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Thread: Trotsky On Identity

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    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Trotsky On Identity

    The material below represents a brief summary of a much lengthier criticism of Trotsky's 'analysis' of the 'Law of Identity' [LOI], where I enter into this topic in greater detail.

    [If you visit my site directly, or by using the links I have inserted below, and are using Internet Explorer 10 (or later), you will find some of the links I have used won't work properly unless you switch to 'Compatibility View' (in the Tools Menu); for IE11 select 'Compatibility View Settings' and then add my site: anti-dialecitcs.co.uk.]

    Although I am severely critical of Trotsky's defective analysis of the LOI, comrades who aren't Trotskyists should find little comfort in what follows, since Trotsky did at least try to defend this aspect of Dialectical Materialism [DM]. I know of no other DM-theorist/supporter (non-Trotskyist, Stalinist, Maoist, or, indeed, academic Marxist) who has attempted to do this (except they simply quote Trotsky), indeed, to the extent to which he endeavoured to do it. His arguments are original to him, even if they are still defective. He at least gave this some thought.

    In which case, the material presented below (but more specifically, that which has been presented in the above Essay) represents a complete refutation of this aspect of DM, and that includes the even more lamentable 'analysis' found in Hegel.

    Equality And Identity Not Identical

    Unfortunately, the 'definition' Trotsky used (viz., "A is equal to A" ) -- which has been copied and reproduced identically by his followers ever since (irony intended) -- doesn't actually relate to Identity; it is in fact an example of the principle of equality:

    "The Aristotelian logic of the simple syllogism starts from the proposition that 'A' is equal to 'A'…. But in reality 'A' is not equal to 'A'. This is easy to prove if we observe these two letters under a lens -- they are quite different from each other. But, one can object, the question is not the size or the form of the letters, since they are only symbols for equal quantities, for instance, a pound of sugar. The objection is beside the point; in reality a pound of sugar is never equal to a pound of sugar -- a more delicate scale always discloses a difference. Again one can object: but a pound of sugar is equal to itself. Neither is true -- all bodies change uninterruptedly in size, weight, colour etc. They are never equal to themselves. A sophist will respond that a pound of sugar is equal to itself at 'any given moment'…. How should we really conceive the word 'moment'? If it is an infinitesimal interval of time, then a pound of sugar is subjected during the course of that 'moment' to inevitable changes. Or is the 'moment' a purely mathematical abstraction, that is, a zero of time? But everything exists in time; and existence itself is an uninterrupted process of transformation; time is consequently a fundamental element of existence. Thus the axiom 'A' is equal to 'A' signifies that a thing is equal to itself if it does not change, that is if it does not exist." [Trotsky (1971), pp.63-64.]
    So: Trotsky attacked the wrong target!

    It could be objected that this is just a minor, 'semantic' quibble, and hardly worth mentioning. But, as we will see, dialecticians make mistakes like this all the time. Moreover, if details like this are little more that minor, "semantic quibbles", then Marx ought to be slated for his own minor, "semantic quibbles" concerning the difference between, for example, the "relative" and the "equivalent" form of value in Das Kapital -- and critics of Marx, who ignore such 'pedantic distinctions' (and who think they have thereby refuted Marx) should be praised for their lack of attention to detail. Moreover, Trotsky shouldn't have been quite so 'semantic' (or even 'quibbly') about the minute difference between two bags of sugar (or, a bag of sugar and itself) and two letter "A"s!

    Indeed, as Trotsky himself said:

    "It is necessary to call things by their right names." [Trotsky (1971), p.56.]
    Unfortunately, this is something Trotsky himself failed to do in connection with the LOI.

    Others might want to argue that this is unfair since the principle of equality is in fact the same as the principle of identity; but if that is so, then plainly we have at least two items (namely these two) that obey the LOI, which in turn means Trotsky was wrong to say no two things are identical. On the other hand, if they aren't identical, then Trotsky attacked the wrong target, after all.

    It could be objected that these two principles are approximately identical -- so that the difference between them can be ignored. However, as we will see, this isn't even remotely correct; these two concepts/words are radically different. But, even if it were the case that they are approximately identical, that would still be no help. Unless we possess a clear idea of what would count as absolute identity between these two, we would be in no position to declare they have only approximated to this ideal. An approximation only makes sense if we know with what it is that it approximates; but, for us to know that, we would have to know how the LOI applies absolutely here so that we could say why this is in fact an approximation. [More on this below.]

    It could be argued that this is quite clearly an example of abstract identity, which dialecticians don't in fact question; they merely point out the limitations of LOI when it is applied to change. But, the passages above are expressed in very material ink (or they are represented by very material pixels on your screen), so they aren't abstract in the least. If it is now maintained that it is their content (i.e., what they say) that expresses abstract identity then Trotsky's point about those letter "A"s cannot stand either, since these letters are equally material. [Irony intended.] Indeed, his argument depends on these letters not being 'abstract'.

    Anyway, 'abstract identity' will be discussed below.

    As noted above, identity and equality are relatively easy to distinguish -- even the children of workers can tell them apart! For example, in elementary mathematics the equation 2x + 1 = 7 is true if and only if x = 3 (i.e., if x is equal to three), but no one supposes that x is identical to 3, otherwise it could never equal any other number (as it does in, say, 3x – 2 = 19).

    [In what follows, I have had to use photographs since the software here can't cope with the symbols I have employed.]





