Thesis, antithesis, synthesis

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darren p's picture
darren p
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May 16 2007 12:52

A few thoughts concerning that "anti-dialectics" website:

Firstly the site is trying to grapple with why socialist governments based on Marxism have not succeeded. I think a more usefull and fruitfull starting point would have been to undertake a critique of Leninist organisational methods.

The following are some responces from the author of "dialectics for kids" website:

Einstein said that even one experiment that was counter to his theory would prove him wrong, so it should not take thousands of words to counter Engels--just a few examples, or even one good one. [Rosa Lichtenstein] contends that Engels is wrong in arguing that all change requires "the addition or substration of energy or motion". Rather than denounce that claim, it would be a simple matter to provide some examples of change that do not require addition or subtraction of energy or motion.

The site mentions that dialectial materialism somehow supports the concrete and ignores the abstract. To me this is the opposite of dialectical thinking--i.e. seeing only one side of a contradiction rather than both concrete and abstract, theory and practice, general and particular, etc. So it may be that the site is attacking a straw man.

I notice that the anti-dialectics site takes issue with the catastrophic view of paleontology. It was the fashion for many years in paleontology to believe that change happened gradually rather than in qualitative leaps. This belief was overturned when it was recognized that the impact of an asteroid near Yucatan about 65 million years ago undoubtedly led to global cooling and the sudden demise of the dinosaurs. The anti-dialectics site is still arguing that the extinction of the dinosaurs occurred over tens of thousands of years and was not a relatively sudden event. I think this is counter to all the scientific evidence.

Another thought I had is that this is not just a matter of academic debate. Right now the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is about 380 parts per million, having risen from the pre-industrial level of about 260 ppm. Nearly all scientists agree that there will be a point where the concentration of carbon dioxide is sufficient to cause enough global warming to melt the polar ice caps. The book Hell and High Water estimates that the turning point could be around 460 ppm, whch gives us about 20 years to stop the increase in carbon dioxide before it is too late. Failing to recognize that there are qualitative turning points in all of nature is a serious matter which could lead humanity to disaster.

[The site claims that gravity is not dialectical, however: ]

Gravity is always experienced as the attraction between two objects and there are always countervailing forces--the molten core of the earth resists further collapse by gravity, the nuclear furnace at the core of the sun resists collapse, the motion of the moon keeps it from falling to earth, etc. Each of the four fundamental forces--weak and strong nuclear forces, electromagnetic, and gravity--act through the exchange of particles--photons in the case of electromagnetic forces, and gravitons in the case of gravity. So all of that seem pretty dialectic. The tricky part is that gravity distorts space and time, which gets into black holes and the general theory of relativity. I love thinking about all that, but I do not pretend to fully understand it.

But not having a complete understanding of something is not the same as agreeing that it is not dialectical. I don't see any reason to draw that conclusion.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 16 2007 16:20

SIMCP:

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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

.

How on earth did you manage to work out that I "like" anything Hegel ever wrote?

And there are no Hegelian ideas in that passage.

I defy you to find any.

And, if that is a contradiction, just 'sublate' it....

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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.

I really despair of you Hegel nuts -- can't you read?

Where have I said my site was aimed at this?

And I am not interested in Hegel's ideas, even though I have had to study them now for well over 25 years.

In fact, the more I learn, the less interested I get.

But, I'd rather read the entire London telephone directory.

I'd certainly learn more.

The only reason I do it is to help me undermine his influence on Marxists.

Some hope! As Max Eastman noted:

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Hegelism is like a mental disease--you cannot know what it is until you get it, and then you can't know because you have got it.

You lot cannot even read....!

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 16 2007 16:39

Darren, thanks for that; I wonder why he could not contact me?

I e-mailed him!

However, any comments from someone who knows no logic (some of his examples of contradictions are a joke!) will naturally face an uphill struggle to be taken seriously.

But, let us examine what you report.

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Firstly the site is trying to grapple with why socialist governments based on Marxism have not succeeded. I think a more useful and fruitful starting point would have been to undertake a critique of Leninist organisational methods.

Well, you set up your own site; I am a Leninist, so you'd hardly expect me to do that!

I think the guy you mentioned is a Leninist too.

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Einstein said that even one experiment that was counter to his theory would prove him wrong, so it should not take thousands of words to counter Engels--just a few examples, or even one good one. [Rosa Lichtenstein] contends that Engels is wrong in arguing that all change requires "the addition or subtraction of energy or motion". Rather than denounce that claim, it would be a simple matter to provide some examples of change that do not require addition or subtraction of energy or motion.

Done it, in Essay Seven. When confronted with clear examples, DM-fans do one of two things:

1) They special plead (with an "ah but..."), or more likely they

2) Just ignore the counter-examples.

[But Engels says much more than just this, which I analyse too.]

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The site mentions that dialectical materialism somehow supports the concrete and ignores the abstract. To me this is the opposite of dialectical thinking--i.e. seeing only one side of a contradiction rather than both concrete and abstract, theory and practice, general and particular, etc. So it may be that the site is attacking a straw man.

I notice that the anti-dialectics site takes issue with the catastrophic view of palaeontology. It was the fashion for many years in palaeontology to believe that change happened gradually rather than in qualitative leaps. This belief was overturned when it was recognized that the impact of an asteroid near Yucatan about 65 million years ago undoubtedly led to global cooling and the sudden demise of the dinosaurs. The anti-dialectics site is still arguing that the extinction of the dinosaurs occurred over tens of thousands of years and was not a relatively sudden event. I think this is counter to all the scientific evidence.

I nowhere say this!

In fact I allege that dialecticians have confused ideas on both these things.

And nowhere do I deny sudden changes, I just deny dialectics can account for any change (fast or slow).

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The site claims that gravity is not dialectical, however:

Gravity is always experienced as the attraction between two objects and there are always countervailing forces--the molten core of the earth resists further collapse by gravity, the nuclear furnace at the core of the sun resists collapse, the motion of the moon keeps it from falling to earth, etc. Each of the four fundamental forces--weak and strong nuclear forces, electromagnetic, and gravity--act through the exchange of particles--photons in the case of electromagnetic forces, and gravitons in the case of gravity. So all of that seems pretty dialectic. The tricky part is that gravity distorts space and time, which gets into black holes and the general theory of relativity. I love thinking about all that, but I do not pretend to fully understand it.

But not having a complete understanding of something is not the same as agreeing that it is not dialectical. I don't see any reason to draw that conclusion.

This weak objection is handled in extensive detail in Essay Eight Part Two.

How are forces of attraction contradictory?

Indeed, how are any forces contradictory?

Dialecticians like to assert this, but we have yet to see the proof.

And since relativity has got rid of the force of gravity, even this weak point implodes.

Is that it, Darren???

This is pathetic even by the low standards I have come to expect from you mystics!

May I suggest through you that the owner of that site change its name to 'Dialectics for Numpties'?

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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May 16 2007 17:01

OK, let's look at the pasage you approve of, taken from the postface to the second German edition:

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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?

This is a critic, reviewing Marx. Marx cites this guy, happily declaring that the generous account of Marx's method described is a dialectical method. Marx then goes on to slag off people like yourself, who view Hegel as a 'dead dog', talks about his own dialectic and then praises the merits of (his version of) dialectics. So what do we find in this text?

