Historical Materialist Dialectics

DaVinci vitruviawith_pyramid

Question “The only experience that I have with dialectics is a horrible essay that I had to write at university about Mozart and Beethoven. I’ve never really understood what dialectics means, except that it’s a great word to use when pretending to be intellectual over a cup of coffee. Most other people don’t really seem to understand the concept either, but would prefer not to admit it. I know this as I regularly drop it into conversations and no one has pulled me up on it yet.. see emperor’s new clothes post!”

Dialectics – What is it, what are examples of it?

by Keza 2004

I mentioned in The relation between materialism and idealism topic that materialist philosopher Daniel Dennett doesn’t mention the word dialectics – so in reading Dennett I’ve been looking out for what language he uses when describing concepts that are dialectical.

I’ve found one instance – he uses words like paradoxical to describe the problem and then in detailing his solution says things like, “this is not paradoxical at all”

An example is that Mother Nature / Evolution has no foresight and yet has managed to create humans who have foresight.

• Re: progress and dialectics

Posted by keza at 2004-12-28

The best laid plans of mice and men…. if practically everything that we do results in something not intended then why do we plan, why do we struggle, why do we try to move the world in a certain direction?

When Engels wrote that consciously willed actions often result in quite unintended consequences I think he was disputing the Hegelian idea that history is “the gradual realisation of ideas”. His point was that what happens in history comes about not as a direct result of abstract ideas, wishes, intentions (and so on) but is governed by ‘inner laws’ – ie what is possible (and therefore real and rational) in a given epoch. Movements don’t arise just because someone comes up with a good or bad) idea and manages to convince lots of people to follow them. Movements for change arise out of material conditions – the possibility for change is present and that opportunity is seized. The ideology in which the movement is clothed is (somewhat) secondary.

“The distinction should always be made between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production … and the legal, political, religious, aesthetic or philosophic — in short, ideological — forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out.”

karl-marx

Marx: Contribution to the Critique of Political Philosophy (1859)

An example is the idea of “equality” in the bourgeois democratic revolution. The idea that “all men are created equal” stood in direct opposition to the feudal belief that all men are most definitely not created equal. The growth of capitalism made it not only possible but also necessary for the idea that rulers are made rather than born to take hold. Thus on a conscious level the motivation for bourgeois revolution was belief in ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’ but at a more fundamental level, the revolution was driven by the necessity to liberate the productive forces from the constraints of feudalism. That reason (or motivation) was only dimly appreciated however.

engels

Friedrich Engels wrote in 1893 that:

“Ideology is a process accomplished by the so-called thinker. Consciously, it is true, but with a false consciousness. The real motive forces impelling him remain unknown to him; otherwise it simply would not be an ideological process. Hence he imagines false or seeming motive forces.

I don’t think this means that bourgeois revolutionaries didn’t really believe in liberty, equality, fraternity – or that the battles they fought weren’t really for these things. We all know (except perhaps for the pseudo left) that as a result of the democratic revolution we have freedoms and rights that were hardly even dreamed of previously. However the ideas themselves weren’t the driving force – these ideas could only take hold because the material conditions were crying out for them (so to speak).

I think what bothers a lot of people is the feeling that perhaps this means that what they as individuals actually do doesn’t really matter – that somehow we are all carried along by a tide of “underlying forces” , that we are seized by ideas rather than seizing them ourselves etc etc. Engels refuted this when he said “freedom is the recognition of necessity” (Anti Duhring?) … once we come to understand “how things work” – “the rules of the game” then we do have a real chance of using our understanding to influence the course of history. Engels’ Letter to Franz Mehring in Berlin is interesting in this respect.”

