Materialism defined, Part 2

Materialism is the beautiful failure of a worldview to coincide with itself.

This explains Marx's fascination with Hegel.  It seems odd, and counterintuitive, that Marx (I was about to say, "Marx, given his general outlook on things... his... worldview"... but let's not complicate things)..... It seems odd and counterintuitive that Marx would be interested in Hegel, and especially strange that Marx would remain interested in Hegel.  Plenty of people try to tidy this confusion up by asserting that the "Young Marx" was interested in Hegel, but that eventually he put away these childish things, grew up, and in his maturity developed something that had absolutely nothing to do with Hegel.  But scholarship does not support this nice, neat (worldview?) division.  Instead, it appears Marx kept turning back to Hegel, again and again throughout his career.  Why?  Marx was interested, not in any of Hegel's positive conclusions (indeed, he was quite critical of these) but in Hegel's method, and saw in it the possibility of a method of materialism, a materialism that is dialectical.

Hegel's method was to go through a series of "shapes of consciousness" (bewusstseinsgestalten), and to perform immanent critique on each one of them - that is, not to criticize them "from outside," from a set of criteria external to them, but to realize the ways in which they fail their own criteria, or, better yet, in which the criteria themselves fail.  Marx was not trying to turn the clock back to a pre-critical representationalism, a "correspondence theory of truth," but rather used Hegel's own method against Hegel's own conclusions.  Marx had his own way of describing this immanent criticism: "I am therefore not in favor of hoisting our own dogmatic banner.  Quite the reverse.  We must try to help the dogmatists to clarify their ideas."  In like manner, we should try to use Marx's own method to critique the dogmatic "Marxists'" ideas, and thus go beyond Marxism.

When a worldview does not coincide fully with itself, when a discrepancy becomes visible and two parallel views cease to be perfectly aligned, only then does the perception of depth - insight - become possible.


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