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Thread: Engels's 'First Law' Debunked

  1. #41
    Senior Voting Member ravn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Engels's 'First Law' Debunked

    Quote Originally Posted by Meridian View Post
    Well, are we supposed to take your word for it that parts of this hypothetical wall change 'at every instant'?
    ... Given exposure to the sun & the elements, that is, given that there is a cause to the effect. The matter is, regardless of the rate of change, change involves the unity of a thing being in one state & the another. That instant is conjoined. If I change a file by one bit, then that file has changed. In that instant, there is one state of the file & the other in one discrete moment. If your wall consists of a trillion discrete parts, fading beings with one part of that trillion turning from the original color to another, conjoined in a single moment. The accumulation of these changes is a chain of faded walls, each discrete change reflecting a faded state. What isn't obvious on the first day is after a longer period of time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Meridian View Post
    However, this still leaves you without an answer to the very simple question: Being exposed to the sun for 8 years, when was the 'definite point of change' from the wall not being faded to it being faded?
    Every instant of change is a definite point of change. Fading begins right at the beginning. What may be gradual is the accumulation of that effect over a period of time.

  2. #42
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Engels's 'First Law' Debunked

    ravn:

    In terms of heat, yes.
    But, heat isn't a 'kind of thing' so how can this be a dialectical 'quality'?

    Perhaps you should offer us your definition of 'quality' so that we are clear what you mean. As far as I can see, your use of this term runs counter to the DM-definitions I posted, and you seem to want to apply it to any difference whatsoever.

    Here's the Hegel quote, again:

    "Each of the three spheres of the logical idea proves to be a systematic whole of thought-terms, and a phase of the Absolute. This is the case with Being, containing the three grades of quality, quantity and measure.

    "Quality is, in the first place, the character identical with being: so identical that a thing ceases to be what it is, if it loses its quality. Quantity, on the contrary, is the character external to being, and does not affect the being at all. Thus, e.g. a house remains what it is, whether it be greater or smaller; and red remains red, whether it be brighter or darker." [Hegel (1975), p.124, §85.]
    Notice, not all quantitative change results in a qualitative change.

    And it's not just Idealists like Hegel who assert this; here's the MIA definition again:

    Quality is an aspect of something by which it is what it is and not something else and reflects that which is stable amidst variation. Quantity is an aspect of something which may change (become more or less) without the thing thereby becoming something else.

    Thus, if something changes to an extent that it is no longer the same kind of thing, this is a ‘qualitative change’, whereas a change in something by which it still the same thing, though more or less, bigger or smaller, is a ‘quantitative change’.

    In Hegel's Logic, Quality is the first division of Being, when the world is just one thing after another, so to speak, while Quantity is the second division, where perception has progressed to the point of recognising what is stable within the ups and downs of things. The third and final stage, Measure , the unity of quality and quantity, denotes the knowledge of just when quantitative change becomes qualitative change.
    Notice once more that quantity may change, but quality is that "which is stable amidst variation".

    So, not all quantitative change leads to qualitative change; the latter is relatively stable, until there is at some point a 'leap'.

    You seem to want to have 'leaps' all over the place, whenever quantity is altered.

    Here is Cornforth:

    "For instance, if a piece of iron is painted black and instead we paint it red, that is merely an external alteration..., but it is not a qualitative change in the sense we are here defining...." [Cornforth (1976), p.99.]
    Cornforth, F. (1976), Materialism And The Dialectical Method (Lawrence & Wishart, 5th ed.).

    Again, not all quantitative change is qualitative change.

    Here are Woods and Grant:

    The law of the transformation of quantity into quality has an extremely wide range of applications, from the smallest particles of matter at the subatomic level to the largest phenomena known to man. It can be seen in all kinds of manifestations, and at many levels. Yet this very important law has yet to receive the recognition which it deserves. This dialectical law forces itself to our attention at every turn. The transformation of quantity into quality was already known to the Megaran Greeks, who used it to demonstrate certain paradoxes, sometimes in the form of jokes. For example, the "bald head" and the "heap of grain"—does one hair less mean a bald head, or one grain of corn a heap? The answer is no. Nor one more? The answer is still no. The question is then repeated until there is a heap of corn and a bald head. We are faced with the contradiction that the individual small changes, which are powerless to effect a qualitative change, at a certain point do exactly that: quantity changes into quality....

    One of the examples of this is that of a pile of sand—a precise analogy with the heap of grain of the Megarans. We drop grains of sand one by one on a flat surface. The experiment has been conducted many times, both with real sand heaped on tables, and in computer simulations. For a time they will just pile up on top of each other until they make a little pyramid. Once this point is reached, any additional grains will either find a resting place on the pile, or will unbalance one side of it just enough to cause some of the other grains to fall in an avalanche. Depending on how the other grains are poised, the avalanche could be very small, or devastating, dragging a large number of grains with it. When the pile reaches this critical point, even a single grain would be capable of dramatically affecting all around it. This seemingly trivial example provides an excellent "edge-of-chaos model," with a wide range of applications, from earthquakes to evolution; from stock exchange crises to wars.

    The pile of sand grows bigger, with excess sand slipping from the sides. When all the excess sand has fallen off, the resulting sand-pile is said to be "self-organised." In other words, no-one has consciously shaped it in this way. It "organises itself," according to its own inherent laws, until it reaches a state of criticality, in which the sand grains on its surface are barely stable. In this critical condition, even the addition of a single grain of sand can cause unpredictable results. It may just cause a further tiny shift, or it may trigger a chain-reaction resulting in a catastrophic landslide and the destruction of the pile.
    http://www.marxist.com/science-old/d....html#Quantity and Quality

    Notice, adding grains of sand, increasing their quantity, does not affect the 'quality' of this heap until a certain point is reached. Once more, not all quantitative increase leads to qualitative change; that was why Hegel introduced these 'nodal' points.

