Essay Eleven


If you are using Internet Explorer 10 (or later), you might find some of the links I have used won't work properly unless you switch to 'Compatibility View' (in the Tools Menu); for IE11 select 'Compatibility View Settings' and then add this site ( Microsoft's new browser, Edge, automatically renders these links compatible; Windows 10 also automatically makes IE11 compatible with this site.


However, if you are using Windows 10, Microsoft's browsers, IE11 and Edge, unfortunately appear to colour these links somewhat erratically. They are meant to be dark blue, but those two browsers render them intermittently mid-blue, light blue, yellow, purple and red!


Firefox and Chrome reproduce them correctly.




If your Firewall/Browser has a pop-up blocker, you will need to press the "Ctrl" key at the same time or these links won't work, anyway!


I have adjusted the font size used at this site to ensure that even those with impaired vision can read what I have to say. However, if the text is still either too big or too small for you, please adjust your browser settings!




I am publishing here several of Guy Robinson's Essays. One or two of them had until recently been posted at Guy's site, which no longer exists. In my opinion, Guy is one of the few Marxist Philosophers whose work is genuinely worth reading. Indeed, I'd go much further: I cannot praise his book, Philosophy and Mystification (Fordham University Press, 2003), too highly; it seems to me that this is how Marxist Philosophy should be done.


I only encountered Guy's work in 2005, but I soon saw that he had anticipated several of my own ideas -- except he manages to express in two paragraphs what it takes me several pages to say!


Unlike the vast bulk of material that claims to be Marxist (particularly that which has been produced by academics), Guy's work is a model of clarity. It is no accident, therefore, to see Guy writing in the Wittgensteinian tradition.


[Many on the left think Wittgenstein was a conservative mystic. I have comprehensively refuted that idea here. Moreover, Guy's work alone is testimony to the fact that Wittgenstein's work is in fact conducive to Historical Materialism.]


Sadly, Guy passed away in October 2011.


This material has been posted here with the permission of his son, but no one should assume that Guy would have agreed with any of the views expressed at this site -- other than those already contained in his essays. Nor should anyone assume that I agree with everything Guy says -- especially about 'dialectics'. [I have no problem with the word "dialectics" if it is understood in its classical, or even pre-Hegelian sense, but these waters have been permanently muddied, and so I avoid the use of this word since it only creates the false impression I mean this word in its post-Hegelian sense.] In addition, I distance myself from Guy's comments about religion.


Finally, in connection with Guy's remarks about post-Renaissance Philosophy (toward the end of this chapter), I have developed my own view of this period. The latter was written before I had the benefit of Guy's input, but I soon discovered that what I had said extended his ideas in a specific direction, namely, in a consideration of the nature and origin of modern theories of (1) 'Abstract General Ideas', and (2) The mythical 'Process of Abstraction' -- topics I have called "Science on the Cheap" and "The Heart of the Beast", respectively. This material can be accessed here and here.




I have re-formatted these essays in line with the conventions adopted at this site; spelling has been altered to conform to UK English. In addition, I have corrected a handful of minor typos and added several links. I have also highlighted any changes made to the original text by the use of curly brackets. [These are modifications that any sub-editor or proof-reader would have recommended.]


This essay comprises Chapter Eight of Guy's second book, Philosophy and Demystification, which has yet to find a publisher. Other chapters from this book can be accessed here.



Chapter Eight: Philosophy In The Service Of History


Guy Robinson


In the discussions that make up this book we have been trying to redefine and clarify the relation between humanity and the material world. This relation has previously been presented to us as a passive one in the face of a battery of 'Laws of Nature' -- conceived as fixed and external. Against the claimed fixed externality we have set the Aristotelian conception of the matter that makes up the 'material world'. For Aristotle, matter is something that receives but does not impose form -- so that the conception of the material world is of something we work with and form. It therefore has a history and needs to be understood historically. The 'material world' has to be sharply and completely distinguished from the notion of an 'external world' which has dominated thought in modern times. That concept is of something without a history and already formed in its 'laws' and its categories without our help. Something which we can only contemplate and hope to reproduce accurately in our thoughts.


It is not hard to see in this conception the remnants of the theological framework of thought which the philosophers of the new era wrongly believed they were secularising by simply substituting the concept of 'Nature' for 'God' in the previous framework. However, that framework was too strong for them and converted their would-be secular conception of 'Nature' into a kind of deity which stood outside the universe and operated on it in ways that were more than mysterious.


