Short-Sighted Ex-Logician Soils Himself In Public
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Summary Of My Main Objections To Dialectical Materialism
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Abbreviations Used At This Site
LibCom hosts an excellent discussion forum where a maverick ex-logician ("Posey", as I will call him, and this is for reasons that will become apparent reasonably quickly) has taken it upon himself to attack ideas he attributes to me without a single quotation to support his lies and inventions.
Now, the dark reasons why this individual should devote so much time to this vendetta I will leave for professional head-doctors to speculate upon, but I have clearly bruised his continent-sized ego by deigning to suggest he exudes far more hot air than cold.
I entered into debate with him a month or so ago, and then refused to continue discussions with him since he continually invented things about my beliefs (with absolutely no proof) and then proceeded to attack those fantasies as if he were attacking me, ignoring my protestations to the contrary.
He also raised irrelevant points about 'relevance logic' (an oddity in itself, since I had nowhere (previously) passed a comment on this maverick form of reasoning), but then blithely ignored my replies to him about this aimless digression.
Moreover, any substantive points I made against him he also ignored, or brushed aside with little more than a put down. [I will outline several of these in a later Essay.]
Since I had gone to this particular forum to debunk DM and advertise my site, and for no other reason, it seemed to me that continuing to 'debate' with such a dishonest comrade would be a total waste of time, so I have confined myself to baiting him ever since. This has clearly rattled him.
[DM = Dialectical Materialism.]
Obviously then, I have dented Posey's over-sized ego (by ignoring his historic contributions to human progress, which, up to now, have amounted to little more than stalking me -- I have become such a fascination for him, he has even chased me to RevLeft, where I have snubbed him some more).
He has now posted a lengthy 'article' at the LibCom where he seems to think he has once more taken me on -- but 99% of it is once more irrelevant to my aims (stated or implied). So, Posey is at least consistent in his incapacity to stick to the point, confirming my belief that he is the non-existent deity's gift to time-wasting. I suppose he has published this 'response' there since, if he tried to do so at RevLeft, where I am a moderator, a personal vendetta like this would be deleted (and not just by me).
The fact that his ego has been bruised can be seen from the additional fact that he has clearly spent many hours writing this piece, where he bangs on about logical matters over which I have expressed no opinion, in the fevered belief he is attacking me, and my site!
Now, much as I'd wish it were otherwise, my site is not the most frequently visited one on the internet. Indeed, even in a good week I would be lucky to attract half as many visitors as other sites do in a few seconds. Why, therefore, Posey has spent so much time attacking me and my site is something only a professional psychologist should attempt to answer --, but it might have something to do with Posey's attitude to women, and the fact that a woman has dared to show him up in public as the irrelevant bumbler he has consistently revealed himself to be.
A man scorned...?
I will pass no firm opinion on that here, but as a test of his fragile character, we will see how he responds to this reply, which, I reckon will probably be read by less than 100 people over the next year or so.
Nevertheless, to this 'centre of the universe' ego, I might as well have published my criticism of him on the front page of The New York Times, and then had a film made of it by Michael Moore for airing on prime time television.
So, my historically insignificant attack on him will, I suspect, prompt him into exuding even more bluster, and into throwing in my general direction yet more irrelevant comments about relevance logic (the deleterious affects of which can be seen in his own incapacity to live up to its supposed tenets: relevance!).
Posey may know his logic, but he clearly has little judgement.
Hence, true-to-form, Posey has continued to invent things he attributes to me (without a shred of evidence in support), after which he then veers off at a tangent to attack ideas about which I have expressed no opinion, or about which I would -- had I been concerned to do so -- probably have agreed with him. This means that 99% of what he has published is not in fact aimed at me, but at a figment of his own imagination.
So, why all the fuss?
Why has he published a lengthy article about the alleged weaknesses of Frege/Russell logic on a thread about 'Thesis, Anti-thesis and Synthesis' (and Hegel) at a libertarian communist forum, in response to ideas that will be read by at most 0.000001% of humanity, if I am lucky?
As I noted above, we will need professional help on that one -- or rather, Posey will.
[Of course, since LibCom gets more hits in a week than my site will in ten years, my response to him is appropriate.]
Now, may I add the following warning: speculation that Posy has a, shall we say, somewhat 'unsavoury' attitude toward women (especially those who have bruised his elephantine ego) should be resisted.
I will hear no more of it.
But, to more substantive matters.
My site was set up to attack a theory I allege is partly responsible for ruining Marxism; to that end I have had to address all manner of incorrect assumptions dialecticians have adopted over the years, one of which is that Formal Logic [FL] is defective in certain areas. Now, I use the term "Formal Logic" since they do; I do not personally like it.
I also use other terms-of-art I do not like, in order to minimise misunderstanding (with them). Indeed, I make that point several times.
Posey failed to notice this, since it seems he thinks I prefer their jargon. Of course, to this inflated ego, that must mean: if he thinks it, it is true.
On the other hand, he appears to have bought into Quine's "naturalised epistemology" (which follows from the latter's famed but unsuccessful attack on the "analytic-synthetic distinction") -- so, he must have based this impression on a sensory impression of some sort: perhaps those that have been degraded by too much booze?
