Thread: Dialectics..?

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  1. #1
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    Default Dialectics..?

    Can someone summarize in a few words what exactly dialectics means? I have searched for this on the net yet I haven't quite managed to find a comprehensible definition. Please do not (yet) critique it, Rosa, I am merely asking what the common understanding is of this word.

    So far, this is what I understand:
    Thesis + antithesis = synthesis

    And the whole world is, according to dialectics, defined by this rule? Or at least society? Or am I wrong in this assumption of what dialectics means?

    Perhaps there is more to dialectics than this as well?

    Thanks in advance.
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    I think that's about it, but these dialectians will put loads of other theory behind it to make it terribly complicated.

    I think it's too damn confusing and I dont really see the purpose of it.
    When does this stuff come in handy?, maybe we can bore the bourgeoise during the revolution with it and kill them in their sleep.
    Dialectics arent worth the time.
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    My shorthand of what dialectics is: change through the development of contradictions.

    The Greeks used it to describe the sort of dialogues Plato wrote whereby people take someone's initial view, which others disagree with, and, through reasoned debate, end up in agreement. Hegel, and others, used this to describe how ideas develop and change.

    The triad, thesis, antithesis, synthesis, based on the Ancient Greeks' idea, is another shorthand. Some see this as an oversimplification which it is, although it is a useful simplification IMO.

    There's an awful lot of it though.
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    ajs2007:

    The triad, thesis, antithesis, synthesis, based on the Ancient Greeks' idea, is another shorthand. Some see this as an oversimplification which it is, although it is a useful simplification IMO.
    This is in fact Kant and Fichte's schema. Hegel turned his nose up at it.

    Details here:

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.p...95&postcount=7
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    I have also heard people equating this "triad" with the form of a spiral. Saying the history of society moves like a spiral, or something to that extent. Can anyone describe why this form, exactly?
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    Dystisis:

    I have also heard people equating this "triad" with the form of a spiral. Saying the history of society moves like a spiral, or something to that extent. Can anyone describe why this form, exactly?
    This is Engels and Lenin's attempt to explain the alleged 'dialectical' progression of knowledge. They conceive the convergence on 'truth' not as a simple linear process (with humanity pregressing steadily 'toward the light'), but as a sort of faltering backward and forward movement -- three steps forward, two steps backward sort of thing.

    For example, the ancient atomists were 'closer to the truth' than earlier theorists were who believed in the four forms of matter (air, water, fire and earth). Even so, the four forms theory dominated science until early modern times. But, that theory was not fully wrong, since it was better than what went before it (namely mystical, theo-centric ideas about nature). Nevertheless, it too was replaced in modern times by atomism, which was not itself fully true, and this was in turn replaced by quantum mechanics, which is 'closer to the truth', and so on.

    So, we are told that the path to truth is a backward and forward movement. We do not move in on the truth so much as spiral toward it.

    The problem with this idea is that if it were true itself then it would refute the idea that we never quite attain truth. This is because, if this view of final truth (i.e., about truth never being final) is true, then it itself cannot be true!

    If it were, it would be a final truth, which this theory denies we ever have access to (except, that is, at the end of an infinite meander through epistemological space).

    So, we could only ever say this 'spiral theory' itself is true at the end of time!

    On the other hand, if we now declare the 'spiral theory 'true', then it cannot be true, for we would, on this basis, already have attained truth in the here-and-now, not at the end of the spiral!

    In short, this idea is no less confused than every other idea in dialectics!
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    Dialectics are a tool that lets you speak without saying anything at all.

    It provides a "recipe" to insert "catch phrases" into a subject.

    Some example catch phrases:

    "By the negation of the negation..."

    "...the interpenetration of opposites..."

    "...contradiction..."

    "...dialectical unity..."

    And so on and so forth. The net result is that you sound pretentious and you have a way to get out of an argument for free by uttering "It is evident that you just don't understand the dialectic...".
    TragicClown: "i'm not though...i'm how like, every conservative christian father would want their daughter to behave"
    Intelligitimate: "The bible has gang-rape in it...I like the Bible."
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    Dialectics are a tool that lets you speak without saying anything at all.

    It provides a "recipe" to insert "catch phrases" into a subject.

    Some example catch phrases:

    "By the negation of the negation..."

    "...the interpenetration of opposites..."

    "...contradiction..."

    "...dialectical unity..."

    And so on and so forth. The net result is that you sound pretentious and you have a way to get out of an argument for free by uttering "It is evident that you just don't understand the dialectic...".

    Hahahahahahah
    I used to do that when I didn't quite understand dialectics.
    Now that I do I think dialectics is a useful tool of analyzing history, politics,economy and even literature!


