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Why all philosophical theories are non-sensical

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Soviet cogitations: 231
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 08 Nov 2010, 22:13
Ideology: Trotskyism
Pioneer
Post 21 Mar 2012, 17:22
Below is a completely re-written and very much shortened version of an article I posted at RevLeft a year or so ago.

Now, when I use the word "metaphysics" I am in fact referring to traditional philosophy, as it has been practiced in the 'West' since Ancient Greek times. As far as this essay is concerned, the two terms "metaphysics" and "traditional philosophy" are interchangeable.

Why All Philosophical Theories Are Non-Sensical

This is a summary of Essay Twelve Part One at my site. It tackles issues that have sailed right over the heads of some of the greatest minds in history. I claim no particular originality for what follows (except, perhaps its highly simplified mode of presentation and its political slant); much of it has in fact been derived from Wittgenstein's work.

http://www.iep.utm.edu/wittgens/

However. this is an Introductory Essay, which has been written for those who find the main Essays at my site either too long, or too difficult. It does not pretend to be comprehensive since it's a summary of the core ideas presented at my site. The vast bulk of the supporting evidence and argument found in the original Essay has been omitted. Anyone wanting more details, or who would like to examine my arguments and evidence in full, should consult the main Essay for which this is a précis (link below).

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

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

Metaphysical Theses

Here is a typical metaphysical proposition:

M1: Time is a relation between events.

Theses like M1 purport to inform us of fundamental aspects of nature, valid for all of space and time.

The seemingly profound nature of theses like M1 is linked to rather more mundane features of the language in which they are expressed: that is, the fact that the main verb is often in the indicative mood.

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

Now, this apparently superficial grammatical outer facade hides a deeper logical form, which is something that only becomes obvious when such sentences are examined more closely.

Expressions like this look as if they revealed profound truths about reality since they resemble empirical propositions (i.e., propositions about matters of fact). But, they turn out to be nothing at all like them.

Consider an ordinary empirical proposition:

M2: Tony Blair owns a copy of Das Kapital.

Compare that with these similar-looking indicative sentences:

M1: Time is a relation between events.

M3: To be is to be perceived.

First, in order to understand M2, it's not necessary to know whether it is true or whether it is false. I am sure all of those who have read M2 understand it even though they haven't a clue whether or not it is true.

Contrast that with the comprehension of M1 or M3. Understanding either of these goes hand-in-hand with knowing they are both true (or, alternatively, knowing they are both false, as the case may be). Their truth or their falsehood follows either (1) From the meaning the words they contain, (2) From specific definitions or (3) From a handful of supporting 'thought experiments' -- i.e., from yet more words.

To be sure, (1)-(3) might also be prefaced by some sort of 'philosophical argument' -- but these, too, are just more words; no evidence is needed. Indeed, it's not possible to devise experiments to test propositions like M1 and M3.

This now intimately links the truth-status of sentences like M1 and M3 with meaning, not experimental or factual confirmation, and hence not with a confrontation with material reality. Their truth-status is thus independent of, and anterior to the search for supporting evidence. [Well, what could you look for in nature that would confirm M1 or M3?]

In contrast, understanding M2 is independent of its confirmation and its disconfirmation. Indeed, it would be impossible to do either of these if M2 had not already been understood. Plainly, the actual truth or the actual falsehood of M2-type propositions follows from the way the world happens to be, and not solely from the meaning of certain expressions. The truth-status of M2 can't be read-off from the words it contains, unlike M1- and M3-type sentences.

Empirical propositions are typically like this; they have to be understood first before they can be confronted with the evidence that would establish their truth-status.

In contrast, metaphysical propositions carry their truth or their falsehood on their faces, as it were, and need no evidence to establish either of these. Understanding them is at one with knowing their supposed truth-status.

Second, metaphysical theses (like M1 and M3) were deliberately constructed by philosophers in order to transcend the limitations of the material world.

This approach was justified on the grounds that it allowed them to uncover the underlying "essence" of reality, thus revealing nature's "hidden secrets" (i.e., the fundamental principles by means of which the 'deity' had created the world). This idea then linked philosophical language with the invisible, underlying structure of the world; it still remains in place today, even though its theological origin has been forgotten. That's why metaphysical 'truths' are still being derived from language/thought alone, even by atheists.

Theses like these are deemed "necessarily true" (or declared "necessarily false"), and are thus held to express knowledge of fundamental aspects of reality, unlike contingent, empirical propositions whose truth can alter with the wind.

After all, Tony Blair might sell his copy of Das Kapital -- or, indeed, buy the book if he doesn't already own it. But, 'philosophical knowledge' -- 'genuine knowledge' -- can't depend on such changeable features of reality, or, so we have been led to believe.

Traditionally, this meant that empirical propositions like M2 were considered epistemologically inferior to M1- and M3-type sentences, since they were deemed incapable of revealing fundamental knowledge of the above sort.

Metaphysical propositions thus masquerade as especially profound Super-Empirical Truths, which cannot fail to be true (or cannot fail to be false, as the case may be). They achieve this by using the indicative mood --, but they then go way beyond it.