The 'externality' of this 'external world' that the philosophers were insisting on is pretty clearly a reflection of the externality of God, and its 'pre-formation' would most easily be understood as 'His work'. The 'correspondence' theory of truth is also connected to that conception of 'the external world' and implies what could be called 'a God’s-eye view' of things. The result of this is that the sciences have become a kind of 'theology of Nature' or a theology of 'the Real' which explains the extreme reaction of some to Thomas Kuhn's suggestion that the sciences had to be understood historically and that certain transitions in the sciences had to be seen as "revolutionary", in that certain changes that he described as "paradigm shifts" were not pre-determined by the state of knowledge at the time but embodied the vision and the hopes of the scientific community at that time. This is nicely illustrated by our examination of the adoption of the 'atomic' paradigm despite all the difficulties it faced at the outset, difficulties that could easily have been seen as counter-evidence and reasons for not adopting that paradigm. From the point of view of those who were treating the sciences as the 'theology of the Real', Kuhn's account raised the appalling possibility that the sciences might have developed differently. This was anathema to those who saw the sciences as having the quasi-theological function of revealing to us some {form of} 'ultimate reality'.


It is important not to mistake our aim here as somehow anti-religious. Our aim is rather to make the point that it of the greatest importance to make a clear separation between the theological and the secular perspectives. Though we have been mainly concerned to eliminate the theological notions from the secular accounts, this is not out of any opposition to religion as such or a religious perspective on the world. It is rather that the failure to make a careful separation between the religious and the secular simply leads to gross confusions, insoluble and unnecessary problems and confusions that damage both sides of the divide. It also has been a central part of our whole project to dismantle the mechanistic dogma that there is only one kind of genuine truth -- that supplied by the sciences. (The word "dogma" is correct here because that belief is a matter of faith untouched by argument. Dogmas have a perfectly legitimate place in a religious context but not in something being offered as a secular account.) Here is another place where it is important to be clear about the differences between the religious and the secular and the entirely different role those perspectives play in human life. As I sometimes put it: we don't turn to the Bible to learn how to generate electricity, and we don't turn to the sciences to assess the principle according to which we live our lives.


And it is worth pointing out that each of those perspectives with their different roles in human life have what we can legitimately call "truths" that are appropriate to them -- just as there are varieties of "truth" appropriate to other areas. We talk of "truth" in fiction, poetry, and other arts, and there historical truths, which are totally different from scientific truths, and different again from the truths that are contrasted to lies. All that needs further elaboration that it is not going to get here. These points are brought in here to ensure that the thrust of the above discussions is not misconstrued and they aim to defend both the religious and the secular perspectives by making sure that they are not mixed up and confused in the way they have been over the centuries with each being given the work of the other to do -- to the detriment of both.


Against the purported fixity of truths and principles which the philosophers of the modern era set off in search of, and felt it was their task to reveal, we have invoked the historical perspective implicit in Historical Materialism. This perspective took its start from the newly discovered vast sweep of human history which had replaced the timeless vision promoted by the doctrine of Special Creation. This allows us to put human history and human practices at the base of our understanding and explanations and give up the search for 'ultimate foundations', a notion that we have pointed out, cannot be given any sense in a secular rather than a religious context. That is, what ever we come up with as a purported 'ultimate foundation' we cannot rule out the question: "And what supports {it}?" Human practices are the only foundations and starting points we can offer in a secular context which escape this question -- but they are historical and hardly unchanging.


We have been aiming to dismantle that ahistorical framework of thought and the mechanistic program of explanation that were generated in the 17th century by the attempt to produce a secular account to replace the previous theological one by simply substituting 'Nature' for 'God'. This only reproduced in reverse order the confusions between the religious and the secular that had already been incorporated in the previous theological framework by those who tried to make of it a unitary form of explanation of everything and making God responsible for all movement and change in the world -- from the movement of the planets to the form of plants and animals, thunderstorms, earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters, as well as good years for crops. Complete adherence to that theological framework of understanding would be described as 'religiosity’' even if a bit naïve and confused in setting aside the sciences in the attempt to understand the world in only one way. However{,} a serious adherence to the mechanistic program of explanation and understanding would land anyone into the company of the 'white coats' if he or she seriously believed in it to the exclusion of other forms of understanding and showed that their belief was genuine and not mere empty words of the mouth, by letting that belief guide behavior and relations to others. This belief which, if genuine would have to eliminate the notions of aim and purpose from understanding the behavior of friends and relations would generate behavior that was so bizarre as to amount to a strange new psychosis. In any case the idea of 'being guided' by anything, whether a program of explanation or a view of the world, goes out the window when mechanism comes in seriously. All this shows the pretended adherence to mechanism can be no more mere 'words of the mouth' and not a {...} belief that we need to take seriously.


