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    National-Cannonist Asero's Avatar
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    Materialism and Empirio-Criticism

    I remember someone on /lit/ calling Materialism and Emperio-Criticism a criticism of idealist metaphysics in the framework of idealist metaphysics.

    I told this to JamesCannonized on the chat, and he stated that it was a common misunderstanding, and that only What is to Be Done? is the only other of Lenin's works that eclipses the amount of misconceptions

    My questions are, before I get into reading it, is that is there anything I should read or get to know before I read it, and what are common misconceptions of the work and why?
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    Senior Voting Member MEGAMANTROTSKY's Avatar
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    Default Re: Materialism and Emperio-Criticism

    While I haven't read the work in full, you might benefit from understanding what Empirio-criticism was and who its advocates were.
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    Senior Voting Member ravn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Materialism and Emperio-Criticism

    Quote Originally Posted by Asero View Post
    I remember someone on /lit/ calling Materialism and Emperio-Criticism a criticism of idealist metaphysics in the framework of idealist metaphysics.

    I told this to JamesCannonized on the chat, and he stated that it was a common misunderstanding, and that only What is to Be Done? is the only other of Lenin's works that eclipses the amount of misconceptions

    My questions are, before I get into reading it, is that is there anything I should read or get to know before I read it, and what are common misconceptions of the work and why?
    If your copy didn't include TEN QUESTIONS TO A LECTURER" , here they are: (This is how Lenin wants you to approach this thing.)

    1. Does the lecturer acknowledge that the philosophy of Marxism is dialectical materialism ?

    If he does not, why has he never analysed Engels’ countless statements on this subject?

    If he does, why do the Machists call their “revision” of dialectical materialism “the philosophy of Marxism"?

    2. Does the lecturer acknowledge Engels’ fundamental division of philosophical systems into idealism and materialism,[2] Engels regarding those intermediate between these two, wavering between them, as the line of Hume in modern philosophy, calling this line “agnosticism” and declaring Kantianism to be a variety of agnosticism?

    3. Does the lecturer acknowledge that recognition of the external world and its reflection in the human mind form the basis of the theory of knowledge of dialectical materialism?

    4. Does the lecturer acknowledge as correct Engels’ argument concerning the conversion of “things-in-themselves” into “things-for-us”?[3]

    5. Does the lecturer acknowledge as correct Engels’ assertion that the “real unity of the world consists in its materiality”? (Anti-Dühring, 2nd ed., 1886, p. 28, section I, part IV on world schematism.)[4]

    6. Does the lecturer acknowledge as correct Engels’ assertion that “matter without motion is as inconceivable as motion without matter"? (Anti-Dühring, 1886, 2nd ed., p. 45, in part 6 on natural philosophy, cosmogony, physics and chemistry.)[5]

    7. Does the lecturer acknowledge that the ideas of causality, necessity, law, etc., are a reflection in the human mind of laws of nature, of the real world? Or was Engels wrong in saying so? (Anti-Dühring, S. 20-21, in part III on apriorism, and S. 103-04, in part XI on freedom and necessity.)[6]

    8. Does the lecturer know that Mach expressed his agreement with he head of the immanentist school, Schuppe, and even dedicated his last and chief philosophical work[7] to him? How does the lecturer explain this adherence of Mach to the obviously idealist philosophy of Schuppe, a defender of clericalism and in general a downright reactionary in philosophy?

    9. Why did the lecturer keep silent about “adventure” with his comrade of yesterday (according to the Studies), the Menshevik Yushkevich, who has oday declared Bogdanov (following in the wake of Rakhmetov) an idealist?[8] Is the lecturer aware that Petzoldt in his latest book has classed a number of Mach’s disciples among the idealists?[9]

    10. Does the lecturer confirm the fact that Machism has nothing in common with Bolshevism? And that Lenin has repeatedly protested against Machism?[10] And that the Mensheviks Yushkevich and Valentinov are “pure” empirio-criticists?


    [1] “Ten Questions to a Lecturer” was written by Lenin during the first half of May 1908 in London. He had come there from Geneva to work on his book Mateterialism and Empirio-criticism, and he sent the questions to I. F. Dubrovinsky, a member of the Bolshevik centre and one of he editors of the newspaper Proletary, as theses for a speech on the occasion of the lecture entitled “Adventures of One Philosophical School” given by A. Bogdanov in Geneva on May 15 (28), 1908.

    Bogdnnov, Lunacharsky and others, who supported Machist standpoints in philosophy, took advantage of Lenin’s absence to increase their activity. Under the guise of criticising “materialism of the Plekhanov school”, they revised materialist philosophy and tried to show that empirio-monism, the variety of Machism invented by Bogdanov, and not dialectical materialism, was the philosophy of Bolshevism.

