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Re: Anti-dialectics

Post by Rosa Lichtenstein on Thu Mar 06, 2014 6:55 pm

This has been taken from Essay Ten Part One.

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%20010_01.htm

HEX -- Hegelian Expansionism

Hex And Scepticism

John Rees and other DM-theorists almost invariably depict reductionism in negative terms, while DM-holism is offered as up an effective bulwark against it. For example, the part/whole relation is described in the following way:

"One important point to note about this approach is that it is, by its very nature, opposed to reductionism." [Rees (1998), p.5.]

That is because it:

"…presupposes the parts and the whole are not reducible to each other. The parts and the whole mutually condition, or mediate, each other. And a mediated totality cannot form part of a reductionist philosophy because, by definition, reductionism collapses one element of a totality into another without taking account of its specific characteristics." [Ibid., pp.8-9.]

The merits of Rees's argument isn't of immediate concern here..., but his attempt to counterpose his own approach to CAR, which alternative involves something that would be more accurate if it were re-named "Hegelian Expansionism" [henceforth, HEX] --, but which others call "Inflationism" --, is.

[CAR = Cartesian Reductionism.]

Now, several consequences of a HEX-like methodology are outlined in the quotations from Lenin and Engels given below: HEX holds out the prospect of an infinite task ahead of anyone rash enough to take this approach seriously.

"'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.234-35. Italic emphasis in the original; bold emphasis added.]

"Cognition is the eternal, endless approximation of thought to the object." [Lenin (1961), p.195.]

HEX-type investigations proceed in the opposite direction to those taken by a CAR-like analysis. One of the avowed aims of reductionism is (a) to depict the properties of objects and processes in terms of its more basic (perhaps elementary) parts, or (b) to account for them with as few general laws as possible. However, the problem with reductionism is that while it is possible to make a start it isn't possible to bring it to an end. [Why this is so will not be entered into here.]

In contrast, the situation with HEX is far worse; while it is also impossible for HEX to reach a conclusion, it can't in fact begin. The reason for saying that is bound up with the fact that instead of seeking increasingly fundamental units, HEX-theorists aim to find ever wider, more involved and inclusive connections, which must be explored before any attempt to depict the "specific characteristics" of anything in particular can even begin; that is before the "concrete" aspects  of an object/process can be ascertained:

"One of the basic principles of dialectics is that there is no such thing as abstract truth, truth is always concrete." [Lenin (1976), p.276.]

"[D]ialectical logic holds that 'truth is always concrete, never abstract', as the late Plekhanov liked to say after Hegel". [Lenin (1921), p.93.]

"A tumbler is assuredly both a glass cylinder and a drinking vessel. But there are more than these two properties and qualities or facets to it; there are an infinite number of them, an infinite number of 'mediacies' and inter-relationships with the rest of the world….

"If we are to have true knowledge of an object we must look at and examine all its facets, its connections and 'mediacies'. That is something we cannot ever hope to achieve completely, but the rule of comprehensiveness is a safeguard against mistakes and rigidity…." [Ibid., pp.92-93. Bold emphases added.]

This approach to knowledge, of course, immediately stops the dialectical roller-coaster in its tracks because no element in this metaphysical wild goose chase is ascertainable before all the rest have been -– meaning, of course, that none ever will be. Since one half of this open-ended meander through endless epistemological space involves the completion of an infinite (or endless) task, neither option is viable. Therefore, the entire process can't end, and it can't begin.

HEX-theorists themselves admit that their approach delivers only "partial"/"relative" truths (at best). To be sure, the latter are supposed to edge humanity ever-closer to "absolute truth" (if they have been tested in practice). Nevertheless, the infinitary (or endless) nature of the task ahead of them completely undermines the whole exercise. Each element in the Totality in effect lies at the centre of a set of 'concentric circles' (or 'spheres', if we move into a metaphorical 'third dimension') with infinitely expanding regions of ever-broader 'interconnections' emanating outward from that centre.

Unfortunately, the indefinite expansion of the radii of each of these circles of "partial knowledge" would have no discernible effect on the remaining level of ignorance. That is because the difference between a large finite number of facts (representing the current state of "partial knowledge") and the infinite number of facts constituting "Absolute" knowledge, is itself infinite.