Thus, what they say does not just happen to be so, as is the case with ordinary empirical truths. What M1- and M3-type sentences say cannot possibly be otherwise. The world must conform to whatever they say, not the other way round. They thus determine the logical form of any possible world.

This also helps account for the frequent use of modal terms (such as, "must", "necessary" and "inconceivable") -- as in "I must exist if I can think" [paraphrasing Descartes], "Time must be a relation between events" [paraphrasing Kant], or "Being must be identical with and yet at the same time different from Nothing, the contradiction resolved in Becoming" [paraphrasing Hegel].

Everything in reality must be this or it must be that.

Contrast this with M2. If anyone were to question its truth, the following response: "Tony Blair must own a copy of Das Kapital" would be highly inappropriate, and misleading.

So, the world dictates to us whether what M2-type sentences say is true, or what they say is false. They do not dictate to reality what it must contain, or what it must be like.

With respect to M1- and M3-type sentences, things are the exact opposite: because their truth-values (true or false) can be determined independently, and in advance of the way the world happens to be, philosophers use them to dictate to reality what it must be like.

Such Super-Truths (or Super-Falsehoods) are derived solely from the alleged meaning of the words they contain (or from the 'concepts' they supposedly express). In that case, once they have been understood, metaphysical propositions like M1 and M3 guarantee their own truth or their own falsehood. They are true a priori.

http://www.iep.utm.edu/apriori/

The intimate connection such theses have with language means that questioning their veracity seems to run against the grain of our understanding, not of our experience. Indeed, they appear to be self-evident precisely because they need no evidence to confirm their truth-status; they provide their own 'justification', and testify on their own behalf. They thus appear to many to be 'self-evident'.

Unfortunately, that divorces such theses from material reality, since they are true or they are false independently of any apparent state of the world. [Which is, of course, why no experiment is conceivable by means of which they can be tested.]

The Ineluctable Slide Into Non-Sense

Third, the Super-Scientific nature of such theses means they rapidly slide into non-sense. This happens whenever their proponents undermine either the vernacular or the logical and pragmatic principles on which it is based. [How that works will be explained as this article unfolds.]

It's worth pointing out, however, that "non-sense" is not the same as "nonsense". The latter word has various meanings ranging from the patently false (e.g., "Karl Marx was a shape-shifting lizard") to plain gibberish (e.g., "783&£$750 ow2jmn 34y4&$ 6y3n3& 8FT34n").

"Non-sense", on the other hand, relates to indicative sentences that turn out to be incapable of expressing a sense no matter what we try to do with them -- that is, they are incapable of being true and they are incapable of being false. So, when such sentences are employed to state fundamental truths about reality, they seriously misfire since they can't possibly do this.

Finally, the word "sense" is being used in the following way: it expresses what we understand to be the case for the proposition in question to be true or what we understand to be the case for it to be false, even if we do not know whether it is actually true or whether it is actually false.

For example, everyone (who knows English, who knows who Tony Blair and what Das Kapital are) will understand M2 (i.e., "Tony Blair owns a copy of Das Kapital") upon hearing or reading it. They grasp its sense --, that is, they understand what the world would have to be like for it to be true or what the world would have to be like for it to be false.

More importantly, the same situation will make M2 true if it obtains, just as it will make M2 false if it doesn't. [The significance of that comment will become clearer presently.]

These conditions are integral to our capacity to understand empirical propositions before we know whether they are true or whether they are false. Indeed, they help explain why we know what to look for (or to expect) in order to show such propositions are indeed true, or to show they are in fact false, even if we never succeed in doing either.

Fourth, intractable logical problems soon emerge (with regard to such supposedly empirical, but nonetheless metaphysical sentences) if an attempt is made to restrict or eliminate one or other of the paired semantic (i.e., true or false) possibilities associated with ordinary empirical propositions -- that is, if we try to exclude their truth or we try to exclude their falsehood.

This occurs, for example, when an apparently empirical proposition is declared to be "only true" or "only false" -- or, more pointedly, 'necessarily' the one or the other.

As we will soon see, this tactic results in the automatic loss of both semantic options, and with that goes any sense the original proposition might have had, rendering it non-sensical.

That is because an empirical proposition leaves it open as to whether it is true or whether it is false. That is why its truth-value (true/false) can't simply be read-off from its content, why evidence is required in order to determine its semantic status (true/false, once more), and why it is possible to understand it before its truth or its falsehood is known.

If that weren't so, it would be impossible to ascertain the truth-status of an empirical proposition. Plainly, it's not possible to confirm or refute a supposedly indicative sentence if no one understands what it is saying!

When this is not the case -- i.e., when either option (truth or falsehood) is closed-off, or when a proposition is said to be "necessarily true" or "necessarily false" -- evidence clearly becomes irrelevant.

If, however, a proposition is held to be a Super-truth about the world -- about its "essence", or its underlying 'rational structure' -- then it's plainly metaphysical.

