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    Here is just one section of Essay Eight Part Two that deals with the alleged 'contradictions' in Das Kapital (even though we know that Marx was merely 'coquetting' with this word) -- I have added several links that explain technical terms, but cannot add them all -- they can be found in the orignal Essay; use the 'Quick Links' to go to section '(9) Contradictions In Das Kapital?':

    However, Scott Meikle argues that there is indeed some sort of sense to be made of this. Meikle's case revolves around a short and relatively clear account of the alleged 'contradiction' between use-value and exchange-value, or more pointedly, between the "relative form" and the "equivalent form" of value, which Marx discusses in Chapter One, Volume One, of Das Kapital.

    Now I do not want to enter into whether or not Meikle's interpretation of Marx is accurate; my concern is merely to see if his analysis can show us how and why these are indeed good examples of "dialectical contradictions". Here is what he says:

    "All the contradictions of capitalist commodity-production have at their heart the contradiction between use-value and exchange-value. Marx reveals this contradiction to lie at the heart of the commodity-form as such, even in its simplest and most primitive form....

    "The simple form of value itself contains the polar opposition between, and the union of, use-value and exchange-value.... [Marx writes that] 'the relative form of value and the equivalent form are two inseparable moments, which belong to and mutually condition each other...but at the same time they are mutually exclusive and opposed extremes.' Concerning the first he observes that the value of linen cannot be expressed in linen; 20 yards of linen = 20 yards of linen is not an expression of value. 'The value of linen can therefore only be expressed relatively, that is in another commodity. The relative form of the value of the linen therefore presupposes that some other commodity confronts it in the equivalent form.' Concerning the second: 'on the other hand, this other commodity which figures as the equivalent, cannot simultaneously be in the relative form of value... The same commodity cannot, therefore, simultaneously appear in both forms in the same expression of value. These forms rather exclude each other as polar opposites.'

    "This polar opposition within the simple form is an 'internal opposition' which as yet remains hidden within the individual commodity in its simple form: 'The internal opposition between use-value and exchange-value, hidden within the commodity, is therefore represented on the surface by an external opposition,' that is the relation between two commodities such that one (the equivalent form) counts only as a use-value, while the other (the relative form) counts only as an exchange-value. 'Hence, the simple form of value of the commodity is the simple form of the opposition between use-value and value which is contained in the commodity.'" [Meikle (1979), pp.16-17.]
    [LOI = Law Of Identity.]

    But, what evidence and/or argument is there to show that that these are indeed "polar opposites", let alone 'dialectically-united' opposites? And why call this a "contradiction"? We have already seen that this way of talking is based solely on Hegel's own egregious misconstrual of the LOI. So, what has Meikle to offer that stands some chance of repairing this tattered 'theory'?

    Apparently, only this:

    "Marx's absolutely fundamental (Hegelian) idea [is] that the two poles united in an opposition necessitate one another ('belong to and mutually condition each other').... [Ibid., p.19.]
    But, what precisely is the source of this necessitation? Well, after a brief discussion of Quine's ill-considered views on logical 'necessity' (which analysis confuses the latter notion with extremely well-confirmed empirical truths), Meikle rejects the idea that the source of this 'necessity' can be found in logic.

    "So, 'logical necessity' does not promise to account for the necessity that unites opposites within a contradiction. The unity of use-value and exchange-value within the commodity is certainly not something which, despite all necessitation between the two poles, may be abrogated (on Quine's conventionalist account). Not, that is, without 'abrogating' the commodity itself; for the commodity is precisely the unity of use-value and exchange-value. Use-value can exist alone. But exchange-value cannot; it presupposes use-value because only what has use-value can have exchange-value. What has exchange-value, a commodity, is, thus, necessarily use-value and exchange-value brought into a unity. The commodity-form of the product of labour has as its essence the unity of the two. That is what it is. Their conjunction or unity constitutes its essence." [Ibid., p.22.]
    But, why is this not just a de dicto (i.e., a merely verbal) necessity?

    Fortunately, Meikle has that particular base covered:

    "Use-value and exchange-value are, therefore, not 'merely' abstractions arrived at in thought about reality; they are constituents of reality in partaking in the essence of the commodity. And the opposition or contradiction between the two poles is a constituent of reality also, (although in the simple commodity or value-form it appears only primitively in the fact that the same commodity cannot act simultaneously as relative and as equivalent form of value)." [Ibid., p.22.]
    And yet, whatever else is true of these value-forms, how can they 'contradict' one another if one of them cannot exist at the same time as the other? If these items "mutually exclude" one another, how can they both exist at the same time? On the other hand, if they both exist at the same time, so that they can indeed 'contradict' one another, how can one possibly "mutually exclude" the other?

    [We have already seen that it is this insurmountable barrier that stymies earlier attempts to make this sort of depiction of 'dialectical contradictions' work.]

    Putting this serious problem to one side, why is 'necessity' not merely a spin-off of a determination to use a few words in a certain way? Why is this not just a de dicto necessity?

    [Indeed, it is rather cheeky of Meikle to use Quine to criticise logical necessity, when Quine himself would have taken an even dimmer view of such de re (real world) necessities. (On Quine's ideas, see the references listed at the end of this Note).]

    Of course, this has become a hot topic ever since Saul Kripke upset the de dicto apple cart a generation or so ago. [Kripke (1977, 1980).] And it is thus no surprise to see Meikle appeal to Kripke's work to argue that these are not merely de dicto, but are in fact de re necessities.

    Unfortunately, however, Kripke's arguments are not quite as sound as Meikle appears to believe. [On this see, Ebersole (1982) and (Hallett (1991), Hanna and Harrison (2004), pp.278-88. More on this in a later Essay.]

    [Added: a de dicto necessity is one that arises solely in language. It is often contrasted with a de re necessity, that is one which supposedly exists in reality and not just in language.]

    Nevertheless, in support, Meikle quotes a (by now) hackneyed series of examples:

    "The commodity is the unity of use-value and exchange-value, in precisely the same way that water is H2O, that light is a stream of photons, and that Gold is the element with atomic number 79. All these statements are necessarily true. They state truths that are true of necessity, not in virtue of any logical or 'conceptual' connexions, but in virtue of the essences or real natures of the entities in question. Water is necessarily H2O. Anything that is not H2O cannot be water..., and the 'cannot' is ontological not epistemic.... We did not always know this, of course; it was a discovery people made about the essence of water (and one which may need to be recast if future theoretical development requires it)." [Ibid., pp.22-23.]
    The Gold example is not too clever, since its atomic number depends on our counting system, and neither is the light example all that convincing (since there are scientists who question the existence of photons). The water example is no less fraught, since water is not even contingently H2O; hydrogen bonding means its structure is far more complex. [On this and other examples, see VandeWall (2006). See also Hacker (2007), pp.29-56.]

    It could be argued that Meikle had this base covered too, for he added:

    "[I]t was a discovery people made about the essence of water (and one which may need to be recast if future theoretical development requires it)." [Ibid.]
    But, that just makes this an epistemic truth, and not the least bit "essential", or "ontological".

    However, we will for the moment assume that these 'difficulties' can in some way be neutralised (although, in an Essay on the nature of science, to be published at this site in 2008, we will see that this is not the case; there it will be shown that modern-day Essentialism is a fundamentally flawed 'research' dead end).

