Thread: A Beginners Guide to Anti-Dialectics

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    Default A Beginners Guide to Anti-Dialectics

    I have decided that it has been too long since their has been a beginners guide to the main objections to dialectical material, so I am starting this thread. As such, this is not a comprehensive critique by any means. It is meant to be a basic and easy to understand criticism of this giant piece of non-sense that has come to dominate Marxist thinking.

    I should also like to point out that this does not in anyway contest historical materialism. Historical materialism is a scientific theory that I completely support.

    This critique will have three main parts to it: the three laws of dialectics, the origin of the notion of contradictions and the proof that dialectical materialism is idealist metaphysics.

    The Three Laws of Dialectics

    1. The Change of Quantity into Quality
    2. The Unity and Interpretation of Opposites
    3. The Negation of the Negation


    The Change of Quantity into Quality

    The change of quantity into quality is defined by Engels as:
    Originally Posted by Engels
    The law of the transformation of quantity into quality and vice versa. For our purpose, we could express this by saying that in nature, in a manner exactly fixed for each individual case, qualitative changes can only occur by the quantitative addition or subtraction of matter or motion (so-called energy).
    http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx...3/don/ch02.htm

    What this means is that the changing of bodies occurs in nature only by an increase in quantity of some sort. This lends itself to a key objection.

    While it is certainly true that in some cases this law holds, all that needs to be shown is that there is at least one case where it does not hold. Quality can be changed by the order of an action. If you pour sulfuric acid into water, then you are engaged in some nice safe fun. But if you pour water into sulfuric acid, then, well, ouch. Thus, we have an example of a change in quality that was not due to an increase in quantity.

    Another aspect of this theory is the idea of nodal points. Nodal points are the point at which just enough quantity is added to change the quality.

    To this I ask, what is the duration of a nodal point? If they cannot answer, then they fail to act as good scientists. Further, I would like to know about butter. Butter melts smoothly and over time. What is its nodal point? This smoothness of change is unaccounted for in dialectical literature.

    Finally, I am interested in how the dialectician defines quality. Thus far, I have only seen them define quality by parroting Hegel:
    Originally Posted by Hegel
    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.
    http://www.marxists.org/reference/ar...eing.htm#SL85n

    What this means is that a change in the quality of an object is a change that makes the object something new. But this definition is unsatisfactory. If we use the most famous example used by dialectical materialists, water boiling and use this definition of quality, then the example isn't an example at all. If you add heat (quantity) to water, when it boils it does not change qualitatively, because it is still H2O. It still is what it is, thus it has the same quality. Until a better definition of quality is found, dialectical materialists must reject the first law.

    The Unity and Interpretation of Opposites

    The unity and interpretation of opposites not explicitly defined by Engels. For this reason I have decided to quote two different theorist. The first is given by Plekhanov:
    Originally Posted by Plekhanov
    And so every phenomenon, by the action of those same forces which condition its existence, sooner or later, but inevitably, is transformed into its own opposite.
    http://www.marxists.org/archive/plek...onist/ch04.htm

    The second is given by Lenin:
    Originally Posted by Lenin
    The identity of opposites... is the recognition... of the contradictory, mutually exclusive, opposite tendencies in all phenomena and processes of nature... The condition for the knowledge of all processes of the world in their “self-movement,” in their spontaneous development, in their real life, is the knowledge of them as a unity of opposites. Development is the “struggle” of opposites... [The unity of opposites] alone furnishes the key to the “self-movement” of everything existing; it alone furnishes the key to “leaps,” to the “break in continuity,” to the “transformation into the opposite,” to the destruction of the old and the emergence of the new.

    The unity... of opposites is conditional, temporary, transitory, relative. The struggle of mutually exclusive opposites is absolute, just as development and motion are absolute.
    http://www.marxists.org/archive/leni...ic/summary.htm

    Essentially, the unity opposites tells us that things are comprised to two contradictory elements and that all things eventually turn into their opposite and this results in change. Now this doesn't make sense. If all things are comprised of opposites, then how can something turn into its opposite since it already contains its opposite?

    To make this more simple, an object is comprised of O* and its opposite O** and that change results from the struggle between these contradictory tendencies. This change supposedly results from O* turning into its opposite O**, which it can't since O** already exists. This means that O* would change to O**, while O** changes into O*, which is not a change. This means that change would be impossible in this situation.

    Another objection would be that you don't see things turning into their opposites in reality. My cat has never transformed into a not cat. In fact, I would be very surprised if she suddenly turned into a rock. I've also never transformed into the owner of the business I work at. Strange, as that would be the opposite of proletariat.

    From these objections we can draw two conclusions: if dialectical materialism were correct, things would be unable to change and my cat would no longer be a cat. Hence, the second law of dialectical materialism must be abandoned.

