M-TH: dialectical materialism

Sam Pawlett rsp at SPAMuniserve.com
Mon Aug 2 22:34:16 MDT 1999

automata at zeus.tantium.net wrote:
> Precisely what is the nature of dialectical materialism? I have seen
> descriptions of it as a method, theory, doctrine and philosophy.

 Well, yeah, it depends on who you ask and who you read. Marx himself
never used the term though Engels I believe did. I take it to mean the
way Engels meant it that the 3 principles of dialectics(cf. Engels
Dialectics of Nature p26ff, intro by JBS Haldane) negation of the
negation, transformation of quantity into quality and the
interpenetrations of opposites occur in physical nature. That physical
nature is governed by these 3 principles. They may act as regulative
principles in the same way the "laws" of supply and demand do i.e. that
actual states of affairs may tend towards these laws.
  The Dialectical Biologist by Levins and Lewontin is one of the finest
current attempts to construct a kind of weak dialectical materialism.
The Soviet  Marxism-Leninists was big into dialectical materialism
though  I haven't read enough Soviet authors to say much about their
conception. Jim F?
  Another work on dialectics which criticises dialectical materialism
from a kind of humanist standpoint  is The Critique of Dialectical
Reason by J-P Sartre. Tough going, but worth it. Same with I.Meszeros.

Sam Pawlett

p.s. I *miss* the Lewinsky scandal!

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