    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth_function

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Morgan's_laws

    [The triple-barred sign used above is the symbol for identity in mathematics and MFL (Modern Formal Logic).]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_bar

    [Of course, the distinctions we draw in MFL aren't the same as those that feature in ordinary language (no irony intended), nor yet those found in Traditional Philosophy -- more on this below, too. "Truth-functional" is a technical term that describes the logical connection between the truth-values of the constituent propositions of a molecular proposition (such as the one at the end of the second photograph above), the alteration of which changes the truth-value of the compound proposition in a rule-governed way. So, the truth-value of the molecular proposition -- p & q (i.e., "p and q") -- changes from true to false if the truth-value of p, or the truth-value of q, or the truth-values of both p and q, is changed from true to false; hence the molecular proposition -- p & q -- is true if and only if both atomic propositions -- i.e., both p and q -- are true, false otherwise. For more on this, see here.]

    Furthermore, in ordinary language the difference between equality and identity is even clearer. So, we can say things like "The author of What is To Be Done? is identical with Lenin", whereas, it would be decidedly odd to say "The author of What is To Be Done? is equal to Lenin" (which would carry the implication that the said author wasn't in fact Lenin, but was his equal nonetheless; perhaps he was an equally great leader, or writer -- in other words, this would be tantamount to saying someone else wrote the said book!). Just as we can say that "The number of authors of What is To Be Done? is equal to one", but not, "The number of authors of What is To Be Done? is identical to one". [If the latter were the case, we could argue that since the number of Moons of the Earth is identical to one, the number of Moons of the Earth must be the author of What is To Be Done?!]

    Moreover, since counting objects is just as material a practice as weighing them is, no dialectician can consistently take exception to awkward examples of the difference between identity and equality (like those above) while accepting uncritically Trotsky's point about weighing bags of sugar.

    Additionally, two things can be equal even while they fail to be identical, and vice versa. For example, two distinct (non-identical) comrades could be equally first in two separate lists and/or queues; two numerically different horses could be identically placed third in two separate races.

    Other things can be equal and identical, or not, as the case may be. For instance, the letter "T" can be situated identically in first place in two different words (such as "Trotsky" and "teamster") even though neither letter nor word is equal or identical in shape and/or size. And, two letter "A"s, for example, which are identically placed first in the alphabet can be non-identically positioned in two words of unequal length (such as "target" and "Antarctic"). Indeed, careful optical examination (along the lines Trotsky suggested) will fail to show that those two "T"s aren't identically-positioned at the front of the two quoted words (i.e., "Trotsky" and "teamster"), nor yet that those two numerically different "A"s aren't both identically situated as the opening letter of the alphabet. This sort of identity clearly isn't sensitive to empirical test, eyeglass or no.

    We needn't concentrate, either, on examples that some might still consider "abstract"; two (physical) ink marks on a page (two letter "A"s, again) which aren't even identical in shape or size (i.e., "a" and "A") could be identically positioned between other non-identical letters. So, in "pat" and "PAT" each letter "A" is sandwiched identically between two other non-identical letters (i.e., both are in the middle). Large or small physical differences between these letters, and any other incidental changes they might experience (which don't affect their position) -- such as a change of colour on your screen -- wouldn't alter the fact that they are identically placed between two other letters. Indeed, the spacing of these letters could be grossly unequal, but that wouldn't affect the fact that these letters are placed identically in the middle.

    [By "middle" I mean "having one letter either side", not "located at or near the geometric centre".]

    Now the position of ink marks on a page (or even those electronically produced as pixels on your screen) isn't abstract, it is manifestly material --, so much so that one or both can be obliterated by the non-dialectical use either of some Tipp-ex, or the delete key.

    And, deletion isn't the removal of an abstraction.

    [Alternatively, just try deleting an abstraction!]

    Ordinary language is in fact almost limitless in the capacity it allows its users to express sameness, equality, identity and difference -- that is, if they refuse to be led astray by the obscure jargon bequeathed to us by Idealist Philosophers (like Hegel). It is a pity that Trotsky's otherwise brilliant mind failed to notice familiar facts such as these about the vernacular.

    I have listed many more examples of the complexities that ordinary language allows in this and other respects, here.

    Some Things Can Change Even While Remaining The Same!

    [Again, I have had to use a photograph from my site.]





    [There is a minor typo in the above photograph, the "=" sign used near the top should in fact be a triple-barred identity sign.]

    Several more examples of genuinely material objects that change while remaining the same, are given in the above Essay.

    The triteness of these examples should provide no reason for anyone to cavil; after all, Trotsky it was who advised his readers to consider bags of sugar and letter "A"s!

    It could be argued that the above counter-examples do not address the classical problem of identity, which concerns the entire set of predicates "true of" an object, or of some 'substance'. That is undeniable, but DM-theorists themselves fail to consider "the classical problem of identity" -- fixated as they are on "A is equal to A" --, and neither did Hegel.

    As soon as they do, I will, of course, address what they have to say.

    Finally, someone might object that despite several earlier responses, these examples are all "abstract". But even if that were so, there is still a clear difference between abstract identity and abstract equality, something Trotsky also failed to notice.

    Trotsky Ignores Identity

    However, from this poor start, Trotsky's 'analysis' deteriorates rapidly. As noted above, neither he nor his epigones quote any of the classical versions of the LOI (for example, Leibniz's), and subsequent Trotskyists appear to be blithely unaware of more recent technical, but more precise, definitions of this 'law'. Clearly, these major defects and interpretive blunders fatally compromise the claim that DM is a science, let alone a philosophical theory that merits serious attention. [See also the comments I have added to Essay Six on this topic.]

    Of course, Trotskyists aren't alone in this; the same is true of DM-theorists in general (irony intended, again).

