Thesis, antithesis, synthesis

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si
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May 12 2007 10:02

"sprechen sie Deutsche" is pretty much the only thing I remember from two years of German at GCSE. That and 'Ich habe zwolf jahre alt", which is less use now than it was which is not very much at all.

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Joseph Kay
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May 12 2007 10:06
si wrote:
"sprechen sie Deutsche" is pretty much the only thing I remember from two years of German at GCSE. That and 'Ich habe zwolf jahre alt", which is less use now than it was which is not very much at all.

ich habe drei und zwanzig jahre alt, einen tiefgefroren bruder und ich spreche sehr klein, sehr scheiße wink

(we had to look up a random adjective once, and i chose 'tiefgefroren' (=deep frozen). never forgotten that, but it's proper useless grin)

si
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May 12 2007 10:36

swot

si
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May 12 2007 10:56

ich liebe dich. ah. ha.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 12 2007 16:49

TreeofJ:

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Jesus, you're such an asshole.

If you do not like my off-hand manner with Posey, I should care.

I do not debate with rambling, poseurs who dissembled and fib.

I'd rather watch my toe-nails grow.

And if you (singly or collectively) think that this means I cannot respond to Posey, I do not care about that either.

I came here to debate dialectics, not feed his continent-sized ego.

You can act as his groupie(s) if you want; again, I careth not.

You can see the time and effort I am prepared to devote to debating dialectics in my sustained response to Wango/Fido -- my last post was over 10,000 words long.

Posey wants to post irrelevant comments about relevance logic (ironic or what?) -- most of which I would not disagree with --, so why he is regaling me with stuff I already know is probably something only his psychiatrist can tell us -- in the fond belief that I think Frege/Russell logic is the best thing since sliced Hegel (an allegation he made up, as I noted above -- he will find nothing at my site that says this, or even implies it -- I merely lionise its superiority over Aristotelian logic (since dialecticians generally think that this is all there is to Formal Logic) and to the syntactical mess you find in Hegel). But there is nothing in what I say that suggests it is a final truth, or that it captures all the inferences we can make -- indeed, I say the opposite in many of my Essays.

So, 95% of Posey's post is irrelevant, and since he is a fan or relevance logic, this suggests either that he really does not accept it, or that he does not understand it, or that it does not work.

The other 5% is based on the things Posey has made up, that is why he failed to quote any of my essays in support of his wild allegations.

For example, nowhere do I claim that the sectarianism in Marxism is caused by this whacko theory. I do say other things about the connection, but it is not as he would have you believe.

And his commitment to inference to the best explanation is equally shaky: he makes inferences to 'explanations' that have nothing to do with my ideas --; we might call Posey's approach to such reasoning, ‘inference to the best fib’.

So, those who think his post is a good one only do so because they have accepted his fibs as gospel (they even failed to note that he does not quote a single passage from my site in support of his fabrications).

Just about the only thing he gets right is my name.

And that is why I will only ever respond to him directly in the manner I have been doing.

But I am happy for him to continue to stalk me (this might say a lot about his attitude to women -- I'll leave that for the professionals to decide), and chase after me at RevLeft -- since his attacks have doubled the traffic to my site.

Way to go Posey!

That is precisely why I came here.

The other offensive things you say are as empty-headed as the rubbish Fido exudes -- and, as all here can now see, based solely your naive faith in this fibber.

[And I am a worker -- in full-time employment, and a union rep, too (unpaid).]

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 12 2007 16:56

Si:

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ps Rosa what's with this 'fibber' thing anyway? 1) only infants (and patronising adults...oh...hang on...) that ludicrous word, 2) where is gator meant to have 'fibbed' anyway?

I'd call him a 'liar', but he and I actually share rather too many beliefs in common; so I opted for the milder 'fibber'.

You should be able to see from my reply to TreeofJ where Posey fibs, but he has been doing this for weeks now.

I pointed out a few to him earlier, but that just made him increase the rate at which he posted them.

I could see what a waste of time 'arguing’ with him was, so I have concentrated on what I came here to do: attack Dialectical Marxism, and publicise my site.

Inadvertently, Fido and Posey have helped me greatly to that end!

I can only hope they have the stamina to keep this up!

I have....

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gatorojinegro
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May 12 2007 17:49

Her site is a massive jumble of very verbose essays. The requirement that a person must explicitly quote something from it, and she will only respond to that, is a pedantic and egotistical attitude towards online discussion.

i think it should be fairly clear from my essay that I think she doesn't have a clear understanding of the atomistic assumptions of empiricism and the problems this poses for radical social theory. i'll leave it to the readers here to infer how "relevant" this is.

if she disagrees with my characterization of the thrust of what she is saying or some position of hers, it is always open to her to respond by explaining herself. debates and discussions always have quite a bit of this, where someone interprets someone and then that person shows this isn't what they had in mind by clarifying, and so on.

