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Thread: The Dialectical 'Theory' of Change

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    Default The Dialectical 'Theory' of Change

    I see the mystical weeds have proliferated since I have been away. I'll deal with them later, after I have posted this:

    In a recent thread about Engels, the discussion finally settled upon debating the 'dialectical theory of change'. That thread was closed because it passed the 500 posts mark, but since many issues had been left unresolved, I have decided to begin a new thread devoted specifically to this topic.

    As the quotations in my next post show, this 'theory' commits its adherents to the following theses:

    (1) Every object and process in the entire universe, and for all of time, changes because of its internal 'contradictions' -- that is, because of a struggle between its internal opposites.

    (2) These opposites inevitably turn into one another.

    Now, while I was researching and writing my Essays, I gave this 'theory' little thought, other than to conclude that it was just another example of the sort of a priori dogmatics we have witnessed in traditional philosophy since the ancient Greeks put pen to misuse.

    Indeed, as you read the quotations below, ask yourself "How could Engels, Plekhanov, Lenin and the rest possibly have known that everything in the entire universe, for all of time, change in this way?"

    The answer is plain, they couldn't have known this, but that did not stop them imposing this 'theory' on nature, in defiance of what Engels himself said:

    "Finally, for me there could be no question of superimposing the laws of dialectics on nature but of discovering them in it and developing them from it." [Engels (1976) Anti-Duhring, p.13. Bold emphasis added.]
    In fact, we know precisely where Engels and the rest derived these dogmatic ideas: from Hegel --, and he in turn pinched them from earlier mystics, who were quite happy to impose them on nature, too -- well before very much was known about it. They certainly did not derive them from scientists.

    Of course, these dogmas form part of a more elaborate world-view called 'dialectical materialism' [DM], and despite what we are told in the official brochure, there are at least two reasons why this world view is so important to these latter-day 'Marxist' mystics:

    1) The founders of this quasi-religion [Dialectical Marxism] weren't workers; they came from a class that had always educated its children in the classics and in philosophy. This tradition taught that behind appearances there lies a hidden world, accessible to thought alone, which is more real than the material universe we see around us.

    This way of seeing things was concocted in Ancient Greece by ideologues of the ruling class, who viewed reality precisely this way. They invented it because if you belong to, benefit from or help run a society which is based on gross inequality, oppression and exploitation, you can keep order in several ways.

    The first and most obvious way is through violence. This will work for a time, but it is not only fraught with danger, it is costly and it stifles innovation (among other things).

    Another way is to persuade the majority (or a significant section of "opinion formers", administrators, 'intellectuals' and theorists, at least) that the present order either works for their benefit, is ordained of the 'gods', or that it is 'natural' and cannot be fought, reformed or negotiated with. [These days, this is all blamed on our 'selfish genes'.]

    Hence, a world-view is necessary for the ruling-class to carry on ruling in the same old way. While the content of this ruling ideology may have changed with each change in the mode of production, its form has remained largely the same for thousands of years: (a) There is a hidden world underlying 'appearances', inaccessible to the senses; hence (b) Ultimate Truth about this hidden world is ascertainable by thought alone, so (3) Because this hidden world is more real than the material universe, 'truths' about nature can be imposed on it. -- dogmatically.

    These dogmas (which re-appear, East and West, in all Modes of Production) have formed part of the ruling ideas that Marx spoke about:

    "The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance. The individuals composing the ruling class possess among other things consciousness, and therefore think. Insofar, therefore, as they rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an epoch, it is self-evident that they do this in its whole range, hence among other things rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch." [Marx and Engels (1970) The German Ideology, pp.64-65.]
    Hence, these non-worker founders of our movement, who had been educated (before they became revolutionaries) to believe there was just such a hidden world that governed everything -- when they became revolutionaries -- would naturally look for principles in that invisible world that told them that change was inevitable, and part of the cosmic order.

    Enter dialectics, courtesy of the dogmatic ideas of that ruling-class mystic, Hegel.

    2) This allowed the founders of DM to think of themselves as special, as prophets of the new order, purveyors of theses which, alas, workers could not quite grasp because of their defective education and their reliance on ordinary language and 'common sense'.

    Fortunately, history has predisposed these prophets to ascertain the truth about reality for the rest of us, which means that they must be our 'naturally-ordained' leaders. That in turn meant these 'leaders' were also Teachers of the 'ignorant masses', who could 'legitimately' substitute themselves for the unwashed majority -- in 'their own interests', you understand. That is because the masses are far too caught up in 'commodity fetishism' to see the truth for themselves.

    And that is why Dialectical Materialism is a world-view.

    It is also why dialecticians cling on to this theory like grim death (and become very emotional (and abusive!) when it is criticised by yours truly), since it provides them with a source of consolation that, despite outward appearances to the contrary, and because their theses about that hidden world tell them that Dialectical Marxism will one day be a success, everything is in fact OK, and nothing in the core theory needs changing -- in spite of the fact that that core theory says everything changes! Hence, it is ossified into a dogma, and imposed on reality. A rather nice unity of opposites for you to ponder.

    Hence, this 'theory' insulates the militant mind from the facts; it tells such comrades that underlying reality 'contradicts' outward appearances. Hence, even if Dialectical Marxism appears to be a long-term failure, those with the equivalent of a dialectical 'third eye' can see that the opposite is in fact the case: Dialectical Marxism is a ringing success!

    In that case, awkward facts can either be ignored or they can be re-configured into their opposites.

    So, initially, I did not really question this 'theory' -- except in the above manner --, although I did wonder how it worked in detail (detail that is sadly missing from Hegel, Engels, Plekhanov, Lenin and all the rest). However, when I came to consider Hegel's 'theory' more closely, about four years ago, it occurred to me that the DM-version of it could not work, even in its own terms. This is ultimately because, just like much of traditional philosophy, it is also based on a systematic distortion of language, as Marx noted:

    "The philosophers have only to dissolve their language into the ordinary language, from which it is abstracted, in order to recognise it, as the distorted language of the actual world, and to realise that neither thoughts nor language in themselves form a realm of their own, that they are only manifestations of actual life." [Marx and Engels (1970) The German Ideology, p.118. Bold emphasis added.]
    In my next three posts I will (1) List the aforementioned quotations, (2) Re-post my objections to this 'theory', and (3) Add a reply to an objection from GrayMouser.

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    Here are a few quotations from a wide selection of theorists that support the comments I have made above and below:

    "If, for instance, the Sophists claimed to be teachers, Socrates by a series of questions forced the Sophist Protagoras to confess that all learning is only recollection. In his more strictly scientific dialogues, Plato employs the dialectical method to show the finitude of all hard and fast terms of understanding. Thus in the Parmenides he deduces the many from the one. In this grand style did Plato treat Dialectic. In modern times it was, more than any other, Kant who resuscitated the name of Dialectic, and restored it to its post of honour. He did it, as we have seen, by working out the Antinomies of the reason. The problem of these Antinomies is no mere subjective piece of work oscillating between one set of grounds and another; it really serves to show that every abstract proposition of understanding, taken precisely as it is given, naturally veers round to its opposite.

    "However reluctant Understanding may be to admit the action of Dialectic, we must not suppose that the recognition of its existence is peculiarly confined to the philosopher. It would be truer to say that Dialectic gives expression to a law which is felt in all other grades of consciousness, and in general experience. Everything that surrounds us may be viewed as an instance of Dialectic. We are aware that everything finite, instead of being stable and ultimate, is rather changeable and transient; and this is exactly what we mean by that Dialectic of the finite, by which the finite, as implicitly other than what it is, is forced beyond its own immediate or natural being to turn suddenly into its opposite." [Hegel (1975), pp.117-18.]

    "Everything is opposite. Neither in heaven nor in earth, neither in the world of mind nor nature, is there anywhere an abstract 'either-or' as the understanding maintains. Whatever exists is concrete, with difference and opposition in itself. The finitude of things with then lie in the want of correspondence between their immediate being and what they essentially are. Thus, in inorganic nature, the acid is implicitly at the same time the base: in other words its only being consists in its relation to its other. Hence the acid persists quietly in the contrast: it is always in effort to realize what it potentially is. Contradiction is the very moving principle of the world." [Ibid., p.174.]

    "The law of the interpenetration of opposites.... Mutual penetration of polar opposites and transformation into each other when carried to extremes...." [Engels (1954), pp.17, 62.]

    "Dialectics, so-called objective dialectics, prevails throughout nature, and so-called subjective dialectics, dialectical thought, is only the reflection of the motion through opposites which asserts itself everywhere in nature, and which by the continual conflict of the opposites and their final passage into one another, or into higher forms, determines the life of nature. Attraction and repulsion. Polarity begins with magnetism, it is exhibited in one and the same body; in the case of electricity it distributes itself over two or more bodies which become oppositely charged. All chemical processes reduce themselves -- to processes of chemical attraction and repulsion. Finally, in organic life the formation of the cell nucleus is likewise to be regarded as a polarisation of the living protein material, and from the simple cell -- onwards the theory of evolution demonstrates how each advance up to the most complicated plant on the one side, and up to man on the other, is effected by the continual conflict between heredity and adaptation. In this connection it becomes evident how little applicable to such forms of evolution are categories like 'positive' and 'negative.' One can conceive of heredity as the positive, conservative side, adaptation as the negative side that continually destroys what has been inherited, but one can just as well take adaptation as the creative, active, positive activity, and heredity as the resisting, passive, negative activity." [Ibid., p.211.]

    "For a stage in the outlook on nature where all differences become merged in intermediate steps, and all opposites pass into one another through intermediate links, the old metaphysical method of thought no longer suffices. Dialectics, which likewise knows no hard and fast lines, no unconditional, universally valid 'either-or' and which bridges the fixed metaphysical differences, and besides 'either-or' recognises also in the right place 'both this-and that' and reconciles the opposites, is the sole method of thought appropriate in the highest degree to this stage. Of course, for everyday use, for the small change of science, the metaphysical categories retain their validity." [Ibid., pp.212-13.]

    "Further, we find upon closer investigation that the two poles of an antithesis positive and negative, e.g., are as inseparable as they are opposed and that despite all their opposition, they mutually interpenetrate. And we find, in like manner, that cause and effect are conceptions which only hold good in their application to individual cases; but as soon as we consider the individual cases in their general connection with the universe as a whole, they run into each other, and they become confounded when we contemplate that universal action and reaction in which causes and effects are eternally changing places, so that what is effect here and now will be cause there and then, and vice versa." [Engels (1976), p.27.]

    "Already in Rousseau, therefore, we find not only a line of thought which corresponds exactly to the one developed in Marx's Capital, but also, in details, a whole series of the same dialectical turns of speech as Marx used: processes which in their nature are antagonistic, contain a contradiction; transformation of one extreme into its opposite; and finally, as the kernel of the whole thing, the negation of the negation. [Ibid., p.179.]

    "...but the theory of Essence is the main thing: the resolution of the abstract contradictions into their own instability, where one no sooner tries to hold on to one side alone than it is transformed unnoticed into the other, etc." [Engels (1891), p.414.]

