Jurriaan's Folly

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As is the case with all my Essays, nothing here should be read as an attack either on Historical Materialism [HM] -- a theory I fully accept --, or, indeed, on revolutionary socialism. I remain as committed to the self-emancipation of the working class and the dictatorship of the proletariat as I was when I first became a revolutionary nearly thirty years ago. [The difference between Dialectical Materialism [DM] and HM, as I see it, is explained here.]

 

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Yet another Dialectical Mystic (one 'Jurriaan') has sallied forth to defend the confused thoughts dreamt-up by Germany's answer to Mr Bean -- Hegel --, in a debate initiated at the Marxist Humanist Initiative [MHI] site.

 

In response to his original post, I replied as follows:

 

Thanks for your reply Jurriaan, but you seem to think I do not know this:


a dialectical contradiction differs from a logical contradiction....

 

For the last 25 years or more, I have been reading and studying the material dialecticians have been churning out (over the last two centuries), and have yet to see a clear explanation of the latter of these two uses of the word "contradiction". Let's see how you get on:


From a logically contradictory type of statement anything can follow. A dialectical contradiction describes a situation in which a condition co-exists meaningfully with another condition, in such a way that although the one is the opposite of the other, it also presupposes the other. The dialectical contradiction is 'held in place' by the fact that it is mediated by something, or contained by something else.


Well, Marx added that the two interconnected 'halves' of a 'dialectical contradiction' "mutually exclude one another". If that is so, then they cannot exist together, which means they cannot 'contradict' one another in the way you require. On the other hand, if they do 'contradict' one another, and both exist at the same time (perhaps as opposing forces, or determinations (depending on how you give them physical being)), then they cannot "mutually exclude" one another.

Jurriaan:


a dialectical contradiction differs from a logical contradiction in that a logical contradiction is basically a formal inconsistency of meaning, evaluated according to certain inferential rules of propositional logic.... In formal logic we call this either a paradoxical statement, or a nonsensical statement.


Alas, dialecticians are always making this mistake. An inconsistency, in its simplest form, involves two propositions which cannot both be true, but they can both be false, whereas a contradiction involves two propositions that cannot both be true and cannot both be false. So, in logic no contradiction (sans phrase) is an inconsistency, nor vice versa.

And this is incorrect, too:


In formal logic we call this either a paradoxical statement, or a nonsensical statement.


Well a paradox might lead to a contradiction, but the two are quite distinct, and no contradiction can be nonsensical, otherwise we'd not be able to understand it to see if it is contradictory or not.

Jurriaan:


But in fact in practical life we encounter such dialectical contradictions all the time, and there is nothing particularly mysterious about it.


I'd like to see an example!

But you helpfully gave us one:


To illustrate: I work as a public servant for a local government bureaucracy obliged by oath to follow the rules, yet if I tried to conduct myself only and exclusively according to consistent rules, analogous to a computer programme or a machine, I would find this practically impossible to operate, and my activity would be quickly paralysed. I find myself constantly confronted with dialectical contradictions I have to negotiate, sometimes a bit like a "catch-22" situation.

Now the interesting thing in this example is that even although I cannot practically act, only and exclusively, according to consistent rules and survive, nevertheless most people do not regard my behaviour as essentially arbitrary, irrational and random. Some of it might be, but most of it is not. They recognise it has a non-arbitrary pattern. And not only that; they can also make correct and valid inferences from my behaviour, even although my behaviour is not following any given rule. One could even say that much of my behaviour is predictable, even although does not involve executing a rule.


And yet you failed to tell us what the 'dialectical contradiction' is here!

Jurriaan:


From this kind of insight you can learn that there are forms of reasoning (inferential processes) which, although they do not conform to deductive logic, and do not lead to only one conclusion, are nevertheless non-arbitrary, and very meaningful. The reason why they are non-arbitrary is because they 'rule in' some possibilities, and 'rule out' others; some things cannot follow and are ruled out, the number of things that can follow are limited, and some things are more likely to be the case than others -- and all this, even although there is not just one logically compelling conclusion from the reasoning, but several. Again this is a rather obvious insight, but the question now is 'why this is so', how that works, how we could model or describe that. There are many different trends of thought about this (pragmatism, para-consistency, fuzzy logic etc.) and dialectics is one of those trends. One sort of answer is that ordinary language itself, although reasonable, does not conform to formal logic, and therefore that an association can be meaningful and non-arbitrary, without being logical.


Yes, I know about "fuzzy logic" and "informal logic", but I fail to see how this helps anyone understand the obscure phrase "dialectical contradiction".

Jurriaan:


We can also approach the problem from another angle. Deductive logic has severe limits, since P follows 'if' Q is the case, and that can be a very big 'if. A deductive argument cannot compel us to induce all the premises it contains, it can tell us only that if we induce certain premises then the conclusion follows. Thus deductive logic only specifies the conditions for making consistent sense; the inductions into the deduction process may be reasonable, but not logically compelling. Therefore, in practice we are always forced to apply two criteria of truth, namely correspondence and coherence, but in applying these criteria we additionally assume a context which exists beyond those criteria. If you pursue this line of thought, you find that actually it is possible to make a very large number of true statements about one object, using various criteria, without necessarily being able to say that one statement is more true than another, or without there being clear criteria for choosing between them, or how they would fit together.


Once more, whatever the limitations of formal logic are (and from the above I am far from convinced you have a firm grasp of the subject), this in no way helps us understand the phrase "dialectical contradiction".

Jurriaan:


The question then is whether there are some meta-criteria of meaning and reason, captured by basic categorizations, which would allow us to order the whole of the truths we have discovered about an object in a non-arbitrary synthesis, such that through a series of conceptualizations, the truth about the object 'explains itself', becomes 'self-explanatory'. The dialectician would say 'yes', this is possible, we can discover those criteria, but it is not possible to do so by means of deductive inference only, not only because we somehow have to induce premises non-arbitrarily, but also because we need to refer to a meaningful context not provided by the deductions and inductions themselves. We need to start both with what the object is, and what it is not (its negation), and constantly elaborate further what it is and is not, and this involves explicating the dialectical contradictions involved with the object, how these are mediated and resolved, how they give rise to new contradictions. At the conclusion it is proved that, provided a certain starting assumption is made about what the object is and is not, this assumption will validate itself, by showing that it provides non-arbitrary means to integrate all truths about the object consistently, in such a way that the truth about the object 'explains itself', that its full meaning is understood.

This is merely to say that the dialectical procedure aims to understand the full meaning of the object of study and relativise it appropriately, using meta-criteria to order truth-coherences and truth-correspondences in an rigorous interpretation, which goes beyond formal logical procedures although it utilizes them. The question then remains, whether dialectical properties are just a characteristic of the meaningful universe that human beings generate themselves (a human way of understanding), or whether dialectical characteristics indeed exist mind-independently as objective social realities or objective physical realities. A realist dialectician argues that indeed dialectical features exist objectively in nature and society, since human dialectical meanings have originally evolved out of, and in relationship to, those objectively existing dialectical features ('mind' has evolved out of 'matter'). If we say for example that 'mind and body are a unit' or a 'whole', we cannot really say that the mind features dialectical characteristics, while the body doesn't.


