Thread: Anti-Duhring

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  1. #41
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    1) You know no logic, and neither did Engels, so you/he are in position to judge the 'limitations' of 'Formal Logic'.

    6) Marxism is not shot through with 'subjectivity' -- I'd like to see you prove otherwise.
    No need to keep repeating yourself.

    If dialectics is null and void there is no materialist conception of history, no doctrine of the conditions of the liberation of the proletariat and no need to account for economics beyond that of Smith and Ricardo.
    Last edited by trivas7; 13th June 2008 at 20:49.
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  2. #42
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    [FONT=Verdana]
    Purely metaphysical thinking. Dialectics is a way of thinking, not a proposition re the world subject to truth value.
    [/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]So you essentially concede that dialectics has nothing to do with the world, and that it is not a proposition (and hence in no need of refutation or the like since it doesn’t make any claims to begin with; so in this respect it is sort of like [bad] poetry). I’m glad we’re on the same page. [/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana]
    If dialectics is null and void there is no materialist conception of history, no doctrine of the conditions of the liberation of the proletariat and no need to account for economics beyond that of Smith and Ricardo.
    [/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]Wait a minute... I’m confused here. If there are no dialectical propositions, and dialectics makes no claims about the world, how can the fact that it is nonsense have any impact on the world at all?
    [/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]
    Why does dialectics being nonsense mean that there is no materialist conception of history? After all, a materialist conception of history (i.e. historical materialism) does make claims about the world, and does consist of propositions. Given that dialectics, as per your own admission doesn’t, then it has no relevance to historical materialism (or anything else for that matter). Mutatis mutandis for what you said about economics, liberation, etc.
    [/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana]In fact, given that there are no dialectical propositions, how can those be “null and void”? [/FONT]
  3. #43
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    Trivas:

    If dialectics is null and void there is no materialist conception of history, no doctrine of the conditions of the liberation of the proletariat and no need to account for economics beyond that of Smith and Ricardo.
    So you keep saying, but we have yet to see the proof.

    Moreover, historical materialism [HM] can explain social change, since it uses words from ordinary language -- and not in ways that cause problems --, whereas dialectics cannot --as I have shown.

    So, if HM depended on dialectics, it would not be able to explain change.

    Conclusion, HM does not depend on dialectics.

    Now, you can show this line of reasoning is defective by showing that dialectics can explain change -- or, alternatively, you can try to show where my proof that it cannot, goes wrong.

    Since you have done neither, and show no signs you are capable of doing so, we can asssume you cannot.

    Finally, I note that just like other dialecticians, when pressed to do so, you cannot tell us why 'Formal Logic' has limitiations, or even what these are.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 24th September 2008 at 13:32.
  4. #44
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    [FONT=Verdana]After all, a materialist conception of history (i.e. historical materialism) does make claims about the world, and does consist of propositions. [/FONT]
    What are these claims?
    Last edited by trivas7; 13th June 2008 at 21:05.
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  5. #45
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    Trivas (in dire need of a crass course in Marxism):

    What are these?
    Here's one:

    The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
    Looks like an empirical proposition to me, and indeed one that is true.

    Perhaps you think it is merely 'subjective'?

    Oh no, here are some more:

    Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master(3) and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.
    http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx...festo/ch01.htm

    How irresponsible of Marx to make claims about the real world!

    Tut Tut...
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 12th September 2008 at 11:12.
  6. #46
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    Here's one:

    The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
    Looks like an empirical proposition to me, and indeed one that is true.

    Oh no, here are some more:

    Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master(3) and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.
    Clearly you don't know what an empirical proposition is.
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  7. #47
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    Trivas:

    Clearly you don't know what an empirical proposition is.
    Enlighten me then.

    And I am still waiting to hear you explain the 'limitations' of Formal Logic.

    [Empirical proposition: what is proposed by an indicative type or token sentence concerning matters of fact. Beat that!]
  8. #48
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    Well, that is where debates on this site get a bit unreal for me. If you actually READ the Anti Duhring, the key sections relevant to dialectics are the sections already discussed concerning dialectical contradiction and Sections XII concerning Quantity/Quality and Section XIII concerning the negation of the negation.

