Is the two volume books by Istvan Meszaros, The Social Determination of Method and The Dialectic of Structure and History, an essential contribution to the ongoing debate on the most comprehensive challenge in the human sciences today? Is it a significant breakthrough that will revolutionize our understanding of social life? Or is it just another of those tedious books that scholars write for their consumption, only to be forgotten about soon afterward? What Meszaros has written in this book should be read as much as we can get our hands on.
The book is divided into two main parts. In the first part, Meszaros introduces his main point of view on this topic from a dialectical standpoint. He argues that we have been studying social life from a deterministic point of view for so long now because this is how the approach was initially constructed.
Volume I: The Social Determination of Method
This important work (the first of two volumes) by the leading Marxian philosopher of our time is a landmark in human understanding. It focuses on the location where actions originate from freedom and necessity, the basis of all social science. The new work is a significant step in human understanding.
Social structure, which Marx defined as “the product of the life cycle of individual participants,” is now of particular importance. Before we can comprehend what is feasible, we must first identify the historical process that constrains consciousness and, therefore, social action.
From Descartes through Hegel and the Liberal tradition to the present and their connections with political economy and political theory. Istvan Mészáros moves beyond both abstract solutions to the methodological questions and one-sided structuralist evaluations of the important issues, bringing the process of our intellectual development in social structure and consciousness to a new level.
Beyond both one-sided structuralist evaluations of the significant issues and abstract solutions to the surveyed methodological questions, the procedure by which we comprehend social structure and consciousness is brought to a new stage.
The fundamental goal of this study is to discover dialectical coherence between historical development and a reproductive order that is desirable societal. The relevance of this work extends beyond its political and philosophical significance, as it illuminates the place where we must act today.
The multifaceted and dialectical relationship between social structure and forms of consciousness discussed in this volume is profound and significant. A great deal of historical data and philosophical literature must be considered to give a complete picture.
We have to realize that there must be more to it than just that. Taken in its totality, the ongoing discussion on this matter shows us that we have been approaching these problems using methods and concepts derived from abstract idealism, even though they are not based on anything concrete or absolute. If we want to understand where we are going with all of this honestly, then we need to start taking things apart instead.
Volume II: The Dialectic of Structure of History
What is the Social Determinism Debate?
A comprehensive challenge to social thought has been in the human sciences for more than two centuries. Its primary focus is on the nature of social phenomena, what we call social structures and social consciousness.
At the heart of this challenge is whether we have to see these phenomena as purely deterministic or as inherently dialectical which is a debate that has been going on for centuries now, and it has been taking place in various ways since the time of the ancient Greeks.
The modern social sciences have even gotten involved in it, with various schools of thought vying for supremacy. We have to keep in mind that it is not just a debate on some abstract aspects of social phenomena but one that has real-world implications. There is an ongoing debate on this topic in sociology, political science, economics, psychology, and anthropology.
What is the Dialectic of Structure and History?
In order to fully understand the social determinism debate, it is essential to know what Meszaros’s Dialectic of Structure and History is all about. In essence, Meszaros claims that we have been approaching social phenomena very abstractly. We have been taking the idea of society as something that exists separately from the people who make it up.
Furthermore, we have been treating social phenomena as things apart from human beings, in a kind of “thing” or “object-like” manner. Meszaros argues that these are not the way things work at all. Society is not an “object” that exists by itself in some “thing-like” manner. It is something that exists only as a product of human beings.
Society is not an “object” that exists by itself but something that exists only as a product of human beings. That is one of the core premises that underlie Meszaros’s Dialectic of Structure and History.
Summary of The Social Determination of Method and The Dialectic of Structure and History
The basic idea behind The Social Determination of Method and The Dialectic of Structure and History is that we have been approaching social phenomena in a completely abstract manner, using methods and concepts derived from some abstract idealism. We need to realize that these methods and concepts are not based on anything concrete or absolute. Therefore, if we want to understand where we are going with all of this truth, then we need to start taking things apart instead. The Social Determination of Method and The Dialectic of Structure and History is an attempt to do precisely that, to take things apart. However, to do so, we also need to look at the history of this debate since this will help us better understand the dialectical undertones of the whole thing.
A New View of Social Structure, Consciousness, and History
We have seen so far that social phenomena are not just about things but also about people. People are never just things that are put together in some social structure, but they are something that exists only as a product of and is themselves, social phenomena. In order to fully come to grips with these things, we also have to take a look at the notion of consciousness. It is not just some kind of “thing” that exists in a social structure and then goes around experiencing things, but it is a product of and occurs within the social phenomena within the social structure. Therefore, we have seen that social phenomena exist only as a product of and are themselves. Social structure means that social phenomena do not exist “outside” of people but as something within them. Social phenomena are not something that exists on their own but exists only as a product of people, which in turn means that social phenomena are not the same thing as social structure but something that exists only as a product of it.