The Early Days of a Better Nation

Monday, July 25, 2005

Comment on Monod

Jim Farmelant writes:
I found it curious that you devoted a post on your blog to Jacques Monod's Chance and Necessity, with particular emphasis on Monod's critique of dialectical materialism and Marxism.  Monod's critique of dialectical materialism, and especially of the dialectics of nature, is, as you note, hardly unprecedented in the history of Marxism.  Various Marxists, including Georg Lukacs, Sidney Hook, Lucio Coletti, and G.A. Cohen, amongst others, representing a variety of schools within the Marxist tradition, all presented rather similar critiques of diamat.  Whether the abandonment of the dialectics of nature necessarily entails the abandonment of the materialist conception of history, as Monod seemed to think, seems quite a different matter.  Cohen, for instance, while rejecting the dialectics of nature, back in 1978, seemed to think that historical materialism was quite defensible on its own.  And even while since then, he has seriously qualified his endorsement of historical materialism, I think that he would still maintain that the merits or demerits of the materialist conception of history can be assessed quite independently of those of the dialectics of nature.
It is also interesting to note that some of the logical empiricists, especially Otto Neurath and Philipp Frank were rather sympathetic towards Marxism. And even Rudolf Carnap, in discussing the matter in the Schilpp volume, The Philosophy of Rudolf Carnap, gave his endorsement to the materialist conception of history. See:
BTW you might be interested in Althusser's evaluation of Monod, which can be found at:
[P.S.] BTW, I forgot to mention that a little while back I picked up a recent edition of Monod's book which featured an introductory essay by the late John Maynard Smith, who endorsed
Monod's thesis concerning Marxism, while making mention of the fact, that he (Maynard Smith) was an ex-Marxist and an ex-Communist.
More on the dialectics of nature some other time, but for now I'd like to thank Jim for his comment.


Post a Comment