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Thread: Is the Unity of Contradictions the only law of Dialectics?

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    Default Is the Unity of Contradictions the only law of Dialectics?

    In response to the Negation of Negation thread, I'd like to pose the question if
    "the Law of the unity of opposites" is indeed the only law of Dialectics. According so some interpretations of Mao's writings, Mao considered the Unity of opposites not just the key to Dialectics, but to understanding all the laws of the physical universe.

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    Unity of opposites?

    I believe its called inter-penetration of opposites.

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    Whatever it's called, it makes not one nanogram of sense.

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    To reduce dialectical materialism to such a simple law(s) is nothing but empty abstractions. What Rosa appears to be rebelling against is the tendency to objectify and idealize history. The subject of these theories ceases to be humanity, but become either abstract entities such as laws of history or entities such as means of production. At best we end up with Althusser's structuralism, at worst - vulgar materialism (Feuerbarch).

    Rosa statement that Marx moved away from Hegel his entire life ignores the mountain of evidence which proves that Marx merely righted Hegel's dialectics (man has "found in the fantastic reality of heaven where he sought a supernatural being, only his own reflection).

    Dialectical Logic
    has as its aim the development of a scientific representation of thought in those necessary moments, and moreover in the necessary sequence, that do not in the least depend either on our will or on our consciousness. In other words Logic must show how thought develops if it is scientific, if it reflects, i.e. reproduces in concepts, an object existing outside our consciousness and will and independently of them, in other words, creates a mental reproduction of it, reconstructs its self-development, recreates it in the logic of the movement of concepts so as to recreate it later in fact (in experiment or in practice). Logic then is the theoretical representation of such thinking.
    marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/essays/essayint.htm

    One of them best example is found here:
    marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1857/grundrisse/ch02.htm#p140
    Compare this quote from Marx's preparatory notes for Capital:
    Considered as values, all commodities are qualitatively equal and differ only quantitatively, hence can be measured against each other and substituted for one another (are mutually exchangeable, mutually convertible) in certain quantitative relations. Value is their social relation, their economic quality. A book which possesses a certain value and a loaf of bread possessing the same value are exchanged for one another, are the same value but in a different material. As a value, a commodity is an equivalent for all other commodities in a given relation. As a value, the commodity is an equivalent; as an equivalent, all its natural properties are extinguished; it no longer takes up a special, qualitative relationship towards the other commodities; but is rather the general measure as well as the general representative, the general medium of exchange of all other commodities. As value, it is money. But because the commodity, or rather the product or the instrument of production, is different from its value, its existence as value is different from its existence as product. Its property of being a value not only can but must achieve an existence different from its natural one. Why? Because commodities as values are different from one another only quantitatively; therefore each commodity must be qualitatively different from its own value. Its value must therefore have an existence which is qualitatively distinguishable from it, and in actual exchange this separability must become a real separation, because the natural distinctness of commodities must come into contradiction with their economic equivalence, and because both can exist together only if the commodity achieves a double existence, not only a natural but also a purely economic existence, in which latter it is a mere symbol, a cipher for a relation of production, a mere symbol for its own value. As a value, every commodity is equally divisible; in its natural existence this is not the case. As a value it remains the same no matter how many metamorphoses and forms of existence it goes through; in reality, commodities are exchanged only because they are not the same and correspond to different systems of needs. As a value, the commodity is general; as a real commodity it is particular. As a value it is always exchangeable; in real exchange it is exchangeable only if it fulfills particular conditions. As a value, the measure of its exchangeability is determined by itself; exchange value expresses precisely the relation in which it replaces other commodities; in real exchange it is exchangeable only in quantities which are linked with its natural properties and which correspond to the needs of the participants in exchange.
    And try to understand it without reading Hegel's "The Science of Logic" [specifically his work on Being]:
    marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/works/hl/hlbeing.htm#HL1_81

    For Hegel the determinations as moments of Being are: Quality-Quantity-Measure
    Now compare this with Marx's "Transformation of the commodity into exchange value; money" as quoted above.
    Product - Commodity - Exchange Value (money)
    For Marx, they are merely moments of Capital "that do not in the least depend either on our will or on our consciousness." [Ilyenkov]

    Sorry for the rambling but Rosa's personal crusade must be stripped of its veil of mysticism and shown for what it truly is, revisionism. For a thorough introduction to Dialectical Logic I recommend Evald Ilyenkov's "Dialectical Logic found here: marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/essays/essayint.htm

    I cannot post complete links which is why I resorted to merely pasting the links themselves in my post. I feel that they are essential to it.
    Last edited by UnhappyC; 16th April 2008 at 18:08.

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    UnhappyC:

    Rosa statement that Marx moved away from Hegel his entire life ignores the mountain of evidence which proves that Marx merely righted Hegel's dialectics (man has "found in the fantastic reality of heaven where he sought a supernatural being, only his own reflection).
    What 'mountains'? More like 'mole hills'!

    And dialectical 'logic' does not work, at any level.

    Proof? Try this for size:

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.p...57&postcount=2

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.p...96&postcount=7

    The above relates to Mao's 'theory', but it also applies to Engels's, Hegel's, Plekhanov's and Lenin's versions, too.

    And this:

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/...mmitted_01.htm

    Sorry for the rambling but Rosa's personal crusade must be stripped of its veil of mysticism and shown for what it truly is, revisionism. For a thorough introduction to Dialectical Logic I recommend Evald Ilyenkov's "Dialectical Logic' found here: marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/essays/essayint.htm
    Oh, please, not Ilyenkov's confused book? Do me a favour!

    You need to tackle my actual arguments, and resist the tempatation merely to repeat tired old dialectical cliches.