In the place of the ahistorical framework that seeks to explain everything as the result of eternal 'Laws of Nature', we have tried to develop the historical framework implicit in Historical Materialism in a way that can reveal how much human practice, language and human history is responsible for the regularities and the 'laws' that the ahistorical framework has attributed to mysterious and mystifying 'transcendental entities' standing outside the world and history -- even though no one can give an intelligible account how those imagined immaterial entities are meant to operate on the material world. Disposing of those imaginary 'entities' that explain nothing and confuse much, is the main part of the "demystification" promised in my title. Another part is bringing out how a proper and deeper understanding of those things that the 'transcendentals' simply mystify, can be got by bringing out the role that human practices and human history {have} had in generating them -- particularly our practice of classifying things and incorporating those classifications definitions and tests of identity in our language.


Because we described that ahistorical framework as operating as an "ideology" that set philosophers off down a blind alley in search of the eternal and ultimate, and at the same time effectively hid our human creativity and responsibility for so much, we need to go on to bring out the historical reasons that sent the philosophers down that particularly thorny and unrewarding path. We have to see that they were not aiming to hide our creativity from us or generate an ideology, but that a particular combination of historical circumstances pushed them in that direction.


It is ironical that though Marx looked forward to a time when philosophy would be in the service of history and would help history move forward in directions beneficial to humanity, it turns out that history has first to work in the service of philosophy in clearing away certain historically imposed confusions that themselves have a long history.


It is important to see those ahistorical views and program of explanation not as perverse or stupid but as themselves the historical product of the situation in which the philosophers found themselves in that period when modern philosophy was being founded.


For example, the founding fathers of modern philosophy can be excused for taking up an ahistorical perspective because in their time there was no other. At that time it was possible for Archbishop Ussher to use the Bible in calculating that the world had been created on the 23rd of October, 4004 BC. Neither the world, nor humans, nor other living creatures could in the 17th century be seen as having a vast developmental history in the face of that sort of calculation and the doctrine of special creation. It was only with the founding of the sciences of geology and archaeology in the 18th century that it became possible to begin the process of forming a historical, developmental understanding of the world and of humanity in the light of the billions of years of the world's history and the millions of years of development of the genus homo to the period of its emergence as a social and reflective species that set off on a new trajectory of development that was historical and no longer merely evolutionary.


Evolutionary theory was the first to make use of, and enlarge this new possibility of historical and developmental explanation of the forms of living things without appealing to some mysterious extra-mundane principles as Special Creation did. Evolutionary theory looked only at the way in which the environmental forces of the material world impinged on the development of species. Marx's proposal of Historical Materialism was the second and broader exploitation of the new possibility of historical and developmental understanding generated by the new vast perspective -- a new form of understanding that focused on the new historical trajectory that emerged with the advent of the new social and reflective species that had turned its back of evolution in the sense that it set about modifying its environment instead of being modified by it. We are trying to address the serious failure to see, and to take account of the radical new principle of development that came in with the emergence of humanity from the previous species, which were organized at best into herds. It was evolution that shaped the development of the genus homo to the point where it was able to transcend that evolutionary principle of development to produce itself as producers and create itself as creators. It was the transition to a species of social beings who teach their offspring the ways of their tribe in a way that introduces the possibility of reflection on those practices and therefore the possibility of change that comes from inside and is not imposed from outside as is the case with evolution. It is this development and change through reflection that qualifies the new trajectory to be called "historical" and marks a momentous transition that can only be compared with the new evolutionary principle that emerged with living beings.


We are trying to extend that historical form of understanding to all things human, as well as to many things that had not previously been seen as in any way related to humanity and human history. The most striking vision of these possibilities is in that unfortunately neglected passage from the German Ideology we have quoted above where Marx says that Historical Materialism recognizes only one science, the science of history. For him that single science encompasses nature itself -- which has been the most sacrosanct of the ahistorical extra-mundane entities founding the framework of thought of the modern age. What was worse, Marx linked the history of nature dialectically with the history of humans. This had the effect of challenging and rejecting that whole modern ahistorical framework. That challenge has often been resisted or ignored even by many of those who regard themselves as Marxists. It should have been seen as capable of revealing the emptiness and mystification generated by that framework which insisted that only timeless and ahistorical principles could provide genuine explanations.


