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Anti-Dialectics For Dummies?

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Soviet cogitations: 4764
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Jul 2007, 06:59
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Forum Commissar
Post 14 Sep 2011, 07:05
I see what you are doing, Rosa. You are attributing Marxism with an individiual ahistorical idealism that has never belonged there.

Marxism has never reduced reality to an "apprehension" of reality, or much less to "thought". Maybe the way it is being expressed isn't the most accurate, but the spirit of it should rise above such semantics.

We mustn't lose sight of what Marx so greatly explained in his Second Thesis on Feuerbach:

Quote:
The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question. Man must prove the truth, i.e., the reality and power, the this-sidedness [Diesseitigkeit] of his thinking, in practice. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking which is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question.


Here he is bringing back our active side, which has been so obscured by the contemplative abstractions of thinkers. What we perceive is a social, historical product, but this isn't something purely "subjective", since this has been PROVEN by practice. Objects are "born" from our interactions with them, they are delineated (sp?) from our understanding of them. As any scientist might tell you, we build models, we control things, in order to discover how they interact "without us",

So, to take the fact that we see broken glass as broken glass (note the Wittgenstenian terminology), recognize what it is as an object, doesn't mean that the glass exists "only in our thought". We might venture that something ontologically exists, but beyond that, it's scholastics, and not worth wasting time on.

The important thing to remember is that reality doesn't come in a "subjective apprehension" and an "objective existence"; both objective and subjective are historical categories forged by our historical praxis. It is only through practice that we discern from the undifferenciated whole what is objective and what is subjective. That is, every"thing", every sensation "exists" as such, but it is only though activity and culture that we can correctly separate what "really" exists as an object and what merely exists as sensation. What is "truth" and what is "error."

As Charles Peirce explained:

Quote:
Cognitions that reach us are of two kinds, true and not-true, that is, cognitions whose objects are real and those whose objects are unreal. What do we understand by "real"? It is a conception that we should have had for the first time when we discovered that there was something unreal, an ilusion; in other words, the first time we were corrected. The real is that over which sooner or later should end up in information and reasoning, in consequence, independent of the extravagancies of the I and you. The true origin of reality shows that this conception essencially implies the notion of a COMMUNITY with no precise boundaries.


I hope this helps in clearing some of the confusion.


BTW, quoting from dead Marxists and trying to force us to accept these statements as our own argument is not a healthy tactic. Our allegiance is to truth, and the positivist excesses of a lot of DiaMat is well documented. Engels Dialectics of Nature has been refuted by a great deal of Marxists, who are precisely Marxists in that they reject any essencialist excess.
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"You say you have no enemies? How is this so? Have you never spoken the truth, never loved justice?" - Santiago Ramón y Cajal
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 08 Nov 2010, 22:13
Ideology: Trotskyism
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Post 14 Sep 2011, 08:26
Praxicoide:

Quote:
I see what you are doing, Rosa. You are attributing Marxism with an individiual ahistorical idealism that has never belonged there.

Marxism has never reduced reality to an "apprehension" of reality, or much less to "thought". Maybe the way it is being expressed isn't the most accurate, but the spirit of it should rise above such semantics.


Well, no; this is g_red's theory, not mine! I do not have a philosophical theory, nor do I want one, nor do we need one, so I suggest you take this up with g_red, not me.

In which case, much of your post was wasted effort.


Quote:
BTW, quoting from dead Marxists and trying to force us to accept these statements as our own argument is not a healthy tactic. Our allegiance is to truth, and the positivist excesses of a lot of DiaMat is well documented. Engels Dialectics of Nature has been refuted by a great deal of Marxists, who are precisely Marxists in that they reject any essencialist excess.


In fact, I quote living and dead Marxists. [Do you really object to me quoting Lenin and Mao?]

Anyway, you quoted a dead Marxist -- Marx! And a dead bourgeois philosopher, too -- Peirce!!

And I am not attacking Diamat as such, but all forms of 'materialist dialectics' (but not in this thread).

Recall, this thread centres on the comments several comrades made about my attempt to summarise classical Dialectical Materialism for absolute beginners. [How many times do I have to make this point!?]

So, it would be inappropriate for me enter into the 'deeper' aspects of this theory (if there are any, that is).

And, no, you haven't cleared anything up at all. That Peirce quotation, for example, is radically confused (and, ironically, seems to contradict Hegel).
"The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves."
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Jul 2007, 06:59
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Post 14 Sep 2011, 22:32
It is very frustrating to attempt to engage in conversation someone who gets so hung up on semantics. What do you understand by philosophy? Something like an estranged speculative practice that incurs in grammatical violations or something like that. Is this the only way to understand this? Is it inevitably this what it is talked about when the word comes into play? This seems highly presumptuous. Especially considering the usage of "philosophical problem" to refer to matters referring to the possibility of truth, methodology, metatheory, or even to one's picture of reality and the (class) assumtions this brings. In this very licit sense, it is highly dangerous (and false) to talk about an absence of philosophy (in this sense) and borderline dishonest to lock down discussion merely because of semantics. Could we say that W. had no theory of truth or objectivity, no class contents, because he rejected the label of philosophy? Were you not critiquing a conception of reality just one page back using an objective/subjective divide? How are you above my clarification of those categories as relative and historical simply because you summarily dismiss it by shieking away from philosophy. For shame.

EDIT:

Re: Quotations. I am not saying that you shouldn't use quotations, and I I gave you that idea, I'm sorry. What I'm saying is that you are proceeding with an inverse argument from authority, using what appears to be flawed statements from "authorities" to dismiss positive arguments offered in this thread (people trying to explain what dialectics "is", not about defending this or that figure). It is this tactic which I find devious.
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"You say you have no enemies? How is this so? Have you never spoken the truth, never loved justice?" - Santiago Ramón y Cajal
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 08 Nov 2010, 22:13
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Post 15 Sep 2011, 01:47
Praxicoide:

Quote:
It is very frustrating to attempt to engage in conversation someone who gets so hung up on semantics.


Well, one of the problems with traditional thought was it's sloppy use of language and logic. Forgive me if I, like other analytic philosophers, point this out, and insist on clarity.

As I have written elsewhere:

Quote:
However, to those who think that this sort "pedantry" (or "semantics") can be ignored, it's worth pointing out that this is the only way they are able excuse their own sloppy thinking, and the only way they can make their ideas appear to work.

This sort of attitude would not be tolerated for one second in the sciences, or in any other branch of genuine knowledge. Can you imagine the fuss if someone were to argue that it does not matter what the Magna Carta says, or when and where the Battle of the Nile was fought, or what the Declaration of Independence actually contains, or what the exact wording is of Newton's Second Law, or whether "G", the Gravitational Constant, is 6.6742 x 10^-11 or 6.7642 x 10^-11 Mm^2kg^-2, or indeed something else? Would we accept this sort of excuse from a boss who said that the precise wording of an employment contract was irrelevant? Or, that it was of no real concern what Marx really meant by "variable capital", or who complained that he had "pedantically" distinguished use-value from exchange-value -- or more pointedly, the "relative form" from the "equivalent form" of value --, and that this distinction is merely "semantic"? And how would we react if someone said, "Who cares if there are serious differences in the evidence given by two cops against those strikers"? Or, if someone retorted "Big deal if there are a few errors in this or that e-mail address/web page URL, or in that mathematical proof! And who cares whether there's a difference between rest mass and inertial mass in Physics! What are you, some sort of pedant?"


Quote:
What do you understand by philosophy?


That, of course, is a philosophical question itself.

I mean it in the sense it has always been meant (since at least Plato's day): the attempt to formulate a general theory of 'Being', existence and meaning. This approach to 'knowledge' goes hand-in-hand with the idea that there is a hidden world, anterior to experience, which is more real than the material world we see around us, and which is accessible to thought alone.

Quote:
Something like an estranged speculative practice that incurs in grammatical violations or something like that. Is this the only way to understand this?


Er, no; but like Marx I do believe this:

Quote:
We have shown that thoughts and ideas acquire an independent existence in consequence of the personal circumstances and relations of individuals acquiring independent existence. We have shown that exclusive, systematic occupation with these thoughts on the part of ideologists and philosophers, and hence the systematisation of these thoughts, is a consequence of division of labour, and that, in particular, German philosophy is a consequence of German petty-bourgeois conditions. The philosophers have only to dissolve their language into the ordinary language, from which it is abstracted, in order to recognise it, as the distorted language of the actual world, and to realise that neither thoughts nor language in themselves form a realm of their own, that they are only manifestations of actual life. [Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, p.118. Bold emphasis added.]


And, I also think that traditional philosophy is part of this estimation, too:

Quote:
The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance. The individuals composing the ruling class possess among other things consciousness, and therefore think. Insofar, therefore, as they rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an epoch, it is self-evident that they do this in its whole range, hence among other things rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch. For instance, in an age and in a country where royal power, aristocracy, and bourgeoisie are contending for mastery and where, therefore, mastery is shared, the doctrine of the separation of powers proves to be the dominant idea and is expressed as an 'eternal law.' [Ibid., pp.64-65. Bold emphasis added.]