Quote:
For example, nowhere do I claim that the sectarianism in Marxism is caused by this whacko theory. I do say other things about the connection, but it is not as he would have you believe.

I think the claim that dialectics has significantly contributed to Marxist sectarianism is a fair interpretation of what she says on her site. notice she doesn't say exactly what the "connection" is here. I think it isn't very plausible to suppose dialectics is a very good explainer of sectarianism.

But she'd rather exchange insults with wangwei (or whoever) than engage in a rational discussion. As she says on her website, her online method is to "go for the jugular from the get go".

my posting on revleft.com came about because of the many posts on that site by my old friend and comrade, Ed Clark, who posted under the moniker "redstar2000". revleft.com was down for quite awhile and I only recently realized that it had come back up.

her assertion that i was there because of her is perhaps a reflection of her "continent-sized ego". I think i've had roughly two posts on logic that responded to her, out of scores of posts i've made on that site.

why does she suppose that what i wrote in my essay above was only for her benefit?

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Gato just presented the most illuminating short introduction to logic I've ever seen, including within it the relevance of various points to your arguments,

Thank you treeofjudas. I spent a number of years teaching logic mainly to working class students, i had to learn how to explain clearly what logic was all while making as few assumptions as possible about what they might know.

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gatorojinegro
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May 12 2007 19:06

One more point. Rosa says:

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But there is nothing in what I say that suggests [FRL] is a final truth, or that it captures all the inferences we can make -- indeed, I say the opposite in many of my Essays.

This comment is somewhat disingenuous, or is a form of backtracking without admitting such. As she has acknowledged in this thread, she never discusses inductive logic. And as is clear here in these latest posts, she disparages inference to the best explanation (the method of hypothesis and test, central to the empirical sciences). Thus the fact is, she greatly overemphasizes formal deductive logic over non-deductive reasoning, despite the importance of the latter to reasoning in every day life and the sciences.

On her site she does mention what she calls "alternative logics" and I suppose she'd consider relevance logic an "alternative logic." But the only alternative logics she refers to on her site are logics of deductive inference.

Thus the comment of hers i pointed out above only admits to possible limitations of FRL in accounting for deductive inference, but still, that fails to acknowledge my point that she fixates on, and exaggerates the importance of, formal deductive logic. This was in fact one of the failings of traditional philosophy that was continued by "Analytic Philosophy" but with some beginnings of a change in this regard in the past few decades, as a result of what is called the "naturalistic turn" in philosophy, a materialistic trend which tends to reject any hard and fast line between "science" and "philosophy".

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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May 13 2007 10:48

This thread is absolutely, utterly awful

Rosa, if you really have completed and passed a PhD you will know that churning out 10000 word diatribes is not a mark of genius - and that if you are unable to give a general idea of your project there's a very high probability that it's not exactly clear in your own mind. So, I now ask you for the third time: what is the essence of your objection to Hegel?

si
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May 13 2007 11:12

ps.Rosa do you conceive of your style as 'popular' or do you really have so little grace?

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 13 2007 11:13

SIMCP:

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Rosa, if you really have completed and passed a PhD you will know that churning out 10000 word diatribes is not a mark of genius - and that if you are unable to give a general idea of your project there's a very high probability that it's not exactly clear in your own mind. So, I now ask you for the third time: what is the essence of your objection to Hegel?

Do you complain that Das Kapital is well over 1 million words long?

I explain in Essay One why I have gone to such lengths in my endeavour to destroy this 'theory' once and for all.

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%2001.htm

You need to address those reasons, not ramble like Posey here.

Who, you will note, still cannot find anything I have written that supports his fibs.

Hence, my continual baiting of him.

Quote:
So, I now ask you for the third time: what is the essence of your objection to Hegel?

And I respond for the third time: if you can't be bothered to read even the summaries of my ideas (that I have posted at my site), desist from asking me this question, for I will continue to reply in this manner.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 13 2007 11:14

Posey:

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One more point. Rosa says:

I refer the honourable stalker to my previous response to him.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 13 2007 11:16

Si:

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ps.Rosa do you conceive of your style as 'popular' or do you really have so little grace?

You'd be better asking such stupid things of those who read Hegel, and dote on the 'popular 'style they find there.

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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May 13 2007 16:25

I've looked at the 'summaries' of your ideas, and they're hardly 'summaries'. I simply have better things to do than plough through pages of polemic to get at the argument involved - which seems to conisist of little more than a) I don't understand Hegel, he's really difficult, and no one else can understand him either; b) 'dialectics' is 'illogical' and should be done away with; c) wilfull misinterpretations of the postface to the second German edition of Capital.

I got bored fairly quickly, so you may well have actually addressed the extent to which Hegel's account of dialectics is distinct from that of Marx, Marx from Engels, and Diamat from Engels. If not, perhaps you coudl address that (concisely) here? Do you deal with the accusations that Marx misunderstood Hegel, or misappropriated him? And can you see no merits in the dialectic whatsoever?