    Why do I have to keep teaching you your own theory?

    In terms of states, matter can be solid, liquid, gas or plasma.
    Yes, we know that; what we are waiting for is your explanation why these are 'qualities' of the right sort -- since, as I have pointed out several times, as a solid or a liquid, for example, Iron, Lead, Sulphur, Nitrogen, etc. etc. all remain the 'same kind of thing'; no new quality of the right sort has emerged. Heating or cooling has no affect on the 'kind of thing' they are.

    In terms of a thing reaching a new state, or combined with another to make an alloy, isotope, or being split.
    Maybe so, but how does that show that when melted, liquid Iron, for example, is a 'new kind of thing' -- as the definitions I posted said they should? As a liquid or a solid, Iron remains Iron. Melting doesn't change this.

    You have yet to tackle this objection.

    Posting uncontroversial, but unrelated facts, doesn't, unfortunately, address it.

    If they're both in a liquid state, then they would have liquidity in common, but not atomic structure in common.
    I agree, but how does liquidity 'distinguish' them, which is what one of the definitions I posted said:

    "The totality of essential features that make a particular thing or phenomenon what it is and distinguishes it from others, is called its quality.... It is...[a] concept that denotes the inseparable distinguishing features, the inner structure, constituting the definiteness of a phenomenon and without which it cease to be what it is." [Kuusinen (1961), pp.83-84. Bold added.]
    What distinguishes these elements, for example, is their atomic structure, not their capacity to adopt a liquid state.

    Heating doesn't change this. So, when heated, no new 'kind of thing' arises. Their atomic structure remains the same.

    Because change is the intersection between a thing being in one state & another.
    Maybe so, but what you have yet to do is post evidence that this is so. Merely repeating yourself is not evidence.
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

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  3. #43
    Senior Voting Member Meridian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Engels's 'First Law' Debunked

    ... Given exposure to the sun & the elements, that is, given that there is a cause to the effect. The matter is, regardless of the rate of change, change involves the unity of a thing being in one state & the another. That instant is conjoined. If I change a file by one bit, then that file has changed. In that instant, there is one state of the file & the other in one discrete moment. If your wall consists of a trillion discrete parts, fading beings with one part of that trillion turning from the original color to another, conjoined in a single moment. The accumulation of these changes is a chain of faded walls, each discrete change reflecting a faded state. What isn't obvious on the first day is after a longer period of time.
    Consider just one part of these supposed trillion 'discrete parts' that are somehow still colored. You say it turns from the original color to another, in a single atemporal moment. But how is a color 'changed' in such a would-be moment? There is no reason even to think that the shade of color, no matter how precisely we are capable of distinguishing such 'shades', changes this quickly. Let alone the color.

    And even if we imagine we could identify the minute differences in shades of color that would be required, we couldn't observe the color of a part in one instant, and then the next, to compare. After all, you say instances are atemporal, but time passes between two distinct observations.

    What is true of the wall in general is true of its 'parts': they fade over a period of several years.

    Every instant of change is a definite point of change. Fading begins right at the beginning. What may be gradual is the accumulation of that effect over a period of time.
    The wall begins to fade after being exposed to sunlight, sure, but that doesn't mean it is faded after the first second, first hour or even first year of being so exposed. It fades gradually over a long period, until eventually it becomes faded. This change is gradual through and through.

  4. #44
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Engels's 'First Law' Debunked

    Indeed, the colour spectrum is continuous, not discrete. That is why, for example, the many shades of blue or green merge into one another.

    This is quite apart from the fact that the idea that there are such 'sudden' changes in nature (as part of Engels's First 'Law') runs counter to Engels's Second 'Law', the Interpenetration of Opposites, as I pointed out earlier (slightly modified):

    Despite this, it is quite clear that the "nodal" aspect of the First 'Law' is incompatible with the Unity and Interpenetration of Opposites [UIO] (the 'Second Law'), or at least with the link between the UIO and the DM-criticism of the LEM.

    [LEM = Law of Excluded Middle; FL = Formal Logic; DL = Dialectical Logic.]

    Here are both Hegel and Engels:

    "Instead of speaking by the maxim of Excluded Middle (which is the maxim of abstract understanding) we should rather say: Everything is opposite. Neither in heaven nor in Earth, neither in the world of mind nor of nature, is there anywhere such an abstract 'either-or' as the understanding maintains. Whatever exists is concrete, with difference and opposition in itself. The finitude of things will then lie in the want of correspondence between their immediate being, and what they essentially are. Thus, in inorganic nature, the acid is implicitly at the same time the base: in other words, its only being consists in its relation to its other. Hence also the acid is not something that persists quietly in the contrast: it is always in effort to realise what it potentially is." [Hegel Shorter Logic, p.174; Essence as Ground of Existence, §119. Bold emphasis added.]

    "To the metaphysician, things and their mental reflexes, ideas, are isolated, are to be considered one after the other and apart from each other, are objects of investigation fixed, rigid, given once for all. He thinks in absolutely irreconcilable antitheses. 'His communication is "yea, yea; nay, nay"; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.' For him a thing either exists or does not exist; a thing cannot at the same time be itself and something else. Positive and negative absolutely exclude one another, cause and effect stand in a rigid antithesis one to the other.

    "At first sight this mode of thinking seems to us very luminous, because it is that of so-called sound common sense. Only sound common sense, respectable fellow that he is, in the homely realm of his own four walls, has very wonderful adventures directly he ventures out into the wide world of research. And the metaphysical mode of thought, justifiable and even necessary as it is in a number of domains whose extent varies according to the nature of the particular object of investigation, sooner or later reaches a limit, beyond which it becomes one-sided, restricted, abstract, lost in insoluble contradictions. In the contemplation of individual things it forgets the connection between them; in the contemplation of their existence, it forgets the beginning and end of that existence; of their repose, it forgets their motion. It cannot see the wood for the trees." [Engels Anti-Duhring, p.26. Bold emphasis added.]

