What *object* or *entity* does psychology study?

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Mon Jan 10 00:15:32 PST 2000

>Sure, but you could--and should--say the same thing about historical
>materialism, in whatever forms it takes (i.e parties, nation-states,
>publishing houses, e-mail lists, etc.)

In a communist society, if human beings ever achieve it, historical materialism is not likely to be an indispensable tool, and thus it can imagine its own future irrelevance and hopes to achieve it (and that is why Marx & Engels refrained from speaking in detail about what communism will be like, except in a negative manner, "limited for the most part to what will disappear"). On the other hand, religion, psychoanalysis, etc. do not think of, within their respective premises, their historical conditions of emergence and possible future obsolescence and disappearance.

>It seems to me
>imagining *kinds* of dialectics could be pretty useful, eh? I mean, against
>the idea that there is "an" historical dialectic? That's at least one use
>that isn't explanatory, but descriptive/analytic, and it seems to me very

Roy Bhaskar is very big on a project of "imagining *kinds* of dialectics." If you are interested, see especially _Dialectic: The Pulse of Freedom_. I don't know if the book is worth the time it takes to read, however, so I don't go so far as to endorse it. Anyhow, the objective of the book, according to Bhaskar, is as follows:

***** What is developed in this work is neither Hegelian dialectic nor, to my knowledge, any other pre-existing form of dialectic, but a critical realist dialectic. A major point of reference throughout this book will certainly be Hegelian dialectic, and in the course of it I hope to realize Marx's unconsummated desire 'to make accessible to the ordinary human intelligence'...'what is _rational_ in the method which Hegel discovered and at the same time mystified', as well as to clarify the exact relation between Marx's own dialectic and Hegel's....But I will be discussing a variety of other dialectical (and anti-dialectical) modes, including Aristotelian dialectic, Kantian dialectic and Derridean deconstruction. (_Dialectic: The Pulse of Freedom_ 1) *****

>I haven't been keeping up with Slavoj's stuff as I should, but some of the
>recent stuff I've liked, especially since he seems pretty unabashed about
>recovering crucial parts of modernity's "incomplete project" of which
>socialism would have to be a part. The fantasy that you can construct
>anything resembling a just society that won't have any of the residual forms
>of the "old order" seems ridiculous to me--rejecting psychology and religion
>out of hand seems like a gesture of incredible privilege--or epistemic
>violence, whathaveyou.

What is "epistemic violence"? There is nothing "incredibly privileged" about being non-believers in religion and psychoanalysis. My parents didn't go to college -- my father was a steelworker, my mother has done a variety of low-wage service jobs -- but neither believes in any religion, for instance. Psycoanalysis, if anything, has been mainly relatively well-off people's therapy; one might say that belief in psychoanalysis is (or at least was once) a sign of "privilege" (whatever "privilege" is). Anyway, according to Verso, Zizek's project for _The Fragile Absolute: Or, Why the Christian Legacy is Worth Fighting For_ is this: "How is a Marxist to counter this massive onslaught of obscurantism? The wager of Zizek's "The Fragile Absolute" is that Christianity and Marxism should fight together against the onslaught of new spiritualism. The subversive core of the Christian legacy is much too precious to be left to the fundamentalists." So, in Zizek's case, he's not recommending any old "residual form of the 'old order.'" His recommendation is very specific: to interpret Christianity as a religion that possesses a "subversive core" unlike other religions and to combine it with Marxism. And I reject that. (Besides, it won't find any taker in Japan, nor will it among believers of other religions. It's not likely to appeal to the anti-Marxist among Christians either. Even among the left-leaning Christians who don't reject Marxism, Zizek's call to fight against "the onslaught of new spiritualism" is likely to be a turn-off, in that such Christians tend to be very ecumenical in the broadest sense. Perhaps such possibilities don't bother Zizek, since he has recommended Eurocentrism as well. I, for one, don't, however, equate Eurocentrism with "modernity's 'incomplete project.'")


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