If a finite cardinal of arbitrary size is subtracted from the smallest transfinite cardinal, the latter remains the same size (always assuming, of course, that post-Cantorian cardinal number theory is itself correct -- I will pass no comment on that here). [Links omitted.]

So, even if humanity accumulated knowledge (in terms of facts, connections and theories) comparable to an arbitrarily large real number, say 10^10^10 (that is, one followed by ten billion zeros) the difference between that number and the smallest 'infinite' cardinal would itself still be infinite.

For Whom The Noumenon Tolls

Now, as we saw, Engels's view of all this went as follows:

"'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.234-35. Italic emphasis in the original.]

[Lenin said more-or-less the same, as we also saw.]

But, this means that no matter how far science advances, humanity would still be no nearer to obtaining "absolute" knowledge than it is at present, or than it was, say, 20,000 years ago. In that case, clearly, the "asymptotic progress" metaphor is a highly (i.e., an infinitely) misleading picture of the progress of scientific knowledge.

In the final analysis, therefore, DM possesses its own version of Kant's unknowable Noumenon -– but one that has been given a temporal twist and projected into the 'infinite' future.

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

To repeat a point made earlier: according to DM, since the entire nature of the part is determined by its relation to the whole -- and vice versa --, and since we do not, and never will know the whole, we can't, and will never know the part. In which case, Engels should have said: "Fundamentally, we know nothing" -- i.e., "Fundamentally, we are infinitely ignorant of everything".

Hence, there seems to be little point in bragging about DM's ability to penetrate to the heart of reality -- or to grasp the "thing-in-itself" -- if it now turns out that the results of this particular example of dialectical-bravado have to be postponed forever.

In that case, if the road to epistemological Nirvana is paved with such god-like intentions, human ignorance will always remain infinite.

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

Added in a footnote: It could be objected that even partial truths are still partially true. In which case, DM in no way implies scepticism. The comments in this Essay seem to want to ignore that simple fact.

Or, so it could be argued.

However, the above alleged fact (i.e., that even partial truths are still partially true) is itself infinitely far from the truth(!) -- if Engels is to be believed --, and, as such, it stands an incalculably high probability of being completely wrong. And it will always remain in that state this side of an endless dialectical-meander through infinite epistemological space, a search that must actually reach dialectical Valhalla before DM-fans can finally declare it an 'absolute truth'!

Short of that, they can't even declare that this is a "partial truth" about the nature of partial truths!

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

Engels's Divergent 'Realism'

Again, the process of 'increasing knowledge' was also summarised by Engels in the following way:

"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." [Engels to Schmidt (12/3/1895), in Marx and Engels (1975), p.457. Italic emphasis in the original.]

Reading between the lines here, it is quite clear that Engels himself sort of half understood the implications of what he was saying: this approach to knowledge in fact undermines itself since human beings will forever remain infinitely ignorant of everything, and thus of anything (as a result of the Wholist principle, outlined above -- added on edit: this has also been reproduced in an earlier post of mine in this thread), and that includes the truth of Engels's own claims about the infinitary path the truth, recorded above!

In the face of this, as elsewhere, Engels's reaction is instructive: he just ignored the problem -- even though, on this view, no matter how much human beings might like to think they knew about anything, that wouldn't advance them one nanometre closer to the Holy Grail of 'Absolute Knowledge'.

Nevertheless, even this way of depicting things is misleading. The idea of an asymptotic approach in mathematics is connected with the concept of a limit -- if the limit concerned can be shown to exist. But, if a given series has no limit, then a set of its partial sums can't in fact "approach" anything at all. Such a series is said to be divergent -- not convergent. Engels's argument depends on knowledge converging on a limit which limit he manifestly neglected to show exists. [Links omitted.]

Moreover, and as far as can be ascertained, not one single DM-theorist (even those who are familiar (or competent) with mathematics and logic) has noticed this major flaw in Engels's 'theory', let alone attempted to rectify it.

