Page 5 of 9 FirstFirst ... 34567 ... LastLast
Results 81 to 100 of 166

Thread: What is dialectics?

  1. #81
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    5,328

    Default Re: What is dialectics?

    Amoeba:

    Well, yeah, that's the point; what is the person Cassirer to you or me but a sign of either things we've read about him or concepts we've heard him from others? Have you ever actually touched him? Even if you did, the argument would be that the moment you think about what you have touched, you have interpreted him as nothing but a symbol, based on certain physical properties.
    But, then who wrote what this sign did or did not mean? It can't have been Cassirer, since he is a sign too.

    And 'wrote' is merely a sign, as well, and, what is more, there is no such thing as writing (just a set of signs signing another sign of a set of signs!). If so, where did all these signs come from, and what is the point of them all if they relate to nothing? The word 'Cassirer' surely refers to him, not to a set of signs. If the latter were the case, 'Cassirer' wouldn't be the name of a man, but would be more like a general noun 'referring' to a set of signs. In which case, this sentence:

    C1: Cassirer wrote The Theory of Symbolic Forms

    ought to be replaced by:

    C2: A set of signs signed another sign of a set of signs.

    And I question the veracity of this too:

    Even if you did, the argument would be that the moment you think about what you have touched, you have interpreted him as nothing but a symbol, based on certain physical properties
    Well, this is his philosophical theory, and, as I have shown, it is non-sensical.

    But, we can say more: I don't interpret when I touch things (and neither do you, and neither does anyone else); I interpret when I encounter a sentence in a foreign language, or someone who speaks enigmatically. So, this argument of Cassirer's, if it is his, only works if we allow him to distort the meaning of the word 'interpret' -- along with many other words he has to twist out of shape to make this fairy tale work.

    That's just the way the brain functions, is the argument, so they don't see how one can deny that. The point is if there is any level of abstraction involved in that that is filtered from the actual object you see, or whether there's a direct relation. I'm not sure about the latter, but I'm not sure about the former yet, either.
    Well, this isn't how the brain functions, but even if it were, the brain is, on this theory, merely a sign, and so can't function.

    The greater point is that arguing this issue with diamat followers is useless because it's like debating physics with someone still adhering to some 18th century obscure physicist whom everyone now considers obsolete and plays no role whatsoever in contemporary discussions about the matter. Neo-Kantianism however is still the primary critical school of empiricism. Have you written anything against them, people like Schleiermacher, Cassirer, Rickert and Duhem? I'd be interested in reading it.
    No, I haven't written about these characters, except generally in my comments about the universal non-sensicality of all philosophical theses, which also applies to their work, too.

    But the reason why DM-fans stick to dialectics is plain to see. Here is how I have put the point elsewhere:

    As it turns out, the reason why the majority of revolutionaries not only accept the alien-class ideas encapsulated in MD [Materialist Dialectics], but cling onto them like terminally-insecure limpets, is connected with the following considerations:

    (1) Marx's own analysis of the nature and origin of religious alienation.

    (2) Lenin's warning that revolutionaries may sometimes respond to defeat and disappointment by turning to Idealism and Mysticism.

    (3) The personal biographies and class origin of all leading Marxists and/or dialecticians.

    (4) The fact that this theory not only helps mask the long-term failure of Dialectical Marxism itself, it provides a source of consolation for unrealised expectations and constantly dashed hopes.

    Concerning religion, Marx famously argued as follows:

    "The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man -- state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d'honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.

    "Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

    "The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo." [Marx, A Contribution To The Critique Of Hegel's Philosophy Of Right, p.244. Bold emphases added.]
    Of course, no one is suggesting that Dialectical Marxism is a religion -- but it does function in way that is analogous to one.

    Plainly, revolutionaries are human beings with ideas in their heads, and every single one of them had/has a class origin. The overwhelming majority of those who have led our movement, or who have influenced its ideas, have not come from the working class. Even worker-revolutionaries when they become full-time or 'professional revolutionaries' become de-classé, or even petty-bourgeois Marxists as a result. Since the social being of these comrades can be traced back to their class origins and current class position, it's no great mystery that such comrades have allowed "ruling ideas" to dominate their thought.

    However, the allegation that these comrades have appropriated ruling-class ideas -- for the same sorts of reasons that the religious hold onto their beliefs --, and that this is partly because of their class origin and/or current class position --, will be regarded by dialecticians as so obviously wrong that it will be rejected out-of-hand as "crude reductionism".

    Nevertheless, as far as I am aware, no Marxist Dialectician has subjected the origin of DM, or the reasons for its acceptance by the vast majority of comrades, to any sort of class analysis.

    [Sure, they often subject the ideas of their opponents and enemies (both Marxist and non-Marxist) to some form of impromptu class analysis, but not the general appropriation of boss-class thought-forms by virtually all Marxists, and certainly all leading Marxists.]

    This suggests that dialecticians see themselves as exempt from a Marxist analysis of the origin of their own ideas, and that they somehow think they are immune from the material constraints that affect the rest of humanity.

    Nevertheless, it will be maintained here that the above comrades do indeed hold on to ruling-class ideas -- even if they are unaware of this fact --, and this they do for at least four reasons:

    First: Because of their petty-bourgeois and/or non-working class origin -- and as a result of their socialisation and the superior education they have generally received in bourgeois society -- the vast majority of (the above sort of) Marxists have had "ruling ideas", or ruling-class forms-of-thought, forced down their throats almost from day one.

