[OPE-L:8154] Re: Re: philosophy and political economy

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Tue Dec 10 2002 - 12:36:11 EST

Andy B writes in 8126:

>>  And even if such self
>>  moving active matter is already implicit in the mechanistic worldview
>>  since the principle of inertia clearly states that a body continues in
>>  its state of rest or uniform motion unless compelled to change  to
>>  change by forces impressed upon it and thus renders self-motion or
>>  Leibnzian conatus rather than extension fundamental to matter--I
>  > understand this to be have been your main point in 8115--
>It is true that the the law to which you refer is consonant with the
>notion that matter is inherently in motion. This certainly does not
>mean that extension is inessential to matter. Even considered at
>its most abstract, matter must have both extension and motion.

By the activity of matter do you mean the principle of inertia or 
something else? I am not sure whether extension has to be a property 
of matter.  If we are to settle on a property monism for 
matter--though there seems no reason to-- I think activity or change 
would be a better candidate though it is perhaps not clear that 
metaphysical entities (God, ghosts, collective memory) do not "have" 
activity or change as a property.

I think that we are agreed that even mechanical materialism does not 
imply that matter is  inert as Engels underlined; that incorrect 
assumption or interpretation of mechanical materialism historically 
led to its rejection for idealism.

>Well, the real problem would arise if we do *not* allow that matter
>  Then once again we would have to ask what is it
>that organises 'matter' (where we for some reason deny 'matter'
>itself any organising principle)? If it is not matter itself then how can
>we avoid contradiction with the laws of physics? How can we avoid
>some mystical appeal to 'God' as in Descartes? Or perhaps we
>could suggest that it is Hegelian 'mind' / 'Spirit' that develops
>material form? But neither of these 'options' avoids self-
>contradiction I would argue. The reasonable view to take is then
>that matter is self-organising.

Yes but that is what is to be explained in materialist terms: how 
despite the tendency towards thermodynamic equilibrium does matter 
organize itself?

I am looking for  materialist explanations which allows us to go from 
the idea already implicit in the mechanical world view that matter 
moves itself to the possibility of self organizing (if not self 
complexifying) matter and wondering whether in making a materialist 
explanation of said transition the doctrine of materialism itself 
undergoes any substantial (dialectical?) modification. What do we 
mean by dialectical materialism (Levins and Lewontin), materialist 
dialectics (Ilynenkov), emergent materialism (Mario Bunge)?

You have already marked this change by introducing concepts such as 
emergence and levels of organization and the equivalence of energy 
and matter. At the very least, materialism has to be freed from 
reductionism and physicalism.

In Science and Society a few years back, Richard Levins compared 
dialectical materialism to systems analysis.

Yours, Rakesh

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