Dialectics of Nature (Mach2)

Hugh Rodwell m-14970 at mailbox.swipnet.se
Sat Sep 7 18:20:24 MDT 1996

I wrote:

>Let's put it this way: Beyond cognition, Kantians project their
>nightmares:colourless green ideas sleep furiously. Beyond cognition,
>Marxists see more cognition, and the more we know now, the better
>equipped we are to deduce (or at least make head or tail of) what's
>still to come."

Russell thought he had me by the short and curlies and triumphed:

>All good Leninism, perhaps, at least of the _Materialism and
>Empirio-Criticism_ variety. Hugh recomends that we look at this book,
>but this is what we find:
>"...nature is infinite, but it _exists_ infinitely; and only this categorical,
>unconscious recognition of its existence beyond the consciousness
>and sensation of man, distinguishes dialectical materialism from
>relativist agnosticism and idealism." p222
>Is Hugh a materialist in a provisional sense, or merely a Machist one?

P222 of which edition?

Existence is a property of nature, not dependent on consciousness and
definitely not dependent on the consciousness or sensation of humanity. In
other words things exist whether any of these things are conscious of
existing or not. This is the position of dialectical materialism.

Agnosticism and idealism do not accept this independence of existence from

In other words: 'both [the objective reality of the external world] and
[the laws of external nature] are fully knowable to man but can never be
known to him *with finality*'

(M & E-C, Progress Publishers 4th ed 1964, p 176, Lenin's emphasis)


'For it is, indeed, clear that the subjectivist line on the question of
causality, the deduction of the order and necessity of nature not from the
external objective world, but from consciousness, reason, logic and so
forth, not only cuts human reason off from nature, not only opposes the
former to the latter, but makes nature a *part* of reason, instead of
regarding reason as a part of nature. ... The recognition of objective law
in nature and the recognition that this law is reflected with approximate
fidelity in the mind of man is materialism.'

(M & E-C, Progress Publishers 4th ed 1964, p 142, Lenin's emphasis)

So what I was saying about the idealist view of cognition was that it
erects timeless, impassable barriers beyond which cognition may not go (the
unknowable Thing-in-Itself, for instance), whereas the dialectical
materialist view of cognition is historical (our knowledge changes,
developing or atrophying through time) and cumulative (we build on what we
know today to expand our knowledge tomorrow). We use this dynamic to extend
our cognition and to anticipate future results as far as possible by
planning for them and estimating them. We see cognition developing beyond
its current limits, and repudiate the setting of absolute limits to
cognition that's attempted by idealism. The fact that some aspects of
cognition are determined by laws like Goedel's theorem doesn't contradict
this, as I explained earlier.

Russ, if you want more clarification than this, you'll have to be more
precise about what you're asking for.



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