He starts by pointing out that both he and Marx tended to neglect the role of ideas/ consciousness in bringing about change…

“Marx and I always failed to stress enough in our writings and in regard to which we are all equally guilty. That is to say, we all laid, and were bound to lay, the main emphasis, in the first place, on the derivation of political, juridical and other ideological notions, and of actions arising through the medium of these notions, from basic economic facts. But in so doing we neglected the formal side – the ways and means by which these notions, etc., come about – for the sake of the content. This has given our adversaries a welcome opportunity for misunderstandings and distortions…..”

and later:

“Hanging together with this is the fatuous notion of the ideologists that because we deny an independent historical development to the various ideological spheres which play a part in history we also deny them any effect upon history. The basis of this is the common undialectical conception of cause and effect as rigidly opposite poles, the total disregarding of interaction. These gentlemen often almost deliberately forget that once an historic element has been brought into the world by other, ultimately economic causes, it reacts, can react on its environment and even on the causes that have given rise to it.”

No time to write any more now!! I’ll finish with a quote I quite like though:

“Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like an Alp on the brains of the living…. “
(Marx: The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napolean)

end Keza

Posted by kerrb at 2004-12-19 01:54 AM

More about the usefulness of dialectics, being a bit more specific about it than in my previous reply to sally.

1) socialist / not socialist dialectic

A few years ago (maybe 20) I went to a debate where someone from the pro-Soviet so called communist party was arguing that the Soviet Union was still a socialist country. This person was so wrapped up in the details and scope of his argument that I could see that no single point could be made in question time that could possibly persuade him that he might be wrong. I wanted to support the case that the Soviet Union wasn’t socialist and so was racking my brains for a question that might get through, if not to the speaker, then at least to the audience.

What I thought of and asked the pro-Soviet speaker was: ” Are there any possible circumstances that might arise in the future which would persuade you that the Soviet Union was no longer socialist?”

To the amusement and bemusement of some of the audience, he replied, “No, the Soviet Union will always be socialist”

2) progressive / reactionary dialectic

I think a similar sort of point can be made to the pseudo-left in connection to the US invasion of Iraq.

In my view it’s pretty straightforward that the US has led a campaign to overthrow the fascist government of Saddam Hussein and is now proceeding to help Iraqis create a democratic government. That has to be progressive.

Because historically US Imperialism has been very reactionary, as exemplified by the Vietnam war and much more, there are now many people in the world who seem incapable of conceptualising that the US could possibly do something progressive. It’s always possible for these people to point to bad things that the US does – there is no shortage of examples.

Maybe part of the problem is that they have an ingrained black and white, non dialectic world view, which implicitly denies the very possibility that the US could do something progressive.

I’m not saying that thinking dialectically is a substitute for studying the details of processes in detail – including the details of what the Soviet Union became historically and the details of what is happening in Iraq and the Middle East. But that having the concept of dialectics (the coexistence of opposites in things) might help prevent falling into the rigid black and white thinking illustrated in the two examples above. If some people can’t even conceptualise that it might be possible for US Imperialism today to do something progressive then no amount of detail is going to change their mind about Iraq. Their thinking is dogmatically stuck at another level to do with their whole world view. I’m arguing that studying dialectics is useful because it helps us keep our minds open to these possibilities.

Here’s a paragraph from Dennett:

“One of the standard (and much needed) correctives issued to those who study evolution is the old line about how natural selection has no foresight at all. It is true, of course. Evolution is the blind watchmaker, and we must never forget it. But we shouldn’t ignore the fact that Mother Nature is well supplied with the wisdom of hindsight. Her motto might well be “If I’m so myopic, how come I’m so rich?” And while Mother Nature is herself lacking in foresight, she has managed to create things – us human beings, preeminently – who do have foresight, and are even beginning to put this foresight to use in guiding and abetting the very processes of natural selection on this planet. I occasionally encounter even quite sophisticated evolutionary theorists who find this paradoxical. How could a process with no foresight invent a process with foresight? One of the main goals of my book “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” was to show that this is not paradoxical at all. The process of natural selection, slowly and without foresight, invents processes or phenomena that speed up the evolutionary process itself – cranes, not skyhooks in my fanciful terminology – until the souped up evolutionary process finally reaches the point where explorations within the lifetime of individual organisms can affect the underlying slow process of genetic evolution, and even, in some circumstances, usurp it.”
– Freedom Evolves, page 53

So, this illustrates that one can think dialectically without formally studying dialectics or even using the word dialectic. Dennett’s ability to do this would presumedly arise out of his deep study of the science of evolution combined with his materialistic philosophy.

