Dialectics of Nature

Louis R Godena louisgodena at ids.net
Mon Sep 9 14:49:20 MDT 1996


Adam takes issue with one of Lewontin/Levins' morphological caveats:

>> INTERPENETRATION OF OPPOSITES: The more we see distinctions in nature,  and
>> the more we subdivide and set up disjunct classes,  the greater the danger
>> of reifying these differences.    Therefore,  complementary to any process
>> of subdividing is the hypothesis that there is no nontrivial and complete
>> subdivision,   that opposites interpenetrate and that this interpenetration
>> is often critical to the behavior of the system.
>
>This piece, if taken in isolation, seems to me to misrepresent what is
>meant by the interpenetration of opposites.

They are not defining the interpenetration of opposites.    They are arguing
against categorical differences within ensembles.    It is part of the
argument against Cartesian reductionism,  currently the dominant mode of
analysis of the physical and biological world.

>I don't think the interpenetration of opposites simply means that boundaries
>are vague and illdefined. It doesn't mean that we can look at a statement, A,
>and say A is 50% true and 50% false ( ie something like fuzzy as opposed
>to classical logic ).

Of course not.    A single proposition may have opposing implications,  as
in your example of trade unions as working class organizations.    Unlike
fuzzy set theory,  however,  there is no logic of ambiguity as such that
exists here.

>It means that A is 100% true, and also, at the same time, 100% false, and
>that this contradiction is what drives the historical development of
>whatever it is we're talking about.

A better explanation is that each proposition possesses an infinite number
of facets,  including a social interpretation,  that are an interconnected
and necessary complement each other.
>
>eg are trade unions working class organisations ?
>Yes - they are staffed by workers, the subs are paid by workers, workers
>see unions as their organisations.
>No - unions exist to negotiate the terms of exploitation of workers under
>capitalism.

>This is not a question of percentage truthhood, both are true, and it is
>this contradiction which drives the trade union struggle but also makes
>the trade union struggle unwinnable in purely trade unionist terms.
>( and now, invevitably we get into the negation of the negation etc etc ).

All systems are in the long run self-negating,  while their short term
persistence depends on internal self-negating states.   Monopoly arises not
as the result of the thwarting of "free enterprise"  but as a consequence of
its success.     Your claim that the "trade union struggle [is] unwinnable
in purely trade unionist terms" is itself a self-contradictory proposal,
one neither provable or disprovable within in its arbitrary parameters.

>I think the role of death of offspring and the survival of offspring, in
terms of an
>individual's offspring, a species and its varieties, or at higher levels,
plays a
>similar role. There is "Development through Contradiction". The real, existing
>contradiction between extinction and reproduction, drives the whole process
>forward.
>
>[ And, there are other such relationships : the "random" variations produce
>"non random" development, but "cause" and "effect" are impossible to
disentangle
>in this development.

It is true that completely deterministic processes can generate apparently
random processes.   In fact,  the random numbers used for computer
stimulation of random process are generated by deterministic processes
(algebraic operations).

>Approaching nature from a dialectical perspective would lead us to expect
>phenomena like this, avoids people going through all sorts of intellectual
>summersaults when it confronts their over rigid, mechanical approach

Precisely what they are arguing.


Louis Godena




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