Well, there is much here I could take issue with, but I won't since it is not directly connected with the challenge I raised to Andrew [Kliman] -- what the hell is a (Marxist) 'dialectical contradiction'? -- but I notice you keep helping yourself to the phrase "dialectical contradiction" when it is still far from clear what they are. [Much of the above comment of yours in fact constitutes an Idealist analysis, anyway --, unless, of course, you can give it a materialist twist somehow. And, good luck with that one! Nobody has succeeded on that score in the last 150 years.]

Jurriaan:


However it is not possible to write a dialectical 'rule book' like Marxists try (see above), the question is only whether you can discover the dialectical characteristics of a subject matter by means of a comprehensive analysis of all it contains. The dialectician claims, that if you are prepared to delve sufficiently deeply and systematically into the subject matter, you will sooner or later confront the dialectical relationships beneath the apparent logical paradoxes and puzzling relationships in the subject matter. However, even if you can prove that a dialectical contradiction objectively exists, dialectical thinking does not of itself offer any logical or empirical proofs. It merely claims that 'if' a certain assumption is adopted, or 'if' you see the subject matter this way, then it becomes self-explanatory, and makes integral scientific sense.


Thanks for that, but I am no clearer -- and since I am interested in a Marxist analysis of this obscure phrase, I'm not sure you are the person to help me.

And the Einstein quote you added seems to confirm that you are indeed an Idealist, like he was.

 

Up until Jurriaan's intervention, the debate at MHI had largely been measured and reasonable. Indeed, readers will, I hope, note that I am unusually polite and respectful in the above reply, just as they will recall these words that I added to the opening page of this site (bold added):

 

How Not To Argue 101

 

The above page contains links to forums on the web where I have 'debated' this creed with other comrades.

 

For anyone interested, check out the desperate 'debating' tactics used by Dialectical Mystics in their attempt to respond to my ideas.

 

You will no doubt notice that the vast majority all say the same sorts of things, and most of them pepper their remarks with scatological and abusive language. They all like to make things up, too, about me and my beliefs.

 

25 years (!!) of this stuff from Dialectical Mystics has meant I now take an aggressive stance with them every time -- I soon learnt back in the 1980s that being pleasant with them (my initial tactic) did not alter their abusive tone, their propensity to fabricate, nor reduce the amount of scatological language they used.

 

So, these days, I generally go for the jugular from the get-go.

 

Apparently, they expect me to take their abuse lying down, and regularly complain about my "bullying" tactics.

 

So, these mystics can dish it out, but they cannot take it.

 

Given the damage their theory has done to Marxism, and the abuse they all dole out, they are lucky this is all I can do to them.

 

So, how was my attempt to be polite received? Yes, you guessed it! Jurriaan soon became highly emotional, abusive, and began to use yet more of the 'by-now-obligatory' scatological language!

 

"Rosa" (she or he is talking cowardly from behind a pseudonym) claims:

 

Well, Marx added that the two interconnected 'halves' of a 'dialectical contradiction' "mutually exclude one another". If that is so, then they cannot exist together, which means that cannot 'contradict' one another in the way you require. On the other hand, if they do 'contradict' one another, and both exist at the same time (perhaps as opposing forces, or determinations (depending on how you give them physical being)), then they cannot "mutually exclude" one another.

 

But this is a petitio principii, Rosa just assumes what has to be proved. I defined a dialectical contradiction very clearly, as two opposite conditions which nevertheless presuppose each other and depend on each other for their existence, a situation which can exist because the opposition of the two conditions is in some way mediated, or contained in some way, by something else. Rosa then argues that if the two conditions mutually exclude each other, they cannot co-exist, but this is just an assertion with an appeal to tautological definition. BTW Rosa's Phd dissertation must be total rubbish, you can tell that straightaway from the puberal mode of argumentation. The real logical or semantic question is, under what condition would it make sense (or to be reasonable) to speak of two opposite conditions which nevertheless presuppose each other? Reflective dialectical thought goes right back to Heraclitus and even earlier, and there are many different ways of describing dialectical contradictions and their further implications, I don't deny that. But the basic idea is quite simple, and there is no particular mystery about it at all, our facilitary and front office staff have deal with this sort of thing all the time.

 

Alas, dialecticians are always making this mistake. An inconsistency, in its simplest form, involves two propositions which cannot both be true, but they can both be false, whereas a contradiction involves two propositions that cannot both be true and cannot both be false. So, in logic no contradiction (sans phrase) is an inconsistency, nor vice versa.

 

This already shows that Rosa does not grasp formal logic, notwithstanding the brainless Wittgenstein bullshit, which is a ruse.

 

And yet you failed to tell us what the 'dialectical contradiction' is here!

 

Well, it's very simple Rosa: just like in Catch-22, what you are dealing with is that in order to apply the rule, you have to negate the rule, and in order to not apply the rule, you have to apply the rule. This may seem unprincipled, but in the bureaucracy there is always a hierarchy of principles which renders such improvisation legitimate. This situation arises, often, because academics like Rosa, who styles himself [sic] a "Wittgensteinian Trotskyite", are paid rich helpings of tax money to devise rule systems and conceptual hierarchies which cannot in fact be applied, because these so-called "academics" have an extremely poor understanding of what is actually humanly, socially and practically involved in a work process or an administrative process. Their task is to describe what's happening and rendering it meaningful to the ivory tower of management, Plato's philosopher kings, but this is obviously quite different from the operative staff who actually have to make things work, and therefore face dialectical contradictions all the time.

 

Yes, I know about "fuzzy logic" and "informal logic", but I fail to see how this helps anyone understand the obscure phrase "dialectical contradiction".

 

Here Rosa misses the point completely. The real point is that non-arbitrary human reasoning extends far beyond what we can capture in deductive and inductive inference, and that is just where dialectical reason only begins! But "Rosa" has no grasp of it at all. Now how can we ever have any constructive discussion when Rosa doesn't even understand the most elementary problems of reason?

 

Well, there is much here I could take issue with, but I won't since it is not directly connected with the challenge I raised to Andrew -- what the hell is a (Marxist) 'dialectical contradiction'? -- but I notice you keep helping yourself to the phrase "dialectical contradiction" when it is still far from clear what one of these is. [Much of the above is in fact an idealist analysis, anyway --, unless, of course, you can give it a materialist twist somehow. And, good luck there! No one has succeeded on that score in the last 150 years.]

 

This is just puberal, studenty pharisee [sic] crap once again. Of course you are going to be perpetually puzzled by the normality of "dialectical contradictions" if you deny their existence tooth and nail! It would be like saying the sun doesn’t exist, even although everybody thinks the sun does exist, on the ground that most people cannot adequately "define" the sun in terms of formal logic. Well, big deal.

 

Thanks for that, but I am no clearer -- and since I am interested in a Marxist analysis of this obscure phrase, I'm not sure you are the person to help me.

 

Yeah, Rosa does need help, but he or she "is not sure I am the person to help him or her". When all else fails, hang out the victim… The hypocrisy is that I already tried to help him/her, by explaining what a dialectical contradiction is and what the utility of dialectics is, in plain language, sacrificing the free time that I have. Then he/she says, "I am not sure". Well, big deal. On to the next one.