As I have also posted elsewhere:

Quote:
In the 'West', since Ancient Greek times, traditional thinkers have been imposing their theories on nature. In fact, this practice is so widespread and has penetrated into traditional thought so deeply that few notice it, even after it has been pointed out to them. Or, rather, they fail to see its significance.

Now, if you belong to, benefit from or help run a society which is based on gross inequality, oppression and exploitation, you can keep order in several ways.

The first and most obvious way is through violence. This will work for a time, but it is not only fraught with danger, it is costly and it stifles innovation (among other things).

Another way is to persuade the majority (or a significant section of "opinion formers", philosophers, administrators, intellectuals, editors and theorists, etc.) that the present order either works for their benefit, is ordained of the 'gods', or that it is 'natural' and cannot be fought, reformed or negotiated with. [Which explains the importance of its invisibility.]

As is well known, this tactic has been used for millennia; hence we have Theology and other assorted ruling-class ideologies.

All of these were imposed on reality by those who invented them -- plainly, since they cannot be read from it.

As Marx and Engels noted (in the second quotation above), members of the ruling-class often rely on other layers in society to concoct the ideas they use to try to con the rest of us into accepting their system as 'rational', 'natural', or 'divinely ordained'.

In Ancient Greece, with the demise of the rule of Kings and Queens, the old myths and Theogonies were no longer relevant. So, in the newly emerging republics and quasi-democracies of the Sixth Century BC, far more abstract, de-personalised ideas were needed.

Enter Philosophy.

From its inception, philosophers constructed increasingly baroque and abstract systems of thought. These were invariably based on obscure and arcane terminology, impossible to translate into the language of everyday life -- which theories their inventors then happily imposed on nature.

As Marx and Engels also pointed out (in the first quotation above).

Philosophers felt they could read their doctrines into nature, since, for them, nature was Mind (or, indeed, the product of Mind). In that case, the human mind could safely project its thoughts onto a world created by Mind. True thoughts were thus a "reflection" of underlying reality. "As above, so below", went the old Hermetic saying. The microcosm of the mind "reflected" the macrocosm of the universe. The doctrine of Correspondences thus came to dominate all ancient and modern theories of knowledge. On this view, 'philosophical' truth corresponded with hidden 'essences', which supposedly lay 'underneath' the superficial world of 'appearances'. These 'essences' were impossible to detect by any material means, and were thus were accessible to thought alone. As Novack pointed out, this makes all such theories Idealist:

"A consistent materialism cannot proceed from principles which are validated by appeal to abstract reason, intuition, self-evidence or some other subjective or purely theoretical source. Idealisms may do this. But the materialist philosophy has to be based upon evidence taken from objective material sources and verified by demonstration in practice...." [Novack, The Origin of Materialism, p.17. Bold emphasis added.]

Again, as Marx suggested, these systems were based on the idea that language somehow contained a secret code that 'enabled' traditional theorists to represent to themselves the rational order underlying "appearances", the hidden "secrets of nature", and in many cases the "Mind of God".

As Umberto Eco points out (in relation to the 'western' Christian tradition):

"God spoke before all things, and said, 'Let there be light.' In this way, he created both heaven and earth; for with the utterance of the divine word, 'there was light'.... Thus Creation itself arose through an act of speech; it is only by giving things their names that he created them and gave them their ontological status....

"In Genesis..., the Lord speaks to man for the first time.... We are not told in what language God spoke to Adam. Tradition has pictured it as a sort of language of interior illumination, in which God...expresses himself....

"...Clearly we are here in the presence of a motif, common to other religions and mythologies -- that of the nomothete, the name-giver, the creator of language." [Eco, The Search For The Perfect Language, pp.7-8. Bold emphases added. Quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted at this site.]

Language and thought were thus vehicles for the "inner illumination" of the 'soul'; a hot-line to 'God'. Unsurprisingly then, the thoughts produced by countless generations of ruling-class ideologues invariably turned out to be those that 'coincidentally' rationalised and 'justified' the status quo. Language was now viewed primarily as a means of representation and not as a means of communication -- contrary to what Marx and Engels had claimed.

This ancient tradition has changed many times throughout history with the rise and fall of different Modes of Production, but its form has remained basically the same: it is possible for theorists to derive fundamental truths about reality from language (or thought) alone, which can then be imposed on nature.

So, like Theology, but in this case in a far more abstract and increasingly secularised form, subsequent philosophies came to reflect the 'essential' structure of reality, which supposedly underpinned and rationalised alienated class society, mystified now by the use of increasingly obscure terminology and technical jargon.

'Materialist Dialectics' emerged from this tradition, as Lenin himself acknowledged (plainly not appreciating its significance):

"The history of philosophy and the history of social science show with perfect clarity that there is nothing resembling 'sectarianism' in Marxism, in the sense of its being a hidebound, petrified doctrine, a doctrine which arose away from the high road of the development of world civilisation. On the contrary, the genius of Marx consists precisely in his having furnished answers to questions already raised by the foremost minds of mankind. His doctrine emerged as the direct and immediate continuation of the teachings of the greatest representatives of philosophy, political economy and socialism.

"The Marxist doctrine is omnipotent because it is true. It is comprehensive and harmonious, and provides men with an integral world outlook irreconcilable with any form of superstition, reaction, or defence of bourgeois oppression. It is the legitimate successor to the best that man produced in the nineteenth century, as represented by German philosophy, English political economy and French socialism." [Lenin, Three Sources and Component Parts of Marxism. Bold emphases alone added.]

In its modern form, this doctrine was re-invented and re-packaged by a quintessentially Idealist Philosopher (Hegel), working in the mystical Neoplatonic and Hermetic traditions. It was appropriated by Marxist classicists before the working class could provide a materialist counter-weight. This theory was thus born out of Idealism, and...it has never escaped from its class-compromised clutches -- despite the materialist flip dialecticians claim to have inflicted upon it.

And that is why dialecticians are only too happy to impose their ideas on nature; it's traditional to do so, as Novack noted. Indeed, since their theory is based on ancient and idealised abstractions, it plainly cannot be derived from the material world, but must be read into it.

Unfortunately, by doing this dialecticians were (unwittingly) identifying themselves with a tradition that was not built by working people and which does not serve their interests.

Worse still, since dialectics is not based on material reality it cannot be used to help change it.

Small wonder then that it has failed us for so long.


You:

Quote:
Is it inevitably this what it is talked about when the word comes into play? This seems highly presumptuous. Especially considering the usage of "philosophical problem" to refer to matters referring to the possibility of truth, methodology, metatheory, or even to one's picture of reality and the (class) assumptions this brings. In this very licit sense, it is highly dangerous (and false) to talk about an absence of philosophy (in this sense) and borderline dishonest to lock down discussion merely because of semantics.


Well, you are welcome to this failed approach to pseudo-knowledge, but you can count me out.

Quote:
Could we say that W. had no theory of truth or objectivity, no class contents, because he rejected the label of philosophy?


Yes, I can say he had no theory of truth, etc. But, even if he had, I haven't, and nor do I want one.

But what about this?

Quote:
Were you not critiquing a conception of reality just one page back using an objective/subjective divide?


In fact, as I also pointed out, I do not prefer to use these words (there are far better words we could employ), but they seemed to me to apply to g_red's ideas. I'll be happy to withdraw them if he/she objects.

But, even if I do use these words (to refer to the ideas others promote), that does not imply I have a theory of 'objectivity' etc. In fact, in one of my essays, I spend about 5000 words showing just how useless these words really are:

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page_13%20 ... bjectivity

Quote:
How are you above my clarification of those categories as relative and historical simply because you summarily dismiss it by shieking away from philosophy?


Eh?


Quote:
For shame.


In fact, and with all due respect, since you are the one who is trying to peddle ruling-class ideas here, you should be the one to hang your head...
"The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves."
Soviet cogitations: 231
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 08 Nov 2010, 22:13
Ideology: Trotskyism
Pioneer
Post 15 Sep 2011, 01:53
P:

Quote:
Re: Quotations. I am not saying that you shouldn't use quotations, and I I gave you that idea, I'm sorry. What I'm saying is that you are proceeding with an inverse argument from authority, using what appears to be flawed statements from "authorities" to dismiss positive arguments offered in this thread (people trying to explain what dialectics "is", not about defending this or that figure). It is this tactic which I find devious.


Well, I am concerned to criticise the classical theory, not a revisionist version, formed on the hoof, by anyone else.

Moreover, these revisionist theories fail where Hegel's theory succeeded: in providing a response to Hume's criticism of rationalist theories of causation.

I can explain more if you want.

[Anyway, why do we need a theory of change? Especially if it will inevitably prove to be non-sensical, alongside every other philosophical theory that has ever been concocted, on the hoof or otherwise.]
"The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves."
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Jul 2007, 06:59
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Forum Commissar
Post 15 Sep 2011, 09:38
I am not arguing in favor of "sloppiness", on the contrary, I am arguing in FAVOR of clarity of understanding, above the indeterminacy of words.

Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
http://www.soviet-empire.com/ussr/viewtopic.php?f=107&t=49251
[...]This sort of attitude would not be tolerated for one second in the sciences, or in any other branch of genuine knowledge. Can you imagine the fuss if someone were to argue that it does not matter what the Magna Carta says, or when and where the Battle of the Nile was fought, or what the Declaration of Independence actually contains, or what the exact wording is of Newton's Second Law, or whether "G", the Gravitational Constant, is 6.6742 x 10^-11 or 6.7642 x 10^-11 Mm^2kg^-2, or indeed something else"


Yes, in those cases it is quite clear what we are referring to, but why this is so is something sometimes forgotten by us because of their abstractness and their stability, namely the model or totality they are inserted in.

Here's an example (which I'm sure you'll consider trivial) regarding that "G":

Wikipedia wrote:
G (disambiguation)

G is the seventh letter of the alphabet. It can also refer to:

Astronomy

* A stellar classification for yellowish stars
* A provisional designation in astronomy for any comet, asteroid, or minor planet discovered between April 1 and 15

[edit] Chemistry and biology

* G protein
* Glycine, an amino acid
* Guanosine, a nucleoside
* Haplogroup G (mtDNA)
* Haplogroup G (Y-DNA)
* ATC code G Genito-urinary system and sex hormones, a section of the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System

[edit] Code prefixes

* Gabon, international license plate code G
* Glasgow, UK postal code G
* One of the postal codes in Canada prefixes for the eastern part of Quebec

[edit] Computing

* "G", a visual programming language for National Instruments' LabVIEW
* G-code, common name for computer numerical control (CNC) programming language

[edit] Computer gaming

* Gold coin, a unit of currency in computer role-playing games
* G, the head secret agent who hands out the player's missions in Club Penguin
* A character in Sega's The House of the Dead (video game) series

[edit] Linguistics

* ɡ, a symbol in IPA for voiced velar stop
* ɢ, a symbol in IPA for voiced uvular plosive

[edit] Literature

* G. (novel), a novel by John Berger

[edit] Mathematics

* Meijer G-function G_{p,q}^{m,n}
* Graham's number
* Catalan's constant

[edit] Film and television

* G (2002 film), a 2002 film by Christopher Scott Cherot
* G (2004 film), a 2004 documentary film by Shonie De La Rosa and Larry Blackhorse Lowe
* G, a Motion Picture Association of America film rating system film rating indicating a film suitable for general audiences
* Andrew Günsberg, an Australian television personality
* A classification in television content rating systems, usually short for "general", meaning appropriate for everyone
* An ITU prefix allocated to the United Kingdom

[edit] Music

* G (musical note)
* Key of G
* G. (album), an album by Gotthard
* An album by Gerald Levert
* A prefix used to denote the Gérard catalog, a catalogue of Luigi Boccherini's works compiled by Yves Gérard

[edit] Physics

* G band, the range of frequencies from 4 to 6 GHz
* Gauss (unit), a unit of magnetic induction
* Gravitational constant, G
* Gibbs free energy, a function of thermodynamics
* Electrical conductance (g)
* Shear modulus
* Standard gravity (g0 or gn), the standardised acceleration due to gravity on Earth
o g-force, the acceleration of a body relative to free fall
* Graviton (g or G)
* Gluon (g)

[edit] Psychology

* General intelligence factor, or the "g factor" in psychometrics

[edit] Slang

* 1000 (number), especially in relation to money; short for “grand”
* gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid, a drug more commonly known as GHB
* gangsta in urban hip hop culture

[edit] Sports

* Goal (sport)
* Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), often referred to by locals as "The G"
* Gatorade

[edit] Units

* Gram, a unit of mass
* Giga, the SI prefix meaning 109 = 1,000,000,000
* customary prefix for Gibi, the binary multiple meaning 10243 = 1073741824

[edit] Other uses

* G (New York City Subway service), the G Brooklyn–Queens Crosstown Local, a rapid transit service
* The Gillette Company, ticker symbol G on the New York Stock Exchange
* Ground floor, particularly in elevators
* Gatorade, a brand of non-carbonated sports drink, rebranded in 2009 with a "What's G?" ad campaign & "G" labeled on their bottles
* The graphical programming language used in LabVIEW


Now, we both know that any confusion between one "G" and another "G" (the aforementioned gravitational constant or another value in an another equation) is something laughable and due to a gross misunderstanding of what the context is, but I would like to point out to this fact; how easily we forget the entire cultural edifice behind any one concept and that the precision in usage is derived from this (what we may call "discipline")

In another context (har), but aiming for the same thing was Marcel Duchamp with his critique of retinal art. As I understand it, what he and other artists in his time were doing through readymades was to bring to the forefront (and therefore question) the extoling of something as art by the mere placing of it in a museum, in a gallery. What you have is people admiring an object because they are told that they should, they have learned what is to be admired (the painting instead of the frame or a piece of wall) and only observe it as a finished product, without considering the practices they are carrying out, the institutions and the culture that are responsible for there being a "museum" with "art" for people to gaze at.

Music is much the same, not only because again we have a product (a concert, for example, or even further a composition) abstracted from practices, but also because before the destruction of norms and tonality carried forward last century, it was (is) very possible to judge a work as good or bad with relative "objectivity", simply because of the stability of the rules established and the esthetic values predominating (discipline, once again).

I don't need to bore you more explaining how this applies to science, understood a disciplnes.

What I will contrast, however, is with matters such as "language", "truth", "philosophy" and a long etcetera, Can we say that they arise crisply from a clear model? We cannot. Here we enter life, history, and a pletora of practices, a nigh-infinity of language games. It is because of this that we must understand how we are using concepts, with what rules, under what premises. To abstract from this, to "pedantly" insist on a single usage, denying other valid uses, is to fall for an abstraction, it is to fall prey to what Labriola termed "verbalism". Something very sloppy indeed.

Quote:

I mean it in the sense it has always been meant (since at least Plato's day): the attempt to formulate a general theory of 'Being', existence and meaning. This approach to 'knowledge' goes hand-in-hand with the idea that there is a hidden world, anterior to experience, which is more real than the material world we see around us, and which is accessible to thought alone.


So yeah, as I said, something like that, as ONE approach and practice carried out under certain circumstances. Very telling is how you start off from Plato and how you immediately piggyback metaphysics to any possible philosophy. It neatly leaves out the presocratic thinkers who did not divorce reality trascendently.

I again insist that this is not the only way it is understood. This is not because I will it, but because of common usage and practices.

Rosa quoting Marx wrote:
We have shown that thoughts and ideas acquire an independent existence in consequence of the personal circumstances and relations of individuals acquiring independent existence. We have shown that exclusive, systematic occupation with these thoughts on the part of ideologists and philosophers, and hence the systematisation of these thoughts, is a consequence of division of labour, and that, in particular, German philosophy is a consequence of German petty-bourgeois conditions. The philosophers have only to dissolve their language into the ordinary language, from which it is abstracted, in order to recognise it, as the distorted language of the actual world, and to realise that neither thoughts nor language in themselves form a realm of their own, that they are only manifestations of actual life. [Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, p.118. Bold emphasis added.]


Even more reason to avoid getting bogged down by semantics.

Rosa quoting Marx wrote:
The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance. The individuals composing the ruling class possess among other things consciousness, and therefore think. Insofar, therefore, as they rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an epoch, it is self-evident that they do this in its whole range, hence among other things rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch. For instance, in an age and in a country where royal power, aristocracy, and bourgeoisie are contending for mastery and where, therefore, mastery is shared, the doctrine of the separation of powers proves to be the dominant idea and is expressed as an 'eternal law.' [Ibid., pp.64-65. Bold emphasis added.]


Yes, "ruling class ideas", we don't want to peddle any ruling class ideas. We don't even want to touch them. Be it, philosophy, mathematics, art, architecture,..oh, wait.

I seem to recall a case of somebody who had to deal with this (the examples are endless, though).

Henri Lefevbre wrote:
This book, written in 1946-47, published shortly afterwards by Edicions Sociales was a part of an ambicious project: a Treaty of Dialectical Materialism in eight volumes. The firstt volume, Logique formelle, logique dialectique, was to serve as an introduction for the following volumes. But it is the only one to have come to light. In what conditions was this project abandoned? In political conditions.
In the height of the Stalinist period, aggravated by "Zdanovism", the following order was heard in France: Proletariat science against bourgeois science. A justified order, it was said, because of the world situation, and because it took practical (political) class struggle into theoretical terrain. This volume, which under no circumstance could appear in a "bourgeois" press, and which should have come as a victory over Stalinist fanatics (who believed the reading of Stalin was enough for "ideological formation") received harsh criticism from the moment it appeared. It was reprimanded for not contributing towards the creation of proletariat, revolutionary, socialist logic. The so-called Marxist ideologues who upheld this "view", if it can be called such, did not want to be shown the logic that is inherent to the world of commodities and its development. They did not want an analysis of its internal cohesion, despite the contradictions of bourgeois society (or socialist society). They wanted none of that. Instead, their thought, if it can be called such, was more radical. The demanded a logic that, as such, had a class character. And if logic could not have or receive this character, then they rejected logic. The second volume, consisting of the methodology of mathematics and to the relationship between mathematics and other sciences, responded even less to these requests (this inquisition). And since the author responded that he did not understand what was being asked of him, or how it could substitute the identity A=A or the identity (a+b)=a2+b2+2ab with a proletariat truth, the order came to interrupt the endeavour. That is, the editor broke the contract.


