Dialectics

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Khawaga
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Oct 8 2011 20:36
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This, to me, Khawaga, is contradictory.

If one 'already has a construction', that's not 'rising from the concrete to the abstract', is it? It's 'rising from the abstract (construction) to the concrete'.

I'm confused.

As soon as we use language there is already an abstraction. As I said, unless you're God, there is no way to comprehend the real concrete. Reality is always mediated first of all by our senses (physiologically speaking), and then when we think about it and mostly when we communicate it. But this doesn't mean that there isn't an actual reality out there (ontologically); it exists, but we just can't experience it for what it is. It is impossible for anyone to rise from the concrete as you understand the concrete. Real concrete is ontological, but epistemologically we can't actually have access to the concrete in all its glory (hmmm, I sound somewhat Lacanian there).

LBird
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Oct 8 2011 20:36
Khawaga wrote:
Now you're the one being a dick again. Repeatedly you disrespect those that try to help you; it's always our fault for you not understanding. I am not saying it's your fault...

Me? You're the 'teacher' scolding me for 'not understanding'!

No, it's not my fault - it's yours!

You don't understand my questions - when will teachers show some humility?

Khawaga wrote:
It's not about treating you like a dickhead. If I don't understand a question, I ask the student to explain.

So, why not say you didn't understand my question, and instead blather on about Capitalism, and try an bluff your way through?

Khawaga wrote:
Again, fuck you very much. I meant nothing malicious about that. It was answered two times, and pointed out to you three times more so from that I assumed that you didn't realize it had been answered. What else should I think? I know you're reading the replies.

I really don't know if I should bother with you anymore. I am actually engaging with you with the best intentions here so why the fuck should I continue when you start hurling abuse?

Khawaga, you need to read our posts again, and find out who started the 'talking down' to pupils. Perhaps you don't realise that you're doing it. And why didn't you 'assume that you didn't realise it hadn't been answered'?

Anyway, thanks for your efforts - they have helped me, at least.

But I'm becoming ever more certain that much of 'dialectics' is nonsense, I'm afraid.

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Khawaga
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Oct 8 2011 20:46
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So, why not say you didn't understand my question, and instead blather on about Capitalism, and try an bluff your way through

OMG. Because I did understand your question, I said it had been answered by Arbeiten and so did Arbeiten. If I didn't understand your question I would have asked you to clarify ffs.

Quote:
Khawaga, you need to read our posts again, and find out who started the 'talking down' to pupils. Perhaps you don't realise that you're doing it. And why didn't you 'assume that you didn't realise it hadn't been answered'?

My students like my style of teaching and appreciate the effort I put into explaining things in as many different ways as possible. At least my students know how to pose questions in a different way, explain why they're asking the question, what they think the answer is etc. You seem to be under the impression that the teacher should just give you the answer like it's fucking french fries.

Quote:
But I'm becoming ever more certain that much of 'dialectics' is nonsense, I'm afraid.

The assumption you started with I assume. This is your MO. It seems like most of the time you've already made up your mind, you ask vague questions, refuse to elucidate what you're after, focus on a minor thing and then conclude that it's probably malarky. Don't get me wrong, it's you prerogative to decide whether dialectics is shite or not, but it just seems a bit disingenuous to ask for help about a topic and then not bother to actually engage. Especially when some of us genuinely would try to help you. You did exactly the same thing in the Capital thread.

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Tojiah
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Oct 8 2011 21:27

LBird, I try to avoid engaging with you because it is usually frustrating and pointless, but how about I point out a contradiction in your own behavior: on the one hand you want people to teach you, in fact suggest that they are required to teach you, and then you complain that they act too much like teachers. Well, they are not your teachers. Khawaga owes you nothing, he doesn't have to help you, unlike your actual teachers whose job it was to explain things to you and to get you to learn. Nevertheless he has been trying to, for some reason, and instead of giving him any kind of positive feedback for bothering, you just hurl abuse, either because you don't understand what he's saying, or you don't like what he's saying. No wonder all your teachers hated you, and I doubt all of them were condescending assholes, though there isn't a dearth of that in the teaching profession. Perhaps the constant here is you? Have you tried thinking about that for once?