 

And the Einstein quote you added seems to confirm that you are indeed an Idealist, just like he was.

 

This again is a dumb slur from the nihilist enemy of reason which Rosa is. Einstein as a physicist was not at all an "idealist", other than having political and human ideals. Einstein is referring to the fact that our ability to actually test theories is far more limited than our creative ability to theorize and draw logical inferences, in part because our ability to construct valid empirical tests is practically limited, whereas our ability to speculate theoretically in abstracto is much less limited, so that the effect is, that the amount of scientific theory we have, is typically disproportionately larger than the amount of valid scientific evidence to back it up. He suggests that there exists a series of basic ("axiomatic") assumptions, discovered through creative inquiry, which, "if" they are true, would explain the scientific evidence we have, and if we do not have those assumptions, then we cannot explain the scientific evidence.


This may seem to weaken the possibilities for scientific knowledge, but in fact armed with these assumptions we are able to explain very much, since we can show convincingly that predictions made using these assumptions will in most cases yield confirmation of the assumptions, or are at least consistent with what we would expect. The point is that these "axiomatic" assumptions cannot themselves derive simply from the data, though they are informed by them -- the central problem of dialectical theory – nor are they amenable to a complete proof by the data. But that is just to say that Einstein, as a scientific realist, rejected a simplistic empiricist account of the relationship between theory and data, according to which Hempelian "covering laws" are strictly generalisations from clusters of sense data. The theory, which contains many logical inferences, and the data gathered, are for Einstein "semi-autonomous" from each other: they inform each other but are not reducible to each other. He implies thereby that the task of science is to bring the theories we have, and the data we produce, closer together in a rational way, and he expresses his optimism that creative inquiry can enable us to do this -- possibly, with the belief that, since we are ourselves part of the universe, we are able to improve our understanding of it. This contrasts with the skepticist [sic] mysticism of the Popperian view according to which reality is too complex and variegated, and our abilities too limited, for us to know very much for certain about it at all, so that most people are deluded, and all we can do is demolish illusions, even although there are always far more illusions than we can demolish. Einstein suggests that in reality people are not so deluded as Karl Popper implies and that the "proof is in the pudding" ("The skeptic will say: "It may well be true that this system of equations is reasonable from a logical standpoint. But this does not prove that it corresponds to nature." You are right, dear skeptic. Experience alone can decide on truth.") -- if we are able to transform nature consistent with our explicated theory of it, this is an experiential proof of sorts that we can really know essential aspects of nature, even if the proof is not an absolute and final one.

 

The bourgeois intellectuals wax with an air of profundity about all the things we cannot know about "financial risk" and so on, completely ignoring what billions of ordinary folks are proving by their actions every day! Which just tells us that their so-called "innocence" (ignorance really) is just feigned, growing out of their own loves and hates. In the same way, "Rosa" hates "dialectical materialism" and tries to create an elaborate defence of that hate. But the real scientific questions are thereby missed altogether. I have never denied that "dialectical materialism" is a philosophy of Marxist-Leninist bureaucratism, and I have strongly argued against its totalitarian applications. My views on this issue are on public record. But it is another thing to deny the existence of the dialectical characteristics of reality. I am not prepared to do that, in good part because I experience them every day as a normal occurrence, and to deny that would be to deny part of reality. Of course I realise that academic theorists, seeking to be profound, concoct all kinds of nonsense about dialectics, but this does not deter me at all from acknowledging the dialectical characteristics which reality can have. It is just that, rather than focusing on the nonsense, I studied writers like Charles Taylor and Mario Bunge, in other words people who tried to make some constructive sense of the notion.

 

I wrote a reply to this, but it has yet to appear at the MHI site -- they tell me that their site is being redesigned, so there will be a delay in publishing it. Anyway, here it is:

 

Jurriaan, are you addressing me, or your 'followers'?

And why the emotive and abusive response? What have I ever done to you?


But this is a petitio principii, Rosa just assumes what has to be proved. I defined a dialectical contradiction very clearly, as two opposite conditions which nevertheless presuppose each other and depend on each other for their existence, a situation which can exist because the opposition of the two conditions is in some way mediated, or contained in some way, by something else.
 

In fact, I did not "assume" anything, I merely quoted Marx back at you. If you want to pick a fight with him, that's up to you.

Jurriaan:


Rosa then argues that if the two conditions mutually exclude each other, they cannot co-exist, but this is just an assertion with an appeal to tautological definition.
 

I did not argue this, Marx did. I just noted its implications.

[And what is a 'tautological definition', for goodness sake?]

Jurriaan:


BTW Rosa's Phd dissertation must be total rubbish, you can tell that straightaway from the puberal mode of argumentation [sic].
 

Well, you are the one who doesn't appear to know the difference between an inconsistency and a contradiction, and you seem to think that formal contradictions are nonsensical -- so that accusatory finger of yours needs rotating through 180 degrees. As I noted above, your grasp of logic doesn't inspire much confidence.

Jurriaan:


The real logical or semantic question is, under what condition would it make sense (or to be reasonable) to speak of two opposite conditions which nevertheless presuppose each other?


But, this in no way helps us understand what you dialecticians are banging on about when you use the phrase "dialectical contradiction".

Jurriaan:


Reflective dialectical thought goes right back to Heraclitus and even earlier, and there are many different ways of describing dialectical contradictions and their further implications, I don’t deny that. But the basic idea is quite simple, and there is no particular mystery about it at all, our facilitary [sic] and front office staff have deal with this sort of thing all the time.


Alas, Heraclitus was a seriously confused mystic, who, among other things, thought that he could determine what was true of all moving objects and/or processes in the entire universe, for all of time, based on a badly executed thought experiment about stepping into a river!

[And
he screwed up there, too, because he confused the identity criteria we have for count nouns with those we have for mass nouns.]

A priori dogmatics
like this has dominated much of 'western' thought ever since, including the tangled mess Hegel inflicted on humanity (whom you seem happy to emulate).

Jurriaan:


This already shows that Rosa does not grasp formal logic, notwithstanding the brainless Wittgenstein bullshit, which is a ruse.


Oh dear, you are really getting worked-up, aren't you?

Do you by any chance suffer from low impulse control?

I'd get that seen to if I were you.

In reply to your flat denial, I can quote you as many logic textbooks as it takes that will tell you exactly what I have told you about the difference between a contradiction and an inconsistency (why, even Aristotle distinguished between them!).

Can you do the same?

I suspect not.

And this isn't a Wittgensteinian point, either; as I noted above, logicians since at least Aristotle's day have acknowledged it.

Nevertheless, I must say, I rather like the fine, dialectically-complex word you used in your searching, well-reasoned response to me.

What was it again? -- Oh yes: "Bullshit".

So incisive!

I can see I stand no chance with one as erudite and incisive as your good self.

But, may I remind you: you were the one who appealed to Wittgenstein in your first reply to me. So, what is all this about 'Wittgensteinian bullshit' in this latest response of yours? Don't you even know your own mind?