    Each of those sections has the same form. Engels cites a quotation from Duhring charging Marx with having relied on a dialectical law. Engels in each case denies that Marx does rely on that law, he denies that it would be appropriate to rely on that law and then he explains what the law is. Now this can simply be read there and my purpose on this thread was to just look at what Engels wrote - not look at isolated quotes but look at the overall document at its overall purpose and see its elements in that context. This is the only way to read properly, trying to leave aside the layers of preconceptions from subsequent history.

    The fact is that Engels is trying to prove that Marx did not rely on dialectical laws and he is articulating dialectical laws as laws that should not be relied on to prove empirical claims, and are not relied on by Marx. Now rather than re-do debates we have had before at greater levels of generality I think it is worthwhile to look at each of those sections and see what each section says.

    Now, is that a wrong way to proceed ? If so why ?
    "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
  9. #49
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    Gil:

    If you actually READ the Anti Duhring, the key sections relevant to dialectics are the sections already discussed concerning dialectical contradiction and Sections XII concerning Quantity/Quality and Section XIII concerning the negation of the negation.
    For my sins, I have read it, and dozens of times, taking detailed notes. And yes, I did feel unclean as a result...

    In the philosophical sections, Engels, like Hegel, just takes a handful of jargonised phrases for granted, and does not tell the reader what on earth they mean -- and neither have you.

    The fact is that Engels is trying to prove that Marx did not rely on dialectical laws and he is articulating dialectical laws as laws that should not be relied on to prove empirical claims, and are not relied on by Marx. Now rather than re-do debates we have had before at greater levels of generality I think it is worthwhile to look at each of those sections and see what each section says.
    This is what 'the official brochure' would have you believe, and you have clearly fallen for it --, but all along, Engels relies on a priori dogmatic 'propositions', all the while denying he is doing this.

    I gave a few examples earlier, but they pepper his work, and that of nearly every other dialectician.

    Hundreds of examples (no exaggeration) here:

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%2002.htm
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 14th June 2008 at 01:22.
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    What are these claims?
    [FONT=Verdana][FONT=&quot]It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness. [/FONT][/FONT]
  11. #51
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    Well, that is where debates on this site get a bit unreal for me.
    I found this article enlightening re Anti-Duhring:

    http://www.marxist.com/georg-lukacs.htm

    [FONT=Verdana][FONT=&quot]It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness. [/FONT][/FONT]
    This quote is from Preface of A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. It states the materialist conception of history, I deny that it is a claim re the world: only empirically verifiable statements are claims re the world. Which this is not.
    Last edited by trivas7; 14th June 2008 at 04:55.
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  12. #52
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    Trivas:

    I deny that it is a claim re the world: only empirically verifiable statements are claims re the world. Which this is not.
    What do you mean by 'verifiable'? A proposition can be verifiable, but yet not capble of being verified by us. For example:

    There is a cuff link on Pluto.

    That is verifiable, even if we might never verify it.

    Here are a few more claims 're the world' which were at the time they were made verifiable:

    A spectre is haunting Europe -- the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.
    To this end, Communists of various nationalities have assembled in London and sketched the following manifesto, to be published in the English, French, German, Italian, Flemish and Danish languages.
    In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate gradations.
    All from here:

    http://www.anu.edu.au/polsci/marx/cl...manifesto.html

    All of these were verifiable in Marx's day, even if they had not actually been verified.

    I think you are confusing 'verifiable' with 'verified'.

    And, a claim about the world can be false (hence not 'verifiable' in your sense); eg:

    The Nile is shorter than the Thames.

    This is manifestly 'about the world', but is false. Hence it is not only falsifiable, it has been falsified.

    [If is it were not 'about the world', we would not be able to tell it was false.]

    Looks like your philosophy of logic is no better than your logic.

    And we are still waiting to hear from you what the 'limitations' of formal logic are.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 24th September 2008 at 13:35.
  13. #53
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    If dialectics is null and void there is no materialist conception of history, no doctrine of the conditions of the liberation of the proletariat and no need to account for economics beyond that of Smith and Ricardo.
    Really?

    In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or – this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms – with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure.