Now, my appeal to the most important branch of modern logic -- so-called "Classical Logic" -- is aimed solely at highlighting the many errors of fact and interpretation dialecticians have committed since Hegel put pen to misuse. I pass no opinion about FL as such, except to lionise its obvious superiority over Aristotelian Logic [AFL] and Dialectical 'Logic' [DL]. I neither say that it is the last word on the subject, nor suggest it encapsulates ordinary forms of inference (in fact, in many places I drop strong hints that I think otherwise -- referencing authors who actually argue to that effect).
As we will see, Posey concludes the opposite about my views. But which irritation of what sensory surfaces does he base that on? He does not say, nor can we guess, since he lives in a relevant-supporting-quotation-from-Rosa-free zone.
The conclusion seems inescapable: he either does not believe in "naturalised epistemology", or he is so worked-up by yours truly, he has confused egocentricity with evidence.
So, in relation to DL and its fans, I often argue ad hominem in order to expose inconsistencies in their ideas, and to parade their logical defects for all to see, frequently adopting their style of address the more effectively to do that.
Posey misses the point of all this (even though I warn the reader early on that this is what I am doing!). He has obviously skim-read a few of my Essays (but, there is no way he could have read all 750,000 of the words I have so far published, or with any care), and has thus jumped to a few rather odd conclusions.
This is ironic, since he elsewhere regales us with the superiority of 'abductive reasoning' ('inference to the best explanation' -- IBE), but proceeds to ignore its tenets when attacking me -- arguing, in fact, to the conclusion that best suits his own agenda!
That can only mean that Posey either (1) does not accept IBE, (2) does not know how to apply it, (3) IBE is no good when it comes to ordinary argument, or (4) his ego is so bruised it has affected his capacity to make an inference to any sensible explanation of my ideas.
[Once again, only a fully-qualified professional should attempt to speculate about option (4).]
Posey begins with this baseless assertion:
On her website, however, Rosa attributes such a wide variety of ills to dialectics and "philosophy" -- her other bugaboo -- this undermines the more reasonable things she says. For example, I think it is really far-fetched to blame Marxist sectarianism on "dialectics".
Nowhere do I do this -- indeed in Essay Nine Part Two I go to great lengths to show that the causes of sectarianism are far more complex. What I do assert, however, is that this theory has exacerbated the sectarianism already found among Dialectical Mystics. Does Posey deny this? It seems not, for he argues along similar, but attenuated lines in his first few paragraphs:
That's because of the style of language that it encourages in its practitioners. When books are written in an obscure lingo, where unneeded neologisms, obscure metaphors, and idiosyncratic use of language is piled up...perhaps to give an effect of profundity...the effect is to make any "theory" it contains not accessible to a lay reader, but only to those "in the know," or with the time to spend to figure it out, or sit at the feet of the guru. The assumption behind such writing is that theory is only for the elite, not for ordinary people. When this is done by "left" writers...Hardt and Negri's "Empire" comes to mind...this methodology of expression is in fact vanguardist (Rosa says "substitutionist"). This is a problem that was widespread among practitioners of "post-modernism". [Bold emphasis added.]
All that Posey needs to do now is reflect on the effect of the above on the sectarianism already present, and he will get the point.
So, why the fib?
Rosa says that she has no idea what "philosophy" means.
But, Posey doesn't quote me to that effect. Why?
Simple: because I have nowhere said this, nor have I published anything that implies it.
Once more, why the fib?
[S]he does endorse "ordinary language philosophy", or at least, its techniques. She believes that its methods can provide a basis for rejecting idealist metaphysics, and obscurantist language such as "dialectics".
I nowhere endorse "ordinary language philosophy", or its techniques, merely ordinary language.
On the other hand, I use Wittgenstein's method extensively, but point out that to confuse it with "ordinary language philosophy", or its methods, would be a mistake (I even reference scholarly articles to that effect).
I might be wrong here, I might not -- but that does not affect the fact that I do not do what Posey says I do.
He also tries to make the following point several times:
But I find her approach a bit odd. She combines this approval of "ordinary language philosophy" with a strong attachment to a particular deductive logic theory, which is known among logic teachers as "classical Frege/Russell symbolic logic" (FRL). This is the symbolic logic taught in university classes around the world.
As noted above, my commitment to modern deductive logic had one aim only: to highlight the confusions endemic in this area of Dialectical Marxism.
Posey's inference is thus once again to the worst explanation.
More fibs -- why?
Altho[ugh] Rosa touches upon this, she fails to see that FRL shares the same atomistic assumptions as radical empiricism.
How Posey arrived at that conclusion we will perhaps never know, but once more, it is based on nothing I have said, or implied.
In fact, the opposite is the case again; since I champion ordinary language, as even Posey can see, and because I myself trace atomism, empiricism and individualism back to the last major change in class power (in Britain, for example, nearly 400 years ago), this is consistent with anti-atomistic logic (and a version of it that is not based on the irrelevant considerations Posey advances, but on others). Moreover, because my Essays are not meant to be interventions in an academic debate over the nature of logic, but are aimed solely at debunking dialectics, I have (unlike Posey) avoided veering off into irrelevant issues.
Although FRL has its uses, it doesn't quite work as a theory of deductive inference in natural languages such as English. This is why I said that i found it peculiar that Rosa emphasizes "defending the language of the working class" and "ordinary language philosophy" while also defending FRL.
But, as we have seen, Posey's response is based on his own fevered imagination, not on anything I have said or published anywhere, nor on anything that can reasonably be inferred from the same.
