chapter  7
24 Pages

Materialism, realism and dialectics

WithSean Creaven

This chapter demonstrates that how critical realism allied to materialist dialectics is capable of resolving two central weaknesses of western philosophy and social science. It introduces the 'materialist dialectic' of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, analysing its core concepts, and identifying its points of contact with critical realism. An important function of Roy Bhaskar's philosophy is to establish the case for endorsing a 'depth model' of reality in opposition to the claims of classical empiricism and 'empirical realism' or 'actualism'. Bhaskar's transcendental realism therefore provides a philosophical rationale for holding to a conception of reality as 'ontological depth'. The chapter shows that a fully adequate philosophical ontology, which is capable of under-labouring the human and natural sciences, must be forged in the interface between critical realism and materialist dialectics. It argues that the indispensability of materialist dialectics in philosophy and social theory, whilst recognising that realism offers ontological insights that are useful for Marxism.