    In studying such transformations it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic – in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as one does not judge an individual by what he thinks about himself, so one cannot judge such a period of transformation by its consciousness, but, on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained from the contradictions of material life, from the conflict existing between the social forces of production and the relations of production. No social order is ever destroyed before all the productive forces for which it is sufficient have been developed, and new superior relations of production never replace older ones before the material conditions for their existence have matured within the framework of the old society.

    Mankind thus inevitably sets itself only such tasks as it is able to solve, since closer examination will always show that the problem itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution are already present or at least in the course of formation. In broad outline, the Asiatic, ancient, feudal and modern bourgeois modes of production may be designated as epochs marking progress in the economic development of society. The bourgeois mode of production is the last antagonistic form of the social process of production – antagonistic not in the sense of individual antagonism but of an antagonism that emanates from the individuals' social conditions of existence – but the productive forces developing within bourgeois society create also the material conditions for a solution of this antagonism. The prehistory of human society accordingly closes with this social formation.
    K. Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy

    That approach is a materialist one, which doesn't resort to obscure philosophies but is able to explain what antagonisms exist in society via a materialist approach.

    Introducing dialects to explain complex social/economic phenomena confuses the issues even more.

    Solid historical materialism is all that is needed.
    The country that is more developed industrially only shows, to the less developed, the image of its own future. Karl Marx.
  14. #54
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    [FONT=Verdana]
    This quote is from Preface of A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. It states the materialist conception of history, I deny that it is a claim re the world: only empirically verifiable statements are claims re the world. Which this is not.
    [/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]Not so. The proposition that people’s consciousness is determined by their social being, rather than vice versa, if true has certain implications for the how people behave. Hence we can make predictions based off of it. If it were the case the proposition were false it could be falsified by waiting to see if said predictions came true or not.

    Were this claim truly metaphysical, and hence not falsifiable/verifiable, it would be the case that the world would look no different no matter what the truth value of said proposition.
    [/FONT]
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    Well I have studied four different subjects to a reasonably advanced level and one experience of mine is common to all four. When I studied philosophy it was my experience that even major philosophers were commonly mis-represented in secondary texts, or at least under-described, and that it is essential to read the original to have a good basis for understanding. In doing economics, I found that you should repeat a statistical or equilibrium analysis yourself - the devil is in the detail, dangerous simplifying assumptions are common and errors in statistical compilation are common (and zero sum nonchalance is wrong - they dont balance out). In studying law I found that reading the original judgement is essential and critically assessing the original judgement requires something no-one almost ever does - reviewing the original evidence. In studying history, I found (something commonly understood in that discipline at least !) that secondary sources were a very poor substitute for primary sources.

    Furthermore I have found that in reading any writer a basic principle of economy applies - identify the intent of the author, identify the general tenor of his/her argument and identify any major tensions in the argument. When a text fits in with one or all of those three, treat it with respect. When a particular sentence does not fit in with those frameworks, treat it with suspicion because infelicities of composition are common in everyone's writings and are invaraibly exaggerated by the time and space that separates you from that author. This warning particularly applies if the anomalous sentence suits your purpose. Good scholarship requires caution. The common experience of one's views being distorted by a sentence being quoted out of context confirms this caution..

    Therefore I am very slow to say that one does not need to read the original carefully and I am very slow to take one-liners from a text or any single phrase as proof of anything - sometimes its the best evidence available but then we should draw conclusions only with caveats of caution.

    Consequently, we should pay close attention to the fact that in consideriing the law of quantity/quality, Engels is driven by Duhring having argued that "Contradiction is a category which can only appertain to a combination of thoughts but not to reality " [MECW 25 P. 110] and that "the antagonism of forces .....the basic form of all actions....does not in the slightest degree coincide with the idea of absurd contradiction"

    The first thing to note is that it is Duhring, not Engels who initiated this methodology of making generalisations, whether a prior or analytic, and arguing that socialists should think within those limits, which significantly exceed the ordinary constraints of logic. It is this argument by Duhring which clearaly requires Engels to respond at that level. It is Duhring's introduction of a philosophical method, which requires Engels to reply with statements that have a philosophical form. Engels does not submit to this constraint without complaint. He complains about Duhring's philosophical method, using the word 'advantage' with evident irony, commenting that Duhring's method: "..has the further advantage that it offers no real foothold to an opponent, who is consequently left with almost no other possibility of reply than to make similar summary assertions in the grand style, to resort to general phrases and finaly thunder back" [MECW V.25 P. 115] Worth noting !!