    To the OP:
    Dialectics is hard to understand but one you do that will create a qualitative leap in your conciousness,

    Therefore I will apply dialectics and I ll tell you that the quantity of reading transforms into quality of your conciousnes
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    OIOIOI:

    Dialectics is hard to understand but one you do that will create a qualitative leap in your conciousness,
    1) Dialectics is impossible to understand -- I'd like to see you prove otherwise. [To be fair, I have proved my side of this challenge, at my site.] Witness the difficulties dialectical comrades are having explaining, for example, what a 'dialectical contradiction' is, here:

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/contradict...742/index.html

    2) Your comment makes it sound like the eager novitiate has to be 'born again', and have the 'scales drop fron his/her eyes' before the sacred mystreries of this Hermetic creed can illuminate her/her soul.

    Small wonder we call you lot mystics!

    3) Max Eastman was right: Hegelism is like a mental disease -- you cannot know what it is until you get it, and then you can't know because you have got it.
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    1) Dialectics is impossible to understand -- I'd like to see you prove otherwise. [To be fair, I have proved my side of this challenge, at my site.]
    I wish I had the time and patience that you have explaining your ideas.
    Unfortunately I don't


    2) This sounds like the eager novitiate has to be 'born again', and have the 'scales drop fron his/her eyes' before the sacred mystreries of the Hermetic creed can illuminate her/her soul. Small wonder we call you lot msytics!
    haha
    Although this sounds funny it is also exagerated.
    It wasn't mystic it was a way of saying that he will open up his brain to new horizons or wtv.
    It is like when you teach a kid the ABC .That creates a qualitative leap on his/her conciousnes .
    3) Max Eastman was right: Hegelism is like a mental disease -- you cannot know what it is until you get it, and then you can't know because you have got it.
    Nah I think OI OI OI was right when he said " Dialectics is kewl and whoever doesn't understand dialectics is a newb lawl. "
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    OIOIOI:

    Although this sounds funny it is also exagerated.
    It wasn't mystic it was a way of saying that he will open up his brain to new horizons or wtv.
    It is like when you teach a kid the ABC .That creates a qualitative leap on his/her conciousnes .
    1) It's not exaggerated. In well over 25 years of debating and studying this mystical creed, I have yet to encounter a single dialectician who can explain it. It is quite apparent to me that it is based on faith and dogma. [Trivas is an excellent example of this mallady.]

    2) This 'leap' (of faith!) you keep referring to is, I presume, the one that is covered by Engels's first 'law'. Unfortunatley, that 'law' is far too vague and defective for anyone to base any opinions upon. Check these threads out:

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/quantity-q...709/index.html

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/stalin-mat...588/index.html

    3) All this is no surprise, since this theory in fact derives from an ancient mystical tradition in which only those whom 'God' illuminated could 'understand' its sacred mysteries.

    Check these out:

    http://www.gnostic.org/kybalionhtm/kybalion1.htm

    http://www.gnostic.org/kybalionhtm/kybalion2.htm

    http://www.gnostic.org/kybalionhtm/kybalion3.htm

    http://www.gnostic.org/kybalionhtm/kybalion9.htm

    http://www.gnostic.org/kybalionhtm/kybalion10.htm

    If you read these, you will soon see what the real source of 'dialectics' is.

    And Hegel was a Hermeticist, too:

    http://www.marxists.org/reference/su...s/en/magee.htm
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    I know a bit about hermeticism, as well as pythagoreanism. There is definitely something similar with the concept of the "triad" of thesis, and some elements of numeration and sacred geometry. To be honest, so far dialectics seems more vague. Plus, a weird thing that it relies on opposition (duality) being the only possible result of division of unity.
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    Well, if you examine the links I have posted above, you will see that there is far more than just similarity between dialectics and Hermeticism (so much so, that we should consider banishing the dialecticians to the Religion section!).

    For example:

    CHAPTER X

    POLARITY

    "Everything is dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet; all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled."

    The great Fourth Hermetic Principle-the Principle of Polarity-embodies the truth that all manifested things have "two sides"; "two aspects"; "two poles"; a "pair of opposites," with manifold degrees between the two extremes. The old paradoxes, which have ever perplexed the mind of men, are explained by an understanding of this Principle. Man has always recognized something akin to this Principle, and has endeavored to express it by such sayings, maxims and aphorisms as the following: "Everything is and isn't, at the same time"; "all truths are but half-truths"; "every truth is half-false"; "there are two sides to everything"; "there is a reverse side to every shield," etc., etc.

    The Hermetic Teachings are to the effect that the difference between things seemingly diametrically opposed to each is merely a matter of degree. It teaches that "the pairs of opposites may be reconciled," and that "thesis and antithesis are identical in nature, but different in degree''; and that the ''universal reconciliation of opposites" is effected by a recognition of this Principle of Polarity. The teachers claim that illustrations of this Principle may be had on every hand, and from an examination into the real nature of anything. They begin by showing that Spirit and Matter are but the two poles of the same thing, the intermediate planes being merely degrees of vibration....

    CHAPTER IX

    VIBRATION

    "Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates."

    The great Third Hermetic Principle-the Principle of Vibration-embodies the truth that Motion is manifest in everything in the Universe-that nothing is at rest-that everything moves, vibrates, and circles. This Hermetic Principle was recognized by some of the early Greek philosophers who embodied it in their systems. But, then, for centuries it was lost sight of by the thinkers outside of the Hermetic ranks. But in the Nineteenth Century physical science re-discovered the truth and the Twentieth Century scientific discoveries have added additional proof of the correctness and truth of this centuries-old Hermetic doctrine.