    In preparing his speech, Dubrovinsky made changes in the second, hird and tenth questions and deleted the seventh question. In his speech, which was based on Lenin’s theses, Dubrovinsky (who used the pseudonym Dorov) sharply criticised Bogdanovs views, declaring that Bolshevism had nothing in common with empirio-monism and showing that the advocacy of “god-building" was incompatible with dialectical materialism.

    [2] See F. Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy

    [3] See F. Engels, “ Special Introduction to the English Edition of 1892” of his work Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, and his Ludwig Fuerbach end the End of Classical German Philosophy (K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, Moscow, 1958, pp. 99-102, 370-71).

    [4] See F. Engels, Anti-Dürhring, Moscow, 1959, p. 65.

    [5] See F. Engels, Anti-Dürhring, Moscow. 1959, p. 86.

    [6] See F. Engels, Anti-Dürhring, Moscow, 1959, pp. 53-54,157.

    [7] Lenin is referring to Ernst Mach’s book Erkennt,,is und Irrtum. Skizzen stir Psyhrnlogie der Forsohung (Knowledge and Error. Sketches of the Psychology of Investigation), the first edition of which was published in Leipzig in 1905.

    For Lenin’s characterisation of the iminanentist school see Al ateria 11am and Lmpirio-criticism, especially Chapter Four, Section 3 (pp. 209-17 of this volume).

    [8] Lenin is referring to the chapter entitled “A. Bogdanov ’s Empirio-monism”, in P. S. Yushkevich’s book Materialism and Critica1 hi Realism. Philosophical Trends in Monism, St. Petersburg, 1908, pp. 161-93.

    [9] Lenin is referring to Joseph Petzoldt’s book Das Weltproblem von positivistischen Standpnnkte aus(The World Problem from the Positivist Standpoint).

    [10] See Lenin’s letter to A. M. Gorky of February 12 (25), 1908 (present edition, Volume 13 , pp. 448-54).

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    Substitutionist James Cannonized's Avatar
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    Lenin's Materialism and Empirio-Criticism is one of Lenin's most misunderstood works, second only to What Is To Be Done?. One reason for the criticisms heaped on it, unfair ones in my mind, are that it only became known to the non-Russian-speaking world after the Soviet government had become thoroughly Stalinized, and much of that government's philosophical output - as with its politics - mechanically doctrinaire and far too closed of from challenge (incidentally, this changed as Stalinism matured in the 1960s, and many Soviet works from the 1960s and 1970s were actually excellent). The result was a staple of the post-war communist narrative: roots for Stalinist developments were sought in Lenin, not only by zealous anti-communists, but also by thinkers who were largely sympathetic to Lenin and operated within his political tradition. Emprio-Criticism seemed particularly ripe for criticism, with its emphasis on a reflection theory of knowledge, which seemed to imply that reality transparently made itself known as a reflection on people's senses, which in turn were transformed into ideas in a seamless process that seemed to remove human agency from the equation altogether. In this way, the book was said to reproduce, in a materialist fashion, the same dialectical-teleological mechanicalism of Hegel. The criticism, then, was that it was a vulgar materialism, and in light of this criticism it shoudln't be surprising that some of the most notable critics of the work in the Leninist tradition are the so-called "praxis" theorists of Western Marxism -- Georg Lukacs and Karl Korsch.

    The problem with the criticism is that it does not accurately reflect the content of Lenin's book (rimshot please!), because it doesn't take into account the purpose for which Lenin wrote it. The book was a polemic directed against Bogdanov and others within the Russian movement who had latched onto the "empirio-critical" (phenomenological-nominalist) argument -- whose defining assumptions and conclusions continue to be shared by confused post-whatever leftists up to the present -- that it was impossible to verify the existence of real objects outside of our perception, and that metaphysics was rooted purely in cognition rather than a world with its own ontology whose contours are reflected, however imperfectly, in our sensory perception.

    As with so much shit on the left, the battle Lenin was fighting had been fought before, and would be fought so many times more after his death, under a multitude of different forms -- usually involving people who proclaim that their bracketing aside or calling into question class on this or another question had cracked open or added nuance to what they persent as the rigidly reductionist, quasi-totalitarian pretensions to science of classical Marxism. Only by understanding his work to be a volley in this ongoing skirmish, as an attack on subjective idealism, rather than a delineation of mechanical from dialectical materialism, can you can really understand what's going on in Materialism and Empirio-Criticism. Hence you get statements from Lenin like, "the objective reality is copied, photographed...by our sensations, while existing independently of them," which is invariably distorted by critics as a passive reflecting process ala a xerox copier (and in any event is actually repeated in his supposedly more Hegelian post-1914 notebooks where he wrote statements like "comprehend=reflect=mirror" [Collected Works, vol. 38, p. 182]). In both cases, Lenin had in mind copying as practical and creative activities, as one would expect from a dialectical materialist. As he said in Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, "one can be a materialist and still differ on what constitutes the criterion of the correctness of the images presented by our senses." In other words, sure we get "copies" of the outside world through our senses, but then we haggle and disagree on what to make of those "copies." Lenin saw an active side for the human subject in the processing of the "reflections" detected by the senses. He was aware that the process of perception always presupposes the interpretation of sensory data.

