Thesis, antithesis, synthesis

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SatanIsMyCoPilot
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Mar 22 2007 13:58
Thesis, antithesis, synthesis

Hegel never used the words 'thesis, antithesis, synthesis', as we all know. I read something recently trhat suggests that the first use f the the term was Marx in the Poverty of Philosophy, ad that Marx picked this up from the Berlin Hegel Club where a recent publication by a Professor Chalybus was being discussed.

Chalybus' book was published in 1843, but I don't know and can't find out what month it was published, and that's an issue because Marx leaves for Paris in October of that year. assuming that he did get the thesis, antithesis, synthesis thing from Chalybus, does anyone kno of any other occasions where he uses it (other than the poverty of philosophy), or where anyone else (Engels, for example) enshrines it as dogma?

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Steven.
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Mar 22 2007 14:04
SatanIsMyCoPilot wrote:
Hegel never used the words 'thesis, antithesis, synthesis', as we all know.

Well I know I sure did...

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Mar 22 2007 14:10

the first question that pops into my mind is who gives a flying fuck?

i mean i'm up for talking abstract bullshit with the best of them (well Joseph k and the button) but this is just fucking geeky stamp collecting shit right here.

Are in you in full time academia perchance, because otherwise you're mental! wink

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jef costello
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Mar 22 2007 14:11
revol68 wrote:
Are in you in full time academia perchance, because otherwise you're mental!

I thought SIMCP was baby Knightrose. Could be wrong though.

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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Mar 22 2007 14:47

I am in part time academia, and who is "baby Knightrose"?

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Steven.
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Mar 22 2007 14:48
SatanIsMyCoPilot wrote:
I am in part time academia, and who is "baby Knightrose"?

The poster "knightrose"'s son. But you're not him.

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revol68
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Mar 22 2007 14:56
John. wrote:
SatanIsMyCoPilot wrote:
I am in part time academia, and who is "baby Knightrose"?

The poster "knightrose"'s son. But you're not him.

I bet he's glad you cleared that up for him.

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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Mar 22 2007 15:36

I'm very glad indeed

Anywa, does anyone actually have anything sensible to say?

I was hoping the Marx people here would all be falling over themselves at the opportunity to point out the moment at which Engels 'misinterpreted' Marx, enshrined the thesis-antithesis-synthesis formula as an etrenal truth, and thereby gave handed over the stone tablets of dialectical laws to the Soviets like Charlton Heston

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revol68
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Mar 22 2007 15:41

your best bet would the be ubber nerds over at marxist.org.

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EdmontonWobbly
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Mar 22 2007 16:30

I was always under the impression that the model of thesis-antithesis-synthesis was actually first put forward by Fichte and that Marx later on abandoned that model. I think thats what I remember through all of the haze that was my university years.

wangwei
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Mar 22 2007 18:18

Marx actually does use synthesis, thesis, and antithesis throughout the "Economoic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844" (EPM), especially in his critique of Hegel. The difference is that Marx uses the terms apart from each other, and not in the traditional, mechanical, manner that has been attributed to it by orothodoxian Marxists.

I also remember him using synthesis, thesis, and antithesis in his "mature" work, such as Capital, but again not in that mechanical order. I find him to use thesis much as "form" is used in the dialectical subcategory of "form and content".

When I find the time, I'll put up some concrete examples, but that's what I can think of for now.

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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Mar 22 2007 22:07

...Hegel also uses the words 'thesis, antithesis, synthesis'. Thing is, he doesn't use them as some kind of definitive formula, which is what this became. If Marx does the same thing it's not really an issue; it only becomes an issue when it becomes fossilised into some kind of rigid dogma. Dialectics shouldn't be a pre-existing structure that is then applied to the object of enquiry. Marx does introduce the 'thesis, antithesis, synthesis' formula to define the essentials of Hegel's system in The Poverty of Philosophy, which is presumably what spawned the whole thing.

