By Alireza Shomali (auth.)
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Extra resources for Politics and the Criteria of Truth
Instrumental reason and its correlated morality, that is, utilitarianism, should both be discarded, Taylor believes. 20 Overcoming epistemology means indeed overcoming an epistemology that is oblivious of its historicity. Overcoming epistemology thus is a call to rectify a mistake. For moral, metaphysical, and political reasons, however, and because a critical standpoint on society must be able to claim truth, we still need criteria to recognize truth. We still need a normative epistemology that will reflect a dialectical ontology, embrace new (noninstrumental) notions of reason, and recognize the relevance of moral values for truth.
This “idealist” ideology,14 as Marx’s critique of Feuerbach shows, prioritizes the essentialist element of Hegel’s system at the cost 32 Politics and the Criteria of Truth of a dialectical analysis. For Marx, ideology in this sense is epistemically false for its failure as a philosophical attempt: It is inconsistent with the truth of dialectical philosophy. In other words, in Marx’s view, if ideas cannot themselves determine or explain historical development, it is because they have no separable existence in themselves.
Can modern epistemology stand this “blasphemy”? After all, what does Marx mean by judging ideology qua reality as false consciousness? Granted, reality can be ethically, as well as politically, judged and given negative value. Nonetheless, how could reality be ever judged as epistemically false? Does Marx not commit a category mistake here? This is a serious issue. Should dialectical materialism discard epistemic judgment about the falsity of ideology qua reality and, in so doing, limit the scope of dialectical criticism to the ethical and the political?