Social Structure and Forms of Conciousness, Volume 2: The Dialectic of Structure and History

Overview

In The Dialectic of Structure and History, Volume Two of Social Structure and Forms of Consciousness, István Mészáros brings the comprehension of our condition and the possibility of emancipatory social action beyond the highest point reached to date. Building on the indicatory flashes of conceptual lightning in the Grundrisse and other works of Karl Marx, Mészáros sets out the relations of structure and agency, individual and society, base and superstructure, nature and ...

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Social Structure and Forms of Conciousness, Volume 2: The Dialectic of Structure and History

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Overview

In The Dialectic of Structure and History, Volume Two of Social Structure and Forms of Consciousness, István Mészáros brings the comprehension of our condition and the possibility of emancipatory social action beyond the highest point reached to date. Building on the indicatory flashes of conceptual lightning in the Grundrisse and other works of Karl Marx, Mészáros sets out the relations of structure and agency, individual and society, base and superstructure, nature and history, in a dialectical totality open to the future.

The project is brought to its conclusion by means of critique, an analysis that shows not only the inadequacies of the thought critiqued but at the same time their social historical cause. The crucial questions are addressed through critique of the highest point of honest and brilliant thought in capital’s ascending phase, that of Adam Smith, Kant, and Hegel, as well as the irrationalities and dishonesty of the apologists of the capital system’s descending phase, such as Hayek and Popper. The dead ends of both Lévi-Strauss’s structuralism and post-modernism, arising from their denial of history, are placed in their context as capital-apologetics.

What Mészáros, the leading Marxist philosopher of our times, has achieved is of world historical importance. He has cleared the philosophical ground to permit the illumination of a path to transcend the destructive death spiral of the capital system.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

““The Pathfinder” of 21st Century Socialism.”
-Hugo Chavez,President of Venezuela

“István Mészáros is one of the few people who has made essential contributions to the body of Marxist thought. Like Marx, he is not easy to read, but he is definitely worth the effort.”
-Michael A. Lebowitz,author of The Socialist Alternative and Build It Now

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781583672358
  • Publisher: Monthly Review Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2011
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

István Mészáros is a world-renowned philosopher and critic. He left his native Hungary after the Soviet invasion of 1956. He is professor emeritus at the University of Sussex, where he held the chair of philosophy for fifteen years. Meszaros is author of The Challenge and Burden of Historical Time, Beyond Capital, The Power of Ideology, The Work of Sartre, and Marx’s Theory of Alienation.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 9

1 The Nature of Historical Determination 33

1.1 Material Imperatives and the "Active Side" 33

1.2 Philosophical Foundations of Historical Materialism 36

1.3 The Poverty of "Anti-Historicism" 46

1.4 Concepts and Metaphors: A Problem of Method 53

1.5 Technological Determinism and Dialectics 56

1.6 The Dialectic of Structure and History 60

2 Dialectical Transformations: Teleology, History, and Social Consciousness 67

2.1 Social Interaction and Uneven Development 67

2.2 Problematical Character of Labor's Spontaneous Teleology 69

2.3 Interdependence and Global Control 78

2.4 The Structural Constraints of Social Consciousness 80

3 Key Concepts in the Dialectic of Base and Superstructure 85

3.1 Hasty Rejection of the Marxian Conceptual Framework 85

3.2 Reproduction of the Operating Conditions of Production 101

3.3 Customs, Tradition and Explicit Law: Historical Boundaries of the Legal and Political Superstructure 115

4 Material Transformations and Ideological Forms 143

4.1 Historical Conditions and Limits of "Free Spiritual Production" 143

4.2 Key Aspects of Mediation in the Dialectic of Base and Superstructure 166

4.3 Ideology and "False Consciousness" 188

4.4 Radical Transformation of the Legal and Political Superstructure 199

5 Kant, Hegel, Marx: Historical Necessity and the Standpoint of Political Economy 241

5.1 Preliminaries 241

5.2 Theology, Teleology, and Philosophy of History 244

5.3 The Kantian Conception of Historical Development 247

5.4 The Radical Openness of History 253

5.5 Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of History 254

5.6 Naturalistic and Dialectical Conceptions of Necessity 275

5.7 Need and Necessity in the Historical Dialectic 280

5.8 The Conflation of Natural and Historical Necessity 282

5.9 The Disappearing Necessity of Historical Necessity 285

6 Structure and History: The Dialectical Intelligibility of Historical Development 297

6.1 Preliminaries 297

6.2 The Dynamics of Need, Necessity, and Epochally Sustained Structural Change 305

6.3 Material and Formal Structures of History: Critique of Sartre's Conception of Dialectical Reason and Historical Totalization 355

6.4 Structural Imperatives and Historical Temporality: Critique of Structuralism and Post-Structuralism 398

6.5 The Law of Uneven Development and the Role of Scarcity in Historical Conceptions 431

6.6 The Dialectical Nature of Historical Change and Advancement 454

Index 507

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