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 13 2007 17:12

Sorry JK, I missed this:

Quote:
sprechen sie Deutsche, rosa? it's only a german speaker i know said that the thing with hegel's 'jargon' was that he played on the differing connotations and meanings of everyday words, so a word like 'aufheben' only becomes specialist jargon when it is translated and all the many alternative german meanings are lost. also, this thread is mental.

Yes, but I am not sure how this affects my point?

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 13 2007 17:35

SIMCP:

The summary I pointed you toward is 20,000 words long; 1.5% of the material at my site.

So, it is a summary.

It is not possible to undermine a theory that has dominated Marxism for 150 years in a few pages.

Now, my aim is not to attack Hegel as such (I'd rather prefer to ignore him totally), but to undermine his influence on Marxists (the deleterious effects of which you can see in Wang's comments).

However, I will be dissecting Hegel directly (but only certain core ideas from the 'Logic') in Essay Twelve Parts Three and Four -- due out in 2008.

You will get a flovour of what I am going to say if you read this:

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%2008_02#Lawler

Which is a direct attack on Hegel (as interpreted by James Lawler, in the best account I have ever read of 'dialectical contradictions').

[Be warned, this is a 20,000+ section of a 65,000 word Essay.]

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wilfull misinterpretations of the postface to the second German edition of Capital.

So you say, but you will need to substantiate this.

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If not, perhaps you coudl address that (concisely) here? Do you deal with the accusations that Marx misunderstood Hegel, or misappropriated him? And can you see no merits in the dialectic whatsoever?

1) I see nothing of use in this mystical theory at all, except, perhaps, to provide more fuel for Hume's bonfire.

2) Marx abandoned Hegel (I do not care if he misunderstood him or not), as he himself says.

3) No, I will not explain my objections to Hegel here -- for reasons I have said many times.

Why are you perseverating on this?

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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May 13 2007 21:59

My reading list is immense as it is, and I have enough to be contending with without adding 20000 words to do with an internet thread that I'm still not convinced I should even be bothering with. I found the fact that you seem to be boasting about how verbose you are slightly comical, but if it makes you happy knock yourself out.

Incidentally, as you mentioned (rather prosaically) Hume's 'bonfire', have you chased up the instances when Hegel mentions Hume?

As to the postface: Marx complains about people who treat Hegel as a dead dog; declares that he is using dialectics; praises dialectics; and wites that he'd even gone so far as to 'coquette' with Hegel's mode of expression. I find the position taken by people like yourself, who choose to read this sentence as a declaration that the Hegelian content of Capital is no more than a few words thrown into chapter one, very odd indeed.

"I therefore opernly avowed myself the pupil of that mighty thinker, and even, here and there in the chapter on value, coquetted with the mode of expression peculiar to him. The mystification that the dialectic suffers in Hegel's hands by no means prevents him from being the first to present its general movement in a comprehensive and conscious manner. With him it is standing on its head. It must be inverted, in order to uncover the rational kernel within the mystical shell."

Quite how anyone can (although I'm well aware that they do) take from this the assertion that there is no dialectical content in Capital (particularly when viewed alongside the passage that reads "My dialectical method...") simply baffles me. I just don't understand the kind of deliberate misinterpretation that seizes on the word 'coquette' and takes from that the assertion that Marx simply used a few Hegel-esque words. You seem to be just such an individual, and have made repeated references to this passage. Perhaps you could explain that reasoning further? How can you move from a statement that reads "my dialectical method..." to the assertion that 'Marx abandoned Hegel'? Marx criticised Hegel, to be sure - but he appropriated much that he found to be of use within the work of "that mighty thinker."

Why am I bothering with this? because I find the subject intersting. I find teh presentation of several participants here extremely irritating, and as such am in two minds as to whether I should be "perseverating" with it at all

si
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May 13 2007 22:09
Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
Si:
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ps.Rosa do you conceive of your style as 'popular' or do you really have so little grace?

You'd be better asking such stupid things of those who read Hegel, and dote on the 'popular 'style they find there.

what a laughable riposte. when's the last time you enjoyed writing? I can just imagine you, plodding phrase by tedious phrase through your war of attrition with the Hegelian Marxists, like Haig at the Somme - bon mots sent to die on the battefield, wave after wave, til the enemy is worn down and cedes the position - out of weariness, I should add, above all else...

"Hail, continual plodders, hail!
"Lengthen out the tedious tale,"
Pedant still in head and knee,
Dull, of humour not a trace,
Permanently commonplace,
Sans génie et sans ésprit!"

Another ruling class dilletante schweinhunde whose ideas should be purged from the movement, tainted as he is with the Romantics...