    "And so every phenomenon, by the action of those same forces which condition its existence, sooner or later, but inevitably, is transformed into its own opposite…." [Plekhanov (1956), p.77.]

    "[Among the elements of dialectics are the following:] [I]nternally contradictory tendencies…in [a thing]…as the sum and unity of opposites…. [This involves] not only the unity of opposites, but the transitions of every determination, quality, feature, side, property into every other [into its opposite?]….

    "In brief, dialectics can be defined as the doctrine of the unity of opposites. This embodies the essence of dialectics….

    "The splitting of the whole and the cognition of its contradictory parts…is the essence (one of the 'essentials', one of the principal, if not the principal, characteristic features) of dialectics….

    "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.221-22, 357-58.]

    "Hegel brilliantly divined the dialectics of things (phenomena, the world, nature) in the dialectics of concepts…. This aphorism should be expressed more popularly, without the word dialectics: approximately as follows: In the alternation, reciprocal dependence of all notions, in the identity of their opposites, in the transitions of one notion into another, in the eternal change, movement of notions, Hegel brilliantly divined precisely this relation of things to nature…. [W]hat constitutes dialectics?…. [M]utual dependence of notions all without exception…. Every notion occurs in a certain relation, in a certain connection with all the others." [Lenin (1961), pp.196-97.]

    "'This harmony is precisely absolute Becoming change, -- not becoming other, now this and then another. The essential thing is that each different thing, each particular, is different from another, not abstractly so from any other, but from its other. Each particular only is, insofar as its other is implicitly contained in its Notion...' Quite right and important: the 'other' as its other, development into its opposite." [Ibid., p.260. Lenin is here commenting on Hegel (1995), pp.278-98; this particular quotation coming from p.285.]

    "Dialectics is the teaching which shows how Opposites can be and how they happen to be (how they become) identical, -- under what conditions they are identical, becoming transformed into one another, -- why the human mind should grasp these opposites not as dead, rigid, but as living, conditional, mobile, becoming transformed into one another." [Ibid., p.109.]

    "Development is the 'struggle' of opposites." [Lenin, Collected Works, Volume XIII, p.301.]

    "Why is it that '...the human mind should take these opposites not as dead, rigid, but as living, conditional, mobile, transforming themselves into one another'? Because that is just how things are in objective reality. The fact is that the unity or identity of opposites in objective things is not dead or rigid, but is living, conditional, mobile, temporary and relative; in given conditions, every contradictory aspect transforms itself into its opposite....

    "In speaking of the identity of opposites in given conditions, what we are referring to is real and concrete opposites and the real and concrete transformations of opposites into one another....

    "All processes have a beginning and an end, all processes transform themselves into their opposites. The constancy of all processes is relative, but the mutability manifested in the transformation of one process into another is absolute." [Mao (1961b), pp.340-42.]

    "The law of contradiction in things, that is, the law of the unity of opposites, is the basic law of materialist dialectics....

    "As opposed to the metaphysical world outlook, the world outlook of materialist dialectics holds that in order to understand the development of a thing we should study it internally and in its relations with other things; in other words, the development of things should be seen as their internal and necessary self-movement, while each thing in its movement is interrelated with and interacts on the things around it. The fundamental cause of the development of a thing is not external but internal; it lies in the contradictoriness within the thing. There is internal contradiction in every single thing, hence its motion and development....

    "The universality or absoluteness of contradiction has a twofold meaning. One is that contradiction exists in the process of development of all things, and the other is that in the process of development of each thing a movement of opposites exists from beginning to end.... [Ibid., pp.311-18.]

    "Second, and just as unconditionally valid, that all things are at the same time absolutely different and absolutely or unqualifiedly opposed. The law may also be referred to as the law of the polar unity of opposites. This law applies to every single thing, every phenomenon, and to the world as a whole. Viewing thought and its method alone, it can be put this way: The human mind is capable of infinite condensation of things into unities, even the sharpest contradictions and opposites, and, on the other hand, it is capable of infinite differentiation and analysis of things into opposites. The human mind can establish this unlimited unity and unlimited differentiation because this unlimited unity and differentiation is present in reality." [Thalheimer (1936), p.161.]

    "So far we have discussed the most general and most fundamental law of dialectics, namely, the law of the permeation of opposites, or the law of polar unity. We shall now take up the second main proposition of dialectics, the law of the negation of the negation, or the law of development through opposites. This is the most general law of the process of thought. I will first state the law itself and support it with examples, and then I will show on what it is based and how it is related to the first law of the permeation of opposites. There is already a presentiment of this law in the oldest Chinese philosophy, in the of Transformations, as well as in Lao-tse and his disciples -- and likewise in the oldest Greek philosophy, especially in Heraclitus. Not until Hegel, however, was this law developed.

    "This law applies to all motion and changes of things, to real things as well as to their images in our minds, i.e., concepts. It states first of all that things and concepts move, change, and develop; all things are processes. All fixity of individual things is only relative, limited; their motion, change, or development is absolute, unlimited. For the world as a whole absolute motion and absolute rest coincide. The proof of this part of the proposition, namely, that all things are in flux, we have already given in our discussion of Heraclitus.

    "The law of the negation of the negation has a special sense beyond the mere proposition that all things are processes and change. It also states something about the most general form of these changes, motions, or developments. It states, in the first place, that all motion, development, or change, takes place through opposites or contradictions, or through the negation of a thing.

    "Conceptually the actual movement of things appears as a negation. In other words, negation is the most general way in which motion or change of things is represented in the mind. This is the first stage of this process. The negation of a thing from which the change proceeds, however, is in turn subject to the law of the transformation of things into their opposites." [Ibid., pp.170-71.]

    "The second dialectical law, that of the 'unity, interpenetration or identity of opposites'…asserts the essentially contradictory character of reality -– at the same time asserts that these 'opposites' which are everywhere to be found do not remain in stark, metaphysical opposition, but also exist in unity. This law was known to the early Greeks. It was classically expressed by Hegel over a hundred years ago….

    "[F]rom the standpoint of the developing universe as a whole, what is vital is…motion and change which follows from the conflict of the opposite." [Guest (1963), pp.31, 32.]

    "The negative electrical pole…cannot exist without the simultaneous presence of the positive electrical pole…. This 'unity of opposites' is therefore found in the core of all material things and events." [Conze (1944), pp.35-36.]

    "This dialectical activity is universal. There is no escaping from its unremitting and relentless embrace. 'Dialectics gives expression to a law which is felt in all grades of consciousness and in general experience. Everything that surrounds us may be viewed as an instance of dialectic. We are aware that everything finite, instead of being inflexible and ultimate, is rather changeable and transient; and this is exactly what we mean by the dialectic of the finite, by which the finite, as implicitly other than it is, is forced to surrender its own immediate or natural being, and to turn suddenly into its opposite.' (Encyclopedia, p.120)." [Novack (1971), 94-95; quoting Hegel (1975), p.118.]

    "Contradiction is an essential feature of all being. It lies at the heart of matter itself. It is the source of all motion, change, life and development. The dialectical law which expresses this idea is the law of the unity and interpenetration of opposites….

    "In dialectics, sooner or later, things change into their opposite. In the words of the Bible, 'the first shall be last and the last shall be first.' We have seen this many times, not least in the history of great revolutions. Formerly backward and inert layers can catch up with a bang. Consciousness develops in sudden leaps. This can be seen in any strike. And in any strike we can see the elements of a revolution in an undeveloped, embryonic form. In such situations, the presence of a conscious and audacious minority can play a role quite similar to that of a catalyst in a chemical reaction. In certain instances, even a single individual can play an absolutely decisive role....

    "This universal phenomenon of the unity of opposites is, in reality the motor-force of all motion and development in nature…. Movement which itself involves a contradiction, is only possible as a result of the conflicting tendencies and inner tensions which lie at the heart of all forms of matter....

    "Contradictions are found at all levels of nature, and woe betide the logic that denies it. Not only can an electron be in two or more places at the same time, but it can move simultaneously in different directions. We are sadly left with no alternative but to agree with Hegel: they are and are not. Things change into their opposite. Negatively-charged electrons become transformed into positively-charged positrons. An electron that unites with a proton is not destroyed, as one might expect, but produces a new particle, a neutron, with a neutral charge.

    "This is an extension of the law of the unity and interpenetration of opposites. It is a law which permeates the whole of nature, from the smallest phenomena to the largest...." [Woods and Grant (1995), pp.43-47, 63-71.]

    "This struggle is not external and accidental…. The struggle is internal and necessary, for it arises and follows from the nature of the process as a whole. The opposite tendencies are not independent the one of the other, but are inseparably connected as parts or aspects of a single whole. And they operate and come into conflict on the basis of the contradiction inherent in the process as a whole….

    "Movement and change result from causes inherent in things and processes, from internal contradictions….

    "Contradiction is a universal feature of all processes….

    "The importance of the [developmental] conception of the negation of the negation does not lie in its supposedly expressing the necessary pattern of all development. All development takes place through the working out of contradictions -– that is a necessary universal law…." [Cornforth (1976), pp.14-15, 46-48, 53, 65-66, 72, 77, 82, 86, 90, 95, 117; quoting Hegel (1975), pp.172 and 160, respectively.]

    "Opposites in a thing are not only mutually exclusive, polar, repelling, each other; they also attract and interpenetrate each other. They begin and cease to exist together.... These dual aspects of opposites -- conflict and unity -- are like scissor blades in cutting, jaws in mastication, and two legs in walking. Where there is only one, the process as such is impossible: 'all polar opposites are in general determined by the mutual action of two opposite poles on one another, the separation and opposition of these poles exists only within their unity and interconnection, and, conversely, their interconnection exists only in their separation and their unity only in their opposition.' in fact, 'where one no sooner tries to hold on to one side alone then it is transformed unnoticed into the other....'" [Gollobin (1986), p.115; quoting Engels (1891), p.414.]

    "The unity of opposites and contradiction.... The scientific world-view does not seek causes of the motion of the universe beyond its boundaries. It finds them in the universe itself, in its contradictions. The scientific approach to an object of research involves skill in perceiving a dynamic essence, a combination in one and the same object of mutually incompatible elements, which negate each other and yet at the same time belong to each other.

    "It is even more important to remember this point when we are talking about connections between phenomena that are in the process of development. In the whole world there is no developing object in which one cannot find opposite sides, elements or tendencies: stability and change, old and new, and so on. The dialectical principle of contradiction reflects a dualistic relationship within the whole: the unity of opposites and their struggle. Opposites may come into conflict only to the extent that they form a whole in which one element is as necessary as another. This necessity for opposing elements is what constitutes the life of the whole. Moreover, the unity of opposites, expressing the stability of an object, is relative and transient, while the struggle of opposites is absolute, ex pressing the infinity of the process of development. This is because contradiction is not only a relationship between opposite tendencies in an object or between opposite objects, but also the relationship of the object to itself, that is to say, its constant self-negation. The fabric of all life is woven out of two kinds of thread, positive and negative, new and old, progressive and reactionary. They are constantly in conflict, fighting each other....