    Trotsky Refutes Himself -- In Practice

    Even if Trotsky's criticism of the LOI had have been carefully worded and had been correctly targeted, it would still have backfired.

    That is because his argument depends on the LOI being true of instants in time so that he can criticise it when it is applied to bags of sugar!

    Hence, his criticism relies on, say, a bag of sugar being non-self-identical during the same moment in time. But, moments in time are just as capable of being measured as are weights. In that case, Trotsky can't consistently use "same moment" while criticising "same weight"; both are legitimate examples of identity (as he interprets it). In that case, Trotsky needs the LOI to be true of instants in time so that he can criticise it when it is applied to bags of sugar!

    If time can be measured (just as sugar can be weighed), the above argument can't be neutralised by claiming that time and/or temporal moments are "abstractions". Weighing and timing are both practical activities, and are thus subject to the same constraints over variability.

    But, even if they weren't, Trotsky can't argue that a bag of sugar changes in the same instant, for there could be no such thing if he were right, and that is because, according to him, nothing can be the same. So, even if moments in time are abstractions, Trotsky would still have to refer to the same 'abstract moment' during which a bag of sugar supposedly changed.

    Trotsky also referred his readers to the same weight of one of these bags; and yet, if no two bags ever weigh the same, or no bag ever weighs the same as itself, then no two moments could be the same either. And if that is so, Trotsky can't legitimately refer to the "same moment" during which such weights may vary. Once again, his criticism fails.

    Moreover, Trotsky (or one of his epigones) can't use the fall-back option that bags of sugar are the 'same yet different' (employing the "identity-in-difference" gambit) since Trotsky had already torpedoed that response well below the water-line, declaring that all things are never the same:

    "Again one can object: but a pound of sugar is equal to itself. Neither is true -- all bodies change uninterruptedly in size, weight, colour etc. They are never equal to themselves." [Ibid., p.64. Emphasis added.]
    Hence, if objects and processes are never the same, they can't be "the same, yet different", they can only be "different yet different". On the other hand, if it is true that they are "the same, yet different" then it can't be true that they are never the same. Either way, Trotsky's criticism backfires, once more.

    'Abstract' And Approximate Identity

    Again, someone might object that the points made above ignore the fact that dialecticians aren't attacking the abstract version of the LOI, merely pointing out that when applied to changing reality it is only approximately true.

    However, dialecticians certainly have to use identically the same words/concepts as one another (or as they themselves have done from day-to-day) if they want to make the same point, and/or communicate with each other (irony intended).

    Consider just one example of the difficulties this now creates for DM-supporters: any two dialecticians who fancy they have the same idea of "abstract identity" must either accept that a material version of the LOI (if it exists or is expressed somewhere in their central nervous systems, or is written on the page in one of Trotsky's essays, say) applies to these two distinct ideas of "abstract identity" (so that they can confirm they are talking about exactly the same thing), or they must concede that they are talking about two different things, and stop their blather.

    Any response from the DM-community to the effect that the above aren't doing what is alleged of them (since all they need appeal to is approximate identity) must suffer the same fate; that is because any dialectician who says this must mean exactly the same as any other dialectician who also says it, or admit they are not talking about the same thing.

    Furthermore, the idea that identity only really approximates to abstract identity (so that no two concrete objects in the material world are exactly the same -- even if they are approximately identical --, or that any one particular thing is only approximately self-identical), is equally misconceived.

    That is because we are no further forward unless we can be told with what it is that our ordinary terms for identity are supposed to approximate, for if these terms do not approximate to anything specifiable, they are empty notions.

    In order to underline this point, consider an analogy: let us suppose that someone introduces a word into the language -- say "schmidentity" -- but can give no examples of anything in reality that might possibly exhibit "schmidentity". If we were then told that certain things were "approximately schmidentical" (or "schmidentical only within certain limits", or even that they exhibited "schmidentity-in-difference") we would still have no clear idea what was being maintained. If we don't know what "schmidentity" is, we certainly don't know what "approximate schmidentity", or what "schmidentity-in-difference" is, either. And calling this new 'concept' "abstract schmidentity", "absolute schmidentity", or even "relative schmidentity" would be equally pointless.

    In that case, when dialecticians presume to tell us that a word (or set of words) in ordinary language connected with sameness and identity, which we all know how to use in our daily lives, doesn't mean what we usually take it to mean, then the onus is on dialecticians to tell us what they do mean by their novel use of it. Until they do, they might as well be talking about 'schmidentity'.

    [And it is little help referring to Hegel's criticisms of the LOI; as I have demonstrated here, he badly misconstrued this 'law', compounding his folly with a series of egregious errors over the nature of propositions.]

    For example, how do DM-fans know that their notion of identity isn't absolutely identical with schmidentity? Or, indeed with nothing? The fact that I haven't defined "schmidentity" is no objection. They have yet to tell us what they mean by their use of words for identity. In fact, as we have seen, they mis-identify this word right from the start; and, to cap it all, they have inherited an exact copy of this misidentification from Trotsky! [Irony intended, again.]

    On the other hand, if DM-apologists can say with what it is that our words for identity do in fact approximate, then they must have a clear idea of abstract identity which cannot itself be subject to Trotsky's criticisms, and that is because their idea of abstract identity must be materially identical to abstract identity itself (otherwise they would once again be talking about the wrong thing!).

    Alternatively, if this idea of theirs isn't identical with abstract identity -- or to put this better, if they haven't got a clue what abstract identity is (so they are in no position to say that their idea of approximate identity approximates to the right concept, or maybe to some other concept) -- then what they have to say about identity (ordinary or abstract) can safely be ignored, for it won't be about identity, but about something different. [Irony intended, once more.]