Naturally, this means that the asymptotic approach metaphor is completely inappropriate. Either that, or Engels knew there was a limit, constructed it, but forgot to write the proof in the margin of the above letter -- a bit like Pierre Fermat and his 'last theorem', perhaps. [Link omitted.]

However, before anyone tries to locate the proof of 'Engels's Last Theorem', it would be far wiser to conclude that this claim of his is yet another example of a priori legislation (for instance, that there is indeed such a limit) -- ultimately derived from the HEX-pert himself, Hegel -- and one that has been dutifully and uncritically copied by generations of the DM-faithful ever since.

In that case, another annoying dialectical inversion now confronts DM-fans: if Engels and Lenin are to be believed, knowledge isn't in fact asymptotically convergent on an absolute limit, but divergent. Worse still, in a part/whole system -- where the nature of the part iscompletely conditioned by the whole (and vice versa) -- what is known is qualified by what is not known. If that is so, what little is 'known' implies that human beings will forever remain trapped in a bottomless pit of infinite ignorance -- even supposing we could assert that much with any confidence (which, if HEX were correct, we couldn't).

This means that the sum total of what we now 'know' about the "specific characteristics" of any part of the Whole is overwhelmingly outweighed by a black hole of infinite ignorance around which we humans must forever orbit, and whose grip we can never shake off. Given HEX, this bottomless pool of ignorance will never evaporate, diminish or dissipate.

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

Added in a footnote: It might be objected that a function might be able to map results that could lie asymptotically close to a limit in one sense, but infinitely distant from it in another. For example, the curve y = 1/x is close to (but still infinitely far from) the x-axis, when, for instance, x = 1 x 10^1000000000, but the function still maps the output value closer as x approaches positive infinity.

However, as pointed out in the main body of this Essay, this analogy only works if the limit (as y approaches zero and x approaches positive infinity) can be shown to exist. Once again, Engels failed to demonstrate this with respect to the 'limit' implied by his metaphor.

Again, it could be argued that certain iterative functions in mathematics might yield infinite sequences, and yet that doesn't mean that the distance between any intermediate value given by partial sums of that function and the point toward which it is converging is itself infinite. For example, the sequence: 1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 +...+ 1/2^(n-1) converges on 2 (as n approaches positive infinity), but none of the rational numbers (formed from the partial sums of this series) is infinitely far from 2. [Links omitted.]

This is not strictly correct, but even if it were the case, the above would have been an effective response had Engels bothered to prove that the limit he claims exists (implied by the asymptote metaphor) actually does exist. But since he didn't, it isn't.

The only way this sceptical conclusion can be avoided would be to deny that the search for 'Absolute Knowledge' is in any way infinitary. Clearly, that would place a condition on the object of knowledge before we knew what it was!

But, given what Engels and Lenin said, this denial itself would be infinitely far from the truth, and would thus carry with it an infinite probability that it was false!

Anyway, this response would also mean that several passages from the DM-classics (quoted above) would need to be revised/ignored/ditched, along with the above 'asymptote' metaphor, since they plainly do imply such an infinitary task. Indeed, they go further -- they actually say it is infinite, and "demand" we regard it the same way, too.

----------------------
 
And that is why HEX can't begin; because, on this view, we are infinitely ignorant of every element in the Totality we can assert nothing with any confidence that it will be true, or about anything supposedly in this 'Totality'. Whatever is said about any object or process has an infinitely high probability of being completely wrong, given the great "cloud of unknowing" that forever surrounds everything. This is true even with respect to the humblest of objects found in this fathomless Whole -- like the tumbler Lenin spoke about -- (again, always supposing we could say even that much!).

And there is little point directing our attention to what we know already, since, on this view, not only could we know nothing about anything, we could be infinitely ignorant of everything.

But, if nothing said about any object is even remotely correct (indeed, on this view, if it is 'infinitely' incorrect), then even a reference to 'it' must surely become problematic. In fact, given this depressing view, each putative 'it' might not in fact be an 'it', since, of course, any assertion that 'it' was indeed an 'it' must itself be infinitely wide of the mark!