    I have already made these points, which I here repeat and already drawn attention to the treatment of contradiction in MECW 25 PP110-113.

    By the way, in the widely sold Peking Foreign Languages Press edition of 1976, the pagination is PP 150-155 and the relevant link is here : http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx...hring/ch10.htm I quote from the MECW translation, which is slightly different from the marxists.org translation in places.

    While I think there is one further thing to be considered about Engels treatment of dialectical contradiction, it is useful to go on first to look at how the law of quantity/quality i and negation/negation are dealt with and then consider how contradiction is dealt with in the light of that, because there are certain points that the treatment of quantity/quality and negation/negation forcefully illustrate which will help us in understanding what Engels means by dialectical contradiction.

    When dealing with quantity/quality Duhring argues that Marx's method in Capital is characterised by a method of 'all is to be sought in each and each in all' (MECW V.25 P113) and further as containing 'mysterious dialectical rubbish' (Ibid) and as 'contriving dialectical miracles' (MECW V. 25 P. 114) .

    For Engels it is a 'blunder' [Ibid] to identify marxist and hegelian dialectics, as Duhring does. But what Engels cannot deny is that Marx does indeed refer to the Law of the Transformation of Quantity into Quality, as Duhring points out.

    Marx does indeed write that the possessor of money turns into a capitalist only when the amount of money involved exceeds a certain quantity, and then observes "Here as in natural science is shown the correctness of the law discovered by Hegel in his Logic that merely quantitative changes beyond a certain point pass into qualitative differences." The cross reference is not given precisely in Vol. 25. The correct cross reference is to MECW Volume 35 P.313. In the Lawrence and Wishart edition reprinted from 1954 on the reference is P. 292. In the alternative Penguin translation the page reference is P. 423. In the Peking edition it is P.308. The relevant link is here: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx...67-c1/ch11.htm The marxists.org version of the text has the advantage of including a reference to the 22nd June 1867 letter from Marx to Engels in which Marx gives some of the background to this citation of Hegel. That is in footnote 5 on that page.

    So what is Engels to do given that Marx does indeed make use of the law ? Duhring is surely right that Marx proves his point by making reference to a dialectical law ? What would be the point of refering to a law if not to prove a point ? Well no, not as far as Engels is concerned. Engels explains "Herr Duhring attributes to Marx the opposite of what he really said " (MECW V.25 P116), and goes on to explain that Marx is arguiing not that transformation of moneyed persons into capitalists is proven by reference to the Law of Q/Q but rather that it is the Law which is supported by the fact that the addition of quantity causes a qualitiative transformation in this particular case supports the law. The law, he is arguing, cannot be relied on to prove the fact, but the fact supports the law. Now this, it seems to me a very important distinction that should be traced through any reading of Engels' uses of general laws - are they relied on to prove or are they cited as conclusions, i.e. as having been illustrated or exemplified by something independently established. Indeed, I suspect (and I throw it out as a testable proposition) that Engels never relies on a general dialectical law to prove any empirical claim, but instead always points to the manner in whch the independently established understanding exemplifies the relevant law.

    That is certainly what he goes on to do, using the example of carbon compounds. It is quite clear that he is not proving that there are an homologous series of carbon compounds which vary by the addition of further quantities of the elements common to the whole series. He merely summarises the understanding of carbon compounds which has been independently proven in scientific experiments. What he is doing is pointing out that the carbon series complies with the law. It is not claimed that the comliance is necessary, which is important because if there was a discernable necessity in the compliance one could predict the pattern of such compounds by application of the law to the known conditions of the necessity of compliance with the law. But this conceptual framework is just not there is Engels elaboration of the example. Rather, Engels just claims that the pattern of transformation of quantitive change does occur - not that it always or, under any specifiable conditions, necessarily occurs....but merely that it does occur. He goes no further .....that is the END of his treatment of the transformation of quantity into quality.