    The Hermetic Teachings are that not only is everything in constant movement and vibration, but that the "differences" between the various manifestations of the universal power are due entirely to the varying rate and mode of vibrations....
    http://www.gnostic.org/kybalionhtm/kybalion10.htm

    http://www.gnostic.org/kybalionhtm/kybalion9.htm
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 2nd September 2008 at 12:38.
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    Can someone summarize in a few words what exactly dialectics means?
    [FONT=Verdana]What is dialectics?[/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana]At its most general level it is the ‘science’* of movement and connection, and is the method employed by Marx to understand the complex manifestations and relations of social life. The general content of the dialectic (what Marx refers to as the ‘rational kernel’ of the Hegelian dialectic) is an emphasis on interaction, development, qualitative ‘leaps’, and contradiction in our understanding of history.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana]Hegel argued that history proceeded dialectically. Marx agreed, but whereas Hegel saw this process located in the world of ideas (or Spirit), Marx argued that it was the dialectical relationship between the forces and relations of production, made manifest through class struggle, which drove history forward.[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]Lenin puts it like this: [/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana]What Marx and Engels called the dialectical method – as against the metaphysical – is nothing else than the scientific method in sociology, which consists in regarding society as a living organism in a state of constant development (What ‘The Friends of the People’ Are, p. 65). [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana]I think we can break it down like this:
    [/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana]View of Reality: In a state of development, or movement, within a complex of interconnected relations.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana]Method of Analysis: A many-sided and relational appreciation of the concrete. For instance, social classes can only be understood in relation to each other because (according to "View of Reality" above) they only exist as a relation to each other.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana]Relationship to natural science: It was Marx and Engels view that progress in the scientific understanding of the natural world (Darwin, for example) was revealing a similar process of development and movement as that which their studies were uncovering in the understanding of history. This does not mean that society and nature operate according to the same laws - merely that both are in a state of development and therefore have a history.
    [/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana]* 'Science' in the German sense of the word, ‘wissen’.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana]
    [/FONT]
    "Events have their own logic, even when human beings do not." - Rosa Luxemburg

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

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    BTB:

    At its most general level it is the ‘science’* of movement and connection, and is the method employed by Marx to understand the complex manifestations and relations of social life. The general content of the dialectic (what Marx refers to as the ‘rational kernel’ of the Hegelian dialectic) is an emphasis on interaction, development, qualitative ‘leaps’, and contradiction in our understanding of history.
    1) This is not quite right; 'movement' here is supposed to be the result of the action of 'internal contradictions', the nature of which has resisted all attempts at explanation.

    2) Despite being asked many times, dialecticians still refuse to tell us how long these 'leaps' are supposed to last, which means that this idea can be applied subjectively in a 'science' that is supposed to be objective.

    3) Again, despite being asked many times, dialecticians also refuse to tell us what these 'qualities' are supposed to be. This means that dialectics is more accurately to be described as 'Mickey Mouse Science'.

    4) According to Marx's own description of 'his method', this 'rational kernel' is in fact empty, since it contains no 'contradictions', no 'negation of the negation', no 'quantity passing over into quality', no 'unity and identity of opposites', no 'interconnected totality', no 'universal change'...

    Hegel argued that history proceeded dialectically. Marx agreed, but whereas Hegel saw this process located in the world of ideas (or Spirit), Marx argued that it was the dialectical relationship between the forces and relations of production, made manifest through class struggle, which drove history forward. Lenin puts it like this:
    Unfortunately, Hegel, Engels, Lenin, Plekhanov, and Mao all declared that dialectical opposites will sooner or later inevitably turn into one another. That means that the forces of production and the relations of production will one day turn into one another. So, according to this 'scientific' theory, things like factories, railway systems, airports and coal mines will one day turn into the class relations of ownership and control, etc.!

    A many-sided and relational appreciation of the concrete. For instance, social classes can only be understood in relation to each other because (according to "View of Reality" above) they only exist as a relation to each other.
    1) This confuses objects with relations.

    2) We have yet to be told (once again!) what the word 'concrete ' means when it is used by dialecticians.

    In short, this theory is a mass of confusions, vagueness and mysticism.

