16-08-01: Summary Of Essay Eight Part One -- Change Through 'Internal Contradiction': Lenin 'Refutes' Classical Mechanics
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This is an Introductory Essay, which has been written for those who find the main Essays either too long, or too difficult. It doesn't pretend to be comprehensive since it is simply a summary of the core ideas presented at this site. Most of the supporting evidence and argument found in each of the main Essays has been omitted. Anyone wanting more details, or who would like to examine my arguments and evidence in full, should consult the Essay for which each is a précis. [In this particular case, that can be found here.]
As is the case with all my work, 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.
Phrases like "ruling-class theory", "ruling-class view of reality", "ruling-class ideology" (etc.) used at this site (in connection with Traditional Philosophy and DM), aren't meant to suggest that all or even most members of various ruling-classes actually invented these ways of thinking or of seeing the world (although some of them did -- for example, Heraclitus, Plato, Cicero, and Marcus Aurelius). They are intended to highlight theories (or "ruling ideas") that are conducive to, or which rationalise the interests of the various ruling-classes history has inflicted on humanity, whoever invents them. Up until recently this dogmatic approach to knowledge had almost invariably been promoted by thinkers who either relied on ruling-class patronage, or who, in one capacity or another, helped run the system for the elite.**
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A) Introduction -- Dialectical Materialism Implodes
1) Egg On Lenin's Face?
2) Hex-Rated 'Theory'
3) 'God' Sneaks Back In
4) Super-Scientific 'Knowledge' Derived From Mere Words
5) Systematic Change
6) Decision Time
Summary Of My Main Objections To Dialectical Materialism
Abbreviations Used At This Site
Return To The Main Index Page
Introduction -- The Theory Of Change Through 'Internal Contradiction' Implodes
In this Essay the claim that change is the result of "internal contradictions" will be critically examined. In Part Two, the link between forces and 'contradictions' will be severed, and in Part Three we will see that no sense can be given to the term "dialectical contradiction".
Egg On Lenin's Face?
First, consider this question: Do objects move/change one another, themselves, or a bit of both?
Dialecticians have a revolutionary answer to this, but you might not like it.
Lenin depicted things this way:
"The identity of opposites…is the recognition…of the contradictory, mutually exclusive, opposite tendencies in all phenomena and processes of nature…. The condition for the knowledge of all processes of the world in their 'self-movement', in their spontaneous development, in their real life, is the knowledge of them as a unity of opposites. Development is the 'struggle' of opposites…. [This] alone furnishes the key to the self-movement of everything existing….
"The unity…of opposites is conditional, temporary, transitory, relative. The struggle of mutually exclusive opposites is absolute, just as development and motion are absolute…." [Lenin (1961), pp.357-58. Bold emphasis alone added.]
This passage is rather odd since it seems to suggest that things can move themselves. If so, much of modern mechanics will need to be ditched. On Lenin's 'novel' view, when someone throws a ball, the action of throwing does not appear to move the ball. On the contrary, the ball moves itself, and it knows exactly where it is going and how to get there, traversing its trajectory independently of gravity. Intelligent projectiles like this, it seems, need no guidance systems -- they happily 'self-develop' from A to B like unerring homing pigeons. It is to be wondered, therefore, why the US military do not invest in such smart projectiles, and save themselves billions of dollars.
Thank goodness those at the Pentagon do not "understand" dialectics!
[If the above comments seem unfair to Lenin, then please read this before proceeding -- or skip forward to here.]
Nevertheless, this probably helps explain the origin of the following 'joke':
Q: How many dialecticians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None at all, the light bulb changes itself.
Well, as if to disappoint his fans, and provide no help at all for those who still think that dialectics has anything valuable to teach modern science, Lenin not only repeated his odd claim, he "demanded" that all DL-fans see things his way:
"Dialectical logic demands that we go further…. [It] requires that an object should be taken in development, in 'self-movement' (as Hegel sometimes puts it)…." [Lenin (1921), p.90. Bold emphases in the original. Italic emphasis added.]
