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Thread: Ilyenkov's Dialectical Logic and Abstract to Concrete in Capital

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    Default Ilyenkov's Dialectical Logic and Abstract to Concrete in Capital

    Ilyenkov was one of the few Soviet philosophers after Lenin to serious attempt to develop a Dialectical logic. He investigated the methods used by Marx in his analysis of Capital, and attempted to create a system of Logic out of it. He has come the closest to completing Marx's sheets of paper explaining the rational element of Hegelian Dialectic.

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evald_Ilyenkov

    Works:
    Dialectics of Abstract & Concrete, 1960
    Dialectical Logic, 1974
    Activity and Knowledge, 1974
    From the Marxist-Leninist Point of View, 1974
    The Universal, 1974
    Concept of the Ideal, 1977
    Leninist Dialectics & Metaphysics of Positivism, 1979

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    And yet he made all the usual errors. In that case, the Hegelian dialectic is still as clear as mud -- so it has no 'rational element'.

    In fact, his book on 'logic' (both Hegels'and Ilyenkov's) should be renamed: "Anything But Logic".

    Hegel's main errors are summarised here:

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

    Ilyenkov's here:

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%2003_01.htm

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    When we say the rose is red, the word 'red' is not just a description, but part of rose's identity itself; for rose and redness cannot be separated. That makes them identical. But redness is also an attribute of objects other than a rose, so it is at the same time distinct from the rose. In short, redness is and is not equal to rose. This is another way of saying rose is not not red, and only this can reconcile the apparent contradiction.

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    Default Analytical Philosophy an antidote for Dialectics?

    Rosa
    I have had a brief look at your posts and site and am very much impressed by your efforts to demystify and debunk Dialectical Materialism.

    Whilst I think your project is very progressive, I have a couple of critical comments:

    - If, as an antidote to DiaMat, Marxism is underpinned by analytical philosophy, I wonder whether the cure would be worse than the disease??
    I’m certainly no expert, but I did major in philosophy years ago and remember being repulsed by the dry, reactionary nature of much analytical philosophy. E.g. What could be more conservative than ‘ordinary language’ philosophy?

    Whilst I reject the farcical hypostisation of the ‘Laws Of Dialectics’ onto the realm of nature and logic, in the socio-political realm I think that a dialectical approach, which emphasizes the fluid, dynamic character of social reality can be useful. More useful, perhaps, than an approach which reifies the fixed categories of formal logic onto social categories. In revolutionary practice, A may indeed become not A.

    In this regard, I think the critique of analytical philosophy of Marcuse in ‘One Dimensional Man’ is still of relevance.

    - You eschew ‘Academic Marxism” but is this not the terrain on which your battles would most appropriately be fought ?? Not many workers would have the time or resources to gain the relevant background in both DiaMat and Analytical philosophy to compete with a postgraduate philosopher.

    Cheers

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    BenHur:

    When we say the rose is red, the word 'red' is not just a description, but part of rose's identity itself; for rose and redness cannot be separated. That makes them identical. But redness is also an attribute of objects other than a rose, so it is at the same time distinct from the rose. In short, redness is and is not equal to rose. This is another way of saying rose is not not red, and only this can reconcile the apparent contradiction.
    Unfortunately for you, there are pink, blue and cream coloured roses.

    So, "The rose is red" is a description.

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    DeLeonist:

    If, as an antidote to DiaMat, Marxism is underpinned by analytical philosophy, I wonder whether the cure would be worse than the disease??
    In fact, I only use ordinary language to expose the errors of dialectics. I am not advocating any philosophy at all.

    I’m certainly no expert, but I did major in philosophy years ago and remember being repulsed by the dry, reactionary nature of much analytical philosophy. E.g. What could be more conservative than ‘ordinary language’ philosophy?
    I find it the exact opposite -- it get's results, and it deflates the pretensions of traditional philosophy.

    And far from it being conservative, it is the exact opposite once more -- deflating ruling-class forms of thought that have dominated theory for over 2000 years.

    Whilst I reject the farcical hypostisation of the ‘Laws Of Dialectics’ onto the realm of nature and logic, in the socio-political realm I think that a dialectical approach, which emphasizes the fluid, dynamic character of social reality can be useful. More useful, perhaps, than an approach which reifies the fixed categories of formal logic onto social categories. In revolutionary practice, A may indeed become not A.
    Why do we need Hegel to tell us that things change? Ordinary language contains countless words that can be used to depict and understand change, and they do it in far greater detail, clarity and precision than any of the obscure jargon Hegel invented to fix something that wasn't broken.

    Human beings have thus been able to talk about all manner of changes since language was invented.

    And even Aristotle knew that A can change into not A.

    In fact, if dialectics were true, change could not happen; proof here:

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/...Explain-Change

    [To access this link precisely, you will need to copy it into your address bar; the anonymiser RevLeft uses does not recognise # sub-links.]

    Formal logic does not operate with fixed categories; that is a myth put about by dialecticians. most of whom have never even consulted a logic text, but copy this myth unchecked from year to year. Logic in fact uses variables; Aristotle invented these 2000 years before Descartes introduced them into mathematics.

    Modern formal logic is even better at coping with change.

    In this regard, I think the critique of analytical philosophy of Marcuse in ‘One Dimensional Man’ is still of relevance.
    In fact, this is one of the worst things Marcuse ever wrote. I will be publishing an Essay on Mind, Language and Cognition in a week or so, and it contains a section on Marcuse. Here is a sneak preview (which contains links to my other Essays which deal with specific points critics of Wittgenstein raise, many of which I have inserted into this passage):

    One Dimensional Thought

    An equally crass attempt to come to grips with Wittgenstein's work (and with Ordinary Language Philosophy [OLP] in general) can be found in Chapter Seven of Marcuse's One Dimensional Man. [Marcuse (1968).]

