Thursday, 24 February 2000

From "Knowledge and Class"

By Stephen A. Resnick & Richard D. Wolff.

As we understand it, then, Marxian theory holds that all theories, including itself, are overdetermined discursive formations of concepts. Marxian theory holds further that all theories produce distinct knowledges of the social totality in which they exist and by which they are overdetermined. Some of these theories produce essentialist knowledges, assigning to some social aspect(s) the role of origin, cause, telos, or subject of the other aspects (or assigning such roles to extrasocial, extrahuman entities). Marxian theory is, by contrast, nonessentialist or antiessentialist; it recognizes no aspect as the essence of another -- no origin, no telos, and no subject. Finally, for Marxian theory, no theory is or expresses the essence of an external reality and no theory is the phenomenon of such a reality functioning as its essence. Society is an overdetermined totality of mutually effective, mutually constitutive social and natural processes that are so many aspects of the totality. Marxian theory allows no essentialism of theory (rationalist or empiricist epistemology) and no essentialism in theory (determinist social theory).

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