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Marx's conceptual doublets

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Chapter Summary

The conceptual doublets advance our understanding of the interrelationships between Marx's overall epistemology, his methods of abstraction, and forms of conceptualization. Marx held that "the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought. For Marx, conceptualization does not start from individual people as personalities nor with individuals as abstract representatives of ready-made ahistorical categories. Marx's overall epistemology has four constituent moments, each themselves a doublet: (1) inquiry and presentation, (2) observation and conceptualization, (3) analysis and interpretation, and (4) description and explanation. Marx's broad view of history allowed him to catch a glimpse of the possibility of general laws. The method of successive abstractions with which Marx carves up reality and the concepts he mobilizes for his studies are the sources of the flexibility and precision with which he could grasp duality, identity, and difference.

Keywords: abstraction; conceptual doublets; epistemology; Marx



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