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/edu/ - Education

'The weapon of criticism cannot, of course, replace criticism of the weapon, material force must be overthrown by material force; but theory also becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses.' - Karl Marx
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Here is an idea I had when reading Georges Politzer's "The Elementary Principles of Philosophy". He describes his approach to dialectical analysis. If anyone here wants an exercise in dialectical analysis give it a shot by selecting whatever piece of media you find to be relevant and analyze it based on his approach.

<6. A method of dialectical analysis

<In order to apply the dialectical method properly, one must know many things. If you do not know your subject, it must be studied carefully, otherwise, your judgment will amount to only a caricature of the truth. In order to make an analysis of a literary work, a book or story, we are going to indicate a method which may be applied to other subjects as well.

<a) You must first pay attention to the content of the book or story you wish to analyze. Examine it independently of any social question, for not everything is derived from class struggle or economic conditions. There are literary influences which we must take into consideration. Try to see to which “literary school” the work belongs. Take into account the internal development of ideologies. Practically speaking, it would be good

to make a summary of the subject under analysis and to note down anything you found remarkable.

<b) Next observe the social types the heroes of the intrigue belong to. Look for the class to which they belong. Examine the action of the characters and see if what takes place in the novel can be linked in some way to a

social viewpoint. If this is not possible, if it cannot reasonably be done, it is better to abandon the analysis rather than invent. You must never invent an explanation.

<c) After you have discovered what class or classes are involved, you must determine the economic foundation, i.e., the means of production and the way of producing at the moment when the action of the novel takes

place. If, for example, the action is contemporary, the economic system is capitalism. At present we see numerous stories and novels which criticize and fight capitalism. But there are two ways to fight capitalism:
<1. As a revolutionary seeking to go forward.
<2. As a reactionary, who wants to return to the past. It is often this form which we encounter in modern novels, in which one longs for the "good old days.”

<d) Once we have obtained all this, we can then look for the ideology, i.e., see what the ideas and feelings, the way of thinking, of the author is. While searching for the ideology, we shall keep in mind the role it plays, its influence on the minds of those who read the book.

<e) We can then conclude our analysis, by saying why such a story or novel was written at such a moment. And criticize or praise, according to the case, the author’s intentions (often unconscious).



The coolness of dialectics is in the examination of reality, it adds to/breaks with immanent critique by the addition of concretization, excursions from the object of study to its negation in connected objects. This text, I'll analyze it by pointing out that you say "in order to apply the dialectical method properly, one must know many things" but there isn't any method for knowing what is necessary about a subject (i.e. any account of following the natural points of excursion in a thing to its context and internal parts), and then you say to look for class - unless class fails to "reasonably" be applied (again introducing the subjectivity of the analyst rather than letting the object of study speak for itself, which is the essence of dialectical study) - and then after that economics, and the goal is to find ideology. Well great, we have 3 categories of importance that should be looked for in everything. This is a totally subjective critique, its a "lens" that functions in the typical way of literary critique, a pre-set heuristic. What's missing ultimately is why we would do this: a story is only real insofar as it's a record of the writer's thoughts, the writer belonging to a given time, place, and social context. The social lens that asks us to see class, economy, and ideology are relevant insofar as they tell us about the author. The analysis shifts from the content of the material to the intentions or reasons for its existence. This is never made clear, and if it was it would make all too clear how boring and unidimensional this kind of analysis is. Dialectics is cool bcuz it works to produce knowledge in reality. In fiction, this kind of study would get snagged up on all kinds of manufactured falsehoods, inconsistencies, and metaphor. If the only purpose is discovering the viewpoint of the author, its like using calculus to tell what 2+2 is.(and anyways the specifically dialectical parts are obfuscated)

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