Anyway, Hegel, he say:

The knack of this kind of wisdom [that of working from formulas] is as quickly learned as it is to practise; once familiar, the repetition of it becomes as insufferable as the repetition of a conjuring trick already seen through. The instrument of this monotonous formalism is no more difficult to handle than a painter’s palette having only two colours, say red and green, the one for colouring the surface when a historical scene is wanted, the other for landscapes.

mikus
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Mar 23 2007 05:42

It's been a little while since I've read The Poverty of Philosophy, but as I remember it Marx did not use the formula in a positive sense, nor did he depict it as Hegel's theory. He used it as a sort of a joke, belittling Proudhon's attempt to present dialectics as a study of the "contradiction" between the "good" side of a thing (thesis) and the "bad" side (antithesis), the task being to annul the bad side of things and preserve the good (synthesis).

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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Mar 23 2007 10:41

Was reading it last night, and its pretty clear that he's trying to summarise the essentials of Hegel's philosophy (in a fairly caustic way). What he's not doing, however, is describing the 'thesis, antithesis, synthesis' formula as some kind of law of dialectics'; he's just trying to deal with extremely complex concepts quickly and simply.

Economists explain how production takes place in the above-mentioned relations, but what they do not explain is how these relations themselves are produced, that is, the historical movement which gave them birth. M. Proudhon, taking these relations for principles, categories, abstract thoughts, has merely to put into order these thoughts, which are to be found alphabetically arranged at the end of every treatise on political economy. The economists' material is the active, energetic life of man; M. Proudhon's material is the dogmas of the economists. But the moment we cease to pursue the historical movement of production relations, of which the categories are but the theoretical expression, the moment we want to see in these categories no more than ideas, spontaneous thoughts, independent of real relations, we are forced to attribute the origin of these thoughts to the movement of pure reason. How does pure, eternal, impersonal reason give rise to these thoughts? How does it proceed in order to produce them?

If we had M. Proudhon's intrepidity in the matter of Hegelianism we should say: it is distinguished in itself from itself. What does this mean? Impersonal reason, having outside itself neither a base on which it can pose itself, nor an object to which it can oppose itself, nor a subject with which it can compose itself, is forced to turn head over heels, in posing itself, opposing itself and composing itself — position, opposition, composition. Or, to speak Greek — we have thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. For those who do not know the Hegelian formula: affirmation, negation and negation of the negation. That is what language means. It is certainly not Hebrew (with due apologies M. Proudhon); but it is the language of this pure reason, separate from the individual. Instead of the ordinary individual with his ordinary manner of speaking and thinking we have nothing but this ordinary manner in itself — without the individual.

...and:

How does reason manage to affirm itself, to pose itself in a definite category? That is the business of reason itself and of its apologists.

But once it has managed to pose itself as a thesis, this thesis, this thought, opposed to itself, splits up into two contradictory thoughts — the positive and the negative, the yes and no. The struggle between these two antagonistic elements comprised in the antithesis constitutes the dialectical movement. The yes becoming no, the no becoming yes, the yes becoming both yes and no, the no becoming both no and yes, the contraries balance, neutralize, paralyze each other. The fusion of these two contradictory thoughts constitutes a new thought, which is the synthesis of them. This thought splits up once again into two contradictory thoughts, which in turn fuse into a new synthesis. Of this travail is born a group of thoughts. This group of thoughts follows the same dialectic movement as the simple category, and has a contradictory group as antithesis. Of these two groups of thoughts is born a new group of thoughts, which is the antithesis of them.

Just as from the dialectic movement of the simple categories is born the group, so from the dialectic movement of the groups is born the series, and from the dialectic movement of the series is born the entire system.

This latter section is perhaps better, as it emphasises the extent to which the 'thesis' and the 'antithesis' are not separate objects that have been brought together by the analyst/philosopher, but are rather two parts of the same thing

wangwei
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Mar 23 2007 13:14
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Marx does introduce the 'thesis, antithesis, synthesis' formula to define the essentials of Hegel's system in The Poverty of Philosophy, which is presumably what spawned the whole thing.

See, that's what I consider to be a mistake, as Marx didn't introduce the thesis, synthesis, antithesis formula, so much as attack Proudhon for misusing it by turning it into an orhtodox formulaic approach in The Philosophy of Poverty. Marx used the formula as a corrective action against the misuse of the formula by Proudhon's misuse of the Hegelian dialectic.

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it only becomes an issue when it becomes fossilised into some kind of rigid dogma. Dialectics shouldn't be a pre-existing structure that is then applied to the object of enquiry.

