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Social Structure and Forms of Consciousness, Vol. I: The Social Determination of Method

Learn how to enable JavaScript on your browser. This new work the first in a two-volume series by the leading Marxian philosopher of our day is a milestone in human self-understanding. It focuses on the location where action emerges from freedom and necessity, thefoundation of all social science. Today, as never before, the investigation of the close relationship between social structure—defined by Marx as "arising from the life-process of definite individuals"—and the various forms of consciousness is particularly important.

We can only perceive what is possible by first identifying the historical process that constrains consciousness itself and therefore social action. The relationship between social structure and forms of consciousness discussed in this volume is multifaceted and profoundly dialectical. It requires the presentation of a great wealth of historical material and the assessment of the relevant philosophical literature, from Descartes through Hegel and the Liberal tradition to the present, together with their connections with political economy and political theory.

Social Structure and Forms of Consciousness - István Mészáros - Google книги

Above all, in the spirit of the Marxian approach, even the most complicated problems are always analyzed in relation to the major practical concerns of our time. It is the very ability for people to live "in accordance with their chosen aims and objectives" based on "not simply formal but substantive equality" that defines a socialist society.


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It is the overcoming of the "stranglehold of exchange-value over humanly adopted and gratifying use-value" that must be realised for this to happen. History, however, remains open-ended.

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Social Structure and Forms of Consciousness is directed at an academic audience and its prose is likely to be offputting to a wider readership. It is, however, worth keeping in mind that this can be an unfortunate necessity when tearing through the various philosophers of capitalism, themselves guilty of presenting a worldview incomprehensible to the average person. He does quote extensively from the relevant texts to assist the reader but Social Structure will prove particularly difficult for those who do not start with at least a passing knowledge of political philosophy.

Presenting a critique of years of philosophy was never likely to be simple or short. As Marx wrote in Capital , "there is no royal road to science, and only those who do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits. It may be hard going but nobody will fail to gain a greater understanding of both the shortcomings of bourgeois thought and the necessity for socialism if they persevere through these dense but rewarding books.

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