I'm not going to be nice like Khawaga: yes, it is your fault you don't understand, as you don't have the patience or humility needed to learn new things properly, and sure as hell don't know how to engage other people in a way that will encourage them to help you learn anything. If you actually want to understand, rather than perform the repeated act of trying to learn and failing, you might want to actually work on that. Otherwise I can't help but think this is a piece of self-aggrandizing "education theater", where you throw anyone you talk to who doesn't agree with you or who you don't at that very moment understand into the role of Bad Teacher, as much as they try resisting it.

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Oct 8 2011 20:52

To lighten things up a bit, whenever I hear someone preaching about "the dialectic", I always think of Devrim. Upon being asked (by me, a few years ago) to formulate his official position on the dialectic (right after he got off a 4 hour train ride), he replied with a huge smile, "Dialectic? Can I eat it?".

Really, most of this only matters to philologists and has almost no political importance.

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Oct 8 2011 21:07
jura wrote:
Really, most of this only matters to philologists and has almost no political importance.

I tried to tell LBird this, but he sorta threw a fit when I asked whether he was interested in one or the other.

S. Artesian
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Oct 8 2011 21:23
jura wrote:
To lighten things up a bit, whenever I hear someone preaching about "the dialectic", I always think of Devrim. Upon being asked (by me, a few years ago) to formulate his official position on the dialectic (right after he got off a 4 hour train ride), he replied with a huge smile, "Dialectic? Can I eat it?".

Really, most of this only matters to philologists and has almost no political importance.

You can't eat it, but it can, and will, eat you. And spit you out. Trying to learn "dialectic" separate and apart from Marx's relocation of "dialectic" from the realm of consciousness to the realm of social labor is... well, a giant step backward, a fool's errand, a mistake, pointless, all of the preceding.

What Marx recognizes in Hegel is a history-- an attempt to provide a recognition of the history of human beings making themselves at home in the world. Because Hegel was writing when he did, where he did, his expression has to be an alienated history.

Marx extracts the rational kernel of Hegel by identifying the process of human beings "making themselves at home in the world" in the labor process, in the appropriation of nature. Marx not only "crosses the brook of fire" [Feuerbach], he appropriates him in that the appropriation of nature by human beings is always a social appropriation of nature. The appropriation of nature by labor becomes the appropriation of social labor; the relation between the producers and the products; between the producers and the products made permanent as property; the social relation of production; the relations between classes.

From that point, a point where Hegel is turned rightside up and stood on his feet-- the elements of determinant being, negation, opposite identities are all reflected in, and reflections of the organization of labor.

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Oct 8 2011 21:41

S. Artesian, I think I'd benefit more from your contribution if you'd directly address some of the points of the present debate... rather than just paraphrase Tony Smith or Hiroshi Uchida or Lyndon LaRouche to show how utterly wrong I've gotten all of it.

S. Artesian
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Oct 8 2011 23:45
jura wrote:
S. Artesian, I think I'd benefit more from your contribution if you'd directly address some of the points of the present debate... rather than just paraphrase Tony Smith or Hiroshi Uchida or Lyndon LaRouche to show how utterly wrong I've gotten all of it.

1.Since I've never read any of those three, tough for me to paraphrase.

2. What points? I've read the whole exchange, and I have not seen a serious point, issue, etc. raised about Marx's relation to, use of, dialectic, or what is even meant by dialectic in Marx's critique of capital. I've seen a lot of things that amount to smirks, word-play, and smug ignorance, but what points have been raised here?

LBird
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Oct 9 2011 06:13
jura wrote:
Please re-read my post above. If you don't like that Marx is a realist and believes that social relations exists independently of the content of theoretical consciousness, fair enough, but I can't change that. In this sense, the "real concrete" is there before the theoretical concepts grasping it (think of it as of priority in time). As such, it forms the start of all theoretical enterprise.

Jura, I think you’re jumping ahead too soon. As we’ll find out eventually, I agree that Marx is (and so am I) a realist and that the ‘concrete’ exists before ‘theory’. But that’s not what’s at issue here.

The issue is: can we start from the ‘concrete’ or do we always start from the ‘theory’ (the ‘abstract’).

It seems to me that the scientific method, as propounded by Lakatos for example, shows that we always start from ‘theory’. I think that this is correct. Science is a human mode of enquiry into the pre- and really-existing ‘concrete’, starting from human ‘theory’.

If this is correct (and I’m still open to someone explaining why it isn’t), than it makes nonsense of the argument put forward by Ollman and other dialecticians that Marx started from the ‘concrete’ and rose to the ‘abstract’. If fact, if Marx believed he was doing just that, it questions him, too.