This is not unconnected with the previous fib. In an attempt to respond to an earlier point of mine, Posey argues thus:
Despite the importance of the method of inference to the best explanation, Rosa says in her most recent screed that I complain that:
"Frege/Russell logic sanctions invalid inferences, but who wants to graft onto his own Ďsuperior logicí abductive inference (which is 100% invalid)."
What she means is that abductive inferences (inferences to the best explanation) do not satisfy the conditions of DEDUCTIVE validity. This is true. There is the possibility that a hypothesis may be false despite the truth of all the data that confirms it, and which it accounts for. But this is just to say that an inference to the best explanation doesn't sell itself as a deductive chain of reasoning. That is quite true...but irrelevant. There are other ways to warrant acceptance of a conclusion via inference other than deductive chains of reasoning.
It was characteristic of Traditional Philosophy that it disparaged inference to the best explanation and over-emphasized the importance of deductive chains of reasoning. Strange, then, that Rosa endorses this particular foible of Traditional Philosophy...despite all her condemnations of Traditional Philosophy.
Once more, Posey misses the point; by criticising Fregean logic for its sanctioning of allegedly invalid inferences, he bases his preference for abductive inference on the fact that it is invalid (although he does not quite put it like that).
Fine; but if both are invalid (or sanction invalid forms), where lies the superiority of the latter over the former?
And it is not to the point to argue that Fregean logic is supposed to be consistent and complete. It is controversial that classical logic does what he says it does.
Indeed, this whole area in the philosophy of logic is a highly contested one; but the way Posey talks, one would think that these issues have all been settled, and in his favour. Readers of his 'response' at the site in question will not know this; but he does, and so do I. So, classical logic has not been shown conclusively to do what he says it does, and yet he still prefers a demonstrably invalid form. That is not in doubt; the former is.
So, not only does Posey fib when he says such things of me, he lies to the good people at LibCom, too.
Moreover, since I claim that many of my ideas have been derived from the work of Norwood Russell Hanson (a modern pioneer of abductive reasoning), Posey's claims can be seen for the fibs they are.
[However, I part company with Hanson here, or rather I push his arguments in an entirely new direction. In a later Essay, I will be subjecting IBE to sustained criticism, at least as it is used by realists to account for scientific truth.]
Now, whether Fregean logic is defective in the way Posey says I will pass no comment here (except the note of caution registered above), but I remain sceptical that his proposed 'solution' is superior to it, or that it captures the way we ordinarily argue (or even the way that scientists argue).
Once more, this is still highly controversial (and will probably remain so for some time, if not for good), but it suits Posey's purposes to paint the picture in the way he does, as settled, and in his favour.
But, since he manifestly fails to use IBE when assessing my work and opinions, as noted above, his antics aren't, shall we say, IBE's best advertisement.
Rosa seems to claim that FRL is uniquely well suited as a technique to understand for (sic) radical social theory.
Notice the "seems" here. Had Posey the proof, he'd have used it.
Nowhere do I claim this, or even imply it. In fact, I go out of my way to stress the fact that HM (and thus social science) is particularly suited to ordinary language and common understanding, and vice versa.
[HM = Historical Materialism.]
More of the Same
Now I have made a few of the above points at LibCom, indirectly in posts in reply to others. How has Posey handled these?
In response to my claim that he has fabricated the things he says of me and of my beliefs, and that he has produced no evidence to support what he says, nor quotations from anything I have published anywhere, this is what he says:
Her site is a massive jumble of very verbose essays. The requirement that a person must explicitly quote something from it, and she will only respond to that, is a pedantic and egotistical attitude towards online discussion.
This is rather odd; I am being "pedantic" and "egotistical" if I require him to substantiate the accusations he directs at me! Apparently, when online, this plonker thinks that anyone can make whatever they like up, and cry "foul" when found out, or where proof is requested.
On what words of mine, then, did he base the original things he alleged? He has yet to say. His failure to produce anything so far, after weeks of trying, suggests he made everything up, and is now attempting to cover his rear.
In a more recent 'response' he still whimpers along similar lines:
Note that Rosa won't say what these alleged "fibs" are. I'll leave it to the readers to say whether the quotes I've provided here do substantiate my characterization of some of her ideas.
Which is rather odd, since, as we will soon see, Posey spent no little time ransacking my Essays for incriminating evidence to support his claims (which he had originally made without such evidence!).
In that case, he must have known what he was looking for -- he must know what these fibs are!
So, why is he now pretending otherwise?
[We will also see that the quotations he dredged up in support of his allegations (post hoc) do not even come close to their stated aim.]
Even odder is the fact that he scurried off on this raiding mission in response to my earlier indirect itemising of those very fibs!
Once more, we might wonder what dark forces there are at work in his mis-firing brain that sent him off on such a mission: to attack the ideas found in an obscure and (so far) non-popular website --, when he claims now that he had no idea what he was looking for because I had not told anyone!
With respect to my comments on empiricism, yet again we find this (with, surprise, surprise, no proof):
I think it should be fairly clear from my essay that I think she doesn't have a clear understanding of the atomistic assumptions of empiricism and the problems this poses for radical social theory. I'll leave it to the readers here to infer how "relevant" this is.
But, readers will search through his earlier essay in vain for anything that goes beyond his own unsupported say-so that I am as he says I am.