    Naturally, this view also faces the serious objections I have raised against this way of seeing the world, explored at length in Essay Twelve Part One.

    Meikle also ignores the fact that the sort of essentialism he lionises depends on Possible World Semantics [PWS] in order to work. Sure he tries to damp this down somewhat (on pp.23-25), but all he succeeds in doing is undermining the case he has built-up for accepting his brand of essentialism in the first place -- for PWS merely turns de re necessities into super-duper empirical extensional truths, and de re simply de sappears.

    This 'difficulty' will also be put to one side for the present.

    [However, readers should also consult this paper, which outlines several serious objections to modern-day essentialism, but with a warning that the author then proceeds to defend an Aristotelian version of the same theory. These issues will also be tackled later.]

    In addition, I will not be asking (here) other awkward questions about the precise origin of these allegedly natural necessities, and how they can possibly cause change, but the following passage (taken from Part One of this Essay) will give the reader some idea of how I will be tackling that topic at a later stage:

    A quotation from Baker and Hacker (1988) underlines the futility of this "aristocratic" approach to knowledge (although they do not use that particular word, and are not making this particular political point) -- which, incidentally, also reveals why dialecticians (like Rees, and the others quoted here) have become fixated on a search for a metaphysical (and ultimate/rational) "why" of things:

    "Empirical, contingent truths have always struck philosophers as being, in some sense, ultimately unintelligible. It is not that none can be known with certainty…; nor is it that some cannot be explained…. Rather is it that all explanation of empirical truths rests ultimately on brute contingency -- that is how the world is! Where science comes to rest in explaining empirical facts varies from epoch to epoch, but it is in the nature of empirical explanation that it will hit the bedrock of contingency somewhere, e.g., in atomic theory in the nineteenth century or in quantum mechanics today. One feature that explains philosophers' fascination with truths of Reason is that they seem, in a deep sense, to be fully intelligible. To understand a necessary proposition is to see why things must be so, it is to gain an insight into the nature of things and to apprehend not only how things are, but also why they cannot be otherwise. It is striking how pervasive visual metaphors are in philosophical discussions of these issues. We see the universal in the particular (by Aristotelian intuitive induction); by the Light of Reason we see the essential relations of Simple Natures; mathematical truths are apprehended by Intellectual Intuition, or by a priori insight. Yet instead of examining the use of these arresting pictures or metaphors to determine their aptness as pictures, we build upon them mythological structures.

    "We think of necessary propositions as being true or false, as objective and independent of our minds or will. We conceive of them as being about various entities, about numbers even about extraordinary numbers that the mind seems barely able to grasp…, or about universals, such as colours, shapes, tones; or about logical entities, such as the truth-functions or (in Frege's case) the truth-values. We naturally think of necessary propositions as describing the features of these entities, their essential characteristics. So we take mathematical propositions to describe mathematical objects…. Hence investigation into the domain of necessary propositions is conceived as a process of discovery. Empirical scientists make discoveries about the empirical domain, uncovering contingent truths; metaphysicians, logicians and mathematicians appear to make discoveries of necessary truths about a supra-empirical domain (a 'third realm'). Mathematics seems to be the 'natural history of mathematical objects' [Wittgenstein (1978), p.137], 'the physics of numbers' [Wittgenstein (1976), p.138; however these authors have recorded this erroneously as p.139, RL] or the 'mineralogy of numbers' [Wittgenstein (1978), p.229]. The mathematician, e.g., Pascal, admires the beauty of a theorem as though it were a kind of crystal. Numbers seem to him to have wonderful properties; it is as if he were confronting a beautiful natural phenomenon [Wittgenstein (1998), p.47; again, these authors have recorded this erroneously as p.41, RL]. Logic seems to investigate the laws governing logical objects…. Metaphysics looks as if it is a description of the essential structure of the world. Hence we think that a reality corresponds to our (true) necessary propositions. Our logic is correct because it corresponds to the laws of logic….

    "In our eagerness to ensure the objectivity of truths of reason, their sempiternality and mind-independence, we slowly but surely transform them into truths that are no less 'brutish' than empirical, contingent truths. Why must red exclude being green? To be told that this is the essential nature of red and green merely reiterates the brutish necessity. A proof in arithmetic or geometry seems to provide an explanation, but ultimately the structure of proofs rests on axioms. Their truth is held to be self-evident, something we apprehend by means of our faculty of intuition; we must simply see that they are necessarily true…. We may analyse such ultimate truths into their constituent 'indefinables'. Yet if 'the discussion of indefinables…is the endeavour to see clearly, and to make others see clearly, the entities concerned, in order that the mind may have that kind of acquaintance with them which it has with redness or the taste of a pineapple' [Russell (1937), p.xv; again these authors have recorded this erroneously as p.v, RL], then the mere intellectual vision does not penetrate the logical or metaphysical that to the why or wherefore…. For if we construe necessary propositions as truths about logical, mathematical or metaphysical entities which describe their essential properties, then, of course, the final products of our analyses will be as impenetrable to reason as the final products of physical theorising, such as Planck's constant." [Baker and Hacker (1988), pp.273-75. Referencing conventions in the original have been altered to conform to those adopted here.]
    As should now be clear from all that has gone before, DM-theorists have bought into this view of 'necessary truths' (even if few of them use that particular phrase, although Lenin and Dietzgen seem to have been rather fond of it).

    For example, dialecticians in general regard change as the result of the relation between internally-linked opposite (logical?) properties of objects and processes. But, why this should cause change is simply left entirely unexamined (indeed, it is left as a brute fact, as the above passage suggests it must); in reality this account of change is a consequence merely of a certain way of describing things (and a fetishised way, at that), as we will see.

    Nevertheless, as we have already seen, there is no reason why contradictory states of affairs should cause change any more than there is a reason to suppose that non-contradictory states should. Both of these options rely on descriptions of the alleged relations between objects and processes (not on evidence since (as we saw earlier) it is not possible materially to verify their existence); they supposedly capture or picture processes in nature that are held to make other objects or processes alter/'develop'....

    Moreover, the infinite regress (or "bad infinity") dialecticians hoped to avoid by appealing to 'internal contradictions' now simply reappears elsewhere in their theory. When it is fleshed-out, this theory just relates objects and processes to yet more objects and processes, as well as to 'negations', 'opposites', and 'interpenetrations', and the like (i.e., just more "brute facts").
    But, despite this, how does Meikle tackle the problem of change?

    "The poles of an opposition are not just united. They also repel one another. They are brought together in a unity, but within that unity they are in tension. The real historical existence of the product of labour in the commodity-form provides an analogue of the centripetal force that contains the centrifugal forces of the mutual repulsion of use-value and exchange-value within it." [Ibid., p.26.]
    There are so many metaphors in this passage, it is not easy to make sense of it. Nevertheless, it is reasonably clear that Meikle has reified the products of social relations (use- and exchange-values, etc.), and in this reified state they become the actual agents, with human beings (or, perhaps, commodities themselves) the patients. How else are we to understand the word "repel" here? Do they actually repel each other (like magnets, or electrical charges), or do we do this?

    And do these "opposites" show any sign of turning into one another, as the DM-worthies assured us they must?