Now, it must be clear where I think I stand on this argument. From the very start I’ve said that I was using Lakatos’ concept of the ‘hard core’, and I was predisposed to think Ollman was wrong on this issue. Dialectics doesn’t start from the ‘concrete’; it is like all other scientific methods and starts from the ‘abstract’.

Now, I entered the thread to give those who argued with Ollman that dialectics ‘starts from the concrete and rises to the abstract’ a chance to persuade me that I was wrong. Perhaps there was something that I wasn’t aware of, or some progress in the philosophy of science that undermined Lakatos’ conceptual apparatus, and thus my ‘abstract’ starting point.

But I’m yet to read anything that makes me think that this fundamental building block of ‘dialectics’ is correct. If modern scientific method seems to clash with a thinker from 200 years ago (Hegel) and two thinkers apparently heavily influenced by him (Marx and Engels), then I feel bound to give great weight to 200 years more of human thinking on the subject.

That doesn’t mean ‘now’ is correct and ‘then’ is incorrect, but unless some evidence is produced to support the ‘then’, I’m going to stick with the ‘now’.

jura wrote:
Well, these are words that Marx uses, and most of the marxist methodological discourse after him. I'm using them here as well to help you find your way around these discussions.

But isn’t this part of the problem? If Marx is wrong, by the standard I’ve outlined, then it’s ‘his words’ that are at issue! We’re back here to Pareto’s ‘bats and mice’, yet again.

If you or anyone else thinks that quoting Marx’s words solves this problem (and, to be very clear, I’m not accusing you of this), then I think that that is akin to quoting scripture. To me, this isn’t a good argument to put forward in favour of the method of ‘rising from the concrete to the abstract’, as I’m sure you’ll agree. It has religious overtones, of the words from the ‘good book’.

Khawaga wrote:
You seem to be under the impression that the teacher should just give you the answer like it's fucking french fries.

No mate, simple English chips will do. I don’t see what’s so difficult about giving clear answers that a pupil can understand, and actual answers to the question that the pupil is actually answering, rather than answers to a question that the teacher would prefer the pupil to have asked, and which the teacher already has an answer for. If the question makes the teacher think, so much the better.

Khawaga wrote:
The assumption you started with I assume. This is your MO. It seems like most of the time you've already made up your mind, you ask vague questions, refuse to elucidate what you're after, focus on a minor thing and then conclude that it's probably malarky. Don't get me wrong, it's you prerogative to decide whether dialectics is shite or not, but it just seems a bit disingenuous to ask for help about a topic and then not bother to actually engage. Especially when some of us genuinely would try to help you. You did exactly the same thing in the Capital thread.

This statement, to me, just confirms my analysis, above. I openly stated my ‘hard core’ at the beginning, and asked questions that you didn’t want me to ask (‘vague’, ‘minor’, ‘disingenuous’, ‘not bother to engage’). I think I’m asking a simple question, although it seems to be one all dialecticians don’t want to answer. How can humans ‘start from the concrete’, when modern science suggests that this is not possible?

As you correctly say, the failure to answer leads me to the ‘proper malarky’ conclusion regarding much of what passes for dialectics. And I’ve stated from the start that I do think there is some value in some dialectical thinking, but we haven’t got there yet, have we?

One point stands out: I do think that ‘some of you’ are ‘genuinely trying to help me’, including you. The problem is, you’re not ‘helping me’ with my question, but ‘helping me’ with what you already think. But I do thank you and others for your efforts, because they have helped, even if in a way not intended by my ‘helpers’.

On Capital, yes, I think I did do ‘exactly the same thing’: ie. showed that much of what people say about Capital is ‘proper malarky’. That doesn’t mean that it’s not useful (it clearly is), but that it shows that the way Marx and his epigones explain is terrible, and is a hindrance to the proletariat. Surely we can explain both Capital and dialectics in a way that most people can understand, rather than alienate yet more generations to come?

Tojiah wrote:
LBird, I try to avoid engaging with you because it is usually frustrating and pointless…

Tojiah, you add nothing to the discussion on dialectics and apparently just want to have a go at me. Fine. If it keeps you happy…

jura wrote:
Really, most of this only matters to philologists and has almost no political importance.
Khawaga wrote:
I tried to tell LBird this, but he sorta threw a fit when I asked whether he was interested in one or the other.