Jurriaan (addressing me now -- I am honoured!):

 

Well, it's very simple Rosa: just like in Catch-22, what you are dealing with is that in order to apply the rule, you have to negate the rule, and in order to not apply the rule, you have to apply the rule. This may seem unprincipled, but in the bureaucracy there is always a hierarchy of principles which renders such improvisation legitimate. This situation arises, often, because academics like Rosa, who styles himself a 'Wittgensteinian Trotskyite', are paid rich helpings of tax money to devise rule systems and conceptual hierarchies which cannot in fact be applied, because these so-called 'academics' have an extremely poor understanding of what is actually humanly, socially and practically involved in a work process or an administrative process. Their task is to describe what’s happening and rendering it meaningful to the ivory tower of management, Plato's philosopher kings, but this is obviously quite different from the operative staff who actually have to make things work, and therefore face dialectical contradictions all the time.
 

In fact, I'm not an academic, but a worker, and a trade union rep (unpaid), too. So, the above comment of yours is just hot air. But, you clearly needed to get it off your chest. Feel better now?

Anyway, you'd do well to concentrate on what I actually say, and resist the temptation to make baseless personal attacks on me from a position of total ignorance.

Hey, but what do I know? After all, you are the expert logician here. Maybe abusive and foul language, compounded by invention, lies, and invective constitute a new, and valid, argument form?

 

'Jurriaan's Lemma', perhaps?

Jurriaan (again back to addressing his rapidly dwindling audience):
 

Here Rosa misses the point completely. The real point is that non-arbitrary human reasoning extends far beyond what we can capture in deductive and inductive inference, and that is just where dialectical reason only begins! But 'Rosa' has no grasp of it at all. Now how can we ever have any constructive discussion when Rosa doesn't even understand the most elementary problems of reason?


And where did I deny that "human reasoning extends far beyond what we can capture in deductive and inductive inference..."?

Nowhere, that's where.

Even so, I see you still can't resist the temptation to make stuff up.

And, may I remind you, once again, that you are the one who can't tell the difference between an
inconsistency and a contradiction, and you seem to think that formal contradictions are nonsensical -- so I don't think you have good reason to indulge in any chest-beating, impressive though it is!

[Phew, what a 'guy', eh, girls...?!]

 

This is just puberal, studenty pharisee [sic] crap once again. Of course you are going to be perpetually puzzled by the normality of 'dialectical contradictions' if you deny their existence tooth and nail! It would be like saying the sun doesn't exist, even although everybody thinks the sun does exist, on the ground that most people cannot adequately 'define' the sun in terms of formal logic. Well, big deal.
 

Ah, what fine, dialectico-scatological language -- coupled with an impressive array of diversionary bluster!

We can all learn much from this dialectical sage. [I'm certainly taking notes!]

But, wait! Where did I ask for a definition, or even one expressed in 'Formal Logic'?

I note once again, however, that you didn't even try to quote me to this effect -- better just to make it all up, eh?

Indeed, I can quite imagine a benighted Jesuit soul rather like you arguing with Galileo about the Copernican system, four hundred years ago:

'Seventeenth-century-Jurriaan':


Of course you are going to be perpetually puzzled by the normality of a stationary earth, if you deny its existence tooth and nail! It would be like saying the sun doesn't exist, even although everybody thinks the sun does exist, on the ground that most people cannot adequately 'define' the sun in terms of formal logic. Well, big deal. And no, I won't look down your telescope. That is just puberal, studenty pharisee crap once again.
 

And look what happened to those sad dinosaurs. I'd hate to think you are headed in the same direction, even though it looks like you are intent on doing just that.

Don't say I didn't warn you...

Jurriaan -- working 'himself' up into a right old lather (crash team on stand-by!):


Yeah, Rosa does need help, but he or she 'is not sure I am the person to help him or her'. When all else fails, hang out the victim… The hypocrisy is that I already tried to help him/her, by explaining what a dialectical contradiction is and what the utility of dialectics is, in plain language, sacrificing the free time that I have. Then he/she says, 'I am not sure'. Well, big deal. On to the next one.
 

But, you didn't explain what a 'dialectical contradiction' is (you explained some other sort of 'contradiction'), since you missed out a key Marxist component, which in fact makes the whole 'concept' implode.

So, not only are you not the person to help me, you aren't even the person to help yourself! That is because you don't seem to understand your own 'theory'!

Jurriaan -- now in full waffle Hyperdrive:

 

This again is a dumb slur from the nihilist enemy of reason which Rosa is. Einstein as a physicist was not at all an 'idealist', other than having political and human ideals. Einstein is referring to the fact that our ability to actually test theories is far more limited than our creative ability to theorize and draw logical inferences, in part because our ability to construct valid empirical tests is practically limited, whereas our ability to speculate theoretically in abstracto is much less limited, so that the effect is, that the amount of scientific theory we have, is typically disproportionately larger than the amount of valid scientific evidence to back it up. He suggests that there exists a series of basic ('axiomatic') assumptions, discovered through creative inquiry, which, 'if' they are true, would explain the scientific evidence we have, and if we do not have those assumptions, then we cannot explain the scientific evidence. This may seem to weaken the possibilities for scientific knowledge, but in fact armed with these assumptions we are able to explain very much, since we can show convincingly that predictions made using these assumptions will in most cases yield confirmation of the assumptions, or are at least consistent with what we would expect. The point is that these 'axiomatic' assumptions cannot themselves derive simply from the data, though they are informed by them – the central problem of dialectical theory – nor are they amenable to a complete proof by the data. But that is just to say that Einstein, as a scientific realist, rejected a simplistic empiricist account of the relationship between theory and data, according to which Hempelian 'covering laws are strictly generalisations from clusters of sense data. The theory, which contains many logical inferences, and the data gathered, are for Einstein 'semi-autonomous' from each other: they inform each other but are not reducible to each other. He implies thereby that the task of science is to bring the theories we have, and the data we produce, closer together in a rational way, and he expresses his optimism that creative inquiry can enable us to do this – possibly, with the belief that, since we are ourselves part of the universe, we are able to improve our understanding of it. This contrasts with the skepticist mysticism of the Popperian view according to which reality is too complex and variegated, and our abilities too limited, for us to know very much for certain about it at all, so that most people are deluded, and all we can do is demolish illusions, even although there are always far more illusions than we can demolish. Einstein suggests that in reality people are not so deluded as Karl Popper implies and that the “proof is in the pudding” ('The skeptic will say: "It may well be true that this system of equations is reasonable from a logical standpoint. But this does not prove that it corresponds to nature." You are right, dear skeptic. Experience alone can decide on truth.') – if we are able to transform nature consistent with our explicated theory of it, this is an experiential proof of sorts that we can really know essential aspects of nature, even if the proof is not an absolute and final one.
 

Thanks for that, but it in no way shows Einstein wasn't an idealist. Even so, since I don't want to distract attention from your predicament (in so far as you can't explain the obscure phrase "dialectical contradiction" to eagerly waiting humanity), I will give you this one for now. We can debate it another time.