    Furthermore, how can the forms that underpin use- and exchange-value (i.e., equivalent and relative form) provide an analogue of the forces Meikle mentions? If forces are to act on other forces, or other bodies, they need to fulfil a handful of crucial conditions first, the most important of which is to have the decency to exist. But, we were told these two forms can't co-exist. How then can they repel (or provide the wherewithal for other objects and processes to repel) anything?

    This, of course, is the unforgiving rock upon which we have seen all such idealist speculations founder.

    It could be argued that these 'repulsions' occur in our thought about the simple commodity form. But even there, they cannot exist together, for if they could, they would not 'mutually exclude' one another!

    Or, are we to imagine there is a tussle taking place in our heads, such that, when we think of the one, it elbows out of the way (out of existence?) the other? Perhaps then, depending on circumstances, equivalent form can be declared the winner over relative form by two falls to a submission (UK rules)?



    Figure Two: Equivalent Form Slam Dunks Relative Form In A Skull Near You

    Furthermore, even if they could exist together in thought, this will not help, since it would make a mess of Meikle's appeal to de re necessities. This retreat into the ideal would leave him with a few seriously undernourished de dicto 'skeletons' to bounce around inside his head.

    But, perhaps there is a way out of this bottomless pit of meticulously-constructed confusion? Meikle continues:

    "But in its simple form, the commodity is an unstable equilibrium. It is pregnant with possibilities, which history may present either with the conditions for the realisation of these possibilities, or with the indefinite variety of conditions that will frustrate their realisation. Given the right conditions, the embryo will develop its potentiality; and the simple form of value will undergo the metamorphoses that will take the commodity from its embryo through infancy to early adolescence with the attainment of the universal form of value, money." [Ibid., p.26.]
    It now seems that metaphor is all Meikle has to hand in his bid to make this mystical process the least bit comprehensible. And it is quite clear where all this reification has led him: the commodity itself invented money, not human beings!

    Or, perhaps, the commodity mesmerised human beings into inventing money.

    Once more, on this view, we are the patients, while these metaphorical beings are the real agents of social change!

    [Independently of this, we have already seen that this view of change cannot work. On that see, Essay Seven Part One.]

    Is there then any way of re-configuring this overall theory of change that is capable of extracting it from the materialist shredder before the switch is thrown? Well, Meikle turns to Aristotle for assistance, but before he does that completely, he in effect concedes the truth of the above observation, for it seems that these value forms do indeed force humans to do their bidding:

    "This line of development is not accidental or fortuitous; it is not a process of aggregating contingent and extraneous additions. It is, rather, process of development of the potentialities within, and the increasing differentiation of, an original whole. If history does not block the growth of exchange activity, then that growth will find out the inadequacy of the simple form of value. Then, looked at from the point of view of efficient causation, those engaged in that activity, being rational and inventive in the face of the problems thrown up by their developing class interests, will act so as to solve their practical difficulties by measures that overcome that insufficiency to the requirements of their developing commerce. The solution to their practical problems is the money-form." [Ibid., pp.26-27.]
    Now, this either means that those involved in the invention of money were the sad puppets of those ('selfish'?) value forms, or they had a clear understanding of the nature of use- and exchange-value, and equal to that of Marx (but two and a half thousand years earlier), so that they could make the correct/rational choices.

    Otherwise, how could those value forms exercise any sort of causal input here?

    But, doesn't this make dangerous concessions to teleology, to final causation? No problem; Meikle tackles this unexpected difficulty head-on:

    "Looked at from the point of view of final causation, money is the final cause of this phase of social development. This is not to say that final causation is a form of efficient causation in which the future acts on the past, such that the developed form beckons from the future to the past less developed form; rather, the embryonic entity has a structure that develops, if it develops, along a certain line. Thus, final causation and efficient causation, here, are not mutually exclusive but mutually supportive: the one explaining the emergence of the other, and the other the success and development of the one. What we have here is a development that, barring accidents, will take its course -- an evolution that is necessary; its final form immanent as a potentiality within its original one." [Ibid., p.27.]
    But, this solves nothing, for it seems to mean that some sort of plan or program must have been written into these value forms that determines how they should develop, rather like a fertilised egg or seed has a genetic code that we are told does likewise -- which suspicion is amply confirmed by Meikle's frequent use of embryonic language.

    [That, of course, implicates this view of things with a clutch of ancient mystical ideas connected with belief in the Cosmic or Orphic Egg (a topic briefly mentioned in Part One of this Essay, and again in Essay Eleven Parts One and Two, but more fully in Essay Fourteen Part One.]

    But, perhaps this is once again too quick, for Meikle now introduces the aforementioned Aristotelian ideas in order to neutralise this problem:

    "The necessity that Marx sees in the line of development of the value-form is that which Aristotle contrasts with events that are 'accidental' and it is bound up with organic systems and Aristotle's conception of ousia. Where there is constant reproduction there is a whole system, an ousia." [Ibid., p.27]
    Meikle then quotes Stephen Clark:

    "[E]verything that happens phusei, 'by nature', happens always or for the most part, but nothing that happens apo tuches, by 'chance', or apo tautomatou, 'just of itself', happens thus frequently. Therefore, no natural events are thus purely accidental, and therefore all natural events are non-accidental. But all non-accidental events are heneka tou, 'serve some purpose', are given sense by their ends.... The fact that rain is always being produced makes it impossible to doubt that there is an organic system here, and such systems are 'finalistically' identified. To answer the question 'what is it?' we must reply in terms of its natural line of development...genesis, the process of coming-to-be-, is what it is because ousia is what it is, and not vice versa." [Clark (1975), pp.60-61, quoted in Meikle (1979), pp.27-28.]
    Once more, this fails to solve the problem, for the necessities pictured here work only if one is prepared to anthropomorphise nature. This is because, as soon as it is asked why events cannot do otherwise (than they in fact do), it becomes obvious that certain events must exercise some sort of control over others, directing then along the right "line" (which is why Meikle found he had to use that phrase). This is quite clearly the point too of all that talk about "ends" and "purposes" in Aristotle -- which were part of an openly religious doctrine that Meikle just ignores, and which only works if nature is controlled by some 'Mind' or other.

    Hence, it is worth noting that dialecticians can only make their 'theory' seem to work if they adopt and/or copy the a priori thought-forms of ruling-class thinkers (Aristotle (alongside Plato) is in fact one of the two most important figures, here). Meikle firmly nails his colours to this particular mystical mast; for Aristotle, if nature has a purpose, then the status quo must be in harmony with it, and thus cannot legitimately be challenged. In that case, the rule of the elite is not 'accidental', but serves some 'end'. [The reader will no doubt now appreciate more fully why I asserted this back in Essay Two.]

    [This topic was discussed at length in Essay Three Part Two, and the reader is referred there for more details. It will also be covered in Essay Three Part Five, as well as in an Additional Essay on 'mind and cognition', to be published in 2008. The theoretical background to all this will be outlined in Essay Twelve Parts Two and Three (summary here).]

    Of course, Meikle would have done well to have noted that Marx warned his readers not to take this use of Hegelian jargon seriously:

    "...[A]nd even, here and there in the chapter on the theory of value, coquetted with the mode of expression peculiar to him." [Marx (1976), p.103. Bold emphasis added.]
    More on that here.

    Now, there are far better ways of making Das Kapital comprehensible; we do not need to appeal to mystical Hegelian and/or Aristotelian concepts to make it work. [I will, however, leave that task to another time.]

