Abraham Rotstein, Notes de fin de semaine IV

From Karl Polanyi
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Weekend Notes (Overview)

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Texte en anglais à traduire en français

G[eorge] B[ernard] Shaw

[2] Labor had a deep resentment against Shaw. They claimed he was a traitor to democracy. The upper classes claimed that Shaw probably did more to prepare the plebian government of England than any person.

No one has raised the question of what makes Shaw a success on the stage although his characters are only masks and have no serious conviction or life. There is no reason to raise the question of his being a poet or a great mind.

Priestley[1] (who is really a serious obstacle to anything serious anywhere) wrote an article on this subject in the New Statesman. It was a new angle on Major Barbara with everything put on the significance of her being a religious person and this being a religious piece.

Tu sum up Shaw is to transcend him, and the English can't. He was the most advanced thinker in is time on political theory. He reunited two basic ideas: 1) The life force idea taken from Nietzsche, ie the basic irrational element in reality – life against the mind. 2) The mind of the scholastics and Thomas Aquinas. The essence of human society was rooted in the character of which mind is made.

[3] Society is based on the unchangeable character of mind and the problems of life are answered through the structure of society, because they reflect the structure of mind. E.g. give the devil his due and let him loose and he will rebuild the world as it was. (Also the critic).

While in the Superman life is glorified, another man is needed. This is the extreme embodiment of Nietzschean irrationalism.

Shaw is the only thinker who bothered to analyse human institutions to their basic rational nature.

Every major thinker has two opposite ideas e.g. Marx, Hegel, Rousseau, and also Jesus and Paul state opposites in an indissoluble unity of temperament. That's why innumerable interpretations are possible on one line or the other: life and logos. There are always some who embody the life force. There is the creation of a baby, but the imagination is also conceptual. Conception is both biological and logical - body and mind.

At the same time he argues for marriage and claims that for society there is no danger of anarchism etc. e.g. Pygmalion. There is no use trying to evade the inherent necessities of a mind structure which human society actually is (through being heterodox, funny, etc.)

The whole mystery of saints is that there are saints e.g. Joan is an obvious situation discovers the obvious - the French nation. But the Roman church can't have nations and so she's burned. She was [4] supposed to work miracles but didn't. She was beginning to do what every Frenchman had to do. We describe these as miracles by pretending not to understand.

In Androcles and the Lion, Androcles is just a martyr and saint and the king can't withstand that. What he really touches on here is the greatest force of human existence – here, the saint.

Julius Caesar was caring not about himself but this duty.

In Shaw, the two most important possibilities reached their limit: 1) irrationality and the life force (people, races, etc.) 2) Equality, decency and progress.

This teaches you to rebuild human society under its rational content vs. its limitations. Then he criticizes democracy from this angle. The rational (logos) runs along mind principles. Concept is expressed as value. Then everything follows(?). Shaw doesn't accept utilitarian values as transcending.

Shaw's theorem is that there is no solution to life except the Superman as a biological entity. The play shows up the illusions of liberalism, which accepts neither the laws of the mind nor the facts of life. His criticism is of a world that doesn't accept the commitment of love and the life force, nor spirituality and logic, but cheaply evades both by conventional morality impossible. That is his criticism of ideologies, refuting their main position as not having a basis [5] (Mrs. Warren's Profession, Captain Brassbound's Conversion). They are not up to the basic facts on which people get their existence and act in everyday life.

What is not understood is the basic conservatism of accepting the reality of society as equal to the mind reality. The belief in freedom, equality and justice patly support and contradict each other.

But you can only say that of real things. Therefore you cannot disregard the spiritual source of your own life without destroying yourself.

The English critics never said what was the source of Shaw's effectiveness. He could write incredibly good plays with the greatest of ease.

Man exists on three levels:

  • The body. If you kick or pinch it hurts.
  • Psychological mechanism. You may hit him in his vanity in a psychological or emotional sense
  • Life is nourished from internal sources of faith and conscience which he can't contradict without destroying himself.

The secret of Shaw as a dramatist is that he never makes a move without a bullseye on one of these three sources. Shaw says that man exists on all three levels and this is true of all humans always. This is terribly original for we put either one or the other [6] higher e.g. either the serious or buffoonery or the psychological character.