And yet, this is the Dialectical Mangle into which Engels and Lenin (as well as more recent DM-theorists, such as Levins and Lewontin) happily fed Marxist theory!...

HEX Reduced To Absurdity

Compare this sorry tale with that revealed by mitigated reductionist practice (in science): the latter has actually produced astounding results in every field in which it has been applied. From Genetics to Quantum Mechanics, Organic Chemistry to Geology, Medicine to Computing, detailed descriptions and explanations of countless processes and phenomena in nature have been developed over the last few centuries.

In stark contrast, HEX has yet to provide anyone with a single explanation of anything in the natural world. And, what is worse, we have just seen that it can't even begin to provide such an explanation.

Now, this isn't meant to deny the importance of holistic explanations in science -- nor yet to endorse metaphysical reductionism --, but HEX isn't the same as scientific holism. HEX postulates an infinite system of interconnections; scientific holism simply makes do with a large finite set.

In addition, it doesn't unwisely claim that:

"…The entire nature of the part is determined by its relationships with the other parts and so with the whole. The part makes the whole, and the whole makes the parts." [Rees (1998), p.5.]

As we have seen, if DM is true, this means that humanity will always remain ignorant of the nature of any part of the 'Totality' until they knew the full details of every connection it had with the whole, and vice versa. But, since the former will never happen, the latter can't even get underway. Indeed, in view of the fact that the Whole will forever remain unknown, human beings will never be in a position even to say what its connections with the parts are, or what relationship each part has with any other part, and hence what each of them actually is -- given that the entire nature of any part depends on its relation to other parts and to the whole (and vice versa).

Yet Another Dialectical Inversion

This Essay began by reminding readers that theorists (and not just dialecticians) have yet to find a way of guaranteeing that their theories about the contingent present can in some way bind the future course of events with any sort of necessity. Traditional answers were cast into outer darkness in Essay Three Part Two, but here we have seen that the DM-'answer' is in infinitely worse condition.

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2003_02.htm

Dialectical HEX-ologists claim to be able to see the infinite in the finite, the Absolute in the conditioned. According to them, general words employed in ordinary and/or scientific contexts imply that there is just such an Absolute (a 'we-know-not-what', which is in reality a 'we-will-never-know-what'), connected with each and every object and process in existence.

Knowledge, they claim, is edging ever closer to this absolute limit. But, as we have discovered, this endless meander implies the opposite: infinite ignorance and corrosive skepticism.

DM-theorists make much of their ability to explain connections, history, causation and development in nature, etc. However, when we examine the assembled article -- and ignore the official brochure -- we find that given 'Materialist Dialectics', human knowledge soon becomes lost in the obscure recesses of their nebulous Totality -- the Ideal Absolute of DIM's alleged inversion of Hegel.

[DIM = Dialectical Marxism.]

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

Finally, I have called the work Levins and Lewontin (and, of course, that of all other DM-theorists in relation to DM), 'Mickey Mouse Science'. Here is why (this has been taken from two Essays: Engels and Mickey Mouse Science and Essay Seven Part One (links above and below).

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

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

Mickey Mouse Science

Anyone who has studied or practiced genuine science knows the great care and attention to detail that has to be devoted by researchers, often over many years or decades, if they want to add to or alter even relatively minor areas of current knowledge, let alone establish a new law. This was the case in Engels's day, just as it is the case today. Moreover, the concepts employed by scientists have to be precise and analytically sound. The use of primary data is essential (or it has at least to be reviewed or referenced by the scientists involved), and supporting evidence has to be accurate, detailed, meticulously recorded, and subject not only to public scrutiny, but also to peer review.

In contrast, the sort of Mickey Mouse Science one finds in Creationist literature is rightly the target of derision by scientists and Marxists alike. And yet, when it comes to DM, we find in Engels's writings (and those of subsequent dialecticians) little other than Mickey Mouse Science. Engels supplied no original data, and what little evidence he offered in support of his 'Laws' would have been rejected as amateurish in the extreme if it had appeared in an undergraduate science paper, let alone in a research document --, even in his day! It is salutary, therefore, to compare Engels's approach to scientific proof with that of Darwin, whose classic work is a model of clarity and original research. Darwin presented the scientific community with extensive evidence and fresh data, which has been greatly expanded upon and augmented over the last 150 years.