In dialectical language no foresight and foresight would constitute a unity of opposites and in the process of development one can transform into the other. I think this way of looking at it is preferable to Dennet’s apparent paradox that turns out not to be a paradox.

But it’s probably more important to really study the topic deeply (in this case, evolution) than just to be able to spout the magic words. But I also believe that it’s important to study dialectics itself (Mao, Hegel etc.) because this creates an awareness or sensitivity to possibilities of things turning into their opposite that we otherwise might not even notice – it has the potential to make our thinking more fluid and flexible.

end post

Posted by kerrb at 2004-12-19

Dialectics is the co-existence of opposites in everything, nature, mind, society. I’ll explain by reference to something said in The Emperor’s New Clothes thread:

Think of all the people scared to speak in public, or scared to admit how they feel about something, or someone! I know for a fact that my private side is very different from my public face. So in my opinion this is a ‘problem’ that stretches right across the board, it’s not just in intellectual circles. People in general are afraid to speak their minds! Me too, so afraid that I don’t want to post this, but I will anyway.

What you are saying here is full of dialectics IMO. You talk about fear of speaking out and feeling compelled to speak out coexisting in your mind. Both of these opposites co-exist side by side. In some circumstances the fear might be stronger and you don’t speak. In other circumstances the compulsion to speak out might be stronger.

I think it’s fair to say that these opposite tendencies exist in everybody and so we are talking about something that is universal.

So, by contrast, what would be a non dialectical way of looking at this? We might view some people as always speaking out, the sort of people we wish would shut up sometimes. We might view other people as never speaking out, the sort of people that we don’t know what they are thinking. We might form black and white opinions about people with these extreme tendencies and as a result lose our curiosity, for example, not notice that a normally garrulous person has gone quiet in certain circumstances.

But of course there are no people like either of these two extremes. Although some people speak too much and others hardly at all these are just tendencies across the spectrum of possibilities. In reality, the two opposite tendencies coexist within everyone.

I’ve just taken one example of dialectics here from something you wrote in order to explain the idea. But whatever you are thinking about or studying I would argue that you can always conceptualise opposites that coexist within that thing. At the least I think it’s a very handy way to think about things because it can open up new ways of looking at something.

19 Responses to “Historical Materialist Dialectics”


  1. 1 Rosa Lichtenstein

    I can only think that you are publishing all this material on dialectics as some sort of response to my recent demolition of one of its core ideas — that is, I have ben able to show that if this ‘theory’ were true, change would be impossible.

    So reproducing the above material is no more of an effective response than it would be for Christian Fundamentalists to publish passages from the Book of Genesis on-line in response to Darwin.

    This ‘theory’ has been thoroughly demolished at my site.

    Get over it.

  2. 2 Rosa Lichtenstein

    By the way, there are no opposites in electrons or photons, or in numbers, or in other mathematical objects.

    So, this is false:

    “Dialectics is the co-existence of opposites in everything, nature, mind, society.”

    Just one of the many dogmas you repeat thoughtlessly.

  3. 3 admin

    HaHaHa. Am I forcing you to eat my dogma?

    Enjoy your demolition site.

  4. 4 Dalec

    Sorry Rosa but there are opposites to every-thing at the fundamental particle level including electrons,(positrons) photons etc. In Mathematics the dialectic in a restricted form is known as dualism, all expressions have a dual that is the exact opposite.
    However I would not invoke the dialectic as an excuse for the invasion of Iraq or the fact that despotic regimes can some-times do good things. Or even that “good” regimes can do (or sanction) bad things. To do so simply debases the philosophic basis of the dialectic.
    No-one would defend Fascist Germany, Italy or Japan on the basis that they changed a few things for the better. Likewise it is hard to defend the Bush Presidency on the basis that they removed one dictator and his corrupt regime only to replace him with another dictator and his corrupt regime.
    The US is still paying the price of the Iraq war as are the Iraqi people. No amount of sophistry or resort to a bogus dialectical argument will remedy this.

  5. 5 Rosa Lichtenstein

    Dalec, thanks for those comments.