Here, not only are objects said to be capable of moving themselves, but Lenin even says that DL "requires" us to view motion in no other way.
[DL = Dialectical Logic.]
There is also this passage quoted in The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (I have not been able to verify this quotation, or locate its source -- if anyone knows exactly where it can be found, please e-mail me):
"Self-motion that exhibits direction and irreversible change is a special type of self-motion called self-development. Here the idea of self-motion merges with the dialectical conception of development. In this conception, 'the chief attention is directed precisely to knowledge of the source of "self -movement"' (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. sock, 5th ed., vol. 29, p.317). [Quoted from here; quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted at this site.]
It looks, therefore, like Lenin was committed to the belief that not only can light bulbs change themselves, but also (by implication) that books on dialectics write themselves -- just as DM-fans fool themselves into believing far too much of what they have read in Hegel.
Well, perhaps Lenin was merely referring to the development of certain systems, and not the movement of objects from place to place? If so, the impertinent 'counter-example' from earlier (i.e., the one about light bulbs) would neither be valid nor sensible.
But, Lenin's words were pretty clear; he asserted that DL demands and/or requires that "objects" (not processes, nor yet systems, but objects) be taken in "development, in 'self-movement'", so he included both -- development and self-movement -- in his caveat.
This is quite apart from the fact that Lenin counterposed this 'dialectical' view of reality to the view held by 'mechanical materialists', who argue that objects move because of the action of external forces:
"In the first conception of motion [i.e., 'mechanical materialism' -- RL], self-movement, its driving force, its source, its motive, remains in the shade (or this source is made external -- God, subject, etc.). In the second conception [i.e., the 'dialectical' view -- RL] the chief attention is directed precisely to knowledge of the source of 'self-movement'.
"The first conception is lifeless, pale and dry. The second is living. The second alone furnishes the key to the 'self-movement' of everything existing; it alone furnishes the key to the 'leaps,' to the 'break in continuity,' to the 'transformation into the opposite,' to the destruction of the old and the emergence of the new." [Lenin (1961), p.358. Bold emphases alone added.]
There would be no contrast here if objects didn't move themselves in the DM-scheme-of-things, both developmentally and as they locomote from place to place. As we will see (in Essay Eight Part One), this is indeed how Lenin has been interpreted ever since by his epigones: they also hold the view that things self-develop and self-locomote.
[DM = Dialectical Materialism/Materialist, depending on context.]
Unfortunately, Lenin and his co-dialecticians failed to take much note of the origin of these ancient ideas: Hermetic Philosophy is based on the belief that the universe is alive and self-moves since it is Mind; indeed it is a Cosmic Egg -- later transmogrified by Hegel into a Cosmic Ego.
Since eggs appear to develop all of their own, and because Hegel's 'Cosmic Ego' self-developed, it seemed quite 'natural' for Lenin and his epigones to think the same of nature (upside down or 'the right way up').
Nevertheless, not even eggs develop of their own; in fact, it is hard to think of a single thing in the entire universe (of which we have any knowledge) that develops of its own, or which moves itself. Not even Capitalism does. Switch off the Sun and watch American Imperialism fold a whole lot quicker than Enron.
And yet, if Lenin were correct, no object in the universe could possibly interact with any other (since that would amount to external causation, and objects would not be self-moving). Self-motivated beings must, it seems, be causally isolated from their surroundings, otherwise they couldn't legitimately be described as self-motivated. This in turn must mean that -- despite appearances to the contrary -- nothing in reality interacts with anything else, if we were to believe DM-fans.
That would, of course, make a mockery of the other DM-claim that everything in reality is interconnected.
So, based on the bird-brained doctrines of ancient mystics, and no evidence at all, we find Lenin once again propounding a cosmic idea that doesn't make sense even in DM-terms -- and which not even chickens obey.
Hegelian Expansionism -- HEX
The only way to avoid such dialectically disastrous conclusions would be to argue that interconnection does not imply causation. What is does imply is left permanently unexplained.
