Dialectical Materialism

David Quarter davidquarter at sympatico.ca
Sun Jul 27 00:01:13 MDT 2003

From:           	"Jurriaan Bendien" <bendien at tomaatnet.nl>

> My own contribution to the debate about dialectics, was just to say that
> "formal-logical operations" and formal inferential processes generally
> assume categorisations, and that categorisation processes (the processes by
> which we obtain categories, conceptual distinctions) might be construed as
> dialectical processes at some level, which in good part evade formal-logical
> inferential processes and rather arise out of practical-experiential human
> activity and conceptual metaphors, generated by the brain through the
> combination of language, symbolisms, metaphysical notions, and human
> practical experience within society. This idea was, to my knowledge, first
> elaborated explicitly and systematically, in a popularised way, by Paul
> Lafargue, in an essay with the remarkable title "The Origin of Abstract
> Ideas" (reprinted in The Evolution of Property from Savagery to Civilisation
> & Social and Philosophical Studies, New Park Pubns, 1975). Behind a
> conceptual distinction, we may be able to discover a social practice or
> etymology which gives rise to it, but not a formal proof of its validity.
> I found e.g. that in designing statistical classication procedures for the
> purpose of data aggregation and presentation, I was forced to make "leaps in
> logic" and move between different levels of analysis, in a way which could
> not be captured in any formal logical terms, because they creatively
> combined logical with non-logical operations, i.e. logical inferences with
> experiential considerations, theory, and utility considerations. I might
> draw a non-arbitrary, reasoned conceptual distinction for practical
> purposes, without however there being any formal proof for its validity.
> If indeed thought, and reality as a whole, could be logically formalised
> totally (a phantasm), then we would have solved the classical dichotomy of
> empiricism and rationalism, expressed best by Immanuel Kant, and we could
> just infer the way reality really is from a deductive process starting at an
> appropriate point. No empirical investigation would be necessary, we would
> just reason ourselves into new knowledge from an initial premiss. But this
> is not the case, because there is an ontological discrepancy between
> external reality, our sensory experience of external reality, and the mental
> "filters" we use to categorise it, impute signification, and place it in a
> comprehensible frame of reference, within which logical reasoning can take
> place.
> Jurriaan

  It seems interesting. now if I could just understand what you just


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