    “Sorry Rosa but there are opposites to every-thing at the fundamental particle level including electrons,(positrons) photons etc.”

    Certainly electrons have ‘external’ opposites, but no internal opposites (which is why they are elementary particles).

    But, do electrons change into positrons (or is it Protons?), which they should do if the DM-classics are to be believed.

    “In Mathematics the dialectic in a restricted form is known as dualism, all expressions have a dual that is the exact opposite.”

    These are external opposites, once more. There is not internal opposite in, say, the number two that is changing it into, well, what?

    What, for example, is the ‘internal contradiction’ in -2? Is it -4/2, or 8/-4, or -8/-1 x -1/4…?

    Is, for example, the expression “a + bi” the contradictory/opposite of “-a + bi”, “a – bi”, “-a – bi”, “1/(a + bi)”, “1/(a – bi)”, “1/(-a – bi)”, or “1/(-a + bi)”? If the answer is that it is any particular one of these, then why is “a + bi” not changing into it, as we are assured must ‘inevitably’ happen with all such ‘dialectical’ opposites?

    I agree with you about the other things you say, but all too often this theory has been used to justify whatever is expedient, *and* it opposite (often by the very same theorist), because it glories in contradiction.

    I give plenty of examples here:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2009_02.htm#CaseStudies

    [If you are using Internet Explorer 10, the above link won't work properly unless you engage 'Compatibility Mode, in the Tools Menu.]

  6. 6 Rosa Lichtenstein

    I’m sorry, one or two typos crept in there; here is the correct post:

    Dalec, thanks for those comments.

    “Sorry Rosa but there are opposites to every-thing at the fundamental particle level including electrons,(positrons) photons etc.”

    Certainly electrons have ‘external’ opposites, but no internal opposites (which is why they are elementary particles).

    But, do electrons change into positrons (or is it Protons?), which they should do if the DM-classics are to be believed?

    “In Mathematics the dialectic in a restricted form is known as dualism, all expressions have a dual that is the exact opposite.”

    These are external opposites, once more. There is no ‘internal’ opposite in, say, the number two that is changing it into…, well, what?

    And, what, for instance, is the ‘internal contradiction’ in -2? Is it -4/2, or 8/-4, or -8/-1 x -1/4…?

    Is, for example, the expression “a + bi” the contradictory of “-a + bi”, “a – bi”, “-a – bi”, “1/(a + bi)”, “1/(a – bi)”, “1/(-a – bi)”, or “1/(-a + bi)”? If the answer is that it is any particular one of these, then why is “a + bi” not changing into it, as we are assured must ‘inevitably’ happen with all such ‘dialectical’ opposites?

    However, I agree with you about the other things you say, but all too often this theory has been used to justify whatever is expedient, *and* it opposite (often by the very same theorists), because it glories in contradiction.

    I give plenty of examples here:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2009_02.htm#CaseStudies

    [If you are using Internet Explorer 10, the above link won't work properly unless you engage 'Compatibility Mode, in the Tools Menu.]

  7. 7 Rosa Lichtenstein

    Admin:

    “HaHaHa. Am I forcing you to eat my dogma? Enjoy your demolition site.”

    I presume you want to be taken seriously, comrade. If so, the above doesn’t help your cause.

  8. 8 Dalec

    Rosa,
    On Mathematical dualism:
    Suggest you read this, esp the section 4.4 on the Duality Principle.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boolean_algebra#Duality_principle

    In electrical engineering, current is the dual of voltage – along with a whole lot of other dualities.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duality_(electrical_circuits)

  9. 9 steve owens

    Hi Rosa when I became interested in revolutionary politics in the 1970′s I would visit the state library reference section and read anything that I could get my hands on. One book that made a big impact was Maurice Cornforth’s ‘Materialism and the Dialectic Method’
    Maurice was a philosopher specializing in Dialectic Materialism. He presented the standard Marxist view giving references to both Stalin and Mao. He also gave a huge rap to the Soviet Union where Dialectic Materialism was being applied to agriculture along the lines recommended by Trofim Lysenko. From memory wheat was declared to be able to learn and was a proletarian grain in that if you planted it close together it would cooperate with each other rather than compete as in the capitalist science model. Wheat was also claimed when subjected to dialectical materialism to be able to be taught to grow in areas where it had previously been thought to be too cold for wheat to grow.
    My problem was if a philosopher using dialectic materialism was unable to differentiate between real science and a fairly obvious charlatan how would a person such as myself work this stuff out.