    The founders of this quasi-religion [DM] weren't workers; they came from a class that educated their children in the Classics, the Bible, and Philosophy. This tradition taught that behind appearances there lies a 'hidden world', accessible to thought alone, which is more real than the material universe we see around us.

    This way of viewing things was concocted by ideologues of the ruling-class. They invented it because if you belong to, benefit from or help run a society which is based on gross inequality, oppression and exploitation, you can keep order in several ways.

    The first and most obvious way is through violence. This will work for a time, but it is not only fraught with danger, it is costly and it stifles innovation (among other things).

    Another way is to win over the majority (or, at least, a significant section of 'opinion formers', bureaucrats, judges, bishops, 'intellectuals', philosophers, teachers, administrators, editors, etc.) to the view that the present order either: (1) Works for their benefit, (2) Defends 'civilised values', (3) Is ordained of the 'gods', or (4) Is 'natural' and so can't be fought, reformed or negotiated with.

    Hence, a world-view that rationalises one or more of the above is necessary for the ruling-class to carry on ruling in the same old way. While the content of ruling-class thought may have changed with each change in the mode of production, its form has remained largely the same for thousands of years: Ultimate Truth (about this 'hidden world') is ascertainable by thought alone, and therefore can be imposed on reality dogmatically and aprioristically.

    So, the non-worker founders of our movement -- who had been educated from an early age to believe there was just such a 'hidden world' lying behind 'appearances', and which governed everything -- when they became revolutionaries, looked for a priori 'logical' principles relating to that abstract world that told them that change was inevitable, and was thus part of the cosmic order. Enter dialectics, courtesy of the dogmatic ideas of a ruling-class mystic called Hegel. The dialectical classicists were thus happy to impose their theory on the world (upside down or the "right way up") since that is how they had been taught 'genuine' philosophy should behave.

    That 'allowed' the founders of this quasi-religion (DM) to think of themselves as special, as prophets of the new order, which workers, alas, could not quite understand because of their defective education, their dependence on ordinary language and*their reliance on 'banalities of common sense'.

    Fortunately, history had predisposed the dialectical prophets to ascertain the truth about reality on their behalf, which meant these individuals were the 'naturally-ordained' leaders of the workers' movement. That in turn implied that they were also the teachers of the 'ignorant masses', who could thus legitimately substitute themselves for the unwashed majority -- in 'their own interests', you understand -- since the masses were hopelessly blinded by 'commodity fetishism', 'formal thinking', or they had been bought off by imperial 'super profits'. In which case, they were incapable of seeing the truth for themselves.

    Second: Because Dialectical Marxism has been so catastrophically unsuccessful, and for so long, revolutionaries have had to convince themselves that (a) this isn't really so, and that the opposite is in fact the case, or that (b) this is only a temporary state of affairs. They have to do this otherwise many of them would just give up. In view of the fact that they also hold that truth is tested in practice, they have to conclude that either or both of (a) and (b) are the case. Because dialectics teaches that appearances are "contradicted" by underlying "essences" it is able to fulfil a unique and specific role in this regard, motivating and/or rationalising (a) or (b). In this way, it supplies comrades with much needed consolation in the face of long-term failure, convincing them that everything is in fact fine with the core theory, or that things will change for the better -- one day. This then 'allows' them to ignore the long-term failure of Dialectical Marxism, rationalising it as a mere "appearance" and hence either false, or illusory. So, faced with 150 years of set-backs, defeats and disasters revolutionaries almost invariably respond with a "Well that doesn't prove dialectics is wrong!"

    So, just like the religious, who can look at all the evil in the world and still see it as an expression of the 'Love of God', who will make all things well in the future, dialecticians can look at the last 150 years and still see the 'Logic of History' moving their way, and that all will be well in the end, too. This means that the theory that prevents them from facing reality is the very same theory that prevents them from examining that theory, inviting yet another generation of failure by masking these facts.

    Apparently, the only two things that aren't interconnected in the entire DM-universe are the long term failure of Dialectical Marxism and its core theory!

    You just couldn't make it up.

    Third: Just like the Bible, which provides its students with ample excuse to accuse others of not 'understanding the Word of God', DM, with its sacred texts, provides dialecticians with an obscure theory that 'allows' them to claim that other DM-theorists do not 'understand' DM,-- or that they ignore and misuse it -- and that only they comprehend it. This then 'allows' them to anathematise and castigate others as anti-Marxist. In short, it puts in the hands of inveterate sectarians (of which Marxism has had more than its fair share) an almost infinitely pliable, ideological device that is capable of proving anything at all and its opposite (often by the very same theorist), because it glories in contradiction.

    Fourth: As noted above, it provides dialecticians with an exclusivising tool that sets them above the common herd (or those who are lost in the banalities of 'commonsense', or who, like Marx, trust ordinary language), which simply confirms them in their self-appointed, pre-eminent role in the class war. In short, DM is the ideology of substitutionist elements in Marxism.

    Despite this, it might still be wondered how this relates to anything that is even remotely relevant to the ideas entertained by hard-headed revolutionary atheists. Surely, it could be argued, any attempt to trace a commitment to MD to its origin in allegedly alienated thought-forms is both a reductionist and an Idealist error.

