Dialectics as a method of social research
Seminar given at the IIRE, Amsterdam,
on 15 January 2008
Part I. A general introduction.
As well known, Marx did not
explicitly write a work on dialectics. Nevertheless, he thought it would be
possible to make intelligible to people with ordinary intelligence in a few pages
what is rational in the method “which Hegel discovered and at the same
time mystified”. In spite of Marx’s warning that Hegel mystified dialectics, traditionally,
commentators have tried to force Marx into conformity with Hegel. I will depart
from this tradition and will submit a notion of dialectics as a method of
social research, a method focused exclusively on social reality. This method is
extracted from Marx’s own work rather than from Hegel’s work. I argue that it is
internally consistent with Marx’s
theory and therefore capable of further
developing that theory in order to account for capitalism’s new features.