Science

Juan Inigo jinigo at inscri.org.ar
Thu Jun 29 23:34:22 MDT 1995


Some time ago Lisa Rogers posted a list of questions/objections to my
critique of science under its historical form of "ideal representation" of
reality by opposing it the non-less historically determined "reproduction
of the concrete through the path of thought". I have addressed some of the
points in Lisa's post through the successive posts I made on the question.
But since I never specifically replied her post, I will consider it point
by point now. Lisa starts by saying:

>I do not see any way that we can know that we have reached the "most
>abstract form" of reality

When our analysis advances by discovering the necessity that each
successive concrete form we face has as an abstract form (that is, as a
potency) sooner or latter we come to face not this or that specific form of
determination, but determination as such. Determination is not just an
ordinary abstract real form. As the rest, it starts by facing us as a
concrete form. Still, insofar as such concrete form, it is a pure potential
necessity, the necessity itself of being determined and, consequently, an
abstract form. Its potential necessity is no longer an-other of its
concrete form, but such potentiality is what this real abstract form is
insofar as a concrete form. This simple real form has the necessity of its
own existence as an immediate actual necessity, it is existence in itself.
Still, as far as this actual existence the simple form has is the necessity
of transcending from itself into realized determination, the simple form
is, at the same time, potential existence. As such, simple existence,
_matter_, is a contradiction in itself. Then, it has no way of affirming
itself other than by realizing its potency as a determination to be
realized, that is, by negating itself as such potency to affirm itself as a
realized determination.

>(although I've never thought of the goal of
>science this way)

And it is not. The "goal of science", and rather science itself, is the
most developed form of the conscious regulation of human action, as it
attempts to relate in thought the real forms by reflecting their real
determinations. But how could we be conscious of the concrete necessity of
matter we are going to personify with our action if we haven't followed in
thought its development starting from the simplest form it takes until
discovering how it has come to develop into this concrete form?

>and I do not see any way of ultimately surpassing all
>"appearance".  Analysis may well lead us beyond first appearance, but I
>believe that science is, by its nature, always open to the possibility of
>another, better
>analysis, going beyond the "appearances" of a previous analysis.

Concerning the scope of analysis: the analysis that precedes representation
searches for the abstract forms by separating that which repeats itself
from that which does not. It thus stops at their exteriority. On the
contrary, the analysis that is going to support the reproduction of the
real necessity by thought separates the concrete form that we face, from
the necessity that it carries in itself as the other-one whose realization
determines it. That is, it takes shape in the discovering, inside the
concrete form (and as such realized necessity), of its abstract form (and
as such necessity to be realized). Given its form itself, this analysis
cannot stop until it reaches the real form that does not carry in itself
another one from which its necessity arises, but which is, by itself and
not by another-self, necessity of negating itself as abstract existence to
affirm itself as concrete existence. That is, until we face matter as
simply such.

Concerning "but I believe that science is, by its nature," and the following

>I also
>don't see how we can escape the fact that any thought, model, analysis,
>etc. is a kind of representation.  I don't see anything wrong with that.
>This is part of the nature of ideal science

Human life is a natural process that has developed its own generic being
through its capacity for transforming the rest of nature into a means for
itself, by producing its own means of production. The natural regulation of
this metabolism process has developed into a process that is historical in
itself, into a social process. And, as the most developed form of the
conscious regulation of human action, science is not a natural form, but a
social form from its very beginning. So the "nature" of science as the form
of relating in thought the real forms by reflecting their real
determinations, takes shape as a concrete form of the specific historical
mode in which social life is regulated in each time.

Capital is the materialized general social relation that becomes the
concrete social subject (social production has no longer as its immediate
object the production of use-values and, therefore, of human beings, but
the production of more value by means of value itself - i.e., capital),
thus alienating all human potencies, and therefore human conscious action,
as the fetishistic potencies of that relation. Capital needs to realize a
double determination through science: it needs to submit all production and
consumption to science to sustain the constantly renewed production of
relative surplus-value, but at the same time, capital needs to keep science
inside the limits of alienated consciousness (and, better stated, to make
science a concrete form of alienated consciousness). Therefore, capital
takes shape as the production of relative surplus-value in a science that
reaches the appearances of the abstract forms far enough to operate upon
real forms by transforming their quantity into a qualitative difference,
but that precisely stops at appearances so as not to uncover the alienation
of human potencies as capital potencies. This is the scientific
_representation_ of reality that, as a simple alienated form of human
consciousness, sees itself as the "natural" (therefore, only possible) form
of science and, consequently, sees itself as the realized expression of
free consciousness.