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 13 2007 22:42

SIMCP:

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As to the postface: Marx complains about people who treat Hegel as a dead dog; declares that he is using dialectics; praises dialectics; and wites that he'd even gone so far as to 'coquette' with Hegel's mode of expression. I find the position taken by people like yourself, who choose to read this sentence as a declaration that the Hegelian content of Capital is no more than a few words thrown into chapter one, very odd indeed.

He put his praise for Hegel pointedly in the past tense, and then followed that up with his declaration that he merely "coquetted" with Hegelian jargon, and then only in a few places in Capital.

That was after saying this:

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After a quotation from the preface to my “Criticism of Political Economy,” Berlin, 1859, pp. IV-VII, where I discuss the materialistic basis of my method, the writer goes on:

“The one thing which is of moment to Marx, is to find the law of the phenomena with whose investigation he is concerned; and not only is that law of moment to him, which governs these phenomena, in so far as they have a definite form and mutual connexion within a given historical period. Of still greater moment to him is the law of their variation, of their development, i.e., of their transition from one form into another, from one series of connexions into a different one. This law once discovered, he investigates in detail the effects in which it manifests itself in social life. Consequently, Marx only troubles himself about one thing: to show, by rigid scientific investigation, the necessity of successive determinate orders of social conditions, and to establish, as impartially as possible, the facts that serve him for fundamental starting-points. For this it is quite enough, if he proves, at the same time, both the necessity of the present order of things, and the necessity of another order into which the first must inevitably pass over; and this all the same, whether men believe or do not believe it, whether they are conscious or unconscious of it. Marx treats the social movement as a process of natural history, governed by laws not only independent of human will, consciousness and intelligence, but rather, on the contrary, determining that will, consciousness and intelligence. ... If in the history of civilisation the conscious element plays a part so subordinate, then it is self-evident that a critical inquiry whose subject-matter is civilisation, can, less than anything else, have for its basis any form of, or any result of, consciousness. That is to say, that not the idea, but the material phenomenon alone can serve as its starting-point. Such an inquiry will confine itself to the confrontation and the comparison of a fact, not with ideas, but with another fact. For this inquiry, the one thing of moment is, that both facts be investigated as accurately as possible, and that they actually form, each with respect to the other, different momenta of an evolution; but most important of all is the rigid analysis of the series of successions, of the sequences and concatenations in which the different stages of such an evolution present themselves. But it will be said, the general laws of economic life are one and the same, no matter whether they are applied to the present or the past. This Marx directly denies. According to him, such abstract laws do not exist. On the contrary, in his opinion every historical period has laws of its own. ... As soon as society has outlived a given period of development, and is passing over from one given stage to another, it begins to be subject also to other laws. In a word, economic life offers us a phenomenon analogous to the history of evolution in other branches of biology. The old economists misunderstood the nature of economic laws when they likened them to the laws of physics and chemistry. A more thorough analysis of phenomena shows that social organisms differ among themselves as fundamentally as plants or animals. Nay, one and the same phenomenon falls under quite different laws in consequence of the different structure of those organisms as a whole, of the variations of their individual organs, of the different conditions in which those organs function, &c. Marx, e.g., denies that the law of population is the same at all times and in all places. He asserts, on the contrary, that every stage of development has its own law of population. ... With the varying degree of development of productive power, social conditions and the laws governing them vary too. Whilst Marx sets himself the task of following and explaining from this point of view the economic system established by the sway of capital, he is only formulating, in a strictly scientific manner, the aim that every accurate investigation into economic life must have. The scientific value of such an inquiry lies in the disclosing of the special laws that regulate the origin, existence, development, death of a given social organism and its replacement by another and higher one. And it is this value that, in point of fact, Marx’s book has.”

Whilst the writer pictures what he takes to be actually my method, in this striking and [as far as concerns my own application of it] generous way, what else is he picturing but the dialectic method?

Bold emphasis added.

Now, in this summary (which Marx calls the 'dialectic' method), not a single Hegelian concept can be found,

So, it is clear that Marx turned his back on Hegel, parodied him, and gave his approval to a summary that I (or any other anti-Hegelian) could have written.

The rational kernel then contains no Hegelian terms at all, or perhaps only a few with which one can join Marx, "coquetting" with them.

I'd go further and ditch even that.

I am not sure why you ask me about Hegel's references to Hume, though.

My reference to him was rhetorical -- I'd like to see all this ruling-class rubbish burnt.

And I recognise that most people cannot find time to read my Essays; but some can and do -- and they regularly send me positive feedback from right across the globe.

When this project of mine is finished (in about 10 years -- no exaggeration --, I have been at it now for 9), perhaps then I will write you a 500 word summary of why Hegel is crap (to use a Wangwei-ism).

Quote:
I found the fact that you seem to be boasting about how verbose you are slightly comical, but if it makes you happy knock yourself out.

I note you are happy to accept Hegel's verbosity, and Marx's easily out does my own.

I only mentioned those figures so that you would have some idea of the length of the essay you would be delving into, so that I could stop you over-taxing your short attention span.

