Strauss's structuralism and post-modernism, arising from their denial of history, are placed in their context as capital-apologetics.What Meszaros, the leading Marxist philosopher of our times, has achieved is of world historical importance. He has cleared the philosophical ground to permit the illumination of a path to transcend the destructive death spiral of the capital system.

    eISBN: 978-1-58367-266-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-8)
    (pp. 9-32)

    The investigation of the dialectical relationship betweenstructure and historyis essential for a proper understanding of the nature and the defining characteristics of any social formation in which sustainable solutions are being sought to the encountered problems. This is particularly important in the case of capital’s social formation, with its inexorable tendency toward an all-embracing, structurally embedded determination of all aspects of societal reproduction and the—feasible for the first time ever— global domination implicit in that form of development. It is therefore by no means accidental that in the interest of the requiredstructural changeMarx had to...

  4. CHAPTER ONE The Nature of Historical Determination
    (pp. 33-66)

    At Marx’s graveside, his lifelong friend Engels assessed in the following terms one of the greatest achievements of the founder of historical materialism:

    Just as Darwin discovered the law of development of organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history: the simple fact, hitherto concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc.; that therefore the production of the immediate material means of subsistence and consequently the degree of economic development attained by a given people or during...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Dialectical Transformations: Teleology, History, and Social Consciousness
    (pp. 67-84)

    According to Marx, the potential impact of the interaction between the material base and the superstructure can be both positive and negative, from early stages of historical development right up to that point in history when human beings consciously take control over the conflicting social forces of their situation. Hence ideology, too, appears in his conception with diametrically opposed connotations. On the one hand, it is presented in its negativity as a mystifying and counterpro ductive force which greatly hinders development. Yet on the other hand, it is also seen as a vital positive factor—bent on overcoming determinate social...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Key Concepts in the Dialectic of Base and Superstructure
    (pp. 85-142)

    In recent years Marx’s theory of base and superstructure has been subjected to a great deal of criticism. Indeed, it has become quite fashionable to engage in a wholesale rejection of the Marxian conceptual framework. Moreover, this rejection is often coupled with attempts to replace the criticized Marxian concepts by some vague neo-Weberian notion of “culture,” or by an even vaguer—as well as circularly self-referential—talk about “material and immaterial rights” and similar suggestions.

    In place of proofs to support the advocated rejection of the Marxian conceptual framework, we are offered declarations of faith and a “critique” amounting to...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Material Transformations and Ideological Forms
    (pp. 143-240)

    It might come as a surprise to Marx’s detractors that he should entertain the notion of “free spiritual production” even for a moment. Yet he forcefully argues inTheories of Surplus-Value:

    The distinction between productive labours and unproductive labours is of decisive importance for what Smith was considering: the production ofmaterialwealth, and in fact one definite form of that production, thecapitalistmode of production. Inspiritualproduction another kind of labour appears as productive. But Smith does not take it into consideration. Finally, theinteraction and the inner connectionbetween the two kinds of production also do...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE Kant, Hegel, Marx: Historical Necessity and the Standpoint of Political Economy
    (pp. 241-296)

    In his “Critique of the Hegelian Dialectic and Philosophy as a Whole” Marx suggests that “Hegel’s standpoint is that of modern political economy.”¹ He shares this position with many others, including—and on the face of it surprisingly—Kant himself, as we shall see later on.

    What is important for us in this respect is to understand what kind of historical conceptions are both compatible with and positively helped along by the standpoint of political economy. For it is quite wrong to treat Kant and Hegel, as often done, merely as rationalistic varieties of St. Augustine’s openly theological (and not...

  9. CHAPTER SIX Structure and History: The Dialectical Intelligibility of Historical Development
    (pp. 297-506)

    We have seen in the last chapter that in the writings of the great thinkers who viewed the historically given world—and in aneternalizing waylegitimated itsantagonisticsocietal reproductive practices—from the standpoint of capital, including Adam Smith and Hegel, the relationship betweenhistorical necessity(in principle subject to change) andnatural necessity¹ was characteristicallyconflated. This strange conflation was accomplished by them because it could yield the kind of value-laden, in strict logical terms fallacious but ideologically most pertinent, rationalizing conclusions in their scheme of things. Such “conclusions” happened to be—as from the adop ted standpoint...

  10. Index
    (pp. 507-509)