  10. 10 Rosa Lichtenstein

    Dialec, thanks for that, but I have a degree in mathematics, and still fail to see how Boolean Algebra shows that mathematical objects have ‘internal’ opposites.

    But, let us suppose they have. In that case, they must ‘struggle’ among themselves and change into one another, if the DM-classics are to be believed.

    Have you noticed this recently? Has, for example, the number two changed in the last few days?

    “In electrical engineering, current is the dual of voltage – along with a whole lot of other dualities.”

    I have never questioned whether some things, possibly most things, have opposites (depending on how that term is defined). What I have alleged is that not everything has, which is what this dogma — DM — would have us believe (and these are special sorts of ‘opposites’ too, unknown to science, a sort of quasi-mystical ‘opposite, an ‘internal opposite’, originally dreamt up by Heraclitus before much was known about the world but dogmatically imposed on it nonetheless, and then uncritically swallowed by Hegel and subsequent Marxist dialecticians).

    Independently of that, you have yet to show that a ‘dual’ is indeed one of these a ‘dialectical’ opposites. I am not sure how you are going to do this, either, since the term ‘dialectical opposite’ is hopelessly vague.

    Finally, let us suppose you are once again right, and that the electrical phenomena you mention are indeed ‘dialectical opposites’. In that case, we should find voltage — in, say, a wire — struggling with the current in that wire, and then turning into it — if we are to believe what the DM-classics tell us.

    Do we find this? If so, I am sure electrical engineers will be interested to hear from you.

  11. 11 Rosa Lichtenstein

    Thanks for those comments, Steve.

    I have discussed many of the ideas in Cornforth’s rather confused book in my Essays.

    But, you aren’t alone when you say this:

    “My problem was if a philosopher using dialectic materialism was unable to differentiate between real science and a fairly obvious charlatan how would a person such as myself work this stuff out.”

    Dialecticians themselves can’t work these things out either! Indeed, no one ‘understand’ this theory — not Engels, not Plekhanov, not Lenin, not Mao, not Stalin, not Trotsky, not Cornforth…, or if they do, they kept that fact rather well hidden.

    As you can see from my discussion with ‘Informed’ in that other thread, even he doesn’t understand the basics of the ‘dialectical theory of change’!

    I have been studying this theory since the late 1970s, but in detail since 1996, and have read practically everything there is to read on it published in English or translated into it — and I have yet to encounter anyone (in print or on-line) who understands it. They certainly can’t defend it against my attacks. So, they descend into abuse, or they post supercilious remarks, like Admin, here.

    You can see what ridiculous consequences follow from their ‘theory of change’; but how come they didn’t spot these? They are staring us in the face!

    But that’s what happens when comrades surrender their brains to dogma invented by a confused Christian mystic.

    You might like to take the 2014 Dialectics Final Exam:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Essay_666_The_Final_Exam.htm

    It exposes a few more of these glaring errors.

  12. 12 Dalec

    Rosa,
    Thanks for that.
    In electrical engineering the energy stored in a inductor is proportional to the current squared. In a capacitor which is considered to be the dual of an inductor the energy is proportional to the voltage squared. Interestingly however both an inductor and a capacitor store the energy in an electric field that is essentially identical in both cases.

  13. 13 Rosa Lichtenstein

    Apologies!

    Thanks for that, Dalec, but I fail to see how it helps you, or answers the points I raised.

  14. 14 Dalec

    Hi Rosa, as you have a degree in Maths, you may be able to make sense of this. http://arxiv.org/pdf/hep-th/0002182.pdf
    I would say that it describes the unity of opposites that reside in the one entity, although I will concede that there may be a higher level explanation.