    In which case, it is still far from clear what Meikle thinks these "dialectical contradictions" are, or how they can make anything change --, unless, that is, we are prepared to anthropomorphise nature and society, and read human traits into inanimate objects and processes.

    [On Quine, see Arrington and Glock (1996), Glock (2003), Hacker (1996), pp.189-227. See also this PDF (which is an essay on Quine, by Hacker).]
    References will be listed in my next post.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 2nd August 2008 at 14:49.
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    Arrington, R., and Glock, H-J. (1996) (eds.), Wittgenstein And Quine (Routledge).

    Baker, G., and Hacker, P. (1988), Wittgenstein. Rules, Grammar And Necessity Volume Two (Blackwell, 2nd ed.).

    Bicchieri, C., and Alexander, J. (2006), (eds.), PSA 06 (University of Chicago Press).

    [PSA 06 is the Philosophy of Science Supplement for 2006.]

    Clark, S. (1975), Aristotle's Man: Speculations Upon Aristotelian Anthropology (Oxford University Press).

    Ebersole, F. (1982), 'Stalking The Rigid Designator', Philosophical Investigations 5, pp.247-66; reprinted in Ebersole (2002), pp.301-23, as 'Proper Names And Other Names'.

    --------, (2002), Meaning And Saying (Xlibris Corporation, 2nd ed.).

    Glock, H-J. (2003), Quine And Davidson On Language, Thought And Reality (Cambridge University Press).

    Hallett, G. (1991), Essentialism: A Wittgensteinian Critique (State University of New York Press).

    Hanna, P., and Harrison, B. (2004), Word And World. Practice And The Foundations Of Language (Cambridge University Press).

    Hacker, P. (1996), Wittgenstein's Place In Twentieth Century Analytic Philosophy (Blackwell).

    -------- (2007), Human Nature, The Categorial Framework (Blackwell).

    Kripke, S. (1977), 'Identity And Necessity', in Schwartz (1977), pp.66-101.

    --------, (1980), Naming And Necessity (Blackwell).

    Marx, K. (1976), Capital, Volume One (Penguin Books).

    Meikle, S. (1979), 'Dialectical Contradiction And Necessity', in Mepham and Ruben (1979), pp.5-33.

    Mepham, J., and Ruben, D-H. (1979), (eds.), Issues In Marxist Philosophy, Volume One: Dialectics And Method (Harvester Press).

    Russell, B. (1937), The Principles Of Mathematics (George Allen & Unwin, 2nd ed.).

    Schwartz, P. (1977) (ed.), Naming Necessity And Natural Kinds (Cornell University Press).

    VandeWall, H. (2006), 'Why Water Is Not H2O, And Other Critiques Of Essentialist Ontology From The Philosophy Of Chemistry', in Bicchieri and Alexander (2006), pp.906-19.

    Wittgenstein, L. (1976), Wittgenstein's Lectures On The Foundation Of Mathematics: Cambridge 1939, edited by Cora Diamond (Harvester Press).

    --------, (1978), Remarks On The Foundations Of Mathematics, edited by Elizabeth Anscombe (Blackwell, 3rd ed.).

    --------, (1998), Culture And Value, edited by G. H. von Wright (Blackwell, 2nd ed.).
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 1st August 2008 at 14:06.
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    Other alleged examples of 'dialectical contradictions' are dealt with in Essay Eight Part Two -- these two sections:

    (5) Real Material Contradictions -- Or Are They?

    (7) True Contradictions?

    I'd post direct links to these sections, but the anonymiser that our software uses ignores them!

    Finally, the derivation of 'dialectical contradictions' in Hegel's 'Logic' is demolished in Essay Eight Part Three:

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%2008_03.htm

    This means that the original rationale (if it can be dignified in such terms!) for believing that there are indeed these mystical beings, is non-existent.

    No wonder Marx ended up merely 'coquetting' with the entire idea!
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    However, a conflict between forces cannot be called a 'contradiction'.
    Of course conflicting forces may be called contradictory. This is simple use of language any Wittgensteinian would appreciate. To say otherwise is plain stupidity.
    Last edited by trivas7; 1st August 2008 at 15:05.
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    Trivas:

    Of course conflicting forces may be called contradictory. This is simple use of language any Wittgensteinian would appreciate. To say otherwise is plain stupidity
    Unfortunatley for you, this would imply that any use of language, even racist and fascist, was OK.

    Of course, and anyway, Wittgenestein did not argue along the lines you suggest (as I have pointed out to Gilhyle, too) -- and I'd like to see you prove otherwise from his work.

    Finally, you will need to respond to the arguments I have posted here, and to the even more complex ones at my site, if your opinion in this matter is to merit anything other than derision.
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    Unfortunatley for you, this would imply that any use of language, even racist and fascist, was OK.
    What this has to do with the meaning of 'dialectical contradiction' is beyond me.
    Of course, and anyway, Wittgenestein did not argue along the lines you suggest (as I have pointed out to Gilhyle, too) -- and I'd like to see you prove otherwise from his work.
    I don't know if you're agreeing with me here or saying that 'dialectical contradiction' isn't plain language.
    Finally, you will need to respond to the arguments I have posted here, and to the even more complex ones at my site, if your opinion in this matter is to merit anything other than derision.
    I can only assume that this means that you post here merely to troll in order to direct traffic to your sites. I haven't seen any arguments on this forum. What is it exactly you are arguing? What you have is a self-acknowledged misunderstanding re dialectics.
    Last edited by trivas7; 1st August 2008 at 16:35.
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    Trivas:

    What this has to do with the meaning of 'dialectical contradiction' is beyond me.
    So, that's another item to add to the ever-expanding list of things that are 'beyond you'.

    I see you are going for the RevLeft record.

    I don't know if you're agreeing with me here or saying that 'dialectical contradiction' isn't plain language.
    Two items to add to the list in one post! You really are exceeding yourself, aren't you?

    I can only assume that this means that you post here merely to troll in order to direct traffic to your sites. I haven't seen any arguments on this forum. What is it exactly you are arguing? What you have is a self-acknowledged misunderstanding re dialectics.
    As I said -- fit only for derison.
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    As I said -- fit only for derison.
    Yes, you think derision substitutes for argument -- since for you argument settles nothing.
    Eppur si muove -- Galileo Galilei


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    In "Anti-Duhring", Engels shows the regular succession of the main periods in the history of philosophy and came to the conclusion that the spread of materialism into the field of the history of society created the scientific basis for the study of the capitalist mode of production, and thanks to the two great discoveries of Marx—the materialist conception of history and the theory of surplus value—socialism was transformed from a utopia into a science.

    Engels demonstrates that consciousness is the product of the human brain, while man himself is the product of nature and society, and thought is a reflection of experience. The possibilities of knowledge, and the process of cognition itself, are infinite; absolute truth is approached through an infinite series of relative truths. The unity of the world consists in its materiality. The world is infinite in space and time, which are the fundamental forms of existence. The mode of existence of matter is motion. The different forms of motion of matter (mechanical, physical, chemical, biological) make up the subjects of the study of different sciences. Engels specially singles out the sciences which study the laws of human thought—formal logic and dialectics; and he examines the laws of dialectics. He studies different problems and the natural and social sciences from the point of view of dialectics.