    "The opposite sides, elements and tendencies of a whole whose interaction forms a contradiction are not given in some eternally ready-made form. At the initial stage, while existing only as a possibility, contradiction appears as a unity containing an inessential difference. The next stage is an essential difference within this unity. Though possessing a common basis, certain essential properties or tendencies in the object do not correspond to each other. The essential difference produces opposites, which in negating each other grow into a contradiction. The extreme case of contradiction is an acute conflict. Opposites do not stand around in dismal inactivity; they are not something static, like two wrestlers in a photograph. They interact and are more like a live wrestling match. Every development produces contradictions, resolves them and at the same time gives birth to new ones. Life is an eternal overcoming of obstacles. Everything is interwoven in a network of contradictions." [Spirkin (1983), pp.143-46.]

    "'The contradiction, however, is the source of all movement and life; only in so far as it contains a contradiction can anything have movement, power, and effect.' (Hegel). 'In brief', states Lenin, 'dialectics can be defined as the doctrine of the unity of opposites. This embodies the essence of dialectics…'

    "The world in which we live is a unity of contradictions or a unity of opposites: cold-heat, light-darkness, Capital-Labour, birth-death, riches-poverty, positive-negative, boom-slump, thinking-being, finite-infinite, repulsion-attraction, left-right, above- below, evolution-revolution, chance-necessity, sale-purchase, and so on.

    "The fact that two poles of a contradictory antithesis can manage to coexist as a whole is regarded in popular wisdom as a paradox. The paradox is a recognition that two contradictory, or opposite, considerations may both be true. This is a reflection in thought of a unity of opposites in the material world.

    "Motion, space and time are nothing else but the mode of existence of matter. Motion, as we have explained is a contradiction, -- being in one place and another at the same time. It is a unity of opposites. 'Movement means to be in this place and not to be in it; this is the continuity of space and time -- and it is this which first makes motion possible.' (Hegel)

    "To understand something, its essence, it is necessary to seek out these internal contradictions. Under certain circumstances, the universal is the individual, and the individual is the universal. That things turn into their opposites, -- cause can become effect and effect can become cause -- is because they are merely links in the never-ending chain in the development of matter.

    "Lenin explains this self-movement in a note when he says, 'Dialectics is the teaching which shows how opposites can be and how they become identical -- under what conditions they are identical, becoming transformed into one another -- why the human mind should grasp these opposites not as dead, rigid, but living, conditional, mobile, becoming transformed into one another.'" [Rob Sewell.]

    Bold emphases added.
    References and links can be found at my site, here:

    http://************************/page%2007.htm

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    And here is my demolition of this 'theory' (slightly modified from the last time I posted it):

    Surprisingly, DM-theorists are decidedly unclear as to whether objects/processes change because of (1) a contradictory relationship between their internal opposites, or because (2) they change into these opposites, or even whether (3) change itself creates such opposites.

    As we are about to see, this idea -- that there are such things as "dialectical contradictions" and "unities of opposites" (etc.), which cause change -- presents DM-theorists with a few rather nasty dialectical headaches, if interpreted along the lines expressed in the DM-classics (quoted in the last post).

    [DM = Dialectical Materialism/ist; NON = Negation of the Negation; FL = Formal Logic.]

    To see this, let us suppose that object/process A is comprised of two "internal contradictory opposites/tendencies" O* and O**, and it thus changes as a result.

    [The same problems arise if these are viewed as 'external' contradictions.]

    The DM-classics tell us that these opposites change into one another. But, O* cannot itself change into O** since O** already exists! If O** didn't already exist then, according to this theory, O* could not change at all, for there would be no opposite to bring that about.

    It is no good propelling O** into the future so that it is now said to be what O* will change into, since O* will do no such thing unless O** is already there, in the present, to make that happen!

    Once more: if object/process A is already composed of a 'dialectical union' of O* and not-O* (interpreting O** now also as not-O*), how can O* possibly change into not-O* when not-O* already exists?

    Several alternatives now suggest themselves which might allow dialecticians to dig themselves out of this hermetic hole. Either:

    (1) O* 'changes' into not-O*, meaning there would now be two not-O*s where before there was only one (unless, of course, one of these not-O*s just vanishes into thin air -- see below); or:

    (2) (a) O* does not change, or (b) it disappears:

    Plainly, O* cannot change into what already exists -- that is, O* cannot change into its opposite, not-O*, without the two of them cp-existing (see (1) above). But even then, one of these will not be not-O* just a copy of it. In that case, O* either: (b) disappears, (a) it does not change at all, or (c) it changes into something else -- or:

    (3) Not-O* itself disappears to allow a new (but now copy) not-O* to emerge that O* can and does change into. If so, questions would naturally arise as to how the original not-O* could possibly cause O* to change if is has just vanished. Of course, this option merely postpones the evil day, for the same difficulties will afflict the new not-O* that afflicted the old. If it exists in order to allow O* to change, then we are back where we were to begin with.

    Anyway, as should seem obvious, among the other things already mentioned, alternative (2) plainly means that O* does not in fact change into not-O*, it is just replaced by it. Option (1), on the other hand, has the original not-O* remaining the same (when it was supposed to turn into its own opposite -- O* -- according to the DM-classics), and options (2) and (3) will only work if matter and/or energy can either be destroyed or created from nowhere!

    Naturally, these problems will simply re-appear at the next stage as not-O* readies itself to change into whatever it changes into. But, in this case there is an added twist, for there is as yet no not-not-O* in existence to make this happen. This means that the dialectical process will grind to a halt, unless a not-not-O* pops into existence to start things up again.

    But what could possibly engineer that?

    Indeed, at the very least, this 'theory' of change leaves it entirely mysterious how not-O* itself came about in the first place. It seems to have popped into existence from nowhere, too. [Gollobin (in the quotations listed above) sort of half recognises this without realising either his error or the serious problems it creates.]

    But, not-O* cannot have come from O* itself, since O* can only change because of the operation of not-O*, which does not yet exist! And pushing the process into the past (via a 'reversed' version of the NON -- but see below) will merely reduplicate the above problems.

    Now, it could be objected that all this seems to place objects and/or processes in fixed categories, which is one of the main criticisms dialecticians make of FL. Hence, on that basis, it could be maintained that the above argument is entirely misguided.

    Fortunately, repairs are easy to make: let us now suppose that object/process A is comprised of two changing "internal/external opposites/tendencies" O* and O** (the latter once again interpreted as not-O*), and thus develops as a result.

    The rest still follows just as before: if object/process A is already composed of a changing dialectical union of O* and not-O*, and O* 'develops' into not-O* as a result, how is it possible for O* to change into not-O* when not-O* already exists?

    Of course, it could be argued that not-O* 'develops' into O* while not-O* 'develops' into O*.

    [This objection might even incorporate that eminently obscure Hegelian term-of-art: "sublation". More on that presently.]

    But, if this were so, while it was happening these two would no longer be 'opposites' of one another --, not unless we widen the term "opposite" to mean "anything that an object/process turns into, and/or any intermediate object/process while that is happening". Naturally, that would make this 'Law' work by definitional fiat, rendering it obviously 'subjective'.

    If we ignore that 'difficulty' for now -- and even supposing it were the case that not-O* 'developed' into O* while not-O* 'developed' into O*, and assuming such process ware governed by 'sublation' -- this alternative will still not work (as we are about to see).

    Indeed, developing this option further before it is demolished, it could be argued that Engels had himself anticipated the above objections when he argued:

    "[RL: Negation of the negation is] a very simple process which is taking place everywhere and every day, which any child can understand as soon as it is stripped of the veil of mystery in which it was enveloped by the old idealist philosophy and in which it is to the advantage of helpless metaphysicians of Herr Dühring's calibre to keep it enveloped. Let us take a grain of barley. Billions of such grains of barley are milled, boiled and brewed and then consumed. But if such a grain of barley meets with conditions which are normal for it, if it falls on suitable soil, then under the influence of heat and moisture it undergoes a specific change, it germinates; the grain as such ceases to exist, it is negated, and in its place appears the plant which has arisen from it, the negation of the grain. But what is the normal life-process of this plant? It grows, flowers, is fertilised and finally once more produces grains of barley, and as soon as these have ripened the stalk dies, is in its turn negated. As a result of this negation of the negation we have once again the original grain of barley, but not as a single unit, but ten-, twenty- or thirtyfold. Species of grain change extremely slowly, and so the barley of today is almost the same as it-was a century ago. But if we take a plastic ornamental plant, for example a dahlia or an orchid, and treat the seed and the plant which grows from it according to the gardener's art, we get as a result of this negation of the negation not only more seeds, but also qualitatively improved seeds, which produce more beautiful flowers, and each repetition of this process, each fresh negation of the negation, enhances this process of perfection. [Engels (1976) Anti-Dühring, pp.172-73.]

    "But someone may object: the negation that has taken place in this case is not a real negation: I negate a grain of barley also when I grind it, an insect when I crush it underfoot, or the positive quantity a when I cancel it, and so on. Or I negate the sentence: the rose is a rose, when I say: the rose is not a rose; and what do I get if I then negate this negation and say: but after all the rose is a rose? -- These objections are in fact the chief arguments put forward by the metaphysicians against dialectics, and they are wholly worthy of the narrow-mindedness of this mode of thought. Negation in dialectics does not mean simply saying no, or declaring that something does not exist, or destroying it in any way one likes. Long ago Spinoza said: Omnis determinatio est negatio -- every limitation or determination is at the same time a negation. And further: the kind of negation is here determined, firstly, by the general and, secondly, by the particular nature of the process. I must not only negate, but also sublate the negation. I must therefore so arrange the first negation that the second remains or becomes possible. How? This depends on the particular nature of each individual case. If I grind a grain of barley, or crush an insect, I have carried out the first part of the action, but have made the second part impossible. Every kind of thing therefore has a peculiar way of being negated in such manner that it gives rise to a development, and it is just the same with every kind of conception or idea....

    "But it is clear that from a negation of the negation which consists in the childish pastime of alternately writing and cancelling a, or in alternately declaring that a rose is a rose and that it is not a rose, nothing eventuates but the silliness of the person who adopts such a tedious procedure. And yet the metaphysicians try to make us believe that this is the right way to carry out a negation of the negation, if we ever should want to do such a thing. [Ibid., pp.180-81.]
    Engels's argument seems to be that "dialectical negation" is not the same as ordinary negation in that it is not simple destruction. Dialectical negation "sublates"; that is, it both destroys and preserves, so that something new or 'higher' emerges as a result.

    Nevertheless, we have already seen here [in the original article, this 'here' links to another argument at my site, as do several of the other "here's" dotted around this post], that Hegel's use of this word (i.e., "sublate") is highly suspect, and we will also see below [again, this "below" refers to a later section of the Essay from which this section was extracted] that this 'Law' (i.e., the NON) is even more dubious still (partly because Hegel confused ordinary negation with 'cancelling out', or with destruction, as did Engels).