    Fortunately, Lenin himself supplied a materialist answer to this apparent conundrum, and John Rees kindly outlined it for us when he depicted the period following the failed 1905 Russian revolution in the following terms:

    "The defeat of the 1905 revolution, like all such defeats, carried confusion and demoralisation into the ranks of the revolutionaries…. The forward rush of the revolution had helped unite the leadership…on strategic questions and so…intellectual differences could be left to private disagreement. But when defeat magnifies every tactical disagreement, forcing revolutionaries to derive fresh strategies from a re-examination of the fundamentals of Marxism, theoretical differences were bound to become important. As Tony Cliff explains:

    "'With politics apparently failing to overcome the horrors of the Tsarist regime, escape into the realm of philosophical speculation became the fashion….'

    "Philosophical fashion took a subjectivist, personal, and sometimes religious turn…. Bogdanov drew inspiration from the theories of physicist Ernst Mach and philosopher Richard Avenarius…. [Mach retreated] from Kant's ambiguous idealism to the pure idealism of Berkeley and Hume….

    "It was indeed Mach and Bogdanov's 'ignorance of dialectics' that allowed them to 'slip into idealism.' Lenin was right to highlight the link between Bogdanov's adoption of idealism and his failure to react correctly to the downturn in the level of the struggle in Russia." [Rees, The Algebra of Revolution, pp.173-79. Bold emphases added.
    It's quite clear from this that the experience of defeat (and the lack of materialist input from a mass working-class movement) directed the attention of certain revolutionaries toward Idealism and toward the search for a mystical explanation for the serious set-backs Russian Marxists had witnessed after 1905. Plainly, that search provided these comrades with some form of consolation -- just as Marx had alleged of religious belief pure and simple.

    But, there is another outcome that Rees and others have clearly failed to notice: this major set-back also turned Lenin toward Philosophy and dialectics. These were subjects which he had largely ignored up until then. While it is true that Bogdanov and the rest turned to Mach, Berkeley, Subjective Idealism, and other assorted irrationalisms, it is equally clear that Lenin, too, looked to Hegel and 'objective' Mysticism.

    Nevertheless, Lenin's warning shows that revolutionaries themselves are not immune to the pressures that lead human beings in general to seek consolation in order to counteract disappointment, demoralisation and alienation. As we have seen, Lenin was well aware that alien-class ideas, which 'satisfied' such needs, could enter the workers' movement from the "outside" at certain times.

    Except he (and others since) failed to apply this analysis to himself.
    And that is why DM-fans cling to this theory like drunks to lampposts.

    I have developed these ideas, and substantiated them fully, here:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2009_02.htm
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 05-16-2012 at 7:47 PM.

  2. #82
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    5,328

    Default Re: What is dialectics?

    Comrades might like to check out the desperate 'dialectical' debating tactics of a character called 'Future World' over at the Soviet Empire Forum:

    http://www.soviet-empire.com/ussr/vi...?f=108&t=52507

    My reply begins at the foot of the page.

  3. #83
    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    6,240

    Default Re: What is dialectics?

    Haha those people are hilarious: 'This reminds me of how I tried to explain to Rosa that Engels saying that the motion is the mode of existence of matter is the same thing as Einstein proclaiming mass-energy equivalence.'

    So apparently Engels preceded Einstein's work by several decades. Too bad the rest of the world seems to be unaware of that.


    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.

  4. #84
    Tendencies are for posers
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    44

    Default Re: What is dialectics?

    I like how after you asked him like 10x to cite a physicist which talks as he does, he cites Planck. Then you ask him to cite the relevant pages where any of it is mentioned... and no such citation comes. It gets completely lost in the fray

    I don't claim to be any expert in the matter. But couldn't this whole "issue" be cleared up by just assuming there are no "points" in time, ie that time is smooth and non-quantized? Therefore there need be no contradiction because there are no 2 points for an object to rest in, that is to say it simply progresses relative to other object in the universe?

    Rosa, what is your view on the QM (Copenhagen) assertion that matter is both particle and wave at once? Does this not lend credence to the dialectical view?

  5. #85
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    5,328

    Default Re: What is dialectics?

    Certainly, there are many ways to avoid this alleged 'contradiction', but I prefer to remain as close to ordinary ways of looking at this as I can.

    Rosa, what is your view on the QM (Copenhagen) assertion that matter is both particle and wave at once? Does this not lend credence to the dialectical view?
    Good question; here is how I have replied to it in the past:

    For example, dialecticians often argue that the wave-particle duality of light confirms the thesis that nature is fundamentally dialectical; in this case, light is supposed to be a Unity of Opposites, wave and particle. Precisely how they are a unity (i.e., how it could be true that matter at this level is fundamentally particulate and fundamentally non-particulate all at once) is of course left entirely obscure.

    Exactly how this phenomenon helps account for the material world is even less clear.

    Even though all dialecticians refer to this 'contradiction', not one has explained how and why it is a contradiction, nor less how and why it is a 'dialectical contradiction' (even if we knew what these are).

    Consider these two propositions:

    Q1: Light is a wave.

    Q2: Light is particulate.

    Now, Q1 would contradict Q2 if the following were the case:

    Q3: No wave can be particulate.

    Q4: Light must be one or the other, wave or particle.

    [Q4 is required or Q1 and Q2 would merely be inconsistent.]

    But is Q3 true? Surely not, for if physicists are correct, light is both!