Naturally, to request of this puffed-up ego that he produce evidence to substantiate his claims would be "pedantic" and "egotistical", so I suggest we all bow to his semi-divine authority, and let the matter drop.
Moreover, the passing comment at the end (about relevance) is clearly Posey's attempt respond to my exposing his penchant for raising irrelevant issues about relevance logic.
And in view of the fact that he has failed to show (as opposed merely to allege) that I am ignorant of the atomistic assumptions of classical logic, his meander off into this logical backwater is now doubly irrelevant.
In reply to this comment of mine:
...nowhere do I claim that the sectarianism in Marxism is caused by this whacko theory. I do say other things about the connection, but it is not as he would have you believe
which was itself in reply to this allegation of his:
...I think it is really far-fetched to blame Marxist sectarianism on "dialectics"
he tries this on:
I think the claim that dialectics has significantly contributed to Marxist sectarianism is a fair interpretation of what she says on her site. Notice she doesn't say exactly what the "connection" is here. I think it isn't very plausible to suppose dialectics is a very good explainer of sectarianism.
One minute I am being accused of not saying what the "connection" is, the next I am supposed to believe that dialectics has made a significant contribution to sectarianism!
Whether these two are consistent I will let the reader decide, but for now it is sufficient to note that Posey has back-tracked from asserting that I "blame" sectarianism on dialectics to the far less maximalist assertion (again un-supported by a single quotation from my Essays) that I hold this theory to be a significant contributory factor.
So, there is some glimmer of hope that this bonehead will see the light one day, and actually make an attempt to deal with what I actually say, rather than what he can make me say.
But, sad to report, the prospects do not look too good, for in the last sentence he doubles back and declares that he "supposes" that dialectics is not a "very good explainer of sectarianism" (and his word is law, after all), implying perhaps that he thinks I in fact "suppose" it is.
But, in what he says, he agrees with me, for I locate the causes of sectarianism elsewhere (had he bothered to check before he decided to pontificate), and openly state that other factors explain it --, while dialectics merely makes things worse.
But she'd rather exchange insults with Wangwei (or whoever) [this is the name of a rather dopey contributor to this 'debate' -- RL] than engage in a rational discussion. As she says on her website, her online method is to "go for the jugular from the get go".
Well, we now know what "rational" discussion a lŗ Posey amounts to, don't we? He is allowed to make stuff up (and then accuse those he has lied about of "pedantry", and of being "egotistical", when they quite irrationally ask for proof).
On the other hand, Rosa must prove everything she says.
Fortunately I can; unfortunately he can't.
And we can now we see why I "go for the jugular" from the get-go: with idiots like this to contend with (and worse), who would blame me? As I put it on the opening page of my site:
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.
To be sure, Posey is no DM-nut, but he is just as prone to fabricate as the best of these mystics are.
And then we find this lame excuse for chasing me to RevLeft:
My posting on Revleft.com came about because of the many posts on that site by my old friend and comrade, Ed Clark, who posted under the moniker "redstar2000". Revleft.com was down for quite awhile and I only recently realized that it had come back up.
RevLeft was down for about a week several months ago, but Posey chased me there within hours of my telling him that much of my work was posted at that forum, and this was after he had tracked-down some of my posts at the YFIS forum. As I said: he's a stalker.
And RedStar2000 is in fact the comrade who invited me to post at RevLeft, and (one of those) who urged me to put my Essays on-line (even when I told him they were only half-finished, and in need of much work, and were thus open to ignorant attacks from the likes of Posey).
Ed is unwell right now, but he expressed great admiration for my Essays (this is not just my say-so; Ed's own words can be found at his moved site, at RevLeft, where he permanently linked to my site, at AWIP -- and in his many e-mails to me):
This is something entirely new...a philosophically exhaustive refutation of all the "dialectical superstitions" that have plagued the Marxist left for over a century. I cannot praise highly enough what may someday -- in more sensible times than ours -- become a classic. This is not "easy reading"...but you will find it "easier" and "clearer" than any other philosophical work you have ever attempted to read. [From here.]
Should Ed recover, I can just imagine his response to this 'friend' of his attacking Essays he himself had demanded I put on line!
[In fact, I am at present trying to find out where Ed is, and what his state of health is. Added in 2012: I have just been informed that Ed sadly died earlier this year.]
Nevertheless, in response to this comment of mine:
But there is nothing in what I say that suggests [FRL -- Frege/Russell Logic] is a final truth, or that it captures all the inferences we can make -- indeed, I say the opposite in many of my Essays.
Posey advanced this lame excuse:
This comment is somewhat disingenuous, or is a form of backtracking without admitting such. As she has acknowledged in this thread, she never discusses inductive logic. And as is clear here in these latest posts, she disparages inference to the best explanation (the method of hypothesis and test, central to the empirical sciences). Thus the fact is, she greatly overemphasizes formal deductive logic over non-deductive reasoning, despite the importance of the latter to reasoning in every day life and the sciences.
So, in response to my demand that Posey substantiates his lies he declares that that would smack of "pedantry" and would be "egotistical", but on the other hand, when I point out that I have actually gone on record and said the opposite of what he now alleges this is branded as "disingenuous" and "backtracking"!
The fact that Posey's own 'logic' has gone so badly awry here is just another indication of how rattled he has become.