    Sugar-Coated Error

    Furthermore, Trotsky's appeal to the hypothetical weight of bags of sugar is no less misconceived. That is because weighing scales are just as susceptible to change as are bags of sugar. Hence, Trotsky had no way of knowing whether the different weights he predicted were genuine effects (because only the weight of the sugar had altered), or whether they were merely artefacts of changes in the machinery that had been used -- or whether it was the result of a locally variable gravitational field, the changing eyesight of the experimenter, or, indeed, the consequence a host of other capricious factors.

    Plainly, the above objection can only be neutralised if weighing machines, the bodies of experimenters, and the rest of the universe (other than bags of sugar) are all exempted from this as changeless beings. Only in such circumstances would it be safe to assume that the differing measurements predicted by Trotsky were solely the result of changes in the items being weighed. Short of that, Trotsky could only be 100% confident that subsequently detected differences were always and only the result of changes to the weight of the sugar if he asserted this as an a priori stipulation.

    In that case, Trotsky would have imposed dialectics on nature, contrary to what he elsewhere said should never be done:

    "Dialectics cannot be imposed on facts; it has to be deduced from facts, from their nature and development…." [Trotsky (1973), p.233.]
    On the other hand, if Trotsky had been faced with someone who claimed that at least two of their weighings were identical, he could only have responded in one or more of the following ways:

    (1) Insisting that this experimenter must have been mistaken.

    (2) Pointing out that the machines used were not accurate enough.

    (3) Maintaining that his instructions had not been carried out exactly and to the letter.

    (4) Arguing that identically the same experiment had not been performed each time.

    In other words, in the absence of a mistake (and if the same results were recorded on more accurate scales) -- i.e., ruling out (1) and (2) above --, Trotsky would only be able to criticise the above reported experimental verification of the LOI by an appeal to that very same 'law', but now applied to his own instructions! Hence, in order to counter results that would disconfirm his forecast (about varying weights) he would have to argue that only those who followed his instructions identically and to the letter would be able to disprove the LOI!

    The irony is thus quite plain: identically performed experiments are required to prove that nothing is identical with anything else -- including experiments!

    To be sure, anyone who only roughly followed instructions (who was perhaps content with a wishy-washy, "approximate-within-certain-limits", dialectical 'sort of equality') would probably find that many (if not most) of their measurements gave identical results for the bags of sugar, confirming this 'law'!

    In which case, Trotsky's predictions would end up being refuted by anyone who adopted this diluted/'dialectical' version of the LOI applied to his instructions!

    Such experimenters would thus succeed in confirming the absolute form of this 'law' by adopting and then applying a weaker version of it!

    Conversely, the more precisely these experimenters adhered to Trotsky's instructions, the more likely it would be that they reported non-identical weights. In that case, they would succeed in disconfirming the absolute form of this 'law' by applying an exact copy of Trotsky's instructions!

    So, by reverse irony, they would refute Trotsky in practice by doing exactly as he instructed, using the LOI applied to his instructions in order to disconfirm it when applied to bags of sugar!

    Some might think all this is irrelevant; if things change, who cares what causes it? But, Trotsky is here appealing to the results of an experiment -- one that he clearly didn't carry out himself -- to substantiate a claim about all objects everywhere in the universe, and for all of time. It now turns out that because of that thesis itself, it might not be possible to verify some (any?) of his claims. If so, we are still owed an explanation why Trotsky thought it correct to say that everything changes all the time, when this cannot be confirmed. And that isn't just because many of the above complications could cancel each other out or mask a temporary lack of change in other things, it is because we don't have access to most regions of space and time, and never will!

    Relying on evidence alone, therefore, Trotsky was certainly not justified in projecting his conclusions as far as he thought he could --, i.e., across the entire universe, and for all of time; not least because he evidently performed no experiments himself.

    Indeed, he failed to account for even so much a simple bag of sugar!

    ------------------------------

    More to follow...
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 06-07-2017 at 6:00 PM.
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    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trotsky On Identity

    Physicists Discover Identical Particles!

    Trotsky also argued as follows:

    "Every worker knows that it is impossible to make two completely equal objects. In the elaboration of a bearing-brass into cone bearings, a certain deviation is allowed for the cones which should not, however, go beyond certain limits…. By observing the norms of tolerance, the cones are considered as being equal. ('A' is equal to 'A')…. Every individual is a dialectician to some extent or other, in most cases, unconsciously." [Trotsky (1971), pp.65, 106.]
    However, contrary to what Trotsky says, it is very easy to make two identical objects -- everyone does so when they throw a light switch!

    Physicists tell us that every photon, for example, is identical to every other photon. Indeed, every electron is identical with every other electron. This how Philosopher of Science, Steven French, puts things:

    "It should be emphasised, first of all, that quantal particles are indistinguishable in a much stronger sense than classical particles. It is not just that two or more electrons, say, possess all intrinsic properties in common but that -- on the standard understanding -- no measurement whatsoever could in principle determine which one is which. If the non-intrinsic, state-dependent properties are identified with all the monadic or relational properties which can be expressed in terms of physical magnitudes associated with self-adjoint operators that can be defined for the particles, then it can be shown that two bosons or two fermions in a joint symmetric or anti-symmetric state respectively have the same monadic properties and the same relational properties one to another. [French and Redhead (1988); see also Butterfield (1993).] This has immediate implications for Leibniz's Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles which, expressed crudely, insists that two things which are indiscernible, must be, in fact, identical." [French (2011). Bold emphases and links added.]
    Of course, French offers his own solution to this difficulty, but it isn't one that challenges the identity of quantal particles, just their lack of individuality. And, Nobel Laureate, Paul Dirac, made a similar point:

    "If a system in atomic physics contains a number of particles of the same kind, e.g., a number of electrons, the particles are absolutely indistinguishable. No observable change is made when two of them are interchanged…." [Dirac (1967), p.307.]
    However, one might wonder how anyone could possibly know two particles had been interchanged if they are all indistinguishable. On the other hand, Pure Mathematician that he was, Dirac might merely be making a theoretical point on a par with the following: "If we swap one number in this equation for another (identical) number, no change will be observed: 2 + 3 = 5". We can see this perhaps more clearly with this example: "Two plus three equals five" is mathematically indistinguishable from "2 + 3 = 5" even though "2" and "Two", for instance, are plainly different.