This is correct as the Dialectic is a weapon of critical analysis, and not a religious orthodoxy.

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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Mar 23 2007 13:27

Where in the Philosophy of Poverty does Proudhon do this?

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Mar 23 2007 13:31
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This is correct as the Dialectic is a weapon of critical analysis, and not a religious orthodoxy.

the dialectic is not a fucking weapon you loon.

fort-da game
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Mar 23 2007 15:43
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The knack of this kind of wisdom [that of working from formulas] is as quickly learned as it is to practise; once familiar, the repetition of it becomes as insufferable as the repetition of a conjuring trick already seen through. The instrument of this monotonous formalism is no more difficult to handle than a painter’s palette having only two colours, say red and green, the one for colouring the surface when a historical scene is wanted, the other for landscapes.

Anyone who has worked in a factory will have experienced life as a reduced palette – life as formulaic. The social relation is crude and mechanical, and also fundamentally unchanging – individual life is materially dominated by formalism – therefore it seems appropriate that theory should be unforgivingly stark if it is to describe this.

The articulations, complexities, progressions which Hegel seems to be defending here are restricted to the level of governance and reproduction and therefore represent a category error if he is proposing historical movement – and act, as in Foucault, as a kind of compensation, or aesthetic. The tendency towards the baroque in Hegel, the ideology of progressions, serves only to obscure the basic stability of the relation (which is based on an irreconcilable contradiction of interest). Under present circumstances, in the relation between human beings synthesis is always forced, and works like clockwork.

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Just as from the dialectic movement of the simple categories is born the group, so from the dialectic movement of the groups is born the series, and from the dialectic movement of the series is born the entire system.

But the question for those using a dialectical method is how to engage with what is not ‘moving’ but merely proliferating – what is it that they are describing in their theory? How are they to categorise the various levels so that they don’t end up just arguing in favour of continued objective development of the forces of production with the mere tag-along of reflected subjective human existence?

p.

wangwei
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Mar 23 2007 20:11
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Where in the Philosophy of Poverty does Proudhon do this?

Good question. I think I'm quoting the "Mini -Marx Reader" issued by Penguin books. If it's not there, then I'm not sure, and I have to do the research to find out where I'm getting that. Now that I'm thinking about it, it could also be in the introduction to the "EPM 1844", but the introduction to the International edition from the '70s. It could also be in the introduction to my "Poverty of Philosophy" edition.

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the dialectic is not a fucking weapon you loon.

I disagree. the dialectic is the most powerful weapon that the working class can possess. It's a truth serum for the bourgeoisie's bullshit. I've never quite figured out why so many anarchists eschew the dialectic. It's truly mind boggling.

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revol68
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Mar 23 2007 20:13
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I disagree. the dialectic is the most powerful weapon that the working class can possess. It's a truth serum for the bourgeoisie's bullshit. I've never quite figured out why so many anarchists eschew the dialectic. It's truly mind boggling.

but the dialectic isn't just a mindset you adopt or not, it's not a battle plan, it's an actual process of capital, and one we seek to smash.

wangwei
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Mar 23 2007 20:32
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but the dialectic isn't just a mindset you adopt or not, it's not a battle plan, it's an actual process of capital, and one we seek to smash

Are you saying that the dialectic is capitalist? That's quite confusing.

The dialectic is the understanding of the process of change, and how things change. It exists because it does, and it's a method of analaysis.

It's truly boggling to me that anarchists eschew the dialectic and are so hostile to it.

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Mar 24 2007 00:28

The thesis-antithesis-synthesis nonsense is simply implausible. It is supposed to be an account of change through conflict. But if you look at conflicting tendencies in reality, tendency A is often not just in conflict with not-A but with a number of conflicting tendencies -- B, C, D, etc. There is therefore in most cases no one "antithesis". For example, momentum is a tedency to motion in a particular direction, X, but there may be a variety of forces that would deflect in different directions, not just one alternative direction.

t.

wangwei
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Mar 26 2007 17:03
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tendency A is often not just in conflict with not-A but with a number of conflicting tendencies -- B, C, D, etc.

Which is why the dialectic can get confusing so quickly. But, if we establish the thesis of A, and then we can determine what ~A is in contrast to it. Thereby establishing what is the primary contradiction of A. Establishing what is ~A allows us to see what is in fact B, C, and D as poles of antithesis against A.

