By John P. Gerber
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Extra info for Anton Pannekoek and the Socialism of Workers’ Self Emancipation, 1873-1960
22 The previous systems, far from being useless speculations, were ascending stages of understanding characterized by increasing truth and decreasing error. As an intellectual process, Dietzgen's system represented the 'scientific con tinuation of former philosophies, just as astronomy is the continuation of astrology and of the Pythagorean fantasies, and chemistry the continuation of alchemy '. 23 Dietzgen, therefore, 'completed the work of Kant, j us t as Marx completed the work of Adam S mith' .
3 1 While stressing the class origins of science, Pannekoek rej ected the view that every class maintains its own special set ofscientific doctrines. For Pan nekoek the point to be emphasized was that a certain form of science can be both an obj ect of and a weapon of class struggle, and that a class has an interest only in the investigation and diffusion of those truths which directly advance its own living conditions. Scientific ideas are therefore both classless and class-defin ed. Thus, while the natural sciences of the nineteenth century could be termed 'bourgeois' on the basis of their obj ects and interests , they were obj ective in their cognitive achievements.
What w a s most critical for Marx, he felt, w a s n o t the division between matter and spirit, but that between reality and fantasy. 44 Probing further into the scientific character of Marxism, Pannekoek moved to a specific examination of the nature of laws and predictions in Marxism . Pannekoek took the position that all science consists of doctrines and hypotheses which rest on differing degrees of certainty. All ' scientific truth' is therefore relative; it is considered the best truth of the moment, and it is part of a process of continuing develop ment.
Anton Pannekoek and the Socialism of Workers’ Self Emancipation, 1873-1960 by John P. Gerber