    However, independently of that, there are plenty of examples of waves in nature which are particulate; e.g., sound waves, water waves and Mexican waves. So, Q3 is in fact false!

    Moreover, Q4 could be false, too. Light could turn out to be something else about which we do not yet have a concept. That, of course, would make Q1 and Q2 merely inconsistent. Do 'dialectical logicians' know what to do with 'dialectical inconsistencies'?

    But, even if in some way this were a 'contradiction', it does nothing to explain change -- unless we are supposed to accept the idea that the fact that light is a particle changes it into a wave, and/or vice versa. Are we meant to conclude that these two states/processes are 'struggling' with one another? But what is the point of that? What role does this particular 'contradiction' play either in DM or in Physics? At best it seems to be merely ornamental.

    [DM = Dialectical Materialism.]

    At worst, of course, all the problems we met earlier in connection with the DM-'theory' of change would apply here too.

    Now, if we put to one side the 'solution' to this puzzle offered by, say, Superstring Theory, there are in fact many Physicists -- with, it seems, a more robust commitment to scientific realism than the average dialectician can muster -- who believe that this 'paradox' can be resolved within a realist picture of nature. [Evidence can be found at my site.] Whether or not they are correct need not detain us since DM-theorists (if consistent) ought to advise these rather rash realists not to bother trying to solve this riddle. This is because dialectics has already provided them with an a priori solution: since nature is fundamentally contradictory there is in fact no solution --, which paradoxical state of affairs should, of course, simply be "grasped".

    As we have seen several times, dialecticians are in a bind here: on the basis of their theory, it is impossible tell the difference between 'contradictions' that supposedly reflect nature accurately and contradictions that are the product of a defective theory, the retention of which would hold up the progress of science.

    This is just one more example.

    So, if we listened to DM-fans, it could permanently halt the development of physics.

  6. #86
    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    6,240

    Default Re: What is dialectics?

    There are some great pieces I read a while back on the question of mysticism and spiritualism in physics. Apparently some of the greatest physicists believed in some form of spiritualism, which has to be seen as distinct from their purely scientific work, as a kind of personal aberration, at least that's the argument. But the larger point is that people like Bohr are partly to blame for the later hijacking of science by postmodernists, because they were into that kind of philosophical mysticism well before postmodernism was even thought of, thus laying the basis for the latter's later work on science.

    They're good reads: http://www.mathematik.uni-muenchen.d...sokalhoax.html

    http://harvard.academia.edu/JuanMigu...n_controversy_
    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.

  7. #87
    Tendencies are for posers
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    44

    Default Re: What is dialectics?

    Ya, even Heisneberg I believe thought that consciousness was fundamental to the universe, and this view being the only way to understand quantum mechanics.

    Idk, I can perfectly understand a thing being both particle and wave, so I don't see the problem. But he also said that new ideas aren't usually just adopted by the status quo, rather than old people dying and new people just understanding it.

    Thx for the reads

  8. #88
    Senior Voting Member Meridian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    1,596

    Default Re: What is dialectics?

    Thanks Amoeba, interesting. There's a tendency both to worship 'Nature' within natural science and the groups of people who follow it attentively, and then there's another general trend of saying things like "observation is interpretation", the modern form of dualist skepticist mis-beliefs that we can call post-modernist.

  9. #89
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    5,328

    Default Re: What is dialectics?

    Fritjof Capra is perhaps the most widely read scientist of this genre (Mr Natural, before he decamped to RedMarx, was fond of referrring to him -- he still is over at RedMarx!).

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

    Such Ideas are effectively debunked here:

    http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/meta.html

    http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/v...Web/Books.html

  10. #90
    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    6,240

    Default Re: What is dialectics?

    You're probably already aware of this (actually saw some quotes from these you posted), Rosa, but there are large chunks of The Poverty of Philosophy devoted to ridiculing Hegel and his method, as well as parts of The Holy Family and The Germany Ideology. You can find more in other pieces they wrote in the Collected Works volumes of that time-period. Engels was critical of it as well, if I'm not mistaken.

    For example, from the former:

    Quote Originally Posted by Marx
    If we had M. Proudhon's intrepidity in the matter of Hegelianism we should say: it is distinguished in itself from itself. What does this mean? Impersonal reason, having outside itself neither a base on which it can pose itself, nor an object to which it can oppose itself, nor a subject with which it can compose itself, is forced to turn head over heels, in posing itself, opposing itself and composing itself – position, opposition, composition. Or, to speak Greek – we have thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. For those who do not know the Hegelian formula: affirmation, negation and negation of the negation. That is what language means. It is certainly not Hebrew (with due apologies M. Proudhon); but it is the language of this pure reason, separate from the individual. Instead of the ordinary individual with his ordinary manner of speaking and thinking we have nothing but this ordinary manner in itself – without the individual.

