Re: [OPE] Is 'dialectic' a scientific, pre-scientific or pseudo-scientific concept?

From: christopher arthur (
Date: Wed Apr 02 2008 - 10:14:58 EDT

Ollman and Smith have just published a collection called Dialectics  
for a New Century (Palgrave)
With regard to the present discussion I recommend the chapter by l.  
Seve on emergence.
Chris A
On 2 Apr 2008, at 11:37, paul bullock wrote:

> I am a bit surprised at this exchange. Firstly given the period in  
> which Hegel Marx and Engles wrote, the notion that  change was  
> continuouis certainly conflicted with the method that all sciences  
> tended to rely on, AND we shoud bear in mknd that 'social science'  
> was barely in its infancy... ( where do we start there? earlier  
> vthan Comte?). Static or relative static / mechanical assessments  
> were the norm. So the reassertion of the 'dialectic' ( almost  
> whatever sense of dynamism one gives it) with hegel was  
> 'revolutionary'.
> Secondly no one has really tried to define dilectical reasoning  
> here... Lenin was sincere enough to study Hegel in order to clarify  
> his mind about the process Marx had gone through, even though  
> Marx's method is absolutely different from Hegel...(and from the  
> 'material' side different from eg Holbach)  So why don't we try to  
> see if  'ready to hand' words that suggest motion and change really  
> are sufficient to replace the 'word' dialectic.. as has been  
> suggested in this exchange by DZ... OR whether it presents a  
> specific method with definite philosophical grounds and which  
> provides therefore a particular approach to investigation?   
> Certainly DZ's comments  seem to exclude the basic dialectical  
> premise that each social formation contains within it the  
> contradictions which will result in its supercession by another.  
> This isn't an idea that can be expressed by the word 'change' or  
> 'dynamic'. The essential concept is  that of 'contradiction'... and  
> it the identification of the actual , material, contradictory  
> social relations, that is fundamental  in the investigation. The  
> idea of 'dynamic' or 'change' don't point to this 'motor'.
> P Bullock
> ----- Original Message -----
> From:
> To:
> Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2008 5:38 PM
> Subject: Re: [OPE] Is 'dialectic' a scientific,pre-scientific or  
> pseudo-scientific concept?
> Dave, we are from entirely different "planets". I do not see any  
> easy way of solving our differences in the short term. It is  
> perhaps not a bad idea to leave to time to solve - if at all. Below  
> my replies.
> Dogan
> ========
> "Dialectics is the only scientific concept today".
> Dave Z:
> ======
> Certainly this is a mistake. By extension all other concepts are  
> non-scientific.
> Thus physics, biology etc., which have no need to use 'dialectic',  
> would be non-scientific.
> Reply
> ======
> This is a mistake. Dialectics is a universal concept and applies to  
> all sciences and humanities - of course in different forms.
> Please take the terms: coldness versus and warmness; hardness  
> versus softness; universal and particular; illness and healthiness.
> Without thinking these and many other contradictory terms we cannot  
> explain anything.  Dialectics says we have to think these  
> contradictory terms as unities and that they are represented in one  
> another. The motion from one to other is a process of quantitative  
> and qualitative processes. Let's take for example illness. Can we  
> define what illness is if do not think of healthiness at the same  
> time. And we fight against illness because we usually know that  
> healthiness is immanent in illness. Similarly with all other terms.
> Dogan
> ======
> Can you please give some reasons to justify your claim that  
> dialectics is pre or even pseudo-scientific?
> Dave Z
> =======
> There doesn't seem to be a precise meaning of 'dialectic', it means  
> whatever the author wants. But most often it is used as a  
> description of processes that are driven by the form "thesis, anti- 
> thesis and synthesis". At other times the emphasis is shifted to  
> describe processes that change quantitatively up to a point and  
> then make a qualitative "leap".
> Reply
> ======
> It is not as arbitrary as you seem to think how one defines  
> dialectics as a concept of the world. It is an ontological concept  
> and must be discovered in things rather than in schematic  
> definitions. The reasons you give prove that even natural sciences  
> cannot do without dialectics. The concepts you refer to below are  
> all dialectical concepts though they may be used unconsciously:  
> "Dynamical systems" (was first developed against mechnic mode of  
> thought and approach by dialecticians); 'discontinuities' (implies  
> the concept of continuity); 'feedback signals' (implies the  
> dialectic of action reaction); 'phase transitions' (highly  
> dialectical concept because it implies changes from one  
> characteristic to another) onanther have more precise meaning and  
> predictive power in scientific theories. Since these concepts  
> proves the vice versa your claims "Dialectic is at best a redundant  
> concept",  "dialectic' is used as pseudo-scientific nonsense" and  
> so on stand.
> Regards,
> Dogan
> Bei AOL gibt's jetzt kostenlos eMail für alle! Was es sonst noch  
> umsonst bei AOL gibt, finden Sie hier heraus
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