Consciousness, praxis, and reality
Marxism vs. phenomenology
The beginning of phenomenology is the reassertion of subjectivity. The beginning of Marxism is the attack upon subjectivity. To contrast Marxism and phenomenology is to find, in the first place, the common point of departure for each, the common Problematik to which each addresses itself. Otherwise, we are in the strange position of counter-posing two indifferent world-views, two incommensurable methodologies, without mediation. It is clear, from the history of the subject, that Marxism and phenomenology are not alien to each other: first, phenomenological themes lie at the heart of the origins of Marxism, in Hegel and Feuerbach; second, there is a major current within Marxist theory which engages phenomenology, if it does not in fact adopt its stance. (I refer here to Lukacs, and to an East-European Marxism, usually characterized as revisionism or Marxist Humanism, as well as to contemporary neo-Marxism of the Frankfurt or Italian variety.) Third, a major accommodation, as well as critique of Marxism characterizes the problematic "Marxism" of the French phenomenologists, such as Sartre and Merleau-Ponty. I do not plan to enter into either a reconstruction of the Marxism of the phenomenologists or the phenomenology of the Marxists, or into the specific jargon of the schools. Just as "ordinary language philosophy" had become at one point, a small cottage industry in England (with branches abroad), this Marxism-phenomenology interaction has become a massive production enterprise of the word-mills of Europe and America. The product is recognizable by its union labels: it is stitched with a plethora of philosophical neologisms, sometimes to the extent that the garment is hidden by the labels. These range from Hegelisms of the pour-soi—en-soi sort to Hellenisms of the noema—noesis sort, to plain old teutonisms of the Vorhanden—Verfallen sort. Nor do I mean to be snide with respect to philosophy's right and need to recreate language and to neologize. We pursue our human inquiry through language and in language, and the shape and forms of expression are not simply images of our thought but its structures as well. Still, I will try not to ignore but to neutralize some of the divergence of expression, in the service of an analysis and critique.
Wartofsky, M.W. (1977)., Consciousness, praxis, and reality: Marxism vs. phenomenology, in D. Ihde & R. Zaner (eds.), Interdisciplinary phenomenology, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 133-151.
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