    In that case, every time a worker turns on a light, he or she makes/generates countless trillion identical objects per second -- which must mean that such workers are "unconscious" anti-dialecticians, if we employ the same sort of reasoning here as Trotsky.

    Naturally, contentious claims like these can only be neutralised by an a priori stipulation to the effect that every photon in existence (past, present and future) must be non-identical -- despite what scientists tell us and in abeyance of the impossibly large (finite) amount of data that would be needed to substantiate such a cosmically ambitious claim. At this point, perhaps, even hardnosed dialecticians might be able to see in this a blatant attempt to impose DM on reality.

    A recent discussion of these issues can be found in Brading and Castellani (2003), and Castellani (1998). An even more recent discussion can be found in Saunders (2006) [this links to a PDF], and particularly French and Krause (2006). See also Hilborn and Yuca (2002), Ladyman and Bigaj (2010), and the Wikipedia entry here.

    It could be objected that Trotsky would surely have been unaware of developments in Physics after he died, but, as the references given show, such facts were largely true of classical particles; quantum particles merely present a more extreme form of strict identity. And Lenin it was who reminded us that science is ever revisable; hence, no dialectician (who agrees with Lenin) could consistently rule out the possibility that scientists would one day discover identical particles -- as indeed they have.

    Even so, Trotsky was quite happy to impose this view on nature before all (or most of) the evidence was in, in defiance of what he said elsewhere:

    "[b]The dialectic does not liberate the investigator from painstaking study of the facts[/i], quite the contrary: it requires it." [Trotsky (1986), p.92. Bold emphasis added]

    "Dialectics and materialism are the basic elements in the Marxist cognition of the world. But this does not mean at all that they can be applied to any sphere of knowledge, like an ever ready master key. Dialectics cannot be imposed on facts; it has to be deduced from facts, from their nature and development…." [Trotsky (1973), p.233. Bold emphasis added.]
    Of course, the above considerations will only be of offence to those who, for some odd reason, might want to foist dialectics on nature.

    But, who on earth would want to do that?

    Identity Is No Enemy Of Change

    Finally, and perhaps most damningly, Trotsky (and Hegel) failed to notice that the LOI does not preclude change, for if an object changes, then anything identical to it will change equally quickly. Moreover, if something changes, it will no longer be identical with its former self.

    So, far from denying change, this 'law' allows us to determine if and when it has occurred.

    With that observation, much of Dialectical Materialism completely falls apart.

    -------------------------------------------

    Brading, K., and Castellani, E. (2003) (eds.), Symmetries In Physics. Philosophical Reflections (Cambridge University Press).

    Butterfield, J. (1993), 'Interpretation And Identity In Quantum Theory', Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 24, pp.443–76.

    Castellani, E. (1998) (ed.), Interpreting Bodies. Classical And Quantum Objects In Modern Physics (Princeton University Press).

    Dirac, P. (1967), The Principles Of Quantum Mechanics (Oxford University Press, 4th ed.).

    French, S. (2011), 'Identity And Individuality In Quantum Theory', in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).

    French, S., and Krause, D. (2006), Identity In Physics: A Historical, Philosophical And Formal Analysis (Oxford University Press).

    French, S., and Redhead, M. (1988), 'Quantum Physics And The Identity Of Indiscernibles', British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 39, pp.233–46.

    Hilborn, R., and Yuca, C. (2002), 'Identical Particles In Quantum Mechanics Revisited', British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53, 3, pp.355-89.

    Ladyman, J., and Bigaj, T. (2010), 'The Principle Of The Identity Of Indiscernibles And Quantum Mechanics', Philosophy of Science 77, 1, pp.117-36.

    Saunders, S. (2006), 'Are Quantum Particles Objects?', Analysis 66, 1, pp.52-62. [This links to a PDF.]

    Trotsky, L. (1971), In Defense Of Marxism (New Park Publications).

    --------, (1973), Problems Of Everyday Life (Monad Press).

    --------, (1986), Notebooks, 1933-35 (Columbia University Press).

    --------, (1973), Problems Of Everyday Life (Monad Press).

    ----------------------------------------

    From the above, comrades shouldn't assume that I accept the LOI as some sort of 'fundamental truth' about the 'nature of reality'. In fact, I reject all such claims as incoherent non-sense. What the LOI expresses (in MFL and Mathematics) is a rule for the use of certain symbols; in the vernacular (depending on how it is being employed) it expresses rules we have for the use of words like "same", "identical", "exact", and "precise".
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 05-25-2015 at 10:26 PM.
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/index.htm

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    Default Re: Trotsky On Identity

    Could you please sum all this up in a couple of sentences?

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    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trotsky On Identity

    The above is in fact a summary of a 55,000 word Essay!