    "For a stage in the outlook on nature where all differences become merged in intermediate steps, and all opposites pass into one another through intermediate links, the old metaphysical method of thought no longer suffices. Dialectics, which likewise knows no hard and fast lines, no unconditional, universally valid 'either-or' and which bridges the fixed metaphysical differences, and besides 'either-or' recognises also in the right place 'both this-and that' and reconciles the opposites, is the sole method of thought appropriate in the highest degree to this stage. Of course, for everyday use, for the small change of science, the metaphysical categories retain their validity." [Engels, Dialectics of Nature, pp.212-13. Bold emphasis added. Quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted at this site.]
    In order to see how and why these two 'Laws' clash, consider object/process, P, which is just about to undergo a qualitative change (a "leap") from, say, state P(A) to state P(B). For there to be a "nodal" change here it would have to be the case that P is in state P(A) one instant/moment, and in state P(B) an instant/moment later (howsoever these "instants/moments" are understood). There is no other way of making sense of the abrupt nature of "nodal" change.

    [To spare the reader, I will just refer to these as "instants" from now on.]

    But, if that is so, then any state description of P would have to obey the LEM, for it would have to be the case that at one instant it would be true to say that P was in state P(A) at that instant but not in state P(B) at the same instant; i.e., it would not be true to say that P was in both states at once. That is, if we assume that P(B) is not-P(A), then at any one instant, if this change is "nodal", the following would have to be the case: P is either in state P(A) or it is in state not-P(A), but not both. In that case, these two states wouldn't interpenetrate one another (in the sense that both exist or apply to P at the same time), and the LEM would be applicable to this process over this time period, at least.

    On the other hand, if these two states do in fact interpenetrate each other (in the sense that both exist or apply to P at the same time) such that the "either-or" of the LEM isn't applicable here, and P is in both states at once, then the transition from P(A) to P(B) would be smooth and not "nodal", after all.

    [The object or process in question might in this case be undergoing what is called a "mixed phase" transition.]

    This dilemma is independent of the length of time a "node" is held to last (that is, if we are ever told!). It is also worth noting that this inconsistency applies at just the point where dialecticians tell us DL is superior to FL --, that is, at the point of change.

    It strikes me that if Hegel, Engels and Lenin's points about 'nodal' change ('leaps') were the case, there would have to be an 'either-or' here. So, at best: this 'law' is 'metaphysical' (if we use that word in the idiosyncratic way that Hegel and Engels employed it)!
    It seems to me that ravn wants this to be the case: this wall, or part of it, is a certain colour one instant, then another in the very next instant, and therefore that there is a rigid 'either-or' at work here: this wall, or parts of it, is either red or some other colour, but not both at the same time -- which runs counter to what Engels had to say:

    "For a stage in the outlook on nature where all differences become merged in intermediate steps, and all opposites pass into one another through intermediate links, the old metaphysical method of thought no longer suffices. Dialectics, which likewise knows no hard and fast lines, no unconditional, universally valid 'either-or' and which bridges the fixed metaphysical differences, and besides 'either-or' recognises also in the right place 'both this-and that' and reconciles the opposites, is the sole method of thought appropriate in the highest degree to this stage." [Engels, Dialectics of Nature, pp.212-13. Bold emphasis added. Quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted at this site.]
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/mar.../don/ch07c.htm
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

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  5. #45
    Senior Voting Member ravn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Engels's 'First Law' Debunked

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    But, heat isn't a 'kind of thing' so how can this be a dialectical 'quality'?
    Energy is a thing (the motion of atoms).

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    ... not all quantitative change results in a qualitative change.
    So therefore what? When it does, there's the leap.



    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    I have pointed out several times, as a solid or a liquid, for example, Iron, Lead, Sulphur, Nitrogen, etc. etc. all remain the 'same kind of thing';
    But not the same state if these things change to different states.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    Heating or cooling has no affect on the 'kind of thing' they are.
    They make changes within these things. If changes occur within a thing then that thing isn't the same as it was before regardless if it remains being the same kind of thing.








    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    What distinguishes these elements, for example, is their atomic structure, not their capacity to adopt a liquid state.
    Their atomic structure determines their capacity to adopt to different states.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    ... when heated, no new 'kind of thing' arises. Their atomic structure remains the same.
    If a thing loses particles when heated then there's a before & after condition for that thing. It's not exactly the same as it was before regardless that it still has the same kind of atomic structure. It's on those terms that something new arises.

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    Senior Voting Member ravn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Engels's 'First Law' Debunked

    Quote Originally Posted by Meridian View Post
    Consider just one part of these supposed trillion 'discrete parts' that are somehow still colored. You say it turns from the original color to another, in a single atemporal moment.
    I said no such thing about any timelessness. An instance is a integral moment. A moment of change consists of two opposites: what exists before the change, & what exists, after.


    Quote Originally Posted by Meridian View Post
    But how is a color 'changed' in such a would-be moment?
    Heat from the sun.


    Quote Originally Posted by Meridian View Post
    The wall begins to fade after being exposed to sunlight, sure, but that doesn't mean it is faded ...
    The bit that is faded, is. The wall is in the process of fading. What you may call a faded wall is perhaps at some arbitrary point such as 75% or whatever. But the wall begins to fade from the moment the paint first dries.

  7. #47
    Senior Voting Member Meridian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Engels's 'First Law' Debunked

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein
    Indeed, the colour spectrum is continuous, not discrete. That is why, for example, the many shades of blue or green merge into one another.
    While I agree the visible spectrum is continuous, what we mean by 'color' is often concrete. Color on electronic displays, for example, are concrete (and can e.g. be determined by an RGB value). Then again, of course, even the light from two different pixels could always be distinguished, so in a different sense the color from such displays is also continuous.