    Marcuse does not tell us that he lifted many of his criticisms from Ernest Gellner's notorious Words and Things [i.e., Gellner (1959)] (except that in note 2 page 141, he acknowledges that similar ideas appear in the latter work), but it is plain that he has.

    [Gellner's diatribe will not be examined in this Essay; on this egregious book, see Uschanov (2002), with a lengthier version of this article, here).]

    Marcuse begins with a hackneyed criticism of OLP and Wittgenstein:

    "Austin's contemptuous treatment of the alternatives to the common usage of words, and his defamation of what we 'think up in our armchairs of an afternoon'; Wittgenstein's assurance that philosophy 'leaves everything as it is' -- such statements exhibit, to my mind, academic sado-masochism, self-humiliation, and self-denunciation of the intellectual whose labour does not issue in scientific, technical or like achievements. These affirmations of modesty and dependence seem to recapture Hume's mood of righteous contentment with the limitations of reason which, once recognized and accepted, protect man from useless mental adventures but leave him perfectly capable of orienting himself in the given environment. However, when Hume debunked substances, he fought a powerful ideology, while his successors today provide an intellectual justification for that which society has long since accomplished-namely, the defamation of alternative modes of thought which contradict the established universe of discourse."
    Added in a footnote:

    "The proposition that philosophy leaves everything as it is may be true in the context of Marx's Theses on Feuerbach (where it is at the same time denied), or as self-characterization of neo-positivism, but as a general proposition on philosophic thought it is incorrect." [Marcuse (1968), pp.141-42. Quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted at my site. Spelling corrected to conform to UK English. I have used the on-line text here, and have corrected any typographical errors I managed to spot. The same is true of the other quotations from this book used below.]
    I will not try to defend John Austin here (that will be done in a later Essay), but Marcuse clearly failed to note that Wittgenstein is here speaking of philosophy as he practices it, not as it is traditionally carried out. Moreover, in view of the fact that traditional Philosophy is little more than self-important hot air (on this, see Essay Twelve Part One), except negatively, it cannot change anything, anyway. Moreover, as the context indicates, Wittgenstein is saying that Philosophy cannot change language.

    Furthermore, Wittgenstein is not advocating "conformism", as Marcuse alleges. It is no more philosophy's goal to challenge the status quo than it is the role of basket weaving. Alongside Marx, Wittgenstein would have argued that the point is in fact to change the world, not build empty/non-sensical theories about it. Change is the concern of political action, science and technology, not Philosophy. One only has to read the conversations between Wittgenstein and those he gathered around him to see that he was not a political quietist. [On that, see here.]

    Now, in line with the traditional contempt shown toward the vernacular and the thought of ordinary workers, Marcuse argues:

    "Throughout the work of the linguistic analysts, there is this familiarity with the chap on the street whose talk plays such a leading role in linguistic philosophy. The chumminess of speech is essential inasmuch as it excludes from the beginning the high-brow vocabulary of 'metaphysics;' it militates against intelligent non-conformity; it ridicules the egghead. The language of John Doe and Richard Roe is the language which the man on the street actually speaks; it is the language which expresses his behaviour; it is therefore the token of concreteness. However, it is also the token of a false concreteness. The language which provides most of the material for the analysis is a purged language, purged not only of its 'unorthodox' vocabulary, but also of the means for expressing any other contents than those furnished to the individuals by their society. The linguistic analyst finds this purged language an accomplished fact, and he takes the impoverished language as he finds it, insulating it from that which is not expressed in it although it enters the established universe of discourse as element and factor of meaning.

    "Paying respect to the prevailing variety of meanings and usages, to the power and common sense of ordinary speech, while blocking (as extraneous material) analysis of what this speech says about the society that speaks it, linguistic philosophy suppresses once more what is continually suppressed in this universe of discourse and behaviour. The authority of philosophy gives its blessing to the forces which make this universe. Linguistic analysis abstracts from what ordinary language reveals in speaking as it does-the mutilation of man and nature." [Ibid., pp.142-43.]
    It is quite plain that Marcuse prefers the obscure and impenetrable jargon of ruling-class hacks to that of ordinary workers, and it is not hard to see why. As was alleged above, Marcuse all but concedes here that it is impossible to derive the obscure theses of traditional Philosophy if theorists use only the vernacular. That is why he complains that the language used by Wittgenstein and others has been "purged" of the jargon traditionalists like Marcuse prefer, preventing them from attempting their verbal tricks.

    It is also worth pointing out that, in line with many others, Marcuse has confused ordinary language with "common sense". As we saw here, these are not at all the same. [On this, see also Hallett (2008), pp.91-99.] In addition, he wrong in what he says about "boffins" -- in fact, all my years of studying OLP texts, I have yet to encounter anything that remotely suggests this reading. In that case, it is worth noting that Marcuse does not quote a single passage in support of this allegation.

    What of this, though?

    "Moreover, all too often it is not even the ordinary language which guides the analysis, but rather blown-up atoms of language, silly scraps of speech that sound like baby talk such as 'This looks to me now like a man eating poppies,' 'He saw a robin', 'I had a hat.' Wittgenstein devotes much acumen and spare to the analysis of 'My broom is in the corner.'" [Ibid., p.143.]
    But, does Marcuse take Hegel to task for his use of "The rose is red", or Lenin for his "John is a man"? Not a bit of it. Indeed, he plainly misses the point of using such simple language -- if we can't get this right, we stand no chance with more complex propositions. And, as we have seen (for example, here), dialecticians cannot even get "John is a man" right! Which rather makes the point, one feels.