    As with so many criticisms of Lenin, this one is analogous to what always used to happen in those episodes of Three's Company, where one of the characters would hear only a single side to the conversation, then draw all kinds of ridiculous conclusions about what was being said, leaving it to the rest of the episode for the character to discover the full context and consequently become disabused of some sexually charged misunderstanding. Or, as I suppose Lenin would say, the critics of Materialism and Empirio-Criticism show that -- whatever reflections or copies of Lenin's work they are working with -- their bungling the creative process of situating those reflections into the larger historical context and conversation leaves them with a deeply flawed set of understandings regarding the book.

    And of course, the biggest irony of them all is that Lenin's most misunderstood work (alluded to above in the first sentence, produced six years before Materialism and Empirio-Criticism) was unmistakeable in the decisive role attributed to creative processing of sensory copies of the outside world -- including the sensing of activities produced by class position -- such that a revolutionary consciousness was not automatically or mechanically produced, uniformly and evenly, in the minds of workers, but instead proceeded unevenly and came first to a vanguard layer of people who put 2 and 2 together before more reactionary pockets of the class, and therefore had a duty to convince others of their class in joint struggle of the need for revolution.
    "If the leaders seek only to preserve themselves, that is what they become; preserves--dried preserves." -- Leon Trotsky, Some Questions on American Problems (1940)

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    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    This book is among Lenin's worst. Far from defending materialism, he completely undermines it:

    Unfortunately for Lenin, he based knowledge on 'images'. But this left him in exactly the same predicament as the Idealists and Phenomenalists he has criticising.

    Why? Well, he now has no way of showing these 'images' are 'objective'. Practice is no help, since all he has are images of practice. An appeal to the 'commonsense' of ordinary folk (which he does at one point) is no help either, since all he has are images of ordinary folk. Nor can he argue that only madmen/women will doubt the existence of the material world, since all he has are images of the deranged. So, if his theory were true, he would be stuck in a solipsistic world, all of his own making.

    And it is no help either being told he modified these ideas after he had studied Hegel's 'Logic', since all he has are images of that book. All he is now left with is an appeal to 'faith', which leaves him in the same phenomenalist hole as the other 'fideists' he is attacking.

    This doesn't imply that I doubt the existence of the material world, but I reject Lenin's theory as incoherent non-sense -- and I wouldn't begin (or even end) with 'images'.

    I have developed this criticism (and many others), in greater detail, here:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/page_13%2001.htm

    Why all philosophical theories (and no just Lenin's) are incoherent non-sense:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/Why...n-sensical.htm
    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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    Substitutionist James Cannonized's Avatar
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    Default Re: Materialism and Emperio-Criticism

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    This book is among Lenin's worst. Far from defending materialism, he completely undermines it:

    Unfortunately for Lenin, he based knowledge on 'images'. But this left him in exactly the same predicament as the Idealists and Phenomenalists he has criticising.

    Why? Well, he now has no way of showing these 'images' are 'objective'. Practice is no help, since all he has are images of practice. An appeal to the 'commonsense' of ordinary folk (which he does at one point) is no help either, since all he has are images of ordinary folk. Nor can he argue that only madmen/women will doubt the existence of the material world, since all he has are images of the deranged. So, if his theory were true, he would be stuck in a solipsistic world, all of his own making.
    I suppose we can also claim that Marx was no better than the idealists he was critiquing, as Lenin's use of "image" in the book was no different than Marx's use of appearance and consciousness in the essence/appearance and being/consciousness distinctions he employed continuously throughout his work. It is no wonder you take issue with Lenin, however, as your fixation on philosophical minutia to the exclusion of political practice and social science, as well as your claims that "practice" -- you know, like scientific methodology that accounts for and tries to explain actual social experiences and processes -- could be of no help in anchoring Lenin's notion of a real world reflected in the appearances that are conveyed to people's senses. In other words, you aren't critiquing Lenin from a better materialist position. You are making the same sorts of arguments about the indeterminate relationship between consciousness and being, between "images" and "objective reality," that seemed so incredibly profound to the Empirio-critics and Machists back then, and to postmodern navel-gazers today -- and which were debunked by Lenin over 100 years ago.
    "If the leaders seek only to preserve themselves, that is what they become; preserves--dried preserves." -- Leon Trotsky, Some Questions on American Problems (1940)

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    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James Cannonized View Post
    You are making the same sorts of arguments about the indeterminate relationship between consciousness and being
    I think her point is more along the lines of that distinction being senseless to begin with.
    To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them.