    The Negation of the Negation

    The negation of the negation is defined as:
    Originally Posted by Engels
    But what then is this fearful negation of the negation...A very simple process which is taking place everywhere and every day, which any child can understand as soon as it is stripped of the veil of mystery in which it was enveloped by the old idealist philosophy...let us take [an] example: The philosophy of antiquity was primitive, spontaneously evolved materialism. As such, it was incapable of clearing up the relation between mind and matter. But the need to get clarity on this question led to the doctrine of a soul separable from the body, then to the assertion of the immortality of this soul, and finally to monotheism. The old materialism was therefore negated by idealism. But in the course of the further development of philosophy, idealism, too, became untenable and was negated by modern materialism. This modern materialism, the negation of the negation, is not the mere re-establishment of the old, but adds to the permanent foundations of this old materialism the whole thought-content of two thousand years of development of philosophy and natural science, as well as of the history of these two thousand years...And so, what is the negation of the negation? An extremely general — and for this reason extremely far-reaching and important — law of development of nature, history, and thought.
    http://marxists.org/archive/marx/wor...hring/ch11.htm

    Essentially, this law is an extension of the last one. Change occurs because something changes into its opposite and then changes into another opposite. As such, it fails on the same grounds as the unity of opposites.

    Another problem is that the negation of the negation is treated as progressive. In the example above, the negation of the negation (dialectical materialism) is a superior philosophy to the older philosophies. If that is the case, then is Zizek's idealist dialectics the NONON of dialectical materialism and even more superior? Will we later have a NONONON where we have dialectical super materialism?

    What of the Soviet Union? The Russian Revolution is clearly the negation of Tsarist Russia, is then the Soviet Union under Stalin the NON or is it when the Soviet Union fell? Are either of these progress?

    Ultimately the third law fails just as badly as the first two.

    Contradictions

    The notion of contradictions in dialectical materialism is central to the three laws listed above. Two of these laws were created by Hegel in his logical proof that all concepts contain contradictions. Formal logic is not very well understood by dialecticians, which means that they fail to understand Hegel's faulty logic.

    Hegel began by using the proposition:

    “The rose is red.” (Lenin used “John is a man.”)

    He then used a theory created by Medieval Catholic logicians called the identity theory of predication, which meant that the word “is” always means “identical with”. This is the key mistake. He has confused the “is” of identity with the “is” of predication. Thus the proposition became:

    “The rose is identical with redness.” (It should be more correctly analyzed as “Redness applies to the rose.”)

    However, this cannot be correct. The rose is a particular and the property of being red is a general. A particular cannot be a general. Thus the proposition became:

    “The rose is not identical with redness.”

    And that is why all things contain opposites. The rose is both identical and not identical with redness. Taking the argument further, the proposition becomes:

    “The rose is not not identical with redness.” (which means the rose is identical with redness)

    And here is the negation of the negation. Both laws were created by being confused about the word “is”. Hence, we must reject them and the notion of contradictions being in all things.

    The Idealism of Dialectical Materialism

    Ultimately, dialectical materialism is both idealism and ruling class thought imported into revolutionary movements.

    Dialectical materialism is idealist in that it derives itself from “pure reason” and is not read from reality. It is derived from Hegel's idealist perspective in which he abstracted from the words ordinary people use. Marx argued that:
    Originally Posted by Marx
    One of the most difficult tasks confronting philosophers is to descend from the world of thought to the actual world. Language is the immediate actuality of thought. Just as philosophers have given thought an independent existence, so they were bound to make language into an independent realm. This is the secret of philosophical language, in which thoughts in the form of words have their own content. The problem of descending from the world of thoughts to the actual world is turned into the problem of descending from language to life.

    We have shown that thoughts and ideas acquire an independent existence in consequence of the personal circumstances and relations of individuals acquiring independent existence. We have shown that exclusive, systematic occupation with these thoughts on the part of ideologists and philosophers, and hence the systematisation of these thoughts, is a consequence of division of labour, and that, in particular, German philosophy is a consequence of German petty-bourgeois conditions. The philosophers have only to dissolve their language into the ordinary language, from which it is abstracted, in order to recognise it, as the distorted language of the actual world, and to realise that neither thoughts nor language in themselves form a realm of their own, that they are only manifestations of actual life.
    http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx.../ch03p.htm#447

    Philosophy, including dialectical materialism, is created by abstracting from ordinary language. It is this very process of abstraction that is idealist. By assuming that either thought or language has an existence independent of social life, we are engaging in idealism. We allow language and thought to create things independent of the real world. This is unacceptable for those who profess to accept any sort of materialism.