However, as far as I am aware, no dialectician has been able to explain how every particle in nature can be interconnected with every other and yet be causally isolated (or isolated in whatever other sense DM-fans imagine to be the case) from the rest. Are they telepathically linked (the atoms, not the dialecticians)?
Or, is this just another contradiction that just has to be "grasped"?
On the other hand, if external causation is allowed back in, as part of a 'dialectical' fudge of some sort, there would seem to be no point in appealing to "internal contradictions" and "self-development" to account for change.
In Essay Eight Part One, several fall-back options are examined and all are shown either to collapse into CAR (Cartesian Reductionism), or inflate alarmingly into HEX (Hegelian Expansionism).
HEX itself leads inexorably to the conclusion that (1) if the nature of each part is determined by the whole, and that (2) if the interconnections enjoyed by whole and part are infinite (according to Engels and Lenin), then (3) no part may be known as a part of the whole (indeed nothing could be known about anything) until everything was known about everything. Since that will never happen, we will never know the nature of any part. And if the parts can't be known, then the whole can't, either -- since knowledge of the whole arises from knowledge of the parts.
In that case, if this aspect of DM is true, human knowledge would be going nowhere -- having started from nothing, employing only empty guesswork along the way, and heading nowhere, either.
Of course, in Hegel's system this is all catered for with a few handy neologisms and some 'innovative reasoning' about 'truth being the whole'; but materialists can't afford to be so cavalier. We can't 'intuit' the whole (nor can we let its concepts 'self-develop') since, without complete knowledge of the whole, what we suppose to be the whole might not in fact be the whole (or even a whole), it could just be a large part. Indeed, it might be the wrong whole, or there could be thousands of 'wholes' out there, or, indeed, none at all. But, until we know that 'whole' (and know it absolutely) -- that is, if there is one -- we can't know anything for sure about anything, and that includes the nature of any of 'its' supposed parts. But, since we will never know that whole (or even anything remotely like it -- should there be one), we will never know anything for sure -- not even this!
Furthermore, since the nature of any part is dependent on an infinite number of interconnections, no part would possess a nature (whether or not we knew what that was), since infinite totalities are uncompletable and unformable (by definition).
And, unless we were in possession of absolute knowledge of the whole (if there is such a thing), we can't even assert that 'truth is the whole'. If that trite thesis were true then, since we do not possess the whole, it can't be true.
Anyone who asserts the contrary would have to be a minor deity of some sort.
'God' Sneaks Back In
Now, one of the widely touted advantages of DM-inspired internalist explanations of change is that it undercuts appeals to supernatural external causes to account for the origin of the universe. Indeed, as TAR itself points out, other theorists who adopt various forms of externalism:
"…often find themselves courting semi-mystical explanations of original cause." [Rees (1998), p.78.]
This is because 'externalists' deny that:
"…the cause of change [lies] within the system…and it cannot be conceived on the model of linear cause and effect…. If change is internally generated, it must be a result of contradiction, of instability and development as inherent properties of the system itself." [Ibid., p.7.]
[TAR = The Algebra of Revolution, i.e., Rees (1998); STD = Stalinist Dialectician.]
Countless other DM-theorists say the same sort of thing. [We saw Lenin do so above, too.]
It could be argued that change should be regarded as the result of a 'dialectical' interplay between internal and external causes -- an opinion which Bukharin, for one, certainly held; indeed, more recent STDs also seem rather fond of this idea -- on that, see Essay Eight Part One. However, this response would surely allow room once more for an external (hence supernatural) cause of the universe, and dialecticians would not only have to ignore Lenin's "absolute" dialectical caveat, recorded above, they would have to join the externalists and admit to their own "bad infinity", which, according to Rees:
"…postulates an endless series of causes and effects regressing to 'who knows where?'" [Ibid., p.7.]
Thus, one of the core motivating points of DM-Holism would disappear, for change both to systems and objects wouldn't originate exclusively internally -- nor, it now seems, would such changes manage this as a result of the action of purely natural causes. Something external to nature would have to set nature in motion -- if we now allow external causes back in.
