Dialectical Social Theory and Its Critics
From Hegel to Analytical Marxism and Postmodernism
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Establishes that dialectical social theory retains practical importance today and is, in fact, crucial to interdisciplinary attempts to construct a viable theory of the social world.
That there is a "Hegelian legacy" in Marx's writings is not in dispute. There is great controversy, however, over the extent to which this legacy should be affirmed or rejected. In fact, the Hegelian orientation toward Marx and toward social theory in general has been largely rejected for at least a decade. In Dialectical Social Theory and Its Critics, Tony Smith challenges this position and thereby reopens a debate of critical importance to Marx-Hegel studies that has significant implications for the nature of social theory in general.
In Part I, Smith explores a number of aspects of the Hegelian legacy by means of a systematic dialectical reading, limiting himself to themes that have either been overlooked or dealt with unsatisfactorily in recent scholarship. In Part II, he examines a number of recent arguments against the Hegelian legacy in Marxism formulated from the neo-Kantian, analytical-Marxist, and postmodernist perspectives advanced by Lucio Colletti, Jon Elster and John Roemer, and Jean Baudrillard, respectively.
Dialectical Social Theory and Its Critics is more than an exercise in the history of ideas. Its main aim and most significant accomplishment is to establish that dialectical social theory retains practical importance today and is, in fact, crucial to interdisciplinary attempts to construct a viable theory of the social world.
Tony Smith is Professor of Philosophy and Political Science at Iowa State University of Science and Technology. He is the author of The Logic of Marx's Capital, and The Role of Ethics in Social Theory, also published by SUNY Press.
"Some time ago, most philosophers working within Marxist scholarship took for granted the Hegelian legacy. This has been challenged by the analytic Marxists. Tony Smith has emerged as the most systematic and committed defender of the challenged position today, and the level of his defense is very sophisticated and, therefore, very challenging itself.
"The second half of the book, in which Smith takes on Colletti, Elster, Roemer, and Baudrillard, seems to me especially fine: it is a series of critical reviews, to be sure, but a well-organized series with a very clear set of points, which, in fact, clarify his own perspective with great success." — William L. McBride, Purdue University