    Dialectical materialism is ultimately ruling class thought. As Marx pointed out:
    Originally Posted by Marx
    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. For instance, in an age and in a country where royal power, aristocracy, and bourgeoisie are contending for mastery and where, therefore, mastery is shared, the doctrine of the separation of powers proves to be the dominant idea and is expressed as an “eternal law.”
    http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx...logy/ch01b.htm

    The people who created dialectical materialism were not workers. These were people raised on their philosophical classics. They were taught to find “reality” behind “appearances”. They looked for truths that are accessible to thought alone, that are more real that the world. This is dialectical materialism legacy. The sooner that it is excised from Marxist thought, the better.
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    The people who created dialectical materialism were not workers. These were people raised on their philosophical classics.
    If not being a worker was enough to disqualify a person then we would need to reject Marx, Engels, Kautsky, Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky among others.

    They were taught to find “reality” behind “appearances”. They looked for truths that are accessible to thought alone, that are more real that the world.
    Who were? Can you provide quotes where Marxists assert this or major works where empirical evidence is disregarded in favour of "thought alone"?
    "Events have their own logic, even when human beings do not." - Rosa Luxemburg

    "There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen." - Lenin

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    If not being a worker was enough to disqualify a person then we would need to reject Marx, Engels, Kautsky, Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky among others.
    It is not enough to totally reject them. It is enough to question them. Their philosophical works very much carry the stain of ruling class ideology.

    Who were? Can you provide quotes where Marxists assert this or major works where empirical evidence is disregarded in favour of "thought alone"?
    Generally the people who came up with dialectical materialism. I am mostly thinking of Engels here, who grew up a Pietist and studied Hegel in his university. A list of books where thought alone trumped empirical evidence is

    1. Dialectics of Nature
    2. Materialism and Empirio-Criticism
    3. Dialectical and Historical Materialism
    4. On Contradiction
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    Alright, so I think there is some serious critique to be made of "the dialectic" as the grand and unitary driver of History (whether supposedly "materialist" or, more obviously, as "spirit"). That said, it seems to me is that what is being promoted, implicitly, by this critique is a narrow empiricism, rooted in an understanding of knowledge premised on the dichotomy of subject and object, mover and moved, cause and effect, etc. This denial of dialectical relationships full stop simply represents the flip side of the same ideological coin - an alternate totalizing reality rooted in the tradition of the European liberal enlightenment. For all intents and purposes, it's every bit as bullshit as Hegel.
    The life we have conferred upon these objects confronts us as something hostile and alien.

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    That said, it seems to me is that what is being promoted, implicitly, by this critique is a narrow empiricism, rooted in an understanding of knowledge premised on the dichotomy of subject and object, mover and moved, cause and effect, etc. This denial of dialectical relationships full stop simply represents the flip side of the same ideological coin...
    That would indeed be the case if human social practice - i.e. history - weren't understood in terms of interaction, and not one sided exertion of power to transform and act upon. Any notion of a dialectical relationship is superfluous here, I think, since I simply cannot see any real relationships that could reasonably be called non-dialectical (considering the fact that, for instance, a carpenter and her actions upon the raw material - wood - are also influenced by the properties of that same wood), therefore, to speak of "dialectical relationships" is a tautology in my opinion.

    Bottom line being that this recognition of an implicit narrow empiricism is 1) not even supported by argument here, merely stated, and 2) if it were shown to actually hold, still this would not imply that such a perspective is necessary if one discards the so called materialist dialectics.


    Can you provide quotes where Marxists assert this or major works where empirical evidence is disregarded in favour of "thought alone"?
    Obviously, no self respecting Marxist would outright admit to engaging in this or that form of idealism. But this can be shown as something that happened - people actually did this kind of stuff. And I'd wonder why is it so hard to apply the useful tool developed by Marx in his analysis of ideology to articulations of Marxism itself - y'know, that principle "doesn't matter what you think you do, it matters what you really do".
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    Alright, so I think there is some serious critique to be made of "the dialectic" as the grand and unitary driver of History (whether supposedly "materialist" or, more obviously, as "spirit"). That said, it seems to me is that what is being promoted, implicitly, by this critique is a narrow empiricism, rooted in an understanding of knowledge premised on the dichotomy of subject and object, mover and moved, cause and effect, etc. This denial of dialectical relationships full stop simply represents the flip side of the same ideological coin - an alternate totalizing reality rooted in the tradition of the European liberal enlightenment. For all intents and purposes, it's every bit as bullshit as Hegel.
    I completely reject all philosophical theories. I do not accept an empiricism rooted in any form of "knowledge". What I advocate is historical materialism understood as history advancing through class struggle.
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    I completely reject all philosophical theories.
    Ah, finally, the pure subject beyond ideology! I've found them, and here on RevLeft no less!

    But, in all seriousness, that's a ridiculous statement since an apparent rejection of philosophy and theory is in-and-of-itself an assertion that one's own philosophy and theory have a particular truth-character which transcends philosophy and theory: which is a polite way of saying either ideology or theology depending on your bent.