And I can imagine what you'd say if I posted Essays just 1000 words long: 'how superifical Rosa is' (indeed, earlier versions of my work had been described that way). Whatever I did, you lot would moan, so I might as well please myself, and be done with it.

I aim to be as thorough as Marx was; if that is to admit to verbosity, so be it.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 13 2007 22:47

Si:

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what a laughable riposte. when's the last time you enjoyed writing?

I guess roundabout the last time you outsmarted a carrot -- ten years ago, in that case.

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I can just imagine you, plodding phrase by tedious phrase through your war of attrition with the Hegelian Marxists, like Haig at the Somme - bon mots sent to die on the battefield, wave after wave, til the enemy is worn down and cedes the position - out of weariness, I should add, above all else...

Whereas you just bash away at the keyboard with that root vegetable you kept as a souvenir.

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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May 13 2007 23:30

"Not a Hegelian concept" can be found in that text?

When you write "Hegelian concept" do you just mean "words that Hegel uses a lot" - Spirit, concept, picture-thought, reflection, mediation, in-and-for-itself etc...? This might seem to be the case, as you used the words 'concept' and 'terms' seemingly interchangeably in that post. If that's the case, your argument is with Hegel's terminology, not with Hegel's concepts, or at least not with their Marxist appropriation. Just out of interest, have you looked at the points where Hegel does address language and its limits, and where he talks about the way in which he uses it?

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gatorojinegro
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May 13 2007 23:45

Like SIMCP, I continue posting here because the subject touches upon things I'm interested in. I've gotten worse insults than Rosa can dish out over the years.

I don't think Marx's social theory necessarily hangs on accepting the ideas of "dialectic in nature".

I'm going to quote bits from Rosa's (tediously long) essays but first I want to start by distinguishing two different ways of looking at human beings. The first is what I'll call the social theory of the person. On this view, humans are raised in social groups, in their families, they learn a particular language, are part of a certain people, their life is directly shaped by the class situation they're in. Workers find it necessary to group together and form collective organizations such as unions and struggle together, express solidarity with each other, to protect themselves against the classes that dominate them.

This means that the desires, beliefs, tastes, skills of someone will reflect these groups. The groups are part of that person's "identity", part of who they are.

Now let's contrast this with another view that i'll call the atomist or individualist theory of the person. This view was first articulated theoretically by bourgeois philosophers like John Locke and Thomas Hobbes, beginning in Britain in the 17th century. This was also the period of the emergence of the capitalist system, and the political movement of the early English capitalists to privatize the means of life via things like the enclosures movement, and to avoiid their traditional obligations, and traditional rights, of the peasantry under feudalism.

The individualist theory views the person as a fully formed social atom prior to society. This is why the social obligations and rights of the individual are then seen as a problem, something that must be explained by appeals to "enlighted self-interest" or fictions about "social contracts". This is falsified by the actual reality however because actual humans are formed with group identities and loyalties and these already provide them reasons for acting in accord with obligations to others...such as not crossing a picket line.

Now, I'd point out, what people here are probably aware of, is that the social theory of the person was a common presupposition of both Marxism and social anarchism (altho anarchism has historically been influenced at times by liberal individualist notions, so there is more ambiguity here).

David Hume's radical empiricist program was a complete working out of the atomist assumptions of individualism, applied to the world in general. Hume sees the unfolding of history as made up of discrete events with no real connections bertween them, a world of complete coincidence. He thus completely rejects any idea of causality or of anything real that corresponds to the "laws" of the scientists. His interpretation is that laws are more patterns or generalizations or correlations that we uncover among the sea of unconnected atomistic happenings.

In the 20th century Hume's atomistic metaphysics came to be mixed with the modern symbolic logic, developed by Frege and popularized by Bertrand Russell (i call it the
Frege/Russell logic -- FRL), and advocated by the logical positivists and other extreme empiricists. FRL also has atomistic assumptions, as I pointed out in a previous post.

I think one of the things that Marx liked about Hegel...and Aristotle...is that they saw the world as a world of real connections. Marx disagreed with the sort of atomistic metaphysics propagated by the radical empiricist program of Hume.

One of the things I disagree with Rosa about is that she confuses the project of ridding radical theory of "dialectics" in favor of ordinary eveyday language -- something I agree with her about -- with adopting elements of the logical positivist or extreme empricist program, such as her rejection of all talk about causality or forces, and her apparent adoption of the Humean view of laws or theories:

Quote:
This 'problem' [of induction] partly derives from the mistaken view that scientific theories are special sorts of truths.

But it's well-known in the literature about "laws" that the Humean view of them as mere generalizations won't work. For one thing, it can't distinguish law-like properties of things from accidental correlations. It used to be remarked that the annual variation in deaths in India correlated exactly with variations in the numbers of engineering articles published in journals in the USA.

