Reply to Melvin P. on dialectical logic (again ?!?)

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at
Sun Jul 13 19:34:56 MDT 2003


Your argument now could be formalised as follows:

Premiss 1: People who disagree with my interpretation, are liars
Premiss 2: Jurriaan disagrees with my interpretation.
Conclusion: Therefore Jurriaan is a liar.

But this is subjectivism, a sort of projection, to use that old Freudian

I am well aware that the influential text was Anti-Duhring, not the
Dialectics of Nature. I discussed Anti-Duhring briefly recently on PEN-L, in
relation to the notion of scientific socialism. Dialectics of Nature,
consisting of manuscripts Engels drafted in the period 1873-1882 (i.e.
around the time Ant-Duhring was written) was published for the first time in
1925 by the Institute of Marxism-Leninism. It became an influential text for
Soviet sciences, and later also in the PRC and other societies breaking with
the capitalist world market in order to develop socialist-type economies of
one stripe or another. I have not seen definite proof that Karl Marx in fact
read the whole text of Anti-Duhring prior to publication and commented on
it. I am sure however that Marx supported Engels's project, to the extent
that he was caustically critical of pretentious intellectuals venting
"philosophical systems" on the world which provided all of the answers to
all of the questions, on the basis of very superficial research.

In addition, you have another argument, which could be formalised as

Premiss 1: People who disagree with me, are calling me a liar.
Premiss 2: Jurriaan disagrees with me.
Conclusion: Therefore Jurriaan is calling me a liar.

In the case of both arguments, which I have reduced to an Aristotelian
syllogism for the sake of convenience and time considerations, I disagree
with the premises of the argument, and therefore cannot accept the
conclusion. I take the view that in order for us to have any sort of
fruitful debate, there must at least be some common premises, but I fail to
see what they are, beyond mutual agreement that Marx and Engels wrote what
they wrote, when they wrote it. But that is not a very interesting finding,
and hardly the basis for a fruitful discussion, unless I am working as a
librarian and talking to a colleague.

As regards Shirikov, I did own a copy of his text once, a Chinese edition,
which is more substantive that Stalin's own generalities, and it is
sometimes useful in spelling out the meaning of dialectical terminology
(although the discerning reader will notice that it's a far cry from Hegel's
own project). My reservations about this attempt to form an ideological
propaganda tool out of a discussion about logic and causality, are primarily
political in nature, I believe it is wrong to compel people to accept or
show allegiance to any particular metaphysical or philosophical theory,
whether "religious" or "scientifically based". We can argue about it, try to
persuade people otherwise, but we do not ram a doctrine into people against
their better knowledge. I think people are entitled to their own personal
metaphysics and philosophy, and it is in this spirit that I was offering Les
Schaffer some ideas and opinions. Call me a liberal if you will, but that is
where I stand.


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