    Except, Marcuse has an answer to this:

    "To take another illustration: sentences such as 'my broom is in the corner' might also occur in Hegel's Logic, but there they would be revealed as inappropriate or even false examples. They would only be rejects, to be surpassed by a discourse which, in its concepts, style, and syntax, is of a different order -- a discourse for which it is by no means 'clear that every sentence in our language "is in order as it is,"' Rather the exact opposite is the case-namely, that every sentence is as little in order as the world is which this language communicates." [Ibid., p.144.]
    But, if that is so, then the ordinary words Marcuse himself uses are not "in order", either, and we cannot take what he says at face value. [But is there any other, deeper significance to them?] We have already seen that attempts to argue that ordinary language is in some way (or in any way) defective back-fire on those making such rash allegations. And now we see here the same, for if Marcuse's words are not "in order", what can they possibly mean? Indeed, only if they are in "perfect order", can we appreciate his point. As he notes on the same page:

    "Thus the analysis does not terminate in the universe of ordinary discourse, it goes beyond it and opens a qualitatively different universe, the terms of which may even contradict the ordinary one." [Ibid., p.144.]
    Except that here the tables are turned on Marcuse, for if we analyse his words we can see that if he is correct, then his words in fact say the opposite of what he intended: if they are in the "right order", we can understand him. But, as soon as we understand him, we see that even his words are not in the "right order" (for he tells us that none are!), and thus they make no sense. Yet another ironic dialectical inversion here, one feels.

    And now we encounter once again the traditionalist's lament; Marcuse (quoting Wittgenstein):

    "The almost masochistic reduction of speech to the humble and common is made into a program: 'if the words "language", "experience", "world", have a use, it must be as humble a one as that of the words "table", "lamp", door."' We must 'stick to the subjects of our every-day thinking, and not go astray and imagine that we have to describe extreme subtleties...' -- as if this were the only alternative, and as if the 'extreme subtleties' were not the suitable term for Wittgenstein's language games rather than for Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Thinking (or at least its expression) is not only pressed into the straitjacket of common usage, but also enjoined not to ask and seek solutions beyond those that are already there. 'The problems are solved, not by giving new information, but by arranging what we have always known.'

    "The self-styled poverty of philosophy, committed with all its concepts to the given state of affairs, distrusts the possibility of a new experience. Subjection to the rule of the established fact is total -- only linguistic facts, to be sure, but the society speaks in its language, and we are told to obey. The prohibitions are severe and authoritarian: 'Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language.' 'And we may not advance any kind of theory. There must not be anything hypothetical in our considerations. We must do away with all explanation, and description alone must take its place.'

    "One might ask what remains of philosophy? What remains of thinking, intelligence, without anything hypothetical, without any explanation? However, what is at stake is not the definition or the dignity of philosophy. It is rather the chance of preserving and protecting the fight, the need to think and speak in terms other than those of common usage -- terms which are meaningful, rational, and valid precisely because they are other terms. What is involved is the spread of a new ideology which undertakes to describe what is happening (and meant) by eliminating the concepts capable of understanding what is happening (and meant)." [Ibid., pp.144-45.]
    Marcuse has worked himself up into a right old lather here, all the while missing the point. Once more: Wittgenstein is here speaking of his new approach to philosophy, which, if correct, means that the traditional forms-of-thought beloved of characters like Marcuse are simply "houses of cards". Wittgenstein is certainly not arguing against "anything hypothetical", or against "explanation" in other areas of theory (for example, in science). Once more, in his haste to malign Wittgenstein, Marcuse has taken a few swings at a straw man.

    And, far from this being true:

    "It is rather the chance of preserving and protecting the fight, the need to think and speak in terms other than those of common usage -- terms which are meaningful, rational, and valid precisely because they are other terms. What is involved is the spread of a new ideology which undertakes to describe what is happening (and meant) by eliminating the concepts capable of understanding what is happening (and meant)." [Ibid.]
    the opposite is in fact the case. The obscure terminology found in traditional thought, and particularly the impenetrable jargon Hegel inflicted on humanity, actually prevents us understanding the world. As I pointed out in Essay Twelve Part One, the influence of traditional Philosophy must be destroyed in order to facilitate the advance of scientific knowledge in general, and Marxism in particular. [Here, I am very loosely paraphrasing Kant!]

    Marcuse's failure to get the point is further underlined by this blindingly irrelevant comment:

    "To begin with, an irreducible difference exists between the universe of everyday thinking and language on the one side, and that of philosophic thinking and language on the other. In normal circumstances, ordinary language is indeed behavioural -- a practical instrument. When somebody actually says 'My broom is in the corner,' he probably intends that somebody else who had actually asked about the broom is going to take it or leave it there, is going to be satisfied, or angry. In any case, the sentence has fulfilled its function by causing a behavioural reaction: 'the effect devours the cause; the end absorbs the means.'" [Ibid., pp.145-46.]
    Marcuse clearly did not know, perhaps because of his characteristically sloppy research, that when Wittgenstein used the sentence "My broom is in the corner" [Wittgenstein (1958), §60, p.29.] he was in fact criticising a view he had adopted in the Tractatus -- about the nature of logically simple names, and the idea that a fact is a complex, etc. [Wittgenstein (1972), §2-3.263, pp.7-25, and §5.5423, p.111; on the background to this, see White (1974, 2006); see also Hallett (2008), pp.33-41]. Wittgenstein is here advancing a profound criticism of his earlier way of seeing things, and whether or not one agrees with Wittgenstein (before or after his change of mind. -- or at all!), the issues he raises are not of the everyday "behavioural" sort that Marcuse seems to think; in fact, they relate to the logical nature of propositions and how they can represent the world (that is, if they can). [These issues are considered in more detail in Essay Twelve Part One, and in subsequent Parts of that Essay.]