The reference to inductive logic is a red-herring, too, since DL-fans rarely mention it; moreover, Posey's idea that to criticise the invalid inferences one finds in IBE is ipso facto to rule out every other form of post-classical logic is itself yet another inference to the worst explanation.
But, we have already seen that Posey is to IBE what George Dubbya is to peace, freedom and democracy.
And now, this mile-wide-ego makes a weak attempt to grapple with that anti-Posey concept (i.e., evidence):
On her site she does mention what she calls "alternative logics" and I suppose she'd consider relevance logic an "alternative logic." But the only alternative logics she refers to on her site are logics of deductive inference.
That is in reference to this comment from Essay Four:
Of even greater significance is the fact that over the last hundred years or so theorists have developed several post-classical systems of logic, which include (among others), modal, temporal, deontic, imperative, epistemic and multiple-conclusion logics. Several of these sanction even more sophisticated depictions of change than are allowed for in AFL.
The above has an associated footnote which says the following:
The details of these other systems of Logic can be found in Hughes and Cresswell (1996), Haack (1978, 1996), Hintikka (1962), Prior (1957, 1967, 1968) and Von Wright (1957, 1963). A general survey of some of the background issues raised by classical and non-standard Logic can be found in Read (1994). In fact, Graham Priest (who is both a defender of certain aspects of dialectics, and an expert logician) has written his own admirable introductions; cf., Priest (2000, 2001). Also, consult the following:
Those who bother to check will see that Priest and Read cover Relevance Logic in some detail (and other non-deductive logics, too).
But, Posey forgets the point of my Essays; they aren't directed at furthering the debate between deductivists and non-deductivists, but at countering the errors of DL-fans, and in this particular Essay, solely at the claim that Formal Logic (not logic in general) cannot account for change.
Now, just as soon as I can find a DL-fan who has a go at inductive logic, I will address that; until then, I won't.
Once more, Posey imagines that the parochial concerns of American Philosophers (who agree with him) are universally accepted, and are thus uncontroversial:
Thus the comment of hers I pointed out above only admits to possible limitations of FRL in accounting for deductive inference, but still, that fails to acknowledge my point that she fixates on, and exaggerates the importance of, formal deductive logic. This was in fact one of the failings of Traditional Philosophy that was continued by "Analytic Philosophy" but with some beginnings of a change in this regard in the past few decades, as a result of what is called the "naturalistic turn" in philosophy, a materialistic trend which tends to reject any hard and fast line between "science" and "philosophy".
Of course, Posey cannot find a single quotation from my work that supports his claim that I fixate on deductive logic per se (except I concentrate on it for the above stated reasons), but the post-Quinean "naturalistic" turn he refers to is not without its own problems -- not the least of which are Quine's superficial reasons for inventing it (on that see here).
However, even if this "turn" were correct, and well-supported by argument, it would have nothing to do with the aims of my site, which Posey chooses to ignore, once more. My site has one aim only: to terminate the influence of dialectics on Marxism. Everything else is a side issue.
So, if it turns out that my approach to Philosophy is completely wrong-headed in some way, my demolition of this pernicious theory will hardly be affected.
Indeed, I have far more respect for post-Quinean Philosophy than I have for dialectics -- I happen to think the former is mistaken, but at least it attempts to be scientific (in a loose sense of that word).
However, and yet again, Posey pretends that such matters have been settled once and for all, and that the things he alleges are not deeply controversial in themselves.
If he were being honest, why would he do this?
Next he airs a very weak insult:
I'm going to quote bits from Rosa's (tediously long) essays.
I rather suspect he'd not say the same of Marx, but even if he did, he misses the point again. The reason why my Essays are long was spelt as follows:
The length of these Essays, however, has been determined by two factors: the nature of DM and the attitude adopted toward it by its supporters. All of the major -- and the vast majority of the minor -- DM-theses have been subjected to extensive criticism in this work; because of DMís totalising approach to knowledge it can be vanquished in no other way. Had a single topic been left with only superficial wounds -- and not fatally injured -- its supporters might easily have imagined it could be revived. Had even one of DMís theoretical strands been left intact -- because of the alleged interconnections that exist between each and every one of its parts -- the temptation would have been to conclude that if one element is viable, the rest must be, too. Hence, the length of these Essays is partly a result DMís holistic character and partly because few of its supporters have ever bothered to analyse it to any great extent -- certainly not in the detail found here.
Nevertheless, even when my project is finished it will be dwarfed in length by Das Kapital, alone.
Then we find this:
One of the things I disagree with Rosa about is that she confuses the project of ridding radical theory of "dialectics" in favor of ordinary everyday language -- something I agree with her about -- with adopting elements of the logical positivist or extreme empiricist program, such as her rejection of all talk about causality or forces, and her apparent adoption of the Humean view of laws or theories....
Posey will be hard-pressed to find a single place in all my work where I deny causality, or pin my colours to the mast of empiricism or positivism (in fact I reject all philosophical theories).
However, with respect to causation, what I reject are metaphysical accounts of it; in fact I argue that these should be replaced with a variety of explanations based on the wealth of causal language found in the vernacular. On the other hand, if scientists use their own terminology to depict causation, that is up to them; I have expressed no view on that.