    I do not accept an empiricism rooted in any form of "knowledge". What I advocate is historical materialism understood as history advancing through class struggle.
    OK, let's roll with this. On what basis does the subject relate to history? What is the relationship between subject and material knowledge? It seems to me that you're positing a "common sense" notion of (the forward march of) history with a bit of Marxist window dressing, and a very base sense of the relation of the subject to the material world which is unmediated (a la popular conceptions of bourgeois science).
    The life we have conferred upon these objects confronts us as something hostile and alien.

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    Ah, finally, the pure subject beyond ideology! I've found them, and here on RevLeft no less!

    But, in all seriousness, that's a ridiculous statement since an apparent rejection of philosophy and theory is in-and-of-itself an assertion that one's own philosophy and theory have a particular truth-character which transcends philosophy and theory: which is a polite way of saying either ideology or theology depending on your bent.
    Not at all. My position is that philosophical theories are non-sense. They fail to exhibit a truth-value due to philosophers abstracting terms from the context of ordinary language and creating theories about them.

    OK, let's roll with this. On what basis does the subject relate to history?
    You should leave philosophical jargon out of your questions. "Subjects" do not relate to history any more than "subjects" relate to physics.

    What is the relationship between subject and material knowledge?
    Another question that assumes that I have some theory of knowledge. Sorry to disappoint, but I do not advance a theory of knowledge.

    It seems to me that you're positing a "common sense" notion of (the forward march of) history with a bit of Marxist window dressing, and a very base sense of the relation of the subject to the material world which is unmediated (a la popular conceptions of bourgeois science).
    Multiple problems with this.

    1. I do not advocate for common sense.
    2. I advocate historical materialism, which is a scientific theory.
    3. It seems to me that you're positing a metaphysical understanding of the world. Metaphysics is created by abstracting (by thought alone) from ordinary language to discover "truths" about the world without any evidence. That is an idealist position.
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    I have thought of dialectical materialism as the laws governing the process of change in all things, while historical materialism is the study of the process of change in society, but the laws governing these processes are the same. So I have a few questions to open the discussion. are there laws governing social change and are these laws the same as in DM. If they are different, what do you think they are. Also many of my views are dialectics have been influenced by the writings of David Bohm. Gar Allen and Ira Gollobin
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    Many people use the water example as an indication of qualitative change with out asking what is the nature of the change. In the case of water turning to a gas the qualitative change as a result of heat being added to the water is a change in the laws governing the H2O molecules. For example if you double the pressure on a liter of water there is little change in its volume, but if double the pressure on a liter of gas, its volume will be cut approximately in half.
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    While it is certainly true that in some cases this law holds, all that needs to be shown is that there is at least one case where it does not hold. Quality can be changed by the order of an action. If you pour sulfuric acid into water, then you are engaged in some nice safe fun. But if you pour water into sulfuric acid, then, well, ouch. Thus, we have an example of a change in quality that was not due to an increase in quantity.
    "Pour acid into water and not water into acid" is a useful mnemonic, but the very exothermic reactions that take place when water and acid come into contact are the same in both scenarios. What differs is the amount of water between the very exothermic reaction and the experimenter. Pouring a lot of water onto a small amount of acid, very quickly, is also safe, since the extraneous water insulates the experimenter from the reaction. Likewise, pouring a large amount of acid onto a small amount of water is incredibly dangerous since the water will rise on top of the acid, forming a thin, boiling layer of diluted acid.

    So not only are the two situations distinguished by the quantity of the reactants, the difference is one of insulation, not quality.

    Originally Posted by ChristoferKoch
    Another aspect of this theory is the idea of nodal points. Nodal points are the point at which just enough quantity is added to change the quality.

    To this I ask, what is the duration of a nodal point? If they cannot answer, then they fail to act as good scientists.
    This is simply wrong. There are numerous processes whose temporal boundaries are extremely fuzzy, if that. The duration of the death of an organism, for example, is not something that can easily be established. In most cases, the precise duration of an irreversible change is unimportant; what is important is that such a change has taken place.

    Originally Posted by ChristoferKoch
    Further, I would like to know about butter. Butter melts smoothly and over time. What is its nodal point? This smoothness of change is unaccounted for in dialectical literature.
    Obviously the nodal point corresponds to the change from plastic behaviour of solid butter to liquid butter, which flows.

    Originally Posted by ChristoferKoch
    Finally, I am interested in how the dialectician defines quality. Thus far, I have only seen them define quality by parroting Hegel:

    [...]

    What this means is that a change in the quality of an object is a change that makes the object something new. But this definition is unsatisfactory. If we use the most famous example used by dialectical materialists, water boiling and use this definition of quality, then the example isn't an example at all. If you add heat (quantity) to water, when it boils it does not change qualitatively, because it is still H2O. It still is what it is, thus it has the same quality. Until a better definition of quality is found, dialectical materialists must reject the first law.
    This has to be the most glorious example of lazy, quasi-reductionist thinking I've ever seen. A corpse is also chemically identical to a living person, therefore the two are the same thing, according to our anti-dialecticians. The point is that two objects can be chemically identical while differing in other aspects, and anyone who doubts this ought to take a shower using nothing but ice cubes.