    "In contrast, if, in a philosophic text or discourse, the ward 'substance,' 'idea,' 'man,' 'alienation' becomes the subject of a proposition, no such transformation of meaning into a behavioural reaction takes place or is intended to take place. The word remains, as it were, unfulfilled -- except in thought, where it may give rise to other thoughts. And through a long series of mediations within a historical continuum, the proposition may help to form and guide a practice. But the proposition remains unfulfilled even then -- only the hubris of absolute idealism asserts the thesis of a final identity between thought and its object. The words with which philosophy is concerned can therefore never have a use 'as humble ... as that of the words "table", "lamp", "door"'.

    "Thus, exactness and clarity in philosophy cannot be attained within the universe of ordinary discourse. The philosophic concepts aim at a dimension of fact and meaning which elucidates the atomized phrases or words of ordinary discourse 'from without' by showing this 'without' as essential to the understanding of ordinary discourse. Or, if the universe of ordinary discourse itself becomes the object of philosophic analysis, the language of philosophy becomes a 'meta-language.' Even where it moves in the humble terms of ordinary discourse, it remains antagonistic. It dissolves the established experiential context of meaning into that of its reality; it abstracts from the immediate concreteness in order to attain true concreteness." [Ibid., p.146.]
    Once more, as we have seen, it is in fact the use of the obscure jargon found in traditional Philosophy that undermines clarity of thought. In which case, it is no surprise to discover that, far from constituting a "guide" to practice, dialectics has been refuted by it. [On this, see Essay Ten Part One.] And as far as 'abstraction' is concerned, Marcuse just helps himself to this word without any attempt to explain this obscure process, or show how it is even possible to 'abstract' anything at all [On this, see Essay Three Parts One and Two.]

    "Ordinary language in its 'humble use' may indeed be of vital concern to critical philosophic thought, but in the medium of this thought words lose their plain humility and reveal that 'hidden' something which is of no interest to Wittgenstein. Consider the analysis of the 'here' and 'now' in Hegel's Phenomenology, or...Lenin's suggestion on how to analyze adequately 'this glass of water' on the table. Such an analysis uncovers the history in every-day speech as a hidden dimension of meaning -- the rule of society over its language. And this discovery shatters the natural and reified form in which the given universe of discourse first appeals. The words reveal themselves as genuine terms not only in a grammatical and formal-logical but also material sense; namely, as the limits which define the meaning and its development -- the terms which society imposes on discourse, and on behaviour. This historical dimension of meaning can no longer be elucidated by examples such as 'my broom is in the corner' or 'there is cheese on the table.' To be sure, such statements can reveal many ambiguities, puzzles, oddities, but they are an in the same re language games and academic boredom." [Ibid., pp.147-48.]
    As we will see in Essay Twelve, Hegel's crass analysis of the spatial and temporal indexicals ("here" and "now") is not a flattering advertisement for the 'superiority' of 'dialectical logic'; we have already seen what a mess Lenin dropped himself into with his 'analysis' of glass tumblers (here). In which case, the alleged banalities of ordinary language are much to be preferred to the irredeemable confusion that flows from Hegel's Hermetic House of Horrors. Indeed, science has about as much to learn from this backwater of Neo-Platonic mysticism as it has from dowsing or crystal gazing.

    Moreover, it is revealing that Marcuse shows an unhealthy interest in what is "hidden", since we have already seen that it is a cornerstone of ruling-class ideology that there is indeed a "hidden" world behind "appearances", which is accessible to thought alone. Here, Marcuse reveals that he too, while pretending to be a radial, is a philosophical conservative. [On that, see the opening comments of Essay Two.]

    It would be tedious indeed to detail the many other confusions and errors this chapter of One Dimensional Man alone contains, so I will end with just two more examples (one taken from the next chapter, and one from earlier in the book):

    "The 'whole' that here comes to view must be cleared from all misunderstanding in terms of an independent entity, of a 'Gestalt,' and the like. The concept somehow expresses the difference and tension between potentiality and actuality -- identity in this difference. It appears in the relation between the qualities (white, hard; but also beautiful, free, just) and the corresponding concepts (whiteness, hardness, beauty, freedom, justice). The abstract character of the latter seems to designate the more concrete qualities as part-realizations, aspects, manifestations of a more universal and more 'excellent' quality, which is experienced in the concrete.

    "And by virtue of this relation, the concrete quality seems to represent a negation as well as realization of the universal. Snow is white but not 'whiteness;' a girl may be beautiful, even a beauty, but not 'beauty;' a country may be free (in comparison with others) because its people have certain liberties, but it is not the very embodiment of freedom. Moreover, the concepts are meaningful only in experienced contrast with their opposites: white with not white, beautiful with not beautiful. Negative statements can sometimes be translated into positive ones: 'black' or 'grey' for 'not white,' 'ugly' for 'not beautiful.'

