Books on Dialectics?

Dr. Wolff, I have read several of Resnick's books such as "New Departures in Marxian Theory" as well as attended his (recorded) class in Marxian Economics at Umass-Amherst but, I feel that the concept of dialectics is a potential weakness in my knowledge. Specifically, one of the difficulties I have in "New Departures in Marxian Theory" is the concept of negation when applying overdetermination for practical use. I follow that an overdetermined totality's negation is to find a set of essentialist causes then relate this back to the overdetermined totality and repeat the sequence in order to find contradictions or insights for the development of the relative truth/thought-concrete/theory. What would you recommend as books for understanding dialectical concepts as negation? Considering the radical nature of Marxian epistemology, would I find any use in taking an undergraduate philosophy course over Hegel and Marx?

Official response from submitted

On the matter of the course, everything depends (as is often the case) on the teacher and his/her background and approach. The literature on dialectics is vast. Some key works are Marx's own musings especially in his Grundrisse, but also see Theodor Adorno's Negative Dialectics, Richard Norman's work on Hegel, David Guest's on dialectics, Kojeve and Hyppolite and Althusser have all done crucial work on Hegel's dialectics; in the US Fred Jameson had done so although in ways different from how Resnick and I worked on the topic in our 1987 Knowledge and Class, especially Chapters 1 and 2. For us, overdetermination worked better as a way to see the relatedness between thoughts and other (epistemological dialectics) realities and among all realities (ontological dialectics). Besides, the term dialectics had become devalued and abused awfully so we wanted to use new language that could get passed all that.

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  • Will Cooper
    commented 2017-05-28 10:51:26 -0400
    The Socialist Party of Great Britain’s website has an interesting critical article on Wolff and Resnick’s concept of overdetermination, including an interview with Prof. Resnick. See
  • Richard Wolff
    responded with submitted 2017-05-21 17:35:40 -0400
  • Frederick Purifoy
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-05-21 17:20:51 -0400