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

Date: Wed Apr 02 2008 - 11:47:20 EDT

 Dave Z suggests to replace the concept of dialectic as such. This is what I was opposing. What you seem to suggest to replace is just a formal one, namely the title. But I do not see the reason or necessity for this change. The term dialectics a overall term describing a general concept of the world. The concept of contradiction is a core concept as Hegel, Marx, Engels and Lenin pointed out. But dialectics is not just about contradiction. It contains also the concept of identity and many others. So prefer to stick to our overall term Dialectics to refer to a particular approach in natural and social scieces, and epistemology, in short, in the disciplines of *Sein* and *Bewusstsein*.

But I do not understand what you mean by the last sentence of your post: "The idea of 
'dynamic' or 'change' don't point to this 'motor'." May I ask you to expound on that a bit please.


-----Ursprüngliche Mitteilung----- 
An: Outline on Political Economy mailing list <>
Verschickt: Mi., 2. Apr. 2008, 12:37
Thema: Re: [OPE] Is 'dialectic' a scientific, pre-scientific or pseudo-scientific concept?

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 


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 ----- 



Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2008 5:38 

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.


"Dialectics is the only 
  scientific concept today". 


Dave Z:
  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.

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.

Can you 
  please give some reasons to justify your claim that dialectics is pre or even 
Dave Z
  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".

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.




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