To those requesting copy of paper on dial. contradictions

marquit at marquit at
Thu Jun 29 08:10:37 MDT 1995

(This has not yet been published. It is supposed to be in a
commerative for Professor Azaria Polikarov of Bulgaria, and
should have been out about three years ago, but to my knowledge
has not yet appeared.)

                           AND SOCIETY

         Erwin Marquit, School of Physics and Astronomy,
                University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

   Scientific activity represents the dialectical unity of theory
and practice. One aspect of this activity is the theoretical
description of the structural development of material systems (in
the social, biological and physical spheres). This, of course,
includes the investigation of the laws governing the motion and
development of the system on specific levels of organization. In
their intensive research activities, scientists often introduce
fundamental concepts intuitively, without the conscious
appreciation of their dialectical nature. This paper will explore
the various ways in which dialectical oppositions form the basis
for the existence of structures and the processes of development
which these structures undergo. Familiarity with the various ways
in which contradictions enter into the stability and development
of material systems can serve as an important methodolgical tool
for further scientific investigation. To discuss contradictions
as a source of structure and development, it will be useful to
start with a few comments about the relationships expressed by
the term structure. According to Hoerz et al., by structure we
understand the totality of essential and nonessential, general
and particular, necessary and contingent relations among the
elements of a system in a definite interval of time.1 The term
structure is generally used to denote the stable aspect of a
system. The stability is always relative, determined by the time
interval over which the system's elements and relations show no
significant qualitative change.2
   The formulation of Hoerz et al. is by no means exhaustive, as
is the case with any statement about philosophical categories.
For example, there is a hierarchical aspect implicit in every
material structure, and the theoretical description of structures
must also embrace this aspect. However, analysis must start at
some level of organization and integration of a material system,
so that we can include among "elements" the various
hierarchically organized substructures. Then we can say that
systems are characterized by the complex of elements and the
relations among them. Thus, fundamental to the characterization
of a system is the characterization of its elements and the
relations among them. The elements and relations are examined
first in terms appropriate to a given level. The connections to
higher and lower levels of organization then also have to be
examined to extract the fuller essence of the relations.
      The need to examine the dialectical interconnections that
unite elements and relations is readily seen when one tries to
probe the content of fundamental concepts.
   In Newtonian mechanics, the principal set of elements to which
the laws of motion refer are approximations of physical bodies;
in particular, they are point masses (or mass points). This
reduction of physical bodies to point masses was not postulated
explicitly by Newton, but follows from his laws of motion.
Newton's first law (the law of inertia) did not allow for a body
wobbling or twisting as it underwent inertial motion. Newton's
law of inertia postulates certain space and time relations for
these bodies. Newton accepted the apriori existence of absolute
space and time independently of these bodies or elements. We know
today that these postulations about space and time are devoid of
physical content. Nevertheless, Newton's laws of motion were of
great scientific importance and are still an adequate
representation of the behavior of physical systems for a wide
range of practical situations. Therefore the space and time of
Newtonian mechanics must have had a physical content that had not