Jurriaan -- the veins in 'his' neck bulging alarmingly:


The bourgeois intellectuals wax with an air of profundity about all the things we cannot know about 'financial risk' and so on, completely ignoring what billions of ordinary folks are proving by their actions every day! Which just tells us that their so-called “innocence” (ignorance really) is just feigned, growing out of their own loves and hates. In the same way, 'Rosa' hates 'dialectical materialism' and tries to create an elaborate defence of that hate. But the real scientific questions are thereby missed altogether. I have never denied that 'dialectical materialism' is a philosophy of Marxist-Leninist bureaucratism, and I have strongly argued against its totalitarian applications. My views on this issue are on public record. But it is another thing to deny the existence of the dialectical characteristics of reality. I am not prepared to do that, in good part because I experience them every day as a normal occurrence, and to deny that would be to deny part of reality. Of course I realise that academic theorists, seeking to be profound, concoct all kinds of nonsense about dialectics, but this does not deter me at all from acknowledging the dialectical characteristics which reality can have. It is just that, rather than focusing on the nonsense, I studied writers like Charles Taylor and Mario Bunge, in other words people who tried to make some constructive sense of the notion.


Translated this reads: "Sorry, I can't explain what a 'dialectical contradiction' is, so I will just kick up a cloud of dust to hide that fact...".

As I said in my reply to
Rakesh: at least have the courage to admit this openly!

It will at least mean we can stand that crash team down.

PS. If anyone wants to know why dialecticians are almost all invariably like Jurriaan here (emotive, irrational and abusive) when their precious 'theory' is attacked, I have provided a detailed explanation
here.

PPS. Jurriaan: I have added
a link at my site to your reply to me since I am building up a database there of all the abusive and obnoxious dialecticians (scores of them, in fact; the overwhelming majority of whom are just as unpleasant and abusive as you are -- the vast majority adopting this stance without any provocation, too) with whom I have debated this 'theory' over the last four years on the Internet.

Since my Essays will long outlast you, I have guaranteed that your rather unpleasant personality disorder will never slip from memory.

So I owe you thanks for supplying me with yet more bile..., sorry, data!

Any more vitriol in there? Let it out -- it all adds to my site!

Have a nice fume...

 

Since then, several others have briefly discussed this debate here (to find the relevant posts just type "Rosa Lichtenstein" in the search window) -- and one or two of them appear to have swallowed 'Socialist Steve's' lunatic belief that I am in fact a computer programme!

 

[Given that 'Socialist Steve' thinks that when I refer to the "alien-class ideas of the ruling-class" I am in fact labouring with the illusion that the ruling-class are shape-shifting lizards, I think we can take his allegations with a bucket of salt. (The 'academic Marxists' at the above link seem not to have noticed that this sad character has mental health problems.)]

 

Anyway, Jurriaan has added this comment about me:

 

For a scholarly argument in public space, a pseudonym is not acceptable, especially if the controversy is a purely theoretical or scientific one. I regard many of the claims by "Rose Lichtenstein" as fraudulent. If in addition "Rosa" boasts about his/her Phd Thesis on Wittgenstein, then we want to be able to refer to it. I can tell it isn't any good, because of the very elementary mistakes "Rosa" makes in his/her argumentation. Anybody who has a profound understanding of Wittgenstein would never make such schoolboy errors. The aim of "Rosa" seems to be to "debunk" every claim mooted about dialectics regardless of merit, presumably to show how fantastically intelligent he/she is. But that will not wash here. It is not possible to be a "Wittgensteinian Trotskyist" because in reality Wittgenstein's philosophy and Trotsky's philosophy are not compatible, even if Wittgenstein expressed sympathy for the RCP in Britain at some point. The only reason for replying to this nonsense is to demonstrate it is misguided.
 

Hegel wrote in his encyclopedia:
 

The principles of the metaphysical philosophy gave rise to the belief that, when cognition lapsed into contradictions, it was a mere accidental aberration, due to some subjective mistake in argument and inference. According to Kant, however, thought has a natural tendency to issue in contradictions or antinomies, whenever it seeks to apprehend the infinite. We have in the latter part of the above paragraph referred to the philosophical importance of the antinomies of reason, and shown how the recognition of their existence helped largely to get rid of the rigid dogmatism of the metaphysic of understanding, and to direct attention to the Dialectical movement of thought. But here too Kant, as we must add, never got beyond the negative result that the thing-in-itself is unknowable, and never penetrated to the discovery of what the antinomies really and positively mean. That true and positive meaning of the antinomies is this: that every actual thing involves a coexistence of opposed elements. Consequently to know, or, in other words, to comprehend an object is equivalent to being conscious of it as a concrete unity of opposed determinations. The old metaphysic, as we have already seen, when it studied the objects of which it sought a metaphysical knowledge, went to work by applying categories abstractly and to the exclusion of their opposites.


http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/works/sl/sl_iv.htm#SL48n


This idea, i.e. that contradictions are not an "aberration" but are a result of different conflicting forces which give rise to it, is carried through by Marx's critical thought, according to which the "aberration" is itself not accidental or indeterminate, but a result of the very terms in which the solution to a problem is posed, and that these terms in turn result from a real conflict between co-existing conditions which give rise to the conflicting terms in the first place. The analysis of the contradictions themselves therefore forms the starting point for understanding the intrinsic problems of the subject matter. This is an eminently critical-rational principle, which is of metho[do]logical interest. But when Hegel further argues that "that every actual thing involves a coexistence of opposed elements" this is a universal metaphysical statement which cannot be scientifically proved. Yet Marx nowhere claims this to be the case anyway, at most he argues that it is useful to understanding a thing in terms of its contradictions if you want to understand its dynamics.
 

Wittgenstein's idea is that a contradiction like "p &-p" is equivalent to a tautology like "-(p & -p)" not because it is nonsensical, but meaningless -- because it says nothing, which is precisely what Hegel, Marx and Trotsky contest: contradictions are meaningful, if considered in the broader context within which they occur, a context which enables us to understand how the contradiction arises, and thus enables us to ascend to an understanding of the totality being expressed in contradictory ways. The Aristotelian "law of non-contradiction" is not interpreted by Wittgenstein as the expression "-(p & -p)" itself, but rather as a rule which PROHIBITS any such expression, and that is also "Rosa's" idea. But in fact "Rosa" falls from one contradiction into another.
 

Wittgenstein, committed to deductive logic, is not disturbed by contradictions per se; viewed as logical inconsistencies they play an important role, e.g. in reductio ad absurdum arguments which specify consequences of an argument which would be untenable to the person who makes the argument. Wittgenstein aims to show, that certain reasonings are to be ruled out of meaningful discourse precisely BECAUSE they are contradictory. The problem, in his view, is with recurrent transgressions of the law of non-contradiction, such as the failure to abandon any idea which implies a contradiction immediately. There is no such thing for Wittgenstein as a "contradictory rule", because it could not tell one what to do, and provides no orientation (anything can follow from it), and "a contradictory proposition is no more a move in the language-game than placing and withdrawing a piece from a square is a move in chess" (Hans-Johan Glock, A Wittgenstein Dictionary, Blackwell 1996). But if that was the case, in real life we e.g. might as well abandon the very idea of legal justice, since the application of legal rules in practice invariably leads to contradictions, which, precisely, a court aims to resolve.
 