Firstly:

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The one thing which is of moment to Marx, is to find the law of the phenomena with whose investigation he is concerned;

an attempt to find the law governing phenomena: an attempt to get at the inner workings behind apparently contingent appearances (you'll note the mass of references to appearance [erschient] in Capital). For Hegel this is an attempt to uncover the workings of the Concept, thus identifying the rational law implicit within phenomenal reality. For Marx this is an attempt to get at the inner workings and concept of capital, so as to understand the seemingly random movement of phenomena on the 'surface' of capitalist society (a metaphor that Marx often uses).

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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.

Understanding the inner workings behind appearances allows an understanding of change. This is slightly different to Hegel; Hegel declares that philosophy cannot predict, but can only concern itself with what exists or what has happened. He talks about the inner necessity of history's unfolding as it has happened as far as the point at which he is writing, but is careful not to make any further predictions. Marx, on the other hand, misses or rejects this aspect of Hegel. he wants to understand the inner workings of society (note society, not reality itself - that's Engels' concern) so that he can understand the way in which it will change and develop in the future, or at least so that he can understand and give adequate voice to the potential for change that has emerged. Both, however, are concerned with the development of sequential stages.

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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.

As above, with added emphasis on the effectively unconscious movement of history (see Hegel's cunning of reason)

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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

Again, Marx departs from Hegel, or at least thinks he does. Marx constantly characterises Hegel as being concerned only with pure thought,, and in distinction from this declares that thought arises from material conditions. Hegel, however, states that both human thought and material reality derive from the inner rational nature of existence (the Idea), and indeed states explicitly that consciousness arises from experience. See Marx's account of species being in the Paris manuscripts and compare that to th account of subjecivity and will given at the beginning of teh Philosophy of Right.

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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.

Again, Marx's 'inversion' of the Hegelian dialectic: thinking Hegel to be purely concerned with the interaction and contradiction between concepts, Marx is concerned with teh interaction of the material. Their interaction and development are to studied, leading to a conception of the true nature of the object under enquiry. See the text 'on the method of political economy' in teh Grundrisse.

Much more fun to be had here but I'm late. Will get back to this either tonight or tomorrow.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 16 2007 17:33

SIMCP:

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an attempt to find the law governing phenomena: an attempt to get at the inner workings behind apparently contingent appearances (you'll note the mass of references to appearance [erschient] in Capital). For Hegel this is an attempt to uncover the workings of the Concept, thus identifying the rational law implicit within phenomenal reality. For Marx this is an attempt to get at the inner workings and concept of capital, so as to understand the seemingly random movement of phenomena on the 'surface' of capitalist society (a metaphor that Marx often uses).

I do not deny you can read into this passage a few of the terms with which Marx himself said he merely "coquetted", but that would be more an expression of your determination to do what you alleged I had done -- forced this in a direction against the text itself -- ignoring Marx's own put downs.

Now, philosophers long before Hegel wanted to find out what the underlying aspects of reality were. Just as they have appealed to 'appearances' and surface phenomena.

So, even if you were right, this would not be a Hegelian concern as such.

I can live with that.

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Understanding the inner workings behind appearances allows an understanding of change. This is slightly different to Hegel; Hegel declares that philosophy cannot predict, but can only concern itself with what exists or what has happened. He talks about the inner necessity of history's unfolding as it has happened as far as the point at which he is writing, but is careful not to make any further predictions. Marx, on the other hand, misses or rejects this aspect of Hegel. he wants to understand the inner workings of society (note society, not reality itself - that's Engels' concern) so that he can understand the way in which it will change and develop in the future, or at least so that he can understand and give adequate voice to the potential for change that has emerged. Both, however, are concerned with the development of sequential stages.

Once more, sequential change and interconnection are not uniquely Hegelian notions.

As I noted, anti-dialecticians like me can live with this aspect of historical materialism, for we do not deny the obvious: that human social change is holistic -- even the ancient Greeks believed that!

So, nothing Hegelian so far (with which Marx did not "coquette").

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As above, with added emphasis on the effectively unconscious movement of history (see Hegel's cunning of reason)

Well, you need to be careful here since this would make Marx an idealist!

And the author seems to be saying something different (from what you allege of him):

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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.

The "unconscious/conscious" is clearly here a reference to what we as humans are aware of; you appear to attribute consciousness to 'history', not human beings!

That would definitely make you an idealist.

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Again, Marx departs from Hegel, or at least thinks he does. Marx constantly characterises Hegel as being concerned only with pure thought,, and in distinction from this declares that thought arises from material conditions. Hegel, however, states that both human thought and material reality derive from the inner rational nature of existence (the Idea), and indeed states explicitly that consciousness arises from experience. See Marx's account of species being in the Paris manuscripts and compare that to th account of subjectivity and will given at the beginning of the Philosophy of Right.

I agree that Marx parts company with Hegel, and not just here -- everywhere.

Thought arising from material conditions is something he learnt from the Scottish School of historical materialists (who were influential on Hegel too), and probably also from Vico and Herder.

So, still nothing Hegelian here.

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Again, Marx's 'inversion' of the Hegelian dialectic: thinking Hegel to be purely concerned with the interaction and contradiction between concepts, Marx is concerned with the interaction of the material. Their interaction and development are to studied, leading to a conception of the true nature of the object under enquiry. See the text 'on the method of political economy' in the Grundrisse.

He chose not to publish the Grundrisse, so we must take these as his more considered thoughts.

And since Hegelian 'contradictions' arose as a result of Hegel's own logical blunders (with Aristotelian logic), no wonder Marx merely "coquetted" with this word.

Finally:

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Marx then goes on to slag off people like yourself, who view Hegel as a 'dead dog', talks about his own dialectic and then praises the merits of (his version of) dialectics.

He pointedly put his praise for Hegel in the past tense, and immediately introduced his own put down of Hegel: saying he merely "coquetted" with his jargon, and only in a few places.

This is hardly the ringing endorsement you'd expect from man who still thought Hegel so wonderful.

In fact, you'd expect him to say how Hegel's ideas had informed his entire book.

But he does not. Nowhere (in Kapital) does he say this.

After describing a long passage in which no explicitly Hegelian terms occur, or in which no concepts unique to Hegel are to be found (even after you have had a go at it!) as his method, or as the 'dialectic method' (a version even I can live with), we find those put downs.

Sure he calls him a 'mighty' thinker, but the sincerity of that comment can be judged by the immediate put down.

Why merely "coquette" with a few bits of jargon (and only here and there) if Hegel was indeed quite so 'mighty'?

So, you are the one forcing Kapital in a direction contrary to Marx's stated aims, not me.

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Demogorgon303
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May 16 2007 18:12

Well, I'm not expert in dialectics (far from it), but I did find this quote where Marx himself underlines what he sees as the correctness of part of Hegel's method.