P. once wrote on Shaw, just about fifty years ago in 1906, ”The Drama of the Economic Interpretation of History”[2]. He read all that Shaw had then written. P. just thought that it was the kind of play where ideologies are victims, exploding in the shifting realities - passive dramas where the heroes didn't act but are seted upon by circumstances. Then he was only 20, and ever since Shaw was one of P.'s favorites.

Shaw is a great poet and has a world of his own in which creating goes on, but he operates with the transubstantiation of men.

All men always and all the time are equally themselves on all three levels: 1) There is no man you cannot hurt by pinching his car, punching etc. 2) Character and psychology are expressed in human weaknesses like vanity. 3) The same man, however he may be is a spiritual being.

The secret of the plays is that Shaw never ceases to be 100% effective on one these levels moving up and down the scale all the time. No one ever conceived of a scale(?) related to the interpretation of man's life in society with logos and bios.

There is the reality of the mind. The mind is real and you cannot act against its law. The characters are appearing to act against [7] the reality of society, e.g. the skeptic, the anarchist, but Shaw doesn't give it this way.

Eros, sex, hunger, struggle for survival and imagination are of the same nature. (Heartbreak House, where the old genius, the skipper is head of an upper class family).

The process of creativity is literally the same in a poet conceiving a play and a woman conceiving a child. There is no difference. (Back to Methuselah, if man lived long long enough there is conceiving in the imaginative sense). A poem is not a mind product but a life product, therefore conceiving is the same.

Law, ethics, esthetics, maths, is mind. The mind is restricted to the logically compelling. Will is a life product, not a mind product. (Back to Nietzsche and the will of power).

La chose entière doit être repensée à partir de l’« Essence du Fascisme » et Klages. P. le tient de Shaw et ne l’aurait jamais eu sans lui. Dans l’« Essence du Fascisme », il y a la force de la vie païenne et la pensée catégorique qui élimine la pensée individuelle (Spann). L’individu disparaît et la corporation prend sa place.

Il n’y a pas là l’aveuglement à cause d’un sentimentalisme bas de gamme. Il s’agit partiellement de force de vie et d’amour et aussi de rationalité. L’égalité, la justice, etc., sont des principaux moraux comme la liberté qui est postulée dans la théorie politique.

P. ne défendrait pas l’idée que les idéologies sont une idée de Shaw, mais le reste peut être cité si on lit la préface et si on les comprend sur le plan de la logique.

[8] […]

La grande transformation et l'Amérique

Technologie et utopie

[23] In Michael Polanyi's review of Fromm (The Sane Society) he claims that Utopian ideas are reconstituted. Nighbur and Barth raised this question, judging any idea of theological interpretation as being demonology.

There is much justification in the charge against the 19th century utopians. The reality of society is to be understood as a charge against the utopians.

P. doesn’t take Owen as Utopian. He was full of realism but in one of his sentences he said that there are limitations and these would have to be accepted.

P. disagrees on where the Utopian danger comes in as a threat to the world. The great mistake is to think that the utopia we are struggling for is the future, and the predicament comes from its unexpected fulfillment. The technological fulfillment was unexpected and occurred behind our backs.

The idea that this could be met by the market is a utopian idea. It is utopian to think that such an organization of society could resolve the problem of technological organization and stop the dangers of the technological utopia which is fulfilled.

Market society was never completely was never completely internalized and was therefore a utopia. P. doesn't deny that the market did resolve almost all questions which the industrial revolution raised: the [25] level of life, social dislocation, biological restoration, and the greatest dangers of urbanization. Also freedom and order and reembedding (?) were done by the market system.

However it fails in the technological utopia, working to our destruction. We cannot stop science or automation or any of the consequences even though we see that they are the end of us.

Here there is one hope that we can give things a human shape again, and that is Socialism. That brings more order into P.'s thoughts.

The market has failed in many things tending to the dehumanizing of life and has failed completely to stop the scientific and technological internationalization, whipping man on the road to death.

One sees in Asiatic civilizations and in Russia movements to stop the technological civilization. They have overtones which sound differently from the cry for more technology.

Nuclear energy is now unleashed and P. is more afraid of its industrial use. We are being misled about these things: the neutron danger and the positive danger of non-stoppable destruction being started. (cf. Teller, Einstein). The danger of any reactor actually exploding seems to be unstoppable radiation which will never cease. Neutrons are created with unstoppable deadly radiation. This supposedly occurred in Chalk River, which exploded (where you [26] produce piles). It is like an overdose of X-rays. This is also apart from fall-out which is of a limited time, and doesn't have an everlasting effect. Teller said that this is the great danger it goes wrong in industrial use.

