dialectical logic - some ideas from Marx

Les Schaffer schaffer at optonline.net
Sun Jul 13 08:31:16 MDT 2003

Melvin: Please take care of your heart. you're gonna have a heart
attack if you get all worked up like this every time someone disses
Stalin. do like my mother taught me, just let go of the Stalin barbs
and handle any substantitive issues that come up, if any.

All: i started reading Levin's and Leowontin's "Dialectical Biologist"
last nite in earnest. they make one interesting remark in their
introduction. The two  collaborated for over twenty years together,
often with sharp disagreemnts between them. but they forged ahead. at
the end of that period, they felt that their work "illustrated" the
dialectical approach but never actually clearly spelled out what that
is. So they decided to add a chapter in their book explicitly on the
topic of dialectics.

Their starting point it sseems is what they call Cartesian
reductionism in biology and the notion of parts and wholes. they
dissect the statement "the whole is greater than the sum of the parts"
as an idea still wedded to the primacy of "the parts". So their idea
is, so it appears in my reading so far, that they take the
contradictory notions of parts (reduction) and wholes (holistic) and
roll it around on their tongue like a good wine, see if they can make
like a caterpillar and make butter fly.

some quick comments for Jurriaan, mainly for further discussion:

1.) working hypothesis for debate (subject to change):

  dialectical logic = modern scientific thinking

		    - ideological blindness
		    + historical/political analysis

		    + substitute(
			    [emphasis on multiple complex
			    interdependencies and contradictions]
			    [explicit mathematical modeling of coupled

2.) Stalin:

  i read Sagdeev's "The Making of a Soviet Scientist: My Adventures in
  Nuclear Fusion and Space From Stalin to Star Wars" a few years ago:


  he's too much an anti-Stalinist to be really useful, but one thing
  he said stuck in my mind. Einstein's relativity was frowned on for a
  long while. but when Stalin decided SU needed the Bomb, this
  attitude was dropped and the physicists stepped in and made it

  have you read "Einstein and Soviet Ideology", by Alexander Vicinich?


  i have his booked ordered on interlibrary loan and am awaiting its

3.) crossing the road:

    its often said in computer programming circles that its nearly
    impossible to program a robot to drive a car.

    i suspect though that with enough if__then's one could adequately
    get a robot across 5-th Ave during off-rush-hour times.

    dialectical logic as practiced is less formalized than
    methematical logic, though its been argued there is a crude
    equivalence if you drop the two-valued logic system for something
    more complicated. in this case, it might be there could be a new
    dialectical approach to programming robots to cross streets using
    traditional programming logic contructs.

4.) dueling logics, fuzzy logic, sensor subsumption.

    i can build two-valued logic circuits which battle each other for
    control of a system.

    fuxxy logic: this is a definite, clearly defined form of logic
    that is used in practical applications of dynamical systems
    control. it can be __implemented__ two with-valued programming
    logic constructs in software. in fact, the way you do it is, you
    have several if__then's, and then the output is some weighted
    function of the outputs of the seperate if__then logics. battling
    two-valued logics with some scheme for handling the

    sensor subsumption is a theory for handling large amounts of
    possibly contradictory sensory input (as in robotics) and come up
    with sensible control signals that don't drive the robot "crazy".

les schaffer

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