Juan and BS

Juan Inigo jinigo at inscri.org.ar
Mon Jun 26 09:35:12 MDT 1995


Rahul Mahajan writes

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

Didn't I say Rahul is a pedant? Well, I must admit I actually said only
_maybe_ he is a pedant. But I said as well that whether he was one or not
was not the point. I said that alienated consciousness, alienation, is the
point concerning the acceptance of representation as the natural
(therefore, ahistorical) form of scientific cognition, vis a vis Marx's
discovery of the possibility of reproducing reality in thought. But Rahul
believes alienation is not a real form, a specifically determined social
form that we must face with our conscious action, but just an ad hominem
argument. My:

>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.

reads to him

>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.

Maybe Rahul is not even a pedant, after all. Maybe it is only just he
believes that the question about the scope of science comes down to some
sort of my-dad's-car-is-bigger-than-your-dad's-car argument. But, of
course, infantilism has a specific role to play concerning science as a
necessary concrete form of political action in capitalist society.

I will advance on the determinations of alienation in a separated post.
Nevertheless, had Rahul paid a little more attention to what I was saying,
he would have noticed that when I say

>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.

I am defining my own consciousness as a concrete form of alienated
consciousness. Then, what sense would make for me to use "alienated
consciousness" as an ad hominem argument? Does Rahul believe that everyone
else commit the self-defeating faux pas he performs when he tries to show
himself ingenious by playing with words in a puerile way?

Actually, Rahul shows he finds the relation of words with science to be
really troublesome. At first, the electron was something that can be
"described and understood to an incredible degree mathematically, but not
in words": next, he needed a lot of words to declare that this "incredible
degree" actually means for present-day physics not being able to account
for what the real forms it deals with actually are (their qualitative
determination) beyond naive Platonism; now,

>-- 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.

>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.

"it would certainly seem that ..."? "merely heuristics to aid our limited
intrinsic understanding of mathematics"? The regulation of human action
through the appropriation of reality by means of ideas either by logically
representing its necessity or by reproducing its necessity, science, takes
a specific shape according to the concrete form of real determination it
faces:

a) when it has to appropriate in thought the qualitative determination (the
self-affirming through self-negation - which obviously includes the real
development of qualitative determination itself into quantitative
determination (the self-affirming through the negation of self-negation) -
ideas take the form of words.

b) when it has to appropriate in thought the quantitative determination in
itself, the complete externality with which this determination manifests
itself in its concrete forms allows ideas to take a shape where the
qualitative content of words has been placed in a corresponding external
way, mathematical formulae.

Even in the construction of the representation of quantitative
determination in itself, mathematics, _unlimited_ "intrinsic understanding
of mathematics" (sic) needs to take shape through words to deal with the
quality of the concrete forms of quantity. These words are not "merely
heuristics to aid etc." but the necessary form that mathematics itself
takes.

Rahul really enjoys covering the limitations of the scope of scientific
theory that arise from representing reality through the relations of
measure of its concrete forms, by resorting to  ambiguous words. If my

>"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."

is mistaken, it would have been very easy for Rahul to answer it, either
conceptually by explaining what form do theoretical laws take or, at least,
by giving a concrete example. Instead, he preferred his usual ambiguity, of
course with his equally usual dressing of pedantic assertions and ad
hominem arguments:

>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.

Still, at the end of his post, he changes his mind and says

>-- 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.

"Any representation you care to name" is exactly the point: hasn't Rahul
understood yet that the discussion is around _representing_ in thought
through a mental necessity, a logic, the appearances that real forms
present to an analysis based on their repetition versus _reproducing_ in
thought the development of the real necessity starting from an analysis
that advances by searching for the simplest form taken by this necessity?

Rahul also has shown to enjoy the post-modern-fashioned trick, that
attempts at hiding one's ambiguity by calling it "uncertainty" and claiming
_anyone that disagrees with this dogma is a dogmatic_ . And he adds to the
confusion by imputing me intentions towards turning philosophy into
something other than down, when all the discussion started around my
questioning of philosophy for unavoidably being an alienated form of
consciousness:

>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.

Post-modernism ("brain damage suborned by reactionary capitalism" in
Rahul's words) avoids facing the historical nature of the specific
limitations of scientific theory by exhibiting this ambiguity as the non
plus ultra that "non-dogmatic" science can reach; it only quits uncertainty
to assert with absolute certainty that theoretical ambiguity is the form
that science has by nature. Rahul only differs from Post-modernism at this
point in that, to assert that scientific representation is not an
historical specific form of science but the form that science has by
nature, he resorts to yet a further ambiguity: he "would venture to guess
that the question of understanding in scientific theories has not been
adequately addressed to date."

Beyond circumstantially venturing to guess, does Rahul actually take any
action to adequately address the obviously fundamental problem of
understanding in scientific theories? Has he reached any concrete result?
Or does he go on doing his science without being really bothered by the
fact that, at the same time, he accepts he does not know if he understands
reality or not beyond "naive Platonism"? And since the latter is a quite
popular point of view inside the scientific community, why does the
situation remain still untouched while the accurate measurement of natural
real forms advances incessantly? Is it a _natural_ or a _social_ necessity
that makes this happen?