The root meaning of dialectics is dialogos, dialogue, and the aim of the dialogue is to discover the truth by taking the opposites involved seriously, rather than deny them as meaningless. But obviously no genuine dialogue is possible, if there is no shared ground at all, because the parties to the dialogue deny the validity of the opposite position completely, and rule it out from meaningful discourse. Analytical philosophy had the grandiose pretension that it was possible for the "philosopher kings" to devise logical "demarcation criteria" which would sort out meaningful from meaningless statements, but this idea rests on a naive understanding of meaning. The dialectician's argument is precisely that any such demarcation criteria can only be established precisely through the encounter of opposites within a particular context, but there is no demarcation rule possible for the existence of meaning independent of that context.
 

Looks like Jurriaan has done some hasty 'research' on Wittgenstein (stretching as far a Hanjo Glock's A Wittgenstein Dictionary -- no effort spared there, then!), and yet he has already forgotten that in his first reply to me he called contradictions "nonsense"; now he says this about them:

 

Wittgenstein's idea is that a contradiction like "p &-p" is equivalent to a tautology like "-(p & -p)" not because it is nonsensical, but meaningless -- because it says nothing, which is precisely what Hegel, Marx and Trotsky contest: contradictions are meaningful, if considered in the broader context within which they occur, a context which enables us to understand how the contradiction arises, and thus enables us to ascend to an understanding of the totality being expressed in contradictory ways. The Aristotelian "law of non-contradiction" is not interpreted by Wittgenstein as the expression "-(p & -p)" itself, but rather as a rule which PROHIBITS any such expression, and that is also "Rosa's" idea. But in fact "Rosa" falls from one contradiction into another.

 

[In fact, this is almost a word-for-word copy of key sections of the first paragraph in Glock's entry on 'Contradiction' (p.90), except Jurriaan has replaced "senseless" with "meaningless", not apparently knowing the difference!]

 

Jurriaan seems not to be able to make his mind up, and yet he is at pains to take me to task in the following terms:

 

If in addition "Rosa" boasts about his/her Phd Thesis on Wittgenstein, then we want to be able to refer to it. I can tell it isn't any good, because of the very elementary mistakes "Rosa" makes in his/her argumentation. Anybody who has a profound understanding of Wittgenstein would never make such schoolboy errors.

 

This is unfortunate, for had Jurriaan done his homework better (and spent more than two hours boning up on Wittgenstein), he'd know that Wittgenstein nowhere says contradictions are "meaningless". In the Tractatus he says they are like tautologies, senseless (Sinnlos), and had he read Glock's Dictionary with more care than a schoolboy with attention deficit disorder, he'd have seen that Glock is at pains to explain what Wittgenstein meant by this word (and it isn't "meaningless"). Indeed, if contradictions were "meaningless" we'd not be able to tell they were contradictions!

 

And, as far as my 'schoolboy errors' are concerned, we have already seen above that Jurriaan doesn't seem to know the difference between a contradiction and an inconsistency; well, this is only to be expected; he is after all a social scientist, and is clearly out of his depth when it comes to difficult subjects like Philosophy and Logic. In fact, I suspect he'd be out of his depth in a tea spoon.

 

 

But Which One Is Too Deep For Jurriaan?

[The Smart Money Is On Moka.]

 

What about the following, though?

 

For a scholarly argument in public space, a pseudonym is not acceptable, especially if the controversy is a purely theoretical or scientific one. I regard many of the claims by "Rose Lichtenstein" as fraudulent.

 

This from a comrade who is quite happy to refer us to Trotsky (who, of course, wasn't born with that name)!

 

Anyway, which of my 'claims' are 'fraudulent'? Our very own Weekend Wittgenstein Scholar refuses to say. Nevertheless, this Superior Logician thinks that a brief discussion on a website constitutes a 'scholarly argument' -- well, he should know, he can't even get Wittgenstein right!

 

You want more proof? Ok:

 

It is not possible to be a "Wittgensteinian Trotskyist" because in reality Wittgenstein's philosophy and Trotsky's philosophy are not compatible, even if Wittgenstein expressed sympathy for the RCP in Britain at some point.

 

In fact, it was Rush Rhees who expressed a desire to join the RCP; Wittgenstein passed no comment on this party (except perhaps to caution Rhees to think again). [More details here.]

 

And, far from it being the case that "It is not possible to be a 'Wittgensteinian Trotskyist' because in reality Wittgenstein's philosophy and Trotsky's philosophy are not compatible...", my site shows that it is indeed possible, if not desirable. Dialectical Trotskyism has been such a long-term and abysmal failure, it is high time Trotskyist 'philosophy' was extricated from the mystical quagmire in which comrades like Jurriaan seem to happy to keep it.

 

What about this, then?

 

The aim of "Rosa" seems to be to "debunk" every claim mooted about dialectics regardless of merit, presumably to show how fantastically intelligent he/she [sic] is.

 

Alas, there is no 'merit' to a single dialectical thesis (as my Essays show), so no wonder I want to 'debunk' the lot. And, it isn't hard to look "fantastically intelligent" next to one such as Jurriaan. I owe him that, at least.

 

But, what can our very own King Canute, Jurriaan, do to hold back the tide of history?

 

This, apparently:

 

But that will not wash here.

 

Ouch! That puts me in my place! It's about time somebody did.

 

Canute, eat your heart out!

 

Ok, but what about that Hegel quote?

 

The principles of the metaphysical philosophy gave rise to the belief that, when cognition lapsed into contradictions, it was a mere accidental aberration, due to some subjective mistake in argument and inference. According to Kant, however, thought has a natural tendency to issue in contradictions or antinomies, whenever it seeks to apprehend the infinite. We have in the latter part of the above paragraph referred to the philosophical importance of the antinomies of reason, and shown how the recognition of their existence helped largely to get rid of the rigid dogmatism of the metaphysic of understanding, and to direct attention to the Dialectical movement of thought. But here too Kant, as we must add, never got beyond the negative result that the thing-in-itself is unknowable, and never penetrated to the discovery of what the antinomies really and positively mean. That true and positive meaning of the antinomies is this: that every actual thing involves a coexistence of opposed elements. Consequently to know, or, in other words, to comprehend an object is equivalent to being conscious of it as a concrete unity of opposed determinations. The old metaphysic, as we have already seen, when it studied the objects of which it sought a metaphysical knowledge, went to work by applying categories abstractly and to the exclusion of their opposites.

 

As I have argued (here, here, and here), the sub-Aristotelian logic Hegel appropriated (whereby he confused the "is" of identity with the "is" of predication, and the 'negative' version of the 'Law of Identity' [LOI] with the 'Law of Contradiction' [LOC]) was in fact the only way he could 'derive' his rather odd 'contradictions'.

 

[That was indeed the subject of the debate I had with Andrew Kliman at MHI -- Jurriaan conveniently ignores this fact.]

 

Even so, while Hegel is quick to criticise the alleged "dogmatism" of the "metaphysic of understanding", he is quite happy to replace it with his own brand of dogmatic apriorism:

 

Consequently to know, or, in other words, to comprehend an object is equivalent to being conscious of it as a concrete unity of opposed determinations. The old metaphysic, as we have already seen, when it studied the objects of which it sought a metaphysical knowledge, went to work by applying categories abstractly and to the exclusion of their opposites.