    Small wonder then that it has presided over 150 years of almost total failure.
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    BTB:
    1) This is not quite right; 'movement' here is supposed to be the result of the action of 'internal contradictions', the nature of which has resisted all attempts at explanation.
    This is entirely an idealist understanding of movement in the science of dialectics. Movement isn't the effect of something else. Movement is matter in motion.
    2) Despite being asked many times, dialecticians still refuse to tell us how long these 'leaps' are supposed to last, which means that this idea can be applied subjectively in a 'science' that is supposed to be objective.
    Leaps are the observed effect of quantitative changes turn into qualitative ones. There is nothing re dialectics that preclude a subjective dimension to science.
    4) According to Marx's own description of 'his method', this 'rational kernel' is in fact empty, since it contains no 'contradictions', no 'negation of the negation', no 'quantity passing over into quality', no 'unity and identity of opposites', no 'interconnected totality', no 'universal change'...
    Marx is embued with a tendency of seeing contradiction, relationships between disparate processes. His scientific socialism is entirely predicated on the development of historically mediated contradictions.
    Unfortunately, Hegel, Engels, Lenin, Plekhanov, and Mao all declared that dialectical opposites will sooner or later inevitably turn into one another. That means that the forces of production and the relations of production will one day turn into one another. So, according to this 'scientific' theory, things like factories, railway systems, airports and coal mines will one day turn into the class relations of ownership and control, etc.!
    Hegel, Engels, Lenin Plekhanov and Mao believed no such nonsense.
    Small wonder then that it has presided over 150 years of almost total failure.
    Only an idealist metaphysician believes that dialectics are the determining revolutionary force in history.
    Last edited by trivas7; 2nd September 2008 at 16:34.
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    Trivas:

    This is entirely an idealist understanding of movement in the science of dialectics. Movement isn't the effect of something else. Movement is matter in motion.
    Ok, smarty pants, my reference to 'movement' was in relation to what BTB alleged of it, so pick a fight with him, not me.

    And, it is worth pointing out too that you have passed up another golden opportunity to tell us what these mysterious 'dialectical contradictions' are.

    Leaps are the observed effect of quantitative changes turn into qualitative ones. There is nothing re dialectics that preclude a subjective dimension to science.
    And yet they are supposed to be objective features of reality. In no other branch of science would a key idea like this go undefined. But, let us remember, this is Mickey Mouse Dialectics, not science, so it's all OK.

    Moreover, there are countless qualitative changes in nature and society that do not go through a 'leap'. For example, melting metal, glass, plastic, butter and toffee.

    And even the hackneyed example of boiling water refutes this 'law'; the addition of energy at the alleged 'nodal point', when water turns into steam, produces nothing new. Either side of the alleged change, the substance is still H20. No new 'quality' has emerged.

    Marx is imbued with a tendency of seeing contradiction, relationships between disparate processes. His scientific socialism is entirely predicated on the development of historically mediated contradictions.
    Not in Das Kapital it isn't, as I have shown here many times.

    And for all the sense this quoted passage of yours makes, you might as well have posted:

    Marx is imbued with a tendency of seeing slithy tove, relationships between disparate processes. His scientific socialism is entirely predicated on the development of historically mediated slithy toves.
    This is because we know no more nor no less about these mysterious 'contradictions' you keep referring to than we do about slithy toves.

    And you lot keep refusing to tell us -- or when you do, what you say makes no sense at all.

    Hegel, Engels, Lenin Plekhanov and Mao believed no such thing.
    Oh yes they did (and so do many other dialecticians), and here are the quotes:

    "Everything is opposite. Neither in heaven nor in earth, neither in the world of mind nor nature, is there anywhere an abstract 'either-or' as the understanding maintains. Whatever exists is concrete, with difference and opposition in itself. The finitude of things with then lie in the want of correspondence between their immediate being and what they essentially are. Thus, in inorganic nature, the acid is implicitly at the same time the base: in other words its only being consists in its relation to its other. Hence the acid persists quietly in the contrast: it is always in effort to realize what it potentially is. Contradiction is the very moving principle of the world." [Hegel (1975), p.174.]

    "If, for instance, the Sophists claimed to be teachers, Socrates by a series of questions forced the Sophist Protagoras to confess that all learning is only recollection. In his more strictly scientific dialogues, Plato employs the dialectical method to show the finitude of all hard and fast terms of understanding. Thus in the Parmenides he deduces the many from the one. In this grand style did Plato treat Dialectic. In modern times it was, more than any other, Kant who resuscitated the name of Dialectic, and restored it to its post of honour. He did it, as we have seen, by working out the Antinomies of the reason. The problem of these Antinomies is no mere subjective piece of work oscillating between one set of grounds and another; it really serves to show that every abstract proposition of understanding, taken precisely as it is given, naturally veers round to its opposite.

    "However reluctant Understanding may be to admit the action of Dialectic, we must not suppose that the recognition of its existence is peculiarly confined to the philosopher. It would be truer to say that Dialectic gives expression to a law which is felt in all other grades of consciousness, and in general experience. Everything that surrounds us may be viewed as an instance of Dialectic. We are aware that everything finite, instead of being stable and ultimate, is rather changeable and transient; and this is exactly what we mean by that Dialectic of the finite, by which the finite, as implicitly other than what it is, is forced beyond its own immediate or natural being to turn suddenly into its opposite." [Hegel (1975), pp.117-18.]

    "The law of the interpenetration of opposites.... [M]utual penetration of polar opposites and transformation into each other when carried to extremes...." [Engels (1954), pp.17, 62.]