    Originally Posted by ChistoferKoch
    The Unity and Interpretation of Opposites

    The unity and interpretation of opposites not explicitly defined by Engels. For this reason I have decided to quote two different theorist. The first is given by Plekhanov:

    [...]

    The second is given by Lenin:

    [...]

    Essentially, the unity opposites tells us that things are comprised to two contradictory elements and that all things eventually turn into their opposite and this results in change. Now this doesn't make sense. If all things are comprised of opposites, then how can something turn into its opposite since it already contains its opposite?
    Again, this is a very lazy reading. The stipulation about things being composed of two contradictory elements has been pulled, I feel, from someone's colon. The point is that phenomena contain contradictory tendencies, and that change is to be understood as the self-movement of phenomena as a result of changing intensities of the contradictory tendencies.

    So, for example, any system bound by gravity - a star for example - contains contradictory tendencies corresponding to gravitational attraction and forces that are preventing the collapse of the system into itself (pressure). As the star, for example, evolves, the intensities of the contradictory tendencies - the quantitative measures associated with them - change. Changes in chemical composition lead to a decrease in the pressure preventing collapse, which results in contraction. But contraction increases pressure (that is what is meant by contradictory tendencies "turning into their opposite", just as kinetic energy turns into potential energy or tendencies toward the amelioration of the declining rate of profit contribute to increased workers' militancy etc. etc.) until a new local equilibrium is reached, etc.

    Originally Posted by ChristoferKoch
    The Negation of the Negation

    The negation of the negation is defined as:

    [...]

    Essentially, this law is an extension of the last one. Change occurs because something changes into its opposite and then changes into another opposite. As such, it fails on the same grounds as the unity of opposites.

    Another problem is that the negation of the negation is treated as progressive. In the example above, the negation of the negation (dialectical materialism) is a superior philosophy to the older philosophies. If that is the case, then is Zizek's idealist dialectics the NONON of dialectical materialism and even more superior? Will we later have a NONONON where we have dialectical super materialism?
    The terminology of dialectical materialism is lifted wholesale from Hegel's quite morose logic, but the content is not the same. In materialist terms, as per Lenin, the "negation of the negation" means that features of the previous stages of material development are retained in subsequent stages.

    The rest of the post attacks Hegel, an idealist dialectician, and promotes a very boringly milquetoast ordinary language philosophy, and as such is of no use to anyone. Perhaps we ought to discard Marxism as well, since in ordinary speech that analytical philosophers adore, "class" means "income bracket".
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    To make this more simple, an object is comprised of O* and its opposite O** and that change results from the struggle between these contradictory tendencies. This change supposedly results from O* turning into its opposite O**, which it can't since O** already exists. This means that O* would change to O**, while O** changes into O*, which is not a change. This means that change would be impossible in this situation.
    Yo, you are thinking in combinations (order does not matter), but you should be thinking in permutations (order does matter).

    I mean, I think you (along with every anti-dialectician and most dialecticians) are framing this wrong.

    See, dialecticians (and philosophers in general (though not all)) have liked to use fancy words that conceal the real meaning of what they are saying.

    When they say opposing or opposite forces, what they mean is forces that collide or affect one another.
    "I'm not interested in indulging whims from members of your faction."
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    Not at all. My position is that philosophical theories are non-sense. They fail to exhibit a truth-value due to philosophers abstracting terms from the context of ordinary language and creating theories about them.
    Today on RevLeft: The subject whose language is ahistorical, and whose words are a closed system (à la math).
    You should leave philosophical jargon out of your questions. "Subjects" do not relate to history any more than "subjects" relate to physics.

    [. . .]

    Another question that assumes that I have some theory of knowledge. Sorry to disappoint, but I do not advance a theory of knowledge.
    Alright, fine, how do "individuals" (excuse me while I puke in my mouth a bit) relate to history? How do "individuals" glean "knowledge" of the material world? Is it a question of "pure" factuality?
    And further, what do you mean by physics? A (limited) body of knowledge, to which subjects absolutely do relate? Or are you using physics, here, as a stand in for "material reality"? Certainly subjects relate to (shape and are shaped by!) material reality, and at the fundamental level of the body, no less! In either case, the suggestion that there is not a subjective relation to physics is clearly a muddleheaded knee-jerk reaction rooted in the philosophy you claim to lack.
    1. I do not advocate for common sense.
    For someone who is explicitly against playing word games, you seem awfully fond of them.
    2. I advocate historical materialism, which is a scientific theory.
    For starters, you seem to have a very tenuous grasp of "theory", in conceptual terms. That one can simultaneously posit a "scientific theory" while denying having a theory of knowledge poses some seriously fundamental problems. Liberal use of the word "science" doesn't place one outside of real historical social relations and ideology.
    3.It seems to me that you're positing a metaphysical understanding of the world. Metaphysics is created by abstracting (by thought alone) from ordinary language to discover "truths" about the world without any evidence. That is an idealist position.
    Uh . . . no? On the contrary, it seems to me that positing an "ordinary language" that is "neutral" (without specific historical and social implications) is precisely metaphysics - and liberal/positivist "common sense" metaphysics at their insidious worst.
    The life we have conferred upon these objects confronts us as something hostile and alien.