Funnily enough, I think dialectics (of some sort) can have great importance for everyone. I’d like to get to discuss that, but first I have to clear up my understanding of what other people think dialectics is, because otherwise we’ll be talking at cross-purposes.

Finally, has any of this helped jef costello, snipfool, Arbeiten or others to situate themselves in relation to dialectics? If anyone wants me to try to clarify what I’ve said already, I’ll try.

Or has everyone already concluded that it’s all ‘angels on a pinhead’, and irrelevant?

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Oct 9 2011 08:25
S. Artesian wrote:
2. What points? I've read the whole exchange, and I have not seen a serious point, issue, etc. raised about Marx's relation to, use of, dialectic, or what is even meant by dialectic in Marx's critique of capital. I've seen a lot of things that amount to smirks, word-play, and smug ignorance, but what points have been raised here?

Well, why even bother then?

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Oct 9 2011 08:27
LBird wrote:
The issue is: can we start from the ‘concrete’ or do we always start from the ‘theory’ (the ‘abstract’).

It seems to me that the scientific method, as propounded by Lakatos for example, shows that we always start from ‘theory’. I think that this is correct. Science is a human mode of enquiry into the pre- and really-existing ‘concrete’, starting from human ‘theory’.

Marx has no problem with this, as I already tried to explain (and you seemed to agree with it, so I thought this is no longer a problem). There is pre-existing theory in Marx which is used as a "guiding thread" when studying capitalism (see the 1859 Preface and many Marx's works from 1842 and later).

I wonder why you're so keen on Lakatos, though. It's one of a many theories of scientific progress. Scientific practice, not so much. And it was shown to lead to many difficulties decades ago.

LBird wrote:
Dialectics doesn’t start from the ‘concrete’; it is like all other scientific methods and starts from the ‘abstract’.

Are you talking about the "start" of the mode of investigation, or the mode of presentation? Do you use the words abstract and concerete in the same sense as Marx? Have you taken anything the others have said so far on board?

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door stop
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Oct 9 2011 09:09

But you know Marx refuted Hegel who opposed Kant

I'm getting out now

Fuckwits

Peirats would puke

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Mr. Jolly
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Oct 9 2011 10:41

If you want a remedial but solid and easily digested intro to Hegel then check this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxjnG1X510A

piter
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Oct 9 2011 10:45

piter wrote:

...as your friend Hegel would say "the more abstract is the more concrete"...

piter wrote:

...or you can undertand what it can mean if your read the whole of the book...

Lbird wrote : Unfortunately, piter mate, that method was exactly the same one that ocelot (I think) recommended to me about understanding Capital.

That is, a simple explanation of something can't be given unless one already understands the entirety of a long, complex and mystifying text.

I write :

(that's a bit like wanting us to understand your posts without reading them in full...)

well I try an explaination :

I would say "the more abstract is the more concrete " is for Hegel a critique of empirism and a critique of idealism (for ex his outstanding critique of Kant) at the same time (we can say that for Hegel's writing as a whole and that's a reason why he's interesting).

it means that bettering a concept is making it more fit to the complexities of the concrete (and that concept are bettering this way, in one's people thought and also through history).
it also means you can't accurately grasp the concrete without the best concepts, without some abstraction (which is also concrete).
for Hegel the developement of the spirit is a process of going toward the concrete (which is at the same time for the reasons aboe, a process toward the more abstract).
hegel's expressing it in quite esoteric way but it's actually pretty sensible stuff...
(not sure that I expressd my explanation very well neither, it would be easier for me in french...If you read french and are interested I can post some things I wrote about marxist philosophical issues, dialectics, materialism and mostly marxian critique of philosophy)

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Oct 9 2011 10:57

Singer's book on Hegel (titled "Hegel") is indeed a good and very accessible introduction to Hegel's thought; however, it pays most attention to his philosophy of history and social theory; the Science of Logic is explained only very briefly.

LBird
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Oct 9 2011 11:48
jura wrote:
I wonder why you're so keen on Lakatos, though. It's one of a many theories of scientific progress. Scientific practice, not so much. And it was shown to lead to many difficulties decades ago.

Can you provide me with either a link or a book/article title which discusses Lakatos' theory? I'm 'keen' on Lakatos because he seems to be the most advanced philosopher of science that I've come across. But if you supply a critique, I'll read it.

jura wrote:
Do you use the words abstract and concerete in the same sense as Marx?