been recognized by Newton. Since these laws involve the concepts
of space and time, which cannot have an apriori meaning, the
physical basis of these concepts is established by the manner in
which they enter the laws and the way the laws appropriate the
properties of the physical world. In other words, the nature of
the elements of a system and the relations among them cannot at
all be embraced independently of one another. When we say that
"a" stands in some relation to "b" (symbolically aRb), we are
introducing two "objects," the elements and the relations,
neither of which can arise as concepts independently, that is,
without one another. Elements are distinct from relations; the
generalization elements cannot be made without the existence of
relations too. The existence of elements is conditioned by the
existence of relations and conversely. Elements and relations are
therefore mutually exclusive and mutually conditioning. Hence
they constitute a dialectical unity. This unity arises on both
the logical and material levels. The deeper logical and material
content of the elements and the relations is expressed through
the laws that embrace them. The fundamental laws of the natural
and social sciences bring out the material content of the
elements and relations when the laws are associated structurally
with material systems in nature and society.
   Consider, for example, the physical property mass. In Newton's
laws the magnitude of the mass is specified as the relationship
between the force and the acceleration that results from the
application of that force; but force, in turn, is that which
causes a change in velocity.3 Accelerated motion is thus placed
in contrast with inertial (unaccelerated) motion, neither of
which can be comprehended without the other, nor independently of
the concepts of force and mass. Mass, therefore, enters Newtonian
mechanics in the form of a dialectical unity of accelerated and
unaccelerated motion as expressed in the first law (law of
inertia) and the second law (force equals the product of mass and
acceleration). Mass, force, uniform motion, and accelerated
   motion are thus found to be specialized categories of mechanics,
and, as is the case with all philosophical categories, none of
them can be defined independently of the other categories. As
categories, these physical concepts and properties can only be
understood through their mutually conditioned and mutually
exclusive relationships to one another, which are disclosed in
the process of investigation of the laws embracing them--and
these laws not only embrace them, but arise together with them.
In the case of mechanics, it was only after the discovery of non-
Euclidean geometry by Lobachevsky that it became apparent that
Newton's apriori notions of space and time had to be abandoned,
and, as Riemann's work suggested, a physical basis for
establishing an appropriate geometry is needed. Newtonian
mechanics was a logically consistent theory because Newton,
unknowingly give us the physical basis for a straight line,
namely, a straight line is the trajectory of produced by inertial
motion.4 To the extent that Newtonian mechanics is an adequate
approximation of physical reality, this criteria of straightness
is also adequate. We have here an example of the deeply
dialectical content of Newton's laws, though Newton, despite his
genius, was unable to recognize this content.
   In political economy, Marx unraveled the mystery of the
exchange value of a commodity. Here we have a case in which
dialectical thinking was consciously applied in research and the
clarity that resulted from this consciously dialectical approach
is so remarkable that Marx's Capital is still regarded as
contemporary, and not simply historic, scientific literature.
According to the law of value discovered by Marx, the exchange
value of a commodity is determined by the socially necessary
labor time embodied in its production. Marx pointed out that
while a commodity is a product of the concrete labor of its
producer, this concrete labor "ranks as, and is directly
identified with, undifferentiated human labour" and it therefore
ranks identical with any other sort of labor.