"Incidentally, you will see from the conclusion to my Chapter III, where I outline the transformation of the master of a trade into a capitalist — as a result of purely quantitative changes — that in the text there I quote Hegel’s discovery of the law of the transformation of a merely quantitative change into a qualitative one as being attested by history and natural science alike " - Marx to Engels, June 22, 1867

And the part of Capital, he refers to:

"The possessor of money or commodities actually turns into a capitalist in such cases only where the minimum sum advanced for production greatly exceeds the maximum of the middle ages. Here, as in natural science, is shown the correctness of the law discovered by Hegel (in his “Logic”), that merely quantitative differences beyond a certain point pass into qualitative changes." - Capital, Vol 1, Chapter 11

Seems fairly unequivocal that Marx, at that point at least, saw something of value in Hegel.

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darren p
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May 16 2007 19:47

The above comments where in responce to some questions I sent the owner of the site. I reproduced them here without his knowledge.

I'm unsure what you aim to achieve through playground name calling.

Read essay seven could not see an example of a change which does not require "the addition or substration of energy or motion".

Have yet to read all of your website.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 16 2007 21:32

Demogoron:

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Well, I'm not expert in dialectics (far from it), but I did find this quote where Marx himself underlines what he sees as the correctness of part of Hegel's method.

How does this one observation confirm that?

The whole of his method in this one 'law'???

There is no mention of the dialectics here, merely a confirmation of the one place in Hegel that could be made consistent with a materialist view of the world -- namely an increase in matter and energy underlies all change.

Anti-Hegelians could agree with that!

And the quote from Kapital confirms Marx as still "coquetting" with Hegelian jargon.

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Seems fairly unequivocal that Marx, at that point at least, saw something of value in Hegel.

No more than he saw fit to "coquette" with.

In this he was being vastly over generous with Hegel.

This is quite apart from the fact that this 'law'does not work, and for reasons detailed at my site.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 16 2007 21:43

Darren:

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I'm unsure what you aim to achieve through playground name calling.

Not name-calling; merely an accurate description.

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Read essay seven could not see an example of a change which does not require "the addition or subtraction of energy or motion".

But Engels's law is not just about mere change, but change in quantity leading to change in quality (in fact he said it was not possible for the latter to occur without the former), and this occurring 'nodally'.

As I noted, you dialecticians have selective blindness:

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Nevertheless, Engels's 'First Law' is at best only partially true; as we shall see, many processes in nature 'disobey' it, so it cannot be a law (in any sense of that word). Even where it seems to work, it does so only because Engels left several key terms totally undefined -- in which state they remain to this day.

Engels's 'First Law' is supposed to work discontinuously (i.e., "nodally"), allowing nature and society to develop by making "leaps" (a term all DM-fans like to use, but, as we are about to see, they clearly do not look before they appeal to 'leaps'). This is how Plekhanov explained things:

"[I]t will be understood without difficulty by anyone who is in the least capable of dialectical thinking...[that] quantitative changes, accumulating gradually, lead in the end to changes of quality, and that these changes of quality represent leaps, interruptions in gradualness…. That is how all Nature acts…." [Plekhanov (1956), pp.74-77, 88, 163.]

However, many things in nature change qualitatively without going through a DM-inspired "nodal point" -- or even so much as a tiny "leap". [Engels (1976), p.160.]

These include the following: melting or solidifying plastic, metal, rock, sulphur, tar, toffee, sugar, chocolate, wax, butter, cheese, and glass. As these are heated or cooled, they gradually change (from liquid to solid, or the reverse). There isn't even a nodal point with respect to balding heads! In fact, it is difficult to think of many phase transformations (from solid to liquid (or vice versa)) that exhibit just such "nodal points" -- and these include the transition from ice to water (and arguably also the condensation of steam). Even the albumen of fried or boiled eggs changes slowly (but non-nodally) from clear to opaque white while they are being cooked.1

Naturally, all this depends on how the duration of a "nodal" point is defined; unfortunately DM-fans have to this day failed to define it (nor have they even so much as mentioned it -- indeed, in discussions on the Internet, this objection wrong foots most DM-acolytes, so they either ignore it, or call it "pedantic"). Because of this, dialecticians can safely indulge in some sloppy, off-the-cuff, a priori Super-Science here (as they all seem to do -- nary a one fails to come up with their own favourite/idiosyncratic example, tested, of course, only in the laboratory of the mind, and studiously un-peer reviewed; remember this is Mickey Mouse Science!).....

The difficulties the 'First Law' faces do not stop there. For example, when heated, objects change in quality from cold to warm and then to hot, with no nodal point separating these particular qualitative stages. The same happens in reverse when they cool. Moving bodies similarly speed up from slow to fast (and vice versa) without nodal punctuation marks affecting the transition. In like manner, the change from one colour to the next in the normal colour spectrum is continuous, with no nodal points evident at all -- and this is also the case with the colour changes that bodies experience when they are heated to red or white heat. Sounds, too, change smoothly from soft to loud, and back, in a node-free environment. In fact, with respect to wave-governed phenomena in general, change seems to be continuous rather than discrete, which means that since the majority of particles/objects in nature move in such a manner, most things in reality seem to disobey this aspect of Engels's unimpressive 'Law' -- at least at the macroscopic level.

To be sure, some wave-like changes are said to occur discontinuously, but this is not the result of continuous background changes. For example, quantum phenomena are notoriously discontinuous, but such changes are not normally preceded by continual quantitative increases. They occur suddenly.

Several more comments on the application of this 'Law' to microscopic and/or quantum phenomena will be considered in detail here at a later date.

In that case, at best, the 'nodal' aspect of this 'Law' is either only partially true (of certain phenomena), or it fails to be true (of others).

Unfortunately for DM-apologists, if we now mischievously apply this non-nodal aspect of the 'First Law' to Capitalism (as dialecticians themselves do, but only with respect to the liquid/gas phase change, in a bid to illustrate by analogy the revolutionary transformation from one Mode of Production to another, as quantity allegedly builds into quality, at some point initiating a sudden revolutionary 'leap' into a new form of society), then since Capitalism is clearly not a liquid, but a solid of sorts, the transition to socialism should, on this analogy, go rather smoothly (as is the case with phase changes experienced by most solids).

Interpreted that way, it looks as if the 'First Law' is of little use to revolutionaries since it clearly suggests that they are not needed, and that Capitalism can be reformed away non-discontinuously -- a bit like the way metal, say, can slowly melt, or in the way that heads can slowly turn bald as they lose hair. But, if dialectical revolutionaries are not needed, their antiquated theory won't be either.

In that case, this aspect of dialectics seems to be responsible for issuing its own auto-redundancy notice.2

This 'Law' is in difficulties in other respects, too. Clearly not every change in quantity "passes over" into a change in quality. But, one way of reading the "vice versa" codicil attached to this law suggests that they should:

"The first law of the transformation of quantity into quality and vice versa. For our purpose, we could express this by saying that in nature, in a manner exactly fixed for each individual case, qualitative changes can only occur by the quantitative addition or subtraction of matter or motion (so-called energy)…. Hence it is impossible to alter the quality of a body without addition or subtraction of matter or motion, i.e. without quantitative alteration of the body concerned." [Engels (1954), p.63.]

If this is so, then we should expect all changes in quantity to "pass over" into changes in quality (or there would seem to be no point to the vice versa codicil).

