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determinacy

M.A.R.HABIB


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


Extract

First used by the scientist Hermann von Helmholtz, the term “determinacy” or “determinateness” has a broad application. The condition of being determinate can imply a certain constraint upon contingency, effected by assigning definite qualities to an entity or process. H egel , for example, distinguishes between “being,” which is abstract, and “determinate being,” which possesses qualities. But, in Marxist theory and sociology, “determinacy” (more usually “determinateness”) has often been linked with a prior process of determination (not to be confused with predetermination). Understood in this sense, determinateness has figured centrally in the works of structuralist Marxists such as A lthusser , who have stressed the “scientific” and deterministic thrust of M arx's Canon rather than the elements which emphasize human agency in historical transformation. Althusser uses the concept of O verdetermination (taken over from F reud ) to express the specificity of the Marxist notion of C ontradiction and in particular its divergence from Hegel's dialectic. Whereas Hegel's formulation of C ontradiction as the causal site of historical change is “simple,” embodying a process of cumulative internalization of previous forms of consciousness and history, Marx's notion of contradiction is “overdetermined”: it is determined not uniformly but by a variety of levels and instances of the S ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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