    Despite this, is it really the case that the above comments neutralise the argument presented above? Is the argument here guilty of the following?

    "These objections are in fact the chief arguments put forward by the metaphysicians against dialectics, and they are wholly worthy of the narrow-mindedness of this mode of thought." [Ibid.]
    To answer this, let us once again suppose that object/process A is comprised of two changing "internal opposites/tendencies" O* and not-O*, and thus develops as a result. On this scenario, O* would change/develop into a "sublated" intermediary, but not into not-O* -- incidentally, contradicting the DM-worthies quoted earlier. O* should, of course, change into not-O*, not into some intermediary.

    Putting this minor quibble to one side, too, on this 'revised' view, let us suppose that O* does indeed change into that intermediary. To that end, let us call the latter, "O*(1)" (which can be interpreted as a combination of the old and the new; a 'negation' which also 'preserves'/'sublates').

    If so, then O*(1) must remain forever in that state, unchanged, for there is as yet no not-O*(1) in existence to make it develop any further.

    [Recall that on this 'theory', everything -- and that must include O*(1) -- changes because of a 'struggle' with its opposite.]

    So, there must be a not-O*(1) to make O*(1) change further. To be sure, we could try to exempt O*(1) from this essential requirement on an ad hoc basis (arguing, perhaps, that O*(1) changes spontaneously with nothing actually causing it), and yet if we do that, there would seem to be no reason to accept the version of events contained in the DM-classics, which tells us that every thing/process changes because of the 'struggle of opposites' (and O*(1) is certainly a thing/process). Furthermore, if we make an exemption here, then the whole point of the exercise would be lost, for if some things do, and some things do not change according this dialectical 'Law', we would be left with no way of telling which changes were, and which were not subject to it.

    [Of course, that would also mean that this 'Law' is not was not a 'law' after all!]

    This is, naturally, quite apart from the fact that such a subjectively applied exemption certificate (issued to O*(1)) would mean that nothing at all could change, for everything in the universe is in the process of change, and is thus already a 'sublated' version of whatever it used to be.

    Ignoring this, too, even if O*(1) were to change into not-O*(1) (as we suppose it must, given the doctrine laid down by the DM-prophets), then all the earlier problems simply reappear, for this could only take place if not-O*(1) already exists to make it happen! But not-O*(1) cannot already exist, for O*(1) has not changed into it yet!

    Once more, it could be objected that the dialectical negation of O* to produce not-O* is not ordinary negation, as the above seems to assume.

    In that case, let us say that O* turns into its 'sublated' opposite not-O*(s), but if that is to happen, according to the Dialectical Gospels, not-O*(s) must already exist for it to struggle with! But, and yet again, O* cannot turn into not-O*(s), for it already exists! On the other hand, if not-O*(s) does not already exist, then O* cannot change, for O* can only change if it struggles with what it changes into, i.e., not-O*(s).

    Once more we hit the same non-dialectical brick wall.

    It could be objected that A turns into not-A because of a struggle between O* and O**.In that case, not-A does not need to exist yet for that to happen. But, according to the DM-Bible, these internal 'opposites/tendencies' must change into one another, and that can't happen since they already exist!

    It could now be argued that the above argument is abstract and misses the point. In the real world things manifestly change. For example, it might be the case that John is a boy, but in a few years time it will be the case that John is a man. Now, the fact that other individuals are already men, does not stop John changing into a man (his opposite), as the above argument has it. So, John can change into his opposite even though that opposite already exists.

    Or so it could be maintained.

    However, this theory tells us that things/processes change because of a struggle with their opposites, and thus with what they become. Are we now to assume that John has to struggle with all the individuals that are already men if he is to become a man himself (if we now treat all these other men as John's opposites)? And are we to suppose that John struggles with what he is to become, even before it exists in him? If not, then the above response is beside the point. Moreover, in view of the fact that John must turn into his opposite, does that mean he has to turn into these other men, or even into one of them? But he must do so if the Dialectical Holy Books are to be believed.

    Anyway, according to the DM-worthies quoted above, John can only change because of a struggle between opposites taking place in the here-and-now. Are we now really supposed to believe that "John is a man" is struggling with "John is a boy" -- or that manhood is struggling with boyhood?

    Some might be tempted to reply that this is precisely what adolescence is, and yet, in that case, John-as-boy and John-as-a-man would have to be locked in struggle in the present. [Of course, adolescence cannot struggle with anything, since it is an abstraction.] But, John-as-a-man does not yet exist, and so 'he' cannot struggle with John-as-boy. On the other hand, if John-as-a-man does exist, so that 'he' can struggle with his youthful self, then John-as-boy cannot change into 'him', for John-as-a-man already exists!

    To be sure, John's 'opposite' is whatever he will become (if he is allowed to develop naturally), but, as noted above, that opposite cannot now exist otherwise John would not need to become him!

    Looking at this more concretely, in ten or fifteen years time, John will not become just any man, he will become a particular man. In that case, let us call the man that John becomes "Man-J". But, once again, Man-J must exist now or John cannot change into him (if the DM-worthies quoted earlier are to be believed), for John can only become a man if he is locked in struggle with his own opposite, Man-J. But, if that is so, John cannot become Man-J since Man-J already exists!

    [This, of course, is simply a more concrete version of the argument outlined above.]

    Consider another hackneyed example: water turning into steam at 100oC (under normal conditions). Are we really supposed to believe that the opposite that water becomes (i.e., steam) makes water turn into steam? This must be so if the Dialectical Saints are to be believed.

    Hence, while you might think it is the heat/energy you are putting into the water that turns it into steam, what really happens, according to these wise old dialecticians, is that steam makes water turn into steam!

    In that case, save energy: turn the gas off!

    In fact, let us track a water molecule to see what happens to it. To identify it, we shall call it "W1", and the steam molecule it turns into "S1". But, if the DM-Worthies above are correct, S1 must already exist, otherwise W1 could not change into it! Again, if that is so, where does S1 disappear to if W1 changes into it?

    In fact, according to the Dialectical Magi, since opposites turn into one another, S1 must change into W1 at the same time as W1 is turning into S1! So while you are boiling a kettle, according to this Superscientific 'theory', steam must be turning back into the water you are boiling, and it must do so at the same rate!

    One wonders, therefore, how dialectical kettles manage to boil dry.

    This must be so, otherwise when W1 turns into S1 -- which already exists, or W1 could not change into it -- there would have to be two S1s where there used to be only one! Matter created from nowhere!

    Of course, the same argument applies to water freezing (and to any and all other examples of DM-change).

    It could be objected that the opposite that liquid water turns into is a gas; so the dialectical classicists are correct, after all.

    However, if we take the Dialectical Magi at their word, then that gas must 'struggle' with liquid water in the here-and-now if water is to change. But that gas does not yet exist. In which case, 'dialectical water' would never boil if this 'theory' were true. But even if it did boil, it is heat that causes the change here, not the gas that water turns into!

    Howsoever we try to repackage it, this 'theory' is totally useless -- that is, what little sense can be made of it.

    This, of course, does not deny that change occurs, only that DM cannot account for it.

    Alternatively, if DM were true, change would be impossible.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 29th January 2011 at 14:36.

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    GreyMouser [GM] then posted the following objections to my demolition of this 'theory':

    This is a complete misreading of the law of unity and interpenetration of opposites. To borrow Rosa's symobology, a contradiction means in essence that an entity A contains internally contradictory tendencies O* and O** which cause A to turn into not-A. The struggle within A is between O* and O**, the internal tendency for it to stay the same (O*) and the internal forces acting on it to change (O**). The whole essence of dialectics is that O* and O** can not exist within a stable equilibrium. Rosa quotes Lenin saying quite clearly that we are not dealing with O* turning into O**, but with the working-out of "internally contradictory tendencies" within A.
    The problem with this is that it not only ignores what Lenin actually says -- see below -- it cannot work, even in its own terms (also see below).

    Here is what Lenin said:

    1) Everything, including 'tendencies', changes into every other (perhaps into their opposites):

    "[Among the elements of dialectics are the following:] [I]nternally contradictory tendencies…in [a thing]…as the sum and unity of opposites…. [This involves] not only the unity of opposites, but the transitions of every determination, quality, feature, side, property into every other [into its opposite?]….
    This is in fact far worse than anything I have alleged above, since it tells us that everything changes into everything else!

    [So, if Lenin is right, you should soon change into Mt Everest!]

    2) This governs everything in reality -- including 'tendencies' -- unless, of course, we are to suppose they aren't part of the universe!:

    "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….
    So, this governs all change and all struggling opposites -- and that includes the proletariat and the bourgeoisie -- unless, again, one were to conclude that all this takes place into another universe, or that these two classes do not struggle!

    3) These opposites (including these 'tendencies') change into one another:

    "Dialectics is the teaching which shows how Opposites can be and how they happen to be (how they become) identical, -- under what conditions they are identical, becoming transformed into one another, -- why the human mind should grasp these opposites not as dead, rigid, but as living, conditional, mobile, becoming transformed into one another."
    In which case, these 'internal opposites'/'tendencies' -- such as the proletariat and the bourgeoisie --, must turn into one another!

    GM consistently ignores Lenin's words, (and it is not hard to see why) and refuses to say, given his own revisionist 'theory', exactly what Lenin meant by "becoming transformed into one another...".

    The fact that this revisionist 'theory' does not work in its own terms will become apparent when we consider several of GM's other comments:

    Now, Rosa may point out that some presentations of dialectics may say that things "struggle with and become" their opposites. This is looking at the outside - the change from A to not-A, because of the internal tendencies O* and O**. Not-A does not yet exist as a realized entity; it does not need to. The struggle is the internal struggle between O* (which preserves A) and O** (which causes its transformation into not-A). In essence we can say that O** is the seed of the unrealized entity not-A which exists within the realized entity A, and A struggles (in the form of O*) against its transformation into not-A (through the operation of O**).
    Now, Rosa's going to object that dialectics pictures entities that "struggle with" what they are going to become, which presupposes that these entities already exist. But this is because she fails to distinguish between the realized entities A and not-A, and the internal tendencies O* and O**. When A exists, both O* and O** exist, and struggle with one another. These may be united within a physical object such as a seed, which contains structures that form its O* to keep it a seed, and yet has a tendency O** to transform into its opposite, a seedling. Or they may be united in capitalist society, such as the capitalist class O* which struggles with the working class O** over the control of the means of production. The working out of this contradiction is nothing less than the struggle for socialism.
    Or they may be united in capitalist society, such as the capitalist class O* which struggles with the working class O** over the control of the means of production. The working out of this contradiction is nothing less than the struggle for socialism.
    These quotations underline a systematic equivocation in the things all DM-fans say about change, 'contradictions' and 'internal opposites'/'tendencies' -- which I have explored at length in Essay Eight Part One (link below).

