Chaos is not a "theory"

Chris M. Sciabarra sciabrrc at is2.NYU.EDU
Thu Sep 21 07:14:14 MDT 1995

On Wed, 20 Sep 1995, Lisa Rogers wrote:

> PS I may not be yet fully aware of the apparent contradiction between
> "formal logic" and dialectics.  I know Marx rejected "logic" in some
> passages I have read, but I expect he wasn't talking about everyday
> logic, which I sometimes think of as "making sense", i.e. consistency
> with other things believed, sequitor, etc.  So, if I ever use or
> defend "logic", please presume me innocent of much historical/
> philosophical baggage which may be attached to the term by others.

Lisa - Just a note here.  Some vulgar theorists in their attempts to
defend dialectics, like to see "dialectics" and "logic" as opposed.  Some
evidence for this opposition can be found in more cryptic writings of
Hegel, or in early Marxist tirades against "static" and "formal"
inquiry.  In my view however, there need be no contradiction between
logic and dialectics; logic is a way of analyzing the consistency of
language, and has been used by many dialecticians in their own attempts
to grasp the internal contradictions of certain formulations.  But in
many ways, the two refer to different things.  Logic is a formal method,
much as is induction and statistical inference.  Dialectics, I think, is
a kind of methodological orientation to studying the whole.  Ollman has
argued as well that logic or "common sense" has its dialectical moments,
for even when we do logical analysis based on the assumption of
"non-contradiction" we are asking formal questions about the abstraction
of stasis from usually dynamic systems:  "It is impossible for A to be
NON-A at the SAME time and in the SAME respect."  So somebody can't tell
you "This PC is a pigeon" and get away with it.  Either it IS a pigeon or
it is NOT a pigeon.

	Dialectical formulations are much more suited to a process of
becoming... hence, Hegel's famous example of the bud turning into a
flower.  The contradictions of which he speaks are not logical ones, but
relational oppositions, as between "master" and "slave" in their
codependency, in that they are part of an organic unity, internally
related, and one can no more refer to master in the absence of slave
than to slave in the absence of master.  Aristotle himself saw this pair
as "correlatives," and many intellectual historians - Copleston,
Marcuse, Meikle, and others - argue that dialectical assumptions are
actually based on a more dynamic metaphysic or ontology inherent in
Aristotle's realism.

	No doubt some might reject these insights.  But it helps when
entering into a discussion with non-dialectical thinkers to assert
plainly that you are not advocating that this PC is a pigeon.

				- Chris
Dr. Chris M. Sciabarra
Visiting Scholar, NYU Department of Politics
INTERNET:  sciabrrc at

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