Comrades, excuse me for another "outburst". This time, while holding to most of what I have already said in our discussion, I am taking a huge piece from Cyril.
When I said: "Epistemology is the Essence of Philosophy", this was wrong; specifically "Epistemology is the Essence of Bourgeois Philosophy". And the Essence of Proletarian philosophy is Ethics. The Ground of Epistemology is Value (in the sense of political economy); the Ground of Ethics is the negation of value - the voluntary relation of a person to another.
Davie has asked me to clarify what I mean by "the Essence of". I mean it in the sense of section 3 of Chapter One of Capital "The Form of Value". In this section Marx traces the development of value through a series of contradictory forms which overtake one another until able to reach its fullest development subsequent to the appearance of capital, in the society of generalised commodity production.
The whole development of bourgeois philosophy from Copernicus to Hegel (and Marx) is an essential part of the social struggle against feudalism, which hardly needs further elaboration since this has been done already. Beneath this there is of course the development of trade and industry, the science and technique supporting it, but philosophy is the most concentrated expression of and weapon in this struggle. There is Ethics as well, in the form initially of reform of Christian dogma and later Bentham, Mill etc., but this is Ethics "in-itself", for how can there be a real question of Ethics in a society in which individuals relate to one another as commodities, in a society sundered by alienation between people, alienated from itself - there can be no question of "Freedom", or consequently of Ethics.
This can only arise on the basis of a completion of the process of Knowedge up to the ovethrow of the system of generalised commodity production and the destruction of Capital on which it rests.
How does the working class come forward within capitalism? Marx's Critique of the Gotha Program is important in this respect. Marx actually chracterises "Right" as essentially bourgeois. [I remember when I first joined the Healyites, finding all this stuff about "defending workers' rights" odd. Of course, I accepted that this was necessary, as it is, but it is bourgeois consciousness, the "in-itself" of proletarian consciousness].
Marx then puts forward the slogan of "To each according to their labour, from each according to their ability" as the ethic of the society still stamped with the habits of the old society, and striving towards a truly human existence under the Ethic of "From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs" (none of this is verified, so excuse me if I misquote, hopefully not badly).
Bill Deller and I have formed a view in recent years that the appropriate way to organise in the workers movement is not "politically" - forming alliance based on political affinity - but more "ethically". Note that "ethics" is about "how to live/work", and this encompasses program in a sense, but not in the sense of having an agreement about analysis of history, etc. I think the view I am putting forward legitimises this approach.
And look at the youth cultures. Oppositions to "society" which come forward as "life-styles"; no program or "theory of knowledge"; and the response of capital is to transform them into commodities. The day of the revolution will be the day capitalism is unable to transform a vibrant youth movement into a commodity. It may seem very "idealistic" to come forward against capitalism with an ethic. But the overthrow of capitalism simply means that people go about their business without having to "balance the books" with every transaction; the day we live by Ethics and not by "economic rationalism" is the day capitalism is over.
This is not a question of epistemology bad, ethics good. Far from it! Engels said "The proof must be derived from history itself: ... This conception, however, puts an end to philosophy in the realm of history, ... It is no longer a question anywhere of inventing interconnections from out of our brains, but of discovering them in the facts ..." and in fact philosophy in the old sense DID come to an end, and the question of knowledge was taken up in each of the spheres of natural and social science for a whole period (during which the philosophical achievements of the previous two hundred years were largely forgotten) or in opposition to that development especially among reactionary elements, and then we have a completely different line of development which I now want to comprehend. I think Karl Korsch was on the right track with his "Marxism & Philosophy" (1923).
I've just brought Keynes' "Scope and Method of Political Economy" and Milton Friedman's "Methodology of Positive Economics" home and I look forward to seeing what they have to say!
As I have said before, I believe that the insane epistemology of most post-modern philosophers (e.g. post-strucuralists I think, I refer specifically to that school of "philosophers" who take subjective idealism for granted and talk about interrogating texts, discourses, and so on - obviously, we are all "post-modern in the sense that we are products of the current historical juncture) is reflective of a society in which the Value relation no longer rests on gold-standard and credit predominates absolutely. We have arrived at this point through a number of social stages, and I think it is necessary to trace the Value-knowledge relation over this period, ( particularly, as well the fate of the workers movement, and the relation between the different capitalist powers) if we are to know how to overthrow the spell of capitalism in this period.