One major principle of the dialectic to keep is that all that is ~ A is just as important to what is A, as all that is A is to the thesis of A.

The dialectic is much more profound than just a synthesis of thesis and antithesis, though, it does make a handy shorthand. Unity of opposites is the preferred shorthand for those who employ the dialectic though.

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Mar 26 2007 19:37

You miss the point completely. Why believe there is one not-A? In the real world there are often multiple contrary tendencies. If there are multiple contrary tendencies to A, such as B, C, and D, these contrary tendencies are not contradictories of A. In order for B to be a contradictory of A, it would have to be the case that there are no other possibilities other than A and B. But my point is that there are often in fact multiple alternative possibilities. That's what it means to say B is merely a contrary of A. And what does it mean to say that one of the contraries is "primary"? Is this an explanatory primacy? So, if we consider anti-racist and anti-patriarchal and class struggle as all contraries to the prevailing social order, are you going to insist that one must be the "primary contradiction"? The problem with that is it leads to downplaying the ones that are not deemed "primary". If you deem national liberation struggles or anti-racism as the "primary contradiction", then the tendency is to downplay class struggle, and vice versa.

Why can't they all be equally important?

t.

wangwei
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Mar 26 2007 20:14
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You miss the point completely.

No, I don't.

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Why believe there is one not-A?

There is, and there isn't, and therein is the contradiction. Sam is all that he is -- not Bob, not Sue, not a girl, not gay, not white, not African, not alive. The multiplicities of all that sam is not constitute the thesis of all that is ~ Sam. So, there is one ~ Sam, but that ~ Sam is made up of seperate and distinct things that penterate and interpentrate each other.

For formal logic it would read ~ S = ~ B + ~S1 + ~ G + ~ Ga + ~ W etc. But, all that he is not, clearly define what he is -- "the unbeing and the being of a thing are alike" -- Hegel. In other words

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But my point is that there are often in fact multiple alternative possibilities.

is completely correct.

And this illustrates the weakness of formal logic and why I embrace the dialectic:

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If there are multiple contrary tendencies to A, such as B, C, and D, these contrary tendencies are not contradictories of A. In order for B to be a contradictory of A, it would have to be the case that there are no other possibilities other than A and B.

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Is this an explanatory primacy?

Good question, as it's atually a relative primacy. Relative to the struggles that you are discussing,

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So, if we consider anti-racist and anti-patriarchal and class struggle as all contraries to the prevailing social order, are you going to insist that one must be the "primary contradiction"?

the answer is that Class struggle is the primary contradiction whereby all of the other social relationships are subordinate to. The concentration of wealth, power, and privelige in the hands of the bourgeoisie requires all of the other forms of exploitation to divide the working class and continue the proletarianization of the working class, the valaorization of capital, and the mode of production of capitalism. Class struggle is the primary thesis of modern society, and is the fundamental contradiction of the world today.

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The problem with that is it leads to downplaying the ones that are not deemed "primary". If you deem national liberation struggles or anti-racism as the "primary contradiction", then the tendency is to downplay class struggle, and vice versa.

Yeah, the struggle is to understand which actually is the primary contradiction, relative between the subject and the object. The old Socialist movement really played up social forces of production as the object to build towards, yet their social forces of production turned out to be more and more of the same, just with some red paint. National liberation does not hold the object to be a fully classless egalitarian society predicated upon from each according to ability, and to each according to need. The ends are a ways to a means, is a shorthand principle that illustrates a rudimentary dialectic of subject to object to subject.

Just because a contradiction isn't primary doesn't mean that it's not important. If the Nazis were marching tomorrow, I would still kick their fuckin' ass. The struggle against oppresion is good, but it must be contextualized within an overall assault on the state.

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Why can't they all be equally important?

Because they're not. Without the working class smashing the state, holding state power, and having the ways and means of production within our hands, all of the subordinate contradictions will recreate themselves -- even if the "red" leadership in charge has the best of intentions. The struggle must be through vicious class struggle against capitalism by negating the state once and for all.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 30 2007 17:47

Wangwei, this is not logic, it is a syntactic mess.