In the event, as I show in Essay Eight Parts One and Two (as well as Essay Five), "internal contradictions" (even if some sense could be made of them) can't account for change anyway. Exactly why anything would change into its 'opposite', or how an 'opposite' can make anything change, is left entirely mysterious. Dialecticians seem to think that this verbal tangle will explain itself, apparently assuming that just because we can depict things as turning into "what they are not", the "what they are not" they turn into must have caused that change! [This entire thesis is taken apart in Essay Seven.]
Of course, not only do things turn into "what they are not" they also turn into "what they are". Hence, whatever a cat turns into, it is what it is.
[Anyone who questions the cogency of this verbal trick should now appreciate why us genuine materialists eschew all such linguistic tricks, not just those we don't like.]
Moreover, precisely what justifies the turning of a neat verbal formula into yet another a priori Superscientific thesis, true for all of time and space? Nothing, it seems -- or nothing dialecticians have so far cared to share with their bemused readers. And no wonder; too many awkward questions asked here would unmask the Idealism implicit in DM rather abruptly. As George Novack unwittingly admitted:
"A consistent materialism cannot proceed from principles which are validated by appeal to abstract reason, intuition, self-evidence or some other subjective or purely theoretical source. Idealisms may do this. But the materialist philosophy has to be based upon evidence taken from objective material sources and verified by demonstration in practice...." [Novack (1965), p.17. Bold emphasis added.]
With this, the alleged superiority of DM over its Idealist rivals vanishes. About the latter, Rees concludes that:
"...[they offer a] mere description, not explanation; the what, but not the how or the why." [Ibid., p.7.]
Well, it now seems that DM can't explain anything, either.
[The claim that forces are the physical correlate of 'contradictions', and hence can cause or which can explain change, is batted out of the park in Essay Eight Part Two.]
A Priori Super-Science
In fact, it is now worth asking: How could DM-theorists possibly know that change is always and only the result of "internal contradictions"? Clearly, unless they are semi-divine beings, they couldn't possibly know this. This idea certainly can't have been derived from experience (since it is not possible to observe or confirm the existence of real contradictions -- the claim that these are physically "real", or have real correlates, is examined in detail in Essays Four, Five, Seven, Eight Parts One and Two, and Eleven Part One), which means that they can't have been obtained by 'abstraction' from experience, either.
In that case, despite protestations to the contrary, this DM-thesis (like all the others) must have been imposed on nature.
[In fact, this idea was lifted from Hegel, who derived it not from nature, but from some seriously garbled sub-Aristotelian logic -- and from Plato. On this, see here and here.]
The thesis that change is the result of "internal contradictions" is thus exposed for what it is: yet another example of a priori Superscience, which was itself based on a series of dubious metaphysical 'thought experiments', an array of anthropomorphic concepts, and no evidence at all.
Again, from a handful words we get Super-Facts.
[The claim that DM is based on evidence is refuted in Essay Seven Part One.]
To begin afresh: the DM-Totality seems to be a Mega-system that itself contains many sub-systems. I say "seems" here because, as we will find out in Essay Eleven Parts One and Two, it is far from clear what dialecticians themselves think their 'Totality' actually is, or what it contains.
If so, and as we are about to see, DM-theorists face a serious dilemma: either everything in the universe is made of simple but eternally changeless objects, or it is composed of sub-systems that can't interact.
However, before I substantiate the above allegations, a couple of preliminary points need making:
(1) I shall count as a system any object or process that is made of simpler interconnected parts. For example, an atom is made of a nucleus and 'orbiting' electrons; the solar system, is comprised of a centrally-placed sun and orbiting planets, and so on.
(2) A simple object is one that has no parts, and hence isn't a system (so defined). Apparently, electrons and photons are elementary particles, but whether they are metaphysically simple is unclear. [On this, see Castellani (1998).]
This means that, characterised this way, nature is composed of at most two sorts of 'entities': systems and/or simple objects (or, to use the jargon: complexes and simples). We needn't assume that these are mutually exclusive categories, nor that there actually are any simple objects, only that there might be. [The reader should also note that I am not expressing my own opinions here, merely trying to make sense of DM.]