    Rosa's personal crusade must be stripped of its veil of mysticism and shown for what it truly is, revisionism.
    What 'mysticism'? I note you did not say (mainly because there isn't any!).

    And Marx was a 'revisionist', too; that is the essence of a scientific view of reality -- to question received 'wisdom'. The way you talk, Marxism is just a set of eternal dogmas.

    What Rosa appears to be rebelling against is the tendency to objectify and idealize history.
    Where on earth did you get that odd idea from?

    What I am 'rebelling' against is a 'theory' that makes not one ounce of sense, and which has presided over 150 years of almost total failure.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 16th April 2008 at 19:43.

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    I would like mathematical concepts to strictly be applied to where we can do so, not only at a theoretical level. Look at the What is certain? thread and see what I wrote about that there... Basically only at a (possibly sub-) atomic scale, where each entity is equal to another:

    I don't know too much about dialectical materialism (don't think I do, anyway) but I do know that if the universe doesn't extend into infinity microscopically, then it has buildingblocks. This would then mean that all matter in the universe consists of the same thing (points). Then necessarily it would mean that the organization of those points is what creates the universe as we see it.

    Anyways, this means it is the point (the number one) that is of greatest essence, if one feels the need to weigh it that way... Of course two is also a number, so is three, five, etc. But every pair (contradictions, if you will), and every number, ultimately consists of ones.

    I'd be interested in seeing some practical examples of how exactly the law of contradictions not only is one of many (as I have hinted above), but is the key to the understanding of the universe.

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    has as its aim the development of a scientific representation of thought in those necessary moments, and moreover in the necessary sequence, that do not in the least depend either on our will or on our consciousness.
    UnhappyC, the ambiguity of Hegel's dialectical law, as I understand it, can be expressed in very simply terms. I will admit to passing through Hegel rather quickly many years ago so I won't have an understanding as thorough as your own, or even Rosa's. However, I might be able to produce a very easy example which demonstrates how this dialectic is vague at best, or simply not true at worst.

    In the above quote, the "scientific representation of thought in those necessary moments" says to me that every and all instances of decision involve and follow the form of the triad- thesis, antithesis, synthesis. That is to say that the material conditions in the world are in conflict with each other and develop new, different material conditions due to this stress. I certainly don't see how that is possible with inert, inanimate material. Rather than understanding "change" as the necessary consequence of conflicting material relations (and they don't "conflict"....this is an anthropomorphic concept), perhaps it is easier to think of it as simply forces interacting...none of which are "struggling" with one another.

    If you accept this view, we can move on to see how the dialectic applies to conscious thinking. I mentioned above these "instances of decision". Here one might say that the dialectic is evident in the logic used during a decision made by someone who is affected by external conditions in the environment. When a person makes a decision to act, that decision, that specific choice of action, cannot be thought of as necessary, but contingent. For example, John is broke. Thesis. John decides he needs money. Antithesis. John sells his father's golf clubs to the kid next door. Synthesis. Now, are we really to say that his choice was necessary and that this "dialectical contradiction" is what caused John to decide to sell the clubs? We certainly can, but it is a post hoc explanation of causes. What I mean here is that if John decided to do something else, rather than sell the clubs, we would have to say that his alternative choice of action was determined by the same dialectical conflict which, if fate had it otherwise, would cause him to sell the clubs. It cannot be both. I mean, the "dialectical contradiction" which caused John's actions cannot determine both results to happen, unless the dialectic is schizophrenic.

    My point here is that the dialectical description of change, concerning how and why people make decisions, is a post hoc ambiguity which works only after the fact.

    Therefore, the "scientific representation of thoughts" in "this instance" cannot be attributed to such dialectical rules of change. There is indeed a scientific explanation for everything (if there isn't, there cannot be knowledge about that which cannot be expressed in scientific terms.....philosophers, mystics, theologists, etc., never seem to understand that), but to delineate human activity to specific results, specific choices, is literally impossible in advance.

    This is the ambiguity of the dialectical rule when applies to human behavior.

    At best one can say "oh boy...John is broke and he's gonna do something to get some cash".....but never can we know in advance. If we cannot know what he will do, but know he will do something, we are suspended in a kind of dialectical limbo....where we wait for him to act so that we can declare, post hoc, "see! I told you Hegel was right!"

    Other than that, I think the dialectic is relevant for describing physical, chemical, and mechanical operations and behaviors. When hydrogen and oxygen combine and make water, it isn't because they are conflicting or struggling, but simply because that is what happens. If "dialectical" is a fancy way of saying "this and that make this", then I'll take it.

    The very terms "conflict" and "struggle" have anthropomorphic relevancy only. Inanimate matter experiences no such things.
    Last edited by Kronos; 16th April 2008 at 20:40.