However, I have not been able to find a single DM-theorist who interprets this 'Law' in this way, so perhaps I am the only one who has ever noticed this loop-hole (but it's more like a Grand Canyon) in this 'Law'. But, even if this were not so, it would still be difficult to explain why only some changes in quantity "pass over" into changes in quality. One will look in vain for any attempt to address this problem in the highly clichéd and repetitive writings of DM-fans (where quantity definitely does not morph into quality) -- or even for a vague recognition that such a difficulty exists.

As we devote more thought to this 'Law' problems mount up: for example, the same number of molecules at the same energy level can exhibit widely differing properties/qualities depending on circumstances. Think of how the same amount of water can act as a lubricant, or have the opposite effect, say, on wet clothes; the same amount of sand can help some things slide, but prevent others from doing so; the same amount of poison given over a short space of time will kill, but given over a longer period it could benefit the recipient -- Strychnine comes to mind here. To be sure, the effects of quantitative stasis of this sort (supervenient on qualitative change) are sensitive both to temporal constraints and to levels of concentration (of the substance in question); but this extremely vague 'First Law' said nothing of these. Try as one might, it is not easy to see how these eminently material aspects of nature can be accommodated to the Ideal dialectical universe Engels inherited from Hegel.
But, what sort of scientific 'Law' leaves details like this out? In fact, if a Mickey Mouse 'Law' like this were to appear in any of the genuine sciences, it would be treated with derision -- even if it had been aired in an undergraduate paper.

However, other recalcitrant examples rapidly spring to mind: if the same colour is stared at for several minutes it can undergo a qualitative change into another colour (several optical illusions are based on this fact). Something similar can happen with regard to many two-dimensional patterns and shapes (for example the Necker Cube and other optical illusions); these undergo considerable qualitative change when no obvious quantitative differences are involved. There thus seem to be numerous examples where quantity and quality do not appear to be connected in the way that DM-theorists suppose.3

In fact, there are so many exceptions to this 'Law' that it would be wise to demote it and consign it to a more appropriate category, perhaps along with the trite rules of thumb that sometimes work -- a bit like "An apple a day keeps the doctor away", or even "A watched kettle never boils". Indeed, given the fact that this 'Law' has no discernible mathematical content it is rather surprising it was ever called a "law" to begin with.

Nevertheless, the situation is even worse than the above might suggest; there are countless examples where significant qualitative change can result from no obvious quantitative difference. These include the qualitative dissimilarities that exist between countless different chemicals for the same quantity of matter/energy involved. Isomeric molecules (studied in stereochemistry) are a particularly good example here, especially those that have chiral centres (i.e., centres of asymmetry). In such cases, the spatial ordering of the constituent atoms, not their quantity, affects the overall quality of the resulting molecule (something Engels said could not happen): a change in molecular orientation, not quantity, effects a change in quality.

To take one example of many: (R)-Carvone (spearmint) and (S)-Carvone (caraway); these molecules have the same number of atoms (of the same elements), and the same bond energies, but they are nonetheless qualitatively distinct because of the different spatial arrangement of the atoms involved. Change in geometry, change in quality.

This un-dialectical aspect of matter is especially true of the so-called "Enantiomers" (i.e., symmetrical molecules that are mirror images of each other). These include compounds like (R)-2-clorobutane and (S)-2-chlorobutane, and the so-called L- and D-molecules, which rotate the plane of polarised light the left (laevo) or the right (dextro)) -- such as, L- and D-Tartaric acid. What might at first appear to be small energy-neutral differences like these have profound biochemical implications; a protein with D-amino acids instead of L- will not work in living cells since all life on earth uses L-organic molecules. These compounds not only have the same number of atoms in each molecule, there are no apparent energy differences between them; even so, they have easily distinguishable physical qualities. Change in quality, identical quantity.4

Moving into Physics: if two or more forces are aligned differently, the qualitative results are invariably different (even when the overall magnitude of each force is held constant). Consider one particular example: let forces F1 and F2 be situated in parallel (but not along the same line of action), but diametrically opposed to one another. Here these two forces can exercise a turning effect on a suitably placed body. Now, arrange the same two forces in like manner so that they are still parallel, but act diametrically along the same line. In this case, as seems clear, these forces will have no turning effect on the same body. Change in quality with no change in quantity, once more. Since there are many ways to align forces (as there are with other vector quantities, like velocities and accelerations, etc.), there are countless counter-examples to this rather pathetic 'First Law' here alone.4a

Perhaps more significantly, this 'Law' takes no account of qualitative changes that result from (energetically-neutral) ordering relations in nature and society. Here, identical physical structures and processes can be ordered differently to create significant qualitative changes. One example is the different ordering principles found in music, where an alteration to a sequence of the same notes in a chord or in a melody can have a major qualitative impact on harmony, with no quantitative change anywhere apparent. So, the same seven notes (i.e., tones and semi-tones) arranged in different modes (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aolean and Locrian) sound totally different to the human ear. Of course, there are other ways of altering the quality of music in an energetically neutral environment over and above this (such as timing).

Another example along the same lines concerns the ordering principles found in language, where significant qualitative changes can result from the re-arrangement of the same parts of speech. For instance, the same number of letters jumbled up can either make sense or no sense -- as in "dialectics" and "csdileati" (which is "dialectics" scrambled up; but, which one of these two makes more sense I will leave to the reader to decide).

Perhaps more radically, the same words can mean something qualitatively new if sequenced differently, as in, say: "The cat is on the mat" and "The mat is on the cat". Or, even worse: "It is impossible to understand Marx's Capital, and especially its first chapter, without having thoroughly studied and understood the whole of Hegel's Logic", compared with "It is impossible to understand Hegel's Logic, and especially its first chapter, without having thoroughly studied and understood the whole of Marx's Capital." Here there is considerable qualitative difference with no quantitative change at all.

[What are the odds that Engels would have tried to alter his 'First Law' to counter that awkward fact?]

There are many other examples of this phenomenon, but a few more should suffice for the purposes of this web site: a successful strike (one that is, say, planned first then actioned second) could turn into its opposite (if it is actioned first and planned second). Now even though the total energy input here would be ordered differently in each case, the overall energy budget of the system (howsoever this is characterised) need not be any different. So, the addition of no extra matter or energy here can turn successful action into disaster if the order of events is reversed. Of course, we can all imagine situations where this particular example could involve different energy budgets, but this is not necessarily or even always the case, which is all I need.

There are literally thousands of everyday examples of such qualitative differences (with no obvious associated quantitative changes involved), so many in fact that Engels's 'First Law' begins to look even more pathetic in comparison. Who for example would put food on the table then a plate on top of it? A change in the order here would constitute a qualitatively different (and more normal) act: plate first, food second. Which of us would jump out of an aeroplane first and put their parachute on second -- or cross a road first, look second? And is there a sane person on the planet who goes to the toilet first and gets out of bed second? Moreover, only an idiot would pour 500 ml of water slowly into 1000 ml of concentrated Sulphuric Acid, whereas, someone who knew what they were doing would readily do the reverse. But all of these have profound qualitative differences if performed in the wrong order (for the same energy budget).5

How could Engels have missed examples like these? Is dialectical myopia so crippling that it prevents dialecticians using their common sense?

References and links omitted.

There are of course many more examples quoted at my site.

You need to say which of these is incorrect.

Demogorgon303's picture
Demogorgon303
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May 17 2007 07:49
RosaLichtenstein wrote:
How does this one observation confirm that? The whole of his method in this one 'law'???