    There are also studies about differences in the 'color perception' of different peoples, showing that people make distinctions between colors depending on their color words. Shades of color is another matter, I suppose, always being continuous.

    Quote Originally Posted by ravn
    I said no such thing about any timelessness. An instance is a integral moment. A moment of change consists of two
    Okay, so how long in general does such a moment last?

    The bit that is faded, is. The wall is in the process of fading. What you may call a faded wall is perhaps at some arbitrary point such as 75% or whatever. But the wall begins to fade from the moment the paint first dries.
    What 'you' may call faded? If you were a wall painter -- imagine, if you can -- wouldn't you distinguish between a faded wall and a wall that isn't faded? After all, the former probably requires painting, if not this year then soon. But the latter doesn't. So you'd use the word like others.

    You say 75%, but why not 74% or 74,9%? Why do you feel the need to appeal to the notion of 'an arbitrary point'? It's because there is no such point. We don't say one day, when the wall is at 74,9%%, that it is not faded, only to note a change and call it faded the next day. But that's what would have to be the case, had it been the case that there was some -- any -- arbitrary point we went by.

    And, again, that a wall begins to fade doesn't mean it has become faded. I can begin making a drink, doesn't mean I've made it. Something 'beginning to fade', or potentially fade which is what you're really talking about, isn't yet changed at all, though it's at the beginning of change. You've still got no answer about the change from not being faded to being faded.

    Anyway, on another note, if walls faded in the way you imagine, wall painters would like to know. Rather than broad brushes they would surely profit from some sort of detection devices that would detect the 'parts' of a wall that are faded. Best not waste paint on the 'parts' that are definitely not faded, right? (I say 'detection devices' because you mentioned 'trillions of parts' earlier, in which case it seems special detection devices would be required to correlate any paint 'color' at all with these rather special 'parts').
    Last edited by Meridian; 08-12-2015 at 10:11 PM.

  8. #48
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Engels's 'First Law' Debunked

    ravn:

    So therefore what? When it does, there's the leap.
    About which we are still waiting for the evidence to show these are instantaneous -- as you claimed they were.

    Now, I asked this question a few posts ago:

    So, if I raise the temperature of water by 0.1 degree centigrade, that will change its 'quality', will it?
    To which you replied:

    In terms of heat, yes.
    To which I responded:

    But, heat isn't a 'kind of thing' so how can this be a dialectical 'quality'?
    You responded as follows:

    Energy is a thing (the motion of atoms).
    But, you failed to reply to this:

    Perhaps you should offer us your definition of 'quality' so that we are clear what you mean. As far as I can see, your use of this term runs counter to the DM-definitions I posted, and you seem to want to apply it to any difference whatsoever.
    So, you might like to rectify this omission: what do you understand by 'quality'? Does it agree with what Hegel said, or maybe the Marxist Internet archive definition; or Cornforth's, or Kuusinen's?

    The reason I ask is that your use of this term seems to run counter to what they had to say.

    Hence, it might help if you cleared this up: what do you understand by this word?

    This lack of clarity in what you have to say means we will never be able to resolve the question whether a change of state counts as a 'qualitative' change --, which you still seem to think is the case, despite my showing you that it disagrees with the above definitions; a change of state produces no 'new kind of thing', since, as a liquid or as a solid, Iron, for example, remains Iron. What would make a 'new kind of thing' would be a change to its atomic structure, which melting doesn't produce.

    So, this answer of yours is of no help at all:

    But not the same state if these things change to different states.
    Or, rather, it would be if we what you meant by 'quality'.

    It would certainly help me understand you if you could tell us -- you see, I made this prediction earlier:

    In fact, it turns out that this 'Law' is so vaguely worded that dialecticians can (and do!) use it in whichever way they please. If comrades find that difficult to believe, they should try the following two experiments....

    (B) Next, enquire precisely what a "quality" is supposed to be. If your respondent knows their theory, you might be told that it is a property the change of which alters a process/object into something novel; a "new kind of thing". But, more often than not you will be fobbed off, or just ignored, once more.
    So, in order to help us proceed, it would be very helpful if you told us the following:

    1) What evidence you have that a 'node'/'leap' is instantaneous.

    2) What you mean by 'quality'.

    Otherwise we are just going to go round in circles.

    You see, lack of clarity means that I really don't understand this reply of yours:

    They make changes within these things. If changes occur within a thing then that thing isn't the same as it was before regardless if it remains being the same kind of thing.
    Since this seems to imply that you think that any change at all is a change in 'quality', which certainly wasn't what Hegel or the other DM-sources I quoted argued.

    So, we need to know what changes you think do, and what you think do not amount to a change in 'quality'.

    I'd also like to hear your comments about my proof that Engels's First Law is incompatible with his Second Law. The reason for that is that if 'nodal' change (i.e., 'leaps') do occur, then that would force you into saying that a substance, say, water, is either a liquid or a solid, but not both, at one of these points, thus undermining, for example, these words of Engels:

    "For a stage in the outlook on nature where all differences become merged in intermediate steps, and all opposites pass into one another through intermediate links, the old metaphysical method of thought no longer suffices. Dialectics, which likewise knows no hard and fast lines, no unconditional, universally valid 'either-or' and which bridges the fixed metaphysical differences, and besides 'either-or' recognises also in the right place 'both this-and that' and reconciles the opposites, is the sole method of thought appropriate in the highest degree to this stage." [Engels, Dialectics of Nature, pp.212-13. Bold emphasis added.]
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/mar.../don/ch07c.htm

    Here, once again is my proof:

    Despite this, it is quite clear that the "nodal" aspect of the First 'Law' is incompatible with the Unity and Interpenetration of Opposites [UIO] (the 'Second Law'), or at least with the link between the UIO and the DM-criticism of the LEM.