See, this is one of the problems with any discussion about 'dialectics'. I use the English meaning for 'abstract' and 'concrete', and I'm sure so does everybody else trying to understand 'dialectics', so surely if the people wishing to explain 'dialectics' to the uninitiated have a secret meaning for these words (whether taken from Marx or not), it is incumbent on them to let the rest of us into the secret, as early as possible. I always find that when someone is talking nonsense, and they're found out, they retreat into 'you don't understand the meaning', rather than either explaining this 'special meaning' up front or admitting that they really haven't got a clue. I'm not accusing you of this, but I should make it clear that this will cross my mind soon, if someone doesn't either use English meanings or give us all a glossary of these meanings, so special to 'dialectics'.

jura wrote:
Have you taken anything the others have said so far on board?

This, mate, is borderline insulting. Apparently, it's been alleged by jef costello, and who knows who else, that I'm the source of insults on these boards.

Well, this time I won't take the bait.

[bright-eyed and bushy tailed] Yes, I have taken on board things that others have said so far.

But as a conscientious fisherman, I've given the 'facts' a sniff, decided that they stink to high heaven, and have tossed them overboard again.

Any more comradely questions, jura?

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Oct 9 2011 11:58

On Lakatos, I guess any textbook of philosophy of science discussing Lakatos will do. Try "Theory and Reality" by Peter Godfrey-Smith (get it as a PDF at library.nu). Larry Laudan's work can be read as a critical development of Lakatos' ideas.

LBird wrote:
it is incumbent on them to let the rest of us into the secret, as early as possible.

Yup, that's what I tried to do in my first post in this thread.

LBird wrote:
This, mate, is borderline insulting. Apparently, it's been alleged by jef costello, and who knows who else, that I'm the source of insults on these boards.

Sorry, it was an honest question. It looked like you wanted to discuss the same issues again, even though it had previously seemed we've reached some kind of a consensus. (I'm pretty sure I messed up the tenses in that sentence, sorry for that.)

LBird
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Oct 9 2011 12:00
piter wrote:
well I try an explaination :

I would say "the more abstract is the more concrete " is for Hegel a critique of empirism and a critique of idealism (for ex his outstanding critique of Kant) at the same time (we can say that for Hegel's writing as a whole and that's a reason why he's interesting).

it means that bettering a concept is making it more fit to the complexities of the concrete (and that concept are bettering this way, in one's people thought and also through history).
it also means you can't accurately grasp the concrete without the best concepts, without some abstraction (which is also concrete).
for Hegel the developement of the spirit is a process of going toward the concrete (which is at the same time for the reasons aboe, a process toward the more abstract).
hegel's expressing it in quite esoteric way but it's actually pretty sensible stuff...
(not sure that I expressd my explanation very well neither, it would be easier for me in french...If you read french and are interested I can post some things I wrote about marxist philosophical issues, dialectics, materialism and mostly marxian critique of philosophy)

I appreciate your valiant efforts to explain, piter, but I just can't make head nor tail of your words. It seems to me to be because I don't 'speak' dialectics (never mind French), so that is why I'm patiently waiting for someone to provide a key to translation, from 'Dialectics' to 'English', so that I can understand.

Otherwise, it's going to have to be in English, where 'abstract' isn't the same concept as 'concrete'.

Your phrase 'some abstraction (which is also concrete)' doesn't make sense to me.

Once again, I'm keen to learn, but I'm still having problems with the 'bats and mice' aspects of this. In short, in seems like gibberish.

'Gibberish' meaning, of course, in dialectic-speak, 'the Queen's English'.

Have I got it yet? Am I doing 'dialectics', now?

LBird
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Oct 9 2011 12:14
jura wrote:
Sorry, it was an honest question. It looked like you wanted to discuss the same issues again, even though it had previously seemed we've reached some kind of a consensus.

Apologies accepted. It seems I was a bit hasty with you, and for that I'm sorry, too. My only excuse is that I seem to have attracted a following who are keen to avoid any current issue and just abuse me - and then I get the blame when I answer in the same tone!

So, just to be clear, do we both accept that Marx and all dialecticians start from the abstract, not the concrete? Or the abstract-concrete, the concrete-abstract, the theoretical-concrete, or any other of the many varieties of the 'concrete' which apparently inhabit 'dialectic-world'?

