[Marxism] O, Dialectics!

www.leninology. blogspot.com leninology at hotmail.com
Thu May 12 01:08:27 MDT 2005

I'd be more impressed if that consisted of an argument rather than a series 
of extravagant claims, poorly supported.

For instance, the fact that mathematics is an abstract practise dealing with 
quantities and not qualities (although I'd even dispute that mathematics 
cannot designate qualities - the old 'quantity into quality' problem), is 
not relevant to whether identity and equality are the same thing.  In 
ordinary language, they are not, and I provided instances of this.

You say diamat is a social logic - it isn't, unless you think Engels, Lenin 
and Trotsky were using their examples from nature not to express something 
about the structure of nature itself, but as metaphors to discuss social 
change.  I think you'd have a hard time proving that.  Diamat involves the 
supposition that there is a dialectic *in* nature that can be deduced *from* 
it - and to claim it can be applied solely to the social world immediately 
embarks upon a kind of dualism.

You say mathematical logic exists within dialectical logic - aside from the 
fact that I doubt the existence of the latter (although arguably, Zizek 
provided the means for establishing such a thing by replacing the triadic 
form with n+1), I fail to see how you justify this anywhere in what you've 
written.  You say that at one point "x=3" is not possible, whereas at the 
next it is, and therefore the dialectical view of history is embodied in 
mathematical logic (a strange inversion).  But x=3 is *always* possible 
where x=3 - I know that's a tautology, but it is you who is leading the 
discussion in circles.  x=3 is not temporally delimited.  It is a logical 
proposition which, as Wittgenstein showed, has nothing to do with any 
particular 'state of affairs'.  It doesn't designate change - we have all 
sorts of words in ordinary language to help us do that, without relying on 
the wooden language of Hegelianism, in which verbs are frozen into nouns...

If diamat itself struggles against a priori reasoning, then it is its own 
grave-digger.  How can one dispense with a priori reasoning when one is 
committed to a series of propositions which involve claims about nature that 
eventually prove immune to empirical evidence?

The point about Lenin and the ether was aimed at the naive scientific 
realism that underpinned his diamat - as you have Materialism and 
Empiriocritism to hand, you'll know what I mean.  To say that it shows how 
'science behaved dialectically' demands explanation more than it explains.  
Are you saying that the concept of the ether was interpenetrated by its 
opposite, or that quantity changed into quality?  Thomas Kuhn, whatever else 
was wrong with him, provided a far better model for understanding the 
'paradigm-shifts' that occur within science than diamat (albeit you could 
argue that his institutional analysis was itself dialectical)...

I'll be back with more (got to go to work).

>From: "Carlos A. Rivera" <cerejota at optonline.net>
>Reply-To: Activists and scholars in Marxist 
>tradition<marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
>To: Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition 
><marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
>Subject: Re: [Marxism] O, Dialectics!
>Date: Wed, 11 May 2005 23:49:35 -0400
>----- Original Message ----- From: "www.leninology. blogspot.com" 
><leninology at hotmail.com>
>>On the more substantive point of identity being confused with equality, 
>>which you don't engage with, I would say this:  [...] Not all that 
>>difficult to grasp, no?
>>[...]. So in that respect (typographically) they are unequal, even while 
>>they are functionally identical. There are countless examples of this sort 
>>of thing in maths (and hence in the sciences), and also in day to day 
>Again, I am no expert in philosophy and logic, yet even by formal logic, 
>you argument against dialectics is wrong, and if we use diamat on it, it 
>becomes ludicrous.
>Math is in itself an abstraction used to quantify, not qualify, reality. In 
>other words, it is completely and absolutely divorced from any subjective 
>value. "1" is not "1 banana" or "1 genetically engineered banana" or "1 
>organic, fair trade banana". "1" is *just* a single quantity of *anything*, 
>and hence of *everything*. Math and mathematical logic are wholly unuseful 
>to study things qualitatively. It is indeed useful to perform functions 
>that allow for what engineers title "black boxing", that is, to study 
>things whose subjective content is irrelevant to the task or exercise at 
>Your error, and this is a profound but common one among critics of 
>dialectics and diamat, is to see a contradition between "identity" and 
>"equality" as mathematical logic concepts and the dialectical (that is, 
>social) logic. Mathematical logic exist *within* dialectical logic, not in 
>direct counterposition of it. When dealing with abstract, quantifying, 
>tasks, mathemtical logic is quite useful, when dealing with subjective, 
>qualitative things, such as love, biology or class struggle, it proves 
>The interesting is that mathematical logic itself is continually changing: 
>at one point in *history* (that is, in human society) "x=3" as explained in 
>your example, was simply NOT possible. It resulted from an specific social 
>need, at an specific point in human history, and was the reuslt of previous 
>social developments. As Goedel starts to point out, but refuses to follow 
>through with the obvious conclusion, math itself cannot be proven by math. 
>Yet, dialectical materialism does indeed seem to prove math in that it is a 
>social product to satisfy a particular historical need. The scientific 
>method establishes that if something can't prove itself, it must be proven 
>from without. Diamat proves math but not by mathematical logic.
>When you say that you have a problem with diamat because "the claims for it 
>almost always involve dreadful a
>priori reasoning that does not survive the slightest scrutiny". Ironically, 
>math suffers from the same thing (re Godel) yet you fail to find this same 
>fault in math. Which tells me, dialectically, that your opposition to 
>diamat is rooted not in intellectual curiosity and inquiry, but rather some 
>sort of idealist fetish with, possibly, the Engelian/Trotskyite connection 
>with diamat.
>Got news: diamat itself predicts and *stuggles against*  that tendency for 
>"a priori reasoning", this is what is termed in classic Marx as "old 
>materialism". It is true that errors of falling into this "old materialism" 
>have plagued diamatists.
>Your counter-position of Historical Materialism and Dialectical Materialism 
>is the mother of all false dichotmies. Historical Materialism is nothing 
>but the application of Diamat to the class struggle, in other words, to 
>human history. That our efforts at that have not been successful is 
>function of the falibility of humanity than a problem of philosophy.
>Diamat is a *social* logic, and hence, cannot be divorced, abstracted, 
>beyond the social. A dialectical mathematics will indeed fail, because math 
>is by definition abstract. But a dialectical teaching of mathematics, that 
>is, a social math, will not.
>I know it is harder to understand that you simple "x=3" example, yet it 
>would be an incredible error, even in formal logic, to establish that 
>diamat is not true simply because it is complex.
>Since my knowledge of this is at best rudimentary, I'll let others correct 
>me. Yet I think your knowledge is even more rudimentary than mine...
>Needless to say, diamat is a theory, and as such, it is subject to being 
>disproven, and you can actually be a useful scientist without subscribing 
>to it. The whole "Aether" fiasco shows that incredible scientific leaps can 
>be done even under erroneous assumptions about nature (after all, Einstein 
>brought upon General *and* Special Relativity without *directly* 
>questioning "aether", not to mention Newtonian physics were completely 
>built upon the belief in the existense of Aether, and the bulk of thos 
>elaws remain true to this day).
>Your example of Lenin believing in "aether" (something that is buried deep 
>in "Empirocriticism") actually helps prove diamat: Lenin was a child of his 
>time, and adopted what was the higher stage of scientific knowledge of that 
>time. Yet, in a matter of a few years, Aether was abandoned for "better" 
>theories. Science behaved dialectically.
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