    "Dialectics, so-called objective dialectics, prevails throughout nature, and so-called subjective dialectics, dialectical thought, is only the reflection of the motion through opposites which asserts itself everywhere in nature, and which by the continual conflict of the opposites and their final passage into one another, or into higher forms, determines the life of nature. Attraction and repulsion. Polarity begins with magnetism, it is exhibited in one and the same body; in the case of electricity it distributes itself over two or more bodies which become oppositely charged. All chemical processes reduce themselves -- to processes of chemical attraction and repulsion. Finally, in organic life the formation of the cell nucleus is likewise to be regarded as a polarisation of the living protein material, and from the simple cell -- onwards the theory of evolution demonstrates how each advance up to the most complicated plant on the one side, and up to man on the other, is effected by the continual conflict between heredity and adaptation. In this connection it becomes evident how little applicable to such forms of evolution are categories like 'positive' and 'negative.' One can conceive of heredity as the positive, conservative side, adaptation as the negative side that continually destroys what has been inherited, but one can just as well take adaptation as the creative, active, positive activity, and heredity as the resisting, passive, negative activity." [Ibid., p.211.]

    "For a stage in the outlook on nature where all differences become merged in intermediate steps, and all opposites pass into one another through intermediate links, the old metaphysical method of thought no longer suffices. Dialectics, which likewise knows no hard and fast lines, no unconditional, universally valid 'either-or' and which bridges the fixed metaphysical differences, and besides 'either-or' recognises also in the right place 'both this-and that' and reconciles the opposites, is the sole method of thought appropriate in the highest degree to this stage. Of course, for everyday use, for the small change of science, the metaphysical categories retain their validity." [Ibid., pp.212-13.]

    "Further, we find upon closer investigation that the two poles of an antithesis positive and negative, e.g., are as inseparable as they are opposed and that despite all their opposition, they mutually interpenetrate. And we find, in like manner, that cause and effect are conceptions which only hold good in their application to individual cases; but as soon as we consider the individual cases in their general connection with the universe as a whole, they run into each other, and they become confounded when we contemplate that universal action and reaction in which causes and effects are eternally changing places, so that what is effect here and now will be cause there and then, and vice versa." [Engels (1976), p.27.]

    "Already in Rousseau, therefore, we find not only a line of thought which corresponds exactly to the one developed in Marx's Capital, but also, in details, a whole series of the same dialectical turns of speech as Marx used: processes which in their nature are antagonistic, contain a contradiction; transformation of one extreme into its opposite; and finally, as the kernel of the whole thing, the negation of the negation. [Ibid., p.179.]

    "And so every phenomenon, by the action of those same forces which condition its existence, sooner or later, but inevitably, is transformed into its own opposite…." [Plekhanov (1956), p.77.]

    "[Among the elements of dialectics are the following:] [I]nternally contradictory tendencies…in [a thing]…as the sum and unity of opposites…. [This involves] not only the unity of opposites, but the transitions of every determination, quality, feature, side, property into every other [into its opposite?]….

    "In brief, dialectics can be defined as the doctrine of the unity of opposites. This embodies the essence of dialectics….

    "The splitting of the whole and the cognition of its contradictory parts…is the essence (one of the 'essentials', one of the principal, if not the principal, characteristic features) of dialectics….

    "The identity of opposites…is the recognition…of the contradictory, mutually exclusive, opposite tendencies in all phenomena and processes of nature…. The condition for the knowledge of all processes of the world in their 'self-movement', in their spontaneous development, in their real life, is the knowledge of them as a unity of opposites. Development is the 'struggle' of opposites…. [This] alone furnishes the key to the self-movement of everything existing….

    "The unity…of opposites is conditional, temporary, transitory, relative. The struggle of mutually exclusive opposites is absolute, just as development and motion are absolute…." [Lenin (1961), pp.221-22, 357-58.]

    "Hegel brilliantly divined the dialectics of things (phenomena, the world, nature) in the dialectics of concepts…. This aphorism should be expressed more popularly, without the word dialectics: approximately as follows: In the alternation, reciprocal dependence of all notions, in the identity of their opposites, in the transitions of one notion into another, in the eternal change, movement of notions, Hegel brilliantly divined precisely this relation of things to nature…. [W]hat constitutes dialectics?…. [M]utual dependence of notions all without exception…. Every notion occurs in a certain relation, in a certain connection with all the others." [Lenin (1961), pp.196-97.]

    "'This harmony is precisely absolute Becoming change, -- not becoming other, now this and then another. The essential thing is that each different thing, each particular, is different from another, not abstractly so from any other, but from its other. Each particular only is, insofar as its other is implicitly contained in its Notion...' Quite right and important: the 'other' as its other, development into its opposite." [Ibid., p.260. Lenin is here commenting on Hegel (1995), pp.278-98; this particular quotation coming from p.285.]

    "Dialectics is the teaching which shows how Opposites can be and how they happen to be (how they become) identical, -- under what conditions they are identical, becoming transformed into one another, -- why the human mind should grasp these opposites not as dead, rigid, but as living, conditional, mobile, becoming transformed into one another." [Ibid., p.109.]