>From Marx on, it is no secret that present-day natural science is not
produced as an abstract creation of human mind, but as a concrete form
taken by capital to reproduce itself. Natural science has developed its
immense capacity for measuring real forms as the concrete form taken by the
accumulation of capital through the development of the productivity of
labor to satisfy capital's always renovated thirst for relative
surplus-value. Now, how could the fact that natural science has left "the
question of understanding" to "scientists' naive Platonism" be not a
concrete form of capital? Or should it be apologetically concluded that the
empowerment of science to transform nature is a concrete form of capital
but that the shortcomings of this same science are not determined by
capital?

But even the latter is too much for Rahul. To my

>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?)

he only knows to answer

>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.

and he adds

> What relevance does the alienation of human potencies have
>to scientific cognition?

In Rahul's world made of abstractions, capital is not the general social
relation in contemporary society, the general regulator of present-day
social life (and therefore, a purely social form), but "the material
conditions of society." The concrete determination of science as a specific
form of capital, comes down to being "tied up ... in certain ways (often
not direct)." Consequently, he believes that addressing the question of the
form that scientific consciousness takes today has nothing to do with the
alienation of human consciousness in capital. According to Rahul, the
concrete historical determination of present-day science, the alienated
scientific consciousness, floats somewhere in an "unexceptionable"
ideological nebula, while _actual_ science has its form just determined by
nature, and scientific consciousness is a free consciousness that today
stops in "naive Platonism" by nature.

Is there any specificity in science that prevents this conception of
science from being another apologetics of the social forms inherent in
capital as natural, therefore eternal, forms? On the contrary: since
science is the concrete form that the general conscious regulation of
social life, socialism, necessarily takes, the apologetics of capital
specifically need to present the form that science has as a concrete form
of capital as if it were the eternal form of scientific cognition.

Since I have explicitly pointed out that science is the necessary concrete
form of the general conscious regulation of social life starting from my
very first post on the question, the "only" that Rahul introduces in front
of my "a concrete form of the capitalist regulation of human life" and
_hypothetically_ attributes to me, is just an infantile trick to empty the
discussion. The (at this stage not even original) "Bullshit walking,
meaningless posts, etc.", are another. The only new thing is that Rahul
manages to exhibit his impotence concerning rational arguments even in the
_subject_ line.

Actually, Rahul wants to make completely clear he does not understand a
word concerning what the current discussion is about. After declearing

>To my surprise, I find that I do understand what you're trying to say here.
>It's nonsense.

he gets to ask now

> Who ever said scientific cognition stops at
>appearnaces? (It doesn't.)

when I have started by pointing out that:

>Scientific theories attempt to appropriate the real causality by
>representing it in thought. As its very name attests, a representation
>mentally takes the real forms as they present themselves (therefore, by
>their exteriority) and then places them in a relation that has no other
>necessity than a mentally conceived one. The real necessity itself has been
>taken by the appearance it presents and, on this basis, represented: it has
>been turned into a logic.

He gets to ask now

>What does "only interpret reality" mean?

when I have started by pointing out that:

>Of course, it is always possible for more than one mental necessity to fit
>between the externality of the same real forms. So this sort of mental
>construction has no other relationship with the real forms it deals with
>than being one of their possible interpretations on a logical basis. And as
>far as an interpretation of reality comes in, the corresponding real
>necessity remains beyond cognition's scope.

And he gets to ask now

>What
>else should science possibly do?

when I have started by pointing out that:

>Marx opposes to representation and interpretation a new form of scientific
>cognition that overcomes their externality with respect to the real forms.
>Instead of ideally taking this real forms by their externality, to
>represent them by relating them according to an ideal necessity, he
>discovers the possibility of ideally following the development of the real
>necessity itself: "the reproduction of the concrete through the path of
>thought." Logic, the mental necessity needed to scientifically represent
>the real forms, must leave its place to the reproduction in thought of the
>real necessity that determines each concrete form. Turning dialectics right
>side up imports a methodological change that goes far beyond putting
>"matter" were Hegel says "idea."

And this Rahul that cannot stop making evident that he only knows to
condemn in his infantile way what he does not understand, is of course the
same pedant that enjoys presenting himself as the champion of "seriousness"
in science!

Some time ago Ralph Dumain claimed that my ideas "must be stopped". Now
Rahul brings down the question to a "dismiss". They personify the social
necessity of accepting that the methodological form taken by science as a
concrete form of the alienated consciousness that sees itself as an
abstractly free consciousness must be its natural form, to the extreme of
preferring not even to be faced with the dialectical critique of the forms
of science as an historical product.

In what personally concerns me, my ideas have gone through, and actually
were developed under, much tougher attempts to stop or dismiss them than
the abstract declaration of someone's impotence to rationally deal with
them. So to your "dismiss", Rahul: un carajo!

Juan Inigo
jinigo at inscri.org.ar



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