Also, Rosa's attack on the discourse about causality is inconsistent with her advocacy of the ordinary language of people in everyday life. It's also inconsistent with the language of everyday applied science. Here's a sentence from a textbook on electricity:

"An electrically charged body exerts a physical force on other bodies around it and can make them do work by moving or lifting them."

If you read the literature of climatologists about global warming, they'll say that water vapor contributes to the greenhouse effect but has a fairly constant effect over time, a natural variation, effected by things like seasonal variation in temperature. It's part of the "backgrond conditions" of explanations about climate change. but man-made greenhouse gases create what they call a "forcing" effect, that is, they change the underlying conditions of the climate.

Moreover, the way that law-like properties can be differentiated from accidental generalizations is thru the notion of physical or natural necessity. For example, let's say you're an electrician, or an electronic tech working on electrical equipment. One of the things you have to know is Ohm's Law which can be expressed by the formula

(OL) C = V/R

where R is resistance, V is voltage (pressure) and C is the current (amperage). An electronic tech will have his or her voltmeter handy to be able to measure these properties of circuits. If you change the voltage, but don't change the resistance, the result will be a change in the amps. This change is not accidental. The property denoted by (OL) is a necessary property of circuits. (In quantum mechanics there is a very tiny theoretical probabiliy of it not holding but this is of no practical importance.)

But Rosa rejects the langage of physical or natural necessity and the ordinary language of causality:

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Small wonder then that traditional accounts of causation (and of physical law) are shot through with anthropomorphism, mysticism and animism, and can only be made to work if inappropriate modal terms (like "necessity" and "must") are press-ganged into service.

Another quote that exhibits Rosa's style:

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Epistemologically imperialist utopias, wherein every infant idea is a wanted infant idea, have to conjure up super-concepts with enough metaphysical clout to control things with an iron hand (aka, "natural necessity", "conceptual-", or "ontological-necessity"), otherwise the semi house-trained ideas that the senses send their way might revolt, and set up their own anarchic collective.

Such concepts, laws and principles would therefore have to be logical (or quasi-logical) -- or indeed 'dialectical' --, if they were to exercise adequate control over the future to make sure that every single idea was assigned to the correct general term, and never stepped out of line.

As noted earlier, every free-born bourgeois idea was now clapped in chains; the 'free market' revolution in ideas was over; the rationalist takeover was a veritable Thermidor for these infant bourgeois 'ideas'.

it's true that anthropomorphism can lead to confusions in talk about causality. For example, the whole debate on whether humans have "free will" is shot thru with this. The idea is that if physics says that there is causal determinism of all the events that transpire, then people are "forced" to do what they do, and have no "freedom".

Even assuming that some physical, causal determinism is true, at, say, the micro-physical level, that doesn't mean you are "forced" to do something. Being "forced" to do something is defined by a social context. If a person puts a gun to your head and says "your money or your life?", we'd say you're "forced" to had over the money. That's because this person has set things up so that if you don't go along, there a big likelihood of something really bad happening to you, i.e. being shot.

Now we'd say an action is "free" to the extent it flows from your own beliefs and desires, is an expression of your own self-determination, your own self-management of your life. If, on the other hand, constraining social structures make your life the plaything of another group, as happens with the working class under class society, this is oppression and alienation, which is the opposite of "freedom." But whether you are oppresed or free in the sense just explained, both situations would be consistent with a micro-level physical causal determinism.

I don't know if such a determinism exists, but whether it does or not is completely irrelevant to "freedom" in the ordinary sense, and the way that radicals are interested in it. That's because, if we suppose you're "free" in the sense of self-determining, this just means your life flows out of your own purposes, your own plans, your own desires and thoughts, in cooperation with other people in your society. But this is compatible with the existence of some micro-level physical causal determinism. That's because "determinism" in that sense merely means that events emerge out of previous events in ways that would be explicable in terms of the structures and conditions in which they occur.

Another issue that Rosa touches on is that of talk about the traits or properties of things. Rosa seems to reject this talk. This is another case where I think her extreme empiricism contradicts her intent to defend everyday discourse of the population.

One thing that we do frequently is that we compare people and things. When we think they are similar, if asked "in what respect?" we might then list traits they have in common. This presupposes then the language of shared traits. For example, I could say truly, about my two cats:

(1) Gata's eyes are yellow
(2) Lucy's eyes are yellow

In logic "...is yellow" is called a "predicate". And "Gata's eyes" and "Lucy's eyes" are singular terms because they directly pick out certain things (a set of eyes in each case).

People sometimes have a hard time telling my cats apart, and that's because they look so similar. Their fur is all black, they have a similar cat morophology, and they both have yellow eyes. Now, from (1) and (2) I could infer that Gata's and Lucy's eyes share a feature, they're yellow. But this assumes that there ARE shared features. Shared features are what philosphers traditionally called "universals".