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    ...oh and if I'm not understanding the point of the quote I argued against, I apologize in advance. I do that often. I tend to jump in over my head.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    UnhappyC:
    What 'mountains'? More like 'mole hills'!
    What did Marx mean by these quotes?
    marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1870/letters/70_06_27.htm
    And what this Lange has to say about the Hegelian method and my application of the same is simply childish. First, he understands rien [nothing] about Hegel’s method and, therefore, second, still less about my critical manner of applying it. In one respect he reminds me of Moses Mendelssohn. That prototype of a windbag once wrote to Lessing asking how he could possibly take ‘that dead dog Spinoza’ au sérieux! In the same way, Mr Lange expresses surprise that Engels, I, etc., take au sérieux the dead dog Hegel, after Büchner, Lange, Dr Dühring, Fechner, etc., had long agreed that they — poor dear — had long since buried him. Lange is naïve enough to say that I ‘move with rare freedom’ in empirical matter. He has not the slightest idea that this ‘free movement in matter’ is nothing but a paraphrase for the method of dealing with matter — that is, the dialectical method.
    marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1868/letters/68_03_06.htm
    He[Duhring] knows full well that my method of exposition is not Hegelian, since I am a materialist, and Hegel an idealist. Hegel’s dialectic is the basic form of all dialectic, but only after being stripped of its mystical form, and it is precisely this which distinguishes my method.
    marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867/letters/67_11_07.htm
    [Marx on Capital] [...] that some notice will be taken of this first attempt at applying the dialectic method to political economy.
    marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867/letters/67_06_27.htm
    Now if I wished to refute all such objections [Engels objecting to Marx's intentional abridging of examples of the dialectical method in Capital] in advance, I should spoil the whole dialectical method of exposition. On the contrary, the good thing about this method is that it is constantly setting traps for those fellows which will provoke them into an untimely display of their idiocy.
    marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867/letters/67_06_22.htm
    With regard to the development of the form of value, I have both followed and not followed your advice, thus striking a dialectical attitude in this matter, too. That is to say, 1. I have written an appendix in which I set out the same subject again as simply and as much in the manner of a school text-book as possible, and 2. I have divided each successive proposition into paras. etc., each with its own heading, as you advised. In the Preface I then tell the ‘non-dialectical’ reader to skip page x-y and instead read the appendix. It is not only the philistines that I have in mind here, but young people, etc., who are thirsting for knowledge.
    marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1858/letters/58_07_14.htm
    Kindly let me have Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature as promised. I am presently doing a little physiology which I shall combine with comparative anatomy. Here one comes upon highly speculative things, all of which, however, have only recently been discovered; I am exceedingly curious to see whether the old man may not already have had some inkling of them.[...] Everything consists of cells. The cell is Hegelian ‘being in itself’ and its. development follows the Hegelian process step by step right up to the final emergence of the ‘idea’ — i.e. each completed organism.
    marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1858/letters/58_05_31.htm
    This dialectic [Hegelian] is, to be sure, the ultimate word in philosophy and hence there is all the more need to divest it of the mystical aura given it by Hegel.
    I fail to see how one can dismiss these quotes as unessential.
    I will address the subsequent replies later on.

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    I am sorry Dystisis, but I understood not one sentence of your post.

    What are you trying to say?

    ----------------------------
    Kronos, welcome back, but you are far too accommodating with this pernicious and thoroughly confused thought-form -- 'dialectics'.

    Check this out:

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.p...57&postcount=2
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 16th April 2008 at 21:38.

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    UnhappyC:

    What did Marx mean by these quotes?
    Well, we needn't speculate, for he added a summary of his method to the introduction to Das Kapital:

    "After a quotation from the preface to my 'Criticism of Political Economy,' Berlin, 1859, pp. IV-VII, where I discuss the materialistic basis of my method, the writer goes on:

    'The one thing which is of moment to Marx, is to find the law of the phenomena with whose investigation he is concerned; and not only is that law of moment to him, which governs these phenomena, in so far as they have a definite form and mutual connexion within a given historical period. Of still greater moment to him is the law of their variation, of their development, i.e., of their transition from one form into another, from one series of connexions into a different one. This law once discovered, he investigates in detail the effects in which it manifests itself in social life. Consequently, Marx only troubles himself about one thing: to show, by rigid scientific investigation, the necessity of successive determinate orders of social conditions, and to establish, as impartially as possible, the facts that serve him for fundamental starting-points. For this it is quite enough, if he proves, at the same time, both the necessity of the present order of things, and the necessity of another order into which the first must inevitably pass over; and this all the same, whether men believe or do not believe it, whether they are conscious or unconscious of it. Marx treats the social movement as a process of natural history, governed by laws not only independent of human will, consciousness and intelligence, but rather, on the contrary, determining that will, consciousness and intelligence. ... If in the history of civilisation the conscious element plays a part so subordinate, then it is self-evident that a critical inquiry whose subject-matter is civilisation, can, less than anything else, have for its basis any form of, or any result of, consciousness. That is to say, that not the idea, but the material phenomenon alone can serve as its starting-point. Such an inquiry will confine itself to the confrontation and the comparison of a fact, not with ideas, but with another fact. For this inquiry, the one thing of moment is, that both facts be investigated as accurately as possible, and that they actually form, each with respect to the other, different momenta of an evolution; but most important of all is the rigid analysis of the series of successions, of the sequences and concatenations in which the different stages of such an evolution present themselves. But it will be said, the general laws of economic life are one and the same, no matter whether they are applied to the present or the past. This Marx directly denies. According to him, such abstract laws do not exist. On the contrary, in his opinion every historical period has laws of its own.... As soon as society has outlived a given period of development, and is passing over from one given stage to another, it begins to be subject also to other laws. In a word, economic life offers us a phenomenon analogous to the history of evolution in other branches of biology. The old economists misunderstood the nature of economic laws when they likened them to the laws of physics and chemistry. A more thorough analysis of phenomena shows that social organisms differ among themselves as fundamentally as plants or animals. Nay, one and the same phenomenon falls under quite different laws in consequence of the different structure of those organisms as a whole, of the variations of their individual organs, of the different conditions in which those organs function, &c. Marx, e.g., denies that the law of population is the same at all times and in all places. He asserts, on the contrary, that every stage of development has its own law of population. ... With the varying degree of development of productive power, social conditions and the laws governing them vary too. Whilst Marx sets himself the task of following and explaining from this point of view the economic system established by the sway of capital, he is only formulating, in a strictly scientific manner, the aim that every accurate investigation into economic life must have. The scientific value of such an inquiry lies in the disclosing of the special laws that regulate the origin, existence, development, death of a given social organism and its replacement by another and higher one. And it is this value that, in point of fact, Marx's book has.'