  15. 15 Rosa Lichtenstein

    Thanks for that, Dalec, but I still fail to see how this shows that these are ‘internal opposites’ (a term in urgent need of clarification, as I intimated in an earlier post).

    Even so, as I have pointed out several times: let us suppose you are right. In that case we should expect these items to struggle with one another and then turn into each other — if we are to believe the DM-classicists. Do we witness this?

    The article in question, as far as I could see, failed to mention these salient details.

    This shouldn’t surprise us. This idea (that there are such opposites) was dreamt up by an Idealist mystic who lived over 2000 years ago. Heraclitus knew very little about the world but was quite happy to impose this idea on nature, contrary to what Engels informs us we should never do:

    “Finally, for me there could be no question of superimposing the laws of dialectics on nature but of discovering them in it and developing them from it.” [Anti-Dühring, p.13.]

    And contrary to what Mao asserted (an eminently reasonable principle Mao himself ignored, as did Engels before him):

    “Idealism and metaphysics are the easiest things in the world, because people can talk as much nonsense as they like without basing it on objective reality or having it tested against reality. Materialism and dialectics, on the other hand, need effort. They must be based on and tested by objective reality. Unless one makes the effort, one is liable to slip into idealism and metaphysics.”

    http://www.marxists.org/history/erol/ncm-3/iwk-wvo/chapter2.htm

    A point made more emphatically by George Novack:

    “A consistent materialism cannot proceed from principles which are validated by appeal to abstract reason, intuition, self-evidence or some other subjective or purely theoretical source. Idealisms may do this. But the materialist philosophy has to be based upon evidence taken from objective material sources and verified by demonstration in practice….” [The Origin of Materialism, p.17.]

    Unfortunately, fans of ‘the dialectic’ have been doing this ever since — refusing to take any note of awkward facts that fail to fit their a priori theory (like the ones I have noted in this thread, but in far greater detail at my site) and oblivious of the ridiculous implications it has (outlined at this site, in that other thread to which I have contributed).

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2002.htm

    Science has made huge strides even since Hegel’s days, let alone since Heraclitus put pen to misuse, so why should it surprise us if it has moved way past this mystical and dogmatic view of the universe?

    We should, too.

    After all, this ‘theory’ has served us rather badly for the last century or more:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2009_02.htm

  16. 16 Dalec

    Early in this post there is the statement:
    “Because historically US Imperialism has been very reactionary, as exemplified by the Vietnam war and much more, there are now many people in the world who seem incapable of conceptualising that the US could possibly do something progressive. It’s always possible for these people to point to bad things that the US does – there is no shortage of examples.

    Maybe part of the problem is that they have an ingrained black and white, non dialectic world view, which implicitly denies the very possibility that the US could do something progressive.”

    I doubt very much that a “non dialectic world view” is required to deny the possibility that the US could do something progressive. If by that statement the author means that the use of a dialectic world view is required believe in a progressive aspect of the US actions in Iraq the response should be what exactly is the dialectic here? Is there some progressive aspect to the murder of 60,000 Iraq citizens. Is there something progressive in the replacement of one dictator with another? Where is the shining beacon of democracy that the supporters of the Invasion promised?

    I will go with dialectical materialism when it comes to science and the broad sweep of history but to use it to justify same particular complex historical (now) event is just nonsense.

  17. 17 informally yours

    “But, do electrons change into positrons (or is it Protons?), which they should do if the DM-classics are to be believed.

    As far as I know – (and the last time I went near a science lab I nearly blew it up) so this is according to my expert Udo Erasmus a medical doctor who researches and writes books about fats and oils and the body. He reckons that the cells can become either positively or negatively charged depending on the polarity of the body.ie that there aren’t distinct positive and negative charged atoms. (Something like that but the idea was clearly they have the ability to go either way [or neutral] depending on the soup they are swimming in.) A unity of opposites if ever there was it.

    As an aside, I also learned that cells aren’t round as I saw in the science books of high-school- but are multi-sided thus offering a number of surfaces for other cells to adhere to. Some are T shaped etc.. More on other aspects another day.