But Rosa seems to reject the talk of shared features. She doesn't seem to allow that there are properties we can refer to and talk about. She wants to only allow predication or attribution of features, as in (1)-(2) but not reference to the properties.

At least, this is how i interpret the following passages of hers:

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Empiricists attempted to solve this 'problem' [the problem of universals] by wisely diverting attention from it: they invented an irrelevant 'mental' capacity, an ability the 'mind' allegedly had of being able to spot "resemblances" between the ideas and impressions the senses sent its way.

But, once again, Aristotle's objection rears its annoying head: if there is a problem over the existence of such resemblances in the outside world, it is a bad idea to retreat from the real into the Ideal in an attempt to resolve it. Indeed, if that process takes place only in the 'mind', the difficulty the theory sought to resolve in external reality now simply resurfaces in an occult form -- and in a completely intractable arena -- since an inner process of this sort would be beyond both objective and subjective confirmation.

And, generality thus driven inwards, is even more difficult to coax out of its individualist shell.

Platonic Realism, Aristotelian Conceptualism and bourgeois Empiricism (along with a host of other metaphysical doctrines) all run aground on these unyielding particularist rocks.

By way of contrast, the words we use in ordinary material language express generality with ease when left to social agents to breath life into them. However, they soon lose their semantic vitality when they are replaced by lifeless abstract singular terms, invented by work-shy 'thinkers' with more leisure time on their hands than is good for anyone.

I'm not certain what to make of this. But let me suggest a view about what universals -- shared features -- are that she doesn't discuss. This is the view that they are actual, contingently existing concrete entities that exist in the world around us and thus we humans, as part of our social communicative practice, develop and retain words to track these various properties. The features that words track can change over time, and has done so, based on our changing needs and interests. New words are coined and old words change their meaning. (This view of shared features or "universals" as existing in the physical world, observable by us, etc. was first suggested in the middle ages by the philospher John Duns Scotus.) Thus I agree with Rosa in rejecting either the Platonist view of univerals as existing outside space and time in some abtract realm (Plato's Heaven) or stuck in people's minds (as with the empiricists). It's just that she's overlooked an alternative view. I don't really care if she calls this "philosophy" or what. it doesn't matter what we call it. The point is that in our ordinary discussions and theorizings we do in fact talk about the properties of things.

She has a problem when she denies that a predicate such as "...is yellow" tracks or designates anything in the world. If so, why does it exist? How do we then account for the truth conditions of (1)-(2).

In my example of Ohm's Law above, I'll point out that the variables V, C, R range over attributes. Ohm's Law itself designates an attribute, an attribute that every electrical circuit necessarily has. But according to Rosa, we don't need words to designate shared traits. Or so it seems. After all, "current", "amperage" and "resistance" are "abstract terms".

To back up my earlier point about how she attributes sectarianism to the influence of dialectics I offer the following quote:

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After Trotsky was murdered by a Stalinist agent, the application of 'scientific dialectics' to the contradictory nature of the USSR split the Fourth International into countless warring sects, who have continued to fragment to this day.

Again, some might wonder why so much effort has been devoted to what many consider to be a side issue, something that is not really of central importance to building the workers' movement.

However, it is my contention that dialectics is one of the reasons why Marxist (but particularly Trotskyist) parties tend to be small, divisive and highly sectarian. This theory helps ensure that they stay small, waste time on attacking one another, make serious political mistakes, and thus leave the ruling-class laughing all the way to the next attack on our side.

I also contend that this theory helps insulate the revolutionary mind from the fact that Dialectical Marxism has been a long-term failure, thus preventing the scientific development
of Marxism.

This is quite apart from the impression created in the minds of working people the world over
that revolutionaries are little more than a political joke, an impression that has gone so deep into ordinary consciousness that it is now quite difficult to dislodge.

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gatorojinegro
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May 14 2007 04:23

Continuing....

In trying to sell Wittgenstein to leftists, Rosa mentions things like his sympathies for ordinary people...which was real, despite his being from a wealthy family in Vienna...and his seriously considering moving to the Soviet Union in the '20s or '30s, which was probably due to his romanticizing the Soviet Union, as was common then.

What she doesn't mention is Wittgenstein's positivist connections. In the '20s/'30s/'40s there was a very influential philosophical trend called Logical Positivism. Like Rosa, the positivists attacked any and all "metaphysics" and "traditional philosophy". the trend emerged out of a group of intellectuals in the '20s, the Vienna Circle, which included Wittgenstein, as well as Otto Neurath, who was a Marxist.

The positivists aimed to marry an extreme empiricist interpretation of physics (e.g. as promoted by Ernst Mach) with modern symbolic logic. The positivists shared many views in common with other extreme empiricists of that era such as Bertrand Russell and Karl Popper.

Altho Wittgenstein's later philosophical views change a bit, I believe he never really abandoned his positivist leanings.