The way we have entered will mean a thousand times greater danger in a short time and absolutely nothing to stop it, unless moral forces can dethrone efficiency from its ruling position and allow these forces to enter in constraint of the forces of death of which science leads. This is a line of technological civilization we cannot master. All this must result from the acceptance of the principle that any knowledge which makes for greater efficiency must be pursued.

P. doesn't think that knowledge is an unconditional good. What kind of peculiar idea is this? There is dangerous knowledge, i.e. safeguards must be created - not that we are not permitted to know.

This isn't a subject we can or should deal with lightly. P. has had these thoughts for a long time. Even 15 years ago P. was working out the problem of why Psychology programs were being broadcast without safeguards. There is now a greater immediate interest.

Le livre de 1957 et au-delà

[27] The book may be called “Anonymous Economies”. In these societies nothing was called “economies” and we don't call them economies - just another word for embedded.

The book leaves room for the establishment of institutional analysis. The “oikos” controversy rests on Weber not having the equipment. But we supply the equipment showing the economy doesn't work through the market.

But we don't say we can answer it all. We don't know how the Babylonian economy works - just one or two points.

Oppenheim doesn't even get to the point of agreeing with the conjectures we have thrown out with regard to reciprocity, redistribution and equivalencies instead of prices.

The term “price” is misleading. It is a kind of equivalency which is quite exceptional created by markets. The equivalencies of economic history are created by custom, law, to regulate substitution, to pay your tax, rent, and the different ways you can claim your rations.

Most people think Parsons is meaningless, but that is not so. We use it: Harry and Terry (although his paper is too long).

The 'Port of Trade' is coastal theory which precedes Weber's and is the reverse.

The catallactic triad is the intellectual fortress.

[28] We have developed a method to make clear statements on elements which are comparable and precise, and that is institutional analysis.

P. doesn't claim this for land and labour and doesn't see it can be done. […]

P.is not mapping out an economic anthropology and then leaving it in the hands of the anthropologists and the Marxists in the fields.

[29] (In the anthropology in the book there were obstructions by the Marxists.) The anthropologists aren't good enough. Instead of having definite disciplines, we need definite purposes and a definite subject with material.

In the Hebrew text (Ec. 27?) there are two different words for traveller and negotiator. It is the same for the Greek, Teuton, Saxon and Roman. […]

[30] In P. wouldn't want to write for the sociologists for this is not a growing point of understanding. Economics is essentially abstruse and he who wasn't trained cannot pick up the elements.

In P.'s work with the Institute, he may have his students back: Neale from India, Ann Chapman from Honduras, and there is another fellow, a student of Arensberg, going to Winnipeg to study the archives of the Hudsons Bay Co. for potlach, prestige and subsistence work.

This framework cannot relinquish the place of the economy in society. P. wants the work to be interdisciplinary, and therefore the Kwakiutl should link up with ancient Greece.

[31] The port of trade was discovered from Dahomey (Whydah). […]

According to Pirenne and Helleiner it is foreign trade, not local trade that … […]

[32] Chapman and Bondarelli (?) showed that the Mexicans created traders.


This was discovered 15 years ago in the G.T. and has remained unobserved. […]

The empirical approach is necessary.

P. used to open his lecture pointing out that Rodbertus thought that the difference between a money economy and one in kind is one is organized through markets. Not that money is a more [33] convenient medium of exchange, but it needs markets. Harry says that Weber didn't solve the 'oikos' controversy, but he needed to know what preceeded the Greek economy.

If Mesopotamia wasn't modern then Greece was the starting point of markets. […]

… a system of exploitation as Marx thought, but a market system. From Marx' angle the working-class was more important the market. Also Marx wrote in prospect and P. in retrospect.

Aristotle said that the market was just coming and Harry rightly said that Aristotle and we are lined.

The French hold that the use of anthropologists is for decisive changes of life, like crises. […]

Adam Smith is the answer: without markets you can't have a division of labor in industry. No one had ever noticed the market before, although there were fairs. The market becomes a demand for [34] goods, which, if it goes on expanding, you can produce more and more (the Smithian market). The market which we know today didn't become important until there was a real interest in producing much more. But it had something to do with machines for production. But the market as an explosive force doesn't begin before the Industrial Revolution.