Hence, I have not adopted Hume's view of causation; in fact I explicitly criticise it in Essay Thirteen Part Three. [The last link was added in 2012.] Indeed, in the Essay in question, I devoted much space to attacking empiricism.
So, Posey is fibbing again.
He then quotes this sentence of mine:
This 'problem' [of induction] partly derives from the mistaken view that scientific theories are special sorts of truths.
To which he responds:
But it's well-known in the literature about "laws" that the Humean view of them as mere generalizations won't work. For one thing, it can't distinguish law-like properties of things from accidental correlations. It used to be remarked that the annual variation in deaths in India correlated exactly with variations in the numbers of engineering articles published in journals in the USA.
However, since I do not support the 'regularity' theory (or any theory at all) of causation, this is a straw man. Now I could be wrong, or I could be right in my opposition to all philosophical theories, but Posey attributes to me a view I do not hold (once more).
My earlier comment:
This 'problem' [of induction] partly derives from the mistaken view that scientific theories are special sorts of truths.
in fact relates to my (novel) view of the nature of science (which will be detailed in Essay Three Part Six, and Essay Thirteen Part Two) but it has nothing to do with empiricism, nor with the denial of causation.
In light of the above, the following comment is particularly crass:
Also, Rosa's attack on the discourse about causality is inconsistent with her advocacy of the ordinary language of people in everyday life. It's also inconsistent with the language of everyday applied science.
In fact, in the Essay he ransacked (I suspect he merely used the 'search' option in his browser to find certain passages to use in support of his wild claims, but could not locate any -- which will explain the other unsupported things he has been saying), I spend countless thousands of words defending everyday language against scientism.
More invention, then.
In 'support' of his fantasies, Posey quotes this passage of mine:
Small wonder then that traditional accounts of causation (and of physical law) are shot through with anthropomorphism, mysticism and animism, and can only be made to work if inappropriate modal terms (like "necessity" and "must") are press-ganged into service.
But this speaks of the "traditional" account; all through my site this is linked with Metaphysics, not ordinary discourse. Again, I could be wrong here, or I could be right, but what I say cannot be made consistent with the picture this amateur fabulist tries to paint.
And the way Posey writes, one would think that I was the only one who thought this way. In fact, I reference other philosophers who have arrived at similar conclusions, not all of whom are empiricists or positivists.
After an irrelevant digression into determinism, Posey then dumps this LuLu on his unsuspecting readers:
Another issue that Rosa touches on is that of talk about the traits or properties of things. Rosa seems to reject this talk. This is another case where I think her extreme empiricism contradicts her intent to defend everyday discourse of the population.
Notice the "seems" once more, for there is nothing in anything I say that supports this claim. Sure, I reject philosophers' talk in this area, but not that which is expressed in ordinary language, by ordinary humans.
Once more, had there been a shred of substantiating proof at my site, this eagle-eyed eejit would have used it.
Yet more fibs...
In an attempt to defend a quasi-traditional account of predicates, Posey only succeed in duplicating errors committed by Ancient Greek Philosophers and Grammarians. [Which supports my contention that there has been no real progress in this area of traditional myth-making in 2500 years.]
In ordinary language we use such linguistic devices to describe things. So, predicates are neither names nor designating expressions. I spend much of Essays Three Part One and Four (and here) establishing that point -- he ignores this. Moreover, this is a position that is not unique to me; I reference other leading philosophers and logicians who conclude the same as I do. I even directed Posey here in an earlier debate for a sophisticated defence of this view -- which he just ignored, too.
However, he attempted to answer this point in the following way:
She doesn't seem to allow that there are properties we can refer to and talk about. She wants to only allow predication or attribution of features, as in (1)-(2) but not reference to the properties.
But in the article to which I directed him he will see just how this is possible; but it isn't in a way that this air-head imagines.
Again, I could be wrong -- or not -- in asserting this, but once more we can see how Posey is content to invent stuff just to malign me.
He then quotes a passage from Essay Three Part Two, which in fact contradicts much else he has alleged of me:
Empiricists attempted to solve this 'problem' [the problem of universals] by wisely diverting attention from it: they invented an irrelevant 'mental' capacity, an ability the 'mind' allegedly had of being able to spot "resemblances" between the ideas and impressions the senses sent its way.
But, once again, Aristotle's objection rears its annoying head: if there is a problem over the existence of such resemblances in the outside world, it is a bad idea to retreat from the real into the Ideal in an attempt to resolve it. Indeed, if that process takes place only in the 'mind', the difficulty the theory sought to resolve in external reality now simply resurfaces in an occult form -- and in a completely intractable arena -- since an inner process of this sort would be beyond both objective and subjective confirmation.
And, generality thus driven inwards, is even more difficult to coax out of its individualist shell.
Platonic Realism, Aristotelian Conceptualism and bourgeois Empiricism (along with a host of other metaphysical doctrines) all run aground on these unyielding particularist rocks.
By way of contrast, the words we use in ordinary material language express generality with ease when left to social agents to breath life into them. However, they soon lose their semantic vitality when they are replaced by lifeless abstract singular terms, invented by work-shy 'thinkers' with more leisure time on their hands than is good for anyone. [Bold emphasis added.]
Readers will note how I attack empiricism here (but, for Posey, that is sufficient to brand me an empiricist!), just as I point out how we use ordinary language to say the sorts of things he alleges I declare we can't!
