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Contemporary American Orthodox Marxist Rhetoric

Une recension de "La théorie de la connaissance chez Marx"

© Copyright 2002 by Owen Williamson

(extrait – le texte complet sur http://utminers.utep.edu/omwilliamson/thesisthesis.doc)

In contrast to the relative poverty of English-language scholarly resources directly addressing classic Marxism and rhetoric, several important works on this question have been published  fairly recently in French, but have evidently not yet been made available in English.  Among these published works, philosophy scholar Denis Collin’s 1996 study, La théorie de la connaissance chez Marx (“Marx’s Theory of Knowledge”) is a remarkably original and accessible study of classic Marxist gnoseology, and a valuable tool for exploring how Marx understood knowledge-formation, and by implication, persuasion23.  The book explores in depth how indebted Marx is to Hegel and to the latter’s theories, which Collin suggests permeate even Marx’s most “materialist” works, including Capital.  (121)  The author sums up Marx’s theory of knowledge (and, by extension, of persuasion as well) as a process of unveiling of illusion24, and charges that orthodox Marxism has fallen into a practical functionalism that is unfaithful to Marx (171-2).  As Collin points out, Marx’s approach toward language is far more complex than the simple, static and reductive model sometimes assumed from his materialist principles:

Représenter l’ensemble des rapports sociaux selon ce schéma de la communication, c’est encore faire un usage métaphorique ou rhétorique des concepts et non un usage scientifique, puisqu'on réduit l'individu vivant à un locuteur, et de plus à un locuteur qui parle à quelqu’un d’autre. Or, l’individu ne fait pas que parler; il est un individu qui s’éprouve dans sa vie immédiate et pour lequel il n'y a pas toujours déjà des signes et des mots. D'autre part, Marx met en garde contre l'assimilation des rapports d’échange au langage. Ainsi : « Comparer l'argent au langage n’est pas moins faux. Les idées ne sont pas transformées dans ;e langage de telle sorte que leur particularité s'y trouve dissoute ou que leur caractère social figure à côte d’elles dans le langage, comme les prix à côte des marchandises. Les idées n'existent pas séparées du langage.25 

This problematic but valuable analysis suggests that any approach to a Marxist rhetoric that would remain in some manner faithful to the ideas of Marx must be neither mechanistic nor formulaic. It suggests that, beyond even taking into account the ethos and logos of the rhetor (as in classical rhetorical theory), Marxist rhetoric(s) must treat the rhetor as, first of all, a living human being, both a maker and a participant of history in its materialist sense.  Collin’s injunctions to avoid, on the one hand, “reducing the living individual to a speaker,” and on the other, assimilating material relationships into language, chart an interesting possible “middle course” for a Marxist approach to persuasion.  However, his conclusions remain problematic in that he limits the concept of “rhetor” to the individual, rather than exploring the concept of the collective rhetor, as discussed later in this work.

Ecrit par dcollin le Vendredi 25 Mars 2005, 20:50 dans "Marx, Marxisme" Lu 4738 fois. Version imprimable

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