He*lp please: Negation of the Negation

hans despain HANS.DESPAIN at m.cc.utah.edu
Sat Apr 13 15:15:23 MDT 1996

Hello Chris,

(a) yes, these are the three key principles of dialectics of nature that
Engels borrows and develops from Hegel.

(b) the rest of what follows addresses the negation of negation as "an
onward and upward mono-linear view of history".

(Marxian) negation in general is immanent dialectical moment of
development, (cognitive) process of refinement, and change.

Marx himself uses this term (negation of the negation) in *Capital I*
chapter 24 section 7.  However, Marx seems to employ these "laws"
(according to Engels -- laws of nature) in an epistemological sense,
whereas Engels in an ontological sense.  This becomes quite significant
to your question in (b).

In *Anti-Duhring* Engels defines the Dialectic:  "Dialectic is nothing
more than the science of univesal laws of motion and evolution in nature,
human society and thought".  And specifically the negation of negation as
a universal law of (natural and social) development and change: "nature,
history and thought; a law which holds good in the animal and plant
kingdoms, in geology, in mathematics, in history and philosophy" (Chapter
13).  All of the examples Engels offers are within the pages of Hegel's

Marx never critiqued Engels's dialectic of nature as universal laws; but
he also never employs the dialectic (nor the Engelsian "laws") in the
same manner as Engels.

The negation of the negation suggests that there is a (social) struggle
or (natural) clash of opposites, whereby one opposite is negated and in
turn it is negated by a higher development preserving aspects of the
those initially negated.

Something like, feudalism is negated by capitalism and capitalism in turn
by socialism, preserving specific aspects of the other social phases.

I am not at all sure that this is how Marx employs these notions.  Marx
seems to use these epistemological, that is to refine concepts or
notions; but not necessarily as general laws of history and nature
themselves .  i personally have found no evidence that Marx held these
to be universal natural laws.

To do so, as seemingly Engels did, is to subscribe to a positivistic
notion of science and history.  This in itself seems to be in opposition
with the idea of dialectic.

As these "laws" of been interpreted by dialectical materialists; the
negation of the negation has come to be a monistic view of history.

In Hegel the negation of the negation is the moment when the finite
dissolves into the infinite; a unity-in-difference.  For diamat it is the
moment that natural laws force a (historical or natural) change and
development.  For the materialist it is the moment that there is a
(cognitive) contradiction or (social) struggle.

[this is all the time i have at the moment]

hans d.

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