Strawman argument. I said it confirms that Marx thought there were was some value in Hegel's method, on this particular point. I didn't say it constituted either Hegel's or Marx's whole method.

RosaLichtenstein wrote:
There is no mention of the dialectics here, merely a confirmation of the one place in Hegel that could be made consistent with a materialist view of the world -- namely an increase in matter and energy underlies all change.

If the quantity-quality thing is not part of dialectics, why are you wasting your time attacking it as if it is? Marx doesn't merely say an increase in energy or matter underlies change. He talks about "the law of the transformation of a merely quantitative change into a qualitative one" and "quantitative differences beyond a certain point pass into qualitative changes". Engels uses the same basic terminology in his Dialectics of Nature. If all this simply means that a "an increase in matter and energy underlies all change", why identify it with Hegel at all? Unless we assume that Marx is simply unaware of any philosophy or science except that of Hegel ...

The point is that Marx clearly identifies this law with Hegel (saying he discovered it, no less), clearly indicates his agreement with it, and clearly goes on to apply it in his magnum opus as the above quotes demonstrate, not merely from one source but two.

As far as coquetting goes:

"I therefore openly avowed myself the pupil of that mighty thinker [Hegel], and even here and there, in the chapter on the theory of value, coquetted with the modes of expression peculiar to him. The mystification which dialectic suffers in Hegel’s hands, by no means prevents him from being the first to present its general form of working in a comprehensive and conscious manner. With him it is standing on its head. It must be turned right side up again, if you would discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell." Capital, Afterword to the Second German Edition. (emphases mine)

Exactly what do you think the "rational kernel" in Hegel's thought which Marx refered to is? Earlier in the same text he states "My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite." Once again, he is clearly stating his method is dialectic, albeit in a different form from Hegel.

Later on he says "That crisis is once again approaching, although ... the intensity of its action it will drum dialectics even into the heads of the mushroom-upstarts of the new, holy Prusso-German empire."

If you want to dispute the truth of dialetics, I don't have a problem with that. The problem is that you go further and say - against all the evidence - that Marx completely disavowed the dialectic and it's quite clear (in his own mind at least) that he did not.

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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May 17 2007 12:23
Quote:
He pointedly put his praise for Hegel in the past tense, and immediately introduced his own put down of Hegel: saying he merely "coquetted" with his jargon, and only in a few places.

This is hardly the ringing endorsement you'd expect from man who still thought Hegel so wonderful.

In fact, you'd expect him to say how Hegel's ideas had informed his entire book.

But he does not. Nowhere (in Kapital) does he say this.

After describing a long passage in which no explicitly Hegelian terms occur, or in which no concepts unique to Hegel are to be found (even after you have had a go at it!) as his method, or as the 'dialectic method' (a version even I can live with), we find those put downs.

Sure he calls him a 'mighty' thinker, but the sincerity of that comment can be judged by the immediate put down.

Why merely "coquette" with a few bits of jargon (and only here and there) if Hegel was indeed quite so 'mighty'?

So, you are the one forcing Kapital in a direction contrary to Marx's stated aims, not me.

That's really funny

You honestly think that the sum total of Hegel's influence on Capital comes down to a few Hegel-ish words? Honestly? "My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite." - Marx clearly employs a dialectical method. Now, if you want to understand that dialectical content as being so radically distinct from Hegel as to be completely unrecognisable, completely divorced from Hegel, so distinct in fact that it bears no relation to Hegel and is in way influenced by Hegel - then you're mad. Marx clearly states that he offers an 'inversion' of Hegel, and that:

Quote:
In its mystified form, dialectic became the fashion in Germany, because it seemed to transfigure and to glorify the existing state of things. In its rational form it is a scandal and abomination to bourgeoisdom and its doctrinaire professors, because it includes in its comprehension and affirmative recognition of the existing state of things, at the same time also, the recognition of the negation of that state, of its inevitable breaking up; because it regards every historically developed social form as in fluid movement, and therefore takes into account its transient nature not less than its momentary existence; because it lets nothing impose upon it, and is in its essence critical and revolutionary.

To deny that Marx is in any way distinct from Hegel would be clearly stupid. But to deny the influence of Hegel - an influence which is clearly essential to Marx's 'method' - is utterly laughable.

...as is much of the rest of your response:

Quote:
you appear to attribute consciousness to 'history'"

No I don't, and neither did Hegel

Quote:
Now, philosophers long before Hegel wanted to find out what the underlying aspects of reality were. Just as they have appealed to 'appearances' and surface phenomena.

...and yet this is in a section of text that Marx refers to as an account of dialectics, and which immediately precedes an account of the merits of Hegel's philosophy.

Quote:
Thought arising from material conditions is something he learnt from the Scottish School of historical materialists (who were influential on Hegel too), and probably also from Vico and Herder.

So, still nothing Hegelian here.

So when Marx writes that

Quote:
"My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. To Hegel, the life-process of the human brain, i.e., the process of thinking, which, under the name of “the Idea,” he even transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurgos of the real world, and the real world is only the external, phenomenal form of “the Idea.” With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought.

He's not actually deriving such a position from a critical confrontation with Hegel? Right. Convincing!

Quote:
He chose not to publish the Grundrisse, so we must take these as his more considered thoughts.

Grundrisse means ground work. It is the basis of Capital. Sure, his ideas changed and developed, but when looking at the Grundrisse you're looking at basis of Capital. A basis that has an undeniable Hegelian influence. Deny that if you want, but it's kind of comical to do so

Quote:
He pointedly put his praise for Hegel in the past tense, and immediately introduced his own put down of Hegel: saying he merely "coquetted" with his jargon, and only in a few places.

YOu love this one, don't you? Let's look at Marx's actual words:

Quote:
The mystifying side of Hegelian dialectic I criticised nearly thirty years ago, at a time when it was still the fashion. But just as I was working at the first volume of “Das Kapital,” it was the good pleasure of the peevish, arrogant, mediocre Epigonoi [Epigones – Büchner, Dühring and others] who now talk large in cultured Germany, to treat Hegel in same way as the brave Moses Mendelssohn in Lessing’s time treated Spinoza, i.e., as a “dead dog.” I therefore openly avowed myself the pupil of that mighty thinker, and even here and there, in the chapter on the theory of value, coquetted with the modes of expression peculiar to him. The mystification which dialectic suffers in Hegel’s hands, by no means prevents him from being the first to present its general form of working in a comprehensive and conscious manner. With him it is standing on its head. It must be turned right side up again, if you would discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell.

Marx uses the past tense because he's talking about a particular trend, at a particular point in time, of treating Hegel as a 'dead dog' (which is precisely what you aspire to). Thinking this to be "peevish, arrogant, [and] mediocre", marx openly, i.e publicly declared himself to be a pupil of Hegel, i.e. he admitted to admiring and learning from Hegel His admiration was so great that he even used a few Hegelian phrases. Marx even says that Hegel presented an accurate account of the dialectic, albeit in an inverted form. You go from this to the assertion that this is a 'put down' of someone Marx dscribes as a 'mighty thinker.' ...and that's just bizzarre

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 17 2007 13:32

Demogoron:

Quote:
Strawman argument. I said it confirms that Marx thought there were was some value in Hegel's method, on this particular point. I didn't say it constituted either Hegel's or Marx's whole method.