    This equivocation centres around two meanings of "internal" -- and, of course by implication, two meanings of "external":

    a) "Internal"/"external" in a topological/spatial sense (rather like your organs are internal to you). This version plainly appears above in GM's reference to what goes on inside a seed, for example -- or what takes place inside capitalism. Hence, GM sees the "internal tendencies" as those that exist spatially inside a seed, or which topologically exist inside capitalism.

    b) "Internal" in a logical/Hegelian sense. This connotation is connected with Hegel's attempt to respond to criticisms levelled by empiricists (like Hume) against rationalist theories of change and causation. This Hegelian use of "internal"/"external" does not refer to 'opposite tendencies' that are spatially internal to an object or process, but to those which are conceptually internal, that is, it relates to opposites that are logically linked to one another (as a 'law of cognition', as Lenin put it). This way of seeing conceptual links appeared overtly in Leibniz's notion of a "substance" and in Kant's attempt to define "analytic truth" and the "synthetic a priori". On this view, items would be 'internally' connected with one another even though they might be external to one another (in a spatial sense). In fact, spatial relations do not directly enter into this notion of "internal" at all.

    This is how I have explained the relevance of this point in an earlier post (here modified somewhat):

    The Dialectical classicists were not idiots, nor was Hegel. Hegel had invented his 'theory' (partly) to provide an answer to Hume's criticisms of rationalist theories of causation. Hume had argued that there is no logical or conceptual connection between cause and effect. That struck right at the heart of Rationalism, and Hegel was keen to show that Hume was radically mistaken. Kant had attempted to construct a reply to Hume, but his solution banished causation into the so-called "Noumena", about which we can know nothing. This was totally unacceptable to Hegel, so he looked for a logical connection between cause and effect. He found it in 1) Spinoza's claim that every determination is also a negation (which 'principle' neither theorist even so much as attempted to justify), and in 2) His own argument that the law of identity, stated negatively, implied a contradiction -- which it doesn't.

    Based on these, Hegel was 'able' to argue that for any concept A, determinate negation implies it is also not-A, and then not-not-A (this is in fact the origin of the 'negation of the negation'!) -- details of this obscure argument, which I will not go into here, can be found at my site, links at the end.

    This in turn 'allowed' Hegel to argue that every concept has development in it, as A transforms into not-A, and then into not-not-A, and this provided him with the logical/conceptual link he sought in causation. But it also led him to postulate that for every concept A, there must also exist its paired 'other' (as he called it), not-A (which reflected A in itself as not-not-A). Allegedly, this then linked A and not-A logically/conceptually, and from this, the unity and interpenetration of opposites was born -- the link between cause and effect was now given by this special sort of unity. Hence, A would naturally and always change into not-A, and no other, undermining Hume's sceptical attack on causation.

    Plainly, this paired opposite (not-A) was essential to Hegel's theory, otherwise, he could provide no explanation why A, which should be followed by not-A (or as I have put it -- A*), should not be followed by, say, A**, or, indeed, something else -- A***, for example. [The reason I have used "A*" and "A**", etc., is because there are countless not-As out there which need to be distinguished.]

    Now, since A*, A** and A*** (and an indefinite number of other objects and processes) are all manifestly not-A, Hegel had to find some way of eliminating A** and A***, and all the rest, as candidates for the development of A, otherwise he would have no answer to Hume. [Hume, of course, would not have denied that A changed into "what it is not", into not-A, he would merely have added that this cannot provide the conceptual link that rationalists require unless all the other not-As could be ruled out in some way.]

    Hence, Hegel introduced a unique 'other' with which each object and process was conceptually linked -- a unique 'other' that was internally connected with A, and this opposite was A* --, something he claimed could be derived by 'determinate negation' . A* was now a unique form of not-A, the 'other' of A. Without this his reply to Hume would fall flat.

    The subjective nature of all this should now be apparent, since Spinoza's Principle plainly allows for A** and A*** (which are all not-As) -- and a potentially infinite set of other not-A's -- to be included among A's 'others'. [Hegel never really managed to work around this fatal defect in his theory.]

    Of course, a spatial definition of "internal" would be no use to Hegel, since it would not rule out those other not-As. Only a logical connection between A and A* could do that. Indeed, even if there were spatially related internal tendencies in an object or process -- O* and O**, say -- they too would have to be internally related to one another in the logical sense, and for the same reason.

    This is why Hegel went on to claim that all things contain contradictions -- and he meant by "contain" that they were "internally-linked" in his special logical sense.

    "Everything is opposite. Neither in heaven nor in earth, neither in the world of mind nor nature, is there anywhere an abstract 'either-or' as the understanding maintains. Whatever exists is concrete, with difference and opposition in itself. The finitude of things with then lie in the want of correspondence between their immediate being and what they essentially are. Thus, in inorganic nature, the acid is implicitly at the same time the base: in other words its only being consists in its relation to its other. Hence the acid persists quietly in the contrast: it is always in effort to realize what it potentially is. Contradiction is the very moving principle of the world." [Shorter Logic, p.174. Bold added.]
    And that is also why Dialectical Marxists refer to this sort of 'internal relation' as an "interpenetration" of opposites. Thus, A and A* -- and indeed O* and O** -- cannot exist without one another; they uniquely imply each other. So, the next time you read a 'dialectical' account of the relation between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, for example, you will see this Hegelian theory operating in the background, as part of the 'logic' of capitalism -- a dead give-away that DM is still an idealist theory.

    Engels, Lenin, Mao, and Plekhanov (and a host of other Dialectical Mystics) appropriated these ideas and tried to give them a materialist make-over. But in doing this they still relied on Hegel's defective logic. For example, Hegel had claimed that every proposition/judgement was proof of this unity of opposites (details at my site). Engels and Lenin fell for this idealist word-play:

    "The fact that identity contains difference within itself is expressed in every sentence, where the predicate is necessarily different from the subject; the lily is a plant, the rose is red, where, either in the subject or in the predicate there is something that is not covered by the predicate or the subject…. That from the outset identity with itself requires difference from everything else as its complement, is self-evident." [Engels (1954) Dialectics of Nature, pp.214-15.]
    "To begin with what is the simplest, most ordinary, common, etc., [sic] with any proposition...: [like] John is a man…. Here we already have dialectics (as Hegel's genius recognized): the individual is the universal…. Consequently, the opposites (the individual is opposed to the universal) are identical: the individual exists only in the connection that leads to the universal. The universal exists only in the individual and through the individual. Every individual is (in one way or another) a universal. Every universal is (a fragment, or an aspect, or the essence of) an individual. Every universal only approximately embraces all the individual objects. Every individual enters incompletely into the universal, etc., etc. Every individual is connected by thousands of transitions with other kinds of individuals (things, phenomena, processes), etc. Here already we have the elements, the germs of the concept of necessity, of objective connection in nature, etc. Here already we have the contingent and the necessary, the phenomenon and the essence; for when we say John is a man…we disregard a number of attributes as contingent; we separate the essence from the appearance, and counterpose the one to the other….

    "Thus in any proposition we can (and must) disclose as a 'nucleus' ('cell') the germs of all the elements of dialectics, and thereby show that dialectics is a property of all human knowledge in general." [Lenin (1961) Philosophical Notebooks, pp.359-60.]
    This 'allowed' Lenin, for example, to think he had transformed Hegel's idealist theory into a materialist-sounding theory, in the following way:

    "Hegel brilliantly divined the dialectics of things (phenomena, the world, nature) in the dialectics of concepts…. This aphorism should be expressed more popularly, without the word dialectics: approximately as follows: In the alternation, reciprocal dependence of all notions, in the identity of their opposites, in the transitions of one notion into another, in the eternal change, movement of notions, Hegel brilliantly divined precisely this relation of things to nature…. [W]hat constitutes dialectics?…. [M]utual dependence of notions all without exception…. Every notion occurs in a certain relation, in a certain connection with all the others." [Lenin (1961), pp.196-97. Emphasis added.]
    "[Among the elements of dialectics are the following:] [I]nternally contradictory tendencies…in [a thing]…as the sum and unity of opposites…. [E]ach thing (phenomenon, process, etc.)…is connected with every other…. [This involves] not only the unity of opposites, but the transitions of every determination, quality, feature, side, property into every other….

    "In brief, dialectics can be defined as the doctrine of the unity of opposites. This embodies the essence of dialectics….

    "The splitting of the whole and the cognition of its contradictory parts…is the essence (one of the 'essentials', one of the principal, if not the principal, characteristic features) of dialectics….

    "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.221-22, 357-58, 359-60. Bold emphases added.]
    And, we also find Lenin endorsing Hegel's rationalist theory of change (albeit in an allegedly materialist context), using Hegel's word "other", to indicate his agreement:

    "'This harmony is precisely absolute Becoming change, -- not becoming other, now this and then another. The essential thing is that each different thing, each particular, is different from another, not abstractly so from any other, but from its other. Each particular only is, insofar as its other is implicitly contained in its Notion...' Quite right and important: the 'other' as its other, development into its opposite." [Ibid., p.260. Lenin is here commenting on Hegel (1995) The Science of Logic, pp.278-98; this particular quotation coming from p.285. Bold added.]

    "Dialectics is the teaching which shows how Opposites can be and how they happen to be (how they become) identical, -- under what conditions they are identical, becoming transformed into one another, -- why the human mind should grasp these opposites not as dead, rigid, but as living, conditional, mobile, becoming transformed into one another." [Ibid., p.109.]
    The "identity of opposites" here is important, since it provides the conceptual link Lenin required. So, this Hegelian theory (albeit 'inverted') is integral to classical dialectical materialism, since it supplied Engels, Lenin and Mao (and all the rest) with a materialist answer to Hume.

    Now, I do not want to enter into a criticism of the 'arguments' one finds in the above (that can be found at my site -- links at the end), the only point I wish to make here is that if you edit this Hegelian theory out of dialectical materialism, the conceptual link which Lenin called the work of "genius" -- a "law of cognition", which he also claimed was integral to understanding Das Kapital -- will be severed:

    "This aspect of dialectics…usually receives inadequate attention: the identity of opposites is taken as the sum total of examples…and not as a law of cognition (and as a law of the objective world)." [Lenin (1961), p.357.]
    In short, it would undermine this 'law of cognition', leaving dialectical materialism open to Humean attack.

    So, Hegel's theory at least was an honest attempt to give a law-governed account of causation, and the above dialecticians were absolutely right (as they saw things) to incorporate it into dialectical materialism, since it allowed them to argue, among other things, that capitalism must give way to the dictatorship of the proletariat, and to nothing else. Hume's criticisms (which in a more modern form underpin much of modern economic theory, and thus underlie criticisms of Marx's economics and politics) are a direct threat to this, since if they are correct, this predicted outcome (the dictatorship of the proletariat) might not come to pass, and capitalism could turn into something else -- into A**, or A***, or whatever.

    So, if it is indeed correct to assume that capitalism contains the seeds of its own destruction, Hegel's theory (upside down, or 'the right way up') -- that things/processes turn into their (unique) opposites, their unique 'others' --, is an essential component of dialectical materialism.

    The problem is that although Hegel's theory sort of works if one is an idealist (the details of which I will not enter into here), and if one ignores his subjectivism, it can't work in Historical Materialism.