And this was in France. I don't need to go into how logic fared within the USSR.

Somebody could reply that this is different, because this is "science", a somehow "pure knowledge" that is apart from "ideology", and how philosophy was made for the sole purpose of bourgeois control and so on. This is false, ideology is present in all discourse, it is a dimension of any production. You cannot draw the line between something being "ideologically free" and something being "just ideology" (such a view would be falling pray to ideology, understanding the ideological effect as being the belief in the direct apprehension of an object, free from conditioning).

Rejection of any given discoursive production because it is "tainted" by ideology is an ultra-left fallacy. What is needed is to perceive ideology in any given discourse through a genealogical critique of the process that gave birth to it, This doesn't negate an idea, but it explains it, and it allows us to use it more correctly. This holds true for any branch of knowledge, only some are more changing, some are more stable.


Quote:
Yes, I can say he had no theory of truth, etc. But, even if he had, I haven't, and nor do I want one.


And I can say you are full of it. That you use the word truth means that you are adept in the language games it is applied in, this means that you are participant in the practices, the social reproduction, and the culture which generate its usage. You can remain oblivious to the explicit outlining of these processes, and therefore to a working concept of what truth is (a theory of truth), (many, many people do) but you cannot pretend to do so while at the same time claim to be carrying out science (which has to place itself mentally "above" the medium it works on).

Quote:
In fact, as I also pointed out, I do not prefer to use these words (there are far better words we could employ), but they seemed to me to apply to g_red's ideas. I'll be happy to withdraw them if he/she objects.


No, you were assuming an individualist view of objectivity/subjectivity in order to disprove their explanation of a dialectic view of reality. Your denial of delving into theory probably blinds you to this.

Another very apt quote:
Charles Beard wrote:
If you expell the spirit of philosophy out the main door, then you allow the entrance though the back door the narrow, localist class prejudices that will extend their domain, probably semiconscously, in the mind of the historian




Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:

Well, I am concerned to criticise the classical theory, not a revisionist version, formed on the hoof, by anyone else.


So in other words, you are not here in this "discussion board" to discuss anything, only to continue with your knocking down of strawmen.
Image

"You say you have no enemies? How is this so? Have you never spoken the truth, never loved justice?" - Santiago Ramón y Cajal
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 08 Nov 2010, 22:13
Ideology: Trotskyism
Pioneer
Post 15 Sep 2011, 11:57
Praxicoide:

Quote:
I am not arguing in favor of "sloppiness", on the contrary, I am arguing in FAVOR of clarity of understanding, above the indeterminacy of words.


Well, I note you used words to make this point, which, if correct, would mean that your point is indeterminate, too.

Quote:
Yes, in those cases it is quite clear what we are referring to, but why this is so is something sometimes forgotten by us because of their abstractness and their stability, namely the model or totality they are inserted in.


Are you suggesting that philosophy/dialectics does not deal with "abstractions"?

Quote:
Now, we both know that any confusion between one "G" and another "G" (the aforementioned gravitational constant or another value in an another equation) is something laughable and due to a gross misunderstanding of what the context is, but I would like to point out to this fact; how easily we forget the entire cultural edifice behind any one concept and that the precision in usage is derived from this (what we may call "discipline").


Where did I suggest otherwise? But, if we are to be clear, we are going to have to concentrate on detail and precision, where possible -- or, on what some call "semantics".

Quote:
In another context (har), but aiming for the same thing was Marcel Duchamp with his critique of retinal art. As I understand it, what he and other artists in his time were doing through readymades was to bring to the forefront (and therefore question) the extolling of something as art by the mere placing of it in a museum, in a gallery. What you have is people admiring an object because they are told that they should, they have learned what is to be admired (the painting instead of the frame or a piece of wall) and only observe it as a finished product, without considering the practices they are carrying out, the institutions and the culture that are responsible for there being a "museum" with "art" for people to gaze at.

Music is much the same, not only because again we have a product (a concert, for example, or even further a composition) abstracted from practices, but also because before the destruction of norms and tonality carried forward last century, it was (is) very possible to judge a work as good or bad with relative "objectivity", simply because of the stability of the rules established and the aesthetic values predominating (discipline, once again).

I don't need to bore you more explaining how this applies to science, understood a disciplines.


Maybe so, but I'm not too sure that this has to do with anything I argued.

Quote:
What I will contrast, however, is with matters such as "language", "truth", "philosophy" and a long etcetera, Can we say that they arise crisply from a clear model? We cannot. Here we enter life, history, and a plethora of practices, a nigh-infinity of language games. It is because of this that we must understand how we are using concepts, with what rules, under what premises. To abstract from this, to "pedantry" insist on a single usage, denying other valid uses, is to fall for an abstraction, it is to fall prey to what Labriola termed "verbalism". Something very sloppy indeed.


Where have I insisted on a "single use"? If we use these terms in different ways, then we can discuss them, and come to some agreement. If we can't, then, as I pointed out to g_red, communication will cease.

But you reply:

Quote:
So yeah, as I said, something like that, as ONE approach and practice carried out under certain circumstances. Very telling is how you start off from Plato and how you immediately piggyback metaphysics to any possible philosophy. It neatly leaves out the presocratic thinkers who did not divorce reality transcendentally.


Well, I explained how I was using this word; I nowhere said it couldn't be used in any other way, did I?

And I left out the pre-Socratics since we have far more information about Plato's (and Aristotle's) approach to this subject. In my essays, I lump these thinkers in, too, but with qualifications like this attached to them.

You can't expect me to enter into such 'pedantic' detail here, can you?

Quote:
I again insist that this is not the only way it is understood. This is not because I will it, but because of common usage and practices.


I agree (and I even use this word in relation to Wittgenstein's work, but with the caveat added that he meant it in a completely new sense, that is, as a practice aimed at unravelling the confusions we fall into when we misuse language), but then it's up to you to say what you mean by this word.

Quote:
Even more reason to avoid getting bogged down by semantics.


If by 'semantics' you mean the sort of complex jargonised confusion traditional philosophers (like Hegel) were mired in, I agree. If, on the other hand, you mean the sort of conceptual/linguistic analysis Wittgenstein (and others) practiced, I can't agree, since he (they) tried to do what Marx suggested we do (although I am not implying they were aware of his advice): return to ordinary language -- which is what I try to do.

Quote:
Yes, "ruling class ideas", we don't want to peddle any ruling class ideas. We don't even want to touch them. Be it, philosophy, mathematics, art, architecture,..oh, wait.


The difference with (traditional) philosophy is that it is purely ideological. Mathematics isn't. Of course, if you can show me where "mathematics, art, architecture..." have distorted Marxist theory, I might agree with you. Alas, you forgot to tell us.

Quote:
Henri Lefevbre wrote:

This book, written in 1946-47, published shortly afterwards by Edicions Sociales was a part of an ambitious project: a Treaty of Dialectical Materialism in eight volumes. The first volume, Logique formelle, logique dialectique, was to serve as an introduction for the following volumes. But it is the only one to have come to light. In what conditions was this project abandoned? In political conditions.
In the height of the Stalinist period, aggravated by "Zdanovism", the following order was heard in France: Proletariat science against bourgeois science. A justified order, it was said, because of the world situation, and because it took practical (political) class struggle into theoretical terrain. This volume, which under no circumstance could appear in a "bourgeois" press, and which should have come as a victory over Stalinist fanatics (who believed the reading of Stalin was enough for "ideological formation") received harsh criticism from the moment it appeared. It was reprimanded for not contributing towards the creation of proletariat, revolutionary, socialist logic. The so-called Marxist ideologues who upheld this "view", if it can be called such, did not want to be shown the logic that is inherent to the world of commodities and its development. They did not want an analysis of its internal cohesion, despite the contradictions of bourgeois society (or socialist society). They wanted none of that. Instead, their thought, if it can be called such, was more radical. The demanded a logic that, as such, had a class character. And if logic could not have or receive this character, then they rejected logic. The second volume, consisting of the methodology of mathematics and to the relationship between mathematics and other sciences, responded even less to these requests (this inquisition). And since the author responded that he did not understand what was being asked of him, or how it could substitute the identity A=A or the identity (a+b)=a2+b2+2ab with a proletariat truth, the order came to interrupt the endeavour. That is, the editor broke the contract.

And this was in France. I don't need to go into how logic fared within the USSR.


Of course logic has been used to assist ruling-class theorists (just as technology and mathematics have) -- and I include in that the 'logic' one finds in Hegel. But (traditional) logic was heavily infected with metaphysics, psychology, and pseudo-science. But, logic as such (that is, mostly post-Fregean logic) is no more ideological than is mathematics.

Also, my ideas are not dependent on logic. I merely use it to show how confused Hegel and Marxist dialecticians (in general) are even about Aristotelian logic!

indeed, Lefebvre himself was also prone to making the sort of crass errors about logic we find in Hegel -- so I'm not too sure why you are quoting him. [You might as well quote an astrologer criticising astronomy!]