    [LEM = Law of Excluded Middle; FL = Formal Logic; DL = Dialectical Logic.]

    Here are both Hegel and Engels:

    "Instead of speaking by the maxim of Excluded Middle (which is the maxim of abstract understanding) we should rather say: Everything is opposite. Neither in heaven nor in Earth, neither in the world of mind nor of nature, is there anywhere such an abstract 'either-or' as the understanding maintains. Whatever exists is concrete, with difference and opposition in itself. The finitude of things will then lie in the want of correspondence between their immediate being, and what they essentially are. Thus, in inorganic nature, the acid is implicitly at the same time the base: in other words, its only being consists in its relation to its other. Hence also the acid is not something that persists quietly in the contrast: it is always in effort to realise what it potentially is." [Hegel Shorter Logic, p.174; Essence as Ground of Existence, §119. Bold emphasis added.]

    "To the metaphysician, things and their mental reflexes, ideas, are isolated, are to be considered one after the other and apart from each other, are objects of investigation fixed, rigid, given once for all. He thinks in absolutely irreconcilable antitheses. 'His communication is "yea, yea; nay, nay"; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.' For him a thing either exists or does not exist; a thing cannot at the same time be itself and something else. Positive and negative absolutely exclude one another, cause and effect stand in a rigid antithesis one to the other.

    "At first sight this mode of thinking seems to us very luminous, because it is that of so-called sound common sense. Only sound common sense, respectable fellow that he is, in the homely realm of his own four walls, has very wonderful adventures directly he ventures out into the wide world of research. And the metaphysical mode of thought, justifiable and even necessary as it is in a number of domains whose extent varies according to the nature of the particular object of investigation, sooner or later reaches a limit, beyond which it becomes one-sided, restricted, abstract, lost in insoluble contradictions. In the contemplation of individual things it forgets the connection between them; in the contemplation of their existence, it forgets the beginning and end of that existence; of their repose, it forgets their motion. It cannot see the wood for the trees." [Engels Anti-Duhring, p.26. Bold emphasis added.]

    "For a stage in the outlook on nature where all differences become merged in intermediate steps, and all opposites pass into one another through intermediate links, the old metaphysical method of thought no longer suffices. Dialectics, which likewise knows no hard and fast lines, no unconditional, universally valid 'either-or' and which bridges the fixed metaphysical differences, and besides 'either-or' recognises also in the right place 'both this-and that' and reconciles the opposites, is the sole method of thought appropriate in the highest degree to this stage. Of course, for everyday use, for the small change of science, the metaphysical categories retain their validity." [Engels, Dialectics of Nature, pp.212-13. Bold emphasis added. Quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted at this site.]
    In order to see how and why these two 'Laws' clash, consider object/process, P, which is just about to undergo a qualitative change (a "leap") from, say, state P(A) to state P(B). For there to be a "nodal" change here it would have to be the case that P is in state P(A) one instant/moment, and in state P(B) an instant/moment later (howsoever these "instants/moments" are understood). There is no other way of making sense of the abrupt nature of "nodal" change.

    [To spare the reader, I will just refer to these as "instants" from now on.]

    But, if that is so, then any state description of P would have to obey the LEM, for it would have to be the case that at one instant it would be true to say that P was in state P(A) at that instant but not in state P(B) at the same instant; i.e., it would not be true to say that P was in both states at once. That is, if we assume that P(B) is not-P(A), then at any one instant, if this change is "nodal", the following would have to be the case: P is either in state P(A) or it is in state not-P(A), but not both. In that case, these two states wouldn't interpenetrate one another (in the sense that both exist or apply to P at the same time), and the LEM would be applicable to this process over this time period, at least.

    On the other hand, if these two states do in fact interpenetrate each other (in the sense that both exist or apply to P at the same time) such that the "either-or" of the LEM isn't applicable here, and P is in both states at once, then the transition from P(A) to P(B) would be smooth and not "nodal", after all.

    [The object or process in question might in this case be undergoing what is called a "mixed phase" transition.]

    This dilemma is independent of the length of time a "node" is held to last (that is, if we are ever told!). It is also worth noting that this inconsistency applies at just the point where dialecticians tell us DL is superior to FL --, that is, at the point of change.

    It strikes me that if Hegel, Engels and Lenin's points about 'nodal' change ('leaps') were the case, there would have to be an 'either-or' here. So, at best: this 'law' is 'metaphysical' (if we use that word in the idiosyncratic way that Hegel and Engels employed it)!

    It seems to me that ravn wants this to be the case: this wall, or part of it, is a certain colour one instant, then another in the very next instant, and therefore that there is a rigid 'either-or' at work here: this wall, or parts of it, is either red or some other colour, but not both at the same time -- which runs counter to what Engels had to say....
    So, what's your response?
    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: Engels's 'First Law' Debunked

    Meridian:

    While I agree the visible spectrum is continuous, what we mean by 'color' is often concrete. Color on electronic displays, for example, are concrete (and can e.g. be determined by an RGB value). Then again, of course, even the light from two different pixels could always be distinguished, so in a different sense the color from such displays is also continuous.
    I agree, but I'm not sure that the electronic display of colour has anything to do with the example under discussion -- this colour-fading wall.

    And, good luck getting ravn to reply to this question:

    Okay, so how long in general does such a moment last?
    I must have asked him this about a dozen times in the 'debate' we had over the 'contradictory' nature of motion.

    You might also like to ask him how he knows that paint begins to fade from the moment it is applied. Has he done a series of experiments? And what criterion does he use to decide if paint has faded in the first nanosecond after it has been applied?