    Now, I have posted several abstract and concrete arguments here, at RevLeft, that show why this is so [re-posted above] demonstrating that if dialectical materialism were true, change would in fact be impossible.

    To consider two concrete examples: if the relations of production and the forces of production, the proletariat and the capitalist class, are indeed linked as 'contradictory opposites' in this Hegelian manner (upside down or 'the right way up') -- which they will have to be, otherwise Hume's criticisms have their place, meaning, of course, that dialecticians will now have no viable theory of change as a 'law of cognition' --, then my earlier comments must apply: the forces of production must change into the relations of production, and the proletariat must change into the capitalist class, and vice versa!
    So, the first sense of "internal" (and hence of "external") ignores the logical sense of this word that Hegel introduced, which helps explain why dialecticians slide between the two all the time, failing to notice this equivocation. But, just because something is inside something else, that does not make it 'internal' in Hegel or Lenin's sense.

    The background to all this, along with the references used above, can be found in much greater detail in these Essays:

    http://************************/page%2003_01.htm

    http://************************/page%2008_01.htm

    http://************************/page%2008_03.htm

    Parts of which have been summarised here:

    http://************************/Outline...mmitted_01.htm

    GM ignores this background -- I'm not sure he is aware of it. Indeed, his comments suggest he isn't. [Unlike Lenin and Engels!]

    Hence, he posted this comment:

    Again, Lenin talks about these tendencies in phenomena and processes that elude your grasp. The above is precisely what I have been illustrating with the difference between A (the entity) and O*/O** (its contradictory tendencies) that you have not understood.

    Things do not change into their contradictions, which is what your mock-refutation entails, they change into their opposites. That is, A does not change into O**, but into not-A. O* does not change into O** but into not-O*.
    Bold added.

    Not only does this fly in the face of what Lenin actually said -- when he tells us that these opposites turn "into one another" (see above) -- it falls into the very trap that Hegel, Engels, Lenin and the rest tried to avoid, since it severs the (alleged) logical link that is supposed to exist between O* and O**, and which makes the former turn into the latter, and only the latter (as the Dialectical Classics tell us).

    Independently of this, as noted above, GM's revisionist 'theory' fails to work even in its own terms, since:

    (1) According to GM, O* changes into not-O* -- not because of its own 'inner contradictions' (as we are told must be the case with everything in the entire universe) --, but because of its 'struggle' with O**.

    On the other hand:

    (2) If O* does in fact change into not-O* because of its own 'inner contradictions', then its 'struggle' with O** will be irrelevant to that change.

    Interpreted more concretely, (2) would mean that the proletariat, for example, will not change because of its struggle with the capitalist class, but because of its own 'internal contradictions'. The class war will therefore have nothing to do with the fight for socialism!

    Furthermore, if (1) were the case, the proletariat would be the only thing in the entire universe that disobeyed the dialectical 'law' that all change is a result of 'internal contradictions'.

    Of course, it could be argued that (3) It's the 'internal contradictions' in capitalism that change the proletariat into whatever it changes into. But in that case, these will be 'external' to the proletariat, and not 'internal' to it after all.

    Again, let us assume that (3) is still the case. Hence, let us call the tendencies for capitalism to change "T" and for it to stay the same "T*". In that case, T must struggle with T*, if we are to believe what the dialectical classics tell us. But they also tell us that these opposites must turn into one another, that T must turn into T* and vice versa. And yet T can't turn into T* since T* already exists!

    So, GM's revisionist 'theory' hits the same non-dialectical brick wall that blocked Engels and Lenin's 'theory': if DM were true, change would be impossible.

    Other than failing to quote a single passage from Lenin that supports his attempt to revise Lenin, the only other 'substantive argument' in GM's armoury is the following:

    You cannot explain why no dialectical materialist writer says that the bourgeoisie and proletariat change into each other, and from this fact it is clear that you have misread these texts, not me.
    But this is about as convincing as arguing that since the followers of Aristotle -- from Theophrastus in the fourth century BC right down to Suarez in the 16th century -- failed to point out the absurdities in Aristotle's physics, which Galileo 'exposed', no such absurdities could possibly exist. Hence, Galileo must have misread Aristotle.

    Would anyone, other than a desperate dialectician, accept such an argument?

    My demolition, therefore, still stands...
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 7th November 2010 at 21:38.

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    Post thinking models

    Hi Rosa Li!

    Great to see you again!

    How are you?



    @ anti-dialecticians, the same I have posted to ChristopherK.:

    The only reason to follow the thinking of the "Anti-Dialectics" is they are in able to deliver better thinking-models for our understanding of the world.

    If they can perform this, will be fast forgotten "dialectic".

    Nothing else!

    As long as we must work with the old tools, unfortunately.



    But I have a good consolation for you.
    Turn your first part of your signature in:

    Hegelism is a german disease - Philzer


    Have a nice sunday evening!
    [FONT=Arial Black]
    truth is a process
    [/FONT]
    thanks to Basti

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    Well, my anti-dialectics is not aimed as this:

    The only reason to follow the thinking of the "Anti-Dialectics" is they are in able to deliver better thinking-models for our understanding of the world.
    And that is because we already have a better way of looking at the world, namely Historical Materialism.

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    In response to my last post in the thread on Engels (link in the OP), GM posted this:

    Good old Rosa - you prove a point against her, complete with citations, and she comes back with a wall of text! And does nothing but to re-assert her entire previous case, which as usual proves nothing.

    Lenin clarified what things changing into each other means - and guess what, it doesn't mean what Rosa says it does. The "transformation into the opposite" is equated by Lenin with "the destruction of the old and the emergence of the new." Since the bourgeoisie and the proletariat arise out of feudalism in a dialectical unity, they are not the objects of "the transformation into the opposite" of one another. Instead, they are the agents of the "transformation into the opposite" of capitalism, its change into socialism, in which the agents themselves are negated. The bourgeoisie is liquidated as a class and the proletariat becomes the universal class, thus abolishing classes altogether. Each thus changes into its opposite - that is, each A changes into its corresponding not-A - but O* neither predates nor transforms into O**.

    The problem, for anyone keeping score at home, is not whether things change into their opposites in dialectical thought - but what that actually means. Rosa thinks to find it by....quoting a bunch of people saying exactly the phrase in question! Yet the fact remains: no dialectical analysis says what Rosa says they should say. From this, she chooses to learn nothing.
    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.p...&postcount=495

    My post can be found here:

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.p...&postcount=494

    There I pose this problem for GM's revisionist 'theory':

    But you have failed to tell us what he means by this:

    "Dialectics is the teaching which shows how Opposites can be and how they happen to be (how they become) identical, -- under what conditions they are identical, becoming transformed into one another, -- why the human mind should grasp these opposites not as dead, rigid, but as living, conditional, mobile, becoming transformed into one another." [p.109.]
    Here, these 'opposite tendencies' do indeed change into one another.
    Comrades will note that GM does not even attempt to deal with this.

    However, taking each paragraph one at a time:

    Good old Rosa - you prove a point against her, complete with citations, and she comes back with a wall of text! And does nothing but to re-assert her entire previous case, which as usual proves nothing.
    GM obviously belongs to the school of thought that holds that if you want to find out what a theorist believes, you must under no circumstances quote him/her.

    Nor must you repeat a point, especially when your opponent studiously ignores it.

    Lenin clarified what things changing into each other means - and guess what, it doesn't mean what Rosa says it does. The "transformation into the opposite" is equated by Lenin with "the destruction of the old and the emergence of the new." Since the bourgeoisie and the proletariat arise out of feudalism in a dialectical unity, they are not the objects of "the transformation into the opposite" of one another. Instead, they are the agents of the "transformation into the opposite" of capitalism, its change into socialism, in which the agents themselves are negated. The bourgeoisie is liquidated as a class and the proletariat becomes the universal class, thus abolishing classes altogether. Each thus changes into its opposite - that is, each A changes into its corresponding not-A - but O* neither predates nor transforms into O**.
    As comrades will also note, I have responded to this above:

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.p...36&postcount=4

    In fact, I responded to it several times in the Engels thread, but GM just ignored it.

    The problem, for anyone keeping score at home, is not whether things change into their opposites in dialectical thought - but what that actually means. Rosa thinks to find it by....quoting a bunch of people saying exactly the phrase in question! Yet the fact remains: no dialectical analysis says what Rosa says they should say. From this, she chooses to learn nothing.
    As should now be apparent, GM himself does not know what this means, but prefers to substitute his own unworkable version for the even more defective theory the DM-classicists inflicted upon Marxism.

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    S Artesian posted this reply:

    Lenin talks about how a quality is transformed into its opposite.... which is the same as talking about the mediation of the quality which expresses the determinants of the quality. The determinants are the limitations, and the negation of the quality.

    This is in accordance with Hegel's explanation of determinants forming the limitations and the negation, the opposition of the quality, as the very identity of the quality itself.

    I'd be more than happy to explain the dialectic, the unity/opposition, the transformation of the "free" human being into the wage slave, those mediations... just as soon as you answer the multitude of questions I've already asked you.

    Anyone else reading the thread interested in the explanation can PM me.
    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.p...&postcount=496

    Again taking each point singly:

    Lenin talks about how a quality is transformed into its opposite.... which is the same as talking about the mediation of the quality which expresses the determinants of the quality. The determinants are the limitations, and the negation of the quality.
    In fact, Lenin said this:

    [Among the elements of dialectics are the following:] [I]nternally contradictory tendencies…in [a thing]…as the sum and unity of opposites…. [This involves] not only the unity of opposites, but the transitions of every determination, quality, feature, side, property into every other [into its opposite?]…." [Lenin (1961) Philosophical Notebooks, pp.221-22. Bold added.
    However, SA now tries to confuse us with yet more obscure Hegelian jargon (which he can't explain, despite being asked to do so many times), but even that can't rescue this 'theory', since Lenin also said:

    "'This harmony is precisely absolute Becoming change, -- not becoming other, now this and then another. The essential thing is that each different thing [tone], each particular, is different from another, not abstractly so from any other, but from its other. Each particular only is, insofar as its other is implicitly contained in its Notion...' Quite right and important: the 'other' as its other, development into its opposite." [Ibid., p.260. Lenin is here commenting on Hegel (1995), pp.278-98; this particular quotation coming from p.285.]

    "Dialectics is the teaching which shows how Opposites can be and how they happen to be (how they become) identical, -- under what conditions they are identical, becoming transformed into one another, -- why the human mind should grasp these opposites not as dead, rigid, but as living, conditional, mobile, becoming transformed into one another." [Ibid., p.109.]
    In that case, consider quality "Q" belonging to individual/process "P". In that case, at one moment:

    "P is Q" would be true.

    Later, "P is not Q" would be true.

    But, according to Lenin, Q and not-Q must change into one another! So, when this is true:

    "P is not Q"

    This will also have to be true:

    "P is Q".

    So, P will not have changed!

    Moreover, if everything in existence changes according to this 'law', and it can only do so by 'struggling' with its opposite (see the quotations given in post two above), and the opposite of P is not-P, then P can only change into not-P by struggling with not-P.