He then meanders off, only to make this semi-substantial point:
The point is that in our ordinary discussions and theorizings we do in fact talk about the properties of things.
But, where do I deny this?
He then reveals his own (hidden) assumptions:
She has a problem when she denies that a predicate such as "...is yellow" tracks or designates anything in the world. If so, why does it exist?
And how does Posey defend the view that such predicates act as designators?
[He doesn't, he just asserts it, even though in language we have designating terms that pick out such things admirably well, but which aren't themselves predicates.]
We use predicates descriptively in ordinary language, but we can nominalise them when and where we see fit. Plainly, that is because predicates themselves can't act in this way -- otherwise, why would we have to nominalise them?
He then refers us to Ohm's Law:
In my example of Ohm's Law above, I'll point out that the variables V, C, R range over attributes. Ohm's Law itself designates an attribute, an attribute that every electrical circuit necessarily has. But according to Rosa, we don't need words to designate shared traits. Or so it seems. After all, "current", "amperage" and "resistance" are "abstract terms".
Although Posey tells us that this law does what he says it does, he neglects to give an example of a predicate it uses that designates in such a way. Sure, we can nominalise whatever we want, but how does that affect the doctrines I was discussing at my site?
[And the choice of mathematical expressions here is unwise since they work in a functional manner, which cannot be reduced to that of designation.]
Moreover, Posey's reference to "abstract terms" is no less misguided, since I do not reject their use in science or in ordinary language (and I even said so in the Essay in question). I do however challenge their traditional interpretation, and their use in philosophy.
After a long trawl though my site, Posey now posts this example (from one of my Essays) to support his claim that I said he made up his earlier allegation that I blamed sectarianism on dialectics:
After Trotsky was murdered by a Stalinist agent, the application of 'scientific dialectics' to the contradictory nature of the USSR split the Fourth International into countless warring sects, who have continued to fragment to this day.
Again, some might wonder why so much effort has been devoted to what many consider to be a side issue, something that is not really of central importance to building the workers' movement.
However, it is my contention that dialectics is one of the reasons why Marxist (but particularly Trotskyist) parties tend to be small, divisive and highly sectarian. This theory helps ensure that they stay small, waste time on attacking one another, make serious political mistakes, and thus leave the ruling-class laughing all the way to the next attack on our side.
I also contend that this theory helps insulate the revolutionary mind from the fact that Dialectical Marxism has been a long-term failure, thus preventing the scientific development of Marxism.
This is quite apart from the impression created in the minds of working people the world over that revolutionaries are little more than a political joke, an impression that has gone so deep into ordinary consciousness that it is now quite difficult to dislodge. [Bold emphasis added.]
Notice that I declare that dialectics is "one of the reasons" for this state of affairs. You can no doubt see this, but selective blindness stands in Poesy's way, so he is unlikely to emulate your good sense.
And, my allegation that "scientific dialectics" split the Fourth International into warring sects pointedly fails to blame this theory for sectarianism, merely for the help it provided motivating and then rationalising the split.
Trotskyism was sectarian before that particular split.
And in case he also suffers from selective incomprehension (to match his selective blindness), someone please tell him that splits are not the same as sectarianism.
If they were, an amoeba would be a natural sectarian!
But, quite apart from all this:
1) What happened to Posey's claim that I nowhere spelt out what my allegations were that he was a fibber?
2) What happened to his earlier claim that to demand proof is a sign of "pedantry" and was "egotistical".
Why is he pandering to me then by looking for proof?
Evidently, he fibs even to himself!
Moving on to Wittgenstein, Posey then says the following:
In trying to sell Wittgenstein to leftists, Rosa mentions things like his sympathies for ordinary people...which was real, despite his being from a wealthy family in Vienna...and his seriously considering moving to the Soviet Union in the '20s or '30s, which was probably due to his romanticizing the Soviet Union, as was common then.
He ignores the fact that Wittgenstein gave all his money away, and worked as a hospital orderly in WW2. And, as his closest friend Rush Rhees noted, he wanted to move to Russia (in the mid 1930s, so Posey has not read the detail very carefully) because he was sympathetic to the gains made by working people (as we now know, he wrongly concluded this about Stalinism). All this is documented here.
Posey is thus clearly trawling through my Essays just looking for things to pick on (and no less erroneously), acting like the stalker he is.
What she doesn't mention is Wittgenstein's positivist connections. In the '20s/'30s/'40s there was a very influential philosophical trend called Logical Positivism. Like Rosa, the positivists attacked any and all "metaphysics" and "Traditional Philosophy". The trend emerged out of a group of intellectuals in the '20s, the Vienna Circle, which included Wittgenstein, as well as Otto Neurath, who was a Marxist.
Well, Posey has to re-write history to make this work. For example, Wittgenstein was never part of the Vienna Circle (even if he held discussions with several of its members -- on that basis, this would make Posey a Leninist for discussing with me!).
To be sure, the positivists he mentions lionised the Tractatus -- and its author (at first) --, but it soon became clear to one and all how far apart they were (especially as Wittgenstein's ideas developed in the 1930s and 1940s). This is clear from the conversations Waismann recorded, as well as from the things that people like Carnap, Neurath, and others have said since.
[So, these "connections" are not at all relevant -- but we know Posey, the advocate of 'relevance logic', doesn't do relevance.]