    Is it surprising that everything, in the final abstraction – for we have here an abstraction, and not an analysis – presents itself as a logical category? Is it surprising that, if you let drop little by little all that constitutes the individuality of a house, leaving out first of all the materials of which it is composed, then the form that distinguishes it, you end up with nothing but a body; that, if you leave out of account the limits of this body; you soon have nothing but a space – that if, finally, you leave out of the account the dimensions of this space, there is absolutely nothing left but pure quantity, the logical category? If we abstract thus from every subject all the alleged accidents, animate or inanimate, men or things, we are right in saying that in the final abstraction, the only substance left is the logical category. Thus the metaphysicians who, in making these abstractions, think they are making analyses, and who, the more they detach themselves from things, imagine themselves to be getting all the nearer to the point of penetrating to their core – these metaphysicians in turn are right in saying that things here below are embroideries of which the logical categories constitute the canvas. This is what distinguishes the philosopher from the Christian. The Christian, in spite of logic, has only one incarnation of the Logos; the philosopher has never finished with incarnations. If all that exists, all that lives on land, and under water, can be reduced by abstraction to a logical category – if the whole real world can be drowned thus in a world of abstractions, in the world of logical categories – who need be astonished at it?

    [...]

    All things being reduced to a logical category, and every movement, every act of production, to method, it follows naturally that every aggregate of products and production, of objects and of movement, can be reduced to a form of applied metaphysics. What Hegel has done for religion, law, etc., M. Proudhon seeks to do for political economy.

    So what is this absolute method? The abstraction of movement. What is the abstraction of movement? Movement in abstract condition. What is movement in abstract condition? The purely logical formula of movement or the movement of pure reason. Wherein does the movement of pure reason consist? In posing itself, opposing itself, composing itself; in formulating itself as thesis, antithesis, synthesis; or, yet, in affirming itself, negating itself, and negating its negation.How does reason manage to affirm itself, to pose itself in a definite category? That is the business of reason itself and of its apologists.
    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.

  11. #91
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    5,328

    Default Re: What is dialectics?

    Yes, I quoted this passage extensively in Essay Three Parts One and Two.

    Even better:

    "Now that Critical Criticism as the tranquillity of knowledge has 'made' all the mass-type 'antitheses its concern', has mastered all reality in the form of categories and dissolved all human activity into speculative dialectics, we shall see it produce the world again out of speculative dialectics. It goes without saying that if the miracles of the Critically speculative creation of the world are not to be 'desecrated', they can be presented to the profane mass only in the form of mysteries. Critical Criticism therefore appears in the incarnation of Vishnu-Szeliga ["Szeliga" was the pseudonym of a young Hegelian, Franz Zychlinski -- RL] as a mystery-monger....

    "The mystery of the Critical presentation of the Mystéres de Paris is the mystery of speculative, of Hegelian construction. Once Herr Szeliga has proclaimed that 'degeneracy within civilisation' and rightlessness in the state are 'mysteries', i.e., has dissolved them in the category 'mystery', he lets 'mystery' begin its speculative career. A few words will suffice to characterise speculative construction in general. Herr Szeliga's treatment of the Mystéres de Paris will give the application in detail.

    "If from real apples, pears, strawberries and almonds I form the general idea 'Fruit', if I go further and imagine that my abstract idea 'Fruit', derived from real fruit, is an entity existing outside me, is indeed the true essence of the pear, the apple, etc., then -- in the language of speculative philosophy –- I am declaring that 'Fruit' is the 'Substance' of the pear, the apple, the almond, etc. I am saying, therefore, that to be an apple is not essential to the apple; that what is essential to these things is not their real existence, perceptible to the senses, but the essence that I have abstracted from them and then foisted on them, the essence of my idea -– 'Fruit'. I therefore declare apples, pears, almonds, etc., to be mere forms of existence, modi, of 'Fruit'. My finite understanding supported by my senses does of course distinguish an apple from a pear and a pear from an almond, but my speculative reason declares these sensuous differences inessential and irrelevant. It sees in the apple the same as in the pear, and in the pear the same as in the almond, namely 'Fruit'. Particular real fruits are no more than semblances whose true essence is 'the substance' -- 'Fruit'.

    "By this method one attains no particular wealth of definition. The mineralogist whose whole science was limited to the statement that all minerals are really 'the Mineral' would be a mineralogist only in his imagination. For every mineral the speculative mineralogist says 'the Mineral', and his science is reduced to repeating this word as many times as there are real minerals.

    "Having reduced the different real fruits to the one 'fruit' of abstraction -– 'the Fruit', speculation must, in order to attain some semblance of real content, try somehow to find its way back from 'the Fruit', from the Substance to the diverse, ordinary real fruits, the pear, the apple, the almond etc. It is as hard to produce real fruits from the abstract idea 'the Fruit' as it is easy to produce this abstract idea from real fruits. Indeed, it is impossible to arrive at the opposite of an abstraction without relinquishing the abstraction.

    "The speculative philosopher therefore relinquishes the abstraction 'the Fruit', but in a speculative, mystical fashion -- with the appearance of not relinquishing it. Thus it is really only in appearance that he rises above his abstraction. He argues somewhat as follows:

    "If apples, pears, almonds and strawberries are really nothing but 'the Substance', 'the Fruit', the question arises: Why does 'the Fruit' manifest itself to me sometimes as an apple, sometimes as a pear, sometimes as an almond? Why this semblance of diversity which so obviously contradicts my speculative conception of Unity, 'the Substance', 'the Fruit'?