[35] What are ends of the rationality movement? (my question)

The nearest to a philosophy of rationalism ever built was the Enlightenment. It was only a counterphilosophy to a theologically interpreted world.

The Encyclopedists via the Enlightenment represented rationalism. They claimed that the universe and existence can be understood and is in harmony with reason. It probably means the unaided mind does not seek support in revelation.

It may organize itself as humanism - man is the ultimate explanation and value. This got terrific secret support from accepting natural law (?) as a source of validity and reason. If you do that under natural law all the ultimate values enter by the back door. The natural law is something theology accepted and approved of and there is nothing further. It has theological origin. The natural law derives from religion and revelation, but tribal society had these principles without religious sanction. Then we can't say whether these principles were formulated through religion or vice versa, and then you are stuck. There are no final views and no clarification because it leads back to ultimate questions for which there is no authority or ultimate knowledge.

Reason goes back to Enlightenment but the 19th century was reactionary and started Vitalism, Historicism, and instinct themes - struggle and power. The working class remained rationalist and the middle class discovered history, biology and psychology. Descartes [36] the founder of the Enlightenment. The radical century was the 19th (?).

For Weber rationalizing or 'zweckrational' meant using means in a direct way. If you say using means to an end, it is the same as using it efficiently and so he makes the economy a part of that. For P. this is not permitted to be the final diremptive force. Today if you say it's not so efficient as something else, you drop it.

Today we accept the priority of efficiency, and this makes science unbeatable because it decides which is more efficient. (These ideas are not new - Mumford would agree with this trend of thought). We can, however, pay the cost of it.

Les Révélations

[37] (From P.'s discussion of the dangers of science, my comment of Eve's apple to Adam).

P. is not really thinking of the symbolic expression of reminiscences. Man awakened out of his vegetative soul to the consciousness of death which created what we call man. The knowledge is here a reminiscence of man as we know him, being born and reshaping his consciousness. But to P. these revelations have always had meaning. Revelation does not come in a special or specific way or we wouldn't know it. The importance is its truth and we must know our life is limited. There is no use denying that and therefore the emphasize is its consequences.

Everybody knows he can extinguish the meaning of his life by denying his inner nature and it wouldn't be in the same sense as physical death. Revelation only means the consequences which are irreversible and that is true of the reality of society.

We can't say who told you or how do you know? That's why we speak of revelation, because once there, it's irrevocable.

That's why the Old Testament or Babylonian story meant something different, such as whether sex is a danger and contradicts man's nature by his being ashamed. P. is not keen on this side of the matter. Other people might be concerned with the structure of human consciousness and the way it is linked here.

Both sex and hunger have this awkward character about them [38] and every human society deals with them. They are a basic danger to every society. In tribal society all are hungry and there is no shame and in the Odyssey hunger is never thought of as a terrible danger. But in the Odyssey the individual who is hungry is suddenly dependent on strangers. He begins to nurse his shameful belly and begins to ask for food. This is the first time that hunger is identified in the history of man.

P. doesn't want to decide what the O.T. scene reveals.

When P. and I talk about something we know what we talk about, but to answer questions we would need lots of educations. We talk about what we mean and how it relates to things belonging to Christianity, not what Christianity means. There are many doubts and unanswerable questions here. Even Tostoy and Schweitzer differ.

Tolstoy didn't regard the interim ethic as interim. If we accept the interim it would fit with P.'s view of the reality of society because Jesus would have disregarded it.

P. only argues about things which are certain, not uncertain things, i.e. the landscape before him. Maybe it isn't Ontario or on maps but P. talks about certainty and not second-hand knowledge. P. is suspicious of anything not obvious.

The one sentence of Owen’s says that we cannot appeal to the reality of society for disregarding the Christian commitment until we try to see if the reality of society is a limitation for equality and justice. The reality of society is the third horror we are confronted [39] with – being a number of society and not doing anything about it.

Three times shivers were sent into man - three horrors and three pieces of advices:
1) Live as well as you can. This consists of doing works. "Allons labourer notre jardin" (Voltaire). Il n'y a pas de métaphysique. Le jardin serves the day.
2) Let us forget about ourselves − Jesus. This is excellent advice, for anybody who can, feels safe. Jesus also said don't accept the temptations: miracle, power and magic (the three temptations in the desert, bread from a stone, a jump from the roof of the temple. It offered power over all the realms of the world.)