Marx himself did not fully develop that side of Historical Materialism but left it to us to explore and develop the huge potential of this radically new way of understanding that appeals ultimately to human abilities, practices and development rather than to imaginary sources somewhere beyond the world. I have tried to make a small start on that project in Chapter 3 by looking at the history of the development of the atoms from "mere hypotheses" to indubitable realities and showing it to be the result of the human work of the scientists of the 19th and 20th centuries. And in the last chapter, "Newton, Marx and Wittgenstein" I have tried to bring out and develop the radical and subversive claim of Newton's that the very foundations of geometry itself lay in human practices, those of the discipline of mechanics.


Though not himself a Marxist, Thomas Kuhn made a start on the project of extending that historical form of understanding to what had always been regarded as knowledge of the ahistorical by showing that the sciences need to be understood historically -- that is, as depending on and arising out of their previous history -- rather than being measured by their approach to some invisible and unattainable final state of 'complete understanding'. This latter, unexamined conception of scientific progress is an empty and unusable one despite its being implicated in much that is put forward in current philosophy of science, and its being essential to the 'Correspondence Theory of Truth' which has tended to shed more mystery than light. Here is another example of how adopting the historical perspective of Historical Materialism can help us out of the swamp of transcendentals generated by the search for ahistorical ultimates. It can help us to see that the way to understand scientific progress is to see it as improvement over the past and not as a would-be 'approach' to something permanently out of reach, transcendental and indefinable. This latter 'approach' conception of scientific progress is empty and inapplicable1. The 'improvement' picture eliminates a major transcendental non-entity -- the notion of 'ultimate and final truth' (a legacy of theology and the source of the 'Correspondence Theory'), which has no place in the historical framework of understanding which is concerned with human truth and not a 'Gods-eye view of things'.


A particularly urgent task here is that of confronting and rejecting the all-too common conception of Historical Materialism as no more than a theory of history, one which simply adds to the reigning determinism by offering 'laws of history' which are supposed to bear down on humanity from outside. Of course, any human activity has consequences that cannot be avoided and will impinge on other areas of life -- this is what the 'laws of capital,' for example, are all about. And we would not be able to act, produce or do anything if we could not discover regularities of connection of that sort. However, this is entirely different from the conception that there are 'laws' that lie outside history and historical development but generate and determine it. This latter notion is the reverse of the perspective offered by the historical perspective which works on bringing out the opposite, namely, that all laws, even the 'laws of nature' have a developmental history which does not cease -- except perhaps with the cessation of humanity itself.


To get a measure of the radical scope of this historical program of understanding we need to look at the challenge it offers to the programs of explanation and framework of thought guiding modern investigators, particularly in subjects such as sociobiology whose aim is to explain all things human by looking for laws and principles set beyond us -- in genetics, evolution or whatever seen as part of a would-be 'external Nature'. Those 'laws' and 'principles' themselves are regarded from the point of view of the historical framework as artifacts and products of human theorising and not things standing outside of and above humanity determining its development and behavior. Of course, as we have emphasized above in Chapter 3, "Forms of Life and the Construction of Reality", those laws are not free creations bound only by social agreement -- as seems to be the view of that school calling itself "social constructionist". The laws and principles humans come up with are the result of human struggles to create and produce and solve practical problems. This is also the thrust of Marx's Second Thesis on Feuerbach which insists that we "must prove the truth, i.e., the reality and power, of our practice." But this thesis also implies a social dimension to {these} 'discoveries' because the different practices and struggles of different cultures face them with different problems and different measures of success. This is, however, a social dimension unlike that suggested by the social constructionists, who seem to see it as a matter of direct social decision what tests to apply and what programs to adopt. It is, on the contrary, a matter of historical development rather than arbitrary decision, a historical development that reflects both previous history and the problems and struggles set before the peoples of some culture by that history, their particular form of life and their environment.


Social Constructivism itself needs to be seen as an attempt to counter the passivity assigned to humans by the ahistoricists. However, it fails because it does not see that the genuine and useful human input to understanding comes out of a whole historical development and struggle with the material world and is not some spur-of-the-moment decision with no background. Such arbitrary judgments would have no weight and be of no consequence nor use.


