[Marxism] Wittgenstein, Marxism, and 'developing reality'

Gabriel Citron gabriel.citron at univ.ox.ac.uk
Sun Dec 12 16:07:30 MST 2010

Dear List -

Last February John Moran's article, 'Wittgenstein and Russia' (New Left Review, I/73, 1972), was posted on this list (at: http://lists.econ.utah.edu/pipermail/marxism/2010-February/060942.html). In the article Moran quotes a discussion between Wittgenstein and Rush Rhees about "the Marxist (or dialectical materialist) notion of 'a developing reality' " (I will paste the full discussion below). I was wondering if anyone from the list could point me in the direction of some sources, which Wittgenstein and Rhees could have read, which discuss this notion of a 'developing reality'. Ideally I would be interested in sources in Marx himself - but if not from Marx, then from any of the important Marxists or dialectical materialists from before the Second World War. Any tips or leads at all would be very much appreciated.

Please e-mail me at: gabriel.citron at univ.ox.ac.uk<mailto:gabriel.citron at univ.ox.ac.uk>

If I receive a few answers I can post a summary to the list.

Many thanks,
Gabriel Citron

Moran's full report of the discussion is as follows:

"As against Rhees himself, who ‘found the Marxist (or dialectical materialist) notion of “a developing reality” weird and incomprehensible’ apart from such matters as developments in the structure of the earth’s crust, Wittgenstein was quick to suggest that it could be given a good sense. For example, as the methods of showing ‘what is so’ develop, so too does the meaning of the expression ‘what is so’; accordingly it can be said that ‘“reality” has meant something different at different stages in the development of science’. Rhees thought he intended this not as exegesis of Marx but as an account of what he considered sound in Marx’s idea."

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