    Engels draws on the materialist conception of history to give a survey f the history and theory of scientific socialism, showing that scientific socialism is the theoretical expression of the proletarian movement and that the fundamental contradiction of capitalism is resolved in the proletarian revolution. With the victory of the revolution, anarchy in production is replaced by its planned organization. As a result of the progressive development of productive forces, the old division of labor disappears, and labor, instead of a heavy burden, becomes the first need of life; the oppositions of mental and physical labor, city and country disappear; class differences disappear; and the state dies off. Mankind makes a leap from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom
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    Trivas:

    Yes, you think derision substitutes for argument -- since for you argument settles nothing.
    I have just posted over 10,000 words of argument, probably more in the last few posts than you have in your entire time at RevLeft, and you have the nerve to say I prefer contempt to argument.

    Indeed I have contempt for Olympic Standard twerps like you who cannot defend your beliefs to save your scrawny class-compromised necks.
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    Thankyou for that Velior, but we have already established that this awful book is a complete disaster (at least as far as the first half is concerned).
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    Thankyou for that Velior, but we have already established that this awful book is a complete disaster (at least as far as the first half is concerned).
    OTC, it's a perfectly fine introduction to dialectical materialism.
    Eppur si muove -- Galileo Galilei


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    Trivas:

    it's a perfectly fine introduction to dialectical materialism.
    And the New Testament is an excellent introduction to that other major western form of mysticism, Christianity -- and no less nonsensical for all that.
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    This discussion is moving on a bit fast for me, but if I may, for the record, go back to previous posts, Rosa, you said:

    now back-tracking on what you said earlier
    No I am not. I never suggested that natural languages are not capable of expressing arguments which rely on tracing a relationship of implication in order to be successful. Natural language is quite capable of that...and that is and has been uncontroversial throughout this discussion. If you have understood otherwise you have understood incorrectly.

    Let me give an example of the usage of a logical distinction in the assessment of a natural language usage. You say

    if anyone is to understand and employ a formal system, they have to comprehend the rules, etc. So they are integral to the system
    It is quite legitimate for me to point out that the suggested relationship of implication this passage proposes is not there. A necessary pre-condition of 'A' is not part of 'A' just because it is a pre-condition of 'A'.

    Let me explain: You observe correctly that to employ a formal system you must comprehend the rules. But you then draw a conclusion that the rules are 'integral' to the formal system. Unstated, that is (if I understand previous posts correctly) leading on to the point that the natural language within which those rules are expressed is supposedly 'integral' to the formal system.

    Whether this follows depends on what 'integral' means. Integral could mean 'necessary to' and it could mean 'part of'. If it means the former, the argument holds; if it means the latter the argument fails.

    What we are actually talking about here is your view that
    the (constant) use of a term does not guarantee it means anything
    and your insistence on asking repeatedly of dialectical contradiction (in defiance of Wttgenstein's warnings)

    precisely what is its meaning?
    my comment was that in the way you demand explanations of dialectical contradiction from Marxists, you proceed as if

    language use had to be underpinned with consciously acknowledged logical distinctions...which it doesnt.
    and

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with acknowledging or even using a logical distinction, the only problem is requiring that language usage be underpinned by such distinctions. Logic and linguistic expression are not the same thing.
    You had then argued that logic requires language and I had argued that logic can be expressed in a formal language, but that natural language does much more than that. Thus if 'integral' means only that the formal languages in which logic is expressed can only exist in a world where natural languages already exist then your argument would fail. 'Integral' must mean 'part of' (or something like that) for your argument to work.

    Exactly what you are arguing for is unclear; we should acknowledge that. But if you are trying to say that natural languages can only be used by persons who consciously apprehend rules (in the same way as is the case for formal languages) then that is empirically testable and false. The capacity to use the formal language of logic (or to apprehend its rules is not necessary to effective natural language usage. To bring it back to the particular example: I can be quite capable of using the concept of 'dialectical contradiction' perfectly effectively without being able to give a formal definition of it....and that is true for most natural language terms. All that is necessary is that I and others should tend in aggregate to use the term in a mutually consistent manner which also displays some consistency across time and location. And that is testable only in the sense that we understand each other.....and, yes, that means that terms about religion are adequately used, wrong but effectively used. The distinction is between your argument quoted above which sought to rely on a logical relation of implication (and failed) and the term 'dialectical contradiction' which does not rely in the same way on a logical relation of implication. Thus your argument quoted above is susceptible to logical analysis and the term 'dialectical contradiction', like much of language, is not.

    Going back to the original line of argument in this post, having given that example of the legitimacy of using logical analysis for parsing language usage to find out if it was successful, the key distinction I draw is between acknowledging that the validity of natural language usage SOMETIMES relies on correctly formulating a a deduction which works only if there is a relationship of implication involved and any view that it always involves that.

    Once we recognise the (surely uncontroversial idea) that natural language usage does not ALWAYS involve doing that - unlike a formal language devised for expressing logical relations - then the question arises as to what the rest of language is doing.

    Linguistics answers that in theory ...and does so quite effectively even in capitalist society. Linguistics is a very well developed science in capitalist society, although trapped at the level of morphology in much of its work. What it looses along the way is the ability to say what is a good use of language and what isnt....because the truth is that language usage can be quite adequately described within the science of linguistics without creating a tool for differentiating between propositions we should support and those we should reject. The proper use of natural language allows us to say things which are of uncertain meaning, which are false or which are unjustified by other things we believe or have experienced. That is the open-ended power of natural language, which derives from its total dependence on material and social reality as an open rather than closed system.

    Along side linguistics, various analytical philosophers struggle with a range of alternative models of what language does. These are much more ideological and seek to import logic all over the place into the description of language usage. They do so because they conflate grammar and assent procedures. Because natural languages usage actually occurs in a social context, assent is not a matter of formal procedures but of social relations. Even though their own philosophy of science has ineluctably moved in this direction over decades, they continue to look for the holy grail of formal assent procedures.....'grammars' of language usage which will differentiate between good and bad propositions. This is rationalist ideology of a couple of factions of the dominant class (it is confusing that such rationalist ideals are shared by the ultra right wing free marketers wing of the dominant class and an element of the left social democrats, the kind of people of whom Bertrand Russell, Piero Sraffa and Eugen Duhring would be examples).

    That is why it is almost wrong to say:

    logical distinctions have been built into language, and the way that people reason and talk suggests they are aware of the logical implications of what they say most or some of the time
    It is not quite wrong, because you say 'most or some of the time'.....that is the key point, the point that makes dialectics relevant. Sometimes language usage amounts to a logical argument, often it does not....and it does not when it does not for a couple of reasons: firstly because it is a NATURAL language operating in an environment that involves material rather than logical relations and secondly because most of the social agents who use natural language have a powerful material interest in limiting the success of natural language in successfully expressing logical relations.

    Thus while it is true to say, as you do,

    even you have to be logical from time to time in order to manage your affairs, and indeed to survive
    It is also true to say to survive and prosper human agents must also engage in forms of thinking that do not fall easily into any recognisable logical form. One might devise some complex logical model that would vaguely simulate those forms of language usage or which, one might speculate, isolates and encapsulates a logical argument attaching to those forms of language usage. But this is at best a process of approximation, one which looses much in translation and also one which is not helpful to Marxism, which is focussing not on finding the logical relations, but on finder the material drivers of change and their ideological reflections. Its not that natural language 'contains' logical distinctions. That would be Platonism. Indeed it is Platonism when you say
    logical distinctions have been built into language
    Rather, it is that natural language can sometimes be assessed using logical distinctions. But sometimes not.