[A 'Super-truth' superficially resembles an ordinary scientific truth, but it is in fact nothing like it. Super-truths transcend anything the sciences could possibly confirm or confute. M1 and M3 above are excellent examples of this. Their alleged truth depends solely on meaning, not on the way the world happens to be.]

Otherwise the actual truth or actual falsehood of such propositions would be world-sensitive, not solely meaning- or concept-dependent. And that explains why the comprehension of metaphysical propositions appears to go hand in hand with knowing their 'truth' (or knowing their 'falsehood'): their truth-status is based solely on thought, language or meaning, not on the material world.

This means that they can't be related to the material world or to anything in it, and hence they can't be used to help change it.

An empirical proposition derives its sense from the truth possibilities it appears to hold open (which options can later be decided upon one way or the other by a confrontation with the material world -- i.e., with evidence). That is why the actual truth-value of, say, M2 (and its contradictory, M4, below) does not need to be known before it is understood. But it is why evidence is relevant to establishing that truth-value.

M2: Tony Blair owns a copy of Das Kapital.

M4: Tony Blair does not own a copy of Das Kapital.

In order to comprehend M2 and M4, all that is required is some grasp of the possibility that they both hold open, which is the same in each case. M2 and M4 have the same content, and are made true or made false by the same situation obtaining, or not obtaining, respectively.

Fifth, if a proposition looks as if it were empirical -- because it uses the indicative mood -- and yet it can only be true or it can only be false then, as we will see, serious problems soon arise.

We can see why this is so if we consider the following typical metaphysical thesis and its supposed negation:

M1: Time is a relation between events.

M5: Time isn't a relation between events.

As we have seen, the alleged truth of M1 is derived from the meaning of the words it contains. But, unlike M2 and M4, the truth of M1 can't be denied by the use of, say, M5, since that would amount to a change in the meaning of the word "time".

That's because sentences like M1 define what a given philosopher means by, in this case, "time".

If time isn't a relation between events, then the word "time" plainly has a different meaning in M1 and M5. And if that is so, M1 and M5 can't represent the same state of affairs.

So, despite appearances to the contrary, M5 isn't the negation of M1!

And that's because the subject of each sentence is different.

To see this point, compare the following:

M6: George W Bush is the 43rd President of the United States.

M7: George H W Bush isn't the 43rd President of the United States.

M6 and M7 aren't the negations of one another since they relate to two different individuals, George W Bush and his father, George H W Bush. They are true or false under entirely different conditions since they do not have the same sense, the same empirical content.

The same applies to a metaphysical proposition (such as M1) and what appears to be its negation, M5.

Why is this important?

Well, if M1 is deemed "necessarily true", then we would have to declare its alleged negation (M5) "necessarily false". But, M5 isn't the negation of M1. But, in declaring M1 "necessarily true" we should have to know what was being ruled out as "necessarily false".

We saw that if we know under what conditions M2 is true, we automatically know under what conditions its negation, M4, is false. That allows us to investigate empirical propositions; their negations don't change the subject, and are made true or made false by the same state of affairs.

M2: Tony Blair owns a copy of Das Kapital.

M4: Tony Blair does not own a copy of Das Kapital.

[If there were no conditions under which M2 could be false, and thus none under which M4 could be true, we could read the truth of M2 off from what it's words say. Evidence would become irrelevant.]

But, a metaphysical proposition and its alleged negation change the subject. They don't relate to the same alleged state of affairs. In fact metaphysical propositions don't have negations!

Hence, we can't reject M1 by means of M5, since we would have no idea what we were ruling out, and thus no idea what we were ruling in. [Why that is so will be explained presently.]

Or, rather, what we think we are trying to rule out would not have in fact been ruled out, since we would thereby have simply changed the subject.

Why is this important?

It's because to declare a sentence "true" is ipso facto to declare it "not false". These two go hand in hand.

But, if we can't do that (and we plainly can't do it if we have no idea what we are ruling out -- indeed, in trying to do so with M5 we end up changing the subject of the original sentence!), we can't then say the original sentence is true. [Why that is so will now be explained.]

By declaring a sentence like M1 "necessarily true", we seem to be ruling some things in, and ruling other things out as "necessarily false" -- just as we would if we declared M2 true, we'd be automatically ruling M4 out.

And yet, in relation to M1, what we think we are ruling out is M5. But, M5 has a different content to M1, so we aren't in fact ruling M5 out! In which case, we now have no idea what we are ruling out since it's plain that M1 has no negation. And if that is so we have no idea what we are ruling in, either.

M1: Time is a relation between events.

M5: Time isn't a relation between events.

When sentences like M1 are entertained a pretence (often genuine) has to be maintained that they actually mean something, that they are capable of being understood, and thus that they are capable of being true or capable of being false. In that case, a further pretence has to be maintained that we understand what might make such propositions true, and their 'negations' false, so that those like M5 can be declared 'necessarily' false.

But, this entire exercise is an empty charade, for no content can be given to propositions like M1, or M5.