    "This, answers the speculative philosopher, is because 'the Fruit' is not dead, undifferentiated, motionless, but a living, self-differentiating, moving essence. The diversity of the ordinary fruits is significant not only for my sensuous understanding, but also for 'the Fruit' itself and for speculative reason. The different ordinary fruits are different manifestations of the life of the 'one Fruit'; they are crystallisations of 'the Fruit' itself. Thus in the apple 'the Fruit' gives itself an apple-like existence, in the pear a pear-like existence. We must therefore no longer say, as one might from the standpoint of the Substance: a pear is 'the Fruit', an apple is 'the Fruit', an almond is 'the Fruit', but rather 'the Fruit' presents itself as a pear, 'the Fruit' presents itself as an apple, 'the Fruit' presents itself as an almond; and the differences which distinguish apples, pears and almonds from one another are the self-differentiations of 'the Fruit' and make the particular fruits different members of the life-process of 'the Fruit'. Thus 'the Fruit' is no longer an empty undifferentiated unity; it is oneness as allness, as 'totality' of fruits, which constitute an 'organically linked series of members'. In every member of that series 'the Fruit' gives itself a more developed, more explicit existence, until finally, as the 'summary' of all fruits, it is at the same time the living unity which contains all those fruits dissolved in itself just as it produces them from within itself, just as, for instance, all the limbs of the body are constantly dissolved in and constantly produced out of the blood.

    "We see that if the Christian religion knows only one Incarnation of God, speculative philosophy has as many incarnations as there are things, just as it has here in every fruit an incarnation of the Substance, of the Absolute Fruit. The main interest for the speculative philosopher is therefore to produce the existence of the real ordinary fruits and to say in some mysterious way that there are apples, pears, almonds and raisins. But the apples, pears, almonds and raisins that we rediscover in the speculative world are nothing but semblances of apples, semblances of pears, semblances of almonds and semblances of raisins, for they are moments in the life of 'the Fruit', this abstract creation of the mind, and therefore themselves abstract creations of the mind. Hence what is delightful in this speculation is to rediscover all the real fruits there, but as fruits which have a higher mystical significance, which have grown out of the ether of your brain and not out of the material earth, which are incarnations of 'the Fruit', of the Absolute Subject. When you return from the abstraction, the supernatural creation of the mind, 'the Fruit', to real natural fruits, you give on the contrary the natural fruits a supernatural significance and transform them into sheer abstractions. Your main interest is then to point out the unity of 'the Fruit' in all the manifestations of its life…that is, to show the mystical interconnection between these fruits, how in each of them 'the Fruit' realizes itself by degrees and necessarily progresses, for instance, from its existence as a raisin to its existence as an almond. Hence the value of the ordinary fruits no longer consists in their natural qualities, but in their speculative quality, which gives each of them a definite place in the life-process of 'the Absolute Fruit'.

    "The ordinary man does not think he is saying anything extraordinary when he states that there are apples and pears. But when the philosopher expresses their existence in the speculative way he says something extraordinary. He performs a miracle by producing the real natural objects, the apple, the pear, etc., out of the unreal creation of the mind 'the Fruit'. And in regard to every object the existence of which he expresses, he accomplishes an act of creation.

    "It goes without saying that the speculative philosopher accomplishes this continuous creation only by presenting universally known qualities of the apple, the pear, etc., which exist in reality, as determining features invented by him, by giving the names of the real things to what abstract reason alone can create, to abstract formulas of reason, finally, by declaring his own activity, by which he passes from the idea of an apple to the idea of a pear, to be the self-activity of the Absolute Subject, 'the Fruit.'

    "In the speculative way of speaking, this operation is called comprehending Substance as Subject, as an inner process, as an Absolute Person, and this comprehension constitutes the essential character of Hegel's method." [Marx and Engels, The Holy Family, pp.71-75.]
    It's a pity that both Marx and Engels later seem to have lost the philosophical clarity of thought they revealed in this passage. In many respects it anticipates Frege's and Wittgenstein's approaches to abstract ideas, even if phrased in a completely different philosophical idiom:

    "By making one characteristic after another disappear, we get more and more abstract concepts…. Inattention is a most efficacious logical faculty; presumably this accounts for the absentmindedness of professors. Suppose there are a black and a white cat sitting side by side before us. We stop attending to their colour and they become colourless, but are still sitting side by side. We stop attending to their posture, and they are no longer sitting (though they have not assumed another posture) but each one is still in its place. We stop attending to position; they cease to have place, but still remain different. In this way, perhaps, we obtain from each one of them a general concept of Cat. By continual application of this procedure, we obtain from each object a more and more bloodless phantom. Finally we thus obtain from each object a something wholly deprived of content; but the something obtained from one object is different from the something obtained from another object -– though it is not easy to say how." [Translations From The Philosophical Writings Of Gottlob Frege, pp.84-85.]

  12. #92
    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    6,240

    Default Re: What is dialectics?

    Ha, yeah, the fruit thing was my favorite part from The Holy Family. I actually used that once to try to explain Hegel's babble to someone. It seems to be one of the only ways one can make some sense out of nonsense.
    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.

  13. #93
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    5,328

    Default Re: What is dialectics?

    Comrades might be interested in an interview I have just given:

    http://skepoet.wordpress.com/2012/07...-lichtenstein/

  14. #94
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    5,328

    Default Re: What is dialectics?

    Here's a letter sent to Socialist Worker by a supporter of my site, which they chose not to publish:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/SW_Letter_003.htm

    No prizes for guessing why.

  15. #95
    Senior Voting Member Apprentice's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    104

    Default Re: What is dialectics?