    "Development is the 'struggle' of opposites." [Lenin, Collected Works, Volume XIII, p.301.]

    "Dialectics comes from the Greek dialego, to discourse, to debate. In ancient times dialectics was the art of arriving at the truth by disclosing the contradictions in the argument of an opponent and overcoming these contradictions. There were philosophers in ancient times who believed that the disclosure of contradictions in thought and the clash of opposite opinions was the best method of arriving at the truth. This dialectical method of thought, later extended to the phenomena of nature, developed into the dialectical method of apprehending nature, which regards the phenomena of nature as being in constant movement and undergoing constant change, and the development of nature as the result of the development of the contradictions in nature, as the result of the interaction of opposed forces in nature....

    "Contrary to metaphysics, dialectics holds that internal contradictions are inherent in all things and phenomena of nature, for they all have their negative and positive sides, a past and a future, something dying away and something developing; and that the struggle between these opposites, the struggle between the old and the new, between that which is dying away and that which is being born, between that which is disappearing and that which is developing, constitutes the internal content of the process of development, the internal content of the transformation of quantitative changes into qualitative changes." [Stalin (1976b), pp.836, 840.]

    "Why is it that '...the human mind should take these opposites not as dead, rigid, but as living, conditional, mobile, transforming themselves into one another'? Because that is just how things are in objective reality. The fact is that the unity or identity of opposites in objective things is not dead or rigid, but is living, conditional, mobile, temporary and relative; in given conditions, every contradictory aspect transforms itself into its opposite....

    "In speaking of the identity of opposites in given conditions, what we are referring to is real and concrete opposites and the real and concrete transformations of opposites into one another....

    "All processes have a beginning and an end, all processes transform themselves into their opposites. The constancy of all processes is relative, but the mutability manifested in the transformation of one process into another is absolute." [Mao (1961b), pp.340-42.]

    "The law of contradiction in things, that is, the law of the unity of opposites, is the basic law of materialist dialectics....

    "As opposed to the metaphysical world outlook, the world outlook of materialist dialectics holds that in order to understand the development of a thing we should study it internally and in its relations with other things; in other words, the development of things should be seen as their internal and necessary self-movement, while each thing in its movement is interrelated with and interacts on the things around it. The fundamental cause of the development of a thing is not external but internal; it lies in the contradictoriness within the thing. There is internal contradiction in every single thing, hence its motion and development....

    "The universality or absoluteness of contradiction has a twofold meaning. One is that contradiction exists in the process of development of all things, and the other is that in the process of development of each thing a movement of opposites exists from beginning to end.... [Ibid, pp.311-18.]

    "The second dialectical law, that of the 'unity, interpenetration or identity of opposites'…asserts the essentially contradictory character of reality -– at the same time asserts that these 'opposites' which are everywhere to be found do not remain in stark, metaphysical opposition, but also exist in unity. This law was known to the early Greeks. It was classically expressed by Hegel over a hundred years ago….

    "[F]rom the standpoint of the developing universe as a whole, what is vital is…motion and change which follows from the conflict of the opposite." [Guest (1963), pp.31, 32.]

    "The negative electrical pole…cannot exist without the simultaneous presence of the positive electrical pole…. This 'unity of opposites' is therefore found in the core of all material things and events." [Conze (1944), pp.35-36.]

    "Second, and just as unconditionally valid, that all things are at the same time absolutely different and absolutely or unqualifiedly opposed. The law may also be referred to as the law of the polar unity of opposites. This law applies to every single thing, every phenomenon, and to the world as a whole. Viewing thought and its method alone, it can be put this way: The human mind is capable of infinite condensation of things into unities, even the sharpest contradictions and opposites, and, on the other hand, it is capable of infinite differentiation and analysis of things into opposites. The human mind can establish this unlimited unity and unlimited differentiation because this unlimited unity and differentiation is present in reality." [Thalheimer (1936), p.161.]

    "This dialectical activity is universal. There is no escaping from its unremitting and relentless embrace. 'Dialectics gives expression to a law which is felt in all grades of consciousness and in general experience. Everything that surrounds us may be viewed as an instance of dialectic. We are aware that everything finite, instead of being inflexible and ultimate, is rather changeable and transient; and this is exactly what we mean by the dialectic of the finite, by which the finite, as implicitly other than it is, is forced to surrender its own immediate or natural being, and to turn suddenly into its opposite.' (Encyclopedia, p.120)." [Novack (1971), 94-95; quoting Hegel (1975), p.118, although in a different translation from the one used here.]

    "Contradiction is an essential feature of all being. It lies at the heart of matter itself. It is the source of all motion, change, life and development. The dialectical law which expresses this idea is the law of the unity and interpenetration of opposites….

    "In dialectics, sooner or later, things change into their opposite. In the words of the Bible, 'the first shall be last and the last shall be first.' We have seen this many times, not least in the history of great revolutions. Formerly backward and inert layers can catch up with a bang. Consciousness develops in sudden leaps. This can be seen in any strike. And in any strike we can see the elements of a revolution in an undeveloped, embryonic form. In such situations, the presence of a conscious and audacious minority can play a role quite similar to that of a catalyst in a chemical reaction. In certain instances, even a single individual can play an absolutely decisive role....