P. pense que Jésus peut légitimement penser qu'il aurait pu être empereur romain − le discours qu'il écrivit pour Pilate et n'a jamais donné (P. l'a vu dans un bas-relief dans une catacombe romaine).

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3) Our answer is to accept the reality of society and make our society as just, equal and free as possible. There must be power and compulsion. C'est la réponse de P.

It is not a glorification of the totality of society but a commitment to the first and second revelations - to live and work in spite of society. P. really believes this but believes that the place of the economy in society should be changed.

[40] The reality of society is that limitation of some abstract free will which remains after you have abstracted from any kind of limitation of your free will in society in which you can abstract at all. After you abstract from every conceivable limitation you are limited.

You cannot help in the creation of power and economic value and perhaps law, and this is then a cognate tot the existence of inevitable alternatives. These are situations in which whatever you choose, and choose not to choose, you are choosing. You can't avoid decisions to have the consequences we have wished.

The reality of society consists in the conformity, and this is an expression of the reality of society. You can conform or not, but you can't contract out.

Rousseau said you could contract out − you go away. But then you start again. Evans-Pritchard shows that group formation consists of splitting and joining another group. Rousseau didn't raise the question of where you go.

You can't contract out of participating in institutions. You cannot avoid situations which imply inevitable alternatives. Power, value, institutions and choice are the phenomena you can't avoid participating in.

But that choice may consist of many different alternatives, one of them conforming it or not. You can participate or not.

[41] If you take an atomistic arrangement you have dissolved society into discrete parts. The other picture can't be dissolved into parts which leaves no picture.


P. ne connait pas la théologie de la liberté dans le Christianisme. L'Inquisition ne s'est jamais départie de la position selon laquelle seule la libre révocation de l'hérésie serait pertinente. Cette acception de «libre » est volontaire. P. never heard the definition “not compelled” from freedom. Then wouldn't it mean that freedom is a state in which you are not under compulsion of the body? Paul said that man is not free as long as he is a slave of his passions and this is the way Christian freedom is to be taken. (P. takes this position without real knowledge).

In very many regards, freedom and liberty mean the same, e.g. privileges, such as the medieval idea of the freedom of the city. In the Magna Carta freedom is assured for definite classes. In theology it is not a privilege.

Ancient Greece had ideas of freedom. Pour Aristote, dans l'Ethique à Nicomaque, les mots 'libre' et 'libéral' sont les mêmes - “eleutheros” est l'opposé d'un esclave. But he describes it as a virtue, goes into endless discussion of liberal, generous, decent, high standards, and this has no connection with freedoms or free.

Comme P. pourrait-il m'indiquer le sens de 'liberté' ? Entendons-nous la même chose ? (ma question).

It cannot be followed further than something that derives from man having a soul - something about him which he values uniquely, [43] which can be lost, and is definitely precious. The peculiarity of the situation is that in order not to lose it, he has to behave in a quite definite way: to follow his conscience, not deny his inner nature, and not lose his integrity. It always goes back to one thing - something he can lose of infinite value and if he loses it he is worse than dead. Freedom means the recognition that makes him free. Before he was in bondage and now he's free, and that's as far as it takes you. If a man is not allowed to say what he thinks, or is not allowed to stand for it or forced to deny it then he would be unfree. It would imply he is not permitted to deny it, and therefore man is free as long as he can't be compelled to deny it. He can even assert it.

If anywhere, here is the connection: the freedom he knows is his from inner insight, he could lose by outer action. This is the whole of the connection. Therefore, either he must not be compelled to swear to false gods (Caesar), or it compelled, to refuse at all costs. The first refers to freedom as institutions and the second as metaphysical. In defense of metaphysical freedom he needs the institutional freedom.

And now, is the external absence of restraint, freedom? Is it freedom to do whatever he likes? Rousseau and Kant say No. It is to follow the duties he himself has set, and the meaning is the autonomy of personality. The freedom of the wild ass in the desert is of no value. The law he follows should be his own, so there is no person free to laws. He himself sets the laws as something right and good.