[UO = Unity of Opposites.]
Now, the reasons for saying that (according to DM-theorists) either everything in the universe is made of (1) simple but eternally changeless objects, or it is composed of (2) sub-systems that cannot interact, can be summarised in the following series of connected propositions -- which, I think, list all the available (relevant) DM-possibilities there are with respect to systems, objects, change and interaction:
D1: Change is internal to systems. Objects and processes in each system mutually condition one another (as UOs).
D2: Change (to objects and processes) is internally-driven, not externally-motivated.
D3: Objects within systems change because of their internal relations and/or contradictions.
D4: On the one hand: Objects in a particular system do not have external relations with one another. What appear to be external links are in fact misperceived or misidentified internal relations.
D5: Systems themselves cannot affect each other except by their own internal inter-systemic relations of the above (D4) sort.
D6: Alternatively: Individual and separate systems cannot have such an effect on one another, otherwise change would not be wholly internal to a particular system.
D7: Hence, single objects and/or processes cannot be systems, otherwise they couldn't influence each other (by D6).
D8: On the other hand, once more, objects and processes must be sub-systems (and hence systems in their own right), since they are composed of an indefinite (possibly infinite) number of their own sub-units (molecules, atoms, sub-atomic particles, and so on). But even then, as systems themselves, objects and processes couldn't exert an influence one another (again, by D6).
D9: This means that at some point there must be simple units of 'matter' that are not themselves systems. Otherwise, if everything were system-like (or, if all that exists were sub-sub-sub-…systems, to infinity) nothing could have any effect on anything else (by D6) -- that is, if all change is internally-motivated.
D10: But, if there were such simple units (i.e., if these hypothesised 'simples' have no 'parts', and hence aren't systems themselves) they would be changeless. If that weren't the case, given the DM-theory of change, these 'simple' units would have to be UOs themselves (thus they wouldn't be simple, after all), and would be subject to their own internally-driven development. However, if these 'simples' are changeless, they can have no effect on one another (or they wouldn't be changeless). Indeed, it isn't easy to see how a 'simple' can change in any way at all (other than by a rearrangement among themselves).
D11: Hence, reality is either composed of a (possibly) infinite hierarchy of systems that have no influence on each other, or it is composed of fundamental (non-system-like) objects that are changeless and have no effect on anything.
Clearly, both horns of this dilemma contradict all we know about nature. Is there any way to avoid this fatal conclusion? Could there be a 'dialectical' way out of this Hermetic Hole?
Perhaps we should start again with a consideration of the following propositions:
D12: Change is a result of "internal contradictions".
D13: Objects within the Totality change only because of this internal dynamic.
D14: Reality is a mediated Totality; change is a consequence of a 'struggle' between opposites.
D15: No element of reality can be considered in isolation; all mutually condition one another.
However, D12 is ambiguous, The word "change" could mean:
(1) "Systematic change" (that is, it could mean "change internal to a particular system"); or it could mean:
(2) "Change internal to an object" -- as it does in D13 -– leaving it unclear whether or not this sort of change is much wider-ranging, involving inter-objective or trans-systematic change.
Nevertheless, D13 seems clear enough, though:
D13: Objects within the Totality change only because of this internal dynamic.
This states that change arises only as a result of a dynamic internal to objects.
But, if that were so, it would once again be difficult to see what influence objects could have on each other. If change is internal to an object, then the relations it supposedly enjoys with other objects would be irrelevant in this respect -- ex hypothesi, they could have no impact on the changes the latter underwent. This seems to imply that objects must be self-caused/motivated beings (as Lenin "demanded").
Once more however, whatever changes an object undergoes -- since they are exclusively internally-generated -- they can't be a function of the relations which that object enjoys with other objects, otherwise the cause of change would not be internal to the said object, but external, after all -- and thus not the least bit 'rational' (since this would imply a "bad infinity").
["Bad infinity" is an Hegelian term, and is roughly equivalent to "endless" in the sense that the number line is endless. The "true infinite" is endless but bounded, rather like a circle. On this , see Inwood (1992), pp.139-42.]