Undeniably, these positivists attacked Traditional Philosophy, but Wittgenstein had been doing that from a non-Positivist angle for 15 years by then, and he continued thereafter, but again from a non-Positivist direction.
I suspect that Posey is trying to incriminate me (or Wittgenstein) with some form of "guilt by association", since he can't find any direct evidence of my (or Wittgenstein's) Positivist leanings.
[On that basis one could prove that Posey is a Stalinist, since both he and Stalin are/were influenced by Marx.]
And here it is:
Altho[ugh] Wittgenstein's later philosophical views change a bit, I believe he never really abandoned his positivist leanings.
No proof, just a "belief".
But, as we know, if Posey believes something, to ask for proof is a sign you are a "pedant" and have strong leanings toward "egotism". So, don't go there!
Nevertheless, it is a good job Posey is not a genuine scientist. They foolishly rely on boring things like evidence -- "pedants" and "egotists" to a woman/man!
But, there isn't a shred of evidence that Wittgenstein, at any time in his entire life, was a Positivist, or "leaned" that way.
Why am I not surprised?
Logical positivism is inconsistent with taking a realist view of theorizing and science. And I think Marx was definitely a realist. When he talked about "laws of motion" or "forces" I think he believed there were such things, and that we can improve our understanding of them through investigation and practical test.
Once more, no proof is offered that Marx was a "realist". Positivists can talk this way, too (but I am not alleging Marx was one of those!). For sure, they will then go on to qualify what they believe, but who is to say Marx would not have done this? We just do not know if Marx was a realist or not. Or, if he was, what sort of realist.
However, I forgot: Posey has spoken, and we must simply accept his word as gospel.
And now we come to this final gem; in response to the following allegation of mine:
You will note that, even now, after ransacking a few of my essays, Posey here still cannot find a single quotation to substantiate his fibs.
Posey responded thus:
Note that Rosa won't say what these alleged "fibs" are. I'll leave it to the readers to say whether the quotes I've provided here do substantiate my characterization of some of her ideas.
The quotes will also point out that Rosa's style is vague and bombastic and filled with metaphorical language. This makes what she says hard to pin down. This style is inconsistent with her alleged advocacy of a reliance on ordinary language and a hard-headed scientific approach. That's because a person's claims can't be tested if they aren't stated clearly and can't be pinned down.
I'm also not especially concerned with the fact that it is Rosa that says these things. I'm interested in opposing extreme empiricist/positivist and anti-realist influence in radical theorizing, and she just happens to be a handy example.
This from the master of irrelevance!
So, I am the convenient target in Posey's crusade to rid the world of anti-realists and radical empiricists (a 'god'-ordained task he seems only to have dreamt up in response to my Essays -- odd that!).
His methods are reassuring too: inference to the least likely explanation, unsupported assertion, and fabrication.
However, with the likes of Posey on their case, I rather think that empiricists and anti-realists can sleep safe in their beds.
And, as we have seen, in his rush to find something, anything, against me, he has put his brain into neutral, his anger into overdrive.
Where he says I cannot be "pinned down" that is just Posey-speak for: "I can't find anything to support my lies, so now that I have been rumbled, I'll blame it all on her"!
This is quite apart from the fact that I go out of my way to say the opposite of much of what he alleges.
For example, on the opening page of my site you will find this declaration:
(1) It is important to emphasise from the outset that I am not blaming the long-term failure of Marxism solely on the acceptance of Hermetic ideas derived from Hegel.
This is worth repeating since I still receive e-mails from those who claim to have read the above words but who still think I am blaming all our woes on dialectics; I am not.
"All our woes" includes sectarianism! And this is on the very first page! How much clearer could I be?
I then go on to say (on the same page):
There are other, objective reasons why the class enemy still runs this planet, but since revolutions require revolutionaries with ideas in their heads, this 'theory' must take some of the blame.
So, it is alleged that dialectics has been an important contributory factor; it certainly helps explain why revolutionary groups are in general vanishingly small, neurotically sectarian, studiously unreasonable, consistently conservative, theoretically deferential (to 'tradition'), and almost invariably tend toward some form of substitutionism.
Naturally, this has had a direct bearing on our lack of impact on the working-class over the last fifty years or so -- and probably longer --, and hence on the continuing success of Capitalism.
Again, how much clearer can one be?
Short of tattooing it on his forehead, what else does Posey want of me?
I also say this in Essay One:
From time to time readers will find themselves asking the following question of the author: "Well, what's your theory then?" No alternative philosophical theory will be advanced here (or anywhere else for that matter). This tactic has not been adopted out of cussedness -- or even out of diffidence --, but because it is an important part of the Wittgensteinian method (used here) not to advance philosophical theories. Wittgenstein's approach means that no philosophical theory makes any sense. Why this is so will be considered at length in Essay Twelve (summary here). [Objections to the use of his ideas are neutralised here.]
Again, this might be entirely misguided -- it might not --, but it clearly says I reject all philosophical theories, and that includes empiricism and positivism.
Posey has to ignore such things (or in his rush to accuse me without fair trial, he failed to read them) to make his accusations work.
Hence, in his 'criticism' of me he has to erect something that would make a straw man look ridiculously substantial in comparison.
Posey is the liar I claim him to be, and that is why I will not engage in direct 'debate' with him.
So you can return to stalking me now, big boy....
[Read more here.]
Word Count: 9,350
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