 

Of course, the wise thing to do here is to reject both forms of dogmatism as yet more ruling-class hot air. [The rationale for that seemingly dogmatic recommendation is worked out in considerable detail in Essay Twelve Part One. How and why this is just another example of ruling-class ideology will be explained in the rest of Essay Twelve -- not yet published. Preliminary summaries of that argument can be found here, here and here.]

 

However, Jurriaan should have turned his dyspeptic eye on the arguments of that bourgeois hack, Hegel, and not on the comments of a fellow comrade. Or, is he, like far too many Dialectical Marxists, far more intent on defending a flawed, boss-class tradition than he is on trying to make Marxism more scientific, more successful?

 

Jurriaan then adds the following observation:

 

This idea, i.e. that contradictions are not an "aberration" but are a result of different conflicting forces which give rise to it, is carried through by Marx's critical thought, according to which the "aberration" is itself not accidental or indeterminate, but a result of the very terms in which the solution to a problem is posed, and that these terms in turn result from a real conflict between co-existing conditions which give rise to the conflicting terms in the first place. The analysis of the contradictions themselves therefore forms the starting point for understanding the intrinsic problems of the subject matter. This is an eminently critical-rational principle, which is of metho[do]logical interest. But when Hegel further argues that "that every actual thing involves a coexistence of opposed elements" this is a universal metaphysical statement which cannot be scientifically proved. Yet Marx nowhere claims this to be the case anyway, at most he argues that it is useful to understanding a thing in terms of its contradictions if you want to understand its dynamics.

 

Except, we still don't know what these 'contradictions' are! The 'definition' Jurriaan used omitted a key phrase Marx himself employed (i.e., that the elements of these 'contradictions' "mutually exclude" one another; on that, see above, and here), which means that this 'definition' (even if it faced no other problems) is unworkable. Moreover, the idea that these 'contradictions' can be represented by "conflicting forces" has already been laid to rest in Essay Eight Part Two.

 

[It looks like Jurriaan's 'research' into his own 'theory' was only marginally less incompetent than his two-hour 'research' into Wittgenstein's ideas.]

 

And, as far as this comment is concerned:

 

But when Hegel further argues that "that every actual thing involves a coexistence of opposed elements" this is a universal metaphysical statement which cannot be scientifically proved. Yet Marx nowhere claims this to be the case anyway, at most he argues that it is useful to understanding a thing in terms of its contradictions if you want to understand its dynamics.

 

The problem is that this 'theory' can't actually explain change! [The proof of that startling claim can be found here.]

 

In fact, ordinary language already possesses countless words that allow us to talk about and to explain change. This is no mere dogma; it is easily confirmed. As I pointed in Essay Four Part One, the following is a greatly shortened list of ordinary words (restricted to modern English) that allow speakers to refer to changes of unbounded complexity:

 

Vary, alter, adjust, adapt, amend, make, produce, revise, rework, advise, administer, allocate, improve, enhance, deteriorate, depreciate, edit, bend, straighten, weave, merge, dig, plough, cultivate, sow, twist, curl, turn, tighten, fasten, loosen, relax, ease, tense up, slacken, fine tune, bind, wrap, pluck, carve, rip, tear, mend, perforate, repair, renovate, restore, damage, impair, scratch, bite, diagnose, mutate, metamorphose, transmute, sharpen, hone, modify, modulate, develop, upgrade, appear, disappear, expand, contract, constrict, constrain, shrivel, widen, lock, unlock, swell, flow, glide, ring, differentiate, integrate, multiply, divide, add, subtract, simplify, complicate, partition, unite, amalgamate, fuse, mingle, connect, link, brake, decelerate, accelerate, fast, slow, swift, rapid, hasty, protracted, lingering, brief, heat up, melt, freeze, harden, cool down, flash, shine, glow, drip, bounce, cascade, drop, pick up, fade, darken, wind, unwind, meander, peel, scrape, graze, file, scour, dislodge, is, was, will be, will have been, had, will have had, went, go, going, gone, return, lost, age, flood, swamp, overflow, precipitate, percolate, seep, tumble, plunge, dive, float, sink, plummet, mix, separate, cut, chop, crush, grind, shred, slice, dice, saw, sew, knit, spread, coalesce, congeal, fall, climb, rise, ascend, descend, slide, slip, roll, spin, revolve, bounce, oscillate, undulate, rotate, wave, splash, conjure, quick, quickly, slowly, instantaneously, suddenly, gradually, rapidly, briskly, hurriedly, lively, hastily, inadvertently, accidentally,  carelessly, really, energetically, lethargically, snap, drink, quaff, eat, bite, consume, swallow, gulp, gobble, chew, gnaw, digest, ingest, excrete, absorb, join, resign, part, sell, buy, acquire, prevent, avert, avoid, forestall, encourage, invite, appropriate, lose, find, search, pursue, hunt, track, explore, follow, cover, uncover, reveal, stretch, distend, depress, compress, lift, put down, fetch, take, bring, carry, win, ripen, germinate, conceive, gestate, abort, die, rot, perish, grow, decay, fold, empty, evacuate, drain, pour, fill, abduct, abandon, leave, abscond, many, more, less, fewer, steady, steadily, jerkily, intermittently, smoothly, awkwardly, expertly, very, extremely, exceedingly, intermittent, discontinuous, continuous, continual, emit, push, pull, drag, slide, jump, sit, stand, run, sprint, chase, amble, walk, hop, skip, slither, crawl, limp, swim, fly, hover, drown, submerge, immerse, break, abrogate dismiss, collapse, shatter, split, interrupt, charge, retreat, assault, squash, adulterate, purify, filter, raze, crumble, erode, corrode, rust, flake, demolish, dismantle, pulverise, atomise, disintegrate, dismember, destroy, annihilate, extirpate, flatten, lengthen, shorten, elongate, crimple, inflate, deflate, terminate, initiate, instigate, replace, undo, redo, analyze, synthesise, articulate, disarticulate, reverse, repeal, abolish, enact, quash, throw, catch, hour, minute, second, instant, moment, momentary, invent, devise, teach, learn, innovate, forget, rescind, boil, freeze, thaw, cook, liquefy, solidify, congeal, neutralise, evaporate, condense, dissolve, process, mollify, pacify, calm down, excite, enrage, inflame, protest, object, challenge, confirm, deny, repudiate, reject, expel, eject, repel, attract, remove, overthrow, expropriate, scatter, distribute, surround, gather, admit, acknowledge, hijack, assemble, attack, counter-attack, charge, repulse, defeat, strike, occupy, picket, barricade, revolt, riot, rally, march, demonstrate, mutiny, rebel, defy, resist, lead, campaign, educate, agitate, organise...

 

It wouldn't be difficult to extend this list until it contained literally tens of thousands of words all capable of depicting countless changes in limitless detail (especially if it is augmented with the language of mathematics, science and Historical Materialism). It is only a myth put about by Hegel and his dialectical groupies that ordinary language can't cope with change. On the contrary, it performs this task far better than the incomprehensible and impenetrably obscure jargon Hegel invented in order to fix something that wasn't broken.

 

What about this, then?