Logical positivism is inconsistent with taking a realist view of theorizing and science. And I think Marx was definitely a realist. When he talked about "laws of motion" or "forces" i think he believed there were such things, and that we can improve our understanding of them through investigation and practical test.

I think that anti-realist views are an enemy of actual struggle because they promote scepticism and undermine commitment.

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Joseph Kay
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May 14 2007 07:26
Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
Sorry JK, I missed this:
Quote:
sprechen sie Deutsche, rosa? it's only a german speaker i know said that the thing with hegel's 'jargon' was that he played on the differing connotations and meanings of everyday words, so a word like 'aufheben' only becomes specialist jargon when it is translated and all the many alternative german meanings are lost. also, this thread is mental.

Yes, but I am not sure how this affects my point?

i thought you were arguing hegel was elitist in his jargon?

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 15 2007 21:36

Posey:

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I've gotten worse insults than Rosa can dish out over the years.

I refer the honourable but severely bruised ego to my earlier response to him.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 15 2007 21:43

JK:

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i thought you were arguing hegel was elitist in his jargon?

I was merely using this word ad hominen against Wang/Fido, who introduced this into the discussion (alongside my stalker, Posey).

I think that whatever one wants to say about Hegel, his being an 'elitist' is the least of his sins.

You will note that, even now, after ransacking a few of my essays, Posey here still cannot find a single quotation to substantiate his fibs.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 15 2007 21:52

SIMCP:

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When you write "Hegelian concept" do you just mean "words that Hegel uses a lot" - Spirit, concept, picture-thought, reflection, mediation, in-and-for-itself etc...? This might seem to be the case, as you used the words 'concept' and 'terms' seemingly interchangeably in that post. If that's the case, your argument is with Hegel's terminology, not with Hegel's concepts, or at least not with their Marxist appropriation. Just out of interest, have you looked at the points where Hegel does address language and its limits, and where he talks about the way in which he uses it?

Well, I did not discriminate: not a single concept/term-of-art unique to Hegel (or later Hegelians) occurs in this passage, which Marx calls the 'dialectic method'

I am happy to accept his own description.

As far as Hegel's use of language is concerned, I am no more interested in that than I am in the mating habits of howler monkeys.

I am not the least bit interested in Hegel, except to help terminate his influence amongst Marxists -- in line with Marx's own trajectory.

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gatorojinegro
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May 15 2007 23:36
Quote:
You will note that, even now, after ransacking a few of my essays, Posey here still cannot find a single quotation to substantiate his fibs.

Note that Rosa won't say what these alleged "fibs" are. I'll leave it to the readers to say whether the quotes I've provided here do substantiate my characterization of
some of her ideas.

The quotes will also point out that Rosa's style is vague and bombastic and filled with metaphorical language. This makes what she says hard to pin down. This style is inconsistent with her alleged advocacy of a reliance on ordinary language and a hard-headed scientific approach. That's because a person's claims can't be tested if they aren't stated clearly and can't be pinned down.

I'm also not especially concerned with the fact that it is Rosa that says these things. I'm interested in opposing extreme empiricist/positivist and anti-realist influence in radical theorizing, and she just happens to be a handy example.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 16 2007 06:54

Posey:

Quote:
Note that Rosa won't say what these alleged "fibs" are.

I refer the honourable, but visually-impaired, ego to my previous response to him.

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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May 16 2007 11:01
Quote:
Well, I did not discriminate: not a single concept/term-of-art unique to Hegel (or later Hegelians) occurs in this passage, which Marx calls the 'dialectic method'

I am happy to accept his own description.

As far as Hegel's use of language is concerned, I am no more interested in that than I am in the mating habits of howler monkeys.

I am not the least bit interested in Hegel, except to help terminate his influence amongst Marxists -- in line with Marx's own trajectory

That's entirely self-contradictory. 1) You like Hegelian dialectics when applied by Marx as described in that passage, which is essentially once all the difficult words have been taken out; 2) you want to 'terminate [Hegel's] influence amongst Marxists - in line with Marx's own trajectory.' You like dialectics, but you don't like dialectics.

Your epic project of crushing Hegel under the iron heel of your website would be greatly informed and would considerably benefit from a greater familiarity with that which you seek to crush - and considering the numnber of references you've made to language and logic in this thread, I'd imagine some sort of familiraity with Hegel's won views on language wouldn't go amiss. You also need to familiarise yourself with the distinctions between Hegel's dialectic and Marx's (at times you view them as identical, implying that Marx needs to be cured of this infection - at others you describe Marx as having purged himself already), or at least make that far clearer - and you certainly need to spend some time looking at the extent to which the Hegelian Marxist tradition, after Engels' daft dialectics of nature, ends up crashing into the vrick wall of diamat. If you were to compare that with what Hegel actually says you may perhaps want to think about crushing diamat under your website's iron heel, rather than Hegel, with a view towards cleraring away some of the stupid crap that Hegel'd been (incorrectly) associated with.