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Summary Of My Main Objections To Dialectical Materialism
Abbreviations Used At This Site
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The material below follows on from the debate here, here, here and here.
Well, it seems I've stirred up a veritable hornet's nest! Here, though, is a rather weak response from Leonardo Kosloff:
"Where does Rosa account for the social origins of formal logics, whatever kind, she makes such an unwarranted fuzz of? Did logic fall from the sky?..."
Neutral readers will no doubt wonder what this has got to do with my query: What the hell is a 'dialectical contradiction'? No good looking to comrade Kosloff for an answer, then!
And, I am quite happy to acknowledge the class origins of Formal Logic [FL], but the origin of Dialectical Logic [DL] is no less compromised, except, the former is incomparably clearer and more useful than the latter, as my last reply showed. After all, even the academics with whom I am debating here can't tell us what a 'dialectical contradiction' is!
But, what of this?
"Rosa’s ban of Zeleny's book
sounds a li'l (sic) dogmatic for a Wittgensteinian-Trotskyist, no?"
Where did I "ban" it? What I said in fact was this:
Well, Zeleny's book is the non-existent deity's gift to confusion and obscurity. Zeleny nowhere challenges the sub-Aristotelian 'logic' that has seeped into Dialectical Marxism, so it isn't a book that anyone who seeks clarity should even open, let alone read. [Hume's bonfire beckons here, one feels.] Even so, those foolish enough to ignore this advice will find in that book nothing that will help them understand what a 'dialectical contradiction' is.
A recommendation isn't a ban, as should seem obvious. Perhaps I will now have to explain "obvious" to the comrade? And, although I call myself a 'Wittgensteinian', that doesn't commit me to agreeing with everything he said or wrote. Indeed, I have already listed (here) several of my disagreements with him, but there are others.
However, and once again, like one or two others in this 'discussion', comrade Kosloff is happy to invent in places where he clearly lacks knowledge.
"Rosa did get something right out of my comment, which wasn’t intended as a ‘totalistic’ critique of all her writings, which I haven’t read, but were only my impressions of the debate at the Marxist Humanist Initiative. Alas, it was only one thing: it was off topic. That’s because according to Marx’s materialist conception of history, or any possible reading of it I can think of, -- by the way, Marx never had a grand theory of historical materialism -- taken in its full literal sense, 'Social being determines consciousness', so that to ask for a 'clear' (where does this 'clarity' come from? Who's clarity is it, Wittgenstein's? Giaquinto's? Priest's? Or could this rather be your alienated consciousness which doesn't recognize the abstract image in which it must represent itself so that it, by necessity, reproduces the capitalist mode of production?) explanation of dialectical contradiction is an abstract fixation; it's the wrong topic (!). We could talk about the dialectical method, someday, but the point is you give logic, clarity, or what have you, an independent existence; is that not the essence of idealism?" [Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site.]
"Clarity" is an ordinary language term; that is where it came from, which is where Wittgenstein found it, too. But, if comrade Kosloff finds this term a puzzle, he stands no chance with "dialectical contradiction". Anyway, where do I give logic, or even clarity, an "independent existence" (whatever that means)?
Alas, the rest of his reply is largely unintelligible, so I can't comment on it.
"But please, don't take it from me, here is the old man himself, in historical materialist mode,
'When, for instance, wealth, state-power, etc., are understood by Hegel as entities estranged from the human being, this only happens in their form as thoughts... They are thought-entities, and therefore merely an estrangement of pure, i.e., abstract, philosophical thinking. The whole process therefore ends with absolute knowledge. It is precisely abstract thought from which these objects are estranged and which they confront with their presumption of reality. The philosopher -- who is himself an abstract form of estranged man -- takes himself as the criterion of the estranged world. The whole history of the alienation process [Entäußerungsgeschichte] and the whole process of the retraction of the alienation is therefore nothing but the history of the production of abstract (i.e., absolute) thought -- of LOGICAL, speculative thought.'
