Against the Spiritual Turn
Marxism, Realism, and Critical Theory
By Sean Creaven
Published January 20th 2011 by Routledge – 498 pages
The argument presented in this book is that the recent ‘spiritual’ trajectory of Roy Bhaskar’s work, upon which he first embarked with the publication of his From East to West, undermines the fundamental achievements of his earlier work. The problem with Bhaskar’s new philosophical system (Transcendental Dialectical Critical Realism or simply Meta-Reality), from the critical-realist Marxist perspective endorsed here, is that it marks both a departure from and a negation of the earlier concerns of Bhaskar to develop a realist philosophy of science and under-labour for an emancipatory materialist socio-historical science. The end-result is a meta-philosophy which is irrealist, speculative, under-theorized, internally self-contradictory, and which cannot provide philosophical guidance to liberatory social practices. In opposition to theist ontological logics more generally (including the rather more rational theism presented by Margaret Archer, Andrew Collier and Doug Porpora), the argument of this book is that the earth-bound materialist dialectics of the classical Marxist tradition, and the naturalistic humanism these dialectics under-labour on the terrain of socio-historical being, offer a much more promising way forward for critical realist theory and for liberatory politics and ethics.
Sean Creaven is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of the West of England (UWE).