The first thing we have to notice is that the old framework was an agenda and a program that effectively knit modern philosophy into an ideology that presented humanity as the passive contemplators of 'higher entities'. At the same time it set the philosophers impossible and insoluble problems. We have been working to replace that ideology and the program that generates it and replace it with one that dissolves those problems and that picture of humanity as passive. Two of those things are done in one stroke by offering human practices as the foundations for anything from geometry to morality and the only kind of foundations that do not need and cannot get any further support from below. That approach rejects the search for those foundations that are supposed to be absolute, unchangeable and independent of humanity. That search is yet another example in which philosophy was led astray by trying to imitate and rival theology within a secular framework. The theologians could offer God as an absolute foundation because it was a matter of faith that the question "Who made God?" was not allowed. The philosophers enjoyed no such luxury in their search within a secular framework, and it would always be possible to ask of anything offered as an absolute foundation -- "And what supports {it}?"


It has been our project to follow Newton's example and develop accounts that take human practices as the ultimate starting points and in that way pursue and develop the historical framework and dispose of the positing of ahistorical entities outside the world of change. Human practices are foundations and starting points only in the sense that they need no further support from below, but they are not absolute in the sense of being unchangeable. On the contrary, they have a history and at the same time are not arbitrary. Those practices have an intelligible relation to, and develop out of their own past history as well as reflecting the way of life of the culture of the people whose practices they are. And they also have an intelligible relation to the physical conditions in which that people makes its life. To dispel the temptation of those seekers of absolute and extra-human foundations to try to erect those physical conditions into some sort of foundations, we need to refer back to, and generalize the argument of Chapter 3 ("Forms of Life and the Construction of Reality") to say that those 'physical conditions' are not independent entities prior to and independently defined, but are dialectically connected to the history of the people and the development of their language, skills and perceptions.


We are here dealing with two rival perspectives and programs of explanation, one historical and the other ahistorical, and of course it is not possible to prove one program correct or to disprove another. We can only examine the reasons for adopting a program and the results of its adoption. The argument of previous chapters has been that the chief results of the ahistorical program have been mystification and pseudo-explanations. Now we need to turn our attention to the reasons for its adoption and go into more detail than the remark above that there was no historical perspective available at the time of the adoption of the ahistorical one. It is, of course, not possible to offer philosophic reasons for the adoption of that ahistorical program because the program itself helps to define what a good philosophic reason is. It is ironic that we will be left to look at historical reasons for the adoption of an ahistorical program.


From the Renaissance through the Reformation down to the 17th century, great changes were sweeping over Europe as the growth of the towns and their markets helped dissolve the bonds that had constituted the feudal organization of society. That growth generated both new possibilities and new threats. The new opportunities were reflected in the 18th century fairy tales in which the hero or other character was always "running away to the city to seek his fortune". In fact, he was no doubt running away from the bonds of serfdom that bound him to the country and the feudal estate.


There were two sorts of bonds that were destroyed by that growth of the towns and particularly by the markets and the commodity manufacture located there. On the one hand there were the bonds of fealty that governed the upper classes and the bonds of serfdom that held the working classes in their grip. The bonds of fealty were a function of the system of land tenure in which land was granted to someone who could mobilize troops {...} to fight for the king or the lord who had made the grant. This organized the upper classes into a hierarchy of landholding lords that stretched up to the king at the top. The market destroyed this form of bond by bringing in the buying and selling of land which turned {it} into private property. If I pay money and own the land as a piece of private property, this means that I owe no fealty to anyone on its behalf. [The English still maintain a mythical representation of those vanished feudal relations in the title deeds to land which still describe it as being held "in fee simple" -- supposedly meaning that "it is held directly from the monarch and by the monarch's grace". Pure myth!]


While private property destroyed those old feudal bonds of 'fealty' for the upper classes, the bonds of serfdom were destroyed by the introduction of the buying and selling of human labour power in connection with commodity manufacture in the towns. This gave the serfs the chance to run away to the towns "to seek their fortune" (as the fairytales had it).


These new relations and new possibilities gave rise to an individualism which expressed the fact that one's life was no longer strictly determined by a birth that carried serfdom with it, or on the other hand, perhaps a title and feudal obligations to furnish fighting men for the use of a higher feudal lord. One now seemed free to determine one's own direction in life. This new self-image was first reflected in the Reformation and Luther's assignment of a direct relation between God and each individual on earth through {his or her} conscience, which was said to be 'God's voice' in each. This individualism was carried further by the Anabaptist rejection of the idea that an infant could be assigned to a particular church or a particular faith by baptism before the individual was capable of making an informed and rational choice in a matter of such importance.