    "These formulations do not alter the relation between the abstract concept and its concrete realizations: the universal concept denotes that which the particular entity is, and is not. The translation can eliminate the hidden negation by reformulating the meaning in a non-contradictory proposition, but the untranslated statement suggests a real want. There is more in the abstract noun (beauty, freedom) than in the qualities ('beautiful,' 'free') attributed to the particular person, thing or condition. The substantive universal intends qualities which surpass all particular experience, but persist in the mind, not as a figment of imagination nor as more logical possibilities but as the 'stuff' of which our world consists. No snow is pure white, nor is any cruel beast or man an the cruelty man knows -- knows as an almost inexhaustible force in history and imagination." [Ibid., pp.168-69.]
    This is a faint echo of Hegel's reference to Spinoza's Greedy Principle [SGP] (so-called in Essay Eleven Part Two) -- i.e., "All determination is also a negation". But this is an unreliable principle (even if sense can be made of it), not least because it confuses what we do with words with the devices and/or means by which we do it. Of course, that is about as brainless as confusing, say, a holiday with the aeroplane we board in order to begin it, or a map with a trek in the hills! [The other serious weaknesses of the SGP are outlined in Essay Eight Part Three.]

    But, ignoring the fact that Marcuse confuses concepts with words, it is not even true that:

    "the concepts are meaningful only in experienced contrast with their opposites: white with not white, beautiful with not beautiful. Negative statements can sometimes be translated into positive ones: 'black' or 'grey' for 'not white,' 'ugly' for 'not beautiful.'" [Ibid.]
    Colour concepts are meaningful, among other things, because of the colour octahedron not because we have met in experience "not-white" (or whatever). If someone has no understanding of colour words, they can swim in "not-white" all day long for all the good it will do them.

    But, the above errors are connected with much deeper logical issues; this brings us to the final passage from One Dimensional Man I propose to discuss here:

    "In the classical logic, the judgment which constituted the original core of dialectical thought was formalised in the propositional form, 'S is p.' But this form conceals rather than reveals the basic dialectical proposition, which states the negative character of the empirical reality. Judged in the light of their essence and idea, men and things exist as other than they are; consequently thought contradicts that which is (given), opposes its truth to that of the given reality. The truth envisaged by thought is the Idea. As such it is, in terms of the given reality, 'mere' Idea, 'mere' essence -- potentiality.

    "But the essential potentiality is not like the many possibilities which are contained in the given universe of discourse and action; the essential potentiality is of a very different order. Its realisation involves subversion of the established order, for thinking in accordance with truth is the commitment to exist in accordance with truth. (In Plato, the extreme concepts which illustrate this subversion are: death as the beginning of the philosopher's life, and the violent liberation from the Cave.) Thus, the subversive character of truth inflicts upon thought an imperative quality. Logic centres on judgments which are, as demonstrative propositions, imperatives, -- the predicative 'is' implies an 'ought'.

    "This contradictory, two-dimensional style of thought is the inner form not only of dialectical logic but of all philosophy which comes to grips with reality. The propositions which define reality affirm as true something that is not (immediately) the case; thus they contradict that which is the case, and they deny its truth. The affirmative judgment contains a negation which disappears in the propositional form (S is p). For example, 'virtue is knowledge'; 'justice is that state in which everyone performs the function for which his nature is best suited'; 'the perfectly real is the perfectly knowable'...; 'man is free'; 'the State is the reality of Reason.'

    "If these propositions are to be true, then the copula 'is' states an 'ought,' a desideratum. It judges conditions in which virtue is not knowledge, in which men do not perform the function for which their nature best suits them, in which they are not free, etc. Or, the categorical S-p form states that (S) is not (S); (S) is defined as other-than-itself. Verification of the proposition involves a process in fact as well as in thought: (S) must become that which it is. The categorical statement thus turns into a categorical imperative; it does not state a fact but the necessity to bring about a fact. For example, it could be read as follows: man is not (in fact) free, endowed with inalienable rights, etc., but he ought to be, because be is free in the eyes of God, by nature, etc." [Ibid., pp.110-11.]
    We have already seen that dialecticians have bought into a defective theory of predication, so it is no surprise to see Marcuse follow suite. His claim that the traditional logic of subject (S) and predicate (P) "conceals rather than reveals the basic dialectical proposition, which states the negative character of the empirical reality" may or may not be true --, but if it is, then it is all to the good since "reality" has neither a "negative" nor a positive "character". In fact, it is only because Marcuse has considered a very narrow range of examples that his assertions here might seem (to some) to be reliable. As was noted in Essay Three Part One:

    For example, how would the following be classified?

    H1: Every sailor loves a girl who reminds him of anyone other than his mother.

    H2: Anyone who knows Marx's work will also know that he is second to none in his analysis of all the economic forces operating in Capitalism, and most of those constitutive of other Modes of Production.

    H3: Any prime factor of an even number between two and one hundred is less than a composite number not equal to but greater than fifty.

    H4: Some who admire most of those who do not despise themselves often avoid sitting opposite any who criticise those who claim membership of the minority break-away faction of the Socrates Appreciation Society.

    H5: Today, Blair met some of those who think his policy in Iraq is a betrayal of his few remaining socialist principles.

    Are these universal, particular, negative, or positive? Are they judgements or propositions? But these sort of propositions (and worse!) appear in mathematics and the sciences all the time (to say nothing of everyday speech). Indeed, the serious limitations of the restrictive old logic, with its incapacity to handle complex sentences in mathematics, inspired Frege to recast the entire discipline in its modern form. [On this, see Essay Four.]
    Some might argue that these are not the sort of "judgements" traditional' logic concerned itself with; but that is precisely the point. It is only because Marcuse, along with other dialecticians, relied on a bowdlerised form of Aristotle's logic, that his argument can seem to gain even a slender toe-hold.