    "Whilst the writer pictures what he takes to be actually my method, in this striking and [as far as concerns my own application of it] generous way, what else is he picturing but the dialectic method?" [Marx (1976), pp.101-02. Bold emphases added.]
    So, Marx's 'method', his version of 'dialectics', contains not one ounce of Hegel; no 'unities of opposites', no 'negation of the negation', no 'contradictions', no 'Totality'.

    In that case, the 'rational kernel' has Hegel completely removed!

    Now, you might not like this, but I suggest you pick a fight with Marx, not me, for that is his method, and published right at the start of his most important piece of work -- not in an obscure letter.

    And of the few occurences of such terms in Das Kapital, Marx says he was merely 'coquetting' with them.

    But, you might be tempted to say that Marx called Hegel a 'mighty thinker'; well, I think Plato is a 'mighty thinker', but I disagree with 100% of what he says. Same with Marx -- according to the implication of his own words.

    But, you promised 'mountains' of evidence!

    As I said, it looks more like a 'mole hill', and even then, it fails to support your case.

    I fail to see how one can dismiss these quotes as unessential.
    Many are from before he wrote Das Kapital -- so whatever happened to Marx's thought between, say, 1858, and writing his masterpiece, he clearly moved away from Hegel, to such an extent that he merely wished to 'coquette' with a few bits of Hegelian jargon.

    I go further, and ditch the lot.

    Anyway one of your quotes is from Engels, not Marx!

    marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1858/letters/58_07_14.htm

    I do not doubt Engels was taken in by this gobbledygook, for he was a philosophical incompetent.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 16th April 2008 at 21:34.

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    So, Marx's 'method', his version of 'dialectics', contains not one ounce of Hegel
    Except we know that it's not true, because later, inthe same article which you accord such priority, Marx goes on to argue:

    The mystification which dialectic suffers in Hegel’s hands, by no means prevents him from being the first to present its general form of working in a comprehensive and conscious manner. http://www.marxists.org/subject/dial...-afterward.htm
    So logically, if Marx's method is a dialectic (as you admit he claims) it must contain, at least, the general form of Hegel's exposition - which could possibly amount to a couple of ounces of Hegel (you know, given the total weight of a tome like Das Kapital ).
    "Events have their own logic, even when human beings do not." - Rosa Luxemburg

    "There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen." - Lenin


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    CZ, quoting Marx:

    The mystification which dialectic suffers in Hegel’s hands, by no means prevents him from being the first to present its general form of working in a comprehensive and conscious manner
    And yet, and once more, we need not speculate, for Marx himself tells us that he was content merely to 'coquette' with Hegel's 'mighty' contribution, in this regard.

    And, you will note that the relative pronoun "its" refers back to 'the mystification which diialectic suffers in Hegel's hands', which Marx calls its 'general form' --and which Marx was keen to ditch.

    So, no wonder he merely 'coquetted' with a few bits of Hegelian jargon, and appealed to a summary of 'his method' that contained not one atom of Hegel.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 16th April 2008 at 21:49.

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    Many are from before he wrote Das Kapital -- so whatever happened to Marx's thought between, say, 1858, and writing his masterpiece, he clearly moved away from Hegel, to such an extent that he merely wished to 'coquette' with a few bits of Hegelain jargon.
    Actually, out of seven quotes, three of them are post-publication of Vol One and two of them were written during the writing of the said masterpiece.

    Rosa, this really is a game that you cannot win. Nowhere does Marx disavow his debt to Hegel never mind repudiate him. Even after the first volume of Kapital is published he continues to describe his method as a 'dialectic'. Nowhere does he state that he dumped Hegel in favour of Aristotle when he composed Kapital (another of your hypotheses).

    The only textual evidence you present is supported by your own idiosyncratic interpretation and one which can be challenged. I'd argue (taking the Afterword as a whole, rather than isolating one paragraph from its relation to its fellows, sans your method) that the reason Marx places such premium on this particular review is precisely because it contains no Hegelian jargon which serves Marx's purpose of refuting those reviewers who accuse him of simple-mindedly superimposing unwieldy Hegelian idealism onto the subject of political economy. Marx quotes it with favour in order to distance himself from the idealism of Hegel (and the attendent charge of metaphysics), not from the proposition that material social reality can be grasped dialectically. This is an assertion which, as far as the archive tells us, he held onto 'til his death.
    "Events have their own logic, even when human beings do not." - Rosa Luxemburg

    "There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen." - Lenin


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    And, you will note that the relative pronoun "its" refers back to 'the mystification which diialectic suffers in Hegel's hands', which Marx calls its 'general form' --and which Marx was keen to ditch.
    In my reading the 'it' refers to the dialectic, not the mysticism. And whilst it would be difficult for us to prove my interpretation over yours, mine at least corresponds to his later statements.
    Last edited by Hit The North; 16th April 2008 at 22:05.
    "Events have their own logic, even when human beings do not." - Rosa Luxemburg

    "There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen." - Lenin


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    CZ:

    Actually, out of seven quotes, three of them are post-publication of Vol One and two of them were written during the writing of the said masterpiece.
    Depends which edition of volume one you are talking about, but even so, they are all covered by the remarks he made in that published work, as we have discussed before.