    Consequently, although, like all other commodity-producing
    labour it is the labour of private individuals, yet at the
    same time, it ranks as labour directly social in character. .
    . . The labour of private individuals takes the form of its
    opposite, labour directly social in form.5

   The exchange value of a commodity finds its quantitative
expression through the law of value. Its qualitative side finds
expression both through the law of value and through its
dialectical opposite, use value, without which no object can be a
commodity. A commodity is produced because it can be exchanged.
It is exchanged for other commodities because of its use value.
In Marx's words: "use value becomes the form of manifestation,
the phenomenal form of its opposite exchange value."6 At this
stage of his exposition, Marx had not yet come to the discussion
of the relationship between price and value. Actually it is not
value, but price that is the phenomenal expression of exchange
value. While price can be measured directly--by direct
   observation of the marketplace--exchange value, which, in
general, is different from price, cannot be measured directly.
   What is being said here is in sharp contrast with various
empiricist views which assert that fundamental properties are
first established by observation (for example, in the form of
operational definitions denoting the procedures by which the
observation is to be carried out) and that the laws describing
the relationships among these properties are then established by
further observation and theoretical deduction.
   At the basis of the usual logical structure of a hypothetico-
deductive system is the postulation of the existence of elements
and categories of relations among them. These are the fundamental
notions or concepts of the system. The elements and relations are
then combined in more specific form as axioms (or laws) from
which the theorems are derived. When we are dealing with
objectively existing material systems, or generalizations of
them, the elements, relations, and axioms are not the result of
arbitrary mental activity, but are reflections of the material
characteristics of the system. Although in the logical structure
of the system, the elements, relations, and the axioms embracing
them form a hierarchy in that order, ontologically and
epistemologically they are mutually conditioning, as our examples
have shown, and therefore they arise together, as if lifting
themselves together by a common bootstrap, rather than arising
one after the other. Moreover, as we pass from one level to
another, elements can go over into their dialectical opposites--
relations--just as relations can pass over into elements.7 For
example, in physics the field concept was introduced to describe
a relationship between an object and the space in which it is
located. Thus an electric field represents the force on a charged
particle at a given spatial position. On another level, the field
acquires all the attributes of physical matter: mass, momentum,
relative localization, and so on, that is, it becomes a physical
object. The recognition that categories become transformed into
their opposites as we go from one structural level to another is
essential for the recognition of hierarchical structure of
systems. The role played by the economic basis of society in
Marx's basic law of social development cannot be understood
without this recognition. Thus the level of development of the
forces of production is the essential content of the stage of
development of a given socioeconomic formation. The relations of
production represent the form in which this content is put to
work. This form, however, becomes the content in relation to the
superstructure, the latter being the form in which the relations
of production are maintained relatively stable as the productive
forces develop. Marx used the term economic basis of society to
distinguish the different categorical role of the relations of
production in relation to the superstructure from their role in
relation to the forces of production.
   With this brief discussion about the role of dialectical
processes in the emergence of fundamental concepts associated
with a system (or its reflection in theory) we can now proceed to
questions related to stability and development. In particular, we
   shall consider the role of contradictions in the moments of
motion, stability, growth, and transformation of a system.
   At first glance, it might seem that stability should precede
motion in this discussion. It can be argued, however, that
stability is subsumed under the concept of law-governed change
(motion), just as rest in Newtonian mechanics is subsumed under
the concept of uniform motion (constant velocity). Therefore
stability and motion are not properly a set of objectively
occurring dialectical opposites when we are dealing with the
overall process of development. On the other hand, at a
particular stage in the development of the system, stability and
change do confront each other as opposites and their
interpenetration must be examined dialectically.
   In his Physics, Aristotle expressed motion in its most general
terms as the realization of the potential, that is, as the
dialectical transition of the potential into the actual. Motion
is thus seen in two different dialectical aspects: as the
transition from a potential state of being into an actual state
and as the passage from one state of being into another state of
being. The latter can also be formulated as the leaving of one
state and the entering into another. Here we face a new
opposition, one between the existence of states and the
transition between them. Fundamental to the dialectical world
view is the recognition that everything is in a continuing state
of flux. Thus the dialectical view gives primacy to motion, that
is, to transition, and looks upon states as being of a transitory
nature. The dialectical view allows us to deal conceptually with
the transitions between discretely separated states and still
preserve the continuity of motion (for example, in the case of
the radioactive decay of one isotope into another).8 The
dialectical view contrasts sharply with the reductionist
description of motion as a succession of states of rest,9 the
view, for example, held by Russell in his solution of Zeno's
paradox of the arrow. For the mathematization of certain motions,
for example, simple change of position in space, a view that
reduces motion to a succession of positions (in essence, a
succession of states of rest), gave us a powerful tool for the
further study of motion of mechanical systems, but the
recognition of its approximate character forced itself upon us as
we descended into the microworld, where the quantum-mechanical
representation of motion became necessary. The nature of the
approximation embodied in motion as a succession of states of
rest was, in effect, pointed out by Hegel when he wrote:

    The difficulty is to overcome thought, for what makes the
    difficulty is always thought alone, since it keeps apart the
    moments of an object which in their separation are really