Yes, I read into your words far more than was there!

But, I noted that this is the one area where Hegel's ideas (not method, since this 'law' is of strictly limited use in Hegel's 'logic') could be given a materialist twist.

But, you have yet to show that Marx accepted Hegel's method.

Quote:
If the quantity-quality thing is not part of dialectics, why are you wasting your time attacking it as if it is? Marx doesn't merely say an increase in energy or matter underlies change. He talks about "the law of the transformation of a merely quantitative change into a qualitative one" and "quantitative differences beyond a certain point pass into qualitative changes". Engels uses the same basic terminology in his Dialectics of Nature. If all this simply means that a "an increase in matter and energy underlies all change", why identify it with Hegel at all? Unless we assume that Marx is simply unaware of any philosophy or science except that of Hegel ...

Because mystical Marxists think that it is!

And where do I deny that he and Engels thought the same way on certain things?

What I do deny is that he uses the Hegelian method in Kapital -- except he "coquetted" with a few bits if his terrminology.

Once more, you have yet to show otherwise.

In relation to this:

Quote:
I therefore openly avowed myself the pupil of that mighty thinker [Hegel], and even here and there, in the chapter on the theory of value, coquetted with the modes of expression peculiar to him. The mystification which dialectic suffers in Hegel’s hands, by no means prevents him from being the first to present its general form of working in a comprehensive and conscious manner. With him it is standing on its head. It must be turned right side up again, if you would discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell."

We have already covered this above.

Unless you have something new to add, I wonder why you posted it.

But you have something new, it seems:

Quote:
Exactly what do you think the "rational kernel" in Hegel's thought which Marx refered to is? Earlier in the same text he states "My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite." Once again, he is clearly stating his method is dialectic, albeit in a different form from Hegel.

Then again, perhaps not.

Once more, I have covered this above: we need not speculate what Marx thought the 'rational kernel' was: that passage he quoted from the reviewer revealed all -- not a single Hegelian concept in sight.

In other words, to make Hegel rational is to ignore him totally -- or perhaps merely to "coquette" with a few bits of his jargon, and then only in a few places. And it is to recover the non-mystical parts of Historical Materialism Hegel himself pinched from Ferguson, Millar, Smith and Hume -- and possibly also Vico and Herder, as I said above.

But, you have another quote:

Quote:
Later on he says "That crisis is once again approaching, although ... the intensity of its action it will drum dialectics even into the heads of the mushroom-upstarts of the new, holy Prusso-German empire."

In its non-Hegelian form, I can quite easily see it doing that.

What you have failed to show is that Marx needs/uses a single idea from Hegel (other than perhaps the quantity/quality law that not even Hegel saw as a law), which he refers to once in all three volumes!

Quote:
If you want to dispute the truth of dialetics, I don't have a problem with that. The problem is that you go further and say - against all the evidence - that Marx completely disavowed the dialectic and it's quite clear (in his own mind at least) that he did not.

As we can now see, it is you who ignores Marx's own words.

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
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May 17 2007 13:42

how on earth do you get

Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
to make Hegel rational is to ignore him totally

from

Marx wrote:
With him it is standing on its head. It must be turned right side up again, if you would discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell.

confused

Demogorgon303's picture
Demogorgon303
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May 17 2007 13:51

Where to start? I and SatanIsMyCoPilot have quoted Marx's own words where he states his method is dialectical and Rosa responds with no it isn't! I'm simply lost for words.

Apparently I'm the one who ignores Marx but I'm not the one who says "we need not speculate what Marx thought the 'rational kernel' was" despite the fact that Marx spends no less than the six final paragraphs of his text discussing the validity of the dialectic, its development from Hegel and emphatically supporting it.

Not the Hegelian dialectic, to be sure, but a materialist dialectic that arose, as SIMCP so excellently put it, from a critical confrontation with Hegel.

What's even more telling is that you respond to my quoting "That crisis is once again approaching, although ... the intensity of its action it will drum dialectics even into the heads of the mushroom-upstarts of the new, holy Prusso-German empire." by saying "In its non-Hegelian form, I can quite easily see it doing that."

Is this a concession that there is a non-Hegelian form of the dialectic? A non-Hegelian form that expresses the true movement of the economy (and therefore history)?

If the purpose of your efforts is to critique Hegel, you're preaching to the converted. If you're attempting to say that Marx didn't use a dialectical form then you are simply contradicting Marx's own words because he says he did! Of course, Marx could have been wrong about his own method I suppose and it's even possible that Rosa Lichtenstein knows more about Marx's method than Marx himself.

Otherwise I can only see the painful contradicting of Marx's own words as some form of ritual self-humiliating comedy!

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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May 17 2007 14:10
Quote:
We have already covered this above.

This is great. No Rosa, 'we' have not covered this at all. But if you declare that to be the case - much like you keep declaring yourself to have already refuted the criticisms put forward by your other opponents here - then perhaps it will become true. And if you keep saying that Marx was completely uninfluenced by Hegel, and that there is no 'dialectical content' (yet to be defined) within Capital, then maybe that will become true.
...Kind of ironic that you're calling people here idealists.

It's rather like watching someone being presented wioth evidence that the earth is round, and seeing then shout 'no! It's flat! You mystical fools, you're all deluded!'

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 17 2007 14:11

SIMCP:

Quote:
That's really funny

And that is not an argument.

Quote:
You honestly think that the sum total of Hegel's influence on Capital comes down to a few Hegel-ish words?

Why take my word for it? Here is someone you keep ignoring:

Quote:
and even here and there, in the chapter on the theory of value, coquetted with the modes of expression peculiar to him

Pick a fight with Marx, not me.

Quote:
My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite

Quite! It uses no Hegelian concepts at all.

How much more 'opposite' do you want?

Quote:
Now, if you want to understand that dialectical content as being so radically distinct from Hegel as to be completely unrecognisable, completely divorced from Hegel, so distinct in fact that it bears no relation to Hegel and is in way influenced by Hegel - then you're mad. Marx clearly states that he offers an 'inversion' of Hegel

Your lay psychological diagnosis is interesting, but still does not constitute an argument.

The inversion, as Marx points out makes Hegel's method rational: i.e., as that long passage he quoted shows (the one into which you vainly tried to insert some Hegel), it leaves Hegel out completely, and restores the older Historical materialism that Hegel pinched from others, but proceeded to mystify.

As I pointed out, too.

Confirmed by this:

Quote:
In its mystified form, dialectic became the fashion in Germany, because it seemed to transfigure and to glorify the existing state of things. In its rational form it is a scandal and abomination to bourgeoisdom and its doctrinaire professors, because it includes in its comprehension and affirmative recognition of the existing state of things, at the same time also, the recognition of the negation of that state, of its inevitable breaking up; because it regards every historically developed social form as in fluid movement, and therefore takes into account its transient nature not less than its momentary existence; because it lets nothing impose upon it, and is in its essence critical and revolutionary.

Only one Hegelian term in the above: 'negation' -- with which, as Marx himself said, he is merely "coquetting".