    Rosa, this really is a game that you cannot win. Nowhere does Marx disavow his debt to Hegel never mind repudiate him. Even after the first volume of Kapital is published he continues to describe his method as a 'dialectic'. Nowhere does he state that he dumped Hegel in favour of Aristotle when he composed Kapital (another of your hypotheses).
    But, and once more, to save you and me speculating, Marx very kindly added a summary of 'his method', his verson of the 'dialectic':

    "After a quotation from the preface to my 'Criticism of Political Economy,' Berlin, 1859, pp. IV-VII, where I discuss the materialistic basis of my method, the writer goes on:

    'The one thing which is of moment to Marx, is to find the law of the phenomena with whose investigation he is concerned; and not only is that law of moment to him, which governs these phenomena, in so far as they have a definite form and mutual connexion within a given historical period. Of still greater moment to him is the law of their variation, of their development, i.e., of their transition from one form into another, from one series of connexions into a different one. This law once discovered, he investigates in detail the effects in which it manifests itself in social life. Consequently, Marx only troubles himself about one thing: to show, by rigid scientific investigation, the necessity of successive determinate orders of social conditions, and to establish, as impartially as possible, the facts that serve him for fundamental starting-points. For this it is quite enough, if he proves, at the same time, both the necessity of the present order of things, and the necessity of another order into which the first must inevitably pass over; and this all the same, whether men believe or do not believe it, whether they are conscious or unconscious of it. Marx treats the social movement as a process of natural history, governed by laws not only independent of human will, consciousness and intelligence, but rather, on the contrary, determining that will, consciousness and intelligence. ... If in the history of civilisation the conscious element plays a part so subordinate, then it is self-evident that a critical inquiry whose subject-matter is civilisation, can, less than anything else, have for its basis any form of, or any result of, consciousness. That is to say, that not the idea, but the material phenomenon alone can serve as its starting-point. Such an inquiry will confine itself to the confrontation and the comparison of a fact, not with ideas, but with another fact. For this inquiry, the one thing of moment is, that both facts be investigated as accurately as possible, and that they actually form, each with respect to the other, different momenta of an evolution; but most important of all is the rigid analysis of the series of successions, of the sequences and concatenations in which the different stages of such an evolution present themselves. But it will be said, the general laws of economic life are one and the same, no matter whether they are applied to the present or the past. This Marx directly denies. According to him, such abstract laws do not exist. On the contrary, in his opinion every historical period has laws of its own.... As soon as society has outlived a given period of development, and is passing over from one given stage to another, it begins to be subject also to other laws. In a word, economic life offers us a phenomenon analogous to the history of evolution in other branches of biology. The old economists misunderstood the nature of economic laws when they likened them to the laws of physics and chemistry. A more thorough analysis of phenomena shows that social organisms differ among themselves as fundamentally as plants or animals. Nay, one and the same phenomenon falls under quite different laws in consequence of the different structure of those organisms as a whole, of the variations of their individual organs, of the different conditions in which those organs function, &c. Marx, e.g., denies that the law of population is the same at all times and in all places. He asserts, on the contrary, that every stage of development has its own law of population. ... With the varying degree of development of productive power, social conditions and the laws governing them vary too. Whilst Marx sets himself the task of following and explaining from this point of view the economic system established by the sway of capital, he is only formulating, in a strictly scientific manner, the aim that every accurate investigation into economic life must have. The scientific value of such an inquiry lies in the disclosing of the special laws that regulate the origin, existence, development, death of a given social organism and its replacement by another and higher one. And it is this value that, in point of fact, Marx's book has.'

    "Whilst the writer pictures what he takes to be actually my method, in this striking and [as far as concerns my own application of it] generous way, what else is he picturing but the dialectic method?" [Marx (1976), pp.101-02. Bold emphases added.]
    So, yet again, here Marx calls this summary 'his method', in which not one microgram of Hegel is to be found.

    And, as if to rub it in, Marx told us that he was merely 'coquetting' with Hegel's 'mighty' contribution to thought -- hardly a ringing endorsement.

    The only textual evidence you present is supported by your own idiosyncratic interpretation and one which can be challenged. I'd argue (taking the Afterword as a whole, rather than isolating one paragraph from its relation to its fellows, sans your method) that the reason Marx places such premium on this particular review is precisely because it contains no Hegelian jargon which serves Marx's purpose of refuting those reviewers who accuse him of simple-mindedly superimposing unwieldy Hegelian idealism onto the subject of political economy. Marx quotes it with favour in order to distance himself from the idealism of Hegel (and the attendent charge of metaphysics), not from the proposition that material social reality can be grasped dialectically. This is an assertion which, as far as the archive tells us, he held onto 'til his death.
    Not so, we have Marx's own words -- not mine, not James Burnham's, not Peter Struve's -- that his method contains not one atom of Hegel.

    Now, you say that Marx quoted this to distance himself from Hegel's idealism, but that is your interpretation.

    Marx, on the other hand, calls this summary, 'his method' -- and it contains no 'contradictions', no 'negation of the negation', no 'unities of opposites' -- everything that later dialecticians foisted on Marx is absent from this summary of 'his method'.

    And the few bits of jargon that appear in Das Kapital itself --, well, as we know, Marx merely 'coquetted' with them.

    So, the weight of evidence is against you, as you have had pointed out to you many times.

    In my reading the 'it' refers to the dialectic, not the mysticism. And whilst it would be difficult for us to prove my interpretation over yours, mine at least corresponds to his later statements.
    Well, as you say, you can't prove that; until you can, we will have to refer to that long summary of 'his method' as cast iron proof that Hegel was expunged from Das Kapital.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 16th April 2008 at 22:48.