    Formerly Virgin Molotov Cocktail (11/10/2004 - 21/08/2013)
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  23. #14
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    "Pour acid into water and not water into acid" is a useful mnemonic, but the very exothermic reactions that take place when water and acid come into contact are the same in both scenarios. What differs is the amount of water between the very exothermic reaction and the experimenter. Pouring a lot of water onto a small amount of acid, very quickly, is also safe, since the extraneous water insulates the experimenter from the reaction. Likewise, pouring a large amount of acid onto a small amount of water is incredibly dangerous since the water will rise on top of the acid, forming a thin, boiling layer of diluted acid.

    So not only are the two situations distinguished by the quantity of the reactants, the difference is one of insulation, not quality.
    Thank you for demonstrating that the rate of an action can also change the quality of the reaction.

    This is simply wrong. There are numerous processes whose temporal boundaries are extremely fuzzy, if that. The duration of the death of an organism, for example, is not something that can easily be established. In most cases, the precise duration of an irreversible change is unimportant; what is important is that such a change has taken place.

    Obviously the nodal point corresponds to the change from plastic behaviour of solid butter to liquid butter, which flows.
    Which means that the dialectical classics, which I am criticizing, are wrong. They assert that nodal points are points of sudden change. Thank you, once again, for proving my point.

    This has to be the most glorious example of lazy, quasi-reductionist thinking I've ever seen. A corpse is also chemically identical to a living person, therefore the two are the same thing, according to our anti-dialecticians. The point is that two objects can be chemically identical while differing in other aspects, and anyone who doubts this ought to take a shower using nothing but ice cubes.
    Don't blame me for this. Blame Hegel. Its his definition not mine. Maybe if you would define quality we could actually discuss if the definition saves the first law.

    Again, this is a very lazy reading. The stipulation about things being composed of two contradictory elements has been pulled, I feel, from someone's colon. The point is that phenomena contain contradictory tendencies, and that change is to be understood as the self-movement of phenomena as a result of changing intensities of the contradictory tendencies.
    Why then do they say that the thing will turn into its opposite? Why then, also, do they make a distinction between a thing and its opposite? I have merely interpreted this as the object and not the object and the contradictory tendencies as being two mutually exclusive things (Lenin's words not mine), where the thing then turns into its opposite (which means that the mutually exclusive tendencies must also turn into their opposites).

    So, for example, any system bound by gravity - a star for example - contains contradictory tendencies corresponding to gravitational attraction and forces that are preventing the collapse of the system into itself (pressure). As the star, for example, evolves, the intensities of the contradictory tendencies - the quantitative measures associated with them - change. Changes in chemical composition lead to a decrease in the pressure preventing collapse, which results in contraction. But contraction increases pressure (that is what is meant by contradictory tendencies "turning into their opposite", just as kinetic energy turns into potential energy or tendencies toward the amelioration of the declining rate of profit contribute to increased workers' militancy etc. etc.) until a new local equilibrium is reached, etc.
    Pressure and gravity are not mutually exclusive. If they were the star would not exist since by definition two mutually exclusive things cannot exist together. Here are two mutually exclusive things: Cat and not-cat. My cat is not both as that is a non-sense.

    The terminology of dialectical materialism is lifted wholesale from Hegel's quite morose logic, but the content is not the same. In materialist terms, as per Lenin, the "negation of the negation" means that features of the previous stages of material development are retained in subsequent stages.
    That's why I responded to Engels and not Hegel. Try again.

    The rest of the post attacks Hegel, an idealist dialectician, and promotes a very boringly milquetoast ordinary language philosophy, and as such is of no use to anyone. Perhaps we ought to discard Marxism as well, since in ordinary speech that analytical philosophers adore, "class" means "income bracket".
    Multiple things wrong with this
    1. I am not an ordinary language philosopher. I am a Wittgensteinian. There is a difference.
    2. An example of Wittgenstein's method, according to Wittgenstein's notes, is the reinterpretation of simultinaty by Einstein, which seems useful to me.
    3. Logic, which I am advocating for here, is the reason we have computuers.
    4. What use has dialectical materialism ever been?
    5. Analytic philosophers most often do not support ordinary language. I do, but seriously, do you know anything about the philosophical tendencies you are criticizing? At least I've read Engels and Lenin on the issue (and used to agree with them).
    6. Marxism is a scientific theory, not a philosophical one. As such, Marxisms definition of class is excellent and useful.
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  25. #15
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    Yo, you are thinking in combinations (order does not matter), but you should be thinking in permutations (order does matter).

