The aim of this thesis is to explicate the concepts of ideology and
science; in particular, social science, in the work of Marx and in later
Marxism. These concepts are standardly discussed in close association
with each other in both Marxist and non-Marxist contexts. Yet, in the
literature on Marxism at any rate, the kind of significance they have
for each other has been widely misunderstood. Historically the most
important expression of such misunderstanding is the tendency in writings
influenced by, or within the ambit of, 'Western Marxism' to assume that
the central question concerns the precise nature of the distinction between
science and ideology as rival or alternative forms of cognition. Answers
to this question have generally sought to distinguish them in terms of
cognitive success and failure, with ideology as the dark shadow or distorted
'other' of science. It will be shown that in relation to Marx's thought
this mode of question and answer is wholly misconceived. Science and
ideology function there as categorially diverse notions which are such
that the problem of how to demarcate their individual shares of a common
field of reference cannot arise. Problems that do pressingly arise in
connection with this body of thought include the following. How does
science succeed in being ideological, when it does? More specifically,
how is the ideological status of Marx's own social science to be conceived?
To answer these questions one has to recognise the diversity of the ways
in which ideology operates and to devise theoretical models which can
capture that diversity. In what follows, three basic models, labelled
for convenience 'semantic', 'syntactic', and 'dialectical', will be distinguished.
It will be argued that the dialectical model is the appropriate
one for understanding Marx's social science.
The account of the concept of ideology given here is based on that contained
in my book The Real World of Ideology.
The account there has been abridged
in order to bring out what are for present purposes its essential features.
A copy of the book is enclosed with the thesis.
The basic plan of the thesis is as follows. The first chapter is concerned,
as an essential preliminary, with explicating the conception of ideology
that operates in the work of Marx and in 'classical Marxism'. The second
chapter deals with a basic misconception of this legacy which has a special
relevance in the present context. This is the idea that ideology is essentially
to be understood as an epistemological category. The way is then
clear to pose the question of the nature and status of Marx's social
science. This is done in the third chapter, where it also proves possible
to dispose of the claims of the syntactic model as the basis for an answer.
The semantic model is a much more serious candidate and requires extended
discussion. The paradigmatic version of the model in Western Marxism
is the conception of Marxist social science as a 'critical theory of
society'. The fourth chapter discusses the prototype of such interpretations
in the work of the 'Frankfurt School' theorists. The next two
chapters (5 and 6) deal with more recent attempts by writers in the
British analytical tradition to vindicate the project of Marxist social
critique. The failure of the project in all these versions clears the
ground for an inquiry into the claims of the dialectical model. This
is pursued in chapters 7 and 8, paying close attention to the evidence
on the subject yielded by Marx's writings. The result is to establish
the dialectical scheme as the basic instrument for understanding his
social theory. In the final chapter developments treated earlier at the
level of relations between ideas are set in a historical context. This
enables the dialectical thesis to be grasped in a richer, more solid
setting, and enables it in turn to shed its light on the question of the
overall shape of the Marxist intellectual tradition.