    However, I'll give it a go (but this might take me a few days!) -- but I'm not sure I can do it in a couple of sentences. Perhaps four or five paragraphs.
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/index.htm

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    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trotsky On Identity

    In case anyone new to my ideas is confused: the above doesn't amount to an attack on Historical Materialism, a theory I fully accept (providing every trace of Hegel and Traditional Philosophy has been excised) -- or, indeed, an attack on revolutionary socialism.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 05-25-2015 at 10:27 PM.
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/index.htm

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    Default Re: Trotsky On Identity

    You know Rosie if you take it down a step and not cite every source imaginable you just might have something interesting to say. Hone it down, make it pithy, make it understandable to the average Ph.D., you must might have something to say.

    Really, you need a makeover--like they do in the movies. They take the glasses off the ugly girl and get her a nice haircut and a new dress and some makeup and suddenly she's the most beautiful girl at the prom.

    Let's do that to your philosophy, Rosie. (And you should be Rosie from now on--Rosa sounds to formal.) And I'm the guy to help you Rosie--I'm your man.


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    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    I've tried that tactic, and all I get from DM-fans is "Your work is trivial and superficial!"

    So, now, I just do what I do.

    And I'm the guy to help you Rosie--I'm your man.
    And you are still a sexist pig.

    If you have nothing useful to add, stop de-railing this thread.
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/index.htm

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    Senior Voting Member Meridian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trotsky On Identity

    Bud Struggle, kindly fuck off.

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    Default Re: Trotsky On Identity

    Quote Originally Posted by Meridian View Post
    Bud Struggle, kindly fuck off.
    Why, do you understand what Rosa's post was all about? Please explain it to us.

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    Default Re: Trotsky On Identity

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    I've tried that tactic, and all I get from DM-fans is "Your work is trivial and superficial!"

    So, now, I just do what I do.
    But there may be something there and nobody's getting it.



    And you are still a sexist pig.

    If you have nothing useful to add, stop de-railing this thread.
    OK the last part was me teasing you, but reading through your "essay" there might have been kernels of something interesting. Just cull those out and maybe you can make a point that people could understand.

    And sorry about being a pig. Let's you and I respect each other and stop fighting.

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    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trotsky On Identity

    Bud:

    But there may be something there and nobody's getting it.
    To be honest, the problem I have found is that DM-fans know precious little logic (and no modern logic at all), but they somehow think that what Trotsky had to say is the last word on this subject. Hence, much of what I have to say sails straight over their heads. Another problem is that the vast majority of DM-fans are no less strangers to Analytic Philosophy.

    Now, there is nothing I can do about that -- it is a problem they have inflicted on themselves -- but that doesn't stop them pontificating about Formal Logic -- often imagining that the subject began and ended with Aristotle -- certainly that is what Trotsky seems to have thought (this is from his debate with James Burnham):

    I know of two systems of logic worthy of attention: the logic of Aristotle (formal logic) and the logic of Hegel (the dialectic). Aristotelian logic takes as its starting point immutable objects and phenomena. The scientific thought of our epoch studies all phenomena in their origin, change and disintegration. Do you hold that the progress of the sciences, including Darwinism, Marxism, modern physics, chemistry, etc., has not influenced in any way the forms of our thought? In other words, do you hold that in a world where everything changes, the syllogism alone remains unchanging and eternal? The Gospel according to St. John begins with the words: “In the beginning was the Word,” i.e., in the beginning was Reason or the Word (reason expressed in the word, namely, the syllogism). To St. John the syllogism is one of the literary pseudonyms for God. If you consider that the syllogism as immutable, i.e., has neither origin nor development, then it signifies that to you it is the product of divine revelation. But if you ac knowledge that the logical forms of our thought develop in the process of our adaptation to nature, then please take the trouble to in form us just who following Aristotle analyzed and systematized the subsequent progress of logic. So long as you do not clarify this point, I shall take the liberty of asserting that to identify logic (the dialectic) with religion reveals utter ignorance and superficiality in the basic questions of human thought.
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/tro...14-burnham.htm

    To which Burnham not unreasonably replied:

    You, however, serve up to us only a stale re-hash of Engels. The latest scientist admitted to your pages is – Darwin; apart from Aristotle, the only ‘logic worthy of attention’ is that of – Hegel, the century-dead arch-muddler of human thought. Comrade Trotsky, as we Americans ask: where have you been all these years? During the 125 years since Hegel wrote, science has progressed more than during the entire preceding history of mankind. During that same period, after 2300 years of stability, logic has undergone a revolutionary transformation: a transformation in which Hegel and his ideas have had an influence of exactly zero.

    You ask me: ‘Do you hold that the progress of the sciences, including Darwinism, Marxism, modern physics, chemistry, etc., have not influenced in any way the forms of our thought?’ But it is to yourself that you should address this question, not to me. Of course I hold that they have (and one way that they have influenced it is to show that Hegelian dialectics has nothing whatever to do with science). How the sciences have influenced the forms of thought no one will ever discover by spending even a lifetime on the tortuous syntax of the reactionary absolutist, Hegel, but only by studying modern science and mathematics, and the careful analysts of modern science and mathematics.