    Thus dialectics appears wihin Marxism because its focus is not on explaining the sense in which language usage is always logical, but on focusing in on the drivers of social change. Its not that there may or may not be some logical model that can be imposed on the usage to assess it......there need not be, there may be.....its that this whole rationalist preoccupation with modelling social behaviour as logical is an ideological game trapped within the dominant ideology which Marxism is not part of, but philosophy (even Wittgenstein) is.
    "Dixi et salvavi animam meam" - quoted by Marx
    "Things rarely work out well if one aims at 'moderation'..." - Engels
    "By and by we heare newes of shipwrack in the same place, then we are too blame if we accept it not for a Rock." Sir Philip Sydney
    "The most to be hoped for by groups who claim to belong to the Marxist succession (...) is for them to serve as a hyphen between past and future....nothing can be held sacred – everything is called into question. Only after having been put through such a crucible could socialism conceivably re-emerge as a viable doctrine and plan of action." - Van Heijenoort
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    On the whole Scott Meikle thing above, just a question: if I understand you correctly you are suggesting that the relationship involved is just verbal ('de dicta'), does that mean you would disagree with the following statement by Marx about those mutually exclusive features:

    "Money necessarily crystallises out of the process of exchange, in which different products of labour are in fact equated with eac other, and thus converted ito commodities. The historical broadening and deepening of the phenomenon of exchang devlops the opposition between use-value and value which is latent in the nature of the commodity. The need to give an external expression to this opposition for the purposes of commercial intercourse produces the drive towards an independent form of value, which finds neither rest nor peace until an independent form has been achieved by the differnetiation of commodities into commodities and money." (Vol 1, P.181 Penguin Edition)

    Nothing necessarily wrong with you disagreeing with Marx, if you do, but I just want to understand what you are saying here as regards whether the 'contradiction' between use value and value is merely verbal or actually drives historical processes.
    "Dixi et salvavi animam meam" - quoted by Marx
    "Things rarely work out well if one aims at 'moderation'..." - Engels
    "By and by we heare newes of shipwrack in the same place, then we are too blame if we accept it not for a Rock." Sir Philip Sydney
    "The most to be hoped for by groups who claim to belong to the Marxist succession (...) is for them to serve as a hyphen between past and future....nothing can be held sacred – everything is called into question. Only after having been put through such a crucible could socialism conceivably re-emerge as a viable doctrine and plan of action." - Van Heijenoort
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    Gil:

    It is quite legitimate for me to point out that the suggested relationship of implication this passage proposes is not there. A necessary pre-condition of 'A' is not part of 'A' just because it is a pre-condition of 'A'.
    In this case, not so. It is not a 'necessary pre-condition' that the formation rules be understood, the syntax and semantics grasped, it is constitutive of the system itself.

    in defiance of Wittgenstein's warnings
    What "warnings"?

    You had then argued that logic requires language and I had argued that logic can be expressed in a formal language, but that natural language does much more than that. Thus if 'integral' means only that the formal languages in which logic is expressed can only exist in a world where natural languages already exist then your argument would fail. 'Integral' must mean 'part of' (or something like that) for your argument to work.
    As the above shows, I did not mean that. So, much of this is wasted effort:

    Exactly what you are arguing for is unclear; we should acknowledge that. But if you are trying to say that natural languages can only be used by persons who consciously apprehend rules (in the same way as is the case for formal languages) then that is empirically testable and false. The capacity to use the formal language of logic (or to apprehend its rules is not necessary to effective natural language usage. To bring it back to the particular example: I can be quite capable of using the concept of 'dialectical contradiction' perfectly effectively without being able to give a formal definition of it....and that is true for most natural language terms. All that is necessary is that I and others should tend in aggregate to use the term in a mutually consistent manner which also displays some consistency across time and location. And that is testable only in the sense that we understand each other.....and, yes, that means that terms about religion are adequately used, wrong but effectively used. The distinction is between your argument quoted above which sought to rely on a logical relation of implication (and failed) and the term 'dialectical contradiction' which does not rely in the same way on a logical relation of implication. Thus your argument quoted above is susceptible to logical analysis and the term 'dialectical contradiction', like much of language, is not.

    Going back to the original line of argument in this post, having given that example of the legitimacy of using logical analysis for parsing language usage to find out if it was successful, the key distinction I draw is between acknowledging that the validity of natural language usage SOMETIMES relies on correctly formulating a deduction which works only if there is a relationship of implication involved and any view that it always involves that.

    Once we recognise the (surely uncontroversial idea) that natural language usage does not ALWAYS involve doing that - unlike a formal language devised for expressing logical relations - then the question arises as to what the rest of language is doing.

    Linguistics answers that in theory ...and does so quite effectively even in capitalist society. Linguistics is a very well developed science in capitalist society, although trapped at the level of morphology in much of its work. What it looses along the way is the ability to say what is a good use of language and what isn't....because the truth is that language usage can be quite adequately described within the science of linguistics without creating a tool for differentiating between propositions we should support and those we should reject. The proper use of natural language allows us to say things which are of uncertain meaning, which are false or which are unjustified by other things we believe or have experienced. That is the open-ended power of natural language, which derives from its total dependence on material and social reality as an open rather than closed system.
    It is unclear to you since you have yet to read my work (even though you plainly lied when you said you had).

    To bring it back to the particular example: I can be quite capable of using the concept of 'dialectical contradiction' perfectly effectively without being able to give a formal definition of it....and that is true for most natural language terms. All that is necessary is that I and others should tend in aggregate to use the term in a mutually consistent manner which also displays some consistency across time and location. And that is testable only in the sense that we understand each other.....and, yes, that means that terms about religion are adequately used, wrong but effectively used. The distinction is between your argument quoted above which sought to rely on a logical relation of implication (and failed) and the term 'dialectical contradiction' which does not rely in the same way on a logical relation of implication. Thus your argument quoted above is susceptible to logical analysis and the term 'dialectical contradiction', like much of language, is not.
    Where have I asked for a definition of "dialectical contradiction"? I have in fact requested an explanation of its meaning, which even now you cannot or will not give.

    You may recall that Wittgenstein also remarked that meaning is part and parcel of an "explanation of meaning".

    Now, the alleged 'use' of "dialectical contradiction" is not at all like the use of words in the vernacular, it is a technical use of these two words, and it is so in a way that lines up neither with ordinary language, nor with Aristotelian or modern formal logic.

    Hence, it is quite legitimate to request an explanation of its meaning, in view of the fact that every attempt to make this term clear has been shown by me to fail.

    Your continued prevarication therefore merely adds weight to my allegation that this term is devoid of any meaning at all.

    The fact is that you attempted to characterise it (rather like Scott Meikle in the post I published above, if you read it) in terms which imply that "dialectical contradictions" cannot exist. To repeat what I said there, and earlier to you:

    And yet, whatever else is true of these value-forms, how can they 'contradict' one another if one of them cannot exist at the same time as the other? If these items "mutually exclude" one another, how can they both exist at the same time? On the other hand, if they both exist at the same time, so that they can indeed 'contradict' one another, how can one possibly "mutually exclude" the other?
    That comment also applies to your last known attempt to say what these obscure beings, these "dialectical contradictions", are.

