Are the Humanities too (Indirectly) Influenced by Marxism?
It is s sometimes puzzling to watch debates in the humanities from a "science" (history of science) point of view. It appears that so much emphasis has been placed on Marx's euphemism (“philosophers have only interpreted the world; the thing to do is to change it"), that a maxim is placed on the possible social consequences of an idea's impact--to such a degree that ideas are accepted or discarded merely on 'ideological grounds,' before these can be fully explored or carefully elucidated. Useful intellectual 'pragmatism' is left by the wayside; i.e. "how can we best understand social phenomena". For example, Caribbean Creolite writers sought to capture the oral traditions of the French Caribbean via literature, but were oddly attacked because it was of no 'social relevance' and did not seek to undo the injustices of colonialism (in contrast to the previous "negritude" movement). Similarly, contemporary literary analysts are attacked for looking at trivial issues--the theme of urban perversion in Hispano-Caribbean literature--and for not adopting the more advanced methods of the social sciences. Implied in the critique is the setting up a 'binary' and 'evolutionary' model where the Latin American essay (literature) is depicted as 'primitive' while the mathematically based social sciences as more 'advanced'. The case is somewhat curious because it is clear that, at least in this regard, both humanities (literary studies) and the social science ( sociology) complement each other. There is a fascinating cluster of sociological literature on the formation of subcultures within metropolitan settings that elucidate the deviant social formations described within modern literary works. According to these sociological theories, new 'nontraditional' social forms emerge as a byproduct of the size of urban centers; their greater numerical density, that would not be otherwise found in smaller rural setting, allow these to form stable groupings. The dynamic is as true of 'deviant' forms (homosexual community) or 'non deviant' ones (nascent scientific community); actually, both are 'deviant' in the sense of being 'non-traditional'. If our aim is principally to 'understand the world', it would be clear that both would be usefully complementary in an analysis, be it 'humanistic' or 'scientific'.
1. Marx's euphemism that is curiously akin to that which was commonly seen in 19th century China, but refuted by the 'revolutionary' Sun Yat Sen who placed more emphasis on 'understanding' the world.
2. It is obvious that without a good understanding, social policies might end up more detrimental than beneficial.
3. Frances Santiago, "La Créolité: literatura, cultura e identidad en las Antillas Francesas" Conferencias Caribeñas, 9 de abrilde 2008, Anfiteatro 238, Edificio Ramón Emeterio Betances, UPRRP. Santiago describes the curious attacks suffered by the movement
4. Myrna García, "San Juan y La Habana: Ciudades perversas" Primer Encuentro sobre Circulaciones en el espacio Caribe-Atlántico: personas, culturas, mercancías. 10 de abril de 2008, Sala Jorge Enjuto, Facultad de Humanidades, UPRRP. Garcia did not issue the critique.