Quote:
To deny that Marx is in any way distinct from Hegel would be clearly stupid. But to deny the influence of Hegel - an influence which is clearly essential to Marx's 'method' - is utterly laughable.

...as is much of the rest of your response:

Once more, your childish propensity to laugh at serious matters, endearing as it might have been when you were a nipper, is not, I am sorry to have to tell you, an argument.

Quote:
No I don't, and neither did Hegel

His, and your words suggest otherwise.

Quote:
...and yet this is in a section of text that Marx refers to as an account of dialectics, and which immediately precedes an account of the merits of Hegel's philosophy

And yet, this is part of Marx's use of this passage to tell us what the rational part of his method is, one that contains not a shred of Hegel (but much from earlier theorists).

You can keep on trying to insert Hegel into this passage, if you like, but that is what it will only ever be, an insertion -- one that Marx himself did not attempt.

Which one would have thought he'd have done that if he thought so highly of this 'mighty' thinker.

Then you quote this:

Quote:
"My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. To Hegel, the life-process of the human brain, i.e., the process of thinking, which, under the name of “the Idea,” he even transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurgos of the real world, and the real world is only the external, phenomenal form of “the Idea.” With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought.

As Marx says, the ideal in Hegel is an affectation of the mind: the material world processed and translated into 'forms of thought'.

Marx does not say he agrees with these 'forms of thought', only that that is all there is to the ideal.

I can live with that.

How this helps you inject Hegel into Kapital is, however, less than clear.

And, we have already seen that Marx sees his method as that which is summarised in that long quotation from the reviewer, in which there is no trace of Hegel.

Quote:
Grundrisse means ground work. It is the basis of Capital. Sure, his ideas changed and developed, but when looking at the Grundrisse you're looking at basis of Capital. A basis that has an undeniable Hegelian influence. Deny that if you want, but it's kind of comical to do so

So important was it that he did not publish it, and neither did Engels.

So, whatever happened to Marx's thought between writing this work and the publication of Kapital, made him turn against Hegel.

Quote:
YOu love this one, don't you? Let's look at Marx's actual words:

Only because it blows away your theory.

That is why I keep quoting it; and you have to keep ignoring it.

Quote:
Marx uses the past tense because he's talking about a particular trend, at a particular point in time, of treating Hegel as a 'dead dog' (which is precisely what you aspire to). Thinking this to be "peevish, arrogant, [and] mediocre", marx openly, i.e publicly declared himself to be a pupil of Hegel, i.e. he admitted to admiring and learning from Hegel His admiration was so great that he even used a few Hegelian phrases. Marx even says that Hegel presented an accurate account of the dialectic, albeit in an inverted form. You go from this to the assertion that this is a 'put down' of someone Marx dscribes as a 'mighty thinker.' ...and that's just bizzarre

And, right after using the past tense, he nails his opinions to the mast with these famous words:

Quote:
and even here and there, in the chapter on the theory of value, coquetted with the modes of expression peculiar to him.

So much for his high opinion of that 'mighty' thinker.

Quote:
The mystification which dialectic suffers in Hegel’s hands, by no means prevents him from being the first to present its general form of working in a comprehensive and conscious manner. With him it is standing on its head. It must be turned right side up again, if you would discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell.

Quite; what is correct in Hegel is the stuff he filched from Ferguson, Millar, Smith and Hume (and probably from Vico and Herder, too).

Marx was happy to return to that rational form of historical materialism, and to develop it, hence he needed nothing at all from Hegel.

Same with me.

Only, I'd not even "coquette" with a single Hegelian term.

[Marx whimped out.]

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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May 17 2007 14:33

Madness.

OK. Rosa, do you think a dialectic is Hegelian just because it uses Hegelian catchphrases?

What would make a dialectic 'Marxist or 'materialist'?

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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May 17 2007 14:37

...and just one more quick one: the phrase referring to 'coquetting' seems to be a pretty core base for your argument. What exactly do you think Marx means in that phrase? Do think it simply means that he used a few Hegelian words? If so, why do you think he did that? If he's spent the last few pages slagging off hegel (according to your wierd reading), why would he then 'pin his colours to the mast' as you put it by announcing that he used hegelian words?

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 17 2007 16:45

SIMCP:

Quote:
Madness.

OK. Rosa, do you think a dialectic is Hegelian just because it uses Hegelian catchphrases?

What would make a dialectic 'Marxist or 'materialist'?

I am not sure you can say what he wanted to say unless you use his gobbledygook.

As to your last question: historical materialism is enough for me -- minus the Hegel.

Quote:
...and just one more quick one: the phrase referring to 'coquetting' seems to be a pretty core base for your argument. What exactly do you think Marx means in that phrase? Do think it simply means that he used a few Hegelian words? If so, why do you think he did that? If he's spent the last few pages slagging off hegel (according to your wierd reading), why would he then 'pin his colours to the mast' as you put it by announcing that he used hegelian words?

He is playing around with them, as part of his farewell to his former master.

So, if I were to abandon my commitment to, say, Wittgenstein, I might parody his use of words, too.

Hence, it is part of his agreeing with the fact that Hegel is now a 'dead dog'.

Which accounts for his use of the past tense.

More to the point, how do you account for it?

It fits in with my theory, but not yours.

Quote:
Madness.

As I said earlier: your amateur psychological assessments are fascinating, but do not, I think, constitute a cogent argument.

si
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May 17 2007 18:42

splendid. do keep it up everyone.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 17 2007 19:02

Si:

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splendid. do keep it up everyone.

Yes, I am enjoying seeing their entire case go up in flames too.

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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May 17 2007 20:41

Let's try again: putting it very simply, how would you explain Hegel's dialectic? And how would you explain Marx's dialectic?

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He is playing around with them, as part of his farewell to his former master.

So, if I were to abandon my commitment to, say, Wittgenstein, I might parody his use of words, too.

Hence, it is part of his agreeing with the fact that Hegel is now a 'dead dog'.

Which accounts for his use of the past tense.

More to the point, how do you account for it?

It fits in with my theory, but not yours.

Makes no sense at all.

How do I account for it? Putting it very simply: Marx is extremely indebted to Hegel. At the time that he wrote volume 1 it had become fashionable to treat Hegel as a dead dog. As such, he openly declared himself to be a pupil of that mighty thinker, and even - just to really get that point home - used a few Hegelian buzz words in te opening chapter.

Now, please do reply to my first question. And please don't reply with some empty assertion about how pointless it is to read Hegel, or with a quotation. As you have, apparently, completed and passed a PhD project in which you sought to eradicate the poison of Hegel from Marxism, one would assume that you are reasonably well versed in exactly what this poison is. This is not a test - I'm not trying to catch you out - I just want to understand what it is that you dislike in Hegel, and what it is you think Marx to be doing instead. What exactly is "historical materialism minus the Hegel"? What does that mean?

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I am not sure you can say what he wanted to say unless you use his gobbledygook.

So a Hegelian or Hegelian-influenced dialectic must by necessity employ Hegel's terminology? It's the terminology that makes it Hegelian?

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 17 2007 21:27

SIMCP:

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Makes no sense at all.

If I now were to say the same of your attempt to interpret these words, I wonder if you'd accept that?

Me neither.

In what way does this not make sense?

