Marxism and Mathematics

John Landon nemonemini at
Thu Feb 8 16:06:00 MST 2001

There is a difference between something amenable to
mathematical treatment, and a mathematical theory that
could predict an agent's actions. My strategy thus
might be open to analysis, but I might change my
tactics to defy the theory, just to prove it wrong or
because I feel stubborn or felt like I was being
Taylorized and wanted to slip out of the Iron Cage.
This implies we mean by theory a predictive theory,
and this strategy could defeat any claim on the
future, the 'law' of otherwise. There are other
possibilities of mathematics than predictive theories.
This was a Karl Popper style argument from Poverty of
Historicism once used against Marxists. We may as well
get our money's worth out of Old Popper and use his
ideas on macroeconomics! A little reverse finger

In general, I am not against mathematics, not by a
long shot, having been a teacher of such! Best not to
confuse a bad mood or a dialectical twist with any
rejection of mathematics as such. I could be turning
into a grumpy old man, I wouldn't want to spoil your
enthusiasm. Study of mathematical economics is indeed
par for any Marxist.
 But the handwriting is on the wall in this instance.
The bad mood springs from the amount of disinformation
that has accompanied the equilibrium models of
mathematical economics for the duration.  They are
burning down the Amazon and the public still doesn't
know some really extreme limitations exist on the
models of equilibrium systems. These models are in
part a facade giving a scientific veneer and instill
the sense that this is the way things have to be
because the math shows these are economic laws of
nature. They are not economic laws. NOT.

My little Kant statement was really an answer to the
issue of dialectic you raised. We are between two
stools. Consider the Analytical Marxist rejection of
dialectic. I never know who I am talking to and could
take heat from two directions here. My idea was to
retreat from 'dialectic' to the Grandaddy version of
it  in a Kantian antinomy. That's where the subject
came from. Do it on a case basis,so to speak, and not
mention dialectic and the analytical marxists are off
your tail (just kidding). But in general the analytic
marxist rejection of dialectic is food for thought. At
the same time we can return to the source to see the
point at which a new version of Hegel's 'trials and
tribulations of Aristotelian logic' might start all
over again, to groans from many I am sure. I don't
know. Hegel's logic is a very profound exploration,
but the history of all this has been a little chaotic.
I do think that the subject needs to find a way to
clean up its act. Howard Kainz has a book on
dialectic, by the way, relating it to many areas of
more modern mathematical thinking. I remain open.

John Landon
nemonemini at


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