  18. 18 Rosa Lichtenstein

    Thanks for that Informally, but I fail to see how it helps you.

    “He reckons that the cells can become either positively or negatively charged depending on the polarity of the body. ie that there aren’t distinct positive and negative charged atoms. (Something like that but the idea was clearly they have the ability to go either way [or neutral] depending on the soup they are swimming in.) A unity of opposites if ever there was it.”

    1) If this is a ‘dialectical unity of opposites’ then these cells must be ‘internally’ related to one another. Are they? You have yet to show this.

    Moreover, the scientist you quote neglected to prove his hypothesis, too. [Or if he did supply a proof, you neglected to link to it.] So his unsupported ‘belief’ can hardly provide you with the proof you need.

    But, let us suppose there is such a proof, and that you can show these are indeed ‘dialectical opposites’ (and good luck with that one!):

    2) Plainly, these ‘charged cells’ are either positive or negative, but not both. Let us consider cell C(1). Assume it is positive. Then either another cell, say C(2) is its ‘opposite’, or C(1) when negative is its own ‘opposite’. I’ll assume the latter. Call these two states C(1)+ and C(1)-, respectively.

    But, we hit the same problems we met earlier: According to the DM-classics (1) Everything in the entire universe can only change because it struggles with its ‘dialectical opposite’, and (2) They all change into one another.

    However, this can’t happen, since C(1)+ and C(1)- do not co-exist, so they can’t struggle with one another. Hence neither can change, if we are to believe the DM-classicists.

    Let is now suppose they do both co-exist. And yet, that would imply there were *two* cells here, not one! But we’ll put that to one side for now.

    So, C(1)+ and C(1)- co-exist. These two states (recall these are states of cells, not cells as such) must now struggle with one another if they are to change. [How can states struggle with one another? You neglected to say.] Moreover, C(1)+ must change into C(1)-. But it can’t do that, since C(1)- already exists!

    3) Assume now that there are two oppositely charged cells, C(1)+ and C(2)-. Again, these can only change if they struggle with one another. Do such cells do this? You forgot to say. I don’t think your scientist friend said this either.

    But, let us suppose they do.

    Even then, if the DM-classics are to be believed, these two cells must also change into one another: C(1)+ must change into C(2)-, and vice versa. But, C(1)+ can’t do this, since C(2)- already exists!

    We hit the same non-dialectical brick wall — *as we always will*.

    That is because my demolition of this theory (summarised in that other thread, but more fully at the link I have posted at the end) is completely general, final and definitive.

    Let it go, Informal, this theory is worse than useless, since if it were true, nothing would be able to change!

    Independently of this, I fail to see how this example shows that everything in the entire universe, and for all of time, is a ‘unity of dialectical opposites’, which is what this DM-thesis purports to tell us

    Neither Hegel, Engels, Plekhanov, Lenin, Mao… — or anyone else for that matter — has been able to show this is true, but that hasn’t stopped them from asserting it dogmatically.

    Hence, we can see that this earlier declaration of yours:

    “I am not convinced of DM because of any doctrinaire adherence but through practice,”

    is a couple of parsecs from the truth.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2007_03.htm

  19. 19 Rosa Lichtenstein

    Dalec:

    “Maybe part of the problem is that they have an ingrained black and white, non dialectic world view, which implicitly denies the very possibility that the US could do something progressive.”

    Thanks for that. But, because dialectics is based on contradiction and the ‘unity of opposites’, it can be, and has been (for instance in the example you quote) used to prove anything you like, and its opposite.

    So, according to this ‘principle’, we could quite legitimately argue the following:

    “Maybe part of the problem is that they have an ingrained black and white, non dialectic world view, which implicitly denies the very possibility that the Nazis/KKK could do something progressive.”

    Hence, on that basis, one could easily excuse anything the Nazis/KK chose to do, if one were so determined.

    So, not only is this theory completely useless — since if it were true, nothing could change — it is thoroughly pernicious to boot. That is because it presents every opportunist, reactionary and counter-revolutionary with an ideal excuse for justifying anything they like *and* its opposite.

    I have no idea therefore why on earth you accept it at any level.

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