      The stability of a system is both absolute and relative, just
as the boundary of a system is both relative and absolute. A
system can be considered stable even when essential qualitative
changes take place within it. In other words, some aspects of a
system can remain stable while other aspects undergo
transformation. A given chemical atom maintains its integrity
even while taking part in various chemical reactions. A family
retains its identity even with the birth and death of some of its
members. The concept system is meaningless without the relative
and absolute characters of the stability and boundaries of the
system. If the relations among elements of the system had no
stability whatsoever then the elements would not have any
relationship to one another at all, and one would be left with
pure chaos--that is, elements without interconnections, the
existence of which would violate the basic dialectical-
materialist principle of universal interconnection.
   Stability is characterized by the essential structural
elements remaining in qualitatively constant relations. The
relative constancy of the relationship is what makes reduction
possible as an approximation, that is, the separation of the
system into parts for more detailed study. Every interconnection
implies a relative separateness, for the very term
interconnection denotes a bond between things that are separate.
The nucleus of a cell has a stable relationship to the rest of
the cell and, as a result, its characteristics can be studied, in
part, separately from the cell as a whole. At the same time, a
deeper comprehension of the nucleus requires restoration of its
bonds with the rest of the cell so that its function in relation
to the entire cell can be understood. The qualitative constancy
of the relations does not imply quantitative constancy. Systems
can have stability with or without quantitative change or
relative motion.
   Systems that are stable without qualitative change are often
said to be in equilibrium. Such equilibrium can have a relatively
static character, such as a weight hanging motionless at the end
of a spring. The sharing of state power by groups of finance
capital in a given country, despite the conflict of interest
among them, takes on the character of a static equilibrium over
certain periods of time. Another type of equilibrium involves an
oscillatory motion, such as a weight bobbing up and down at the
end of a spring. Here we are dealing with motion without any
qualitative change. It is not usual to characterize oscillatory
motion as a state of equilibrium, but it is intermediate between
static equilibrium and dynamic equilibrium. The latter occurs,
for example, in the case of the population of a country when the
number of deaths equals the number of births in, say, one year.
   Any system which repeatedly passes through the same state
cannot be considered as undergoing growth or development over a
period that goes beyond one cycle. Thus, concepts of qualitative
change, growth, and development can have a relative character. In
the life cycle of plants, the seeds germinate, the stalks grow,
flower, and produce new seeds, yet without genetic change, we
cannot speak of qualitative change (assuming constant
environmental conditions) from generation to generation.
      Since systems are always confronted by some state of motion,
externally and internally, stability can never be understood in
isolation from change, but must be comprehended as stability in
face of change. The stability of a system has to be investigated
by considering the opposite tendencies at work that give rise to
the stability while tending to disrupt it. In fact, a frequently
used method to investigate the stability of a system is to
introduce a disturbance and examine its consequence. In the
absence of qualitative change, the result is often an
oscillation, which is another reason for considering an
oscillating system to be in equilibrium.
   In the general case, the condition of equilibrium resulting in
stability is generally not an equal balance of opposites in every
sense. It is not unusual for one tendency to play the
qualitatively decisive role, even though the quantitative
equality necessary for equilibrium implies a qualitative equality
in some sense. For example, in the case of a mass suspended
motionless from the end of a spring the active role in
establishing the equilibrium is the force of gravity pulling
downward on the mass, while the opposing tendency is the elastic
force upward that arises from the stretching of the spring. As
mechanical forces, both tendencies are quantitatively and
qualitatively equal, while as elastic and gravitational forces
they are qualitatively different. The possibility of a dominance
of one tendency in an equilibrium situation is strikingly clear
when one considers the capitalist socioeconomic formation. The
dominance of the capitalist class over the working class in the
superstructure ensures the relative stability of the capitalist
relations of production. It may be argued that this latter
illustration is not a suitable one, since we are in reality
dealing with a system undergoing development. However, the fact
that the system is undergoing development does not imply the
absence of equilibria responsible for stability. We have already
stressed that some aspects of every system remain stable as the
system changes; otherwise there would be no sense in speaking
about structure.