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    R:
    Depends which edition of volume one you are talking about, but even so, they are all covered by the remarks he made in that published work, as we have discussed before.
    So your argument is that when he was in the process of writing Kapital he believed he was utilising a dialectic method, as evinced by these two quotes:
    Now if I wished to refute all such objections [Engels objecting to Marx's intentional abridging of examples of the dialectical method in Capital] in advance, I should spoil the whole dialectical method of exposition. On the contrary, the good thing about this method is that it is constantly setting traps for those fellows which will provoke them into an untimely display of their idiocy.
    With regard to the development of the form of value, I have both followed and not followed your advice, thus striking a dialectical attitude in this matter, too. That is to say, 1. I have written an appendix in which I set out the same subject again as simply and as much in the manner of a school text-book as possible, and 2. I have divided each successive proposition into paras. etc., each with its own heading, as you advised. In the Preface I then tell the ‘non-dialectical’ reader to skip page x-y and instead read the appendix. It is not only the philistines that I have in mind here, but young people, etc., who are thirsting for knowledge.
    That after publication of the first edition he wrote:
    [Marx on Capital] [...] that some notice will be taken of this first attempt at applying the dialectic method to political economy.
    That later in 1868 he wrote:
    He[Duhring] knows full well that my method of exposition is not Hegelian, since I am a materialist, and Hegel an idealist. Hegel’s dialectic is the basic form of all dialectic, but only after being stripped of its mystical form, and it is precisely this which distinguishes my method.
    Then later still, in 1870 he confessed
    And what this Lange has to say about the Hegelian method and my application of the same is simply childish. First, he understands rien [nothing] about Hegel’s method and, therefore, second, still less about my critical manner of applying it. In one respect he reminds me of Moses Mendelssohn. That prototype of a windbag once wrote to Lessing asking how he could possibly take ‘that dead dog Spinoza’ au sérieux! In the same way, Mr Lange expresses surprise that Engels, I, etc., take au sérieux the dead dog Hegel, after Büchner, Lange, Dr Dühring, Fechner, etc., had long agreed that they — poor dear — had long since buried him. Lange is naïve enough to say that I ‘move with rare freedom’ in empirical matter. He has not the slightest idea that this ‘free movement in matter’ is nothing but a paraphrase for the method of dealing with matter — that is, the dialectical method.
    But, suddenly in 1873, Marx endured a complete sea-change, not only in his method, but in his own retrospective understanding of the method he employed in his magnum opus six years earlier. What's more, having had this revelation, he signals it to the world with the words:
    I therefore openly avowed myself the pupil of that mighty thinker, and even here and there, in the chapter on the theory of value, coquetted with the modes of expression peculiar to him.
    This is your version of events?

    But something doesn't ring true. This elliptical allusion to such a major shift in his thinking is quite uncharacteristic. You'll agree with me that generally speaking, Marx was renowned for his bluntness, no? So why has his forthrightness suddenly abandoned him - and on such a crucially important issue as a change in his methodology?

    Not so, we have Marx's own words
    This hardly needs to be pointed out, but they are not Marx's own words, they belong to a reviewer. Marx merely indicates that they represent a reasonable approximation of his method - "the dialectical method".

    Marx, on the other hand, calls this summary, 'his method' -- and it contains no 'contradictions', no 'negation of the negation', no 'unities of opposites' -- everything that later dialecticians foisted on Marx is absent from this summary of 'his method'.
    No he doesn't. He writes, "Whilst the writer pictures what he takes to be actually my method" which is not the same as Marx claiming that the review is a complete summary of his method. But even if Marx thought it was a complete summary of his method, what is it that the reviewer is picturing, according to Marx? Yes, that's right: "what else is he picturing but the dialectic method?" As in:
    Whilst the writer pictures what he takes to be actually my method, in this striking and [as far as concerns my own application of it] generous way, what else is he picturing but the dialectic method?
    So, the weight of evidence is against you, as you have had pointed out to you many times.
    Sorry, Rosa, but you need to pull off an inversion of reality of truly Hegelian proportions for that argument to stick .
    "Events have their own logic, even when human beings do not." - Rosa Luxemburg

    "There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen." - Lenin


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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    UnhappyC:
    So, Marx's 'method', his version of 'dialectics', contains not one ounce of Hegel; no 'unities of opposites', no 'negation of the negation', no 'contradictions', no 'Totality'.

    In that case, the 'rational kernel' has Hegel completely removed!
    The very next lines after your quotation:
    Of course the method of presentation must differ in form from that of inquiry. The latter has to appropriate the material in detail, to analyse its different forms of development, to trace out their inner connexion. Only after this work is done, can the actual movement be adequately described. If this is done successfully, if the life of the subject-matter is ideally reflected as in a mirror, then it may appear as if we had before us a mere a priori construction.
    My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. To Hegel, the life-process of the human brain, i.e., the process of thinking, which, under the name of “the Idea,” he even transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurgos of the real world, and the real world is only the external, phenomenal form of “the Idea.” With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought."[my underscore]
    And further down the very same document you quoted
    In its rational form [dialectic] it is a scandal and abomination to bourgeoisdom and its doctrinaire professors, because it includes in its comprehension and affirmative recognition of the existing state of things, at the same time also, the recognition of the negation of that state, of its inevitable breaking up; because it regards every historically developed social form as in fluid movement, and therefore takes into account its transient nature not less than its momentary existence; because it lets nothing impose upon it, and is in its essence critical and revolutionary.
    The contradictions inherent in the movement of capitalist society impress themselves upon the practical bourgeois most strikingly in the changes of the periodic cycle, through which modern industry runs, and whose crowning point is the universal crisis. That crisis is once again approaching, although as yet but in its preliminary stage; and by the universality of its theatre and the intensity of its action it will drum dialectics even into the heads of the mushroom-upstarts of the new, holy Prusso-German empire.
    You appears to be stuck in a Feuerbachian natural state i.e., vulgar materialism. Maybe you should [re]read Spinoza's work on Substance.

    Now, you might not like this, but I suggest you pick a fight with Marx, not me, for that is his method, and published right at the start of his most important piece of work -- not in an obscure letter.
    Marx is not true to himself when in private - He is a different thinker when talking or writing in private?


    Anyway one of your quotes is from Engels, not Marx!

    marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1858/letters/58_07_14.htm

    I do not doubt Engels was taken in by this gobbledygook, for he was a philosophical incompetent.
    Oh lordy lord!