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    Substitutionist James Cannonized's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amoeba View Post
    I think her point is more along the lines of that distinction being senseless to begin with.
    If the distinction is meaningless, then the argument is that there is no distinction between essence and appearance, being and consciousness, and everybody is right about everything they observe -- including the working class. Which is an odd statement to hear advanced by a socialist in a world where most workers aren't socialist. As I said, collapsing the ideal/subjective to the objective because we only know the objective through the lens of the subjective -- the epistemic fallacy -- is neither new nor unique to Rosa's comments here. Lenin gave it a polemical treatment, while philosophers of science abound who are capable of giving it a more academically dense and formally argued debunking of the kind I'm sure Rosa would be drawn to, if for purely stylistic reasons.
    "If the leaders seek only to preserve themselves, that is what they become; preserves--dried preserves." -- Leon Trotsky, Some Questions on American Problems (1940)

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    Senior Voting Member ravn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James Cannonized View Post
    Lenin's Materialism and Empirio-Criticism is one of Lenin's most misunderstood works, second only to What Is To Be Done?.
    The dismissive confusion is generated by revisionists and bourgeois reactionary academics. Why add to it?

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    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James Cannonized View Post
    If the distinction is meaningless, then the argument is that there is no distinction between essence and appearance, being and consciousness, and everybody is right about everything they observe -- including the working class. Which is an odd statement to hear advanced by a socialist in a world where most workers aren't socialist. As I said, collapsing the ideal/subjective to the objective because we only know the objective through the lens of the subjective -- the epistemic fallacy -- is neither new nor unique to Rosa's comments here. Lenin gave it a polemical treatment, while philosophers of science abound who are capable of giving it a more academically dense and formally argued debunking of the kind I'm sure Rosa would be drawn to, if for purely stylistic reasons.
    There's a lot here that I don't understand, like what the distinction between essence and appearance and being and consciousness is supposed to be, how they relate to each other, and how they in turn relate to 'everybody being right about everything they observe', but I'll leave that to Rosa.

    I'm curious though, what philosophers of science are you thinking of who have argued this? I have yet to come across any, but maybe I've missed something.
    To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them.

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    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Materialism and Emperio-Criticism

    JC:

    I suppose we can also claim that Marx was no better than the idealists he was critiquing,
    With all due respect, you can count me out. Marx began with practice not images. In the beginning was the deed...

    "as Lenin's use of "image" in the book was no different than Marx's use of appearance and consciousness in the essence/appearance and being/consciousness distinctions he employed continuously throughout his work. It is no wonder you take issue with Lenin, however, as your fixation on philosophical minutia to the exclusion of political practice and social science, as well as your claims that "practice" -- you know, like scientific methodology that accounts for and tries to explain actual social experiences and processes -- could be of no help in anchoring Lenin's notion of a real world reflected in the appearances that are conveyed to people's senses. In other words, you aren't critiquing Lenin from a better materialist position. You are making the same sorts of arguments about the indeterminate relationship between consciousness and being, between "images" and "objective reality," that seemed so incredibly profound to the Empirio-critics and Machists back then, and to postmodern navel-gazers today -- and which were debunked by Lenin over 100 years ago."
    We can debate what Marx meant another time; this is about Lenin, and, as I have shown, he dropped himself into a solipsistic hole.

    as your fixation on philosophical minutia
    You mean 'attention to detail', something Lenin never indulged in (when he wrote about philosophy), and, it seems, neither have you.

    to the exclusion of political practice and social science, as well as your claims that "practice" -- you know, like scientific methodology that accounts for and tries to explain actual social experiences and processes
    Well, if you believe Lenin, all you have are images of all this scientific practice, and no way to ground them in 'objective reality'. You, too, are in a solipsistic hole.

    could be of no help in anchoring Lenin's notion of a real world reflected in the appearances that are conveyed to people's senses.
    Again, all you have are images of 'people' and no way of knowing whether or not these are figments of your imagination. There is no way out of this circle if you begin with 'images' and 'sensation'. By conceding ground to the bourgeois theorists who invented this way of talking about knowledge based on sensation and images (Locke, Berkeley and Hume, for example), Lenin, or your 'image' of him,simply boxed himself into a corner -- or your 'image' of a corner.