   In considering the growth of a system we can immediately
discern two characteristic situations. In the first we are
dealing with a system in which the relative strength of the
principal contradictions that ultimately constitute the basis for
the existence of the system changes quantitatively with a general
unidirectional tendency. Hydrogen and helium stand in opposition
to each other in the process of thermonuclear combustion that
occurs in the sun. The hydrogen fuel is consumed in the
production of helium. The combustion process results in the
release of radiative energy, which exerts sufficient outward
pressure to prevent the inward collapse of the sun under the
influence of the gravitational forces. In the maintenance of this
equilibrium, the hydrogen is steadily depleted until a point is
   reached where the attractive gravitational forces become stronger
than the repulsive forces and the system rapidly collapses--that
is, it undergoes a rapid qualitative transformation.
   The unidirectional character of growth processes is also
relative and one or more reversals are possible at various stages
of development. For example, in the case of the formation of the
sun, the gravitational forces are believed responsible for the
initial accretion of hydrogen in sufficient quantity for the
thermonuclear combustion process to begin. Similarly, the
accumulation of capital provides the material basis for the use
of force by a capitalist state to preserve capitalist relations
of production in the face of the resistance of workers to these
relations. As capital accumulates, the relative strength of the
working class also undergoes change and eventually becomes
powerful enough to effect a change in the relations of production
despite the zig-zags in the course of historical development and
fluctuations in the relative strength of contradictions.
Superimposed over these fluctuations are law-governed tendencies
of quantitative changes that arise from the character of
development of the system. These are the changes that lead to
qualitative transformation of the system.
   A second situation arises in which a secondary contradiction
grows quantitatively to the point where it comes into conflict
with the primary contradiction. In this case the further
development of the system takes place as a result of the
quantitative development of the new struggle of opposites. Under
feudalism, the principal contradiction was between feudal lord
and serf. It was not, however, the superior strength of the serfs
in Europe that led to the breakup of the feudal order, but the
strength of the growing capitalist sector, which, in turn, came
into class conflict with the feudal sector. The alliance between
the bourgeoisie, working class, and the feudal peasantry under
the leadership of the bourgeoisie increased the strength of the
antifeudal forces to the point where successful revolutions
against feudalism were possible.
   In the formation of the chemical molecules the principal
opposition arises between the negative charge of the electrons
and the positive charge of the nucleus, mediated by the laws of
quantum mechanics. Moving electric charges always give rise to
magnetic fields, but these magnetic fields play a minor role in
determining the structure of the lighter chemical atoms and
molecules. As we build up atoms of increasing complexity we reach
a stage where the magnetic interactions resulting from certain
electron configurations in the atoms become strong enough to be
decisive for the molecular structures formed from the atoms. In
other words, the interactions between opposite electric charges
give rise to interactions between opposite magnetic polarities.
These latter can grow in significance and finally dominate the
behavior of the molecular system.


      Quantitative changes in processes of growth eventually lead to
qualitative changes. In fact, any quantitative change is capable
of producing a qualitative change. For example, a control system
with a sufficiently sensitive detector can be triggered to
produce a certain sequence of events that change the quality of
systems for any arbitrarily chosen quantitative change. Every
qualitative change is a negation of the previous state, that is,
what existed before exists no longer. Yet since we are not
dealing with pure chaos, there remains some connection between
the old and new states. In other words, a thread of continuity
unites the old with the new. We thus have a system transformed,
that is, some degree of integrity is preserved--we can then
identify two moments of the system--while its quality is negated.
Hegel used the German term aufheben to describe this process of
dialectical negation. In English we generally translate this as
sublate, which in its Latin origin denotes both lift up and take
away or annul, as does the German expression aufheben.
   Every qualitative change, therefore, has the character of
sublation. The character of the negation can, of course, be quite
different from case to case. As we go from the level of a gas as
a system of molecules to the thermodynamical level, we go from a
discrete structure to that of a continuous medium. The physical
processes responsible for this transition are, of course, the
proper subject matter of physics.
   In the transition from capitalism to socialism the dominance
of the bourgeoisie over the working class is negated by the
dominance of the working class over the bourgeoisie. The
relations of domination and subordination are replaced by
relations of cooperation and mutual assistance, again a clear
negation into opposites. On the other hand, in the transition
from feudalism to capitalism the relations of domination and
subordination persist, since this transition is between one form
of exploitative relations of production and another.
   It is not always the quantitative changes associated with one
side of the principal contradiction characterizing a system
during its entire existence that determine the further course of
development. New contradictions can emerge and grow in
significance, as we have already discussed in connection with the
transition from feudalism to capitalism. What is obviously
involved here is a change in the identity of the principal
contradiction--from that between lord and serf to that between
the capitalist mode of production and the feudal mode of
production. The former contraction remains important for the
characterization and very existence of the socioeconomic
formation, but it is no longer the contradiction that determines
the nature of the qualitative changes that will follow.
   For this reason, the law of spiral development cannot be
considered to be a unique consequence of the law of the negation
of the negation. The negation of the negation does not always
lead to the reappearance on a higher level of characteristics
that occurred previously. The nonexploitative relations of
production in early communal societies were indeed negated by the
emergence of exploitative relations of production. With the
   transition to socialism the nonexploitative relations emerge on a
higher level. Here we are dealing with spiral development. This
does not mean, however, that society is then doomed to the
reemergence of exploitative relations. With the vanishing of the
exploitative relations on a level of high technological
development, the basis is laid for the vanishing of the very
institution of private property. Although relations between
people will continue to develop new forms, these developments
will not involve property relations as such.
   The reemergence of previously occurring characteristics cannot
be asserted as a general philosophical principle. Whether or not
such reemergence occurs must be investigated within the
individual sciences. This is what Marx did when he investigated
the process of transition from capitalism to socialism, the
results of which he then cited in his well-known passage in