    "This universal phenomenon of the unity of opposites is, in reality the motor-force of all motion and development in nature…. Movement which itself involves a contradiction, is only possible as a result of the conflicting tendencies and inner tensions which lie at the heart of all forms of matter....

    "Contradictions are found at all levels of nature, and woe betide the logic that denies it. Not only can an electron be in two or more places at the same time, but it can move simultaneously in different directions. We are sadly left with no alternative but to agree with Hegel: they are and are not. Things change into their opposite. Negatively-charged electrons become transformed into positively-charged positrons. An electron that unites with a proton is not destroyed, as one might expect, but produces a new particle, a neutron, with a neutral charge.

    "This is an extension of the law of the unity and interpenetration of opposites. It is a law which permeates the whole of nature, from the smallest phenomena to the largest...." [Woods and Grant (1995), pp.43-47, 63-71.]

    "This struggle is not external and accidental…. The struggle is internal and necessary, for it arises and follows from the nature of the process as a whole. The opposite tendencies are not independent the one of the other, but are inseparably connected as parts or aspects of a single whole. And they operate and come into conflict on the basis of the contradiction inherent in the process as a whole….

    "Movement and change result from causes inherent in things and processes, from internal contradictions….

    "Contradiction is a universal feature of all processes….

    "The importance of the [developmental] conception of the negation of the negation does not lie in its supposedly expressing the necessary pattern of all development. All development takes place through the working out of contradictions -– that is a necessary universal law…." [Cornforth (1976), pp.14-15, 46-48, 53, 65-66, 72, 77, 82, 86, 90, 95, 117; quoting Hegel (1975), pp.172 and 160, respectively.]

    "Opposites in a thing are not only mutually exclusive, polar, repelling, each other; they also attract and interpenetrate each other. They begin and cease to exist together.... These dual aspects of opposites -- conflict and unity -- are like scissor blades in cutting, jaws in mastication, and two legs in walking. Where there is only one, the process as such is impossible: 'all polar opposites are in general determined by the mutual action of two opposite poles on one another, the separation and opposition of these poles exists only within their unity and interconnection, and, conversely, their interconnection exists only in their separation and their unity only in their opposition.' in fact, 'where one no sooner tries to hold on to one side alone then it is transformed unnoticed into the other...'" [Gollobin (1986), p.115; quoting Engels.]

    "The unity of opposites and contradiction.... The scientific world-view does not seek causes of the motion of the universe beyond its boundaries. It finds them in the universe itself, in its contradictions. The scientific approach to an object of research involves skill in perceiving a dynamic essence, a combination in one and the same object of mutually incompatible elements, which negate each other and yet at the same time belong to each other.

    "It is even more important to remember this point when we are talking about connections between phenomena that are in the process of development. In the whole world there is no developing object in which one cannot find opposite sides, elements or tendencies: stability and change, old and new, and so on. The dialectical principle of contradiction reflects a dualistic relationship within the whole: the unity of opposites and their struggle. Opposites may come into conflict only to the extent that they form a whole in which one element is as necessary as another. This necessity for opposing elements is what constitutes the life of the whole. Moreover, the unity of opposites, expressing the stability of an object, is relative and transient, while the struggle of opposites is absolute, ex pressing the infinity of the process of development. This is because contradiction is not only a relationship between opposite tendencies in an object or between opposite objects, but also the relationship of the object to itself, that is to say, its constant self-negation. The fabric of all life is woven out of two kinds of thread, positive and negative, new and old, progressive and reactionary. They are constantly in conflict, fighting each other....

    "The opposite sides, elements and tendencies of a whole whose interaction forms a contradiction are not given in some eternally ready-made form. At the initial stage, while existing only as a possibility, contradiction appears as a unity containing an inessential difference. The next stage is an essential difference within this unity. Though possessing a common basis, certain essential properties or tendencies in the object do not correspond to each other. The essential difference produces opposites, which in negating each other grow into a contradiction. The extreme case of contradiction is an acute conflict. Opposites do not stand around in dismal inactivity; they are not something static, like two wrestlers in a photograph. They interact and are more like a live wrestling match. Every development produces contradictions, resolves them and at the same time gives birth to new ones. Life is an eternal overcoming of obstacles. Everything is interwoven in a network of contradictions." [Spirkin (1983), pp.143-46.]

    "'The contradiction, however, is the source of all movement and life; only in so far as it contains a contradiction can anything have movement, power, and effect.' (Hegel). 'In brief', states Lenin, 'dialectics can be defined as the doctrine of the unity of opposites. This embodies the essence of dialectics…'

    "The world in which we live is a unity of contradictions or a unity of opposites: cold-heat, light-darkness, Capital-Labour, birth-death, riches-poverty, positive-negative, boom-slump, thinking-being, finite-infinite, repulsion-attraction, left-right, above- below, evolution-revolution, chance-necessity, sale-purchase, and so on.