    But, this can't happen since not-P does not yet exist!

    On the other hand, if not-P already exits, P can't change into it, since it already exists!

    Hence, SA's solution is no solution.

    So, and once more, if this 'theory' were true, change would be impossible.

    What about this:

    This is in accordance with Hegel's explanation of determinants forming the limitations and the negation, the opposition of the quality, as the very identity of the quality itself.
    As comrades will be able to see from post four above, this response is in fact part of Hegel's attempt to answer Hume. However, SA does not justify this Hegelian sleight-of-hand, nor does he even attempt to consider, let alone answer, the difficulties it faces (which I have explained to him several times, but he just ignores them, hoping they will just go away).

    I'd be more than happy to explain the dialectic, the unity/opposition, the transformation of the "free" human being into the wage slave, those mediations... just as soon as you answer the multitude of questions I've already asked you.
    This is just grandstanding, since he has been invited to explain this obscure 'theory' many times.

    It would be more fruitful, however, if he attempted to respond to my objections (about which he has been made aware many times), but he knows no logic and is thus out of his depth.

    However, that has not stopped him accepting uncritically the sub-Aristotelian 'logic' Hegel inflicted on humanity.

    Yeah, been rousted by a few. Hassled by a few. Arrested a couple of times. Know a cop when I smell one, and you stink Rosa. You absolutely reek of being a paid provocateur, an agent, useless save for the disruption you cause on behalf of the state. You smell of things that don't wash off in the shower
    As I pointed out, a boss-class lackey like SA is clearly the expert in this regard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    As should now be apparent, GM himself does not know what this means, but prefers to substitute his own unworkable version for the even more defective theory the DM-classicists inflicted upon Marxism.
    As should now be apparent, my "own" version of dialectical materialism - as opposed to the one that exists solely in "anti-dialectics" diatribes - is the one actually used by dialectical materialists. Since the contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat does not work like Rosa's theory says it should, and since no dialectical materialist philosopher says it does, it is manifestly clear that her interpretation is wrong. We went over this, and over it. Rosa's only recourse is to posting impenetrable walls of text and hoping people will be cowed into not responding.

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    GM:

    As should now be apparent, my "own" version of dialectical materialism - as opposed to the one that exists solely in "anti-dialectics" diatribes - is the one actually used by dialectical materialists.
    In that case, you'll find it easy to quote a few of those that agree with you -- as opposed to ignoring all the one's I quoted who don't -- including Lenin.

    Since the contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat does not work like Rosa's theory says it should, and since no dialectical materialist philosopher says it does, it is manifestly clear that her interpretation is wrong.
    I covered this above; in your haste to skim-read what I post, you plainly missed it; here it is again:

    Other than failing to quote a single passage from Lenin that supports his attempt to revise Lenin, the only other 'substantive argument' in GM's armoury is the following:

    You cannot explain why no dialectical materialist writer says that the bourgeoisie and proletariat change into each other, and from this fact it is clear that you have misread these texts, not me.
    But this is about as convincing as arguing that since the followers of Aristotle -- from Theophrastus in the fourth century BC right down to Suarez in the 16th century -- failed to point out the absurdities in Aristotle's physics, which Galileo 'exposed', no such absurdities could possibly exist. Hence, Galileo must have misread Aristotle.

    Would anyone, other than a desperate dialectician, accept such an argument?

    My demolition, therefore, still stands...
    We went over this, and over it. Rosa's only recourse is to posting impenetrable walls of text and hoping people will be cowed into not responding.
    Which parts are impenetrable?

    Ah, I see now; it's the parts where I quote the Dialectical Bible.

    No wonder I said no one understands this 'theory'.

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    But this is about as convincing as arguing that since the followers of Aristotle -- from Theophrastus in the fourth century BC right down to Suarez in the 16th century -- failed to point out the absurdities in Aristotle's physics, which Galileo 'exposed', no such absurdities could possibly exist. Hence, Galileo must have misread Aristotle.
    Yet we are not debating physics, which is subject to empirical verification. What is at issue is your reading of these texts, which is manifestly wrong. Your entire "refutation" is not based on some empirical disproof, but by looking at the texts and saying, "This is wrong." When it is pointed out to you that you have misunderstood the texts, you deny it and you claim that you have a far superior understanding of these texts and they are clearly wrong. In this context, it is perfectly valid to show that no dialectical analysis supports your reading, since we are not contesting empirical facts but the interpretation of philosophical texts.

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    GM:

    Yet we are not debating physics, which is subject to empirical verification.
    In fact, Galileo's objections were philosophical, too. He spotted things that nearly 2000 years of Aristotelian commentary had missed.

    But, surely your 'theory' is subject to empirical confirmation, too.

    So, this delaying tactic, this ruse of yours is no more convincing than the others you have tried to pull recently.

    What is at issue is your reading of these texts, which is manifestly wrong.
    But, you have yet to show where I go 'wrong'. Sure, you keep saying I do, but we are still waiting for the proof.

    Your entire "refutation" is not based on some empirical disproof, but by looking at the texts and saying, "This is wrong."
    In fact, I do not say "This is wrong" -- which is ironic, given the fact that it now seems you not only can't read Lenin, you can't even read me aright.

    When it is pointed out to you that you have misunderstood the texts, you deny it and you claim that you have a far superior understanding of these texts and they are clearly wrong.
    Once more, you need to show how and why my reading of your sacred texts is 'inferior' to yours. All we get from you are baseless allegations.

    In this context, it is perfectly valid to show that no dialectical analysis supports your reading, since we are not contesting empirical facts but the interpretation of philosophical texts.
    Not so, and for the above reasons.

    And we are still waiting for your explanation of what Lenin meant by this:

    "Dialectics is the teaching which shows how Opposites can be and how they happen to be (how they become) identical, -- under what conditions they are identical, becoming transformed into one another, -- why the human mind should grasp these opposites not as dead, rigid, but as living, conditional, mobile, becoming transformed into one another." [p.109. Bold added.]
    What precisely gets "transformed into one another"?

    Lenin says its these pesky 'opposites'.

    Did Lenin, therefore, misread himself?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    In fact, Galileo's objections were philosophical, too. He spotted things that nearly 2000 years of Aristotelian commentary had missed.

    But, surely your 'theory' is subject to empirical confirmation, too.

    So, this delaying tactic, this ruse of yours is no more convincing than the others you have tried to pull recently.
    It's actually not a delaying tactic on my end at all. You are trying to avoid dealing with the content of dialectical analysis by focusing on the presentation of dialectical laws, which you say is nonsensical. To be blunt, even if the presentation didn't work for you as a special snowflake, the actual analysis - which is nothing like the parody version of dialectics you set up as a strawman to "debunk" - works.

    But, you have yet to show where I go 'wrong'. Sure, you keep saying I do, but we are still waiting for the proof.
    When it comes to dialectics, you never say anything that isn't wrong, so this "where" question is kinda beside the point.

    But specifically, I have shown that you do not understand the unity and interpenetration of opposites, because you do not differentiate between the internally contradictory tendencies (O*/O**) and the change in a thing itself (A/not-A). My demonstration of this is by showing that your model does not apply to the dialectical analysis of capitalist society, with the bourgeoisie as O*, the proletariat as O**, capitalist society as A, and socialist society as not-A.

    Everything changes into its opposite - yes - but not into its internally contradictory tendencies. A does not change into O**, it changes into not-A. O** does not turn into O*, it turns into not-O**. And this is true for the specific analysis at hand: the proletariat does not become the bourgeoisie, it becomes a non-proletariat, a non-class, by becoming the universal class. No dialectical analysis says that the proletariat becomes the bourgeoisie, including that written by anyone you have quoted.

    Since my framework matches with how the unity of opposites is actually used in dialectical analysis, it is evident that this is what the authors writing about dialectics actually meant. Your strawman analysis is only possible if you ignore everything about internally contradictory tendencies.

    Once more, you need to show how and why my reading of your sacred texts is 'inferior' to yours. All we get from you are baseless allegations.
    Because, at heart, they aren't sacred texts - they're attempting to teach people a method of analysis. If you misinterpret the laws you can come up with anything you want - but that doesn't debunk the laws, just your interpretation of them.

    What precisely gets "transformed into one another"?

    Lenin says its these pesky 'opposites'.

    Did Lenin, therefore, misread himself?
    No, you persistently misread Lenin by not differentiating between opposites A and not-A, and internally contradictory tendencies O* and O**. You look only at "A changes into not-A" and then try to apply it to the tension between O* and O**, and then say "Well, that doesn't work." Of course it doesn't, you are not doing your analysis correctly.

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    GM:

    It's actually not a delaying tactic on my end at all. You are trying to avoid dealing with the content of dialectical analysis by focusing on the presentation of dialectical laws, which you say is nonsensical. To be blunt, even if the presentation didn't work for you as a special snowflake, the actual analysis - which is nothing like the parody version of dialectics you set up as a strawman to "debunk" - works.
    And you are trying to substitute your revisionist 'theory' for what the Dialectical Prophets actually have to say. This might have been acceptable had your 'theory' worked, but, as we have seen, it doesn't.

    When it comes to dialectics, you never say anything that isn't wrong, so this "where" question is kinda beside the point.
    1) So you admit that I did not use this word.

    2) I claim that is in fact far too confused for anyone to be able to say whether it is right or wrong (I actually use "true" or "false") -- however, even on its most charitable reading, if it were true, change would be impossible.

    But specifically, I have shown that you do not understand the unity and interpenetration of opposites, because you do not differentiate between the internally contradictory tendencies (O*/O**) and the change in a thing itself (A/not-A). My demonstration of this is by showing that your model does not apply to the dialectical analysis of capitalist society, with the bourgeoisie as O*, the proletariat as O**, capitalist society as A, and socialist society as not-A.
    1) I have already dealt with this.

    2) I have already admitted that I do not understand this 'theory' (and have told you this many times), but I then go on to point out that I'm in good company, since it's plain that you do not understand it either -- that is why you refuse to refer to the dialectical bible, and have attempted to substitute your own unworkable 'theory' in its place.

    It is no more possible to understand this 'theory' than it is possible to understand the incarnation of Christ.

    I also claim that no one understands this 'theory' -- or if they do, they have kept it well hidden for 150+ years. And this is no surprise, since both dogmas originate in mystical Neoplatonism.

    you do not differentiate between the internally contradictory tendencies (O*/O**) and the change in a thing itself (A/not-A). My demonstration of this is by showing that your model does not apply to the dialectical analysis of capitalist society, with the bourgeoisie as O*, the proletariat as O**, capitalist society as A, and socialist society as not-A
    As I said, I have already covered this; here it is again:

    GM ignores this background -- I'm not sure he is aware of it. Indeed, his comments suggest he isn't. [Unlike Lenin and Engels!]

    Hence, he posted this comment:

    Again, Lenin talks about these tendencies in phenomena and processes that elude your grasp. The above is precisely what I have been illustrating with the difference between A (the entity) and O*/O** (its contradictory tendencies) that you have not understood.