    Rosa suggests that we should look carefully for Engels relying on dialectical laws while denying that he does. Well, I see Engels relying on the science of Chemistry (i.e. the scientific analysis of carbon independent of any formal reliance on dialectical laws) and I see no reliance in this section on the law of Q/Q to prove any more particular propositions. Could anyone who sees a sentence or paragraph in this section on Q/Q which seems to them to do otherwise, please point that out.
    Last edited by gilhyle; 14th June 2008 at 09:11.
    "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:

    The first thing to note is that it is Duhring, not Engels who initiated this methodology of making generalisations, whether a prior or analytic, and arguing that socialists should think within those limits, which significantly exceed the ordinary constraints of logic. It is this argument by Duhring which clearaly requires Engels to respond at that level. It is Duhring's introduction of a philosophical method, which requires Engels to reply with statements that have a philosophical form. Engels does not submit to this constraint without complaint. He complains about Duhring's philosophical method, using the word 'advantage' with evident irony, commenting that Duhring's method: "..has the further advantage that it offers no real foothold to an opponent, who is consequently left with almost no other possibility of reply than to make similar summary assertions in the grand style, to resort to general phrases and finaly thunder back" [MECW V.25 P. 115] Worth noting !!
    You must be congratulated (1) for writing (at last!) a post that stretches across more than a handful of paragraphs -- and (2) for managing to ignore the serious charges I laid at Engels's door.

    For you, the first is almost unique, the second is, alas, almost stereotypical.

    The fact that Eggels makes numerous a priori, dogmatic claims is not just a feature of Anti-Duhring, and it is a joke to suggest that he is merely responding to the agenda set by Duhring -- Engels does this in all his 'philosophical' works, and in many letters.

    Here is what I have written about him in Essay Two:

    The projection of DM-theses onto nature is not just an aberration of modern-day dialecticians; every DM-classicist has indulged extensively in the sport. For example, it can be found right throughout Engels's writings; indeed, in his classic text Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, he had this to say:

    "Nature works dialectically and not metaphysically." [Engels (1892), pp.407, repeated in Engels (1976), p.28.]

    To this may be added the following comment:

    "Dialectics…prevails throughout nature…. [T]he motion through opposites which asserts itself everywhere in nature, and which by the continual conflict of the opposites…determines the life of nature." [Engels (1954), p.211. Bold emphases added.]

    But, how could Engels possibly have known all of this? How could he have known that nature does not operate "metaphysically", say, in distant regions of space and time, way beyond the edges of the known Universe of his day? Indeed, how could he have been so sure that, for example, there are no changeless objects anywhere in the entire universe? How could he have been so certain that the "life of nature" is in fact the result of a "conflict of opposites" -- or that some processes (in the whole of reality, for the whole of time) were not governed by non-dialectical factors? Where is his "carefully" collected evidence about every object and event in nature, past, present and future?

    Notice that Engels did not say that "all the evidence collected" up until his day supported these contentions, or that "those parts of the world of which scientists" of his day were aware behaved in the way he indicated; he just referred to nature tout court, without qualification (i.e., "throughout nature" and "everywhere in nature"). In line with other DM-theorists, Engels signally failed to inform his readers of the whereabouts of the large finite set of "careful observations" upon which these wild generalisations had been based.

    To be sure, he did say that nature itself confirms DM, but that looks more like a manifesto claim than a summary of the evidence -- especially if the 'evidence' he actually bothered to produce does not in fact support his theses, as we will see in later Essays.

    And Engels didn't stop there; he made equally bold statements about other fundamental aspects of nature:

    "Motion is the mode of existence of matter. Never anywhere has there been matter without motion, nor can there be…. Matter without motion is just as inconceivable as motion without matter. Motion is therefore as uncreatable and indestructible as matter itself; as the older philosophy (Descartes) expressed it, the quantity of motion existing in the world is always the same. Motion therefore cannot be created; it can only be transmitted….

    "A motionless state of matter therefore proves to be one of the most empty and nonsensical of ideas…." [Engels (1976), p.74. Bold emphases added.]

    "The great basic thought that the world is not to be comprehended as a complex of ready-made things, but a complex of processes, in which things apparently stable…, go through an uninterrupted change of coming into being and passing away…." [Engels (1892), p.609. Bold emphases added.]

    "Dialectics is the science of universal interconnection….

