Juan and BS

Rahul Mahajan rahul at hagar.ph.utexas.edu
Tue Jun 20 23:53:45 MDT 1995


Juan, I said it takes brain damage to understand you because most of your
sentences are utterly meaningless -- they suffer from a lack of ability to
define terms (not merely a lack of definition) and a lack of logical
connections, not to mention a complete lack of concrete examples. I was
willing to give you the benefit of the doubt as to whether your actual
views, rather than the expression of them, were meaningful, although
Ralph's analysis of them is probably accurate.

You seem to have a problem with the distinction between necessary and
sufficient -- what I actually said was that words are insufficient to
describe reality, that you need to understand some mathematical formalism.
On the other hand, it would certainly seem that words are necessary,
although the mathematical basis can obviate the ambiguity inherent in
words.


>But no words needed to really explain what the electron is? Only
>mathematical formulae? Rahul can be telling us one of the following two: a)
>that present-day physics is unable to account for the qualitative
>determinations of the real form it represents as the electron beyond the
>relations of measure it constructs concerning it; b) that the real form in
>question lacks any qualitative determination that deserves to fall inside
>scientific scope other than the quantitative manifestations of that
>quality. Whichever the case, Rahul is just uncritically presenting as a
>natural condition of scientific cognition what I have critically presented
>as a clear manifestation of the limitations scientific cognition suffers
>under its current form:

You are uncritically using the phrase "real form" like a naive Platonist.
The mathematics implies qualitative results -- obviously, they need to be
expressed in words, but qualitative results are merely heuristics to aid
our limited intrinsic understanding of mathematics.

>"Under its present form, science can know the measure of almost all natural
>phenomena, no matter how big or small. But it only knows to give as the
>cause of phenomena the very form in which phenomena manifest themselves.
>... Today, the point has been reached where science appears to account for
>the cause of phenomena just by representing as such the relations of
>measure phenomena present. Any question about causality that attempts to go
>beyond this appearance is immediately declared a "metaphysical" question,
>and consequently, of an unscientific nature, that must be confined in a
>philosophical nebula."

Once again, an uncritical and meaningless use of the word "form." If I
attempt to makes sense of the sentence about determination of cause, it is
simply untrue -- in many areas, the cause found is on a vastly different
epistemological level than the effect. If you knew anything about science,
instead of writing nonsense of the top of your (or, most likely, someone
else's), you would know that.


>Now Rahul steps back to openly contradict himself: where no words were
>needed to completely understand the electron, suddenly he must resort to a
>lot of words just to admit that there must be some causality beyond the
>quantitative appearances reflected by the models that represent reality
>through the relations of measure of its concrete forms, and that, at best,
>this science can only account for that real causality by resorting to, you
>can bet, "naive concepts":

Nonsense. I had to resort to that lot of words primarily because I'm
talking to people unfamiliar with the mathematical formalism of physics


>According to Rahul, all the determinations involved in the current
>situation of the science he describes come down to "in our guts we thought
>of physics", "Deep, deep down, almost below the level of rational
>introspection, most physicists are (naive) Platonists -- those equations
>really mean something, dammit". "the feeling that we _understand_ things
>persists", "there are the practical answers", "it still leaves us very iffy
>on the basic question of what it means to say this is the law of
>gravitation", "I would venture to guess", "the feeling about such matters
>that physicists and other scientists have is not totally absurd", etc..

Sorry, Juan. In fundamental questions, there is still uncertainty. Of
course, if you want to turn philosophy into a religion, you are well
qualified to be its oracle -- I've never communicated with anyone so
delphic.

>Where have all the determinations of science as a concrete form of the
>capitalist regulation of human life gone in Rahul's lamentation formed by a
>litany of abstractions? (or are they just "naive concepts", Rahul?)

I wasn't addressing that question. The fact that science is tied up with
the material conditions of society in certain ways (often not direct) is
unexceptionable, but I wasn't addressing it. If you think science is only a
"concrete form of the capitalist regulation of human life", you are full of
it.

>Is it brain damage? Is it the other face of Rahul's serious-physicists-only
>pedantic stupidity? Maybe, but this is not the point. The point is that,
>obviously, alienation is one of those real things that stand beyond the
>reach of the type of science he practices and, therefore, beyond the reach
>of his consciousness, while his consciousness falls quite inside the reach
>of alienation.

You condemn ad hominem arguments? Gee, Juan, everything about physics
(Einstein field equation, Schrodinger equation, statistical mechanics, ...)
lies beyond the reach of your discipline and most definitely beyond yours.

>"Is science condemned forever, either because it must have by nature the
>form of a representation or because the nature of its object, to this
>limited scope? Or is it that the alienation of human potencies as potencies
>of the materialized general social relation in present-day society, i.e.,
>the alienation of human potencies as capital's potencies, needs to take
>concrete form in a scientific cognition that stops in appearances and,
>therefore, that can only interpret reality? Not in vain, to produce
>relative surplus-value capital needs to submit all production and
>consumption to science but, at the same time, it needs to preserve the
>appearances that are inherent in the fetishist general social relation."

To my surprise, I find that I do understand what you're trying to say here.
It's nonsense. What relevance does the alienation of human potencies have
to scientific cognition? Who ever said scientific cognition stops at
appearnaces? (It doesn't.) What does "only interpret reality" mean? What
else should science possibly do?

>If Rahul faces this task, he may well come to discover that the clue to his
>
>>...I would like to see someone tell me how my political
>>beliefs will affect my understanding of heterotic string theory.
>
>precisely resides in his acceptance of "heterotic string theory" as the
>ultimate scientific cognition that is needed to face the conscious
>transformation of the simplest forms of matter, while at the same time he
>declares that "I definitely do not believe that mathematical formalism,
>agreement with current experimental data, and predictive power are all that
>is necessary for a physical theory." This is a doubly uncritical
>acceptance: Rahul accepts both contradictory points of view without feeling
>any urgency to face as a scientist how his self-incoherence necessarily
>emerges from the form itself that science currently takes today as a
>_representation_ of reality. But to discover _representation_ as an
>historical form and not as the "natural" form of science, one must start by
>following the real determinations of one's own consciousness, until
>discovering it as the concrete form of alienated consciousness (therefore
>the negation of free consciousness) that, as such, has become determined as
>the negation of the negation of free consciousness.

Bullshit walking. You're repeating earlier meaningless posts.

>By the way, before Rahul's posts, I was going to propose a discussion about
>"gravitation"...

Let me lay it out for you as simply as is possible:

1. The phenomenon we experience as "gravitational force" occurs because of
the curvature of space.
2. The curvature of space is determined by the energy density as a function
of position.

If you think that being able to discover such highly nontrivial and
nonobvious connections between spacetime and matter is too limiting for
you, sorry. By the way, your business about

>scientific representation of reality can only give as the cause of
>phenomena the very forms that phenomena take by representing them through
>the relations of measure of their concrete forms.

ignores the obvious point that the phrase "forms that phenomena take" is
not intrinsically meaningful -- we give our description a certain form and
sometimes when we can make a connection say that that form implies a cause.
This is exactly like working out causal explanations in any representation
you care to name.

By the way, Juan, one last conceptual error -- in my earlier post, I was
not criticizing your "ideas," I was dismissing them.

Rahul




     --- from list marxism at lists.village.virginia.edu ---

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



More information about the Marxism mailing list