Contrast, therefore, DM-Mickey Mouse Science with the real thing; here, for example, is one report of the accuracy achieved by the instruments aboard the recently launched Gaia satellite:

"'Gaia was not designed to take Hubble-like pictures; this is not its operating mode at all. What it will eventually do is draw little boxes around each of the stars you see in this picture and send just that information to the ground.'

"The satellite has been given an initial mission duration of five years to make its 3D map of the sky.

"By repeatedly viewing its targets, it should get to know the brightest stars' coordinates down to an error of just seven micro-arcseconds -- an angle equivalent to a euro coin on the Moon being observed from Earth." [Quoted from here. [Link omitted.] Accessed 06/02/2014. Bold emphasis added.] [Added on edit: a micro-arcsecond is one millionth of an arcsecond, and arcsecond is 1/3600th of a degree.]

Even back in the 16th century, astronomers were concerned with accuracy and precision; Tycho Brahe. for instance, was able to observe the heavens with the naked eye down to an accuracy of one arcminute (i.e., 1/60th of a degree!). Once again, this is typical of genuine science, which, naturally, starkly distinguishes it from the 'science' we encounter in DM.

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

Added in a footnote: In late September 2011 the news media were full of stories about an experiment that seemed to show that a beam of neutrinos had exceeded the speed of light. [Links omitted.]

"'Light-speed' neutrinos point to new physical reality

"Subatomic particles have broken the universe's fundamental speed limit, or so it was reported last week. The speed of light is the ultimate limit on travel in the universe, and the basis for Einstein's special theory of relativity, so if the finding stands up to scrutiny, does it spell the end for physics as we know it? The reality is less simplistic and far more interesting.

"'People were saying this means Einstein is wrong,' says physicist Heinrich Päs of the Technical University of Dortmund in Germany. 'But that's not really correct.'

"Instead, the result could be the first evidence for a reality built out of extra dimensions. Future historians of science may regard it not as the moment we abandoned Einstein and broke physics, but rather as the point at which our view of space vastly expanded, from three dimensions to four, or more.

"'This may be a physics revolution,' says Thomas Weiler at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, who has devised theories built on extra dimensions. 'The famous words 'paradigm shift' are used too often and tritely, but they might be relevant.'

"The subatomic particles -- neutrinos -- seem to have zipped faster than light from CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland, to the OPERA detector at the Gran Sasso lab near L'Aquila, Italy. It's a conceptually simple result: neutrinos making the 730-kilometre journey arrived 60 nanoseconds earlier than they would have if they were travelling at light speed. And it relies on three seemingly simple measurements, says Dario Autiero of the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Lyon, France, a member of the OPERA collaboration: the distance between the labs, the time the neutrinos left CERN, and the time they arrived at Gran Sasso.

"But actually measuring those times and distances to the accuracy needed to detect nanosecond differences is no easy task. The OPERA collaboration spent three years chasing down every source of error they could imagine...before Autiero made the result public in a seminar at CERN on 23 September.

"Physicists grilled Autiero for an hour after his talk to ensure the team had considered details like the curvature of the Earth, the tidal effects of the moon and the general relativistic effects of having two clocks at different heights (gravity slows time so a clock closer to Earth's surface runs a tiny bit slower).


"They were impressed. 'I want to congratulate you on this extremely beautiful experiment,' said Nobel laureate Samuel Ting of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after Autiero's talk. 'The experiment is very carefully done, and the systematic error carefully checked.'

"Most physicists still expect some sort of experimental error to crop up and explain the anomaly, mainly because it contravenes the incredibly successful law of special relativity which holds that the speed of light is a constant that no object can exceed. The theory also leads to the famous equation E = mc^2.

"Hotly anticipated are results from other neutrino detectors, including T2K in Japan and MINOS at Fermilab in Illinois, which will run similar experiments and confirm the results or rule them out (see 'Fermilab stops hunting Higgs, starts neutrino quest')....

