Being, Consciousness and Roles: On the Foundations of Historical Materialism

  • G. A. Cohen


The thesis exhibited above is obscure. It is not clear what sort of evidence should weaken confidence in it, nor what sort may be adduced in its support. But that it is not clear does not show that it cannot be clarified. A satisfactory clarification must fulfil three requirements:
  1. 1.

    It must state what evidence has to be like to confirm it, and to disconfirm it.

  2. 2.

    The thesis so elucidated must be recognisable. It must be reasonable to claim it as a more express version of the thesis Marx maintained and which historians have affirmed and denied in controversy over particular issues.1

  3. 3.

    The thesis must remain interesting. It must become neither trivially true nor trivially false. (A clarification which passes the second test thereby passes the third, unless historians have been more confused than I am willing to suppose.)



Social Life Social Role Material Production Historical Materialism Conventional Mode 
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© G. A. Cohen 1974

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  • G. A. Cohen

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