Vulgarities & Robert Burns

V600A8E6 at V600A8E6 at
Thu Nov 16 08:48:39 MST 1995

Robert, in regards to your latest post on materialism and idealism,  I 
think you are still missing the point.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to think that if reality is 
ultimately matter-in-motion then how can this view or understanding be 
the basis of morality in society.  (I think you mean something like this.)

First, problems of fact and problems of value do not exist in splendid 
isolation.  They are not completely separable.  Ideals do not stand in 
opposition to matter.  The ultimate source of values is humans' needs and 
ability to create.  And, while ideas are not themselves material, they arise 
out of matter.  That is, matter produces something that is not material 
qua material.  The reverse is false.  Recall also, perception and memory are 
complex processes.

When it is said that all things have a material basis, this does not mean 
that things should be viewed in strictly reductionist materialist ways.  
The brain, for example, is a highly organized and developed form of 
matter.  But to account for its activities, we have to discuss its 
various levels of organization.  Each higher level emerges from the lower 
level.  But this does not mean it is necessarily reducible to it.  This 
is why religion, in one sense,  really does not and can not do anything, 
and in another sense, it appears to be the sole motivator, even the 
end-all and be-all of everything.

Your narrow understanding of matter-in-motion is the source of your 
unresolved contradictions.  Matter is active, dynamic, functional, 
multi-faceted and infinite.  It is never inert or passive.  It is always 
developing and changing.  Its characteristics and properties can never be 
identified once and for all.  Matter is not fixed and final.  Nor does 
it ever "disappear."

Now, you ask: "what justifies the belief that humanity is inevitably 
destined to create a rational and noble society?"  Let me decode what you 
are saying: "how will we reach or create Xanadu?"  Robert, this is not 
the the goal of communism.  An exploitation-free society is the aim.  For 
those who have learned to patronize science and think only in fixed and 
finite categories, such an aim appears utopian.

Next, you wonder whether the "current political weakness of marxism" has 
anything do to with what you call blind dogmatism and irrationality.  
Look, Marxism is the most anti-dogmatic theory around.  It is based on 
self-development and rejects all anti-dialectical accounts of reality.  
Don't confuse New Left idealogues with genuine scientific thinkers.

Finally, there are too many flaws in your assumptions to correct in one 
message and I wish I had more time to respond.

Shawgi Tell
University at Buffalo
Graduate School of Education

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