But, you reply:

Quote:
Somebody could reply that this is different, because this is "science", a somehow "pure knowledge" that is apart from "ideology", and how philosophy was made for the sole purpose of bourgeois control and so on. This is false, ideology is present in all discourse, it is a dimension of any production. You cannot draw the line between something being "ideologically free" and something being "just ideology" (such a view would be falling pray to ideology, understanding the ideological effect as being the belief in the direct apprehension of an object, free from conditioning).

Rejection of any given discursive production because it is "tainted" by ideology is an ultra-left fallacy. What is needed is to perceive ideology in any given discourse through a genealogical critique of the process that gave birth to it. This doesn't negate an idea, but it explains it, and it allows us to use it more correctly. This holds true for any branch of knowledge, only some are more changing, some are more stable.


However, my argument isn't: We must steer clear of anything the ruling-class and their theorists have ever produced or patronised.

It's this (in a nutshell): traditional philosophy is non-sensical -- and no wonder, it is purely ideological.

I then go on to argue that part of the reason Dialectical Marxism [DIM] is such a long-term failure is that it has imported this ideology into the workers' movement -- and that it has been used to 'justify' substitutionism, rationalise anti-Marxist tactics and strategies, and help disguise the fact that DIM is a long-term failure.

Moreover, unless we are idealists, there is no good reason to think that we can access fundamental truths about reality, valid for all of space and time, from thought/language alone -- which is what traditional philosophers and dialecticians (living and dead -- and those who post here) do all the time.

Quote:
And I can say you are full of it.


Only slightly less than you, sweety.


Quote:
That you use the word truth means that you are adept in the language games it is applied in, this means that you are participant in the practices, the social reproduction, and the culture which generate its usage. You can remain oblivious to the explicit outlining of these processes, and therefore to a working concept of what truth is (a theory of truth), (many, many people do) but you cannot pretend to do so while at the same time claim to be carrying out science (which has to place itself mentally "above" the medium it works on).


On that basis, you might as well argue that I have an advanced theory of, say, partial differential equations every time I throw a ball.


You appear to have imbibed part of Wittgenstein's work (and the worst part too, it seems: his ideas on 'language games'), while ignoring his core idea: that all 'philosophical theories' are 'houses of cards' and are thus a complete fraud, based as they all are on the systematic distortion/misuse of language, just as Marx noted.

Quote:
You can remain oblivious to the explicit outlining of these processes, and therefore to a working concept of what truth is (a theory of truth), (many, many people do) but you cannot pretend to do so while at the same time claim to be carrying out science (which has to place itself mentally "above" the medium it works on).


Well, there's quite a few unsubstantiated assertions in there. I have no theory, and I defy you to show (as opposed to allege, with no proof) that I do.

And, just as soon as you manage to pull that impossible trick off, I will apologise profusely, don sack cloth and ashes, and disown that theory.

Quote:
No, you were assuming an individualist view of objectivity/subjectivity in order to disprove their explanation of a dialectic view of reality. Your denial of delving into theory probably blinds you to this.


If you re-read what I was arguing against, you will no doubt see that I was merely making explicit what I took to be the implications of g_red's own views, not mine.

A similarly unsympathetic reading of this post could equally well, and with just as much justification, argue that you are propounding a similar view to me (about philosophy) just because you are arguing with me!

You really do need to disentangle what I am arguing against from my own views; the former does not transform what I post into the latter.

Quote:
[If you expel the spirit of philosophy out the main door, then you allow the entrance though the back door the narrow, localist class prejudices that will extend their domain, probably semiconsciously, in the mind of the historian


Yes, I have seen dozens of quotations like that, but, alas, they are all accompanied with no proof at all.

Same here.

Quote:
So in other words, you are not here in this "discussion board" to discuss anything, only to continue with your knocking down of strawmen.


May I remind you that this thread is about my essay (check the OP, if you disagree), which was centred on classical DM. If you want to have a wider discussion, start a new one.

Or is that too obvious?
"The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves."
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Soviet cogitations: 4764
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Jul 2007, 06:59
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Forum Commissar
Post 15 Sep 2011, 14:37
(...And so inevitably, replies become longer and soon too cumbersome to properly address. Let's try it while we can.)

Rosa, with all due respect, you claim innocence and good will on a number of things, but, in my view at least, you have incurred in the opposite of what you state several times. So in your above reply we'll agree on a number of things, but I again state that you have not carried out what you have said.

Re: indeterminacy
Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
Well, I note you used words to make this point, which, if correct, would mean that your point is indeterminate, too.


Communication=/=words.

Is communication indeterminate? Obviously not. Is it an open-ended active process? Yes. Is communication contained in the "message"? No. Any significant object will always be "more" than "merely" itself because of the attributions given to it by the encultured subject (its semantic contents will "overflow" the object). It is up to the receiver to "correctly" interpret a discourse by actively creating a reading following social semiosis.

That words are not fixed is exactly how communication happens.

Re: a concept coming from a model
Quote:
Are you suggesting that philosophy/dialectics does not deal with "abstractions"?

Where have I ever suggested that? I was talking about the precision derived from having a cultural edifice and a discipline create a specific model for a historic fact or a mathematical quality, as opposed to a common usage word. The latter as concepts are also abstractions, but they have a much less stable and less agreed upon model/models.

Re: The gravitational constant being something "not sloppy"
Quote:
Where did I suggest otherwise?

By opposing an agreed upon variable vs a common usage word, overlooking the key difference between them.

Semantics
Quote:
But, if we are to be clear, we are going to have to concentrate on detail and precision, where possible -- or, on what some call "semantics".


Fine if you want to call it that, then call it that. As I understand it, it usually refers to losing sight of concepts, of ideas, by focusing on the words used (usually misunderstanding, or refusing to understand the way they are trying to be used).

So for example, you have dismissed entire arguments because of an offending word such as "philosophy" or "your" argument (conveniently understanding the first as metaphysics and the second as "your beliefs" as opposed to "the argument you presented")

Re: The examples of art in unmasking abstraction from processes and practices (commodity fetishism?)
Quote:
Maybe so, but I'm not too sure that this has to do with anything I argued.


That's very disheartening, almost to the point of making me think that writing to you is pointless. Let's try again. What I gave was what I thought was a good example of something (art or music) having a known meaning and agreed upon value derived from concrete practices that because of abstraction become invisible for the "audience", who fail to see that the foundation for these values comes from these very practices.
What I was hoping to achieve was to make explicit that the precise meaning derived by your examples (a battle, a constant, etc.) come from precise practices that when recited randomly like that, remain hidden, but which would explains the difference between them an a common word like "justice".
Humor is another example of this. if we see a comedian walking in a gallery and admiring the ticket boot, or a frame, or a bathroom stall, we laugh at the gross ignorance of our cultural practices, which are so commonplace that we have even stopped thinking about them.

Re: On the many uses of words
Quote:
Where have I insisted on a "single use"? If we use these terms in different ways, then we can discuss them, and come to some agreement. If we can't, then, as I pointed out to g_red, communication will cease.


How about when Mabool explained dialectics only to be given an inverse argument from authority about what your single use of it was? What about you retching at the mention of philosophy and even though it was explained that it meant "philosophy in this sense" you still stuck to "philosophy as metaphysics"? What about you using a "single use" of objectivity and subjectivity when it was clearly being used in another sense?

Re: Philosophy according to Rosa
Quote:
Well, I explained how I was using this word; I nowhere said it couldn't be used in any other way, did I?

Except you don't want to use it in any other way, because it doesn't fit with your anathema of the word.

Quote:
And I left out the pre-Socratics since we have far more information about Plato's (and Aristotle's) approach to this subject. In my essays, I lump these thinkers in, too, but with qualifications like this attached to them.

Yes, their approach. Only now do you add this crucial condition.

Quote:
You can't expect me to enter into such 'pedantic' detail here, can you?

I like how you use quote marks around pedantic, as if I had brought that word into play.

Re: Suddenly, saying philosophy is not a sin.
Quote:
I agree (and I even use this word in relation to Wittgenstein's work, but with the caveat added that he meant it in a completely new sense, that is, as a practice aimed at unravelling the confusions we fall into when we misuse language), but then it's up to you to say what you mean by this word.

So now you agree on their being other valid uses for philosophy, a first in this thread.

Re: Semantics, again.
Quote:
If by 'semantics' you mean the sort of complex jargonised confusion traditional philosophers (like Hegel) were mired in, I agree. If, on the other hand, you mean the sort of conceptual/linguistic analysis Wittgenstein (and others) practiced, I can't agree, since he (they) tried to do what Marx suggested we do (although I am not implying they were aware of his advice): return to ordinary language -- which is what I try to do.

It's like that saying. If you have to ask..
I'm sure this is a rhetorical (and trick) question, since it is so axiologically loaded.
Gee, I wonder if I meant that I want to mire in confision or not..

In any case, if semantics is a word that confusing to you, then let's not get bogged down by semantics and use something else.

Re: ruling class ideas.
Quote:
The difference with (traditional) philosophy is that it is purely ideological. Mathematics isn't. Of course, if you can show me where "mathematics, art, architecture..." have distorted Marxist theory, I might agree with you. Alas, you forgot to tell us.


Firstly, thank you for adding that "traditional" adjective in parenthesis when talking about philosophy. Progress.