"Even if relativity is pushed aside, Einstein has worked so well for so long that he will never really go away. At worst, relativity will turn out to work for most of the universe but not all, just as Newton's mechanics work until things get extremely large or small. 'The fact that Einstein has worked for 106 years means he'll always be there, either as the right answer or a low-energy effective theory,' Weiler says." [Grossman (2011), pp.7-9. Bold emphases added; quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted at my site.]

This is how genuine science is practiced. Three years looking for possible errors! Even today, scientists around the world are still pouring over the data, looking for mistakes in the experiment or in its interpretation. They certainly do not attack each other for having the temerity to question Einstein, or even those who arranged this experiment. Nor do they moan about "pedantry" when their work is peer reviewed; and they certainly do not retreat into a 'dialectical sulk' and refuse to engage with those who insist on their work being checked and double-checked.

That is the difference between science and dialectical 'science'. And, it takes a little more than a few references to balding heads, boiling water or the Mamelukes to establish even a remotely possible counter-example to Einstein's theory.

Oddly enough, several references to the a priori musings of a Hermetic Mystic who lived 200 years ago aren't sufficient, either.

[Added on edit: subsequent investigation discovered a fault in an important cable, which led to these anomalous results.]

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

The picture is almost the exact opposite when we turn to consider not just the paucity of evidence illustrating (it certainly doesn't prove) Engels's first 'Law', the transformation of quantity into quality [Q/Q], but also the total lack of clarity in the concepts employed. In Anti-Dühring and Dialectics of Nature, for example, we aren't told what a "quality" is, nor how long a dialectical "node" is supposed to last. Furthermore, we are left completely in the dark what the phrase "addition" of matter and energy means, nor are we told what the energetic (thermodynamic) boundaries are (or if there are any!) to the systems under consideration. Indeed, we aren't even told what constitutes a system, nor what counts as that system "developing"!

What we find in the DM-literature are the same old examples retailed year-in, year-out: boiling/freezing water, balding heads, plants negating seeds, Mendeleyev's Table, North/South poles of magnets, wave-particle duality, and, of course, those pesky Mamelukes --, despite the fact that it is relatively easy to show that these 'Laws' fail to work even here. [On tat, see essay Seven part One; link above). In addition we are informed by one and all of the "limitations" of FL (and by comrades who can't even get Aristotle right!), that "internal contradictions" lie behind every example of change in the entire universe, for all of time (while in the same breath these comrades swear blind that they do not "impose" dialectics on nature!). These hoary old DM-verities are wheeled-out year after year as if they were still cutting edge science, and not the Mickey Mouse Science they demonstrably are. [Apologies for the mixed metaphors here!]

Moreover, supporting 'evidence' alone is considered; problem cases are just ignored. In this, too, DM further resembles 'Creation Science'.

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

But, what sort of scientific 'Law' leaves details like these out? In fact, if a Mickey Mouse 'Law' like this were to appear in any of the genuine sciences, its author(s) would be treated with derision -- and this would be so even if it had been aired in an undergraduate paper!....

The reason why I have called DM "Mickey Mouse Science" is quite plain. The examples usually given by DM-fans to illustrate the First 'Law' are (almost without exception) either amateurish, anecdotal or impressionistic. If someone were to submit a paper to a science journal purporting to establish the veracity of a new law with the same level of vagueness, imprecision, triteness, lack of detail and/or lack of mathematics, aggravated by comparable theoretical naivety, it would be rejected out-of-hand at the first stage, its author's reputation forever tarnished.

Indeed, dialecticians would themselves treat with derision any attempt to establish, say, either the truth of classical economic theory or the invalidity of Marx's work with an evidential display that was as crassly amateurish as this --, to say nothing of the contempt they would show for such theoretical wooliness. In circumstances like these, dialecticians, who might otherwise be quick to cry "pedantry" at the issues raised here (and in other Essays published at this site), would become devoted pedants themselves, and would nit-pick with the best at such inferior, anti-Marxist work....