    Quote Originally Posted by Citizen Zero View Post
    In my reading the 'it' refers to the dialectic, not the mysticism. And whilst it would be difficult for us to prove my interpretation over yours, mine at least corresponds to his later statements.
    It certainly does refer to dialectic and not the mysticism. Only through Rosa's rose coloured glasses can "it" be interpreted as mysticism.

    EDIT - I've removed some of my comments since CZ replies were much clearer than mine.
    Last edited by UnhappyC; 17th April 2008 at 02:03.

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    CZ:

    Now if I wished to refute all such objections [Engels objecting to Marx's intentional abridging of examples of the dialectical method in Capital] in advance, I should spoil the whole dialectical method of exposition. On the contrary, the good thing about this method is that it is constantly setting traps for those fellows which will provoke them into an untimely display of their idiocy.
    Indeed, he did lay traps: for the lot of you have simply ignored the fact that he was 'coquetting' all along. And you have fallen right in it.

    The other quotations, I think we have already been over, so I do not know why you are repeating them.

    But, suddenly in 1873, Marx endured a complete sea-change, not only in his method, but in his own retrospective understanding of the method he employed in his magnum opus six years earlier. What's more, having had this revelation, he signals it to the world with the words:
    What can I tell you? Marx himself went out of his way to include a summary of 'his method'.

    Since you like repetition, here it is again:

    "After a quotation from the preface to my 'Criticism of Political Economy,' Berlin, 1859, pp. IV-VII, where I discuss the materialistic basis of my method, the writer goes on:

    'The one thing which is of moment to Marx, is to find the law of the phenomena with whose investigation he is concerned; and not only is that law of moment to him, which governs these phenomena, in so far as they have a definite form and mutual connexion within a given historical period. Of still greater moment to him is the law of their variation, of their development, i.e., of their transition from one form into another, from one series of connexions into a different one. This law once discovered, he investigates in detail the effects in which it manifests itself in social life. Consequently, Marx only troubles himself about one thing: to show, by rigid scientific investigation, the necessity of successive determinate orders of social conditions, and to establish, as impartially as possible, the facts that serve him for fundamental starting-points. For this it is quite enough, if he proves, at the same time, both the necessity of the present order of things, and the necessity of another order into which the first must inevitably pass over; and this all the same, whether men believe or do not believe it, whether they are conscious or unconscious of it. Marx treats the social movement as a process of natural history, governed by laws not only independent of human will, consciousness and intelligence, but rather, on the contrary, determining that will, consciousness and intelligence. ... If in the history of civilisation the conscious element plays a part so subordinate, then it is self-evident that a critical inquiry whose subject-matter is civilisation, can, less than anything else, have for its basis any form of, or any result of, consciousness. That is to say, that not the idea, but the material phenomenon alone can serve as its starting-point. Such an inquiry will confine itself to the confrontation and the comparison of a fact, not with ideas, but with another fact. For this inquiry, the one thing of moment is, that both facts be investigated as accurately as possible, and that they actually form, each with respect to the other, different momenta of an evolution; but most important of all is the rigid analysis of the series of successions, of the sequences and concatenations in which the different stages of such an evolution present themselves. But it will be said, the general laws of economic life are one and the same, no matter whether they are applied to the present or the past. This Marx directly denies. According to him, such abstract laws do not exist. On the contrary, in his opinion every historical period has laws of its own.... As soon as society has outlived a given period of development, and is passing over from one given stage to another, it begins to be subject also to other laws. In a word, economic life offers us a phenomenon analogous to the history of evolution in other branches of biology. The old economists misunderstood the nature of economic laws when they likened them to the laws of physics and chemistry. A more thorough analysis of phenomena shows that social organisms differ among themselves as fundamentally as plants or animals. Nay, one and the same phenomenon falls under quite different laws in consequence of the different structure of those organisms as a whole, of the variations of their individual organs, of the different conditions in which those organs function, &c. Marx, e.g., denies that the law of population is the same at all times and in all places. He asserts, on the contrary, that every stage of development has its own law of population. ... With the varying degree of development of productive power, social conditions and the laws governing them vary too. Whilst Marx sets himself the task of following and explaining from this point of view the economic system established by the sway of capital, he is only formulating, in a strictly scientific manner, the aim that every accurate investigation into economic life must have. The scientific value of such an inquiry lies in the disclosing of the special laws that regulate the origin, existence, development, death of a given social organism and its replacement by another and higher one. And it is this value that, in point of fact, Marx's book has.'

    "Whilst the writer pictures what he takes to be actually my method, in this striking and [as far as concerns my own application of it] generous way, what else is he picturing but the dialectic method?" [Marx (1976), pp.101-02. Bold emphases added.]
    'His method', the 'dialectic method' he used (not the one all his supposed 'followers' have used) contains not one atom of Hegel -- no 'contradictions', no 'negation of the negation', no 'unities of opposites', no 'Totality'.

    Now, there would be no 'trap' here for you if you'd only listen to what Marx is telling you.

    But something doesn't ring true. This elliptical allusion to such a major shift in his thinking is quite uncharacteristic. You'll agree with me that generally speaking, Marx was renowned for his bluntness, no? So why has his forthrightness suddenly abandoned him - and on such a crucially important issue as a change in his methodology?
    Not so, he went through similar rapid changes in the 1840s, some of which he spoke about in letters and published and unpublished writings, others not.

    This hardly needs to be pointed out, but they are not Marx's own words, they belong to a reviewer. Marx merely indicates that they represent a reasonable approximation of his method - "the dialectical method".
    Indeed, but we have Marx's words that this is 'his method'; and he calls it this in spite of the fact that every shred of Hegel has been expunged.