To satisfy your statement, there are Marxist takes of all of those subjects, some of which are indeed distorted and which distorted practical and theoretical works (and which gave much harm to "real existing socialism", at least in winning hearts and minds)

But that is beside the point, because I have apparently not explained myself correctly. I am saying that:
1. All of production (material or spirtual) is conditioned by ruling class ideas, but that does not mean that they are reduced to ruling class ideas.

2. No area of production is innocuous to ruling class ideas and no area of production is harmful per se because of ruling class ideas.

Ergo, ruling class ideas, understood now as ideology, permeate to differing degrees all disciplines, which means that they have to be correctly critiqued from a proletrariat view to surmise their validity and their usefullness.

To simply assume any given production as neutral is positivist, but to discard any given production as harmful because of its ideological distortions is ultra-leftist.

Re: An exempli gratia
Quote:
Of course logic has been used to assist ruling-class theorists (just as technology and mathematics have) -- and I include in that the 'logic' one finds in Hegel. But (traditional) logic was heavily infected with metaphysics, psychology, and pseudo-science. But, logic as such (that is, mostly post-Fregean logic) is no more ideological than is mathematics.

Also, my ideas are not dependent on logic. I merely use it to show how confused Hegel and Marxist dialecticians (in general) are even about Aristotelian logic!


Again, and I'm sorry for insisting on it, you seem to "jump" at the word logic and rail against that, instead of taking it as what I explicitly said it was: an example (among coutless others), given for the sole purpose of showing how dogmatic insistance on "ruling class ideas are bad" stopped what could have been an interesting endeavour to rescue certain disciplines from abstraction.

The science vs ideology dilemma
Quote:
However, my argument isn't: We must steer clear of anything the ruling-class and their theorists have ever produced or patronised.

It's this (in a nutshell): traditional philosophy is non-sensical -- and no wonder, it is purely ideological.


Even the most crude propagandistic novel has an aesthetic dimension that is irreducible to that of "pure ideology".

While we have science, arts, journalism, architecture, philosophy, yes, and other more or less delineated discursive categories, we do not have something called "ideology" in itself. This is because of historical reasons, of course, but also because there is no such thing as an ideological discourse in itself. Ideology is a condition, a dimension of discourse that is present in all of the others.

And so, even as Marx brilliantly showed with the ideological limitations of political economy, it was still not "pure ideology " and while many things were worthless, others were not.

I kind of agree with you on traditional (thank you) philosophy being non-sensical. But I won't agree on it being "pure ideology."

Quote:
I then go on to argue that part of the reason Dialectical Marxism [DIM] is such a long-term failure is that it has imported this ideology into the workers' movement -- and that it has been used to 'justify' substitutionism, rationalise anti-Marxist tactics and strategies, and help disguise the fact that DIM is a long-term failure.


I disagree. Marxism is the most advanced conception of the world, as far as I know. That it became so flawed under "real existing socialism" is something that points to their ideology: their real practices, existence, political ideas, production, degree of workers control. Not the other way around.

Another example (only for the sake of an example): I'm currently in Mexico. In Mexico, before ten years ago, the country was governed by one party, the PRI. This lasted for 60 some years. They came to power after the Mexican revolution. And though they veered to the right, and though they built huge political machines, and later turned to neo-liberalism, and stifled democracy. They always (ideologically) upheld the Mexican Revolution and its values. Even to this day that party (which sadly seems poised to retake the presidency) still defends that revolution as their revolution, even though they are diametrically opposed to anything that revolution really meant. Is this because, a) the ideals of the revolution were flawed, or rather, b) because they were distorted by the prevailing ideology and political climate?

Horse before the carriage or carriage before the horse? Life determining consciousness or vice versa?

Quote:
Moreover, unless we are idealists, there is no good reason to think that we can access fundamental truths about reality, valid for all of space and time, from thought/language alone -- which is what traditional philosophers and dialecticians (living and dead -- and those who post here) do all the time.


OK, I understand your gripe with certain interpretations of Marxism, but these have been critiqued by Marxists for almost as long as those interpretations sprung up.

Re: people as a cluster of social relations
Quote:
On that basis, you might as well argue that I have an advanced theory of, say, partial differential equations every time I throw a ball.

That is not what I said at all. What I would say in your case is that if you successfully throw a ball (with intent, with a goal, let's say) then you understand how things like gravity works, how there's something pulling the ball down, even if you have no idea that there is such a thing like gravity.
Back to that truth example. if I ask you "is that true", and you instead of giving me a blank look, reply "yes it is," or "no it isn't", it means that you are adept at using the word truth, even if when asked "what is truth" you might give me a blank look.

Quote:
You appear to have imbibed part of Wittgenstein's work (and the worst part too, it seems: his ideas on 'language games'), while ignoring his core idea: that all 'philosophical theories' are 'houses of cards' and are thus a complete fraud, based as they all are on the systematic distortion/misuse of language, just as Marx noted.
Pl

OK. You seem to think that just because of the division of labor and the divorce from practice that much of philosophy is born from it means that these questions, no, these words, are somehow anathema.

Re: practical vs theoretical knowledge
Quote:
Well, there's quite a few unsubstantiated assertions in there. I have no theory, and I defy you to show (as opposed to allege, with no proof) that I do.

Please read again what I wrote. I said that you could be completely oblivious to theory, only that you cannot do so while pretending to carry out science, which need models, hypotheses, and which come from assumptions about reality (theories about reality).

Re: Rosa's use of objectivity
Quote:
If you re-read what I was arguing against, you will no doubt see that I was merely making explicit what I took to be the implications of g_red's own views, not mine.


OK, how's this: What you attribute as his own views (your view of what is "his view") is flawed because it, consciously or not, assumes an individualist and absolute view of what objectivity and subjectivity are.

Quote:
A similarly unsympathetic reading of this post could equally well, and with just as much justification, argue that you are propounding a similar view to me (about philosophy) just because you are arguing with me!


These things, like me misattributing something about your view, should be clarified, not swept under the rug by recoling that it is "her" argument, not mine. At least, if I am criticizing your argument on some wrong assumption on my part, the generous thing would be to reanalyze what you said when corrected of my error.

Quote:
You really do need to disentangle what I am arguing against from my own views; the former does not transform what I post into the latter.

But giving your opponent a flawed premise in order to disprove it is something that should be called to attention.

Re: Nifty quotation
Quote:
Yes, I have seen dozens of quotations like that, but, alas, they are all accompanied with no proof at all.

Hmm..how about all of the history of so many different sciences when scientists have claimed to be above ideology, above historical circumstance, above social conditioning even, only to spew the most obvious of ideological conditioning and class contents. Functionalism, positivism, empyricism, the examples are endless.

Re: Rosa's willingness to discuyss
Quote:
May I remind you that this thread is about my essay (check the OP, if you disagree), which was centred on classical DM. If you want to have a wider discussion, start a new one.

The OP was five pages ago. Are we discussing your essay at all here? How about in my last post? Or the one before it?
Moreover, though Mabool was replying against your essay, he was doing it from his own conception of DM, not "correcting" the quotes that you provided in your essay to fight against. Instead of addressing him, you gave an argument from authority, or to rephrase that, you simply repeated your essay. ("Hush. Im not talking to you, I'm talking to Engels").

Quote:
Or is that too obvious?

What do you mean?
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"You say you have no enemies? How is this so? Have you never spoken the truth, never loved justice?" - Santiago Ramón y Cajal
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Soviet cogitations: 231
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 08 Nov 2010, 22:13
Ideology: Trotskyism
Pioneer
Post 15 Sep 2011, 22:58
Praxicoide:

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(...And so inevitably, replies become longer and soon too cumbersome to properly address. Let's try it while we can.)


In fact, my last reply was shorter than the one before. Anyway, Das Kapital is longer than Wages, Price, and Profit. So what?

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Rosa, with all due respect, you claim innocence and good will on a number of things, but, in my view at least, you have incurred in the opposite of what you state several times. So in your above reply we'll agree on a number of things, but I again state that you have not carried out what you have said.


Except, you are the one who insists on interpreting my attempt to draw out what I took to be the implications of g_red's theory as my own views.

I wonder if I can do the same with what you say? Will that too "incur in the opposite of what you state several times"? [But see below.***]

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Communication=/=words.


May be not, but, alas for you, you keep using words to make your point! Perhaps you should switch to semaphore, or maybe use an Aldis Lamp?

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Is communication indeterminate? Obviously not. Is it an open-ended active process? Yes. Is communication contained in the "message"? No. Any significant object will always be "more" than "merely" itself because of the attributions given to it by the encultured subject (its semantic contents will "overflow" the object). It is up to the receiver to "correctly" interpret a discourse by actively creating a reading following social semiosis.


Well, this looks like a very poorly supported theory of yours, and not at all what we mean by "communication" in ordinary language. I prefer to take Marx's advice here:

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The philosophers have only to dissolve their language into the ordinary language, from which it is abstracted, in order to recognise it, as the distorted language of the actual world, and to realise that neither thoughts nor language in themselves form a realm of their own, that they are only manifestations of actual life. [Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, p.118. Bold emphasis added.]


