Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Preemptive Strikes (of a philosophical variety)

Materialism is a paradoxical philosophy, for multiple reasons, not the least of which is that on some fundamental level it diverges from the basic premise underlying the very practice of philosophy. This premise is the fundamental idea that the best argument always wins, that the true has an efficacy in and of itself to overcome any illusion, error, or bias. However, if we take as one of the defining characteristics of materialism Marx’s dictum that “Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life,” then it is clear that it is “life,” understood as material conditions and social relations, and not the better argument that has the last word. The question then arises, how to do philosophy in a materialist manner. How do you argue when you recognize that arguments have only a limited force against ideologies, which are sustained and embedded in material practices?