To be sure, there are a handful of scientists who accept these three 'Laws' as laws (for instance, Levins and Lewontin) -- and particularly those who hailed from previous generations of the Communist Party (e.g., Bernal, Haldane and Levy, etc.), but it is plain that these comrades would have treated with contempt a PhD thesis that relied on evidence as feeble and as thin as much that is to be found in the DM-literature.

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Re: Anti-dialectics

Post by Rosa Lichtenstein on Thu Mar 13, 2014 11:25 am

Celtiberian, I have just received a copy of the book you mentioned, and after a quick look at the relevant chapter, Heilbroner's account looks reasonably fair and unusually clear. There isn't much new in it, however, but that opinion might change after I have had a chance to study it in more detail. I'll get back to you on this when I have.

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Re: Anti-dialectics

Post by Celtiberian on Sun Mar 16, 2014 8:54 pm

Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:Celtiberian, I have just received a copy of the book you mentioned, and after a quick look at the relevant chapter, Heilbroner's account looks reasonably fair and unusually clear. There isn't much new in it, however, but that opinion might change after I have had a chance to study it in more detail. I'll get back to you on this when I have.

I look forward to reading your thoughts on his arguments in defense of the methodology.

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Re: Anti-dialectics

Post by Rosa Lichtenstein on Thu Mar 20, 2014 6:35 pm

Ok, but it will be a couple of weeks before I get back to you.

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Re: Anti-dialectics

Post by Celtiberian on Fri Mar 21, 2014 9:33 pm

Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:Ok, but it will be a couple of weeks before I get back to you.

That's all right, take your time.

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Re: Anti-dialectics

Post by Rosa Lichtenstein on Sun Apr 13, 2014 11:02 am

Ok, I have read Heilbroner's attempt to make 'the dialectic' comprehensible. As I said earlier, his account is remarkably clear, which is a big plus in my view. However, his analysis is just a simplified version of similar analyses found in many other books and articles on this theory -- for example, Scott Meikle's 'Dialectical Contradiction And Necessity', in Mepham, J., and Ruben, D-H. (1979), (eds.), Issues In Marxist Philosophy, Volume Three: Epistemology, Science, Ideology (Harvester Press).

I have responded to this sort of analysis here:

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2008_02.htm#Contradictions-In-Das-Kapital

In view of he fact that I have taken up rather too much space in this thread already, I won't post any of the above material here.

[However, if you are using Internet Explorer 10, you might find the above link won't work properly unless you switch to 'Compatibility View' (in the Tools Menu).]

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Re: Anti-dialectics

Post by slavicsocialist on Thu May 08, 2014 5:03 am

The best example of Dialectical Materialism is nature and evolution. One just has to read Stalin's book "Dialectical and Historical Materialism" to be educated against this metaphysical garbage.

https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1938/09.htm

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Re: Anti-dialectics

Post by Rosa Lichtenstein on Thu May 08, 2014 9:11 am

SlavicSocialist:

The best example of Dialectical Materialism is nature and evolution. One just has to read Stalin's book "Dialectical and Historical Materialism" to be educated against this metaphysical garbage.

Unfortunately, I have read and studied the book you mention (along with literally hundreds of other books and articles on this failed theory -- I have in fact been studying this topic since the mid-1970s), and it makes all the usual mistakes.

I have outlined many of them here:

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2007.htm

And, far from nature and evolution being examples of 'dialectical materialism', they in fact refute it, as do both history and practice.

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%20010_01.htm


Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein on Fri May 09, 2014 6:54 am; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Anti-dialectics

Post by slavicsocialist on Fri May 09, 2014 2:18 am

Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
Unfortunately, I have read and studied the book you mention (along with literally hundreds of other books and articles on this failed theory -- I have in fact ben studying this topic since the mid-1970s), and it makes all the usual mistakes.
So what ideology do you support instead of Dialectical Materialism?

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Re: Anti-dialectics

Post by Rosa Lichtenstein on Fri May 09, 2014 4:54 am

SlavicSocialist:

So what ideology do you support instead of Dialectical Materialism?

It's not an ideology, but a scientific theory -- called Historical Materialism, provided every trace of Hegel's work (and that of every other ruling-class philosopher) has been excised.

There is a clue to that effect in my signature.

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