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Engels Without Dogmatism

  • John O’Neill

Abstract

Both friends and critics of Marxism standardly subscribe to what might be characterized as the Andy Pandy theory of the relationship between Marx and Engels. I refer here to a children’s programme, thankfully no more, in which the two central characters, Andy Pandy and Teddy, live in the same box and dance the same steps to the same tune: however, stiff limbed Teddy always does so badly, normally falling flat on his face, that Andy Pandy has to be asked to show him how to do it properly. (The only female character, Looby Loo, is silent throughout and moves only when the menfolk leave, but that is another story.) Thus it is with the relationship between Marx and Engels: the stiff and ponderous Engels attempts the same lines of thought as his intellectually more supple partner, but never quite does it properly, producing crude, dogmatic and indefensible versions of the ideas that Marx, especially in his notebooks (and Marx has become a theorist read through his notebooks), defends in more subtle and undogmatic forms. It is not my aim in this paper to show that there is no truth in the Andy Pandy theory: I think it may well be right about a number of common matters on which both wrote. I do want here to show it to be wrong about one doctrine defended by both Engels and Marx, that is their shared commitment to scientific socialism.

Keywords

Scientific Socialism Universal Statement Infinite Domain Ultimate Truth Singular Statement 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    T. Ball, ‘Marxian Science and Positivist Politics,’ in T. Ball and J. Farr (eds), After Marx (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984).Google Scholar
  2. For similar lines of argument see also J. Femia, ‘Marxism and Radical Democracy,’ Inquiry, Vol. 28, 1985: 293–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 2.
    P. Thomas, ‘Marx and Science,’ Political Studies, Vol. 24, 1976: 1–23, p. 2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    The most thorough of such researches is probably Carver’s: see T. Carver, Engels (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981), Chs 6–7; T. Carver, Marx and Engels: The Intellectual Relationship (Brighton: Harvester, 1983)Google Scholar
  5. T. Carver, ‘Marxism and Method,’ in T. Ball and J. Farr (eds), After Marx (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984).Google Scholar
  6. See also the remarks on the relationship in P. Thomas, ‘Marx and Science,’ Political Studies, Vol. 24, 1976:1–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. T. Ball, ‘Marxian Science and Positivist Politics,’ in T. Ball and J. Farr (eds), After Marx (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984).Google Scholar
  8. 5.
    There are writers who do not subscribe to the standard caricatures, most notably, perhaps, Putnam. See, for example, his comments on Engels in B. Magee, Men of Ideas (London: BBC, 1978), p. 237.Google Scholar
  9. 6.
    It forms, for example, the basic plot of the excellent A. Chalmers, What Is This Thing Called Science (Milton Keynes: The Open University Press, 1976).Google Scholar
  10. 7.
    F. Engels, The Dialectics of Nature (Moscow: Progress, 1954), p. 241.Google Scholar
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    K. Popper, Objective Knowledge (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p. 7.Google Scholar
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    J.M. Keynes, A Treatise on Probability (London: Macmillan, 1921), p. 256.Google Scholar
  14. 13.
    K. Popper, Objective Knowledge (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), pp. 97–9.Google Scholar
  15. 14.
    O. Neurath, ‘Pseudorationalism of Falsificationism,’ in R.S. Cohen and M. Neurath (eds), Philosophical Papers 1913–1946 (Dordrecht: Reidel, 1983). Neurath’s criticisms of Popper in 1935 anticipate many of Feyerabend’s later criticisms of Popper without falling into the irrationalism of Feyerabend’s position.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    See R. Bhaskar, A Realist Theory of Science, 2nd edn (Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1989), and Scientific Realism and Human Emancipation (London: Verso, 1986), Chs 1 and 2.Google Scholar
  17. 24.
    Ibid., p. 232. For a development of both this assumption and that of the interconnectedness of nature see D. Bohm, Causality and Chance in Modern Physics (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1957), Ch. 5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 26.
    I restate Engels’s problem in such terms in J. O’Neill, ‘Two Problems of Induction,’ British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 40, 1989: 121–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 27.
    I. Lakatos, ‘Necessity, Kneale and Popper,’ in J. Worrall and G. Currie (eds), Lakatos, Philosophical Papers 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), p. 123.Google Scholar
  20. 28.
    D. Hilbert, ‘On the Infinite,’ in P. Beneraceff and H. Putnam (eds), Philosophy of Mathematics (New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1964), p. 136.Google Scholar
  21. 34.
    For a useful recent discussion of this point see A. Collier, Critical Realism (London: Verso, 1994), Ch. 8.Google Scholar
  22. 47.
    A. Pannekoek, ‘Introduction,’ in J. Dietzgen The Positive Outcome of Philosophy (Chicago: Kerr, 1906), p. 28.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • John O’Neill

There are no affiliations available

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