    I love Dialectics for Kids. Thanks for the link, Amoeba! Dialectics for Kids makes Marxism really easy to understand for both kids and adults. It truly is a piece of art. This is why I think everybody should have a look at it. Don't underestimate it because it's made for kids.

    The message is very important -- don't make it too hard to understand. Start from the beginning and don't assume anything yet. Guide them through the learning process. The mass needs to be educated in small steps and it needs to be relatable for them. This is because knowledge always seems to be (slowly) added on top of something else when we learn something new. The brain is wired this way. Different people will need different approaches.

  16. #96
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    5,328

    Default Re: What is dialectics?

    In fact, the site you mention is truly awful, so I can't think why you are recommending it.

    I have demolished all the ideas it promotes in this thread and at my site.

    Check out what I argued at RevLeft a few years ago:

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/dialectics...024/index.html

    Several of the links there are now out-of-date, and some of the characters in that 'debate' changed their names over the next few years.

    The correct link is:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Why%20I%20Oppose%20DM.htm

  17. #97
    Senior Voting Member Apprentice's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    104

    Default Re: What is dialectics?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    In fact, the site you mention is truly awful, so I can't think why you are recommending it.

    I have demolished all the ideas it promotes in this thread and at my site.

    Check out what I argued at RevLeft a few years ago:

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/dialectics...024/index.html

    Several of the links there are now out-of-date, and some of the characters in that 'debate' changed their names over the next few years.

    The correct link is:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Why%20I%20Oppose%20DM.htm
    I've been reading for a while now. I will continue reading tomorrow. It's very "controversial" to me as I had (and still have) tendencies towards mysticism -- which you think of as a virus propagated by the upper class. I will need "a moment" to think about it.

    (to be continued)

  18. #98
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    5,328

    Default Re: What is dialectics?

    What I allege is that philosophy represents a ruling-class view of reality. Dialectical Materialism [DM] is just a mystical version of this approach -- invented by several boss-class theorists (for instance, Heraclitus, Plato, Plotinus, Böehme, Spinoza, and Hegel).

    Recall what Marx said about mystical views of the world:

    The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man -- state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d'honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.

    Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

    The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo. [Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right.]
    Mysticism thus grows from two sources: (1) the human desire for consolation in the face of alienation (loss of power, control, purpose, and death), and (2) the ruling-class's need to control our response to this alienation (so that we fight one another and not those who cause our woes -- or so that we learn to project our hope for a better life for ourselves and our children into the future and into an invisible world (heaven)) -- hence the invention of various boss-class ideologies.

    In that case, we have to want to believe in this source of consolation, which the ruling-class or their ideologues then use to control our thinking. There has to be a 'ready soil', so to speak. [Hence, your 'tendency' toward this way of viewing reality.]

    Here's how I have explained this (over at RevLeft, in answer to the question, Why is Dialectical Materialism a world-view?):


    Marx famously claimed:

    The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance. The individuals composing the ruling class possess among other things consciousness, and therefore think. Insofar, therefore, as they rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an epoch, it is self-evident that they do this in its whole range, hence among other things rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch. [The German Ideology. Bold emphases added.]
    Now, as is easy to show, Hegel (the Idealist originator of dialectics) lifted many of his doctrines from earlier mystics and ruling-class hacks. These ideas have appeared in the philosophical theories of boss-class thinkers from ancient times until today. In that case, the only conclusion possible is that dialectics must be part of the ruling ideas Marx was speaking about, whether he himself thought so or not.

    This conclusion is not at all easy for Dialectical Marxists to accept for it seems to implicate the founders of our movement in the deliberate importation of alien-class ideas into Marxism.

    To be sure, dialecticians say they have removed the Idealist and mystical elements of Hegel's dialectic (or, rather, they tell us they've put Hegel's ideas back "on their feet", thus preserving their "rational core"), but since it's plain that the remaining husk has been imposed on nature (not read from it) in sound idealist fashion, that claim is entirely bogus. As George Novack (inadvertently) pointed out:

    "A consistent materialism cannot proceed from principles which are validated by appeal to abstract reason, intuition, self-evidence or some other subjective or purely theoretical source. Idealisms may do this. But the materialist philosophy has to be based upon evidence taken from objective material sources and verified by demonstration in practice...." [Novack, The Origins of Materialism (1965), p.17. Bold emphasis added.]
    [Some might be tempted to argue that Dialectical Materialism is based on evidence. That idea has been batted out of the park in Essays Two to Thirteen at my site.]

    The founders of our movement weren't workers; they came from classes that educated their children in religion, the classics and philosophy. This tradition taught that behind appearances there lies a hidden world, accessible to thought alone, which is more real than the material universe we see around us.

    This way of seeing things was invented by ruling-class ideologues. They did so because if you belong to, benefit from or help run a society which is based on gross inequality, oppression and exploitation, you can keep order in several ways.

    The first and most obvious way is through violence. This will work for a time, but it is not only fraught with danger, it is costly and it stifles innovation (among other things).

    Another way is to win over the majority (or, at least, win over and/or employ a significant proportion of "opinion formers", bureaucrats, judges, bishops, generals, intellectuals, philosophers, editors, teachers, administrators, etc.) to the view that the present order either, (1) Works for their benefit, (2) Defends 'civilised values', (3) Is ordained of the 'gods', or is (4) 'Natural' and thus cannot be fought against, reformed or negotiated with.