    You are making the same sorts of arguments about the indeterminate relationship between consciousness and being, between "images" and "objective reality," that seemed so incredibly profound to the Empirio-critics and Machists back then, and to postmodern navel-gazers today -- and which were debunked by Lenin over 100 years ago."
    Where have I begun with images and sensation, like the Machists? Or the postmodernists (Where did they come from, for goodness sake!? What will you throw at me next: Madame Blavatsky?) Or even like you and Lenin. In fact, I reject this entire way of talking as incoherent non-sense.
    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: Materialism and Emperio-Criticism

    Amoeba:

    There's a lot here that I don't understand, like what the distinction between essence and appearance and being and consciousness is supposed to be, how they relate to each other, and how they in turn relate to 'everybody being right about everything they observe', but I'll leave that to Rosa.
    Well, if JC wants to go down that route in his reply to me, he will be sinking himself in the mire even faster. I have a nice trap laid out for him...
    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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    Substitutionist James Cannonized's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amoeba View Post
    There's a lot here that I don't understand, like what the distinction between essence and appearance and being and consciousness is supposed to be, how they relate to each other, and how they in turn relate to 'everybody being right about everything they observe', but I'll leave that to Rosa.
    The idea is that just because people living two thousand years ago didn't see subatomic particles did not meant that they did not exist, or that just because people don't see and understand capitalism as constituting an exploitative system with certain laws of motion does not mean that capitalism isn't an exploitative system that can't be shown to have certain laws of motion. In other words, the properties a phenomenon presents to people in their daily lives, and the underlying property that causes that phenomenon to operate the way that it does, might in fact be two entirely different things. If they weren't, as Marx pointed out, science would be unnecessary.

    I'm curious though, what philosophers of science are you thinking of who have argued this? I have yet to come across any, but maybe I've missed something.
    I pointed out that there are numerous philosophers of science who have argued against the claim that the subjective is collapsible to the objective or vice versa.
    "If the leaders seek only to preserve themselves, that is what they become; preserves--dried preserves." -- Leon Trotsky, Some Questions on American Problems (1940)

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    Substitutionist James Cannonized's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    Well, if you believe Lenin, all you have are images of all this scientific practice, and no way to ground them in 'objective reality'. You, too, are in a solipsistic hole.
    Speaking of attention to detail and respect for interlocutors, do you mind pointing out where Lenin said this in his work? Because honestly, it just sounds like you're mistaking his theory of knowledge for Locke's, which insisted on an absolute distinction between subject and object. Another incredibly common misinterpretation of the text.
    "If the leaders seek only to preserve themselves, that is what they become; preserves--dried preserves." -- Leon Trotsky, Some Questions on American Problems (1940)

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    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    JC:

    Speaking of attention to detail and respect for interlocutors, do you mind pointing out where Lenin said this in his work? Because honestly, it just sounds like you're mistaking his theory of knowledge for Locke's, which insisted on an absolute distinction between subject and object. Another incredibly common misinterpretation of the text.
    Lenin can't in fact make the distinction between 'subject' and 'object' since he begins with images. So all he has are images of 'subjects' and 'objects' -- in other words, everything is 'subject' to him.

    There are several passages in Materialism and Empirio-Criticism where Lenin undermines his own belief in the 'objectivity' of the 'external world' and the 'objectivity' of science (bold added in each case):

    "Our sensation, our consciousness is only an image of the external world...."
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/len...8/mec/one3.htm

    "A reflection may be an approximately true copy of the reflected, but to speak of identity is absurd. Consciousness in general reflects being -- that is a general principle of all materialism."
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/len...8/mec/six2.htm

    "What two lines of philosophical tendency does Engels contrast here? One line is that the senses give us faithful images of things, that we know the things themselves, that the outer world acts on our sense-organs. This is materialism -- with which the agnostic is not in agreement. What then is the essence of the agnostic's line? It is that he does not go beyond sensations, that he stops on this side of phenomena, refusing to see anything 'certain' beyond the boundary of sensations. About these things themselves (i.e., about the things-in-themselves, the 'objects in themselves,' as the materialists whom Berkeley opposed called them), we can know nothing certain -- so the agnostic categorically insists. Hence, in the controversy of which Engels speaks the materialist affirms the existence and knowability of things-in-themselves. The agnostic does not even admit the thought of things-in-themselves and insists that we can know nothing certain about them."
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/len...8/mec/two2.htm

    "All knowledge comes from experience, from sensation, from perception. That is true. But the question arises, does objective reality 'belong to perception,' i.e., is it the source of perception? If you answer yes, you are a materialist. If you answer no, you are inconsistent and will inevitably arrive at subjectivism, or agnosticism, irrespective of whether you deny the knowability of the thing-in-itself, or the objectivity of time, space and causality (with Kant), or whether you do not even permit the thought of a thing-in-itself (with Hume). The inconsistency of your empiricism, of your philosophy of experience, will in that case lie in the fact that you deny the objective content of experience, the objective truth of experimental knowledge....