"And, with regard to the materialist conception of history,
'Therefore, to the kind of consciousness -- and this is characteristic of the philosophical consciousness -- for which conceptual thinking is the real human being, and for which the conceptual world as such is thus the only reality, the movement of the categories appears as the real act of production -- which only, unfortunately, receives a jolt from the outside -- whose product is the world; and -- but this is again a tautology [SIC -- not my "sic" - RL] -- this is correct in so far as the concrete totality is a totality of thoughts, concrete in thought, in fact a product of thinking and comprehending; but not in any way a product of the concept which thinks and generates itself outside or above observation and conception; a product, rather, of the working-up of observation and conception into concepts. The totality as it appears in the head, as a totality of thoughts, is a product of a thinking head, which appropriates the world in the only way it can, a way different from the artistic, religious, practical and mental appropriation of this world. The real subject retains its autonomous existence outside the head just as before; namely as long as the head’s conduct is merely speculative, merely theoretical. Hence, in the theoretical method, too, the subject, SOCIETY, must always be kept in mind AS THE PRESSUPOSITION. (sic)'
"Rosa says she agrees with this conception, but this is only from a proto-idealist standpoint. For where does Rosa account for the social origins of formal logics, whatever kind, she makes such an unwarranted fuzz of? Did logic fall from the sky? Are we to believe that on the basis of neoclassical economics, along with the puny game theory of "analytical Marxism", etc., etc., all but blatant manifestations of an inverted consciousness which doesn't take society as the presupposition but directly starts from the imposition that society 'should' conform to the pure form of logic, and have served as the instrument of domination for the ruling classes, compels us all to pay homage to formal logic, because of how, it, coming from an abstract netherworld, and whose movement APPEARS as the real act of production, has developed nice purrrty (sic) technologies?" [Capitals in the original. Only small case "sic"s added.]
Once more, much of this seems irrelevant to my query, and I have already commented on what little of it that is relevant. Anyway, I don't think I expressed agreement with this (unpublished) Hegelian version of Historical Materialism, even though there are parts of it that I do accept, if they were worded more appropriately.
But, what of this?
"but this is only from a proto-idealist standpoint"
What is 'idealist' about my work? Well, it is no good asking this mystic, since he hasn't read any of it. In fact, in my Essays (for example, here), I give a materialist account of the mystical ideas that have colonised the brains of comrades like him, and I explain why petty bourgeois academics are more susceptible to this malaise than any other social group (indeed, and on the lines that 'social being determines consciousness', etc., too).
What of this question, though?
"Where does logic come from Rosa?"
Don't you know? As far as we can tell, originally from that ruling-class theorist, Aristotle. But, so what?
Was Hegel working class? Was he perhaps a coal miner?
Here is Shane Mage:
"It is the most
obvious of mistakes to ask for the 'social origins' of valid scientific
concepts, whose only origin is the structure of reality to which they perforce
conform. The 'origin' of 'formal logics' is mathematics, the method by which
mathematical truth (the key to science) is discovered. More immediately, the
origin of formal logic is dialectic, as anyone who has read Platon [Plato
-- RL] and
his pupil Aristoteles cannot be unaware. Formal logic's propositions apply to
one side of reality -- the reality of unchanging, atemporal, structure. They
are thus inherently in tension with the other side of reality -- the reality of
constant flux in which all material "things" participate. Dialectical logic
unites these two 'opposite' sides of reality. From that all else follows." [Italic
emphasis in the original. Quotation marks altered to conform with the
conventions adopted at this site.]
Well, this is a myth put about by dialecticians; in fact, odd as this might seem to some, DL can't explain change, whereas FL can! [On that, see here and here.] And FL does not apply to any "side of reality", since it is the systematic study of inference.
[I suspect comrade Mage might have confused logic with the 'laws of thought', and thus with some form of psychology. But, if this were indeed the case, if logic were concerned with the 'laws of thought', logicians wouldn't waste their time with all those useless proofs, rules and theorems, they'd do brain scans, study standardised surveys and conduct experiments. On the so-called 'laws of thought' see my comments over at Wikipedia.]
Dialectical logic is to Formal logic as calculus is to algebra."
On the contrary, as I have shown (here, here, here and here), DL is to FL as Astrology is to Astronomy.
Comrade Kosloff again:
wrote: 'But in the end, I think she knows actually very little about Marx, the
development, method, and content of his work.'
"No doubt, but not only that. This whole anal retentiveness with contradiction in the end, as I see it, leads to a direct inversion, hidden as it is in 'no bullshit', in language, to say the least, of the very materialist conception. Let's see what Gerry Cohen says in his defence of Marx's theory of history...." [Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site.]
Well, comrade Artesian received a well-deserved slapping from yours truly, here, so I won't comment on his asinine speculations. However, like several others involved in this 'discussion', he is quite happy to make things up about me and what I have or haven't read, but from a position of almost total ignorance. And it is quite obvious why these characters do this: to distract attention from the fact that not one of them can tell us what a 'dialectical contradiction' is. Indeed, comrade Kosloff tries to cover his shame (and possible ignorance) with the use of yet more anally-orientated language, like so many other dialecticians with whom I have debated this over the years.
No doubt, had he been around in the 1870s, he'd have passed this comment:
"Herr Marx's whole anal retentiveness with regard to Capitalism in the end, as I see it, leads to a direct inversion..."
In the end, this is all that comrade Kosloff can say in response, since it is quite clear from his replies that he hasn't a clue either what a 'dialectical contradiction' is, and neither has anyone else.
Latest Up-date: 29/01/20
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