    [Not that he'll answer any of these, either!]
    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: Engels's 'First Law' Debunked

    It doesn't relate directly to the wall example. As I said, it was an example of a discrete color spectrum, given as part of a partial disagreement with your statement. Another example would be paint colors.

    I agree that in the case of the wall example, we are talking about shades on the visual spectrum, and so something continuous.

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    Senior Voting Member ravn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Engels's 'First Law' Debunked

    Quote Originally Posted by Meridian View Post

    Okay, so how long in general does such a moment last?
    It's instantaneous in space/time. So, you can't conclude that it's a-temporal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Meridian View Post
    You say 75%, but why not 74% or 74,9%? Why do you feel the need to appeal to the notion of 'an arbitrary point'?
    Because an observation about the faded quality of a wall is subjective, but whatever contrast between the original wall & what it is at the point of observation is objective.


    Quote Originally Posted by Meridian View Post

    that a wall begins to fade doesn't mean it has become faded.
    Relative to its original color when it was first painted, it has faded. All the while the wall is fading, & will fade.

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    Senior Voting Member ravn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Engels's 'First Law' Debunked

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    ... what [is] meant by 'quality'.
    A quality is a quantity of what makes up a thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    1) What evidence you have that a 'node'/'leap' is instantaneous.
    Because any change evidently involves two different states of an object in a single instance.

  13. #53
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Engels's 'First Law' Debunked

    ravn:

    A quality is a quantity of what makes up a thing.
    I see you disagree with Hegel, and the others I quoted.

    1) So, size is a 'quality' then?

    So, 1 gallon of water will be a different quality from 2 gallons of water (since they both have a different quantity of H20, and you think that a quantity of whatever makes up water is a quality).

    2) However, if you are right, since water is made up of H20 (or a number of H20 molecules), and this substance is H2O as a solid, a liquid or a gas, then there is no change in quality, according to your definition, when water freezes or boils. Same with iron, which is made up of Fe atoms whether this metal is a liquid or a solid.

    In that case, it seems your definition undermines Engels's First Law.

    Or have I got you wrong?

    Be this as it may, I asked for evidence that a 'node'/'leap' is instantaneous, and you offered me this:

    Because any change evidently involves two different states of an object in a single instance.
    Unfortunately, this isn't evidence; it is an opinion.

    Or, do you think your opinion is 'evidence'?

    Evidence consists of scientific facts, reports or papers.

    So, have you any evidence (other than your opinion) that a 'node'/'leap' is instantaneous?

    Have you timed water boiling for example. Or a metal melting?

    Anyway, how long is one of these 'instances', and have you any evidence (not another opinion) to back that up?

    However, would you be surprised to learn that some DM-theorists tell us a 'node'/'leap' can last for tens of thousands of years? [I'll supply the quotes if you like.]

    And, as I am sure you know, this Law is used to argue that the revolutionary transformation of society (like that between capitalism and socialism) is governed by this Law; the change between the two modes of production is a 'node' or a 'leap'. So, if you are right, this revolutionary transformation will be instantaneous.

    Do you seriously believe this? That the transformation between capitalism and socialism will be instantaneous?

    Finally, I asked you this:

    I'd also like to hear your comments about my proof that Engels's First Law is incompatible with his Second Law. The reason for that is that if 'nodal' change (i.e., 'leaps') do occur, then that would force you into saying that a substance, say, water, is either a liquid or a solid, but not both, at one of these points, thus undermining, for example, these words of Engels:

    "For a stage in the outlook on nature where all differences become merged in intermediate steps, and all opposites pass into one another through intermediate links, the old metaphysical method of thought no longer suffices. Dialectics, which likewise knows no hard and fast lines, no unconditional, universally valid 'either-or' and which bridges the fixed metaphysical differences, and besides 'either-or' recognises also in the right place 'both this-and that' and reconciles the opposites, is the sole method of thought appropriate in the highest degree to this stage." [Engels, Dialectics of Nature, pp.212-13. Bold emphasis added.]
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/mar.../don/ch07c.htm
    It seems to me that your view would be regarded by Engels as 'metaphysical', since you seem to think that a substance must be either this, or that, at one of these 'nodal' points, but not both -- e.g., water must be either liquid or steam, but not both at, say, 100 degrees C. So, your version of this theory commits you to an 'either-or' here: either water is a liquid or water is a gas (steam).

    Or have I misinterpreted you?
    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: Engels's 'First Law' Debunked

    Quote Originally Posted by ravn
    It's instantaneous in space/time. So, you can't conclude that it's a-temporal.
    Since you, like a coward, just passed by the actual argument I made, it's apparent why you think this is a mistake. However, these 'moments' would indeed be atemporal in the sense that it would apparently be impossible to differentiate one such 'moment' from the next. That is, unless you have found a way to observe differences between them that isn't based on your non-existent argumentative skills alone.

    Because an observation about the faded quality of a wall is subjective, but whatever contrast between the original wall & what it is at the point of observation is objective.
    Again, like a complete coward, you just ignored the argument, part of which is the sentence you quoted. Calling the 'faded quality' 'subjective' (which it is not -- try telling wall painters this and they will paint your face a very 'subjectively' ugly color) does not escape the problem that such a quality is not specified based on some arbitrary turning point. It is a gradual change of color. We don't go one moment, whether it's your so-called 12,00000...% moment, the 37,33333...% moment, or the 94,9823338...% moment, and see the wall as not being faded, only to take it to be faded the next second. However this would have to be the case if you were right.

    Relative to its original color when it was first painted, it has faded. All the while the wall is fading, & will fade.
    As Rosa mentioned, where's the evidence? You think way too highly of your say-so.