    "The Machians love to declaim that they are philosophers who completely trust the evidence of our sense-organs, who regard the world as actually being what it seems to us to be, full of sounds, colours, etc., whereas to the materialists, they say, the world is dead, devoid of sound and colour, and in its reality different from what it seems to be, and so forth.... They do not recognise objective reality, independent of man, as the source of our sensations. They do not regard sensations as a true copy of this objective reality, thereby directly conflicting with natural science and throwing the door open for fideism...."
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/len...8/mec/two4.htm

    For instance, the materialist Frederick Engels—the not unknown collaborator of Marx and a founder of Marxism—constantly and without exception speaks in his works of things and their mental pictures or images (Gedanken-Abbilder), and it is obvious that these mental images arise exclusively from sensations. It would seem that this fundamental standpoint of the “philosophy of Marxism” ought to be known to everyone who speaks of it, and especially to anyone who comes out in print in the name of this philosophy.... Engels, we repeat, applies this “only materialistic conception” everywhere and without exception, relentlessly attacking Dühring for the least deviation from materialism to idealism. Anybody who reads Anti-Dühring and Ludwig Feuerbach with the slightest care will find scores of instances when Engels speaks of things and their reflections in the human brain, in our consciousness, thought, etc. Engels does not say that sensations or ideas are “symbols” of things, for consistent materialism must here use “image,” picture, or reflection instead of “symbol,” as we shall show in detail in the proper place.
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/len...8/mec/two4.htm

    The doctrine of introjection is a muddle, it smuggles in idealistic rubbish and is contradictory to natural science, which inflexibly holds that thought is a function of the brain, that sensations, i.e., the images of the external world, exist within us, produced by the action of things on our sense-organs.
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/len...8/mec/one5.htm

    The sole and unavoidable deduction to be made from this—a deduction which all of us make in everyday practice and which materialism deliberately places at the foundation of its epistemology—is that outside us, and independently of us, there exist objects, things, bodies and that our perceptions are images of the external world.
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/len...8/mec/two4.htm

    Thus, the materialist theory, the theory of the reflection of objects by our mind, is here presented with absolute clarity: things exist outside us. Our perceptions and ideas are their images. Verification of these images, differentiation between true and false images, is given by practice.
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/len...8/mec/two2.htm

    For the materialist the “factually given” is the outer world, the image of which is our sensations.
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/len...8/mec/two2.htm

    So, while Lenin (repeatedly) asserts that for the materialist, the outside world is a 'given' he immediately undermines this by telling us that all this 'knowledge' is based on 'sensation' and 'images'. In that case, he has no way of discriminating between 'false' images and 'true' images.

    Moreover, as I noted earlier, if all we have are 'images', then we can't appeal to practice (since we only have 'images' of the deliverances of practice), or science (since we only have images of whatever scientists supposedly tell us), or the 'commonsense' of 'ordinary folk' (since, and yet again, we only have images of the latter and whatever they believe).

    Now Lenin, and those who accept this way of looking at things, may sincerely believe there is an 'external world', and that practice and science both confirm it, but if, as Lenin says, all our knowledge comes to use via sensation and 'images', he/they can't escape from this solipsistic dungeon. He/they can assert whatever they like about 'objective' reality and what materialism supposedly implies, or insists upon, but the phenomenalist can always reply:

    Ok, Mr Lenin, you assert this and that about the alleged weakness, or flaws, in our theories, but how are you going to ground what you say in 'objective' reality if all you have are images? You are in the very same boat as we are, despite all your bluster and assertions.
    Sure, Lenin might also believe that an image is a copy (or an approximate copy) of the alleged reality it supposedly reflects, but unless he can jump out of his skin and compare his images with the outside world (but he can't even do that, since all he would be comparing is one image with another image) he has no way of knowing whether they are good, bad, or completely incorrect images of 'outside reality' -- which he has yet to prove actually exists.

    Lenin might also excoriate the 'agnostic' for not going beyond sensation and the images it allegedly delivers, but in the end, all he has is an unfounded belief that there is anything beyond his images. He is in the exact same predicament as these 'agnostics' and these 'fideists' are.

    [Lenin also confuses repetition and emphatic assertion with proof.]

    As I said in my last post, these problems began when Lenin adopted/accepted the terms of reference of this bourgeois individualist approach to knowledge (concocted by Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume, for example). Just as soon as anyone begins with this approach, their ideas inevitably collapse into solipsism.

    As I also said, I reject all such approaches to knowledge as incoherent non-sense.
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

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

  16. #16
    Substitutionist James Cannonized's Avatar
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    Default Re: Materialism and Emperio-Criticism

    Rosa, you in fact have presented a lot of quotes, but none of which answer the question I asked. I did not ask where Lenin speaks of images, or even that images in our mind "reflect" the external world. I asked where Lenin said that all we have are images of the external world, which is an interpretation that presupposes the very thing I am asking you to prove. This is a common misinterpretation of Lenin's text: that Lenin, following Locke, is insisting on erecting a barrier between the subjective and objective by claiming that we are only immediately aware of our ideas, sensations and "images" that are then mere passive or external reflections of reality. If that interpretation were correct, then Lenin's theory of knowledge would in fact be vulnerable to the same critique that Locke's was, and your predictable if unwitting regurgitation of Berkeley's critique of Locke would hold water.