>that it can be continual,
>self-correcting and non-dogmatic.  Each bit of logic or representation can
>be refuted by a better one.

The externality of the logical necessity, used to place into relation the
real forms through their appearances, with respect to the real necessity
thus represented, results in an evident shortcoming of representation to
regulate action: it is impossible to know if the real necessity at stake
has been actually appropriated in thought or not, before each concrete
action is performed. And, given its nature, this shortcoming has no way of
being logically (and I mean it in the strict sense) overcome. How does this
shortcoming get to appear inverted into the "natural" advantage of being
"self-correcting and non-dogmatic"?

>Also, by the time that a "representation" could come very close to the
>complexity of reality, it would be so complex as to be rather
>intractable.  What I find fascinating is that with the few simple models
>we have so far, that just a few variables seem to capture a great deal of
>reality, and help to generate important insights.

Very briefly, not to lose the course of the main question: if the
production of a representation or a reproduction of a certain concrete real
form takes more time than the time needed by this real form to be
transformed by other possible action, then this transformation will fall
beyond the scope of a scientifically conscious action of any sort. And, why
should the mental process needed to reproduce the real necessity be longer
than that required to represent it beyond crude (since appearances are
always involved) appearances, concerning the same concrete form?

>I don't see anything wrong with "having the form of a representation"
>because I never had the goal of transcending to some ultimate ideal
>knowledge of the world.
>
>I don't know how anyone can ever reasonably claim to have avoided
>"interpreting" reality.  The refutation of one interpretation is simply a
>better one.

Since it is impossible to know if the real necessity at stake has been
actually appropriated in thought or not by its ideal representation,
scientific theories appear as what they are: divergent interpretations of
reality. And if science necessarily has the form of an interpretation, the
general conscious regulation of social life remains beyond the reach of
human action. The community of the freely (that is, consciously) associated
individuals, socialism or communism, thus appears condemned to be an
eternal utopia given the form itself that scientific method takes as a
concrete form of the production of relative surplus-value, but that appears
as the "natural" method of a "self-correcting and non-dogmatic" science, of
the non plus ultra of free consciousness. The future is already here! And
any attempt to criticize these appearances is immediately rejected for
postulating the abolition of _non-dogmatic interpretative free
consciousness_, for attempting at an abstract "some ultimate ideal
knowledge of the world", even by the theorists that are generally seen as
incarnating the definitive criticism of capitalism as an historical form.
The second determination of science as a concrete form of the production of
relative surplus-value has completed its development: ideology has taken
form in its opposite, scientific method.

Nevertheless, the criticism of this science has a necessity that determines
it far beyond being an utopian "some ultimate ideal knowledge of the
world". Beyond its immediate determination as the general autonomous
regulation of present-day human social metabolism process through the
production of surplus-value, capital has an historical potency. On
immediately pursuing its expanded reproduction through the constantly
renewed production of relative surplus-value by increasing the productivity
of labor, and therefore its individual scale, capital is historically
determined to clash against its own historical basis: private property and
the insufficiency of the means to consciously regulate social life. While
in this process capital deprives the bourgeoisie of its historical reason
to exist, it determines the very proletariat from whose surplus-labor it
feeds itself, with the mediation of developing it as a collective laborer,
as the class that personifies this historical determination.

The proletariat realizes its own historical necessity, by negating itself
absolutely as such, to affirm its potencies as the human potencies of the
freely associated individuals; that is to say, of the concrete subjects of
the human social metabolism process that consciously regulate this process
on cognizing, each of them, his/her own determination as such subject. It
is about the supersession of capitalism in socialism or communism. However
alienated in capital this revolutionary potency may be, or better stated,
precisely for being such alienated potency, it shows itself as the
proletariat's own potency. And, as the point is the general organization of
the process of capital accumulation, the production of the present general
social relation, it shows itself as a potency that has the political
revolutionary action of the proletariat as its general concrete form of
realizing itself.