    "The law of the transformation of quantity into quality and vice versa…[operates] in nature, in a manner fixed for each individual case, qualitative changes can only occur by the quantitative addition or quantitative subtraction of matter or motion….
    "Hence, it is impossible to alter the quality of a body without addition or subtraction of matter or motion…. In this form, therefore, Hegel's mysterious principle appears not only quite rational but even rather obvious.

    "Motion in the most general sense, conceived as the mode of existence, the inherent attribute of matter, comprehends all changes and processes occurring in the universe….

    "Dialectics, so called objective dialectics, prevails throughout nature…. [M]otion through opposites which asserts itself everywhere in nature, and which by the continual conflict of the opposites…determines the life of nature….

    "The whole theory of gravity rests on saying that attraction is the essence of matter. This is necessarily false. Where there is attraction, it must be complemented by repulsion. Hence already Hegel was quite right in saying that the essence of matter is attraction and repulsion….

    "The visible system of stars, the solar system, terrestrial masses, molecules and atoms, and finally ether particles, form each of them [a definite group]. It does not alter the case that intermediate links can be found between the separate groups…. These intermediate links prove only that there are no leaps in nature, precisely because nature is composed entirely of leaps." [Engels (1954), pp.17, 63, 69, 211, 244, 271. Bold emphases added.]

    Once more, Engels forgot to say how he knew all these things were true. For example, how could he possibly have known that:

    "Never anywhere has there been matter without motion, nor can there be…. Matter without motion is just as inconceivable as motion without matter. Motion is therefore as uncreatable and indestructible as matter itself…." [Engels (1976), p.74. Bold emphasis added.]

    Neither matter without motion nor motion without matter is inconceivable, contrary to what Engels says. In fact, the contrary doctrine that matter is naturally motionless was itself imposed on nature by Aristotle; Engels's obverse imposition is no less unimpressive, and no less Idealist.

    And here is another a priori deduction based only on the 'concepts' involved:

    "[A]s soon as we consider things in their motion, their change, their life, their reciprocal influence…[t]hen we immediately become involved in contradictions. Motion itself is a contradiction; even simple mechanical change of place can only come about through a body being both in one place and in another place at one and the same moment of time, being in one and the same place and also not in it. And the continual assertion and simultaneous solution of this contradiction is precisely what motion is." [Engels (1976), p.152.]

    Clearly, Engels possessed a truly remarkable skill: that of being able to say precisely what the fundamental features of reality are for all of space and time based on the alleged meanings of a few words. Indeed, Engels's claims about motion are all the more impressive when it is recalled that he made them in abeyance of any supportive evidence -- let alone a significant body of evidence. As it turns out (this will be demonstrated below), evidence would have been unnecessary anyway.

    As we have already seen, all that an aspiring dialectician like Engels needs to do is briefly 'reflect' on the supposed meaning of a few words, and substantive truths about fundamental aspects of nature, for all of space and time, spring instantly to mind. Or, more honestly, all he/she has to do is copy such thoughts from Hegel. As we will also see, this is a key feature of ruling-class forms-of-thought, imported into the workers' movement by incautious non-workers like Engels.

    Surprisingly then, the only 'evidence' that supports Engels's interpretation of motion is this highly compressed argument, which is itself based on a consideration of what a few innocent-looking words must mean. Pressed for a justification of this line of reasoning, all that Engels could possibly have offered by way of substantiation would have been a rather weak claim that this is what the word "motion" really means. Clearly, such a rejoinder would immediately give the game away since it would reveal that substantive truths about motion had indeed been derived from the meanings of words, and nothing more.

    As noted above, an appeal to evidence would be irrelevant, anyway. This is because the examination of countless moving objects would fail to confirm Engels's assertion that they occupy two places at once -- no matter what instruments or devices were used to carry out these hypothetical observations, and regardless of the extent of the magnification used to that end, or the level of microscopic detail enlisted in support. No observation could confirm that a moving object is in two places at once, and in one of these and not in it at the same time. This, of course, explains why in Engels's day there was no scientific evidence whatsoever that supported his belief in the contradictory nature of motion, and thus why he listed none. This picture has not altered in the intervening years (indeed, no book or article on DM ever quotes any) --, and this situation is not likely ever to change.