    However, let us assume that Marcuse's analysis is impeccable -- even then what Marcuse alleges is still incorrect:

    "In the classical logic, the judgment which constituted the original core of dialectical thought was formalised in the propositional form, 'S is p.' But this form conceals rather than reveals the basic dialectical proposition, which states the negative character of the empirical reality. Judged in the light of their essence and idea, men and things exist as other than they are; consequently thought contradicts that which is (given), opposes its truth to that of the given reality. The truth envisaged by thought is the Idea. As such it is, in terms of the given reality, 'mere' Idea, 'mere' essence -- potentiality.

    "...Or, the categorical S-p form states that (S) is not (S); (S) is defined as other-than-itself. Verification of the proposition involves a process in fact as well as in thought: (S) must become that which it is. The categorical statement thus turns into a categorical imperative; it does not state a fact but the necessity to bring about a fact. For example, it could be read as follows: man is not (in fact) free, endowed with inalienable rights, etc., but he ought to be, because be is free in the eyes of God, by nature, etc." [Ibid.]
    But, this depends on "men and things" having an essence, which Marcuse simply takes for granted. Of course, to mystics like Hegel and Aristotle, it seemed clear that "men and things" did indeed have an "essence", but that was just another example of "ruling-class" ideology dominating their thought. But, even if this allegation is itself incorrect, what is Marcuse going to say about propositions like these?

    M1: Man is mortal.

    M2: Things are material.

    Do these "oppose" the "truth of reality"? Are we to assume that "men" are "really" immortal (and that they "oughtn't" be like this)? Or that "things" are in "reality" non-material (and that there is an "imperative" here which means that we should struggle to make them material)? If not, then Marcuse analysis cannot be relied on to reveal truth consistently, which fact should not surprise us in view of the preceding paragraphs -- that is, in view of the defective logic from which Marcuse trawled most of his opinions.

    It is time to leave this victim of ruling-class confusion, and turn to others who have similarly drifted into deep waters, in a boat that has a Hermetically-holed hull and with only a dialectically-damaged paddle to steer them.
    References, other links and explanations of the technical terms used can be found here.

    You eschew ‘Academic Marxism” but is this not the terrain on which your battles would most appropriately be fought ?? Not many workers would have the time or resources to gain the relevant background in both DiaMat and Analytical philosophy to compete with a postgraduate philosopher.
    My aim is to influence revolutionary Marxism, not the useless and sterile version found in academia. And I do not wish to 'compete' with ordinary workers, but with comrades who have allowed the Hermetic virus to enter their skulls.

    Wherever possible I have endeavoured to keep my exposition as simple and clear as possible so that any workers who stray onto my site can follow much of what I say. To that end, my work has been re-written many scores of times (no exaggeration) over the last ten years, and this will continue for at least another ten.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 3rd December 2008 at 12:09.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    BenHur:



    Unfortunately for you, there are pink, blue and cream coloured roses.

    So, "The rose is red" is a description.
    You're missing the point, or maybe, evading it on purpose, as you usually do. The rose, which is red (or any other color), cannot be separated from its attribute (redness or any other color). So to call it a description would be ridiculous. It's a clear case of identity.

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    BenHur:

    You're missing the point, or maybe, evading it on purpose, as you usually do. The rose, which is red (or any other color), cannot be separated from its attribute (redness or any other color). So to call it a description would be ridiculous. It's a clear case of identity.
    On the contrary, I know exactly what the point is, and I reject this crazy analysis of the copula "is" -- that is, that it is always an expression of identity.

    Anyway, what has whether we can 'separate' roses from their attributes got to do with whether this is an identity?

    If you must talk this way, we can't 'separate' a description from that of which it is the description, either.

    So, 'separation' can't tell which sort of "is" this is.

    How we use it can.

    Hence, if asked to describe a rose, the reply "That rose is red" would be counted as a paradigm example of a description.

    If asked to identify a rose "That is a rose" would count as an identity statement.

    From this alone we can see that the sentence "The rose is red" is descriptive, and not even close to an identity statement.

    But, even if you were right, why is this a 'contradiction', as opposed to it being merely false -- in view of the fact that roses are not identical with red?

    Or, indeed, why is this not just unvarnished nonsense, in view of the fact that only an idiot would think that roses are identical with colours.

    Moreover, you are going to find it very difficult to explain the nature of the extra "is" in this statement;

    A1: "The rose is identical with red."

    If "is" is always an is of identity, and stands for "is identical with", then this follows:

    A2: "The rose is identical with identical with red",

    as the underlined "is" in A1 is replaced with an "is identical with".

    And, from A2 we would obtain:

    A2: "The rose is identical with identical with red",

    A3: "The rose is identical with identical with jdentical with red",

    as the underlined "is" is again replaced with what we are told it means, "is identical with".

    Well, we can see where this crazy 'logic' is taking us, I think.

    Aristotle avoided this by a simple device; preserving the descriptive role of the predicative use of the copula "is", he would have paraphrased it as follows:

    A4: Red applies to the rose.

    But, we do not even need this. If asked to describe the colour of a certain rose, even you would respond "The rose is red."

    Once more, common sense and ordinary language would win out over the crazy Identity Theory of Predication (invented by ruling-class Roman Catholic theologians in the Middle Ages to help them analyse the divine attributes).

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    Rosa,
    Thanks for the sneak preview re your Marcuse critique, which I have yet to fully absorb.
    But, re:

    Wittgenstein would have argued that the point is in fact to change the world
    I hardly think that philosophy as ‘therapy’ which ‘leaves the world as it is’ amounts to an attempt to change the world, other than to make one resigned to one’s position within the system whilst sipping cups of tea, strolling the dog and doing the morning crossword...