    You say:

    All that is necessary is that I and others should tend in aggregate to use the term in a mutually consistent manner which also displays some consistency across time and location. And that is testable only in the sense that we understand each other.....and, yes, that means that terms about religion are adequately used, wrong but effectively used.
    I do not know how you can say that the use of this term is 'consistent' when we do not know what the phrase means so that that use could be tested/verified across time. Sure we can determine that the same letters are used each time, but that does not guarantee that the words they form mean anything, or that the meaning is constant -- and given the unwise dialectical commitment to Heraclitean change, the alleged meaning cannot stay the same"!

    Many of the terms in the Athanasian Creed are meaningless, but they do not thereby gain a meaning if they are constantly repeated down the ages in that Creed or in works about it.

    Confusion may have arisen here because the word "meaning" has many meanings itself, a point Wittgenstein ignored (or, at least, he did not discuss this in his work). But this is crucially important in this case. I have listed several different meaning of "meaning" at RevLeft before; here they are again:

    (1) Significance or importance: as in "His Teddy Bear means a lot to him."

    (2) Evaluative import: as in "May Day means different things to different classes."

    (3) Point or purpose: as in "Life has no meaning."

    (4) Linguistic meaning: as in "'Vixen' means female fox."

    (5) Aim or intention: as in "They mean to win this strike."

    (6) Implication: as in "Winning that strike means management won't try another wage cut again in a hurry."

    (7) Indicate, point to, or presage: as in "Those clouds mean rain."

    (8) Reference: as in "I mean him over there."

    (9) Artistic import: as in "The meaning of this novel is to examine political integrity."

    (10) Conversational focus: as in "I mean, why do we have to accept a measly 1% rise in the first place?"

    (11) An expression of sincerity or determination: as in "I mean it, I really do want to go on the demonstration!"

    (12) The content of a message, or the import of a sign: as in "It means that the strike starts on Monday", or "It means you have to queue here."

    (13) Interpretation: as in "You will need to read the author's novels if you want to give a new meaning to her latest play."

    (14) The import of a work of art: as in "Part of the meaning of that play was to change our view of drama."
    This is not to suggest that these are the only meanings of "meaning", nor that several of these examples do not overlap.

    I suspect you mean by "meaning" perhaps 1), 2) or maybe 13), whereas I mean 4), and 8) (but in a wider sense than the brief characterisation above suggests, in that these are subject to philosophical scrutiny in Wittgenstein's sense of that word -- I illustrate this in detail at my site, and briefly below).

    Now, I think you can give me an account of what this phrase means to dialecticians, in the sense that they are emotionally wedded to the term (like that child and his Teddy Bear, in 1)), or perhaps in the way that it helps you lot makes sense of your life, experiences and world-view (in that this word has a totemic significance to you lot, like theological words have for theologians, but equally mystical and inexplicable to 'outsiders' like me; in short it is esoteric and hence incommunicable -- hence the bind you find yourself in when asked what this term means).

    Now, to clarify what you mean my "dialectical contradiction", and to prevent any further misunderstanding, I suggest you make some attempt to say what this term means in senses 4) or 8), subject to philosophical scrutiny (see below). Until you do, my allegation that this term has no meaning (in these senses) still stands. Thus, this phrase ("dialectical contradiction") has neither a linguistic meaning, nor refers to anything whatsoever in the real world (object, process or 'relation').

    Indeed as this shows, it cannot refer to anything in reality:

    Whatever else is true of the items said to form 'dialectical contradictions', they can't 'contradict' one another if one of them cannot exist at the same time as the other. So, if these items "mutually exclude" one another, they can't both exist at the same time, and cannot "contradict" one another. On the other hand, if they do both exist at the same time, so that they can indeed 'contradict' one another, one cannot possibly "mutually exclude" the other. [This is what I meant by "philosophical scrutiny".]

    This is so unless the phrase "mutually exclude" has its own, and as yet unexplained meaning...

    Either way: either this phrase ("dialectical contradiction") is devoid of meaning, or if it means anything, then the items in question cannot co-exist, and cannot therefore 'contradict' one another.

    I can live with both of these untoward conclusions.

    Now, you keep ignoring this fatal dilemma -- or, rather, you keep trying to divert attention from it.

    I wonder why?

    It is not quite wrong, because you say 'most or some of the time'.....that is the key point, the point that makes dialectics relevant. Sometimes language usage amounts to a logical argument, often it does not....and it does not when it does not for a couple of reasons: firstly because it is a NATURAL language operating in an environment that involves material rather than logical relations and secondly because most of the social agents who use natural language have a powerful material interest in limiting the success of natural language in successfully expressing logical relations.
    Whether you are right or not about this, one thing is plain: dialectics cannot make things any clearer. Quite the reverse in fact in view of the further fact that dialecticians use meaningless terms -- or terms they refuse to explain --, and which acolytes special plead their case (that they and theologians alone are excused the normal canons of reason, and can say what they like, and the rest of us have to like it or lump it).

    This approach to argument and knowledge is beneath contempt.

    It is also true to say to survive and prosper human agents must also engage in forms of thinking that do not fall easily into any recognisable logical form. One might devise some complex logical model that would vaguely simulate those forms of language usage or which, one might speculate, isolates and encapsulates a logical argument attaching to those forms of language usage. But this is at best a process of approximation, one which looses much in translation and also one which is not helpful to Marxism, which is focussing not on finding the logical relations, but on finder the material drivers of change and their ideological reflections. Its not that natural language 'contains' logical distinctions. That would be Platonism.
    Ah, I see, I am not allowed to use a metaphor.

    Language 'contains' such rules in the same sense that chess does.

    "Not so!" you might say; "the rules of chess are written down." Sure, but it takes human beings to interpret those rules, and they do so by a further use of language -- and that is the sense I mean about the rules language contains. We can extract the implicit rules we use when we speak by a further use of language.

    This is in short Wittgenstein's criticism of the logical positivist doctrine of Bedeutungskörper (Meaning-Body); look it up in the standard texts on Wittgenstein if you do not understand it. Glock's Wittgenstein Dictionary is quite good on this, but the best account is in Stuart Shanker's Wittgenstein and the Turning-Point in the Philosophy of Mathematics, pp.293-99, 316-17.

    Thus dialectics appears within Marxism because its focus is not on explaining the sense in which language usage is always logical, but on focusing in on the drivers of social change. Its not that there may or may not be some logical model that can be imposed on the usage to assess it......there need not be, there may be.....its that this whole rationalist preoccupation with modelling social behaviour as logical is an ideological game trapped within the dominant ideology which Marxism is not part of, but philosophy (even Wittgenstein) is.
    Not so; this 'theory' has appeared in Marxism because petty-bourgeois intellectuals (like you) and/or professional revolutionaries need a theory to justify their self-appointed, pre-eminent role in the workers' movement, a theory which they alone understood (and which they refuse to explain to a living soul, just like you refuse), and which they could then use (and did use) to rationalise the substitution of themselves for the working class.

    [The poor sods just do not "understand" the dialectic of history, and need all-wise teachers to lead them...]

    This allowed them to mystify Historical Materialism, and thus, like ruling-lass hacks have always done, it allowed them to claim that they alone "understood" dialectics, and that the rest of us were impertinent even to ask for it to be explained to us. The very nerve!