You:

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That words are not fixed is exactly how communication happens.


In which case, I have no idea what you mean here since, according to you, these words aren't 'fixed'.

Worse still, neither have you, since all you have to go on is your memory of your use of these words, which according to you, aren't 'fixed'.

And the same will be true of any answer to this that you care to post.

[Perhaps you can now see why Marx called your approach to 'philosophy' a distortion of language, and enjoined us to return to "ordinary language"?

If you persist, you will just dig a deeper and deeper hole for yourself.]

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Where have I ever suggested that?


***According to you, and the way you interpret me, all you have to do is deny this, and that proves you did indeed suggest it.

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I was talking about the precision derived from having a cultural edifice and a discipline create a specific model for a historic fact or a mathematical quality, as opposed to a common usage word. The latter as concepts are also abstractions, but they have a much less stable and less agreed upon model/models.


Eh?

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Re: The gravitational constant being something "not sloppy"


Indeed, and that's because physicists are careful with the details -- i.e., with what some call "semantics".

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By opposing an agreed upon variable vs a common usage word, overlooking the key difference between them.


Ah, but my other examples did not do this.

Anyway, in agreeing on this "variable" (it is in fact a constant!), physicists had to use words, and words with precise meanings, too. Otherwise the definition would be no good. [Or do you think that when they discuss such things they do not use language?]

Not so in dialectics. Wall-to-wall sloppy thought.

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Semantics


In other words, your excuse for sloppy thought.

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Fine if you want to call it that, then call it that.


I am merely describing what we would have to do in order to agree. You can call it "Susan" for all I care.

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As I understand it, it usually refers to losing sight of concepts, of ideas, by focusing on the words used (usually misunderstanding, or refusing to understand the way they are trying to be used).


There you go, using those pesky words again.

[I do not wish sound facetious, but you really are leading with your chin, here.]

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So for example, you have dismissed entire arguments because of an offending word such as "philosophy" or "your" argument (conveniently understanding the first as metaphysics and the second as "your beliefs" as opposed to "the argument you presented")


Which argument did I "dismiss" because of this "offending" word? Again, you forgot to say.

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The examples of art in unmasking abstraction from processes and practices (commodity fetishism?)


Eh?

I'm sorry, but your sloppy approach to thought is preventing you from communicating your ideas to me.

[Hint at a cure: re-read Marx's comment above.]

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That's very disheartening, almost to the point of making me think that writing to you is pointless.


Oddly enough, I get the same feeling about your posts.

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Let's try again. What I gave was what I thought was a good example of something (art or music) having a known meaning and agreed upon value derived from concrete practices that because of abstraction become invisible for the "audience", who fail to see that the foundation for these values comes from these very practices.

What I was hoping to achieve was to make explicit that the precise meaning derived by your examples (a battle, a constant, etc.) come from precise practices that when recited randomly like that, remain hidden, but which would explains the difference between them an a common word like "justice".

Humor is another example of this. if we see a comedian walking in a gallery and admiring the ticket boot, or a frame, or a bathroom stall, we laugh at the gross ignorance of our cultural practices, which are so commonplace that we have even stopped thinking about them.


I'm sorry, but I still fail to see what this has to do with anything I have posted here, or anywhere else for that matter.

Perhaps the words you used aren't 'fixed' enough?

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How about when Mabool explained dialectics only to be given an inverse argument from authority about what your single use of it was?


Once more, I merely quote the classics and draw out their conclusions. It's not my view, but that of the classics. Of course, if you think I have misrepresented them, please show me where I have done this.

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What about you retching at the mention of philosophy and even though it was explained that it meant "philosophy in this sense" you still stuck to "philosophy as metaphysics"?


And who did all this 'explaining'? Certainly not Mabool or g_red, and you still refuse to tell us what you think philosophy is. Of course, I am happy to employ this word in the way it has been used since ancient Greek times. If you object, then that's your problem -- or it is until you tell us what this word 'really' means.

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What about you using a "single use" of objectivity and subjectivity when it was clearly being used in another sense?


In fact, if you follow the link I posted earlier, you will see that I gave several different meanings of "objectivity".

But, did g_red complain about my inferences? No.

Did I say there was only one meaning? Again, no.

[Why do you persist in making stuff up?]

And, have you told us what this word 'really' means, or what you understand by it?

Once more: no.

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Except you don't want to use it in any other way, because it doesn't fit with your anathema of the word.


But, I have already admitted that I use this word in two ways, and that there are other ways of interpreting it.

I have also posted this warning (at my site):

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Be this as it may, I do not want to get hung up on a terminological point, so I recommend that anyone who objects to the usual definition of "metaphysics" (and its cognates) -- or even "traditional philosophy" -- used here, perhaps, preferring Engels's own characterisation, substitute the following:

"[T]he branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the ultimate nature of reality, being, and the world."

This is a description of Metaphysics taken from Wikipedia, which I think is reasonably accurate, if a little brief. Even so, whatever this ancient intellectual pursuit is finally called, it is abundantly clear that DM-theorists attempt to do some of the above themselves --, i.e., they endeavour to "explain the ultimate nature of reality, being and the world" in their own idiosyncratic, dogmatic, sub-Hegelian manner.

It will also become apparent as this Essay unfolds that dialecticians in fact adopt the same approach to Philosophy as traditional metaphysicians: that is, they attempt to derive fundamental theses about reality from a handful of jargonised expressions, which are then imposed on nature and held true for all of space and time.


http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2012_01.htm

I have also suggested that any who do not like my use of "traditional philosophy" and/or "metaphysics" (but they are quite standard uses) substitute for it "necessary truths", or even "synthetic a priori theses".

So, if you don't mind me saying so, I think you should make sure of your facts before you start pointing fingers. [And if you don't know the facts, don't point.]

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I like how you use quote marks around pedantic, as if I had brought that word into play.


Well, unlike some who have posted in this thread, I do not accuse others of things they haven't done or said. [And, on the rare occasions that I do, I more often than not, apologise.]

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So now you agree on their being other valid uses for philosophy, a first in this thread.


Let me get this straight: unless I post here, in this thread, every single one of my beliefs, assertions, caveats, qualifications, claims and ideas (and let me point out at this juncture that the essays at my site now exceed 1.9 million words -- I do not think the mods here would appreciate me posting all that material in this thread!), then you can attribute to me anything you like (with no proof), and I just have to take it?

Forgive me then for objecting.

And, as you must know, if Wittgenstein is right about (traditional) philosophy, the discipline will cease to exist. But, even if this is to misrepresent him, that is certainly how I view things. Hence, even W's new form of 'philosophy' will cease to exist, one day. And the sooner the better.

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Semantics, again,


Which is what you are indulging in with respect to this word. And there is no problem with that since the aim is to be clear. Of course, only the enemies of clarity will demur at this point.

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It's like that saying. If you have to ask..

I'm sure this is a rhetorical (and trick) question, since it is so axiologically loaded.
 
Gee, I wonder if I meant that I want to mire in confusion or not..


Unfortunately, your posts (up to now) are not all that reassuring in this respect. [Especially since you use jargonised expressions like "axiologically" -- may I refer you once again to Marx's words, above.]

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In any case, if semantics is a word that's confusing to you, then let's not get bogged down by semantics and use something else.


And what's your proof that this word is confusing me?

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Firstly, thank you for adding that "traditional" adjective in parenthesis when talking about philosophy. Progress.


Well, around you, I have learnt to my cost to be "pedantic", thus copying your good self.

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To satisfy your statement, there are Marxist takes of all of those subjects, some of which are indeed distorted and which distorted practical and theoretical works (and which gave much harm to "real existing socialism", at least in winning hearts and minds)


I'm sorry, I should have been even more pedantic and posted this:

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The difference with (traditional) philosophy is that it is purely ideological. Mathematics isn't. Of course, if you can show me where "mathematics, art, architecture..." have distorted revolutionary Marxist theory, I might agree with you. Alas, you forgot to tell us.


I'm not the least bit interested in academic Marxist 'theory' -- as useless a discipline as one could wish to find -- only the theories constructed by active revolutionaries, like Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao and Trotsky (etc.).

And I am still not sure how art, mathematics and architecture have distorted such work, whatever they might or might not have done to the ideas concocted by academics.

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1. All of production (material or spiritual) is conditioned by ruling class ideas, but that does not mean that they are reduced to ruling class ideas.


Ordinary language isn't.

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2. No area of production is innocuous to ruling class ideas and no area of production is harmful per se because of ruling class ideas.


Yes, so?

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Ergo, ruling class ideas, understood now as ideology, permeate to differing degrees all disciplines, which means that they have to be correctly critiqued from a proletarian view to surmise their validity and their usefulness.

To simply assume any given production as neutral is positivist, but to discard any given production as harmful because of its ideological distortions is ultra-leftist.


I agree, and I said so (with minor qualifications). What more do you want? Blood?

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An exempli gratia


May I refer you again to Marx's words above?

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Again, and I'm sorry for insisting on it, you seem to "jump" at the word logic and rail against that, instead of taking it as what I explicitly said it was: an example (among countless others), given for the sole purpose of showing how dogmatic insistence on "ruling class ideas are bad" stopped what could have been an interesting endeavour to rescue certain disciplines from abstraction.