Capital is thus historically determined to annihilate itself by producing
the material conditions for, and therefore the necessity of, the general
conscious regulation of social life. Obviously, the production of these
material conditions includes the production of a form of scientific
cognition able to overcome the limitations of representation, of
interpreting the world in different ways, so as to become the necessary
form of the generalized conscious regulation. So this scientific cognition
can only come to exist as the regulation itself of the conscious
revolutionary action of the proletariat.

The appearances of the real forms concerning intentional action can only be
overcome by following in thought the development of the own necessity of
these forms, that is, by reproducing them in thought. And since it is
actually about reproducing in thought the necessity of one's own
intentional action, this reproduction must go on until discovering the form
we need to give this action to determine it as the necessary concrete form
through which the transformation of reality takes place. It is about
"reproducing the concrete through the path of thought."

Today, the science that takes shape through the reproduction of reality in
thought is as much a concrete form of capital and, therefore, a concrete
form of alienated consciousness, as the representation of reality in
thought. But it is only such product of capital insofar as this one has its
own annihilation by developing the material conditions for the general
social conscious regulation (for free consciousness), as its historical
necessity. Therefore, the reproduction of reality by means of thought is
today the form taken by the alienated consciousness that negates itself as
such; it is not today an immediate form of free consciousness, but the
negation of the negation of free consciousness.

>Anyway, how would we ever know if we had reached an "ideal reproduction
>of reality"?

I have already presented in this post the form taken by the analysis that
is going to support the reproduction of the real necessity by thought as it
searches for the necessity inherent in each real concrete form it
subsequently faces, and how it cannot stop until reaching this necessity
under its most abstract form, matter as such.

The reproduction of reality by thought advances by following the
development of the necessity that the simplest abstract form carries in
itself. As soon as this abstract form realizes its necessity, i.e., it
affirms itself as an abstract form, it negates itself as such abstract form
to affirm itself as realized necessity, i.e., as a concrete form. But this
concrete form immediately negates itself as such, affirming itself as a
form that carries in itself a necessity to be realized, i.e., as a new
abstract form. We ideally follow, thus, our real object in its own
development. This reproduction of the development of the real necessity by
means of thought is unable to get to its end before reaching a form whose
necessity exists only as a potency, and this potency has our transforming
action, determined as an action that has needed to follow all this path to
become a conscious action, as its necessary form of realizing itself. That
is, it is unable to get to its end until our action can discover its own
concrete form of conscious action, i.e., can discover itself, as the
necessary concrete form of the realization of the real potencies at stake.
Due to this form of its method, the ideal reproduction of reality is
determined as _dialectical cognition_.

        In the very moment that the reproduction of reality by thought
reaches its completeness under the concrete form in which our action is
able to account for its own necessity, it externally manifests itself as
such. It does so, by presenting the form of an uninterrupted symmetric
double flow of material forms ideally appropriated; a flow that departs
from the concrete form that immediately faces our action, to advance from
one to another to the interior of forms more and more abstract. The most
abstract of which places it on the return path. In the unfolding of this
path, each form previously gone through reappears in the inverse order, as
the concrete form that comes out of the development of the necessity
virtually enclosed in the one that precedes it. Thus, until the
reappearance of that initial form, now recognized as the bearer of a
potency whose realization has our action as its necessary concrete form.

>And who says this is supposed to be the goal of science?

Since I have pointed out already the historical and formal determinations
of the ideal reproduction of reality, let me answer this question in its
literally sense: Marx was the first one to say it.

In another post, Lisa asked me to treat the question of the forms of
science through concrete examples. But concrete examples can easily become
pure abstractions as soon as they are isolated from the explicit
development of the determinations they are supposed to show in a more
immediate way. Only after these determinations have been exposed, their
concrete forms (and this is what examples are about, albeit presented as if
they had an external relation with their determinations) can be considered
by themselves. On this basis I proposed a discussion on _gravitation_.
Rahul Mahujan accepted my proposal, but he has apparently left the list.
Maybe this specific discussion will have to be postponed for a while.

I renew my offer, particularly to Lisa, to send via e-mail a copy of my
"Capital's Development into Conscious Revolutionary Action; Critique of
Scientific Theory."


Juan Inigo
jinigo at inscri.org.ar



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