I'm not being funny with you here, I just want you (and anybody else who might disagree) to have a chance to discuss it further, before we move on to what I consider the consequences of this initial position.

PS. thanks for the recommendation, I'll try to get a copy (and don't worry, I've read lots of textbooks on the philosophy of science, which is why I've plumped for Lakatos, so far).

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Oct 9 2011 12:40
LBird wrote:
So, just to be clear, do we both accept that Marx and all dialecticians start from the abstract, not the concrete? Or the abstract-concrete, the concrete-abstract, the theoretical-concrete, or any other of the many varieties of the 'concrete' which apparently inhabit 'dialectic-world'?

It's not that simple. A question posed like this is misleading. Which "start" do you mean: the start of inquiry, or the start of the presentation of results of inquiry?

In the case of the former, the "real concrete" is always preexisting (and a "start" as such) for us, because we're realists. Of course there is also preexisting theoretical knowledge and theoretical decisions (which guide every single look at the real concrete), but the "real concrete" is prior to any specific theory about it.

In the case of the latter, for reasons explained above, Marx's dialectical exposition of economic categories starts with what he considers the most abstract ones.

I can see you're trying to relate this to the critique of some shallow inductivism from the standpoint of hypothetico-deductivism, but as I said, Marx would have no problem with the idea that there is always some theoretical knowledge which governs each particular empirical enterprise and predetermines the way you look at phenomena – that (some rudimentary) theory precedes experience, so to speak. He was opposed to naive empiricism. But Marx's own methodological discussions are distant to problems like this, because these problems weren't even formulated at that time. His idea of an "ascent from abstract to concrete" is in not related to this problem at all; it has to do with the way you present the results of a scientific inquiry once you have achieved them.

To make it shorter, I think you're worrying about something (i.e. the dialectical mode of presentation not conforming to scientific standards) that's not really a problem (Marx's standards are actually way ahead of those of most present-day social science, even though he frames them in a very different vocabulary).

LBird
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Oct 9 2011 13:21
jura wrote:
It's not that simple. A question posed like this is misleading.

This seems to be a fundamental problem with trying to understand 'dialectics'. Either one surrenders oneself to the 'dialectic' without question, or one is doomed to remain forever outside of understanding.

jura wrote:
In the case of the former, the "real concrete" is always preexisting (and a "start" as such) for us, because we're realists. Of course there is also preexisting theoretical knowledge and theoretical decisions (which guide every single look at the real concrete), but the "real concrete" is prior to any specific theory about it.

But the fact that the 'real concrete' exists prior to our questions, doesn't lead logically to us saying that it is the 'start' of our enquiries. Isn't that the point of the rest of your words? It is prior to theory in that it exists whether we ask questions or not, but not prior to humans forming questions. The scientific method starts with 'theory formation', and those theories can be built upon anything (faith, morality, guesses, blind ignorance, etc.), not just pre-existing concrete reality.

Isn't this the point that philosophers of science are at?

jura wrote:
I can see you're trying to relate this to the critique of some shallow inductivism from the standpoint of hypothetico-deductivism, but as I said, Marx would have no problem with the idea that there is always some theoretical knowledge which governs each particular empirical enterprise and predetermines the way you look at phenomena – that (some rudimentary) theory precedes experience, so to speak. He was opposed to naive empiricism.

Doesn't this back up what I'm arguing? And argue against the 'rising from the concrete to the abstract' line argued by Ollman, amongst others?

jura wrote:
But Marx's own methodological discussions are distant to problems like this, because these problems weren't even formulated at that time. His idea of an "ascent from abstract to concrete" is in not related to this problem at all; it has to do with the way you present the results of a scientific inquiry once you have achieved them.

Isn't this 'abstract to concrete' and 'results' a different thing from 'concrete to abstract' and 'inquiry' which is what we were discussing?

jura wrote:
To make it shorter, I think you're worrying about something (i.e. the dialectical mode of presentation not conforming to scientific standards)...

No, I'm trying to discuss the 'mode of inquiry' that Ollman says represents the dialectical method, which he maintains 'rises from the concrete to the abstract', and which I disagree with.

jura wrote:
(Marx's standards are actually way ahead of those of most present-day social science, even though he frames them in a very different vocabulary).

Yeah, if only we beginners had access to a dictionary for this 'very different vocabulary'.