    Secondly, tell wall painters this and they will likely ignore you, knowing you're using the word 'faded' in your own idiosyncratic way. Paint hasn't faded the first day it has been painted, nor the first month, nor even first year, under normal circumstances. It says so right on most boxes of paint. Perhaps the profession needs a dialectic philosopher to set them straight? That would make things worse for them, because it would just involve using 'faded' in a way in which it is much less useful, not being relevant in the slightest to when a wall needs a reapplication of paint.

    Simply because that philosopher couldn't handle the thought of gradual change, and was too much of a coward to address the arguments of those who challenged him... What a pity.

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    Senior Voting Member ravn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Engels's 'First Law' Debunked

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    1) So, size is a 'quality' then? So, 1 gallon of water will be a different quality from 2 gallons of water
    A difference in amount is not a difference in what it is an amount of. So, you're not talking about a different quality of water. It's a different quantity of water, & different qualities of sizes.



    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    ... since water is made up of H20 (or a number of H20 molecules), and this substance is H2O as a solid, a liquid or a gas, then there is no change in quality
    It's a change in the quality of energy, the motion of atoms.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    Anyway, how long is one of these 'instances',
    Duration can be any length. Instantaneous means change belongs to the same instance. Change always involves a single instance of opposite conditions. For example, snapping a pencil in two involves a moment where the pencil is whole, & the pencil is in half.

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    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Engels's 'First Law' Debunked

    ravn:

    A difference in amount is not a difference in what it is an amount of. So, you're not talking about a different quality of water. It's a different quantity of water, & different qualities of sizes.
    But you said this about 'quality':

    A quality is a quantity of what makes up a thing.
    H20 molecules 'make up water' and so 1 litre of water will be 'made up' of n molecules (where n is huge), and 2 litres of water will be made (roughly) of 2n molecules. So, according to your definition, there will be a change in quality here, since the quantity of what makes up this water will have increased.

    It's a change in the quality of energy, the motion of atoms.
    Indeed, but that can't be true of ice, where the molecules don't move.

    Moreover, how can energy have a quality? There isn't anything that energy is 'made' of.

    Finally, I didn't say anything about heating this water up.

    But, let's change the example: imagine a box with ten marbles in it. So, the contents of this box is 'made of' ten marbles. This must be, according to you, its 'quality'. Add one marble, so that it now contains eleven marbles. Is this a change in quality? It should be given your definition. [The marbles are stationary with respect to some inertial frame.]

    Duration can be any length. Instantaneous means change belongs to the same instance. Change always involves a single instance of opposite conditions. For example, snapping a pencil in two involves a moment where the pencil is whole, & the pencil is in half.
    You seem to think you can play around with the meaning of words like 'instantaneous', which has nothing to do with 'instance'.

    But, you have yet to provide evidence that these changes are instantaneous. Why are you avoiding this simple request?

    Moreover, as I pointed out above, your example of the snapping pencil seems to run counter to what Engels said; one moment the pencil isn't broken, the next is has snapped. So, it seems to me that your view would be regarded by Engels as 'metaphysical', since you seem to think that a pencil must be either whole or broken, but not both. So, your version of this theory commits you to an 'either-or' here: either this pencil is whole or broken.

    "For a stage in the outlook on nature where all differences become merged in intermediate steps, and all opposites pass into one another through intermediate links, the old metaphysical method of thought no longer suffices. Dialectics, which likewise knows no hard and fast lines, no unconditional, universally valid 'either-or' and which bridges the fixed metaphysical differences, and besides 'either-or' recognises also in the right place 'both this-and that' and reconciles the opposites, is the sole method of thought appropriate in the highest degree to this stage." [Engels, Dialectics of Nature, pp.212-13. Bold emphasis added.]
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/mar.../don/ch07c.htm
    [/QUOTE]

    And, what is the 'quality' here, with this pencil? It can't be that it is whole, since it isn't made up of whole pencils, unless you think a pencil contains or is 'made of' whole pencils.

    You also forget to tell me where my proof that Engels' First law is incompatible with the Second Law goes wrong.

    You also seem to have ignored this problem:

    And, as I am sure you know, this Law is used to argue that the revolutionary transformation of society (like that between capitalism and socialism) is governed by this Law; the change between the two modes of production is a 'node' or a 'leap'. So, if you are right, this revolutionary transformation will be instantaneous.

    Do you seriously believe this? That the transformation between capitalism and socialism will be instantaneous?
    Don't tell me I have stumped you...
    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 ravn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Engels's 'First Law' Debunked

    Quote Originally Posted by Meridian View Post
    Since you, like a coward, just passed by the actual argument I made, it's apparent why you think this is a mistake. However, these 'moments' would indeed be atemporal in the sense that it would apparently be impossible to differentiate one such 'moment' from the next. That is, unless you have found a way to observe differences between them that isn't based on your non-existent argumentative skills alone.
    Instantaneous means what happens within an instant, a short period of time, short being relative to time-scale & time slice. For example, In the instance between 1861 & 1865, a social order fell in the US. It's not impossible to note change observed within any moment of time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Meridian View Post
    Calling the 'faded quality' 'subjective' (which it is not -- try telling wall painters this and they will paint your face a very 'subjectively' ugly color)
    What you consider ugly is subjective. What the actual features are, to what ever you may be referring to, is objective. Your observation of a wall being faded is subjective. What percentage of the wall displaying fading or any color or tint other than the original is objective.

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    Senior Voting Member ravn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Engels's 'First Law' Debunked

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    H20 molecules 'make up water' and so 1 litre of water will be 'made up' of n molecules (where n is huge), and 2 litres of water will be made (roughly) of 2n molecules. So, according to your definition, there will be a change in quality here, since the quantity of what makes up this water will have increased.
    It's obvious that the quantitative change in the amount of water does not signify a qualitative change in the water. It's just a qualitative change in the amount of water.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    ... that can't be true of ice, where the molecules don't move.
    Molecules do move in ice. They have energy.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    Moreover, how can energy have a quality? There isn't anything that energy is 'made' of.
    Energy is matter in motion.