So, in order to declare M1 true, we must also declare M5 necessarily false. But to do that, the possibility of M5's truth must first be entertained (otherwise we'd not know what we were trying to rule out). And yet, no one who accepts M1 as true can do this, and that's not because it would be psychologically impossible for them to do it, it's because to do so changes the subject. So, it's not possible to specify conditions that would make M5 false without changing the subject.

That being the case, we can't declare M1 true -- and thus not false -- since we would now have no idea what would make M1 false, so we can rule it out. And if we have no idea what would make M1 false, we are certainly in no position to declare that it isn't false. [Just as if you had no idea what a Meskonator was, you'd be in no position to say that something wasn't a Meskonator. ("Meskonator" is a meaningless term, invented for this purpose.)]

Hence, if we can't say M1 is false, we can't say it is true either. Hence, we are in no position to declare M1 either true or false! Any attempt to do so must fall apart for the above reasons.

In which case, metaphysical propositions can't be true and they can't be false. They thus lack a sense, and there is nothing that can be done to rectify the situation.

Our use of language actually prevents philosophical propositions from expressing a sense, let alone being true.

They are thus, one and all, non-sensical, empty strings of words.

And that includes Dialectical Materialism.
"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.: 24 Jun 2011, 08:37
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Post 21 Mar 2012, 19:00
I'm not one for word games, so let me ask a question:

If all philosophy is nonsense, what DO we base life, existence and society on?
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Post 21 Mar 2012, 19:42
Quote:
That being the case, we can't declare M1 true -- and thus not false -- since we would now have no idea what would make M1 false, so we can rule it out. And if we have no idea what would make M1 false, we are certainly in no position to declare that it isn't false. [Just as if you had no idea what a Meskonator was, you'd be in no position to say that something wasn't a Meskonator. ("Meskonator" is a meaningless term, invented for this purpose.)]

I don't understand.

I have an apple and i clearly know that it is an apple, why wouldn't i be able to declare that it isn't a Meskonator?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
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Post 21 Mar 2012, 20:06
Because the category "Meskonator" could include the category "apple", much like the category "fruit" does. All things are categories. Dialectics is the art of arranging these categories in a nice way.

Ludwig Wittgenstein was a moron, also this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationalism
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
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Post 21 Mar 2012, 20:16
But what are these categories based on? How are they created? Are they made up just like that or do they have something to do with the material world?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
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Post 21 Mar 2012, 20:36
Quote:
But what are these categories based on?


Empirical patterns as well was logical reasoning. There is a potential infinity of categories because the world is infinitely complex, that is, you can look at everything from an infinite number of angles. The question is: from what angles do we look at things? A theologian and a biologist could explain the very same process with vastly different words - evolution and creation. So we obviously need a criterion of proof, and that is praxis. In our social praxis, correct categories are established, because they are useful. In other words, you can only truly learn something if you do it. Maoist dialectics is centered around that point.

Quote:
How are they created?


Categories are social phenomena that arise from social praxis. Now it's important to remember that in capitalist society, we have a class division. That means that we have two segments of society that have very different kinds of praxis. A proletarian has a praxis of wage labour, a bourgeois has a praxis of capital accumulation. This is why we have proletarian thought and bourgeois thought. This is why there is revolutionary thought and enemy thought. Marxists think in categories of class. They analyze everything in its historical development, always uncovering the principal contradictions in the social processes around us. Bourgeois thought is different, because its categories are neither social nor historical, but individualist and metaphysical.

Quote:
Are they made up just like that or do they have something to do with the material world?


A thought is true if it is in agreement with objective reality. Now I don't think that we can ever have objectivity of thought because all thought is subjective, but our thoughts can get progressively closer to representing reality. That means that thought is never completely false or completely true. For a proletarian, Marxism is true and obvious, for a bourgeois, not so much. It all depends on the way you look at things, and that is determined by your social praxis.
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Jul 2007, 06:59
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Post 22 Mar 2012, 00:45
Mabool, Wittgenstein isn't a moron. It's just that what is presented here is a gross cartoon of W., one that even goes against much of what he has said.

For instance, he said that grammar is "prior" to our experience, in that experience cannot refute grammar, since behind the concept of grammar lies our "structure" of reality, our channels of experience.

We don't need to say that there's no such thing as "raw" experience, this is always mediated, socially, historically. As you said, social praxis would be our foundation. From our interaction, our need for survival, we begin to aprehend what surrounds us through these "categories", so that they APPEAR to be a priori, in that we cannot even think of them as being any other way.

This is life determining consciousness. It isn't nonsensical. What is nonsensical is their discarding because of our inability to refute them. Especially since they, at base, refer to a social praxis, which could conceivably change, and thus might be refuted, might be shown to be "ideological".

Wittgenstein, again, expressed this idea by saying that though we cannot but see the colors we see, it is conceivable that another society, with different practices, might have a different way of "seeing" colors (of identifying colors).

One of the few things where Wittgenstein was relatively consistent in his life was in the distinction between what can be said and what can be showed. "Limit" statements that present necessary statements show us the structure of our reality.