Why can't English suffice?

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Oct 9 2011 13:36
LBird wrote:
Doesn't this back up what I'm arguing? And argue against the 'rising from the concrete to the abstract' line argued by Ollman, amongst others?

I'm not sure. It depends on what exactly Ollman is arguing in favor of. As I said, I don't want to discuss Ollman as I would have to re-read his book. I don't think Ollman would reject the pretty trivial (nowadays, at least) thesis that no scientific inquiry can start with the immediate facts, because these immediate facts themselves require some previous selection which can only be based on some rudimentary-theoretical presuppositions and choices. Marx certainly would not reject this. I wouldn't base my critique of Ollman (let alone of Marx) on this.

LBird wrote:
Isn't this 'abstract to concrete' and 'results' a different thing from 'concrete to abstract' and 'inquiry' which is what we were discussing?

The problem is I don't know what exactly you want to discuss. The "mode of investigation" vs. "mode of presentation" distinction is crucial. I guess it's clearer now: you want to discuss the mode of investigation. To me, that has nothing to do with the dialectic (but Ollman would disagree with that).

LBird wrote:
Yeah, if only we beginners had access to a dictionary for this 'very different vocabulary'.

Why can't English suffice?

Well, Lakatos' concepts of the "hard core" and the "protective belt" look like plain English words, but they do not refer to the seed shell of a peach, or to the seat belt of a car. An English speaker not acquainted with Lakatos' theory is likely to be totally unfamiliar with them. Yet you use these concepts. I don't see how you can then complain about Marx using his own specific terminology!

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Oct 9 2011 13:37

you do have a dictionary of this very different vocabulary. Most of us have chipped in a suggestion or two. Hegel, Marx, Singer, a youtube video, etc, etc. But like all languages it is hard to learn (especially with Hegel who writes in a very particular style of german).

My position on dialectics was spelt out in my last post I made yesterday. I happen to think its a load of dog shit and its not the tradition I would situate myself in.

On the scientific method, it doesn't come from pure theory formation. It goes from the empirical, to theory, then the theory is tested again in the empirical. Thats how I see it. But as I sad a while back I'm not sure about calling Marxism a science....

LBird
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Oct 9 2011 14:13
jura wrote:
The problem is I don't know what exactly you want to discuss... I guess it's clearer now: you want to discuss the mode of investigation. To me, that has nothing to do with the dialectic (but Ollman would disagree with that).

I feel like I'm going around in circles here. I started with saying I wanted to discuss with Khawaga his recommendation of Ollman and his dialectics, which was the 'mode of investigation'. Now you're saying that you didn't know what I was asking, and anyway you don't want to discuss Ollman and his 'mode', because it has nothing to do with the dialectic.

Is it any wonder people shy away from 'dialectics'? I'm not criticising you, jura, because I can see you've really tried to be helpful, but we're not getting anywhere here.

jura wrote:
Well, Lakatos' concepts of the "hard core" and the "protective belt" look like plain English words, but they do not refer to the seed shell of a peach, or to the seat belt of a car. An English speaker not acquainted with Lakatos' theory is likely to be totally unfamiliar with them. Yet you use these concepts. I don't see how you can then complain about Marx using his own specific terminology!

Yes, but if someone on the thread asks me to explain further about Lakatos, I would, and I would use English explanations to do so. I'm assuming that since no-one asked that this isn't an issue.

The real problem with dialectics doesn't seem to be that issue (that something hasn't been explained), but that there is no logical explanation for it. I have asked, constantly, and have not received a clear explanation.

Arbeiten wrote:
you do have a dictionary of this very different vocabulary. Most of us have chipped in a suggestion or two.

No, I don't. That's what I keep saying. And you haven't 'chipped in a suggestion or two', you've just repeated 'dialectical talk', which is gibberish, and pointed me to texts also written in this gibberish. That's that point: it doesn't make sense in English.

Arbeiten wrote:
My position on dialectics was spelt out in my last post I made yesterday. I happen to think its a load of dog shit and its not the tradition I would situate myself in.

This would be funny, if it didn't follow your suggestion above. I happen to think some of 'dialectics' could be useful, but it's also full of 'dogshit', as you now concede. I'd like to try to separate the two, but I'm not getting very far here, am I?

Arbeiten wrote:
On the scientific method, it doesn't come from pure theory formation. It goes from the empirical, to theory, then the theory is tested again in the empirical. Thats how I see it.