    Hence, a world-view that helps rationalise one or more of the above is necessary for the ruling-class to carry on ruling in the same old way.

    While the content of this wing of ruling-class ideology may have altered with each change in the mode of production, its form has remained largely the same for thousands of years: Ultimate Truth (about this 'hidden world' underlying appearances) is ascertainable from thought alone, and therefore can be imposed on reality dogmatically and aprioristically.

    ["Aprioristically" means that these ideas can be inferred in advance of any evidence. A genuine a priori idea might be the following: despite the fact that you will never have experienced this, and never will, you know that ten billion marbles added to twenty billion marbles will amount to thirty billion marbles (although, I prefer to call this the application of a rule). A bogus a priori idea would involve, for example, an attempt to prove the existence of 'god' from 'his/her/its' definition (as Anselm tried to do). Another would involve an attempt to show that everything is governed by 'contradictions', based on a similar 'linguistic argument' (as Hegel attempted), and nothing more.]

    So, the non-worker founders of our movement -- who had been educated from an early age to believe there is just such a hidden world lying behind appearances, and which governs everything -- when they became revolutionaries quite naturally looked for 'logical' principles in that abstract world that told them that change was inevitable, and was part of the cosmic order. Enter dialectics, courtesy of the dogmatic ideas of that ruling-class mystic, Hegel. Hence, the dialectical classicists latched onto this theory and were happy to impose it on the world (upside down or the "right way up"), since, to them, because of their socialisation and education, it seemed quite natural to do so. After all, that's what 'genuine' philosophy is -- or, so they had been socialised to conclude.

    And that is why DM-fans tend to bury their heads in the sand, and ignore anything and everything that contradicts their theory: their faith lies in this hidden world.

    Which isn't surprising, either, since this idea was pinched from a Christian mystic.

    Finally, these comrades imported this alien-class theory into Marxism unwittingly. They knew no better; their petty-bourgeois being determined their petty-bourgeois consciousness (to paraphrase Marx).

    But, as should seem obvious from the long-term failure of Dialectical Marxism, this importation has to be reversed.

    Otherwise, comrades, we can look forward to another 150 years of glorious failure...
    Recall, I am not questioning Historical Materialism -- a scientific theory I fully accept -- just this mystical canker that has been imposed on it.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 08-03-2012 at 6:36 PM.

  19. #99
    Senior Voting Member Apprentice's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    104

    Default Re: What is dialectics?

    I have a question about anti-dialectics. I'm probably misunderstanding something, so bear with me. I haven't read everything yet. However I do feel that I should already be able to understand a point you were trying to make, but I don't.

    At some point you list a lot of words that refer to change. Then you make the claim that you have refuted the need for dialectics because there are already enough words to signify change. But isn't dialectics about more than just change? Or opposites? Dialectics doesn't seem like mysticism to me. It's just a cognitive tool to be able to talk about specific kinds of change. To me it doesn't exclude monistic materialism. Abstraction isn't necessarily mysticism. I suppose you don't oppose abstractions.

  20. #100
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    5,328

    Default Re: What is dialectics?

    Thank you for that.

    My main objection to dialectics is that it makes no sense at all. I supplement that allegation with the observation that, if true, dialectics would make change impossible. [You can find that argument set out in detail in Essay Seven Part One -- changed on edit: this is now Essay Seven Part Three, link at the end.]

    I then tackle specific claims made by dialecticians, one of which is that ordinary language and common sense are alright in their own sphere, but when it comes to change they are inadequate. I respond to that argument by noting that ordinary language in fact handles and can account for change far better than the obscure jargon Hegel invented in order to fix something that wasn't broken. [I also add that complex social change requires Historical Materialism, providing Hegel's terminolgy has been excised.]

    Or opposites?
    I am not sure what you mean by this question, but if you are alluding to 'dialectical opposites', then it is precisely these that prevent dialectics accounting for change, and, if true, would make change impossible.

    Dialectics doesn't seem like mysticism to me.
    Well, in so far as its best exponents can't explain dialectics clearly (I demonstrate this in Essays Two through Thirteen Part Three) it remains a mystery -- even to those who accept it. It also falls into the realm of mysticism since it depends on concepts derived from mystical Christian theology and Hermeticism -- these concepts remain mystical upside down or 'the right way up'.

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

    http://www.marxists.org/reference/su...s/en/magee.htm

    It's just a cognitive tool to be able to talk about specific kinds of change.
    Classically, it is more than this; it's a theory about how the entire universe works, based on a few trite anecdotes about boiling water and seeds 'negating' plants. [To that end I call it Mickey Mouse Science.]

    Moreover, even if we needed a (philosophical) theory of change (which we don't), dialectics (in that it would make change impossible) wouldn't make the bottom of the reserve list of viable candidates.

    To me it doesn't exclude monistic materialism.
    Fine, but as I have shown in the other thread in this section, monistic materialism is a non-sensical theory.

    Abstraction isn't necessarily mysticism. I suppose you don't oppose abstractions.
    Indeed I do; you can find out why in Essay Three Parts One and Two -- I have summarised the argument here:

    http://www.soviet-empire.com/ussr/vi...?f=107&t=52413

    [My input begins about half way down the page.]

    And, here is my proof that dialectics would make change impossible (make sure you read Note 10b1, it is central to the argument):

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2007_03.htm
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 06-06-2016 at 10:55 AM.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may edit your posts
  •