    This is no problem for me, but it is a huge headache for you.

    No he doesn't. He writes, "Whilst the writer pictures what he takes to be actually my method" which is not the same as Marx claiming that the review is a complete summary of his method. But even if Marx thought it was a complete summary of his method, what is it that the reviewer is picturing, according to Marx? Yes, that's right: "what else is he picturing but the dialectic method?"
    Indeed, and according to Marx (i.e., in his own words) it is a picture of 'his method' -- and why would he include a false picture right at the beginning of his most important work?

    Your picture has Hegel in it; Marx's (or at least the one he endorsed) does not.

    Sorry, Rosa, but you need to pull off an inversion of reality of truly Hegelian proportions for that argument to stick
    Not so; all I have to do is stick to what Marx actually said, as opposed to what you would like him to have said.

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    UnhappyC -- you can quote Marx at me all day, it will do you no good.

    The very next lines after your quotation:
    And we now know what he meant by this, for he very helpfully included a summary of 'his method', his version of 'dialectics':

    "After a quotation from the preface to my 'Criticism of Political Economy,' Berlin, 1859, pp. IV-VII, where I discuss the materialistic basis of my method, the writer goes on:

    'The one thing which is of moment to Marx, is to find the law of the phenomena with whose investigation he is concerned; and not only is that law of moment to him, which governs these phenomena, in so far as they have a definite form and mutual connexion within a given historical period. Of still greater moment to him is the law of their variation, of their development, i.e., of their transition from one form into another, from one series of connexions into a different one. This law once discovered, he investigates in detail the effects in which it manifests itself in social life. Consequently, Marx only troubles himself about one thing: to show, by rigid scientific investigation, the necessity of successive determinate orders of social conditions, and to establish, as impartially as possible, the facts that serve him for fundamental starting-points. For this it is quite enough, if he proves, at the same time, both the necessity of the present order of things, and the necessity of another order into which the first must inevitably pass over; and this all the same, whether men believe or do not believe it, whether they are conscious or unconscious of it. Marx treats the social movement as a process of natural history, governed by laws not only independent of human will, consciousness and intelligence, but rather, on the contrary, determining that will, consciousness and intelligence. ... If in the history of civilisation the conscious element plays a part so subordinate, then it is self-evident that a critical inquiry whose subject-matter is civilisation, can, less than anything else, have for its basis any form of, or any result of, consciousness. That is to say, that not the idea, but the material phenomenon alone can serve as its starting-point. Such an inquiry will confine itself to the confrontation and the comparison of a fact, not with ideas, but with another fact. For this inquiry, the one thing of moment is, that both facts be investigated as accurately as possible, and that they actually form, each with respect to the other, different momenta of an evolution; but most important of all is the rigid analysis of the series of successions, of the sequences and concatenations in which the different stages of such an evolution present themselves. But it will be said, the general laws of economic life are one and the same, no matter whether they are applied to the present or the past. This Marx directly denies. According to him, such abstract laws do not exist. On the contrary, in his opinion every historical period has laws of its own.... As soon as society has outlived a given period of development, and is passing over from one given stage to another, it begins to be subject also to other laws. In a word, economic life offers us a phenomenon analogous to the history of evolution in other branches of biology. The old economists misunderstood the nature of economic laws when they likened them to the laws of physics and chemistry. A more thorough analysis of phenomena shows that social organisms differ among themselves as fundamentally as plants or animals. Nay, one and the same phenomenon falls under quite different laws in consequence of the different structure of those organisms as a whole, of the variations of their individual organs, of the different conditions in which those organs function, &c. Marx, e.g., denies that the law of population is the same at all times and in all places. He asserts, on the contrary, that every stage of development has its own law of population. ... With the varying degree of development of productive power, social conditions and the laws governing them vary too. Whilst Marx sets himself the task of following and explaining from this point of view the economic system established by the sway of capital, he is only formulating, in a strictly scientific manner, the aim that every accurate investigation into economic life must have. The scientific value of such an inquiry lies in the disclosing of the special laws that regulate the origin, existence, development, death of a given social organism and its replacement by another and higher one. And it is this value that, in point of fact, Marx's book has.'

    "Whilst the writer pictures what he takes to be actually my method, in this striking and [as far as concerns my own application of it] generous way, what else is he picturing but the dialectic method?" [Marx (1976), pp.101-02. Bold emphases added.]
    You will note that 'his method' contains no trace of Hegel -- no 'contradictions', no 'negation of the negation', no 'unity of opposites', no 'Totality'.

    So, once more, pick a fight with Marx, not me, for destroying your illusions.

    Now, where we later find Hegelian jargon, Marx was also quite clear: he was merely 'coquetting' with it.

    That's how much respect he had for that logical incompetent, Hegel.

    You appear to be stuck in a Feuerbachian natural state i.e., vulgar materialism. Maybe you should [re]read Spinoza's work on Substance.
    Maybe you should read my work before you make up stuff about me?

    No, I am not a Feuerbachian, and Spinoza, too, was a philosophical incompetetent -- only marginally less so than Hegel.

    All you can do to defend your case is quote confused mystics at me!

    I was studying Spinoza, and rejecting it as wall-to-wall gobbledygook, long before many at RevLeft were alive.

    Marx is not true to himself when in private - He is a different thinker when talking or writing in private?
    What can I tell you? His published work is a better guide to his thought than private musings, and should rightly be used to interpret those musings. That is what I have done.

    You need to address that.

    It certainly does refer to dialectic and not the mysticism.
    How do you know?

    Only through Rosa's rose coloured glasses can "it" be interpreted as mysticism.
    Why do you say this, if Marx's own words support my case, but refute yours?
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 17th April 2008 at 09:50.

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