    But Lenin was adamant that this was not how he understood the relationship between "images" and the outside world:

    For every scientist who has not been led astray by professorial philosophy, as well as for every materialist, sensation is ... the direct connection between consciousness and the external world: it is the transformation of the energy of external excitation into a state of consciousness. This transformation has been, and is, observed by each of us a million times on every hand. The sophism of idealist philosophy consists in the fact that it regards sensation as being not the connection between consciousness and the external world, but a fence, a wall, separating consciousness from the external world—not an image of the external phenomenon corresponding to the sensation, but as the 'sole entity.'
    Please read that quote very carefully. For Lenin, ideas and images are not ever purely subjective. They are one part of the material world being transformed materially through another part of said material world (our senses):

    All the mysterious, sage and subtle distinctions between the phenomenon and the thing-in-itself are sheer philosophical balderdash. In practice each one of us has observed times without number the simple and palpable transformation of the 'thing-in-itself' into phenomenon, into the 'thing-for-us.' It is precisely this transformation that is cognition. The 'doctrine' of Machism that since we know only sensations, we cannot know of the existence of anything beyond the bounds of sensation, is an old sophistry of idealist and agnostic philosophy served up with a new sauce.
    We do not, then, have "only images" in the mind, according to Lenin. We have a processual coming together of material consciousness with material outside of consciousness. What you've done is contradict what Lenin was saying in order to attribute to him the very same positions he was attacking, then faulted him for the very positions he was attacking -- all while studiously tiptoeing around the one thing you would be required to do by any serious philosopher: to provide evidence that what you claim was Lenin's position in that book was, in fact, Lenin's position. If you're going to devote every waking moment of your free time slavishly and autistically devoted to obsessing over these issues, at least have the common courtesy to understand what these various authors are saying before trying to "critique" them.
    "If the leaders seek only to preserve themselves, that is what they become; preserves--dried preserves." -- Leon Trotsky, Some Questions on American Problems (1940)

  17. #17
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Materialism and Emperio-Criticism

    JC:

    Quote Originally Posted by James Cannonized View Post
    Rosa, you in fact have presented a lot of quotes, but none of which answer the question I asked. I did not ask where Lenin speaks of images, or even that images in our mind "reflect" the external world. I asked where Lenin said that all we have are images of the external world, which is an interpretation that presupposes the very thing I am asking you to prove. This is a common misinterpretation of Lenin's text: that Lenin, following Locke, is insisting on erecting a barrier between the subjective and objective by claiming that we are only immediately aware of our ideas, sensations and "images" that are then mere passive or external reflections of reality. If that interpretation were correct, then Lenin's theory of knowledge would in fact be vulnerable to the same critique that Locke's was, and your predictable if unwitting regurgitation of Berkeley's critique of Locke would hold water.
    In fact, the above quotes imply that this is indeed all we have; for example, this one:

    Our sensation, our consciousness is only an image of the external world....
    Perhaps you think that "our consciousness" excludes some things that somehow sneak in when we aren't looking/paying attention?

    Or this:

    the theory of the reflection of objects by our mind, is here presented with absolute clarity: things exist outside us. Our perceptions and ideas are their images. Verification of these images, differentiation between true and false images, is given by practice.
    Is there anything Lenin has missed out here?

    All knowledge comes from experience, from sensation, from perception
    And he has already told us sensation and perception deliver only images.

    So, I re-assert: all Lenin has are images.

    Perhaps you can find a quote where he tells us that there are other things in our 'consciousness' that aren't images?

    You quote this passage:

    For every scientist who has not been led astray by professorial philosophy, as well as for every materialist, sensation is ... the direct connection between consciousness and the external world: it is the transformation of the energy of external excitation into a state of consciousness. This transformation has been, and is, observed by each of us a million times on every hand. The sophism of idealist philosophy consists in the fact that it regards sensation as being not the connection between consciousness and the external world, but a fence, a wall, separating consciousness from the external world—not an image of the external phenomenon corresponding to the sensation, but as the 'sole entity.'
    I have already covered this: Lenin only has images of scientists and what they do or do not believe. In addition, he only has images of the 'external world'- -- and which he yet to prove exists.

    For Lenin, ideas and images are not ever purely subjective. They are one part of the material world being transformed materially through another part of said material world (our senses):
    But, Lenin only has images of his senses. For all he knows, he is just a brain in a vat (and possibly not even that!). He can't legitimately draw the distinctions you say he wants to.

    You quote this passage:

    All the mysterious, sage and subtle distinctions between the phenomenon and the thing-in-itself are sheer philosophical balderdash. In practice each one of us has observed times without number the simple and palpable transformation of the 'thing-in-itself' into phenomenon, into the 'thing-for-us.' It is precisely this transformation that is cognition. The 'doctrine' of Machism that since we know only sensations, we cannot know of the existence of anything beyond the bounds of sensation, is an old sophistry of idealist and agnostic philosophy served up with a new sauce.
    Lenin can 'cogitate' all he likes, but he has no way of comparing anything he thinks he knows, or has an image of, with anything outside his own 'mind' -- or, just as soon as he does, he would merely be comparing one image with another, and with no way of knowing which is reliable or which is misleading.