    It could be objected to this that if, say, a photograph were taken of a moving object, it would show by means of the recorded blur, perhaps, that such a body had occupied several places at once. In that case, therefore, there is, or could be, evidence to support Engels's claims.
    However, the problem with this is that no matter how fast the shutter speed, a camera can't record an instant in time, merely an interval. Clearly, to verify the claim that a moving object occupies at least two places in the same instant, a physical recording of an instant would be required. Since instants (i.e., in the sense required) are mathematical fictions, it is not possible to record them.

    Moreover, not even a mathematical limiting process could capture such ghostly 'entities' in the physical world, whatever else it might do in theory. But even if one could be found that did this, no camera (or radar device, or piece of equipment) could record it. Hence, even if an appeal to mathematical limiting processes was both viable and/or available, it would be of no assistance. No experiment could conceivably substantiate any of the conclusions Engels reached.

    And that explains why he and those who accept these ideas have to force this view of motion onto nature.

    [The many errors this passge contains are exposed here:

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%2005.htm]

    Consider another passage, this time taken from a letter written by Engels:

    "The identity of thinking and being, to use Hegelian language, everywhere coincides with your example of the circle and the polygon. Or the two of them, the concept of a thing and its reality, run side by side like two asymptotes, always approaching each other but never meeting. This difference between the two is the very difference which prevents the concept from being directly and immediately reality and reality from being immediately its own concept. Because a concept has the essential nature of the concept and does not therefore prima facie directly coincide with reality, from which it had to be abstracted in the first place, it is nevertheless more than a fiction, unless you declare that all the results of thought are fictions because reality corresponds to them only very circuitously, and even then approaching it only asymptotically…. In other words, the unity of concept and phenomenon manifests itself as an essentially infinite process, and that is what it is, in this case as in all others." [Engels to Schmidt (12/3/1895), in Marx and Engels (1975), pp.457-58.]

    There are several puzzling things about this passage (which will have to be left until later), but how could Engels possibly have known that concepts and things interrelate in the way he alleges? In fact, if he were right, in order for him to conclude what he does about "things" (with which he admits knowledge of his (or perhaps any other) day never coincides), he must have extrapolated way beyond the state of knowledge in the late nineteenth century -- and, as the next quotation below indicates, way beyond any conceivable state of knowledge.

    Worse still: if things never "coincide" with their own concepts, then on that basis alone Engels could not have known that even this much was correct. Plainly, if he did know this, then at least one concept -- namely the one Engels was using -- would have coincided with its object.

    Clearly, such semi-divine confidence could only have arisen from: (1) Engels's own imposition of this a priori thesis on to nature, and/or (2) from the a priori Idealist principles Engels admits he lifted from Hegel -- but not from perusing the 'book' of nature, or from collecting evidence, either "patiently" or impatiently.

    As should seem obvious, if reality is permanently beyond our grasp then anything anyone says about 'it' must of necessity be imposed on 'it' (that is, if we insist on depicting things in such obscure ways).

    The next passage from Engels simply underlines this point:

    "'Fundamentally, we can know only the infinite.' In fact all real exhaustive knowledge consists solely in raising the individual thing in thought from individuality into particularity and from this into universality, in seeking and establishing the infinite in the finite, the eternal in the transitory…. All true knowledge of nature is knowledge of the eternal, the infinite, and essentially absolute…. The cognition of the infinite…can only take place in an infinite asymptotic progress." [Engels (1954), pp.233-35.]

    But, if no concept (ever) matches reality fully, how could Engels have known any of this? How could he possibly know that "All true knowledge of nature is knowledge of the eternal, the infinite, or that it is essentially absolute..."? Either he was in possession of such absolute knowledge when he wrote this (which would have meant, once again, that at least one concept matched reality, namely this one), or he was himself infinitely wrong.

    Of course, we know the answer to this question already: Engels was able to foist all this on reality because that is exactly what Hegel did, and it is exactly what traditional Philosophers have always done; he simply copied them.

    However, no doubt the infinite (or even large finite) amount of evidence that Engels meant to include in Dialectics of Nature, which would have been necessary to justify these quasi-theological claims, and which has been mislaid in the meantime, will turn up one day.

    Engels, F. (1888), Ludwig Feuerbach And The End Of Classical German Philosophy, reprinted in Marx and Engels (1968), pp.584-622.