 

Wittgenstein's idea is that a contradiction like "p &-p" is equivalent to a tautology like "-(p & -p)" not because it is nonsensical, but meaningless -- because it says nothing, which is precisely what Hegel, Marx and Trotsky contest: contradictions are meaningful, if considered in the broader context within which they occur, a context which enables us to understand how the contradiction arises, and thus enables us to ascend to an understanding of the totality being expressed in contradictory ways. The Aristotelian "law of non-contradiction" is not interpreted by Wittgenstein as the expression "-(p & -p)" itself, but rather as a rule which PROHIBITS any such expression, and that is also "Rosa's" idea. But in fact "Rosa" falls from one contradiction into another.

 

Of course, Jurriaan is referring to Wittgenstein's early ideas on this subject (and, as we saw above, he gets even these wrong!). In his middle and later work Wittgenstein modified his ideas considerably, to such an extent that Dialetheic Logicians (like Graham Priest) even quote him in support of the idea that there can be true 'contradictions'! Now, I disagree with Priest about this (on that, see here and here), but Jurriaan's 'in-depth', two hour 'research' on Wittgenstein has plainly back-fired, once again.

 

However, what of the claim that I wish to "PROHIBIT" contradictions -- or even that Wittgenstein did? Well, I agree that in logic, the so-called LOC is in fact the expression of a rule, but it doesn't "PROHIBIT" contradictions, since they are integral both to Reductio Ad Absurdum arguments (as Jurriaan also notes) and to Indirect Proofs (in mathematics). Hence, far from being "PROHIBITED", modern logicians use them all the time. So do I. [In fact, I use informal versions extensively in Essay Twelve Part One.] And we have already seen that Wittgenstein didn't do this either; in fact he did the exact opposite.

 

As far as ordinary language is concerned, the situation is far more complex, and readers are referred to my discussion here, here, here, here, here, and here. Nevertheless, Jurriaan will be hard pressed to find anywhere in my Essays and posts where I have "PROHIBITED" contradictions, but that didn't stop him inventing yet another baseless allegation about me and my work (when it is clear he hasn't even read it).

 

Alas, there is more:

 

Wittgenstein, committed to deductive logic, is not disturbed by contradictions per se; viewed as logical inconsistencies they play an important role, e.g. in reductio ad absurdum arguments which specify consequences of an argument which would be untenable to the person who makes the argument. Wittgenstein aims to show, that certain reasonings are to be ruled out of meaningful discourse precisely BECAUSE they are contradictory. The problem, in his view, is with recurrent transgressions of the law of non-contradiction, such as the failure to abandon any idea which implies a contradiction immediately. There is no such thing for Wittgenstein as a "contradictory rule", because it could not tell one what to do, and provides no orientation (anything can follow from it), and "a contradictory proposition is no more a move in the language-game than placing and withdrawing a piece from a square is a move in chess" (Hans-Johan Glock, A Wittgenstein Dictionary, Blackwell 1996). But if that was the case, in real life we e.g. might as well abandon the very idea of legal justice, since the application of legal rules in practice invariably leads to contradictions, which, precisely, a court aims to resolve.
 

Even so, it would be no less interesting to see precisely where Jurriaan thinks Wittgenstein maintained the following:

 

Wittgenstein aims to show, that certain reasonings are to be ruled out of meaningful discourse precisely BECAUSE they are contradictory. The problem, in his view, is with recurrent transgressions of the law of non-contradiction, such as the failure to abandon any idea which implies a contradiction immediately.

 

On that score, he refers us to Glock's Dictionary in support (this being all he seems to have read on the subject):

 

There is no such thing for Wittgenstein as a "contradictory rule", because it could not tell one what to do, and provides no orientation (anything can follow from it), and "a contradictory proposition is no more a move in the language-game than placing and withdrawing a piece from a square is a move in chess" (Hans-Johan Glock, A Wittgenstein Dictionary, Blackwell 1996).

 

Jurriaan ignores the fact that Wittgenstein actually acknowledges the possibility of contradictory rules (indeed, he and Alan Turing locked horns over precisely this), but he says that in practice we get around them with all sorts of ad hoc adjustments -- exactly as Jurriaan himself allows:

 

But if that was the case, in real life we e.g. might as well abandon the very idea of legal justice, since the application of legal rules in practice invariably leads to contradictions, which, precisely, a court aims to resolve.

 

In fact, had Jurriaan read Glock's Dictionary with more care than he devotes to picking his nose, he'd have seen this very point was in fact made on pages 90-92!

 

But, what has this got to do with my work? Nothing at all! This is one area where I disagree with Wittgenstein (as, indeed, does Glock). Yet more wasted effort on Jurriaan's part, then.

 

Finally, we have this:

 

The root meaning of dialectics is dialogos, dialogue, and the aim of the dialogue is to discover the truth by taking the opposites involved seriously, rather than deny them as meaningless. But obviously no genuine dialogue is possible, if there is no shared ground at all, because the parties to the dialogue deny the validity of the opposite position completely, and rule it out from meaningful discourse. Analytical philosophy had the grandiose pretension that it was possible for the "philosopher kings" to devise logical "demarcation criteria" which would sort out meaningful from meaningless statements, but this idea rests on a naive understanding of meaning. The dialectician's argument is precisely that any such demarcation criteria can only be established precisely through the encounter of opposites within a particular context, but there is no demarcation rule possible for the existence of meaning independent of that context.

 

Much of this I have already dealt with, and yet, for all his bluster, Jurriaan is quite happy to take advice from a Professor of Philosophy: that "philosopher king", Hegel!

 

This, however, is worthy of comment:

 

Analytical philosophy had the grandiose pretension that it was possible for the "philosopher kings" to devise logical "demarcation criteria" which would sort out meaningful from meaningless statements, but this idea rests on a naive understanding of meaning.

 

I have lost count of the number of times I have read allegations like this from Dialectical Marxists, who, almost to a clone, seem to think that Analytic Philosophy [AP] is identical with Logical Positivism [LP], which, along with Logical Atomism and Logical Empiricism, was the only branch of AP that made some attempt to establish such criteria. But, LP was just one branch of AP, and was in its heyday sixty or seventy years ago; Jurriaan will be hard pressed again to find any other branch of AP (saving those mentioned above) that went down this route. In fact, this is, in its own small way, the dialectical equivalent of maligning, say, Trotskyism for the sins of Stalinism!

 

The dialectician's argument is precisely that any such demarcation criteria can only be established precisely through the encounter of opposites within a particular context, but there is no demarcation rule possible for the existence of meaning independent of that context.

 

Precisely how these 'criteria' will emerge from this process Jurriaan leaves conveniently vague. But, he isn't exactly the non-existent deity's gift to clarity, is he?

 

So, and once more, here we have yet another dialectician who is incapable of telling us what a 'dialectical contradiction' is, but who is instead quite happy to make stuff up, divert attention and descend into invective and abuse in order to hide that fact.

 

[I have listed dozens of Dialectical Jokers who do likewise here.]

 

Except, this particular Judge and Jurriaan is more confused than most.

 

Case dismissed...

 

[A couple of comrades have attempted to respond to some of the things I have said above. My reply can be found here.]

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Latest Up-date: 21/08/16

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