    We do not, then, have "only images" in the mind, according to Lenin. We have a processual coming together of material consciousness with material outside of consciousness. What you've done is contradict what Lenin was saying in order to attribute to him the very same positions he was attacking, then faulted him for the very positions he was attacking -- all while studiously tiptoeing around the one thing you would be required to do by any serious philosopher: to provide evidence that what you claim was Lenin's position in that book was, in fact, Lenin's position. If you're going to devote every waking moment of your free time slavishly and autistically devoted to obsessing over these issues, at least have the common courtesy to understand what these various authors are saying before trying to "critique" them.
    In that case, these other things (which you seem rather coy about identifying) can't be in his or anyone else's 'consciousness':

    Our sensation, our consciousness is only an image of the external world....
    I assert once again, Lenin is trapped in a solipsistic world of his own making.
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

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

  18. #18
    Substitutionist James Cannonized's Avatar
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    Default Re: Materialism and Emperio-Criticism

    For all the time you spend trying to ride your philosophy hobby horse, one would think you'd be able to recognize a false dilemma when you see one. Yet here you are, once again, constructing the false dilemma of having to agree with Lenin that "our sensation, our consciousness is only an image of the external world" OR his equally clear contention that the cognition that produces and invokes images is a dynamic transformation incorporating matter from outside of the human mind. The reality is that we don't have to make that choice. They are both, in fact, Lenin's position -- and the first does not in any way imply a rejection of the second. You simply declare it to be so, like a preacher at the pulpit. For Lenin, images are reflections of the outside world, but the process of creating them, of bringing them into cognition, even if by remembering a past event that has long since transpired, is not a process that is cordoned off from that outside world. The mind is material and objective, and as it processes images, it always does so within a definite material context that blends with and affects the way the image is produced and reproduced in cognition.

    All of this is perfectly clear from the quotes I produced, while you're left with baseless contentions and fallacy mongering. Please try reading and understanding these works before constructing your entire online persona around discussing and critiquing them.
    "If the leaders seek only to preserve themselves, that is what they become; preserves--dried preserves." -- Leon Trotsky, Some Questions on American Problems (1940)

  19. #19
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Materialism and Emperio-Criticism

    JC:

    For all the time you spend trying to ride your philosophy hobby horse, one would think you'd be able to recognize a false dilemma when you see one. Yet here you are, once again, constructing the false dilemma of having to agree with Lenin that "our sensation, our consciousness is only an image of the external world" OR his equally clear contention that the cognition that produces and invokes images is a dynamic transformation incorporating matter from outside of the human mind. The reality is that we don't have to make that choice. They are both, in fact, Lenin's position -- and the first does not in any way imply a rejection of the second. You simply declare it to be so, like a preacher at the pulpit. For Lenin, images are reflections of the outside world, but the process of bringing them into cognition, even if by remembering a past event that has long sense transpired, is not a process that is cordoned off from that outside world. The mind is material and objective, and as it processes images, it always does so within a definite material context that blends with and affects the way the image is produced and reproduced in cognition.
    Ok, I understand the predicament you are in: I show that all that Lenin has are images, and you resort to attacking me, instead of showing us what else he could have in his 'consciousness' other than images.

    All of this is perfectly clear from the quotes I produced, while you're left with baseless contentions and fallacy mongering. Please try reading and understanding these works before constructing your entire online persona around discussing and critiquing them.
    In fact, if Lenin is right, all you have are images of these quotations. You have no idea they even came from Lenin -- all you know is that they came from your image of him.

    You too are stuck in a solipsistic world, courtesy of Lenin.
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

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

  20. #20
    Substitutionist James Cannonized's Avatar
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    Default Re: Materialism and Emperio-Criticism

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    JC:



    Ok, I understand the predicament you are in: I show that all that Lenin has are images, and you resort to attacking me, instead of showing us what else he could have in his 'consciousness' other than images.



    In fact, if Lenin is right, all you have are images of these quotations. You have no idea they even came from Lenin -- all you know is that they came from your image of him.

    You too are stuck in a solipsistic world, courtesy of Lenin.
    I would be stuck in a solipsistic world if your interpretation of Lenin were accurate, but as I have amply demonstrated, it's not. And when confronted with proof that it's not, you hide behind umbrage at supposed "personal attacks," which is a pretty creative way of construing a paragraph devoted to demonstrating you were committing a logical fallacy. Troll harder, please.
    "If the leaders seek only to preserve themselves, that is what they become; preserves--dried preserves." -- Leon Trotsky, Some Questions on American Problems (1940)

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