[44] This is Rousseau's answer to the question of freedom, but P. doesn't think it is the same argument. The first point is Christian freedom and the second the autonomy of the personality. Is this the same thing, e.g. Kant's autonomy of the personality and Christian freedom? The answer of philosophy is No. Kant hadn't assumed Christian freedom. His derivation of freedom is not the Christian one although it might fall under it. This derivation follows from the autonomy of the personality as the consent of freedom: Freedom is the condition in which you follow what is right. But where does “right” come from? The answer is that the freedom of the person comes from the law he has set. What is the sanction of the law he has set? The answer is that if he broke the law that he himself has set, then he is in the wrong. He is not in the wrong by breaking the law someone else has set. All this is a slight deviation (It is all in the Rousseau article).

The accepted view is that Kant and Hegel took freedom as the autonomy of the personality, from Rousseau. But Rousseau didn't call it the autonomy of the personality. But the individual follows the law he set or recognized, when he claims freedom in the name of his personality. He cannot claim this unless he does this in the name of something he regards as good and right.

If somebody denies him this right, he says that you have denied him the right to follow the right or good. If another person denies that it is right and good, he cannot argue it is my freedom to follow it (?). The only freedom that exists is to follow what he has set up and he is bound by it.

[45] It cannot be denied that he can set up the right and wrong. P. denies the right to uncommitted freedom - that doesn't exist (the wild ass in the desert). You have no freedom outside the law you have set up. This leads to the assertion that there is no freedom outside the law, and that freedom governs your personality and there is no freedom outside of it. There is nos freedom to be free outside the law.

Christian freedom is the same - freedoms to maintain that value gained from inner insight. Here there is a very clear connection. “Law” means commitment which is right. He is committed to it, hence his claim for freedoms. There is a connection between the two. Christian freedom falls under the autonomy of the personality on the inner freedom question. The recognition of freedom implies the autonomy of the personality because it is commitment.

It is not argued that they are contradictory. Rousseau and Kant didn't have Christian freedom at all. Neither had a theological background.

However, the mystery is Christian freedom. The Christian claims he shouldn't be forced to bow to Caesar. Why?

The Columbia Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica have nothing to say about this. (P. looked it up to see if his ideas were right. P. thinks we might look it up, but wouldn't get further.

What is the nature of this commitment to follow the inner law? (my question).

[46] The Christians answer with the salvation experience. But this is a different matter - the experience of safety. All formulations refer to salvation and are linked because salvation is really safety and assurance for the soul. This means the same thing in different ways. The insight if this is that he recognized this freedom and changed, like the freeing of the slave - a metaphor. This is a clear way of expressing the experience and that experience everybody knows very well what it's all about.

The Protestant today speaks of integrity, and would claim that this refers back to saving face, or civil honour. But press him further, and he claims that he doesn't want to destroy himself. It goes back tot he basic experience which is only expressed in the metaphor. Why is a slave so different when he is free? He isn't. If we could feel free of pressing bodily limitations we would be more free. This is metaphorical and obscure, but can be put in other terms.

The Christian revelation is the only announcement of terrible danger. You cannot deny that you are told you are vulnerable and that there is a bigger danger than death. Salvation is the safety from danger once and for all. You are really saved from eternal extinction.

In this just a single act and then redemption? (my question)

That is theology. P. is not interested and is satisfied in knowing the basic situation. There is here a force that commits you and gives you strength. The individual demands those freedoms. They are not [47] fairy tales and that is the way things happen.

Le Christianisme était contre l'esclavage. P. didn't think there was any connection here. The freeman didn't have more rights than the slave. To change institutions wasn't the task of the Christians, although they did object to existing institutions, e.g. l'Empire Romain. At a point they claimed their freedom. Ils n'acceptaient pas l'idée qu'un empereur fût Dieu. Ce que nous appelons libertés dérive de cela. Seul Locke commença de cette manière (?)


[48] It is not definite who the Jews are. Canadian excavations in Jericho of the 4th millennium B.C. revealed that there were towns with no pottery, huge stone towns that had nothing to do with the Jews. This complicates the whole question. The territory had fortified cities and buildings up to 30 feet high and we can’t understand how it could have been in 3500 – 4000 B.C. There is a tendency to believe that the Jews were in Egypt although they may never have been there.