This new self-image that had come in with the break-up of feudalism makes it perfectly understandable that the founders of modern philosophy put individualism as an axiom at its base -- one that insisted that humans were 'by nature' individuals and only later and artificially social creatures. This was the message of the Social Contract theory. The particularly fierce character of Hobbes' version of individualism which described "the natural state" of humanity as "the War of All against All" can be put down to the dominance of private property ("It's mine!") in the new social order and the looming of the class war between owners and workers in the particular historical situation of Hobbes' time.


To understand the other side of the new philosophy -- the pursuit of eternal and extra-human principles -- we need to take into account the perceived threat to society itself posed by the new individualism and the belief that it represented an underlying nature of humans to be separate from, and even antagonistic to others. This perceived threat was a genuine fear of the time, even if based on an untenable conception of human nature. It was produced by the destruction of the artificial bonds that defined feudalism and held feudal society together. Without them it seemed that society itself might fragment and human life descend into chaos, unless something else could be found that could bind humans together again. This something would have to stand outside and confront all humans equally. It also had to be changeless and eternal or else it could not be counted on to do that binding.


The Social Contract theory was really no more than a statement of the problem and hardly a suggestion of a solution. No one could really believe that there could have been a moment in the state of anti-social chaos when everyone came to the conclusion that it would be better to submit to some higher authority than to go on warring. As Arthur MacIver used to say, all one has to do is to ask "in what language were the negotiations for the 'contract' supposed to have been conducted?" -- for the whole picture to fall apart. It appeared to the philosophers of that time that some genuine binding force had to be found to prevent the decent into a chaos of the sort that the Social Contract pictured since their imagined 'human nature' as individualistic seemed to threaten such a decent. Without the advantage of our knowledge of the sweep of human history going back hundreds of millennia, they could not see that their conception of a fixed 'human nature' was a non-starter. Saddled with a 'human nature' as Hobbes’ conceived it, the species homo would never have been able to make the transition "from herd to tribe" and would have ended up at a much lower level that those animals that live in herds or hunt in packs since it would have been incapable of doing either.


The result of all this was that the problems they wrongly perceived as threatening pushed the new philosophers to adopt a program and a conception of the urgent business of philosophy, which in the end generated an ideology which denied human creativity in the name of saving humanity from chaos. Since even Christianity was at that time fragmenting into many sects (in the 16th century there were something like thirty different sects of Anabaptists in the Netherlands alone!) it could not be appealed to solve the problem. And in any case, subsequent history has shown too painfully that religion and even the belief in God can fuel the most murderous and genocidal conflicts. The philosophers were moved by the belief that something else had to be found that could reveal itself to all humans equally and bind them together.


The historical framework of thought we are trying to develop turns all of this on its head and empties the nonsense out of it. It puts sociability and the social at the base of our understanding of things by making human practices the starting point -- just as Newton made 'mechanical practice' the foundation and starting point for geometry and our understanding of it. It also puts purposiveness, creativity and producing as the starting points of our humanity. We had to produce ourselves as producers and create ourselves as creators in becoming human and it is this that defines that transition "from herd to tribe".


I hope I have given some indication of the enormous scope of the historical framework of thought to give us an unmystified understanding of things and to help us sweep away what has been in effect an ideology hiding our essential creativity and sociability. I hope it also makes clear the huge amount that needs still to be done in applying that historical perspective to our understandings and in dismantling the mystifications that have reigned in the modern era.


When all that philosophic work is done we will still face the even greater task of putting that new understanding of ourselves and the world to use in setting about creating a social and economic system that will do justice to that sociability and creativity that have been denied and buried under the essentially antagonistic relations generated by private property and capitalism.


This chapter may be the final one of the present book but it is really only an indication of so much that remains to be done.




1. I have discussed the emptiness and impossibility of the 'approach' conception of scientific progress in Chapter 11, "On Misunderstanding Science" in my book Philosophy and Mystification. Thomas Kuhn wrote of that chapter "I could not have identified my position so clearly at the time I wrote Structure". It is because of his insistence that the sciences can only be properly understood historically that I regard him as setting out a view that could have been inspired by Historical Materialism, though I am pretty certain that it was not and that Kuhn came to his historical view of the sciences on his own.


Return To The Main Index


Guy's Other Essays


Back To The Top


© Guy Robinson 2012


Hits Since 23/11/2012


frontpage stats
Dell coupon codes