    Things do not change into their contradictions, which is what your mock-refutation entails, they change into their opposites. That is, A does not change into O**, but into not-A. O* does not change into O** but into not-O*.
    Bold added.

    Not only does this fly in the face of what Lenin actually said -- when he tells us that these opposites turn "into one another" (see above) -- it falls into the very trap that Hegel, Engels, Lenin and the rest tried to avoid, since it severs the (alleged) logical link that is supposed to exist between O* and O**, and which makes the former turn into the latter, and only the latter (as the Dialectical Classics tell us).

    Independently of this, as noted above, GM's revisionist 'theory' fails to work even in its own terms, since:

    (1) According to GM, O* changes into not-O* -- not because of its own 'inner contradictions' (as we are told must be the case with everything in the entire universe) --, but because of its 'struggle' with O**.

    On the other hand:

    (2) If O* does in fact change into not-O* because of its own 'inner contradictions', then its 'struggle' with O** will be irrelevant to that change.

    Interpreted more concretely, (2) would mean that the proletariat, for example, will not change because of its struggle with the capitalist class, but because of its own 'internal contradictions'. The class war will therefore have nothing to do with the fight for socialism!

    Furthermore, if (1) were the case, the proletariat would be the only thing in the entire universe that disobeyed the dialectical 'law' that all change is a result of 'internal contradictions'.

    Of course, it could be argued that (3) It's the 'internal contradictions' in capitalism that change the proletariat into whatever it changes into. But in that case, these will be 'external' to the proletariat, and not 'internal' to it after all.

    Again, let us assume that (3) is still the case. Hence, let us call the tendencies for capitalism to change "T" and for it to stay the same "T*". In that case, T must struggle with T*, if we are to believe what the dialectical classics tell us. But they also tell us that these opposites must turn into one another, that T must turn into T* and vice versa. And yet T can't turn into T* since T* already exists!

    So, GM's revisionist 'theory' hits the same non-dialectical brick wall that blocked Engels and Lenin's 'theory': if DM were true, change would be impossible.
    GM:

    Everything changes into its opposite - yes - but not into its internally contradictory tendencies. A does not change into O**, it changes into not-A. O** does not turn into O*, it turns into not-O**. And this is true for the specific analysis at hand: the proletariat does not become the bourgeoisie, it becomes a non-proletariat, a non-class, by becoming the universal class. No dialectical analysis says that the proletariat becomes the bourgeoisie, including that written by anyone you have quoted.
    And yet Lenin says they do (in a passage you prefer not to read):

    "'This harmony is precisely absolute Becoming change, -- not becoming other, now this and then another. The essential thing is that each different thing, each particular, is different from another, not abstractly so from any other, but from its other. Each particular only is, insofar as its other is implicitly contained in its Notion...' Quite right and important: the 'other' as its other, development into its opposite." [Ibid., p.260. Lenin is here commenting on Hegel (1995) The Science of Logic, pp.278-98; this particular quotation coming from p.285. Bold added.]

    "Dialectics is the teaching which shows how Opposites can be and how they happen to be (how they become) identical, -- under what conditions they are identical, becoming transformed into one another, -- why the human mind should grasp these opposites not as dead, rigid, but as living, conditional, mobile, becoming transformed into one another." [Ibid., p.109.]
    Since my framework matches with how the unity of opposites is actually used in dialectical analysis, it is evident that this is what the authors writing about dialectics actually meant. Your strawman analysis is only possible if you ignore everything about internally contradictory tendencies.
    All this tells us is that you are a slave to a flawed tradition -- ignoring your own Classics.

    Because, at heart, they aren't sacred texts - they're attempting to teach people a method of analysis. If you misinterpret the laws you can come up with anything you want - but that doesn't debunk the laws, just your interpretation of them.
    This is a convenient get-out: you concoct a revisionist and unworkable 'theory' that flies in the face of the Dialectical Classics, leaving your ideas open to empiricist attack, and then criticise me for drawing out their absurd consequences.

    Once more, you seem to think we are debating your 'theory' not that which was laid down by the Dialectical Holy Men.

    And we are still waiting for a single quotation from a dialectician that agrees with your attempt to revise Lenin on the hoof.

    No, you persistently misread Lenin by not differentiating between opposites A and not-A, and internally contradictory tendencies O* and O**. You look only at "A changes into not-A" and then try to apply it to the tension between O* and O**, and then say "Well, that doesn't work." Of course it doesn't, you are not doing your analysis correctly.
    Once more, I have dealt with your attempt to ignore what Lenin actually said -- and we are still waiting for you to explain this:

    "Dialectics is the teaching which shows how Opposites can be and how they happen to be (how they become) identical, -- under what conditions they are identical, becoming transformed into one another, -- why the human mind should grasp these opposites not as dead, rigid, but as living, conditional, mobile, becoming transformed into one another." [p.109. Bold added.]
    You have consistently refused to say what gets "transformed into one another".

    Until you do, we can only conclude that Lenin must have 'mis-read' Lenin!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    You have consistently refused to say what gets "transformed into one another".

    Until you do, we can only conclude that Lenin must have 'mis-read' Lenin!
    A is transformed into not-A. I have made this abundantly clear, you just haven't been paying attention.

    As for your misreading of what I have presented:

    Independently of this, as noted above, GM's revisionist 'theory' fails to work even in its own terms, since:

    (1) According to GM, O* changes into not-O* -- not because of its own 'inner contradictions' (as we are told must be the case with everything in the entire universe) --, but because of its 'struggle' with O**.

    On the other hand:

    (2) If O* does in fact change into not-O* because of its own 'inner contradictions', then its 'struggle' with O** will be irrelevant to that change.
    At this point it's necessary to ask what these changes are, because O* and O** are never just symbols on a piece of paper. In the example I have been using, O* is the proletariat - which negates itself, by ending class society. Therefore the internally contradictory tendencies of the proletariat we can call P* and P**, with P* standing for the proletariat's existence as a class with its own interests, and P** standing for the proletariat's interests requiring the abolition of class society, and therefore of the proletariat as a class. These tendencies are totally related to its struggle with the bourgeoisie, which has its own internal tendencies B* (its existence as a class which extracts surplus-value) and B** (its necessity to create and struggle with the proletariat, which in turn will abolish class society). Marx's whole concept of capitalism creating its own gravediggers is deeply dialectical - if you choose to understand what that means.

    Clearly Rosa's psuedo-refutation does not work. She simply refuses to understand dialectical thought, as can be seen by her inability to relate her strawman version of dialectical thought to the actual dialectical analysis of capitalist society.

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    GM:

    A is transformed into not-A. I have made this abundantly clear, you just haven't been paying attention.
    And I responded thus:

    But according to the DM-Gospels, if A turns into not-A it must struggle with it. But, it can't do that since not-A does not yet exist. If not-A already existed A could not turn into it, for it is already there!
    So, it seems you are the one who is half asleep.

    As for your misreading of what I have presented:

    Independently of this, as noted above, GM's revisionist 'theory' fails to work even in its own terms, since:

    (1) According to GM, O* changes into not-O* -- not because of its own 'inner contradictions' (as we are told must be the case with everything in the entire universe) --, but because of its 'struggle' with O**.

    On the other hand:

    (2) If O* does in fact change into not-O* because of its own 'inner contradictions', then its 'struggle' with O** will be irrelevant to that change.
    At this point it's necessary to ask what these changes are, because O* and O** are never just symbols on a piece of paper. In the example I have been using, O* is the proletariat - which negates itself, by ending class society. Therefore the internally contradictory tendencies of the proletariat we can call P* and P**, with P* standing for the proletariat's existence as a class with its own interests, and P** standing for the proletariat's interests requiring the abolition of class society, and therefore of the proletariat as a class. These tendencies are totally related to its struggle with the bourgeoisie, which has its own internal tendencies B* (its existence as a class which extracts surplus-value) and B** (its necessity to create and struggle with the proletariat, which in turn will abolish class society). Marx's whole concept of capitalism creating its own gravediggers is deeply dialectical - if you choose to understand what that means.
    It would indeed be a misreading if you could find some passages in the DM-Gospels that support your revisionist version. This you have yet to do.

    However, let's have a look at this latest attempt of yours:

    At this point it's necessary to ask what these changes are, because O* and O** are never just symbols on a piece of paper. In the example I have been using, O* is the proletariat - which negates itself, by ending class society. Therefore the internally contradictory tendencies of the proletariat we can call P* and P**, with P* standing for the proletariat's existence as a class with its own interests, and P** standing for the proletariat's interests requiring the abolition of class society, and therefore of the proletariat as a class. These tendencies are totally related to its struggle with the bourgeoisie, which has its own internal tendencies B* (its existence as a class which extracts surplus-value) and B** (its necessity to create and struggle with the proletariat, which in turn will abolish class society). Marx's whole concept of capitalism creating its own gravediggers is deeply dialectical - if you choose to understand what that means.
    1) It's worth noting that you have to abandon the obscure jargon of DM and revert to HM concepts to make this work. In so far as you do that, I agree with what you say.

    2) I'm Ok with 'struggle', and with 'tendencies', but you have yet to explain what these obscure DM-terms add to this, or even what they mean. Nor have you even so much as attempted to justify their use (except as a part of an uncritical nod to tradition -- just like the other Dialectical Mystics who post here).

    3) But what about this:

    Therefore the internally contradictory tendencies of the proletariat we can call P* and P**, with P* standing for the proletariat's existence as a class with its own interests, and P** standing for the proletariat's interests requiring the abolition of class society, and therefore of the proletariat as a class. These tendencies are totally related to its struggle with the bourgeoisie, which has its own internal tendencies B* (its existence as a class which extracts surplus-value) and B** (its necessity to create and struggle with the proletariat, which in turn will abolish class society).
    In which case, P*, for example, must either change or stay the same. If it changes, then according to the Dialectical Koran, it can only do so because of its own internal contradictions.

    If so, P* will not change because of its relation to P** nor as a result of a struggle with the bourgeoisie [B]. In that case, you will have divorced P* from the class struggle!

    On the other hand, if P* changes as a result of a struggle with B, or because of its relation to P**, then it will be the only thing in the entire universe that does not change because of its 'internal contradictions'.

    Either way, this 'theory' hits yet another non-dialectical brick wall.

    Clearly Rosa's pseudo-refutation does not work. She simply refuses to understand dialectical thought, as can be seen by her inability to relate her strawman version of dialectical thought to the actual dialectical analysis of capitalist society.
    In fact, as we can now see, I have faithfully represented Lenin's theory (if you think otherwise, let's see the quotations that support your view) -- nor have you told us what this means:

    "Dialectics is the teaching which shows how Opposites can be and how they happen to be (how they become) identical, -- under what conditions they are identical, becoming transformed into one another, -- why the human mind should grasp these opposites not as dead, rigid, but as living, conditional, mobile, becoming transformed into one another." [p.109. Bold added.]
    And it's not hard to see why: it either means that Lenin misread his own work and constructed the same 'strawman' that I allegedly have, or that you do not understand this 'theory' -- or both.

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