On the other hand, if change is internal to a system of mediated objects or processes, then it can't be the sole result of a dynamic internal to the objects in that system, but must be a function both of the inter-systematic relations between systems and bodies and of the 'internal contradictions' within those systems or bodies themselves.
Furthermore, if change is system-specific (that is, if it is internal to, and solely confined within systems), then the relations between those systems would become problematic, once more. Clearly, change cannot be exclusively system-specific if different systems are to have an actual effect on one another.
The question is, which of these is the correct account? Is change (A) The result of a dynamic internal to systems? or (B) Is it internal to objects? or (C) Is it a consequence of the external effects bodies have on each other?
[It is worth noting that Option (C) in fact allows change to be internal to systems even while it remains external to the bodies forming that system.]
Is, therefore, change body-specific, system-specific, or is it inter-systematic? Or, is it (D) a complex combination of all three?
But: if (D) were the case, what would be the point of saying that change is motivated internally (in bodies, processes or systems) if it is also externally-driven?
On the other hand, why say that everything is interconnected if change is exclusively internally-generated, and the alleged interconnections between systems or bodies have no part to play?
Up until now, DM-theorists appear not to have noticed these serious difficulties implied by their 'theory' of change. Since DM is supposed to be the philosophy of change, clearly this isn't a minor flaw, one that can easily be ignored or dismissed.
In advance of this, the question whether or not DM-theorists are right to claim that contradictions find their material analogue in material forces does not in fact affect the point at issue -- which is whether or not change is internal to each system or sub-system, whatever causes it. Even if forces could be represented in the way dialecticians suppose, the very same difficulties highlighted earlier would still arise.
In that case, if change is indeed internal to each system then one of the following options would, it seems, have to be true (take your pick):
(A) There is only one system -- the Totality --, the contents of which are all (potentially or actually) maximally interconnected. Every object in the Totality is subject only to the operation of external causes. That is because the entire nature of the part is determined by its relation to the whole and to other parts, but not by a relation that any given part has with itself, and hence not by processes internal to each object. Or:
(B) There is only one system -- the Totality --, which is (potentially or actually) maximally interconnected. But, change is exclusively internal to each object or process in this Totality (because everything is a UO). In that case, nothing can be interconnected with anything else. Or:
(C) Change is internal to all systems, and nature forms an infinite 'ascending' and/or 'descending' hierarchy of systems and sub-systems ('all the way up'/'down', as it were). In such a set-up, ultimately, there is nothing that could be, or could become, the opposite of anything else. That is because, either:
(i) The fundamental parts of reality are extensionless 'simples' -- which, because they can be mapped onto or modelled by the Real Numbers, have no 'size' (no dimensions). This means that such objects possess no internal connections with anything else (unlike the Reals); they are therefore eternal and changeless. If they were subject to change then they would be systems themselves and hence wouldn't be extensionless points. As extensionless points they can have no effect on each other, or on anything else, or they would change. Hence, if systems are infinitely divisible change can't be internally-motivated -- or rather, the only change that would be possible would be that which arises from the rearrangement of these eternally changeless 'simples'. Or:
(ii) The fundamental parts of reality are systems. But, if that is so, they cannot have opposites that cause either or both of them to change. That is because those opposites would have to be external to each system, which would mean that change would not be internally-driven. [The latter sort of opposite can't be internal to any given system. If they were, that system couldn't change into that opposite, since that opposite would already exist.] Or:
(D) Everything (but the Totality) is a sub-system of some sort, no matter how much it is sub-divided. In that case, there are no fundamental 'point masses', since all sub-systems are infinitely divisible. In this arrangement, while change is internal to the Totality it is not internal to any of its sub-systems, but external to each. That is because if change were exclusively internal to such sub-systems they could have no effect on one another. But, if no sub-system had any effect on any other, there would be no change in the Totality over-and-above, perhaps, the rearrangement of these sub-systems. Hence, while the Totality changes, its sub-systems can't.