    In a most sarcastic vein, you keep asking me to ‘take the trouble to inform us just who following Aristotle analysed and systematised the subsequent progress of logic’, ‘perhaps you will call my attention to those works which should supplant the system of dialectic materialism for the proletariat ...’ as if this demand were so obviously impossible of fulfilment that I must collapse like a pricked balloon before it. The sarcasm is misplaced, for the demand is the easiest in the world to fulfil. Do you wish me to prepare a reading list, Comrade Trotsky? It would be long, ranging from the work of the brilliant mathematicians and logicians of the middle of the last century to one climax in the monumental Principia Mathematica of Russell and Whitehead (the historic turning point in modern logic), and then spreading out in many directions – one of the most fruitful represented by the scientists, mathematicians and logicians now cooperating in the new Encyclopedia of Unified Science. For logic in its narrower sense, C.I. Lewis’ Survey of Symbolic Logic is an excellent, though not easy, introduction. I am afraid, however, that in all of these works you will find scarcely a single reference to Hegelian (or Marxian) dialectics; nor will you in those of a single reputable contemporary scientist – except the Soviet scientists, whose necks depend upon such references, or one or two Kremlin hangers-on, like J.B.S. Haldane, in other nations. The study of these works would be not uninteresting; but I am afraid that when we finished we would be not much nearer the solution of the question of the role of Russia in the war.

    You have an altogether incorrect idea of logic, Comrade Trotsky.
    https://www.marxists.org/history/eto...0/02/style.htm

    Of course, logic has moved on even more since 1940 (when the above was written), but DM-fans still think (like Trotsky) that with Aristotle the development of logic came to an end. In fact, a good 99.9% of logic is less than 150 years old, and Aristotle's logic is of interest only to antiquarians and those who are happy to remain ignorant.
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/index.htm

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    Default Re: Trotsky On Identity

    Rosa, I have to admit as funny as you and I are slapping each other around--these guys are better by far!

    Secondly, except for the last sentence I completely agree with Trotsky. Oddly, I was a fan of Burnham in his W.F. Buckley days. Small world. The way I always thought is it is logic is divided into three worlds: Aristotle, Hegel and then some smutz that comes after. When you made you displeasure felt about Hegel--the next position would be the default of Aristotle. Right? Well, no.

    So THAT makes your fixation on Wittgenstein understandable.

    to one climax in the monumental Principia Mathematica of Russell and Whitehead (the historic turning point in modern logic),
    And to that I would suggest you read Process and Reality to see where Whitehead's (the actual author of PM) ended up. It's interesting how thing fall.

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    Senior Voting Member Meridian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trotsky On Identity

    I find Rosa's contribution here pretty straightforward. That Bud Struggle struggles with it should surprise no one.

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    Default Re: Trotsky On Identity

    Quote Originally Posted by Meridian View Post
    I find Rosa's contribution here pretty straightforward. That Bud Struggle struggles with it should surprise no one.
    Fine.

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    Senior Voting Member Veritas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meridian View Post
    I find Rosa's contribution here pretty straightforward. That Bud Struggle struggles with it should surprise no one.
    Bud does at least seem interested to learn, even if he doesn't understand. What exactly have you contributed in the thread? Aside from telling someone to 'Fuck off' and then posting what is basically intellectual elitism, because of course, you find all this "pretty straightforward".

    Rosa:

    I never even knew that Trotsky said things on Logic, I'll take a read through this tomorrow when I'm not tired. Has a lot of this come out of your debate with the person on YouTube? I really enjoyed that, even if I can't say I followed everything properly.
    "As I've been saying for a while now -- over a year actually -- Clinton was going to win, and now it's become clear for everyone else as well." - Amoeba 10-08-2016, 11:36 PM

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    Senior Voting Member Meridian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trotsky On Identity

    If you think Bud Struggle is 'interested to learn', you're an even bigger idiot. Stop wasting everyone's time with this troll.

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    Default Re: Trotsky On Identity

    Quote Originally Posted by Dorian182 View Post
    Bud does at least seem interested to learn, even if he doesn't understand. What exactly have you contributed in the thread? Aside from telling someone to 'Fuck off' and then posting what is basically intellectual elitism, because of course, you find all this "pretty straightforward".

    Rosa:

    I never even knew that Trotsky said things on Logic, I'll take a read through this tomorrow when I'm not tired. Has a lot of this come out of your debate with the person on YouTube? I really enjoyed that, even if I can't say I followed everything properly.
    Thanks. I kid around with Rosa and some others a bit--I'm not the most serious guy in the world. But some of the issues posted around here are interesting--and I think Rosa could be too--if she would just make her posts a little more readable.

    That being said I didn't know Trotsky said anything on logic either--and that's where Rosa could be a great asset around here discussing things like that. But they have to be put in readable posts.

    Anyway Dorian--Thanks again.

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    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trotsky On Identity

    Bud:

    Secondly, except for the last sentence I completely agree with Trotsky. Oddly, I was a fan of Burnham in his W.F. Buckley days. Small world. The way I always thought is it is logic is divided into three worlds: Aristotle, Hegel and then some smutz that comes after. When you made you displeasure felt about Hegel--the next position would be the default of Aristotle. Right? Well, no.
    I'm sorry, but what does this mean? Are you challenging my assertion that the development of logic didn't end when Aristotle died? Or that 99.9% of logic is less than 150 years old? If not, what is there to agree with Trotsky about?

    Are you at all familiar with the logical mess that is otherwise known as Hegel's 'Logic'? If not, how can you possibly judge here?

    So THAT makes your fixation on Wittgenstein understandable.
    Er..., how does that make anything I have said 'understandable'?

    And to that I would suggest you read Process and Reality to see where Whitehead's (the actual author of PM) ended up. It's interesting how thing fall.
    I have, and it's incoherent non-sense. But, what has this got to do with anything I have argued? I'm no defender of Russell and Whitehead's work. It was Burnham, not I, who mentioned their work.
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/index.htm

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    Default Re: Trotsky On Identity

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    Bud:
    I'm sorry, but what does this mean? Are you challenging my assertion that the development of logic didn't end when Aristotle died? Or that 99.9% of logic is less than 150 years old? If not, what is there to agree with Trotsky about?
    I'm saying that for the most part no one knows about any logical "mess". Russell and Whitehead pretty much ended it all. Or maybe Wittgenstein--but it died there. You are acting like some 50 year old linguistic issues are even vaguely relevent today.