    The problem with OLP as I see it is that if the meaning of words is defined by linguistic etiquette and ordinary usage, the possibilities for envisioning alternate futures are constrained. If the language, habits and conventions of a socialist society do not yet exist, how can they meaningfully be discussed if their coherence is prescribed by ‘ordinary usage’?

    Whilst Engels made the mistake of trying to apply Dialectics to natural science and Marxism-Leninism compounded this error by giving it the status of an absolute truth, once stripped of its mystical obscurantism a dialectical approach is I think a useful tool in characterising the dynamic interplay of consciousness and and productive forces.

    Whilst this dynamic could also be described by analytical approaches, at the ideological level a dialectical approach has more revolutionary potential than one which 'leaves the world as it is'.

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    Dleoinist:

    I hardly think that philosophy as ‘therapy’ which ‘leaves the world as it is’ amounts to an attempt to change the world, other than to make one resigned to one’s position within the system whilst sipping cups of tea, strolling the dog and doing the morning crossword...
    Well, that is not a quotation from Wittgenstein.

    What he said was this:

    “Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it.

    “For it cannot give it any foundation either.

    “It leaves everything as it is.” [Philosophical Investigations #124.]
    As you can see, the "everything" refers to language, not the world.

    Now, we would get quite annoyed with anyone who misquoted Marx, so please try and get Wittgenstein right.

    The problem with OLP as I see it is that if the meaning of words is defined by linguistic etiquette and ordinary usage, the possibilities for envisioning alternate futures are constrained. If the language, habits and conventions of a socialist society do not yet exist, how can they meaningfully be discussed if their coherence is prescribed by ‘ordinary usage’?
    I deal with this in the passage you have yet to read.

    The problem is that philosophers take ordinary words, misuse them, and then think that they have made a deep point about "mind" or "Being", when all they have done is build a few castles in the air out of figments of their own imagination.

    Wittgensteinian OLP does not in fact argue that there are or should be no other uses of language, only that philosophical language is just hot air, and can be shown to be hot air.

    Whilst Engels made the mistake of trying to apply Dialectics to natural science and Marxism-Leninism compounded this error by giving it the status of an absolute truth, once stripped of its mystical obscurantism a dialectical approach is I think a useful tool in characterising the dynamic interplay of consciousness and and productive forces.

    Whilst this dynamic could also be described by analytical approaches, at the ideological level a dialectical approach has more revolutionary potential than one which 'leaves the world as it is'.
    Unfortunately the entire dialectical process is based on a series of logical blunders that Hegel committed, and nothing more -- and so it can reveal nothing of what you say.

    I have summarised these errors here:

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

    In fact, ordinary language (coupled with that of the sciences and Historical Materialism) is far better equipped to do the above job than is dialectics.

    Indeed, if dialectics were true, it is possible to show that change would be impossible -- and that if there is a dynamic you say, dialectics could not account for it.

    You can find a brief outline of that proof here:

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.p...&postcount=360

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.p...&postcount=361

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.p...&postcount=362

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.p...4&postcount=14

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    Rosa

    Sorry for the misquote of Wittgenstein, though I’m not sure that, or your essay, changes my point.

    If philosophy - or any other critical activity - leaves language as it is and can only ever be descriptive activities of ‘language games’, how can the opportunity to demolish the existing rules of discourse arise?

    Having said that, I was a bit stunned when I read your posts that it had ever been conceived that ordinary language philosophy could be harnessed for radical purposes. I had always seen it as the preserve of chummy Oxford chaps bent on ensuring that nothing could disturb their humdrum, middle class suburban sensibilities.

    I’m not yet convinced that it can be harnessed for such purposes, but my curiousity has been piqued enough that I intend to read some more in this area. If OLP can bolster Marxism, so much the better for Marxism. So;

    Viva La Revolution!

    Viva La J.L. Austin!

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    DeLeonist:

    If philosophy - or any other critical activity - leaves language as it is and can only ever be descriptive activities of ‘language games’, how can the opportunity to demolish the existing rules of discourse arise?
    You must recall that Wittgenstein used the word 'philosophy' in two senses: 1) to describe traditional philosophy, and 2) to introduce his new concept of this word.

    Philosophy in sense 1) can't change language since it is an entirely bogus affair. In sense 2) it operates to free our thought of its confusions.

    Now, the 'existing rules of discourse' are either those which relate to a) ordinary language, b) scientific language, c) traditional thought, d) political and social discourse (I am not suggesting this is an exhaustive list).

    Now, Wittgenstein is not suggesting that other critical activities cannot affect these (except a) is permanently off limits for reasons I won't go into); indeed, he took several of his 'disciples' to task for thinking that philosophy in sense 2) cannot help clarify our thought in areas b) and d).

    As far as c) is concerned, my own work, for instance, is a good example of this -- except I largely confine my critique to 'dialectics', but it would be very easy for me to extend it into every other area of traditional thought.

    Now, Wittgenstein thought that philosophy in both senses cannot affect ordinary language, but in sense 2) it can affect the language traditional philosophers use, by showing it was all just hot air. Since traditional philosophy has been, and still is to some extent, the backbone of ruling-class ideology and political theory, Wittgenstein's critique can help unmasked their ideological pretensions.

    Again, my work is aimed at that end.

    Of course, critical work in other areas can indeed also demolish other ideologies -- Wittgenstein not only did not rule that out, he actively encouraged his 'followers' to engage in it.

    So, I am afraid you have been sold a bill of goods here in relation to Wittgenstein.

