chapter  9
19 Pages

Developing realistic philosophy

From critical realism to materialist dialectics1
ByAndrew Brown

This chapter explains the 'materialist dialectics' of E. V. Ilyenkov to the 'critical realism' and 'dialectical critical realism' of Roy Bhaskar. Drawing upon Ilyenkov's interpretation of Spinoza, it argues that the critical realist articulation of stratification and emergence collapses into scepticism. On Ilyenkov's interpretation, Spinoza's articulation of mind and body sustains the materialist and dialectical inseparability of thought, body and object. The chapter demonstrates how Ilyenkov's interpretation of Spinoza can be presented as a transcendence of critical realism and dialectical critical realism. The basic tenet of dialectical critical realism is the notion of 'real absence'. The notion crystallises and clarifies those tenets; its development deepens and extends them to yield dialectical critical realism. Once epistemology has been considered it will be possible to present the broader features of Bhaskar's polemic against Hegel and to summarise critical realism and dialectical critical realism.