Andy's Response to davie07.htm

"epistemology is ethical" - no, this is an unclear forumulation: epistemology is the study of the limits and validity of knowledge; ethics is the study of the consciousness of social practice. Clearly, there is a sense in which there can be no true ethics so long as practice is in the main formed by processes which are alien to the individual human being, but to say "epistemology is ethical" can only make sense if we equate ethics with how people actually live in any given epoch - i.e. under capitalism, an alienated existence.

What I am saying is:

Epistemology will not disappear, but the main question has already become, not epistemology but the actual acquisition of knowledge; now, over and above that - what to do with that knowledge;

"the kind of knowledge a society has is a reflection of the kind of society it is" - yes, I agree with that;

"subordinate" or "integrate" knowledge to the problem of how we should live": well that sounds like a good compromise to me. I think we have to "let go" of the desire to accumulate knowledge for a while, we have let go of the desire to control and centralise practice, to regulate and plan. I think that is the problem with the interpretation of socialism as "planned economy". I think the issue is to concentrate on how people should live and not on planning everything.

"late 19th century Marxism has attempted to reinforce its argument for the socialist transformation of society by appealing to 'historical necessity'". In relation to our discussion about positivism and what Lenin was on about in 1908, I think it is worth notig that this tendency in the 2nd International was nto unrelated to their capitulation to Positivism in the arena of Philosophy. Kautsky thought that Mach had the "last word" in philosophy.

"The idea that 'freedom is the recognition of necessity' ... comes from Hegel, where it plays a particular, and essential role in Hegel's system" - I thought so too, and then I tried to find where Hegel says this, and I don't think he does say it in the Logic in any case. What he does say is: "the notion is the truth of necessity" and "Necessity is blind only so long as it is not understood" [Logic, 147n] which is either a tautology or something quite different.

"The problem with Hegel's conception lies in the fact that it is completely passive" - well, that would not be my impression of the problem with Hegel. Marx says: "in contradistinction to materialism, the active side was developed abstractly by idealism" [Thesis I] and I think it reasonable to assume Marx has Hegel in mind more than anyone else.

"It leaves no room for human practice beyond the exercise of the mind." Well, Marx said that for Hegel practice was conceived "abstractly". I think that your formulation not the most fruitful approach.