Well, you are the one who quoted a French theorist who was banging on about logic, not me.

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Even the most crude propagandistic novel has an aesthetic dimension that is irreducible to that of "pure ideology".


Er, yes, so?

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While we have science, arts, journalism, architecture, philosophy, yes, and other more or less delineated discursive categories, we do not have something called "ideology" in itself. This is because of historical reasons, of course, but also because there is no such thing as an ideological discourse in itself. Ideology is a condition, a dimension of discourse that is present in all of the others.


I largely agree with this.

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And so, even as Marx brilliantly showed with the ideological limitations of political economy, it was still not "pure ideology " and while many things were worthless, others were not.


And yet, traditional philosophy is pure ideology.

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I kind of agree with you on traditional (thank you) philosophy being non-sensical. But I won't agree on it being "pure ideology."


I beg to differ.

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I disagree. Marxism is the most advanced conception of the world, as far as I know. That it became so flawed under "real existing socialism" is something that points to their ideology: their real practices, existence, political ideas, production, degree of workers control. Not the other way around.


That's why I was careful to use the phrase "Dialectical Marxism", which isn't "the most advanced conception of the world"; in fact, it would struggle to make the bottom of the reserve list of likely conceptions of the world.

And I agree with you about the political points you mention; but, the party had to sell such distortions to the cadres and they in turn to workers, and dialectics proved to be an ideal tool to this end -- since it can be made to say anything you like and its opposite.

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Horse before the carriage or carriage before the horse? Life determining consciousness or vice versa?


Of course, politics takes precedence, but if you want to change course, and argue tomorrow the exact opposite of what you argued only yesterday, a theory that promotes contradiction is an ideal tool. And that is how dialectics was, and still is, used.

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That is not what I said at all. What I would say in your case is that if you successfully throw a ball (with intent, with a goal, let's say) then you understand how things like gravity works, how there's something pulling the ball down, even if you have no idea that there is such a thing like gravity.


Of course, there are many different meanings of the word "theory", ranging from something completely formal (in mathematical logic or high energy physics), through systematic sets of theses aimed at revealing nature's secrets, but based on thought alone (in traditional philosophy), down to everyday explanation (such as, "I have a theory why the front door keeps sticking"). [This is not meant to be an exhaustive list!]

When I speak of 'philosophical theory', I mean the second of these. I am quite happy with scientific theory and everyday theories/explanations. But I resist the attempt to equate these with 'philosophical theory'.

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Back to that truth example. if I ask you "is that true", and you instead of giving me a blank look, reply "yes it is," or "no it isn't", it means that you are adept at using the word truth, even if when asked "what is truth" you might give me a blank look.


Indeed, but that does not imply I have a theory of truth.

In fact, there can be no theory of truth. [I can attach a proof of this, if you want.]

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OK. You seem to think that just because of the division of labor and the divorce from practice that much of philosophy is born from it means that these questions, no, these words, are somehow anathema.


Not anathema, just that the entire practice is little more than hot air.

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Please read again what I wrote. I said that you could be completely oblivious to theory, only that you cannot do so while pretending to carry out science, which need models, hypotheses, and which come from assumptions about reality (theories about reality).


So, how do you know I have a theory (in the sense I mentioned above)? If I'm oblivious of it, you must be too; in which case, you can't possibly know this, and hence can't prove it.

On the contrary, I can show that even if I, or anyone else, had a theory (in the sense I mentioned above), it would be non-sensical.

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What you attribute as his own views (your view of what is "his view") is flawed because it, consciously or not, assumes an individualist and absolute view of what objectivity and subjectivity are.


Oh dear, not again! How many more times do I have to tell you, I am merely working out what I took to be the implications of what g_red said.

These aren't my 'assumptions' but his.

I could insist this is your view, again (from earlier):

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***According to you, and the way you interpret me, all you have to do is deny this, and that proves you did indeed suggest it.


But, I won't since I do not want to put words in your mouth. Can you at least extend the same courtesy to me?

Well, that's unlikely now, because of this:

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These things, like me misattributing something about your view, should be clarified, not swept under the rug by recoling that it is "her" argument, not mine. At least, if I am criticizing your argument on some wrong assumption on my part, the generous thing would be to reanalyze what you said when corrected of my error.


In which case, it would be OK for me to return the favour and put words in your mouth, eh?

So, when you said this:

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That it became so flawed under "real existing socialism" is something that points to their ideology


You were agreeing with the suppression of workers control, eh?

Two can play at that game...

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But giving your opponent a flawed premise in order to disprove it is something that should be called to attention.


That is your view; g_red did not make this complaint. Had he/she done so, I'd have apologised and withdrawn what I had alleged.

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how about all of the history of so many different sciences when scientists have claimed to be above ideology, above historical circumstance, above social conditioning even, only to spew the most obvious of ideological conditioning and class contents. Functionalism, positivism, empiricism, the examples are endless.


Yes, so?

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The OP was five pages ago. Are we discussing your essay at all here? How about in my last post? Or the one before it?


I used to receive infractions at RevLeft for de-railing threads, so you will understand my reluctance to wander off the subject.

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Moreover, though Mabool was replying against your essay, he was doing it from his own conception of DM, not "correcting" the quotes that you provided in your essay to fight against. Instead of addressing him, you gave an argument from authority, or to rephrase that, you simply repeated your essay. ("Hush. Im not talking to you, I'm talking to Engels").


And, I pointed out to him, and others, and you, that in this thread I am only interested in attacking classical DM, not a revisionist version, cobbled together on the hoof (that falls foul of Hume's criticisms of rationalist theories of causation, anyway). And the authorities I quoted were Hegel, Engels, Plekhanov, Lenin and Mao. If you don't regard them as authorities, many who post here do.

As I said, if you want to widen this debate, start a new thread. I will stick to the point in this one -- whatever you say.

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What do you mean?


Isn't it obvious? New topic -- new thread.
"The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves."
Soviet cogitations: 10005
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
Ideology: Trotskyism
Philosophized
Post 08 Mar 2012, 02:17
As usual, Pannekoek settles the matter with one paragraph:

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It is assumed that the dialectical character of historical materialism is best described when it is referred to as the theory of development. However, the process of evolution was also known to the natural science of the 19th century. Scientists were well acquainted with the growth of the cell into a complex organism, the evolution of animal species as expressed in the origin of species, and the theory of the evolution of the physical world known as the law of entropy. But their method of reasoning was undialectical. They believed their concepts were concrete objects and considered their identities and opposites as absolutes. Consequently, the evolution of the universe as well as the continued progress of knowledge brought out contradictions in the theory of knowledge of which many examples have been quoted by Engels in his “Anti-Dühring.” Understanding in general and science in particular segregate and systematise into definite concepts and laws what in the real world of phenomena occurs in continuous flux and transition. By means of names, through which language separates and defines the sequel of events, all occurrences falling into a particular group are considered similar and unchangeable. As abstract concepts they differ sharply, but in reality they converge and fuse. The colors blue and green are distinct from each other but in the intermediary nuances no one can say definitely where one color ends and the other begins. It cannot be stated at which point during its life cycle a flower begins or ceases to be a flower. That in practical life good and evil are not absolute opposites and that the greatest justice may become the greatest injustice is acknowledged everyday, just as juridical freedom may be transformed into its opposite. Dialectical thinking corresponds to reality inasmuch as it takes into consideration that the finite cannot explain the infinite, nor the static the dynamic world; that every concept has to develop into new concepts, or even into its opposite. Metaphysical thinking, on the other hand, leads to dogmatic assertions and contradictions because it views conceptions as fixed entities. Metaphysical, that is undialectical, thinking considers concepts formulated by thought as independent concepts that make up the reality of the world. Natural science proper does not suffer much from this shortcoming. It surmounts difficulties and contradictions in practice insofar as the very process of development compels it to continually revise its formulations and concepts, to amplify them by breaking them up in greater detail, to further modify its formulations to account for the new changes and to find new formulas for additions and corrections, thereby bringing the picture ever closer to the original model, the phenomenal world. The lack in dialectic reasoning becomes disturbing only when the naturalist passes from his special field of knowledge towards general philosophy and theory, as is the case with bourgeois materialism.


http://marxists.org/archive/pannekoe/ma ... m/ch01.htm
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
Soviet cogitations: 231
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 08 Nov 2010, 22:13
Ideology: Trotskyism
Pioneer
Post 08 Mar 2012, 09:09
I'm sorry, Mabool, but how does this solve anything? It seems to me that it just repeats all the usual mistakes, some of which I have exposed in this thread, others elsewhere.

For example, Pannekoek asserts that things change into their opposites, but we have already seen that this theory means that nothing could change, since in order to do so it has to 'struggle' with that opposite. But, if that is to happen, that opposite must already exist (otherwise there could be no struggle).

Call the original object or process, 'P', and its opposite, 'P*'. In order for P to change into P*, P must struggle with P*. But, P* already exists, so P can't change into it! On the other hand, if P* does not already exist, no struggle could take place, meaning that P can't change.

So, unless I have missed something, we are no further forward.

Perhaps you can enlighten me: what have I missed?
"The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves."
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