In that case, given this option, change would be internal to the Totality but external to all its sub-systems. Moreover, even if the latter were UOs, that fact would have no influence on whether they changed or not. If it did, change would be internal to each sub-system, contrary to the supposition. So, if (D) is to stand, change would not be the result of instability internal to each sub-system -- because the latter are, on this supposition, externally-motivated.
However, a moment's thought will show that this option can't work in the way described -- if change is merely the re-arranging of subsystems, then any larger system containing these subsystems would itself change internally, contrary to the hypothesis. Or:
(E) Change isn't just internal to the Totality, it is also internal and external to all its sub-systems (as they 'mediate' one another, or 'dialectically' interact). In that case, change to these sub-systems can't be the sole result of their own internal instabilities and/or 'inner contradictions', as dialecticians maintain.
Unfortunately, this would have profound implications for HM and the revolutionary overthrow of Capitalism, for example. The contradictions inside the latter would therefore be insufficient to lead to its demise. External causes over and above the class struggle and the falling rate of profit (etc.) would be needed --, including perhaps bad weather, meteorite impact, or alien intervention (etc.).
Naturally, no one believes the class struggle is hermetically sealed against the rest of nature, but since these influences stretch off into infinity this would present DM with its own "bad infinity", which would end "who knows where?"
Moreover, if change is also external to every system, then the Totality (as a system itself) must be susceptible to just such external influences.
Any attempt to forestall that implication would prompt the same sort of objection that stumps naive supporters of the Cosmological Argument [henceforth, COMA] for the existence of 'God': if everything has a cause, then what caused 'God'?
In like manner, if every system is subject to external causation, then what caused the Totality?
Clearly, this challenge can only be neutralised by an appeal (i) to the alleged 'definition' of the Totality or (ii) to an infinite set of causes, which stretch off to "who knows where?" -- in the way that theists respond to similar objections to the COMA. [This isn't surprising, given the mystical origin of DM.]
However, as Kant noted, the COMA has to be buttressed by a surreptitious appeal to the Ontological Argument [henceforth, ONAN]. So, from the supposed definition of the word "God" (i.e., as "That than which nothing greater can be conceived"), 'His' necessary and actual existence are 'deducible'. In this way, questions about 'His' origin are supposedly rendered illogical/irrational.
Similarly, but in this case based on the meaning of "Totality" (i.e., as "All that there is" or, maybe, "That than which there is nothing else", or even "That outwith which nothing else can be conceived"), it could be argued that there is nothing outside the Totality that could cause it to exist.
So, the only way that dialecticians could defend this fall-back position (should they chose to adopt it) would be to use an 'atheistical' version of the ONAN, on the lines that the Totality is "That than which there is nothing else".
Of course, such a defence would make plain the Linguistic Idealism in DM, since, once again: from the meaning of a few words fundamental truths about reality will have been derived.
But, more importantly, if change is caused by the interplay of opposites, and objects and systems turn into those opposites (as the DM-classics inform us), then, whether or not it is internally- or externally-induced, change would be impossible. As we have seen -- here --, if the opposite of a body or system already exists, that body or system can't change into it, for it already exists!
On the other hand, if it doesn't already exist it can play no part in helping to change that object or system!
In view of their unwise commitment to 'inverted' Hegelian 'logic', there seem to be no other viable options left open to DM-fans.
Moreover, if the last of these alternatives is correct, then (as we will also see here) the similarities between DM and Mystical Christianity would become even less hard to miss. For if there is a force external to the Universe that conditions it, then the Totality will have an external cause after all, and the DM-search for the "how" and the "why" will have run into the Ground Of All Being -- which ends "we all know where...".
The choice of title for an ultimate cause like this doesn't affect any of the above points -- nor does it resolve the problems this Essay has exposed -- since a Deity by any other name is still a Deity.
As Hegel himself noted:
"Every philosophy is essentially an idealism or at least has idealism for its principle, and the question then is only how far this principle is carried out." [Hegel (1999), pp.154-55; §316.]
As far a DM is concerned, it looks like he was right.
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Latest Update: 10/02/16
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