Two Old Testament texts (“……and Jehovah” – Wellhausen) are the basis and would show that they were not just a Babylonian offshoot and that there was a Canaanite literature (Ugaritic) with writing and language close to Hebrew. Are they people who would be occupants of Phoenicia too? Their writing was deciphered and has 27 letters. This was the first alphabetic writing – cuneiform. It was thought to be cuneiform syllabic. Greeks took over Phoenicia but not the first alphabet. The Canaanites had an alphabet before this in cuneiform. It was not used in Babylonia, just in the ports.

Two years ago Cretan or Mycenean was deciphered. This world was utterly closed to us before. The Greeks knew nothing about this and that’s why our perspective is enlarged.

Le Christianisme et la révolution sociale

[49] Needham’s is a beautiful piece, Bruno Meyer (Borkenatz)[3] is very interesting and MacMurray is very good.

The book was utterly ineffective. What did P. learn from it? What the world needs and doesn’t need. P. thought then he was writing for 50 years hence, but this has gone and we didn’t learn anything from the “Essence of Fascism”.

The world acts as if it knows precisely what it needs for mind today. Things are read because they mean something. There are cases when it means something for times to come but to have written for times to come with never come is to have said nothing. If you have written some-thing which makes no sense, the time will never come.

Thoughts which under no circumstances can have any effect are not worth thinking. This is obvious. It is worth straining to know the thoughts that will be useful in the future.

The Essenes are remarkable in that they won through even though the odds were against them. Now it has been found and will have some effects. The Essenes were discussed in Josephus but it was ignored.

The Christians interfered with Christology. The Jews didn’t and resuscitated the Christology, made it a Jewish matter and destroyed the substance of the position. They had no part of it.

Politique moderne (2)


Commerce mondial

Joan Robinson - The Accumulation of Capital

Le manuel d'anthropologie


[59] The mind works as dialectic, and psychological phenomena act that way. Hegel was the only thinker to use dialectic.

This has a relevance to social phenomena for they are movements of the mind. The mind is an explanation of the action, e. g. if you have a class struggle with revolution, counter-revoltuion etc. Dialectic brought in phenomena that were no historical or social. That's the peculiarity of a philosophy: you can apply it to art, nature, and then you can play with these terms in a clever way.

Take the concept of a fact: give a negation of it and you have a delusion. Then negate that and you have art – a synthesis. You can say of art it's a delusion insofar as it's not a fact and vice versa. Therefore it has elements of both fact and delusion, and denies both. There is an artistic reality.

This is probably the way mind functions, in fact, delusion and art. The relationship of art delusion is part of a comprehensive metaphysics. Art is not nature. Only in disciplines is fact verified.

Take the statement “The grass is on the hill.” If he actually dreamt it you have a dream statement and this is the content of it. How if somebody says it's a poetic statement, it has a reality of its own and it's art. Art is a higher type of reality and a higher type of delusion.

[60] The dialectic is an ordering of concepts. Facts have other opposites: the lie, semblance, (process?) are opposites of fact in different directions, and you can reverse this again. You can put order into the terms of science, but if you apply dialectic to a process………

Drama is dialectic itself – in order to get change and reverse something.

People like Marx could play about with this. Dialectical Materialism is unreal. It is not a mind phenomenon. The mind works in contradiction. Hegel's dialectic is the way the mind works in its inner laws – the concept of fact, the concept of illusion, the concept of art.

There is no reason for nature to change accordingly − no reason to assume opposites, e. g. cold and hot are not. Hegel wrote an astronomy where stars move about dialectically. This is all nonsense. Engels makes matter move according to mind.

In history, for 'material' Marx meant that the economic and technological determine the movement of the spirit. There is much more truth in this than saying it is the change of ideologies. This is true for a change in economic circumstances.

History is things happening through human beings and so is partly a mind phenomenon, i. e. it suddenly turns the opposite way. By 'material' you don't mean dead nature. But "economic" could mean "process" and "motives" and this is complex.

Art (2)



C.S. Louis


Notes de l'éditeur

  1. Must be J.B. Priestley.
  2. In was, in fact, the 1907 text, “A Történelmi materializmus Drámája” (The Drama of Historical Materialism) - Santiago Pinault, 11 April 2017 (CEST)
  3. It must be Bruno Meier, who wrote “Moral Sanctions and the Social Function or Religion” in Christianity and the Social Revolution.

Informations sur le texte

Date : August 25/26, 1956 (Entretien)
Original Text: “Abraham Rotstein, Weekend Notes IV
AKP : 45/05
Autres langues :

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