    Along the way, it would provide these 'superior' comrades with a source of consolation for the fact that their brand of Dialectical Mayhem is a long-term failure -- largely because of that substitutionism! This theory then became part cause and consequence of that failure. And this dialectical merry-go-round has spin on now for 150 years as our movement has gone into long-term decline. And the more it declines the more you idiots cling on to this 'theory'!

    So you lot cling onto it for irrational reasons, and all the more so because of the failures it has helped create.

    In short it's your very own quasi-religion, and like genuine religionists, you cannot explain a single one of the terms you use.

    It's "all a mystery", you see.

    No wonder I call you lot mystics.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 2nd August 2008 at 14:38.
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    Gil:

    On the whole Scott Meikle thing above, just a question: if I understand you correctly you are suggesting that the relationship involved is just verbal ('de dicta'), does that mean you would disagree with the following statement by Marx about those mutually exclusive features:

    "Money necessarily crystallises out of the process of exchange, in which different products of labour are in fact equated with each other, and thus converted into commodities. The historical broadening and deepening of the phenomenon of exchange develops the opposition between use-value and value which is latent in the nature of the commodity. The need to give an external expression to this opposition for the purposes of commercial intercourse produces the drive towards an independent form of value, which finds neither rest nor peace until an independent form has been achieved by the differentiation of commodities into commodities and money." (Vol 1, P.181 Penguin Edition)'
    What "mutually exclusive" features do you mean?

    if you do, but I just want to understand what you are saying here as regards whether the 'contradiction' between use value and value is merely verbal or actually drives historical processes.
    There is no 'contradiction' here for it to be anything other than a figment of your imagination.

    Marx, of course, was merely "coquetting" with these obscure terms. You, I fear are deadly serious.
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    There is no 'contradiction' here for it to be anything other than a figment of your imagination.
    Look, this is a simple question. You have introduced the question
    why is this not just a de dicto (i.e., a merely verbal) necessity?
    Now I am just asking what is YOUR answer to that question. Marx clearly believes that the relationship between use value and value in exchange creates a "drive" to further development of the exchange relationship. IF you believed that the necessity was merely verbal, you would not believe what Marx believes. Which is it ?
    "Dixi et salvavi animam meam" - quoted by Marx
    "Things rarely work out well if one aims at 'moderation'..." - Engels
    "By and by we heare newes of shipwrack in the same place, then we are too blame if we accept it not for a Rock." Sir Philip Sydney
    "The most to be hoped for by groups who claim to belong to the Marxist succession (...) is for them to serve as a hyphen between past and future....nothing can be held sacred – everything is called into question. Only after having been put through such a crucible could socialism conceivably re-emerge as a viable doctrine and plan of action." - Van Heijenoort
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    suggested you meant 'part of'

    you replied

    I did not mean that.
    Having just described what you did mean as

    constitutive of
    The profound difference between 'part of' and 'constitutive of' escapes me. You seem to be arguing over nothing again.

    the alleged 'use' of "dialectical contradiction" is not at all like the use of words in the vernacular, it is a technical use of these two words, and it is so in a way that lines up neither with ordinary language, nor with Aristotelian or modern formal logic.
    That would be true....except that this is a class divided society and there is not one consistent use of 'ordinary language' but a range of usages reflecting varying locations and perspectives, one of which is the revolutionary perspective of the working class. Revolutionaries have their own potential for a distinctive language usage, reflecting their own circumstances and perspectives. Whether that is a 'technical' usage depends on what you think 'technical' means, but what it is not is a usage which involves the application of a natural or mathematical science. Rather it is a usage which reflects the goals and experiences of revolutionaries and the perspective of a revolutionary class. We must not impose standards on revolutionary theory which are so restrictive as to prevent the boundaries of the dominant ideology being breached, even if that can only be expressed provisionally and even speculatively.

    dialectics cannot make things any clearer. Quite the reverse in fact in view of the further fact that dialecticians use meaningless terms -- or terms they refuse to explain --, and which acolytes special plead their case (that they and theologians alone are excused the normal canons of reason, and can say what they like, and the rest of us have to like it or lump it)
    Actually the 'normal cannons of reason' to which you refer are broken all the time. All the time people make statements formally similar to the idea of three persons in one. But look, you seem to think the following is a killer argument, so lets deal with that:

    either this phrase ("dialectical contradiction") is devoid of meaning, or if it means anything, then the items in question cannot co-exist, and cannot therefore 'contradict' one another.
    I cant see why this a fatal dilemma at all. The idea is relatively straight-forward, as Marx presents it - the two sides of the mutually exclusive relationship cannot PERSIST together without leading to development. If I understand your 'fatal dilemma' that is taken to suggest that they can persist for some period of time and therefore are not in complete contradiction. They are not in formal contradiction, true. But we are dealing here with a different use of 'contradiction'....dialectical contradiction and that is precisely the idea of elements of a relationship that drive change.
    "Dixi et salvavi animam meam" - quoted by Marx
    "Things rarely work out well if one aims at 'moderation'..." - Engels
    "By and by we heare newes of shipwrack in the same place, then we are too blame if we accept it not for a Rock." Sir Philip Sydney
    "The most to be hoped for by groups who claim to belong to the Marxist succession (...) is for them to serve as a hyphen between past and future....nothing can be held sacred – everything is called into question. Only after having been put through such a crucible could socialism conceivably re-emerge as a viable doctrine and plan of action." - Van Heijenoort
  20. #380
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    Gil:

    Look, this is a simple question. You have introduced the question
    I am here trying to enter the psychotic world of dialectical madness, so the question is not meant to be taken seriously.

    Or, is it only Marx that can 'coquette'?

    Had you bothered to read Essay One, which is an attempt to state my methodology, you'd have got this point.

    But, you seem to know best...

    So, when I ask:

    why is this not just a de dicto (i.e., a merely verbal) necessity?
    I am puttimg pressure on Meikle's mytical beliefs. I do not think there is a contradiction here at all, so it can neither be de re nor be de dicto (or even de se).

    But, Meikle thinks it is one or the other.

    It's like asking: Is the Tardis in Dr Who (a really rubbish program, let me add, that makes considerably more sense than dialectics) really larger on the inside than the outside?

    There is no Tardis, so the question does not arise -- but it would not surprise me if you believed there is. After all, you think that things in nature and society can argue among themselves (i.e., can 'contradict' one another)!

    Now I am just asking what is YOUR answer to that question. Marx clearly believes that the relationship between use value and value in exchange creates a "drive" to further development of the exchange relationship. IF you believed that the necessity was merely verbal, you would not believe what Marx believes. Which is it ?
    Marx did not use the word "necessity" as far as I am aware, and the word "drive" is metaphorical, too.

    Since you are the expert, figure this out for yourself.

    However, I might condescend to help you out here if you answer the many questions I ask you which you just ignore.

    Such as:

    And yet, whatever else is true of these value-forms, how can they 'contradict' one another if one of them cannot exist at the same time as the other? If these items "mutually exclude" one another, how can they both exist at the same time? On the other hand, if they both exist at the same time, so that they can indeed 'contradict' one another, how can one possibly "mutually exclude" the other?
    Not much chance of that, is there?

    Oops -- another question!

    Somebody stop me...

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