    Centralisation of the means of production and socialisation
    of labour at last reach a point where they become
    incompatible with their capitalist integument. This
    integument is burst asunder. The knell of private property
    sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.
       The capitalist mode of appropriation, the result of the
    capitalist mode of production, produces capitalist private
    property. This is the first negation of individual private
    property, as founded on the labour of the proprietor. But
    capitalist production begets, with the inexoribility of a law
    of Nature, its own negation. It is the negation of the

   As another example of a succession of negations, let us
consider the cooling of a gas, first, to the liquid phase and
then further cooling until it forms a solid. In the first phase,
the gas phase, the individual molecules interact with each other
during the brief moments of collision and otherwise move about
independently of one another, although, as a whole, they are
affected by the results of the numerous collisions in the sense
that the energy is distributed among the molecules in accordance
with well-known statistical laws. In the liquid phase the
interaction with neighboring molecules dominates the physical
behavior of the system, negating the relative independence of the
molecules of the gaseous phase. However, the molecules are not
constrained to a fixed range of spatial relationships with their
neighbors, and neighbors continually change partners. In the
solid phase the behavior is still largely conditioned by the
interaction with neighbors, but the freedom of motion relative to
the neighbors is negated and replaced by fixed spatial
relationships to neighbors. The invoking of spiral development
here is not appropriate.
   What then is the significance of the concept of spiral
development in connection with the law of the negation of the
negation? The concept of spiral development is a means of
stressing that in the process of development of a system, certain
   essential characteristics, including the principal
contradictions, can reappear, but this reappearance does not
indicate a circular process, but a process of progressive
development in which the characteristic features of the system
reemerge on a qualitatively different level. The law of the
negation of the negation is the assertion of directional, that
is, progressive, development. Spiral development, on the other
and describes some processes, but does not have universal
applicability and therefore should not be considered to be a law.
   Processes of qualitative change have minor, as well as major,
consequences for the system as a whole. A qualitative change can
even result in the necessity for a redefinition of the system.
   A geological formation in a plain can grow and become, for
example, a mountain range. Another formation can grow and then
later erode, literally vanishing as a system in the rain and
wind. Both processes are forms of dialectical negation. In the
latter case, however, the boundaries of the system require
modification if the continuing progress of development is to be
followed. One part of the eroded formation, for example, could
have been transformed into sediment in a riverbed and another
part into desert sand, each, in turn, entering new geological
systems. A proton and antiproton can give rise to the atom-like
system called protonium. But instead of being stable like the
hydrogen atom formed by a proton and an electron, this system is
very short-lived, for in some fraction of a second the proton and
antiproton annihilate each other and the products of the
annihilation are radiated in different directions. Although the
law of conservation of energy is not violated in the process, so
that the energy of the system before annihilation is equal to the
energy of the system immediately after annihilation, it makes no
sense to speak of a system once the products of the annihilation
are absorbed into other systems. History is full of examples
where nation-states have been absorbed into other states and the
populations assimilated or single states divided into two or more
states which then follow separate historical paths.
   In Marxist literature dealing with the social sphere the terms
antagonistic and nonantagonistic contradictions are often
encountered. The contradiction between capitalists and workers is
characterized as an antagonistic contradiction, since the
resolution of the contradiction takes place through the
destruction of the capitalist relations of production and
therefore the capitalists vanish as a class. The contradiction
between the peasantry and the workers is characterized an a
nonantagonistic contradiction, since the resolution of the
contradiction is not through the elimination of the peasantry as
a class, but through the formation of a class alliance between
the peasantry and the working class. The private property of the
peasantry is gradually transformed into the property of the
people as a whole through a number of intermediary stages (which
can vary from country to country), but generally first through
the formation of cooperatives.
   It is tempting to try to apply these concepts to the physical
world, say, by treating the electron's negative charge and the
   proton's positive charge as a nonantagonistic contradiction--
leading to the formation of chemical atoms--while treating the
proton-antiproton contradiction as an antagonistic contradiction,
since it leads to the annihilation of both (that is, to the
transformation of both into something entirely different). Such
oversimplification adds nothing to our scientific knowledge of
the process, especially since at present we have very little
knowledge of the annihilation process itself. Similarly, the
philosophical characterization of the relationship between
certain biological species as antagonistic and nonantagonistic
would be of no epistemological value. One could be tempted to
apply these terms to symbiotic and parasitic relationships. The
difference between the two relationships is more clearly
expressed by the biological terms and with greater subtlety than
the terms antagonistic and nonantagonistic. The characterization
of certain social contradictions as antagonistic and
nonantagonistic is necessary to stress the nature of the
resolution of the contradiction, so that illusions will not arise
that the principal class contradictions in exploitative societies
will be resolved through class collaboration. Nevertheless, the
characterization of contradictions as antagonistic and
nonantagonistic is not a distinction that carries over to the
general philosophical level, but is specific to a specialized
   In the foregoing discussion on transformation we see that we
are dealing with a wide range of qualitative changes, some of
which can have a minor effect on further development of the
system and others which affect the deepest foundations of the
system structure, even to the point of forcing a redefinition of
the system. There have been proposals by Kharin to divide these
into three groups: sublation, transformation, and destructive
negation.12 In the discussion above, arguments were made that all
processes of dialectical negation have to be considered as
sublation. Nevertheless, it could be useful to pursue Kharin's
attempts to develop further a classification of qualitative
   The value of dialectical materialism as a methodological tool
in the individual sciences is not only that it provides a
consistent philosophical framework for the formulation of
scientific theory, but it stimulates the investigator to ask what
processes might occur. These questions have to be given specific
form within the particular field, based on extensive knowledge of
the field. A philosophical characterization of processes of
qualitative change can then be an initial, but important, step in
the lengthy and detailed process of scientific investigation.