If anybody is buying what is said in the origila post, go and give "On Certainty" a read and clear your head. Certainty, necessity, has nothing to do with metaphysics, which is another phenomenon.

Oh, I found it hilarious how somebody who denies to carry out philosophy is here inventing terminology (nonsense vs non-sense).
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 08 Nov 2010, 22:13
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Post 22 Mar 2012, 10:47
runequestser:

Quote:
If all philosophy is nonsense, what DO we base life, existence and society on?


Well, I'm not sure what you mean by basing life or existence on anything; but a socialist society will be based on the democratic control of the working class.
"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.: 08 Nov 2010, 22:13
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Post 22 Mar 2012, 10:49
Loz:

Quote:
I have an apple and i clearly know that it is an apple, why wouldn't i be able to declare that it isn't a Meskonator?


For all you know, 'Meskonator' could be a code word for 'apple'.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
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Post 22 Mar 2012, 10:52
How could it be a code word when it doesn't exist in a dictionary, when no one uses it?
Aren't code words supposed to have some meaning that people are able to recognize?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 08 Nov 2010, 22:13
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Post 22 Mar 2012, 10:55
Mabool:

Quote:
Ludwig Wittgenstein was a moron,


In which case, you will no doubt find it easy to show where my argument goes wrong, since it is largely based on his work.

However, the fact that you haven't, but have merely resorted to name-calling, suggests that the label 'moron' should be pinned to your back instead.

And I'm not too sure why you added a link to a Wikipedia article on Rationalism, since I can't see anywhere in that article an answer to my demolition.

Perhaps only 'morons' can see it?
"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.: 08 Nov 2010, 22:13
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Post 22 Mar 2012, 11:00
Praxicoide:

Quote:
For instance, he said that grammar is "prior" to our experience, in that experience cannot refute grammar, since behind the concept of grammar lies our "structure" of reality, our channels of experience.

We don't need to say that there's no such thing as "raw" experience, this is always mediated, socially, historically. As you said, social praxis would be our foundation. From our interaction, our need for survival, we begin to aprehend what surrounds us through these "categories", so that they APPEAR to be a priori, in that we cannot even think of them as being any other way.

This is life determining consciousness. It isn't nonsensical. What is nonsensical is their discarding because of our inability to refute them. Especially since they, at base, refer to a social praxis, which could conceivably change, and thus might be refuted, might be shown to be "ideological".

Wittgenstein, again, expressed this idea by saying that though we cannot but see the colors we see, it is conceivable that another society, with different practices, might have a different way of "seeing" colors (of identifying colors).

One of the few things where Wittgenstein was relatively consistent in his life was in the distinction between what can be said and what can be showed. "Limit" statements that present necessary statements show us the structure of our reality.

If anybody is buying what is said in the origila post, go and give "On Certainty" a read and clear your head. Certainty, necessity, has nothing to do with metaphysics, which is another phenomenon.

Oh, I found it hilarious how somebody who denies to carry out philosophy is here inventing terminology (nonsense vs non-sense).


I'm sorry, but I couldn't see much in here that was even remotely connected to what I had argued, except perhaps this:

Quote:
Oh, I found it hilarious how somebody who denies to carry out philosophy is here inventing terminology (nonsense vs non-sense).


In fact, I am using Wittgenstein's teminology; I have adapted it since otherwise it would be easy for readers to confuse it with patent falsehood, or plain gibberish, which isn't what Wittgenstein meant by that word.

When I have failed to do this (when I haven't used the hyphen), I have often been misunderstood (by those who don't know of Wittgenstein's specialised use of this word). I did try to explain the use of that word; perhaps you missed it.

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

Loz:

Quote:
How could it be a code word when it doesn't exist in a dictionary, when no one uses it?
Aren't code words supposed to have some meaning that people are able to recognize?


Code words are often not found in dictionaries, that is why they are very difficult to break.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Sep 2006, 22:05
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Philosophized
Post 22 Mar 2012, 11:17
A code word isn't the thing, the thing is the code-word only (and only to those who know the code which in this case is no one because no one is saying that meskonator means apple).

Also you know we have a one-post rule here. It's not that hard to hit an edit button.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 08 Nov 2010, 22:13
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Post 22 Mar 2012, 12:12
Dagoth UR:

Quote:
A code word isn't the thing, the thing is the code-word only (and only to those who know the code which in this case is no one because no one is saying that meskonator means apple).


Indeed, where did I suggest otherwise? I merely raised this possibility to respond to Loz's particular point.

To prevent this from happening again, I will change the word I have used in a future re-write of this article -- I re-write it every month or so in order to make it's argument clearer and shorter. [The original is nearly 100,000 words long!] I have now got it down to just over 3000 words. When one is shortening a long and complex argument to this extent, it's all too easy to go too far and risk being misunderstood -- which seems to have happened here with Loz.

Quote:
Also you know we have a one-post rule here. It's not that hard to hit an edit button.