    Are you at all familiar with the logical mess that is otherwise known as Hegel's 'Logic'? If not, how can you possibly judge here?
    I'm sure there are a couple of people out there that understand it all but none of it is relevant to actual life--or for that matter philosophy. Logic is a minor branch of philosophy.

    I have, and it's incoherent non-sense. But, what has this got to do with anything I have argued? I'm no defender of Russell and Whitehead's work. It was Burnham, not I, who mentioned their work.
    Sorry I thought you posted that for a reason rather than just putting things up for the hell of it--my mistake.

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    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trotsky On Identity

    Dorian:

    I never even knew that Trotsky said things on Logic, I'll take a read through this tomorrow when I'm not tired. Has a lot of this come out of your debate with the person on YouTube? I really enjoyed that, even if I can't say I followed everything properly.
    Well, he said very little, and should have said even less. He was clearly ignorant of the subject, but one can be a great revolutionary and know nothing of logic. The point is that he should have refrained from passing an opinion on something about which he clearly knew nothing, and not least because Trotskyists since have taken the things he said about FL as gospel truth, and, nothing you say to them seems to make any difference. For example, I told John Rees to his face he was telling fibs about Formal Logic when he repeated the things Trotsky said about it in the early 1990s. It made no difference and he repeated them again in his book The Algebra of Revolution a few years later. In the early 2000s I was also engaged in an e-mail discussion with Alan Woods, and I tried to make the same points about the things he and Ted Grant had said about logic in their execrable book Reason in Revolt, but in the second edition he made no substantive changes. I also told John Molyneux the same about the things he had written about logic in earlier writings, and on his website, but he repeated them again in his book The Point is to Change It:


    Hi, John,

    It's a pity you published your latest book on Marxist Philosophy, extolling the theory that has allegedly been tested in practice just as the SWP was about to implode. Yet another refutation of Dialectical Marxism?

    I'm afraid so; in fact we have witnessed little other than failure (particularly those of us like you and I, who hail from the Trotskyist tradition) over the last 100 years or so. Theory tested in practice? If so, practice has returned an unfavourable reply.

    I was especially disappointed to see you repeat the same incorrect allegations about Formal Logic [FL], which you support with not one single quotation from, or reference to, a logic text, ancient or modern.

    It is very easy to show that FL (ancient, but more particularly modern logic) can cope with change, just as it is easy to show that if dialectical materialism were true, change would be impossible:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%20...Explain-Change

    You say this in your book:

    "Marxist materialism is repeatedly attacked by the method of oversimplifying and caricaturing it to the point where it is obviously false...."

    But that is precisely what you do with FL.

    Anyway, I'll be publishing a refutation of the more egregious mistakes you make in your book at my site later this year.

    On FL and how it can cope with change, see here:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2004.htm

    A supporter of my site sent two letters to Socialist Worker and Socialist Review (after your book was reviewed there) making these points, and several more, but the editors saw fit not to publish them. Here they are:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/SR_Letter_003.htm

    Rosa!

    ------------------------

    Rosa Lichtenstein said...

    The first of the above links is incorrect; it should be:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2009_02.htm
    http://johnmolyneux.blogspot.co.uk/2...ty-korean.html

    Why do you, John, keep telling fibs about formal logic? Aristotle knew nothing of the 'law of identity' -- it was invented in the Middle Ages. Moreover, identity does not preclude change, for if an object changes, then anything identical to it will change equally quickly. Moreover, if something changes, it will no longer be identical with its former self. So, far from denying change, this 'law' allows us to determine if and when it has occurred.
    https://www.youtube.com/all_comments...VUUo4ouLzRtmX4

    I had in fact made these points to John several times, many years earlier. Seems he prefers to tell fibs about logic rather than check his facts.

    This was posted by me under the name 'Red Menace' back in 2007:

    Red Menace said...

    I have just checked your other article on this 'theory', and you repeat the same hackneyed errors about formal logic (ones I pointed out to John Rees in person, in 1990! -- and he promptly reproduced them in his awful book; so I might as well have been talking to the cat).

    You cannot possibly have checked this against a single logic book, and you appear to have copied it off other dialecticians (like Novack) who merely copied it themselves off others (none of whom checked the details).

    And you get the syllogism wrong (it has to have quantified premises and conclusions) and your attempt to 'define' the law of identity is a joke.

    "This matters because the dominant mode of thinking, based on the logic developed by Aristotle, is not founded on the principle of universal change, rather it deals with fixed states or ‘things’. Its basic axioms are that A = A (a thing is equal to itself) and A does not = non-A ( a thing is not equal to something other than itself), from which are derived sequences of sound reasoning known as syllogisms."

    Aristotle knew nothing of this 'law' and his logic is not founded on the things you say, and it could cope with change. Proof at my site -- Essay Four.]

    And I'd like to see you try derive a single syllogism from your attempt to negate the version of the law of identity you quote.

    [Try negating Leibniz's version -- a much more sophisticated form.]

    Finally, modern logic (especially temporal logic) copes with change admirably well.

    More details at my site, where your neat little 'theses' are thoroughly taken apart.

    RL
    http://johnmolyneux.blogspot.co.uk/2...talism_14.html
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 05-25-2015 at 10:31 PM.
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/index.htm

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