And that is the only way you can get away with such sub-Aristotelain theses.

Check out my site for more knock-down arguments against this Hermetic theory than you have ever seen before.

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/

Especially:

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%2004.htm

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Mar 30 2007 19:13

me: "Why believe there is one not-A? "
wangwei:

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There is, and there isn't, and therein is the contradiction. Sam is all that he is -- not Bob, not Sue, not a girl, not gay, not white, not African, not alive. The multiplicities of all that sam is not constitute the thesis of all that is ~ Sam. So, there is one ~ Sam, but that ~ Sam is made up of seperate and distinct things that penterate and interpentrate each other.

For formal logic it would read ~ S = ~ B + ~S1 + ~ G + ~ Ga + ~ W etc. But, all that he is not, clearly define what he is -- "the unbeing and the being of a thing are alike" -- Hegel. In other words

i think we need greater clarity here. So let me introduce some terminology. Sentences and beliefs are either true or false. Sentences and beliefs denote states of affairs. "Sam is white-haired" denotes the state of affairs of Sam's having white hair. Sam isn't true or false because he's neither a belief, thought or sentence. Sam is not a state of affairs either. He's a particular thing.

To get contraries or contradictories, you need to consider attributions of properties to particular things or systems. Here we have two contraries denoted:

Sam is white-haired
Sam is black-haired

These two setences may be true at different times. Sam had black hair when he was younger, and a process ensued that led to his now having white hair. The initial state of affairs reflected a tendency rooted in his DNA. The later state of affairs was due to an aging process that was also an effect of his DNA...not everyone's hair turns white. One tendency pushed out the other over time. This is an example of tendencies that are contraries of each other. But they are not contradictories. The contradictory of

Sam is white-haired

is

Sam is not white-haired.

This statement can be made true by a wide variety of real states of affairs. It would be true if he loses all his hair, it would be true if his hair is black, it would be true if he is a redhead.

Sam is not "made up of" all the features he has. If that were true, all those features would be essential to him....if he loses any of them, Sam would cease to exist. That's because you'd be saying that Sam is:

(1) {A, B, C, D, E}

and if he changes he becomes

(2) {A, B, C, G, H}

But (1) and (2) are not the same entity.

The features that things, or systems, have that they can lose and still exist are accidental to what it is to be that thing or system. These changes occur because of real forces in the world, including tendencies within that thing or system.

Negative statements about Sam cannot *define* what Sam is. That's because the
particular feature that makes "Sam is not white-haired" true is an accidental feature
of him, a feature he could lose. This is shown by the fact that he loses the black
color of his hair over time as his hair becomes white. The sentence "Sam is not
white-haired" happens to denote the state of affairs of his being black-haired, but
it would have denoted some other feature if he'd been redheaded or had no hair.

in response to my question, "Why can't all the various struggles against the various
structures of oppression, such as patriarchy, racism, and class be equally important,
wangwei says:

Quote:
Because they're not. Without the working class smashing the state, holding state power, and having the ways and means of production within our hands, all of the subordinate contradictions will recreate themselves -- even if the "red" leadership in charge has the best of intentions. The struggle must be through vicious class struggle against capitalism by negating the state once and for all.

But it is equally true that class will "recreate itself" endlessly if the struggle against racism does not become a priority so that the class movement takes on the aims of the anti-racist and anti-patriarchy struggles as its own. The class will be divided and thus overthrowing capital and the state will be impossible. The anti-racist struggle is just as necessary to this aim as worker struggle. Racial division and gender division are not just products of capitalism, but existed in other forms before capitalism, tho not in the modern form. It's true that capitalism will opportunistically make use of various methods to divide the working class, from deskilling and wage differentials to exacerbating race and gender divisions. But a movement that can get rid of capitalism also needs to include the specific demands/goals of groups oppressed on a race/national/gender basis or it cannot get past capitalism and the state.

Your argument was that class is primary because class struggle is a necessary condition. But anti-racist struggle is equally a necessary condition.

t.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 30 2007 22:59

gatorojinegro

You are more on the right lines here. Wangwei was unclear whether his 'negation' sign was a sentential operator, a predicate qualifier, a predicate term modifier or a name adjunct.

Sloppy syntax like that allows one to draw all manner of odd conclusions.