    I mean, I think you (along with every anti-dialectician and most dialecticians) are framing this wrong.

    See, dialecticians (and philosophers in general (though not all)) have liked to use fancy words that conceal the real meaning of what they are saying.

    When they say opposing or opposite forces, what they mean is forces that collide or affect one another.
    If that were the case they wouldn't call them mutually exclusive.
    Free Rosa

    The emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself- Karl Marx

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    The RedStar2000 Papers
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    Today on RevLeft: The subject whose language is ahistorical, and whose words are a closed system (à la math).
    Funny how fast you turn to ridicule. Too hard to actually try to understand huh? And no, language is not ahistorical. Words are not a closed system. Abstracting words to glean universal truths is non-sense and ahistorical.

    Alright, fine, how do "individuals" (excuse me while I puke in my mouth a bit) relate to history? How do "individuals" glean "knowledge" of the material world? Is it a question of "pure" factuality?
    And further, what do you mean by physics? A (limited) body of knowledge, to which subjects absolutely do relate? Or are you using physics, here, as a stand in for "material reality"? Certainly subjects relate to (shape and are shaped by!) material reality, and at the fundamental level of the body, no less! In either case, the suggestion that there is not a subjective relation to physics is clearly a muddleheaded knee-jerk reaction rooted in the philosophy you claim to lack.
    Question. Why do you insist on making this a debate about subjects and objects? Why not discuss the question more scientifically? Instead of treating history as an object to be "related to" you ought to be treating history as a social science of understanding humans through time. In which case we use the paradigm of historical materialism to understand that human progress has been the result of class struggle since the dawn of class society.

    Once again, I have not theory of knowledge.

    For someone who is explicitly against playing word games, you seem awfully fond of them.
    Never said that. I said that I'm against abstracting words from their social context. I myself enjoy a good game of Scrabble.

    For starters, you seem to have a very tenuous grasp of "theory", in conceptual terms. That one can simultaneously posit a "scientific theory" while denying having a theory of knowledge poses some seriously fundamental problems. Liberal use of the word "science" doesn't place one outside of real historical social relations and ideology.
    What fundamental problems are these? Nor am I placing science outside of historical social relations. In fact, I am explicitly placing science within historical social relations.

    Uh . . . no? On the contrary, it seems to me that positing an "ordinary language" that is "neutral" (without specific historical and social implications) is precisely metaphysics - and liberal/positivist "common sense" metaphysics at their insidious worst.
    Ordinary language is not neutral. Why would you assume that I am positing that? You seem to have a very tenuous grasp on what I am saying or that there is a very obvious distinction between ordinary language (language as spoken by people in everyday speech) and common sense (something that is undefinable).
    Free Rosa

    The emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself- Karl Marx

    Socialist Worker
    Anti-Dialectics
    The Dialectical Dialogues
    The RedStar2000 Papers
    BiteMarx
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  28. #17
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    Funny how fast you turn to ridicule. Too hard to actually try to understand huh? And no, language is not ahistorical. Words are not a closed system. Abstracting words to glean universal truths is non-sense and ahistorical.
    OK, but let's look at what's practically going on here, and who is really playing a game of universal truths. I haven't posited any except insofar as attempting to problemetize universal truths might in some sense constitute a contingent truth of its own. You, on the other hand, seem perfectly comfortable making some claims of Hegelian grandiosity, as here:

    Question. Why do you insist on making this a debate about subjects and objects? Why not discuss the question more scientifically? Instead of treating history as an object to be "related to" you ought to be treating history as a social science of understanding humans through time. In which case we use the paradigm of historical materialism to understand that human progress has been the result of class struggle since the dawn of class society.

    Once again, I have not theory of knowledge.
    One might be forced to ask, again, how one has "scientific" knowledge without a theory of knowledge. Is something "scientific" simply on the basis of being called such? How do we differentiate between phrenology and kinesiology? Certainly, there must be a theoretical basis on which one constitutes authentic knowledge, and the other not. And further, insofar as this knowledge is produced by historical subjects, it follows that (to stroke your science fetish) to ignore the relation of subjects to knowledge is to ignore a crucial variable.

    Never said that. I said that I'm against abstracting words from their social context. I myself enjoy a good game of Scrabble.
    Except, of course, words which describe scientific "fact"?

    What fundamental problems are these? Nor am I placing science outside of historical social relations. In fact, I am explicitly placing science within historical social relations.
    On the contrary, you're doing quite the opposite - placing historical social relations within science. Of course, neither one nor the other will do, since their relationship is . . . well, since I already dropped "neither/nor", I'll let you figure it out. Come on, indulge me for a moment, and see if you can guess the magic word.

