The problem of point of view: False Binaries, Real Dialectics

Reification is a problem, but its always a problem as it is implied in symbolic language.  The signified always has some level of a reification of what it describes.  This leads us to a serious problem though:  the distinctions between views are oven because of different sets of reified conceptual frameworks.

For example, cultural and economic analysis (identity versus class) are often put in a dialectical opposition as is nature versus nurture (biological versus environmental determinism) analysis, but many of these supposed binaries are false. This is not to take the post-modern view that all binaries are false and there are no real universal distinctions, but that the inter-relationship between these things are harder to tease out elements to speak about them.

For example, are cultures just manifestations of economics or economics just manifestation of cultures, the vulgar post-modernist and vulgar conservative often argue the later while vulgar Marxists arguing the former, but neither strictly speaking is true.   Both culture and economy are abstractions of social relationships, but as abstractions they have view real affects.  All of what is at stake is relational, so there is not true dialectical relationship between the concepts.

This means that both the economic analysis and the cultural analysis are different lenses of looking at the same set of social relationships, but the ideas that we look upon the relationships with DO shape, not only our subjective view of those relationships, but the relationship themselves. Therefore, cultural and economic analyses do end up creating real dialectical oppositions in the way we answer certain questions.

Is there a way out of this?

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About El Mono Liso

Por una civilización de la pobreza.

Posted on January 10, 2012, in Philosophy and Politics. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Benjamin David Steele

    Here is the problem in terms of practical politics. Culture is always used as the rhetoric to drum up support and funding. Economics, however, is the driving force for probably most decisions made by politicians. So, there is simultaneously an outwardly superficial obsession with culture and a cynical devotion to economic interests and interest groups. Many left-wing and right-wing activists focus on economics because they understand this is what the political elite care the most about on a regular basis and this is what drives the public debate portrayed by the corporate media.

    The deeper issues of both culture and economics meanwhile are ignored. From my perspective, the deeper issues of culture are the most difficult to deal with since they are the seemingly most unclear or abstract. Economics has the appearance of objectivity and simplicity. Economics is usually discussed in terms of numbers and other data that can be measured and compared. It’s easier to talk about jobs or wages. This is, of course, deceiving for economics is just as confusing as culture.

  2. Interesting because both things would be a form of alienation classically speaking. Economics rendering human relationships through number, culture doing so through tradition.

  3. Benjamin David Steele

    I would suppose anything used superficially, cynically and manipulatively would be a form of alienation, classically or otherwise. To discuss such things more deeply and genuinely would mean to discus how they interrelate in ways that transcends partisan politics and special interest power-seeking. On this level, economics and culture aren’t limited to what is but would also include what could have been and what could yet be. Both economic numbers and cultural traditions are limitations on the radical imagination.

  4. Thanks for the article / information about postmodernity. The subject has interested me since divnity school where I explored its impact on the life of the church in society. It’s impact is far-reaching. Right now I am focusing efforts on exploring how it is chaing the marketing landscape at If you have any thoughs, i would love to provide a link back to your site. Additionally, I would love for your backlink to my site. If you have any personal thoughts on the matter, my most direct email is

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  1. Pingback: Why Deal With All This Theory: Why Struggle it out and not just get to work? « Symptomatic Redness

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