    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    Finally, I didn't say anything about heating this water up.
    If you're increasing the temperature by whatever degree of the water that's exactly what you're doing.




    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    You seem to think you can play around with the meaning of words like 'instantaneous', which has nothing to do with 'instance'.
    Instantaneous is what happens within an instant. An instant is a short period of time. Short is relative to time scale used & the time slice one is referring. IOW, an instance could be in nano-seconds millennia, or whatever.





    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    ... example of the snapping pencil ... one moment the pencil isn't broken, the next is has snapped.
    The pencil in these successive states are in *one* moment, not separate moments.





    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    And, what is the 'quality' here, with this pencil?
    It's undergone a qualitative change.

  19. #59
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Engels's 'First Law' Debunked

    ravn:

    It's obvious that the quantitative change in the amount of water does not signify a qualitative change in the water. It's just a qualitative change in the amount of water.
    It may be 'obvious' to you, but not to me, since it follows from your 'definition' that if we add some water to some other water, that is a change in 'quality'. Or if we remove, say, a thimble of water from the Atlantic Ocean, it will have changed in 'quality', since the Atlantic is 'made of' water.

    Here's your 'definition' again:

    A quality is a quantity of what makes up a thing.
    So, if we remove a milligram of rock from Mt Everest, that will be a change in 'quality', according to your 'definition, since that mountain is 'made of' rock.

    Molecules do move in ice. They have energy.
    But, ice isn't 'made of' movement, so this can't be a 'quality' -- if we accept your 'definition'.

    By the way, can you cite a single dialectician in the last 150 years (or even Hegel himself), who defines 'quality' in the way you have?

    I can cite and quote at least six who define it totally differently. And it isn't hard to see why; your definition commits you to some rather odd ideas -- for example, if we remove a millilitre of red paint from a litre of red paint, that is a change in 'quality'!

    Energy is matter in motion.
    So, you agree, since energy isn't 'made of' anything, it can't have or be a 'quality' -- that is, if we accept your maverick, revisionist definition of 'quality'.

    If you're increasing the temperature by whatever degree of the water that's exactly what you're doing.
    If fact. this is what I said:

    So, 1 gallon of water will be a different quality from 2 gallons of water (since they both have a different quantity of H20, and you think that a quantity of whatever makes up water is a quality).
    No mention there of adding heat, or changing the temperature.

    In which case, my original point stands:

    H20 molecules 'make up water' and so 1 litre of water will be 'made up' of n molecules (where n is huge), and 2 litres of water will be made (roughly) of 2n molecules. So, according to your definition, there will be a change in quality here, since the quantity of what makes up this water will have increased.
    Perhaps you can now see what a hole you have dropped yourself into with this odd 'definition' of 'quality' -- which no other dialectician in the entire history of Marxism has defined this way. Unless, of course, you know different...

    ravn:

    Instantaneous is what happens within an instant. An instant is a short period of time. Short is relative to time scale used & the time slice one is referring. IOW, an instance could be in nano-seconds millennia, or whatever.
    As I noted earlier:

    In fact, it turns out that this 'Law' is so vaguely worded that dialecticians can (and do!) use it in whichever way they please. If comrades find that difficult to believe, they should try the following two experiments:

    (A) Ask the very next dialectician you meet precisely how long a "nodal point"/"leap" is supposed to last. You will receive no answer! But, if no one knows, then anything from a Geological Age to an instantaneous quantum leap could be "nodal"! Is a ten thousand year change really all that "sudden"?

    Plainly, this introduces a fundamental element of arbitrariness into what dialecticians claim is an objective 'Law'.
    So, your 'law' can't be 'objective', can it?

    [Do you really expect anyone to believe that an 'instant' can last thousands of years?]

    The pencil in these successive states are in *one* moment, not separate moments.
    Even so, this pencil of yours is either whole or it is broken, but not both at the same moment, which means you do have an 'either-or' here -- which in turn means your theory is 'metaphysical', according to Engels:

    "For a stage in the outlook on nature where all differences become merged in intermediate steps, and all opposites pass into one another through intermediate links, the old metaphysical method of thought no longer suffices. Dialectics, which likewise knows no hard and fast lines, no unconditional, universally valid 'either-or' and which bridges the fixed metaphysical differences, and besides 'either-or' recognises also in the right place 'both this-and that' and reconciles the opposites, is the sole method of thought appropriate in the highest degree to this stage." [Engels, Dialectics of Nature, pp.212-13. Bold emphasis added.]
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/mar.../don/ch07c.htm
    ravn:

    It's undergone a qualitative change.
    Yes, I know you think this, but what I wanted to know was precisely which 'quality' here has changed. Here is my point again:

    And, what is the 'quality' here, with this pencil? It can't be that it is whole, since it isn't made up of whole pencils, unless you think a pencil contains or is 'made of' whole pencils.
    Once again, your 'definition' of 'quality' has dropped you in it.

    Still waiting for your evidence that such changes are 'instantaneous'...
    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 ravn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Engels's 'First Law' Debunked

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    if we add some water to some other water, that is a change in 'quality'.
    It's a change in quantity. There's no change in the quality of water there. Just because a quality is a quantity of something, a change in quantity does not necessarily signify a change in that quality.



    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    [Do you really expect anyone to believe that an 'instant' can last thousands of years?]
    Your incredulity is a reflection of your lack of reflecting on this. The universe is supposedly 14 billion years old. A thousand years in comparison is a short period of time, i.e. an *instance*.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    Even so, this pencil of yours is either whole or it is broken, but not both at the same moment,
    In the moment of change both these *successive* conditions are a part of the same integral instance. This is quite evident. One follows the other. Not tomorrow. Not yesterday. But in that now when the pencil was snapped.

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