Yes. However, I don't post here very often, and I forgot this rule!

You will no doubt notice that in my reply to Praxicode, I also responed to Loz -- since by then, I recalled the rule!

I will abide by it from now on.

-------------------------------
Mabool:

Quote:
So we obviously need a criterion of proof, and that is praxis. In our social praxis, correct categories are established, because they are useful. In other words, you can only truly learn something if you do it. Maoist dialectics is centered around that point.


In fact, practice is a very poor guide to truth -- there are incorrect theories that worked for over a thousand years, just as there are correct theories that failed to work for several centuries.

Examples supplied on request.
"The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves."
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Post 25 Mar 2012, 11:40
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Post 25 Mar 2012, 12:37
EPC -- yes, so?
"The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves."
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Post 25 Mar 2012, 21:40
I've read all this over and over and I really don't see what you're trying to get at other than Diamat is something only complete idiots would use. Of course you flower it up with the philosophical rhetoric you seem to simultaneously despise but the whole thing reads: Me smart, you dumb. Don't get me wrong I'm not trying to dismiss you, rather I'm just pointing out that your argument is a dick.
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Post 25 Mar 2012, 22:34
Dagoth UR:

"I've read all this over and over and I really don't see what you're trying to get at other than Diamat is something only complete idiots would use. Of course you flower it up with the philosophical rhetoric you seem to simultaneously despise but the whole thing reads: Me smart, you dumb. Don't get me wrong I'm not trying to dismiss you, rather I'm just pointing out that your argument is a dick."

Well, it's not just Dialectical Materialism I am demolishing, but any form of traditional philosophy.

In order to do that, I am using Wittgenstein's method, and employing the new meaning of "philosophy" he introduced, whereby philosophy is not aimed at discovering super-truths about reality, but at unravelling the confusions we get into when we misuse language. So, the 'philosophical' language I use (which I try as far possible to keep simple -- something you can't say about the 'philosophical rhetoric' you'll find elsewhere) is aimed at a totally diffferent end. Although it might seem to you like the usual 'philosophical rhetoric', it is in fact nothing like it.

"Me smart, you dumb. Don't get me wrong I'm not trying to dismiss you, rather I'm just pointing out that your argument is a dick."

In other words you are trying to 'dismiss' me. How else am I to read that last clause?

Of course, name-calling is not an argument, just a sign of defeat.
"The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves."
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Post 26 Mar 2012, 03:26
Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
Well, it's not just Dialectical Materialism I am demolishing, but any form of traditional philosophy.

Fair enough but you don't you revalidate philosophy through its rhetoric?

Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
In order to do that, I am using Wittgenstein's method, and employing the new meaning of "philosophy" he introduced, whereby philosophy is not aimed at discovering super-truths about reality, but at unravelling the confusions we get into when we misuse language.

Since when is DiaMat about discovering super-truths? If anything people criticize daimat for shattering truths. DiaMat is a tool that provides rational results, it's the assignment of "higher" motives that causes conflict. This is the crux of what I'm asking, ie what is so bad about DiaMat's results?

Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
So, the 'philosophical' language I use (which I try as far possible to keep simple -- something you can't say about the 'philosophical rhetoric' you'll find elsewhere) is aimed at a totally diffferent end. Although it might seem to you like the usual 'philosophical rhetoric', it is in fact nothing like it.

No it certainly isn't usual, it's too cryptic for that. If your intention is simplification you've got a long way to go even though I applaud your effort despite disagreeing with what I believe you're saying.

Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
In other words you are trying to 'dismiss' me. How else am I to read that last clause?

No if I'd meant to dismiss you I'd have done it and passed this thread up altogether. Rather my point is that your argument carries the tenor of a dick. You dismiss yourself through your tone not your content.

Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
Of course, name-calling is not an argument, just a sign of defeat.

Thinking that every time you get called a dick (which you weren't) as a victory is a clear cut sign of a dick.

Seriously I want to understand you. I have no interest in, nor do I believe I could, make you leave.
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Post 26 Mar 2012, 07:09
Dagoth:

Quote:
Fair enough but you don't you revalidate philosophy through its rhetoric?


No. As I explained, I am in fact employing a different meaning of the word 'philosophy'.

Quote:
Since when is DiaMat about discovering super-truths? If anything people criticize daimat for shattering truths. DiaMat is a tool that provides rational results, it's the assignment of "higher" motives that causes conflict. This is the crux of what I'm asking, ie what is so bad about DiaMat's results?


In fact, it has been using super-truths ever since its founders decide to listen to Hegel.

Here are a few:

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

"A motionless state of matter therefore proves to be one of the most empty and nonsensical of ideas…." [Engels, Anti-Dühring, p.74. Bold emphasis added.]

"The law of the transformation of quantity into quality and vice versa…[operates] in nature, in a manner fixed for each individual case, qualitative changes can only occur by the quantitative addition or quantitative subtraction of matter or motion….

"Hence, it is impossible to alter the quality of a body without addition or subtraction of matter or motion…. In this form, therefore, Hegel's mysterious principle appears not only quite rational but even rather obvious.

