I agree with Morawski who wrote that belief systems are delimited by interests. My focus for the last thirty two years has been on understanding and exposing how those limitations function in the philosophy of capitalist ideology and on going beyond them. This is why I have had so much difficulty with and rejection by time-serving academics – all the more so because of Australia’s authoritarian, anti-intellectual, shame-based and servile culture.
In his Materialism and Empirio-criticism Lenin wrote of the brilliant development of materialism by Marx and Engels from mechanical to dialectical (significantly in response to scientific developments, a point lost on contemporary Western scientists whose work is increasingly stunted by capitalist ideology and its philosophical idealism), but I disagree with him when he wrote that in doing this, Marx and Engels brought the development of materialism to its culmination.
Firstly, such a statement is un-dialectical (it is amazing that, in theorising ‘end-points’, some of the greatest dialecticians – Hegel, Marx and Lenin – could make such a basic error). Secondly, developments in brain science are more and more showing an appreciation of how the brain functions wholistically (I think this relates to your point, because they are just steps to go from the brain as a unit to the brain in a body and that body in a social world) and in the process better understanding what ‘reason’ is, its rich and dynamic nature – the same ‘reason’ philosophers not only believe they engage in (which Lenin superbly exposed and mocked in his Materialism and Empirio-criticism) but also, in its manifestation, utterly take for granted – exemplified by Descartes’ ‘cogito ergo sum’.
This is why I argue that mysticism (its perspective and methods) and its profound relationship with materialism must be thoroughly examined. Capitalist ideology, its philosophy and epistemology, are nothing but a mounting impediment to this, to our engagement with the world and our knowledge of it.
Hi Phil – I never quite understand what you mean when you connect materialism and mysticism in this way. Do they have anything in common? Or is it that you see mysticism as a similar kind of constraint in philosophy?
Hello Peter, Marx acknowledged his debt to Hegel’s mystical philosophy in Capital. My connection between the two is in agreement with Marx. Marxist dialectics embody the developments of Western mysticism – from Plotinus through Proclus, Cusanus and Böhme, particularly with regard to contradiction. Marx stood those developments ‘on their feet’.
You processed ‘mysticism as a similar kind of constraint…’ To what?
As a materialist, while I don’t advocate for the practice of mysticism, I do argue that there is much that we can learn from it, particularly with regard to the nature of ‘reason’. What is reason? How do we reason? Is there more than one way to reason? What do mystics mean by ‘intuition’ and how do they intuit? What is the relationship, if any, between reason and intuition? And how do ‘the emotions’ relate with this?
What do you think? Phil
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Ah. Thanks. I think I see. Interesting.
By constraint, I thought that perhaps you were seeing mysticism as a constraint on philosophical thought as is materialism. It is an odd mix though, and it does confuse me. I would say that the use of logic renders materialism implausible since the two cannot be reconciled. But there you go, it takes all sorts. I can see what you’re getting at about taking account of certain parts of the mystical writings, but here logic would be used to refute materialism so maybe you can understand a bit of confusion at my end. But I do ‘get’ where you’re coming from now.