    Ordinary language is not neutral. Why would you assume that I am positing that? You seem to have a very tenuous grasp on what I am saying or that there is a very obvious distinction between ordinary language (language as spoken by people in everyday speech) and common sense (something that is undefinable).
    Well, you've insisted that there is a distinction between philosophy and science in that the former "abstracts" language, implying that the latter finds authentic expression within it. This is, of course, the common sense to which I am referring - that there is a unity of what is meant, what is said, and what is understood that is "ordinary" and only disrupted in certain contexts. In other words, for a supposed Marxist, you're doing a terrible job of grappling with ideology.
    The life we have conferred upon these objects confronts us as something hostile and alien.

    Formerly Virgin Molotov Cocktail (11/10/2004 - 21/08/2013)
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  30. #18
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    OK, but let's look at what's practically going on here, and who is really playing a game of universal truths. I haven't posited any except insofar as attempting to problemetize universal truths might in some sense constitute a contingent truth of its own. You, on the other hand, seem perfectly comfortable making some claims of Hegelian grandiosity, as here:
    As I haven't advanced universal truths. Point to a universal truth I have advanced.

    One might be forced to ask, again, how one has "scientific" knowledge without a theory of knowledge. Is something "scientific" simply on the basis of being called such? How do we differentiate between phrenology and kinesiology? Certainly, there must be a theoretical basis on which one constitutes authentic knowledge, and the other not. And further, insofar as this knowledge is produced by historical subjects, it follows that (to stroke your science fetish) to ignore the relation of subjects to knowledge is to ignore a crucial variable.
    A theory of knowledge is created by abstracting the verb "to know" from its social context and theorizing about it. I do not do so, nor does science need to in order to function. What counts as scientific is determined socially and through the advancements of new paradigms.

    I would recommend that you read these two books for further elaboration as to how science works:
    • The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn
    • A People's History of Science by Clifford Conner


    Except, of course, words which describe scientific "fact"?
    Words that serve a scientific function that describe a situation. These are not abstracted from ordinary language.

    On the contrary, you're doing quite the opposite - placing historical social relations within science. Of course, neither one nor the other will do, since their relationship is . . . well, since I already dropped "neither/nor", I'll let you figure it out. Come on, indulge me for a moment, and see if you can guess the magic word.
    Actually, placing science within historical social relations is quite sufficient. Scientific paradigms are created within a social context and reflect that context. Historical materialism is a paradigm that was created in the context of class struggle as a working class paradigm.

    Well, you've insisted that there is a distinction between philosophy and science in that the former "abstracts" language, implying that the latter finds authentic expression within it. This is, of course, the common sense to which I am referring - that there is a unity of what is meant, what is said, and what is understood that is "ordinary" and only disrupted in certain contexts. In other words, for a supposed Marxist, you're doing a terrible job of grappling with ideology.
    More problems
    1. Science does express since it derives rules for understanding the material world. These rules can be either "sucessful" or "unsucessful".
    2. That is not common sense. That is language.
    3. Do you understand the words on the screen? If you do we share an understanding of meaning. This is because linguistic meaning is public. If it were not we would not understand one another.
    4. Says the person advancing ruling class thought.
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    I have thought of dialectical materialism as the laws governing the process of change in all things, while historical materialism is the study of the process of change in society, but the laws governing these processes are the same. So I have a few questions to open the discussion. are there laws governing social change and are these laws the same as in DM. If they are different, what do you think they are. Also many of my views are dialectics have been influenced by the writings of David Bohm. Gar Allen and Ira Gollobin
    Sorry, I missed this post earlier.

    It is that thinking of dialectical materialism as the laws that govern the process of change in all things that is the problem. If Marxists are to consider themselves to be engaged in scientific socialism such idealist metaphysical claims must be rejected.

    Also, I don't think that it is correct to view historical materialism as asserting laws of social change. Historical materialism is a scientific paradigm, which means that historical materialism asserts rules for understanding social change. As such, it would be incorrect to call these rules true or false, but rather ask if they are good or bad. I think that they are good rules (else wise I would not be here).

    Finally, Marx actually did tell us what his method was, and it did not contain dialectical materialism. It did, however, express historical materialism. This would indicate that even if dialectical materialism made sense and asserted rules, these rules would not be the same as those posited by historical materialism.
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    The emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself- Karl Marx

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    While I appreciate any knocking down of dialectical materialism, everyone should know that this was a thing under the second international and not something that Marx came up with. It's also pretty much a straw man argument for this reasoning and especially when you are applying it to actual matter or calling it a science in the modern sense of the word science, even if this is via Engels replacing spirit with matter.
    “All that a well-organized secret society can do is, first, to assist in the birth of the revolution by spreading among the masses ideas corresponding to their instincts, and to organize, not the army of the revolution—the army must always be the people [—] but a revolutionary General Staff composed of devoted, energetic, intelligent and above all sincere friends of the people, who are not ambitious or vain, and who are capable of serving as intermediaries between the revolutionary idea and the popular instincts.” - Bakunin the Leninist

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