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

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

"The whole theory of gravity rests on saying that attraction is the essence of matter. This is necessarily false. Where there is attraction, it must be complemented by repulsion. Hence already Hegel was quite right in saying that the essence of matter is attraction and repulsion…." [Engels, Dialectics of Nature, pp.17, 63, 69, 211, 244. Bold emphases added.]

"'Fundamentally, we can know only the infinite.' In fact all real exhaustive knowledge consists solely in raising the individual thing in thought from individuality into particularity and from this into universality, in seeking and establishing the infinite in the finite, the eternal in the transitory…. All true knowledge of nature is knowledge of the eternal, the infinite, and essentially absolute…. The cognition of the infinite…can only take place in an infinite asymptotic progress." [Ibid., pp.234-35. Bold emphasis added.]

"Dialectics requires an all-round consideration of relationships in their concrete development…. Dialectical logic demands that we go further…. [It] requires that an object should be taken in development, in 'self-movement' (as Hegel sometimes puts it)….

"Dialectical logic holds that 'truth' is always concrete, never abstract, as the late Plekhanov liked to say after Hegel." [Lenin Once Again On The Trade Unions, The Current Situation And The Mistakes Of Comrades Trotsky And Bukharin, pp.90, 93. Bold emphases added.]

"Flexibility, applied objectively, i.e., reflecting the all-sidedness of the material process and its unity, is dialectics, is the correct reflection of the eternal development of the world." [Lenin Philosophical Notebooks, p.110. Bold emphasis added.]

"Logical concepts are subjective so long as they remain 'abstract,' in their abstract form, but at the same time they express the Thing-in-themselves. Nature is both concrete and abstract, both phenomenon and essence, both moment and relation. Human concepts are subjective in their abstractness, separateness, but objective as a whole, in the process, in the sum-total, in the tendency, in the source." [Ibid., p.208.]

"[Among the elements of dialectics are the following:] Internally contradictory tendencies…in [a thing]…as the sum and unity of opposites…. Each thing (phenomenon, process, etc.)…is connected with every other…. [This involves] not only the unity of opposites, but the transitions of every determination, quality, feature, side, property into every other….

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

"The unity…of opposites is conditional, temporary, transitory, relative. The struggle of mutually exclusive opposites is absolute, just as development and motion are absolute….

"To begin with what is the simplest, most ordinary, common, etc., [sic] with any proposition...: [like] John is a man…. Here we already have dialectics (as Hegel's genius recognized): the individual is the universal…. Consequently, the opposites (the individual is opposed to the universal) are identical: the individual exists only in the connection that leads to the universal. The universal exists only in the individual and through the individual. Every individual is (in one way or another) a universal. Every universal is (a fragment, or an aspect, or the essence of) an individual. Every universal only approximately embraces all the individual objects. Every individual enters incompletely into the universal, etc., etc. Every individual is connected by thousands of transitions with other kinds of individuals (things, phenomena, processes), etc. Here already we have the elements, the germs of the concept of necessity, of objective connection in nature, etc. Here already we have the contingent and the necessary, the phenomenon and the essence; for when we say John is a man…we disregard a number of attributes as contingent; we separate the essence from the appearance, and counterpose the one to the other….

"Thus in any proposition we can (and must) disclose as a 'nucleus' ('cell') the germs of all the elements of dialectics, and thereby show that dialectics is a property of all human knowledge in general."

"Hegel brilliantly divined the dialectics of things (phenomena, the world, nature) in the dialectics of concepts…. This aphorism should be expressed more popularly, without the word dialectics: approximately as follows: In the alternation, reciprocal dependence of all notions, in the identity of their opposites, in the transitions of one notion into another, in the eternal change, movement of notions, Hegel brilliantly divined precisely this relation of things to nature…. [W]hat constitutes dialectics?…. [M]utual dependence of notions all without exception…. Every notion occurs in a certain relation, in a certain connection with all the others." [Ibid., pp.196-97, 221-22, 357-58, 359-60. Bold emphases added.]

"According to Hegel, dialectics is the principle of all life…. Man has two qualities: first being alive, and secondly of also being mortal. But on closer examination it turns out that life itself bears in itself the germ of death, and that in general any phenomenon is contradictory, in the sense that it develops out of itself the elements which, sooner or later, will put an end to its existence and will transform it into its opposite. Everything flows, everything changes; and there is no force capable of holding back this constant flux, or arresting its eternal movement. There is no force capable of resisting the dialectics of phenomena….

"At a particular moment a moving body is at a particular spot, but at the same time it is outside it as well because, if it were only in that spot, it would, at least for that moment, become motionless. Every motion is a dialectical process, a living contradiction, and as there is not a single phenomenon of nature in explaining which we do not have in the long run to appeal to motion, we have to agree with Hegel, who said that dialectics is the soul of any scientific cognition. And this applies not only to cognition of nature….

"And so every phenomenon, by the action of those same forces which condition its existence, sooner or later, but inevitably, is transformed into its own opposite….