    --------, (1892), Socialism: Utopian And Scientific, in Marx and Engels (1968), pp 375-428.

    --------, (1954), Dialectics Of Nature (Progress Publishers).

    --------, (1976), Anti-Dühring (Foreign Languages Press).

    Marx, K., and Engels, F. (1968), Selected Works In One Volume (Lawrence & Wishart).

    --------, (1975), Selected Correspondence (Progress Publishers, 3rd ed.).
    Practically every single dialectician, from Engels to Zizek, from Plekhanov to Ollman, from Lenin to Gilhyle, does the same -- they impose their a priori shemas on the world, just like the born again Idealists they are. Proof here:

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%2002.htm

    and goes on to explain that Marx is arguiing not that transformation of moneyed persons into capitalists is proven by reference to the Law of Q/Q but rather that it is the Law which is supported by the fact that the addition of quantity causes a qualitiative transformation in this particular case supports the law. The law, he is arguing, cannot be relied on to prove the fact, but the fact supports the law. Now this, it seems to me a very important distinction that should be traced through any reading of Engels' uses of general laws - are they relied on to prove or are they cited as conclusions, i.e. as having been illustrated or exemplified by something independently established. Indeed, I suspect (and I throw it out as a testable proposition) that Engels never relies on a general dialectical law to prove any empirical claim, but instead always points to the manner in whch the independently established understanding exemplifies the relevant law.
    1) Marx's reference to this 'law', is as he himslef points out in Kapital, just anohter example of him 'coquetting' with Hegelian jargon.

    2) Engles does not tell us what a 'quality' is, so it is impossible to decide if the examples he gives are apposite or not.

    3) Whatever is done with this 'law' the facts of nature and society refute it:

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%2007.htm

    Small wonder then that Marx abandoned it.

    Rosa suggests that we should look carefully for Engels relying on dialectical laws while denying that he does. Well, I see Engels relying on the science of Chemistry (i.e. the scientific analysis of carbon independent of any formal reliance on dialectical laws) and I see no reliance in this section on the law of Q/Q to prove any more particular propositions. Could anyone who sees a sentence or paragraph in this section on Q/Q which seems to them to do otherwise, please point that out.
    The quotations above show that Engels does far more than you suggest.

    Therefore I am very slow to say that one does not need to read the original carefully and I am very slow to take one-liners from a text or any single phrase as proof of anything - sometimes its the best evidence available but then we should draw conclusions only with caveats of caution.
    And yet you are happy to conclude that Marx and Engels agreed on the dialectic based on just such isolated quotations!

    And we are still waiting on a clear explanation of a 'dialectical contradiction'.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 14th June 2008 at 12:35.
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    [/I]That approach is a materialist one, which doesn't resort to obscure philosophies but is able to explain what antagonisms exist in society via a materialist approach.
    You err to think that dialectics resorts to "obscure philosophies". Historical materialism is the dialectic of the materialist conception of history. This is what makes it a science.
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    Were this claim truly metaphysical, and hence not falsifiable/verifiable, it would be the case that the world would look no different no matter what the truth value of said proposition.
    Verifiable doesn't mean that predictions based on it come to pass. That makes soothsaying a science. If the claim were verifiable why don't all bourgeois sociologists and scientists simply verify it and acknowledge it as fact? Because there's no way to verify it experimentally.
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    Trivas:

    Because there's no way to verify it experimentally.
    And how do you know?

    And why do 'experiments' matter? Social science uses other ways to verify its propositions.

    And, once more, you are confusing 'verifiable' with 'verified'.

    I gave several examples of indicative sentences from Marx which were verifiable, even if some or all of them have not yet been verified.

    You have dealt with this in your usual way -- by ignoring it.

    Historical materialism is the dialectic of the materialist conception of history.
    So you keep saying, but you go very quiet when asked to prove it, or even show that Marx accepted this.
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    And we are still waiting to hear from you what the 'limitations' of formal logic are.
    The following by Marx is an example of dialectical logic:
    At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society come in conflict with the existing relations of production, or -- what is but a legal expression for the same thing -- with the property relations within which they have been at work hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an epoch of social revolution.
    What is this statement expressed in formal logic?
    Last edited by trivas7; 14th June 2008 at 17:10.
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