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As such, he openly declared himself to be a pupil of that mighty thinker, and even - just to really get that point home - used a few Hegelian buzz words in the opening chapter.

Well, no -- he "coquetted" with these words (and only in a few places -- why not in every chapter?). This is not a ringing endorsement of that 'mighty' thinker. This he said after putting his praise for Hegel in the past tense, and after quoting a long passage from a reviewer in which no Hegelian terms are to be found, which Marx described as the 'dialectic method'.

So, once more, you can only make your theory work if you ignore his actual words.

My theory has the merit of not doing that.

Quote:
Now, please do reply to my first question.

Done it, if this was it:

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do you think a dialectic is Hegelian just because it uses Hegelian catchphrases?

Once more: it can only be such if it uses his gobbledygook.

Quote:
As you have, apparently, completed and passed a PhD project in which you sought to eradicate the poison of Hegel from Marxism, one would assume that you are reasonably well versed in exactly what this poison is. This is not a test - I'm not trying to catch you out - I just want to understand what it is that you dislike in Hegel, and what it is you think Marx to be doing instead. What exactly is "historical materialism minus the Hegel"? What does that mean?

My PhD was on Wittgenstein.

I'd have topped myself if it had been on Hegel.

Nice try, trying to get me to say what I dislike in Hegel.

How about everything?

The only good thing about Hegel is he dropped dead.

"Historical materialism without the Hegel" -- what does that mean?

What it says: Historical Materialism without the Hegel.

A good indication is Gerry Cohen's 'Karl Marx's Theory of History' -- if you take out the tecnological determinism, the functionalism and his logical howlers.

When my project is finished, I'll re-jig Historical Materialism without the Hegel.

Until then,Cohen will have to do.

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Demogorgon303
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May 18 2007 07:09

Rosa, do you reject the dialectic per se or simply Hegel's version? And are you arguing Marx rejected all dialectics too?

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revol68
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May 18 2007 09:26

i've just quickly scanned over 100 new posts in this thread and think i deserve a medal!

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 18 2007 09:33

Demogoron:

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Rosa, do you reject the dialectic per se or simply Hegel's version? And are you arguing Marx rejected all dialectics too?

I personally reject every single confused idea Hegel invented, and all of 'materialist dialectics', all of 'dialectical materialism', and all of 'systematic dialectics' (i.e., academic Hegelianism) -- root and branch, 100%.

I hope that is clear enough.

In fact I reject all of traditional philosophy as ruling-class clap trap.

Why I do this I will be detailing in an Essay to be published in the next month or so, but there is a summary of some of its main ideas here:

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%20016-12.htm

I have tired to argue that Marx moved away from this hermetic swamp all through his life, but as you can see, this is just a 'theory' of mine, for which there is good evidence, but it is not conclusive, as you can see from the above, and from other things I have written in my Essays.

It would greatly please me if it could be shown that Marx saw things as I do -- but my case against this mystical throw-back does not depend on Marx agreeing with me, nor vice versa.

My case against these ideas stands or falls on its own, but it would greatly affect the intellectual stature of Marx if it could be shown that he accepted these ideas.

Just as it affects that of Newton that he was into Hermeticism too.

Comrades might also like to see the dressing-down I have given Posey, here:

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/Poseur%20001.htm

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revol68
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May 18 2007 09:46
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I personally reject every single confused idea Hegel invented, and all of 'materialist dialectics', all of 'dialectical materialism', and all of 'systematic dialectics' (i.e., academic Hegelianism) -- root and branch, 100%.

see this part just shows what an utter cretin you are. Do you think philosophers just invent ideas, that they aren't adaptions, reworkings of previous ideas, problems etc?

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Joseph Kay
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May 18 2007 09:47
Rosa Lichenstein wrote:
Quite; what is correct in Hegel is the stuff he filched from Ferguson, Millar, Smith and Hume (and probably from Vico and Herder, too).

Marx was happy to return to that rational form of historical materialism, and to develop it, hence he needed nothing at all from Hegel.

Same with me.

Rosa Lichenstein wrote:
I reject all of traditional philosophy as ruling-class clap trap.

you're certainly managing to reject dialectics, the law of non-contradiction and the thoroughly bourgeois notion of coherency

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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May 18 2007 09:56
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Well, no -- he "coquetted" with these words (and only in a few places -- why not in every chapter?). This is not a ringing endorsement of that 'mighty' thinker. This he said after putting his praise for Hegel in the past tense, and after quoting a long passage from a reviewer in which no Hegelian terms are to be found, which Marx described as the 'dialectic method'.

I've explained to you why this was in the past tense several times: Marx is talking about a period of time that had since passed, in which it had become fashionable to slag off Hegel, and he is talking about a book that he wrote during that period. This is very, very simple. He 'even coquetted' with Hegelian terms, so sure was he of the merits of studying, learning and critqueing him. You ask "why not in every chapter"? Rosa, have you actually read Capital? Have you read volumes two and three? References to Hegel crop up throughout the text of each book, either explicitly ort implicitly. Do I have to list page numbers for you?

The passage from the critic, "in which no Hegelian terms are to be found", is clearly presented as an example of someone describing dialectical procedure without realising it: "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?" The point being made is that the critic is describing Marx's method comparatively accurately, and in so doing he is, according to Marx, describing "the dialectical method."

Now, according to you, because a dialectic can (allegedly) only be Hegelian or Hegelian influenced (you've defined neither) if it uses Hegelian catch phrases (which Hegel woudl himself dispute), the fact that this critic describes dialectical method without employing such buzz words means that it cannot be Hegelian or Hegelian influenced. This despite the strikingly obvious fact that this guy is pictured as "picturing...the dialectic method" without realising it. The simple point being made (as should be extremely obvious to anyone who isn't engaged in a deliberate misreading of an inconvenient truth found within what seems to them a religious text[) here is that the critic is describing a dialectic that is strikingly similar to Hegel's own, albeit 'materialist' rather than 'idealist.' As is abundantly clear from that section of text itself, and from the rest of the text.

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So, once more, you can only make your theory work if you ignore his actual words.

Now that's kind of ironic, isn;t it

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My theory has the merit of not doing that.

YEAH!

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Now, please do reply to my first question.
Done it, if this was it:...

Nope, reading skills are clearly not one of your virtues (although we know that already from the above): I'm asking you to define what a Hegelian dialectic is, and what you think Marx's dialectic to be. Someone who can become as animated as yourself about these issues must be able to summarise them clearly. As it now stands, your complaining about the poison of Hegelianism without explaining what's bad about it, and you're talking about Marx's 'dialectical method' whist shouting about how un-dialectical it is. Explain what you mean by these terms. "The only good thing about Hegel is he dropped dead" is a fairly childish response.

Quote:
What it says: Historical Materialism without the Hegel.

So what's that then? Don't point me to books; if you've read these books and assimilated them you shoudl be able to explain to us yourself. What is "Historical Materialism without the Hegel"?

Rosa Lichtenstein
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May 18 2007 11:08

Revol68:

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see this part just shows what an utter cretin you are. Do you think philosophers just invent ideas, that they aren't adaptions, reworkings of previous ideas, problems etc?

I congratulate you on trailing your pig ignorance once more for all the world to see.

There aren't many who would stick their short necks out like this -- and with such style!