    "The fact that two poles of a contradictory antithesis can manage to coexist as a whole is regarded in popular wisdom as a paradox. The paradox is a recognition that two contradictory, or opposite, considerations may both be true. This is a reflection in thought of a unity of opposites in the material world.

    "Motion, space and time are nothing else but the mode of existence of matter. Motion, as we have explained is a contradiction, -- being in one place and another at the same time. It is a unity of opposites. 'Movement means to be in this place and not to be in it; this is the continuity of space and time -- and it is this which first makes motion possible.' (Hegel)

    "To understand something, its essence, it is necessary to seek out these internal contradictions. Under certain circumstances, the universal is the individual, and the individual is the universal. That things turn into their opposites, -- cause can become effect and effect can become cause -- is because they are merely links in the never-ending chain in the development of matter.

    "Lenin explains this self-movement in a note when he says, 'Dialectics is the teaching which shows how opposites can be and how they become identical -- under what conditions they are identical, becoming transformed into one another -- why the human mind should grasp these opposites not as dead, rigid, but living, conditional, mobile, becoming transformed into one another.'" [Rob Sewell, from here.]
    References can be found at my site, here:

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

    So, if all things change into their opposites, or into that with which they 'struggle' and 'contradict', as the dialectical gospels tell us, then the forces of production should change into the relations of production, and the proletariat should change into the bourgeoisie!

    The fact that this does not happen suggests that dialectics is about as useful as a chocolate fire door.
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    Basically it's a philosophical tool that Marx and Engels used throughout their lives to reach their groundbreaking theories of class society and its inevitable destruction. It has been of great use to subsequent thinkers: Lenin used it in his work on the relationship between the vanguard party and the working class, Luxemburg in her attack on the reformism of Bernstein and Kautsky, Trotsky in his study of history, etc. etc.

    If you look at the history of Marxism, you will find that most renegades who turned reformist or even entirely anti-Marxist began by rejecting the materialist dialectic. On this website there seem to be many people who do the same, yet still consider themselves Marxists, for example Rosa and Redstar2000. I'm not sure why they object so strenuously to the dialectic, nor am I terribly interested, but I think it would be quite beneficial for people on this site learning about Marxism to investigate dialectics on their own before taking either Rosa or Redstar at their word.

    The best book I can recommend on the subject is The Algebra of Revolution by John Rees, an excellent study which I am currently wrapping up.
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    Oddly enough, RP, I began my anti-dailectics project in earnest just over ten years ago when John's book came out, and my Essays were originally aimed at pulling it apart.

    However, this is not correct:

    If you look at the history of Marxism, you will find that most renegades who turned reformist or even entirely anti-Marxist began by rejecting the materialist dialectic. On this website there seem to be many people who do the same, yet still consider themselves Marxists, for example Rosa and Redstar2000. I'm not sure why they object so strenuously to the dialectic, nor am I terribly interested, but I think it would be quite beneficial for people on this site learning about Marxism to investigate dialectics on their own before taking either Rosa or Redstar at their word.
    Now, you come from the IS tradition, like me, so from that perspective there are far more anti- and counter-revolutionaries who are dialecticians than there are revolutionaries who are, namely the Maoists and the Stalinists. So, if anything, this proves that adherence to the dialectic creates more "renegades" than the opposite tactic.

    Of course, if that is not so, then your claim that abandoning the dialectic creates "renegades" cannot itself be correct. You can't have it both ways.

    Moreover, I have been a revolutionary for over 25 years, and I am more convinced today of the need for a revolutionary transformation of society -- led by a vanguard party of workers (on the Leninist model) -- than I was 25 years ago.

    So, the story you tell is not at all correct.

    And the theory you advocate is even less correct, as my Essays and posts here show.

    Finally, all this is academic; but if truth is tested in practice, then the last 150 years of almost total failure of Dialectical Marxism shows that there must be something wrong with our core theory.

    If it doesn't, then it is false that truth is tested in practice.

    -----------------------

    Incidentally, John was told at Marxism 1990 that his view of logic was woefully inaccurate, but he has ignored that and reproduced those serious errors in his book. My advice is, ignore everything he says about logic, and especially everything he reports Trotsky saying about the 'Law of Identity' (a law Trostky confuses with the Principle of Equality, as does John and most other dialecticians).

    Proof here:

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%2006.htm
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    And yet they are supposed to be objective features of reality.
    Not so; there's nothing in the German understanding of 'wissen' that precludes it from being a subjective feature of reality.
    Moreover, there are countless qualitative changes in nature and society that do not go through a 'leap'. For example, melting metal, glass, plastic, butter and toffee.
    But this is why I said 'leaps' are subjective observations. They are not laws of the chemical composite of matter.
    Not in Das Kapital it isn't, as I have shown here many times.
    I suggest you reread Capital with an open mind.
    Oh yes they did (and so do many other dialecticians), and here are the quotes:
    Nonsense; none of these quotes state that the means of production turn into the relations of production, which would be an absurd proposition.
    Eppur si muove -- Galileo Galilei


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