    His very clear critical and left-wing leanings are detailed in this essay of mine:

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

    Having said that, I was a bit stunned when I read your posts that it had ever been conceived that ordinary language philosophy could be harnessed for radical purposes. I had always seen it as the preserve of chummy Oxford chaps bent on ensuring that nothing could disturb their humdrum, middle class suburban sensibilities.
    Virtually every OLP-er at Oxford and Cambridge, and elsewhere, was a socialist or a Marxist (there were, however, notable exceptions). Even today, although this is much less true, many still are left-leaning.

    So, how and why this myth grew I have no idea.

    I’m not yet convinced that it can be harnessed for such purposes, but my curiosity has been piqued enough that I intend to read some more in this area. If OLP can bolster Marxism, so much the better for Marxism.
    Well, I certainly use it to that end. Ordinary language is after all the language of workers -- which is why Wittgenstein defended it (although he might not have put it that way!).

    I will be devoting an essay to this exact topic in the next year or so, demonstrating that the defence of ordinary language is a class issue, in view of the fact that traditional ruling-class thinkers have almost en masse attacked it for over 2000 years.

    A sneak preview of my argument can be found here:

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

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    Rosa, Re:

    Now, the 'existing rules of discourse' are either those which relate to a) ordinary language, b) scientific language, c) traditional thought, d) political and social discourse (I am not suggesting this is an exhaustive list).

    Now, Wittgenstein is not suggesting that other critical activities cannot affect these (except a) is permanently off limits for reasons I won't go into); indeed, he took several of his 'disciples' to task for thinking that philosophy in sense 2) cannot help clarify our thought in areas b) and d).
    The problem here, as I see it, is that (c) and (d) permeate (a). Aspects of ordinary language relating to things such as work, leisure, family, entertainment, church, government and so forth are imbued with ruling class ideiology. "The personal is political", as the saying goes.

    So it seems to me that if (a) is permanently off limits to criticism, so too are large chunks of the ideology of the ruling class.

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    Deleonist:

    The problem here, as I see it, is that (c) and (d) permeate (a). Aspects of ordinary language relating to things such as work, leisure, family, entertainment, church, government and so forth are imbued with ruling class ideiology. "The personal is political", as the saying goes.
    But you have yet to explain how they affect ordinary language.

    Here is how I explained this in one of my essays:

    Admittedly, ordinary language may be used to express the most patent of falsehoods and the most regressive of doctrines, but it cannot itself be affected by "false consciousness" (and this is not the least because the notion of "false consciousness" is foreign to Marx; on that see here), or itself be "ideological".

    Without doubt, everyday sentences can express all manner of backward, racist, sexist and ideologically-compromised ideas, but this is not the fault of the medium in which these are expressed, any more than it is the fault of, say, a computer if it is used to post racist bile on a web page. Ideologically-tainted ideas expressed in ordinary language result either from its misuse or from the employment of specialised terminology borrowed from religious dogma, sexist beliefs, racist theories and superstitious ideas. This is not to suggest that ordinary humans do not, or cannot, speak in such backward ways; but these are dependent on the latter being expressed in ordinary language, but are not dependent on that language itself.

    It is worth pointing out at this stage that this defence of ordinary language is not being advanced dogmatically. Every user of the vernacular knows it to be true since they know that for each and every sexist, racist and ideologically-compromised sentence expressible in ordinary language there exists its negation.

    This is why socialists can say such things as: "Blacks are not inferior"; "Human beings are not selfish"; "Wages are not fair", "Women are not objects", "Belief in the after-life is baseless" -- and still be understood, even by those still in thrall to such ideas, but who might take an opposite view. If ordinary language were identical with 'commonsense' -- and if it were ideological (per se), in the way that some imagine -- you just could not say such things. We all know this to be true -- certainly, socialists should know this --, because in our practical discourse we manage to deny such things every day.
    So, I do not see how your comment affects what I have said. In opposing the ideologies you mention, we are not criticising ordinary language but using it to deny such beliefs. In the process of which ordinary languge remains unaffected.

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    Hmmm, I think I'm starting to see where you're coming from.

    To get more of an idea of this approach (and it's potential revolutionary applications) would you recommend reading the later Wittgenstein or OLP philosophers such as Austin?

    As an aside, I though that many contemporary analytic philosophers regarded OLP as wrong-headed as the Hegelian Dialectic, as they believe there are some genuine philosophcial problems (such as the 'hard problem' of consciousness) which cannot be simply linguistically anlaysed away??

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    Wittgenstein is easy to read in one sense, but in another not so -- one has to do an awful lot of preparation to see where he is coming from, what he is on about, and why he says what he says. In that case, he is often left to 3rd year undergraduates and postgrads to study -- he is too difficult and frustrating to inflict on earlier students

    The best thing to do is read introductions to his ideas first -- Anthony Kenny's is still the best.

    I'd steer clear of Austin -- he'll drive you mad!

    And you are right, the vast majority of analytic philosophers thought OLP a complete wrong turn in philosophy.

    But, you have to recall that there are scores of different wings of analytic philosophy -- ranging from the Quineans (who think that philosophy is or should be just an extension to science, and so look to the latter to solve the problems you mention), right through to what is now a tiny minority who use Wittgenstein's work to show that these 'problems' are a reflection of our misuse of language.

    A very good representative of the 'new' Wittgensteinians is Rupert Read, a very active Green Party local councillor (indeed, he is going to stand as a European Parliamentary candidate I believe). Many of his essays are on-line, and well worth reading:

    http://www.uea.ac.uk/~j339/publications.htm

    An excellent 'older' Wittgensteinian is Guy Robinson, who is also a Marxist. His essays (and his book Philosophy and Mystification) I cannot recommend too highly:

    http://www.guyrobinson.net/

    In fact, he accepts a limited form of the 'dialectic'.

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    Thanks for the references, I'll check them out.

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