This is just plain wrong, mate, as even jura points out above. Science doesn't start from the empirical. This makes me wonder about the worth of the rest of what you've written.

Arbeiten wrote:
But as I sad a while back I'm not sure about calling Marxism a science....

To decide this, mate, we have to have an idea of what 'science' is, first. As I've said, your view is the 'common sense' view of science, as starting from the empirical. This is wrong.

Sigh.

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Oct 9 2011 14:42
LBird wrote:
The real problem with dialectics doesn't seem to be that issue (that something hasn't been explained), but that there is no logical explanation for it. I have asked, constantly, and have not received a clear explanation.

I've given you a very clear explanation of the dialectic in Capital in my first post. I can't give you explanations of the "dialectical method of inquiry", simply because I don't think there is such a thing in Marx. Nor can I speak for Ollman. However, I tried to put forward an intepretation of the terms used by Ollman that makes sense for me and makes sense within Capital.

Is there anything you don't understand about my original post?

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Oct 9 2011 14:43

Your right about the 'start' from the empirical thing, I was getting confused. On the question of what might be a science, I am personally keen on Thomas Kuhn's paradigm theory. You can put in to question everything i say all you want. I don't claim to be the holder of any profound truth.

Now, on suggestions.of course i have chipped in a suggestion, I SUGGESTED you start Hegel if you want to understand dialectics. Then in post 31 I SUGGESTED you take a look at David Harvey's book. I can say, having read Marx, Harvey and a couple of books on Hegel, then having pondered over them for a number of years (yes believe it or not, learning philosophy is not like swallowing a spoon full of sugar) it is understandable in English. I am a native English speaker. And you know, it took me a long time to acquire an understanding of dialectics, just like it took me a long time to understand Marx, to understand English, to understand to play guitar ad infinitum. Sometimes, like you, I threw my toys out of the pram because I couldn't understand 'gibberish', but then I realised that, ya know, patience might be a virtue? That maybe this is not actually gibberish, but it might be my understanding that is at fault?

For the record, I do not just now concede dialectics might be a load of tripe, I did yesterday. See post 51 in which I refer to dialectics (following Deleuze) as conceptual baggy clothes. I find it a bit upsetting that you have a flagrant disregard for all the posts I made yesterday....

Now if you can keep your toys in your pram for about an hour or so, I would say this is a good introduction to Hegel. Also the wikipedia page on dialectics isn't actually too bad.

SIGH groucho

S. Artesian
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Oct 9 2011 15:26
jura wrote:
S. Artesian wrote:
2. What points? I've read the whole exchange, and I have not seen a serious point, issue, etc. raised about Marx's relation to, use of, dialectic, or what is even meant by dialectic in Marx's critique of capital. I've seen a lot of things that amount to smirks, word-play, and smug ignorance, but what points have been raised here?

Well, why even bother then?

Why? 1. Points of historical accuracy 2. save people some time by avoiding separating "dialectic" from the actual social content of the object/subject of its analysis 3. Marxism

And this:

Quote:
LBird wrote:
Dialectics doesn’t start from the ‘concrete’; it is like all other scientific methods and starts from the ‘abstract’.

is the problem in a nutshell. Everything "starts" from the concrete. That's the whole point of historical materialism.

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Oct 9 2011 15:32
S. Artesian wrote:
Everything "starts" from the concrete. That's the whole point of historical materialism.

"Everything" except Marx's dialectical presentation of economic categories in Capital driven by the contradictory determinations of particular categories, i.e. Marx's dialectic.

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Oct 9 2011 15:51

Arbaiten, what's written on this intro about Hegel is highly questionnable...about what it says of Hegel ans also what it says about Marx, I would not recommend it at all. it's a classical point of view (shared by both leninists and liberals) but it's actually not accurate... it miss the point entirely making Marx one more philosopher instead of a materialist revolutionnary.
for ex it disregard the fact that Marx is absolutely not about a materialist "putting dialectics on his feet" but is about a materialist critique of philosophy, and political economy, ,etc...his main critique of Hegel is not about materialism vs idealism but about a critique of how Hegel took political economy at words, alienated labor for labor, etc.. and in some way everything follow from that.

on that I suggest reading Cyril Smith "Marx at the millenium" (you can find it on Marxist.org) which is not perfect on everything but makes some interesting points...