"When you apply the dialectical method to the study of phenomena, you need to remember that forms change eternally in consequence of the 'higher development of their content….'

"In the words of Engels, Hegel's merit consists in the fact that he was the first to regard all phenomena from the point of view of their development, from the point of view of their origin and destruction….

"It will be understood without difficulty by anyone who is in the least capable of dialectical thinking...[that] quantitative changes, accumulating gradually, lead in the end to changes of quality, and that these changes of quality represent leaps, interruptions in gradualness…. That's how all Nature acts…." [Plekhanov The Development Of The Monist View Of History, pp.74-77, 88, 163. Bold emphases added.]

"The dialectical method therefore holds that no phenomenon in nature can be understood if taken by itself....; and that, vice versa, any phenomenon can be understood and explained if considered in its inseparable connection with surrounding phenomena, as one conditioned by surrounding phenomena.

"Contrary to metaphysics, dialectics holds that nature is not in a state of rest and immobility, stagnation and immutability, but a state of continuous movement and change, of continuous renewal and development....

"The dialectical method therefore requires that phenomena should be considered not only from the standpoint of their interconnection and interdependence, but also from the standpoint of their movement and change....

"Contrary to metaphysics, dialectics holds that internal contradictions are inherent in all things and phenomena of nature, for they all have their negative and positive sides...; and that the struggle between these opposites, the struggle between the old and the new, between that which is dying away and that which is being born..., constitutes the internal content of the process of development, the internal content of the transformation of quantitative changes into qualitative changes....

"If there are no isolated phenomena in the world, if all phenomena are interconnected and interdependent, then it is clear that every social system and every social movement in history must be evaluated not from the standpoint of 'eternal justice'....

"Contrary to idealism..., Marxist philosophical materialism holds that the world and its laws are fully knowable, that our knowledge of the laws of nature, tested by experiment and practice, is authentic knowledge having the validity of objective truth, and that there are no things in the world which are unknowable, but only things which are as yet not known, but which will be disclosed and made known by the efforts of science and practice." [Stalin Dialectical And Historical Materialism, pp.835-46. Bold emphases added.]


You can find literally hundreds of quotations to the same effect from Hegel, Engels, Plekhanov, Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, Bukharin, and a host of other dialecticians (from all wings of Marxism) here:

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2002.htm

The above theorists have plainly imposed these ideas on nature. They were copied from Hegel and other philosophers, who in turn offered little or no evidence in their support, just abstract argument.

But, no amount of evidence can substantiate the vast majority of the above -- they have been derived, as Lenin notes, from language and from thought alone (indeed, he derives practically all of dialectics from a sentence like "John is a man"!). They are indeed super-truths, and are this non-senscial. [Some of them are in fact far too vague for us to be able to decide of they are super-true, or super-false. Hence they are third rate non-sense.]

This flies in the face of what Engels asserted:

Quote:
"Finally, for me there could be no question of superimposing the laws of dialectics on nature but of discovering them in it and developing them from it." [Engels Anti-Dühring, p.13. Bold emphasis added.]


Dagoth:

Quote:
No it certainly isn't usual, it's too cryptic for that. If your intention is simplification you've got a long way to go even though I applaud your effort despite disagreeing with what I believe you're saying.


Which parts are 'cryptic'?

Moreover, the original essay from which the above is a precis is nearly 100,000 words long, written almost to PhD level standard. So, the OP is a simplification. As I noted, in cutting out so much detail, one risks not being understood. I also acknowledge at the beginnning of that essay the problems I faced in making these ideas clear to comrades:

Quote:
Secondly, this has been one of the most difficult Essays to write, since (1) It tackles issues that have sailed right over the heads of some of the greatest minds in history, and (2) It's not easy to expose the weaknesses of traditional philosophy in everyday language, even though, after well over fifty re-writes, I think I have largely managed to do this....

However, I have tried as far as possible to keep this Essay free of academic complexities since it is aimed at revolutionaries, not scholars....

Apologies are therefore owed in advance to those who know enough of Wittgenstein's work to make the ideas rehearsed in this Essay seem rather trite and banal, but experience has taught me that the vast majority of Marxists are not well-versed in this area of Analytic Philosophy, and so they find it difficult to see their relevance, let alone grasp their significance. So I have worded this Essay with them in mind, which means that I have tried to make things as simple and straight-forward as possible....

Thirdly, and connected with the above are the following words of warning: this Essay is much more repetitive than most of the others published so far at this site. Experience has also taught me that if the difficult ideas it contains are not repeated many times over they either tend not to sink in or their significance is lost -- this is especially so with regard to the Marxist readers mentioned earlier.


Dagoth:

Quote:
Rather my point is that your argument carries the tenor of a dick. You dismiss yourself through your tone not your content.


In what way?

Quote:
Thinking that every time you get called a dick (which you weren't) as a victory is a clear cut sign of a dick.


Well, we can all make stuff up; here goes: "Using the word 'dick' is the sure sign of a wally."
"The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves."
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