1. Herbert Hoerz, Hans-Dieter Poeltz, et al., Philosophical
   Problems in Physical Science (Minneapolis: Marxist Educational
   Press, 1980), p. 47.
2. For a more detailed discussion, see Erwin Marquit, "Physical
   Systems, Structures, and Properties," Science and Society 44
   (1980), 15-76.
   3. Sir Isaac Newton's Mathematical Principles of Natural
   Philosophy, ed. Florian Cajori, I (Berkeley: University of
   California Press, 1934), 2 (Definition IV).
4. Erwin Marquit, "K voprosy o filosofskikh aspektakh
   sootnosheniya prostranstva i vremeni v klassicheskoi
s   mekhanike," Filosofskie nauki, No. 2 (198), 118-29.
5. Karl Marx, Capital, I (New York: International Publishers,
   1967), 8-59.
6. Ibid., p. 56
7. A.I. Ujemov, Veschi, svoistva i otnosheniya (Moscow: 1963),
8. Erwin Marquit, "Dialectics of Motion in Continuous and
   Discrete Spaces," Science & Society, 42 (1978-79), 410-25.
9. See Wesley C. Salmon, Space, Time and Motion (Encino,
   California: Dickenson Publishing Co., 1975), p. 41.
10. G. W. F. Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy, I
   (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1892), 274.
11. Karl Marx, Capital, I, 763.
12. Yu. A. Kharin, Fundamentals of Dialectics (Moscow: Progress
   Publishers, 1981), pp. 155-58.

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