Book notice - Creaven, Marxism and Realism

Mervyn Hartwig mh at
Thu Jan 4 15:03:34 MST 2001

Jim, Yoshie:

Neither my comments on Creaven, nor Porpora's article on the quantum
dispute, maintain that the observer somehow creates reality or
countenance Berkleian or subjective idealism - on the contrary. Please
read posts carefully before responding.

The question (among others) they do raise is objective materialism vs
objective idealism, more concretely what 'rock bottom reality' for
science currently *is*. On Porpora's account it is 'quantum seas of
potentia', in which reality is 'non-local' i.e. defies a known physical
law of the universe, viz. the speed of light. Are these seas 'material'
or 'ideal'? And what lies beyond them? You tell me. The 'facts of
evolution' are not at issue - if reality is ultimately 'godstuff' rather
than 'matter', evolution can still occur.


James Farmelant <farmelantj at> writes
>------Original Message------
>From: Yoshie Furuhashi <furuhashi.1 at>
>To: marxism at
>Sent: January 4, 2001 11:18:30 AM GMT
>Subject: Re: Book notice - Creaven, Marxism and Realism
>In my view, nothing in quantum mechanics contradicts "the unilateral
>dependence of social upon biological (and thence physical) being and
>the emergence of the former from the latter" (*Plato Etc.* , p. 101),
>since quantum mechanics in no way disproves the fact of evolution.
>What is interesting about what may be called the philosophical
>trajectory of the Copenhagen Interpretation (Heisenberg's Uncertainty
>Principle, aka the Indeterminacy Principle; & Bohr's Principle of
>Complementarity) is that an originally positivist idea that it is
>meaningless to discuss the existence of something which cannot be
>measured (position and velocity, within certain limits) has become
>philosophically twisted into an idea that the observer somehow
>creates reality by the act of observation.
>Jim Farmelant:
>That was one of the reasons why Einstein was so hostile
>to the Copenhagen Interpretation.  Einstein complained
>that it represented a relapse into Berkeleyian idealism,
>thereby abandoning the realist outlook that in his
>opinion is presupposed by natural science.  BTW
>the philosophical twisting of the Copenhagen
>Interpretation into the thesis that the
>observer creates physical reality through the
>act of observation is sometimes referred to as
>the Participatory Anthropic Principle (not to
>be confused with the other anthropic principles
>in contemporary physics). It is ususally attributed
>to the theoretical physicist, John Wheeler.
>BTW this discussion dovetails with Lenin's critique
>of Machist positivism, which he attacked as form
>of disguised subjective idealism.  Interestingly
>enough, at least some positivists have had no
>problems acknowledging this point.  A.J. Ayer
>in his *Language, Truth, and Logic* went out of
>his to acknowledge that positivist epistemology
>represented a reformulation of Berkeley's subjective
>idealism without God.  Many years later, Ayer in
>his autobiography, *Part of My Life* reiterated
>this point, and went on to say that Lenin was
>of course correct in perceiving the idealist
>genesis of positivst epistemology.
>Jim Farmelant

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