But you seem to go wrong somewhere, too. Sentences cannot be equated with beliefs (they are not the least bit alike), and you need to specify whether you are referring to token or type sentences, indicative sentences, etc.

The best candidates for ordinary truth/falsehood are spoken token indicative sentences. Logic of course largely deals with propositions.

And sentences (etc) cannot denote 'states of affairs' or they would be names, and that would prevent them from being true or false.

You do not have to go into a simple model theory to make your excellent points stand.

In fact, as is easy to confirm, dialecticians have been hopelessly unclear as to whether things change because of (1) their internal contradictions (and/or opposites), or (2) whether they change into these opposites, or, indeed, (3) whether they create such opposites when they change.

Of course, if the third option were the case, the alleged opposites could not cause change, since they would be produced by it, not the other way round. And they could scarcely be 'internal opposites' if they were produced by change.

If the second alternative were correct, then we would see things like males naturally turning into females, the capitalist class into the working class, electrons into protons, left hands into right hands, and vice versa. and a host of of other oddities.

And as far as the first option is concerned, it is worth making the following points:

[A] If objects/processes change because of already existing internal opposites, and they change into these opposites, then plainly they cannot change, since those opposites must already exist to be part of the action. So, if object/process A is already a dialectical union of A and not-A, and it 'changes' into not-A, where is the change? A already exists! All that seems to happen is that A disappears. [And do not ask where it disappears to!]

At the very least, this account of change leaves it entirely mysterious how not-A itself came about. It seems to have popped into existence from nowhere.

[It cannot have come from A, since A can only change because of the operation of not-A, which does not exist yet! And pushing the process into the past will merely reduplicate the above problems.]

[B] Exactly how an (internal) opposite is capable of making anything change is somewhat unclear, too. Given the above, not-A does not actually alter A, it merely replaces it!

More details at my site; this topic is dealt with in detail in Essay Eight Parts One and Two.

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revol68
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Mar 31 2007 00:18

the alchemistry of abstract dialectics, how gripping.

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Mar 31 2007 00:27

Rosa, when i say that sentences are truth-bearers (are true or false), i am referring to sentence tokens, that is, particular utterances or inscriptions. beliefs and sentences share in common the feature that they are truth-bearers.

Rosa: "And sentences (etc) cannot denote 'states of affairs' or they would be names, and that would prevent them from being true or false."

How would you define "name"? And if sentences are "names" by your definition, why would that prevent them from being truth-bearers? I would say that sentences are true precisely BECAUSE the state of affairs they designate obtains (or is real). States of affairs that obtain (hold, are actual) are facts. I deal with this somewhat in a long entry on states of affairs for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy that i wrote, at:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/states-of-affair

Descriptive sentences and beliefs differ from names in that we use them to attribute properties to the subject of the sentence or belief. We don't use names to attribute properties to things. Hence, it is not the case that only names can denote or designate something. When I say "Bush speaks English", I'm attributing a property -- English-speaking ability -- to G.W. The state of affairs denoted by this sentence is G.W.'s having that ability. If he has that ability then that state of affairs is a fact, and "Bush speaks English" is true. The expression "G.W.'s being able to speak English" is a name, and is neither true nor false, but it is formed by nominalizing (converting into a name) the sentence "G.W. is able to speak English". Both designate the same state of affairs, but they serve a different social communicative function.

if we look at the types of internal conflicts that generate change in things, what we find is we are looking at tendencies, which are potentialities with some actuality that is a necessary condition for the realization of that potentiality. Thus Sam's tendency for his hair to turn white coexists with his current causal tendency to maintain his hair's black color because the first tendency is not the actual whiteness of his hair but its possibility. And the possibility of his hair becoming white is consistent with his hair being actually black. This sort of thing was analyzed by Airstotle over 2,000 years ago. Moreover, Marx was well aware of Aristotle's writings on this subject because Marx's PhD dissertation was on Aristotle's philosophy of science.

t.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 31 2007 02:17

Gatorojinegro:

Thankyou for that clarfication, but when you say

Quote:
beliefs and sentences share in common the feature that they are truth-bearers

You must be mixing up the linguistic expression of a belief with that belief itself. Beliefs are not as such items of language, and cannot therefore be truth bearers.

