[OPE-L:8103] Re: Re: philosophy and political economy

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Tue Dec 03 2002 - 21:22:08 EST

Andrew B writes in 8097:

>Perhaps we differ as regards our conception of the degree to which
>matter is passive or active. If, as you seem to suggest, we
>consider matter as somewhat analogous to the wood that
>constitutes a table then there seems nothing inherent within matter
>to develop specifc form. However, on my view, the totality of matter
>does have inherent propensities to develop specific forms. Such
>forms provide the objects of physics, chemistry, biology and also
>matter develops the forms of thinking and sociality, as studied by
>social science.

I am puzzled here by the idea that there is something "inherent 
within matter" that leads it to develop specific form. I shall just 
share the questions which came to mind, again questions to which I 
wish that I had reasonable answers.

1. Does this idea imply a kind of animism or what Kant would call 
hylozoism (?; Michael, etymological help would be appreciated) which 
would seem to violate both the law of intertia and the second law of 
thermodynamics since matter seems to be arranging itself into complex 
forms of its own accord in your interpretation?  How did Schelling 
respond to Kant on this point in his Naturphilosophie? Was Marx 
influenced by Schelling's answer to (or treatment of) the mind/matter 
problem? John Bellamy Foster sees Schelling as a representative of 
anti Epicurean idealism that Marx rejected, but I would like to know 

2. Should the focus be here on matter or energy? There is for example 
the idea that the stream of energy in the form of heat and radiation 
as it's impinging upon our inorganic earth with its specific chemical 
make up can or even must generate higher forms of molecular and 
structural organization.  The explanation here (though I cannot 
follow the explanation) is that the flow of energy through a system 
organizes that system because the build up of complexity promotes 
entropy production and energy dissipation (a common example being the 
honeycomb pattern of convection cells)? I wish I understood the new, 
very ambitious attempts to show how the evolution of complex form can 
be explained on the basis of thermodynamics. Haven't read Wicken or 
Depew and Weber.

Yours, Rakesh

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