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How would you define "name"?

Well, I do not hink we need a defintion of a name to note the different syntactic role designating expressions play from descriptive ones, for example.

Since names cannot be true or false, but propositions can, you have another clear distinction here.

This well brought out by Hartley Slater here:

http://www.ul.ie/%7Ephilos/vol4/frege.html

But he is just rehearsing ideas derived from Wittgenstein.

Quote:
And if sentences are "names" by your definition, why would that prevent them from being truth-bearers?

But I did not define anything, let alone indicative sentences.

I was in fact appealing to what I could reasonably take as common ground.

But, if you think sentences are names then that would introduce a whole series of difficulties you might want to think about, not the least of which is the fact that you can understand sentences you have never heard before, but not names you have never heard before. If both were names, this would not happen.

If you can, try to get hold of Peter Geach's article 'Why sentences aren't names' (unfortunately published in an obscure Polish journal of semiotics).

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I would say that sentences are true precisely BECAUSE the state of affairs they designate obtains (or is real).

But then (in addition to the problems noted above) you will find it difficult to explain falsehood, for false sentences would then be the 'names' of states of affairs that do not obtain. But if they do not obtain, what then do false propositions actually name? Falsehoods would be be like fictional names (or perhaps not nanes at all), and any larger sentences in which they featured woud become truth-valueless, as senstence depicting say Sherlock Holmes are.

And you would immediately face the difficult Wittgenstein noted in the Tractatus; the sense of your sentences would depend on the truth of another (for your sentence would be true if the said states of affair existed, but senseless otherwise -- so its true/false polarity woud be compromised). Negation would not then turn truth into falsehood, but truth into senselessness. [This is well brought out in Roger White's recent book on the Tractatus.]

In addition it would hopelessly mix up naming with asserting.

And what does this truth name?

"Either Bush speaks English or Paris is on fire."

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Hence, it is not the case that only names can denote or designate something.

But you can only establish this point successfully by eroding the distinction you yourself depend on, that between naming and describing.

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Descriptive sentences and beliefs differ from names in that we use them to attribute properties to the subject of the sentence or belief.

What actually happens is we use predicative expressions (and the like) to form true or false sentences by combining them with names; we say things of named individuals in such a way. Sentences do not describe individuals, that is what we do with our use of language, and we use predicate (etc) expressions to achieve that end.

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If he has that ability then that state of affairs is a fact, and "Bush speaks English" is true. The expression "G.W.'s being able to speak English" is a name, and is neither true nor false, but it is formed by nominalizing (converting into a name) the sentence "G.W. is able to speak English". Both designate the same state of affairs, but they serve a different social communicative function.

Well, I now think you are confusing several more things; facts here with states of affairs (if I understood you aright).

But what makes you think that ""G.W.'s being able to speak English" is a name? Can it be mapped onto a truth by a predicative (etc) expression? That is, can it be used with a one-place predicate expression (for example) to form a true/false sentence?

Has anyone ever been called by this name? If not, why call it one?

You can only make this account of yours work by seriously distorting language in this way, using such monstrosities.

And why nominalise at all?

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if we look at the types of internal conflicts that generate change in things, what we find is we are looking at tendencies, which are potentialities with some actuality that is a necessary condition for the realization of that potentiality. Thus Sam's tendency for his hair to turn white coexists with his current causal tendency to maintain his hair's black color because the first tendency is not the actual whiteness of his hair but its possibility. And the possibility of his hair becoming white is consistent with his hair being actually black. This sort of thing was analyzed by Airstotle over 2,000 years ago. Moreover, Marx was well aware of Aristotle's writings on this subject because Marx's PhD dissertation was on Aristotle's philosophy of science.

Well, I deny any of this makes much sense, and for the reasons I said.

And what gives such 'tendencise' their power to do whatever it is they do? Yet more 'internal opposites'?

If so, the problems I mentioned in my last post reappear.

If not, then what?

And I am well aware of the metaphysical/mystical origin of these ideas: they were based on the fact that Greek theorists were quite happy to anthropomorphise nature, and to derive profound truths from words alone (since they thought nature was mind, or mind like, or constituted by mind).

We have, I hope, learnt to advance beyond thus.

And Marx's thesis was on Democritus.