Re: [OPE] Dialectics for the New Century

Date: Thu Apr 03 2008 - 04:41:24 EDT

 Dear Ian,

Thank you very much for your advice. Of course I am listening to you. Whom else shall I listen if not to you to learn from your lifelong experience and scientific work.

I am quite sympathetic to your suggestion. I mean we grasp the complex totality if refer to social language rather than natural language. I used in my other post natural language because Dave Z claimed that dialectics is not applicable to physics and biology and so on and his exampamles were from that area. As a requirement of communication and dialogue I was referring to his examples.

But I still do not quite understand why we should give up the expression *dialectics*. It is a concept evolved over thousands of years and it does not refer merely to natural language. It is a concept of totality - of *being* (nature and society) and consciousness.


-----Ursprüngliche Mitteilung----- 
Von: Ian Wright <>
An: Outline on Political Economy mailing list <>
Verschickt: Mi., 2. Apr. 2008, 18:59
Thema: Re: [OPE] Dialectics for the New Century


I agree that "dialectic" refers to the basic ontology "of the world". In
a way it is a very abstract theory of the ubiquitous causal processes
that underly both being and thought.

But there's no reason why the "dialectic" can be best understood in
terms of natural language.

I think that 19th Century developments, particularly the work of Turing,
strongly suggest that the modern concept of "computation" refers to the
basic ontology "of the world".

Indeed I think that the theory of computation, given a materialist
interpretation, is the most advanced expression of the "dialectic" so
far grasped by the human mind.

The objection that computation is merely "formal logic" is muddled since
computation is more abstract than any specific logic and it is not a
formal but a causal concept.

Given this, I believe there's a danger that Marxists, by defending the
important theoretical gains of the "dialectic", might nonetheless
encourage students of Marxism, who have the opportunity to devote time
to more theoretical work, to concentrate in natural language philosophy
and analysis. If so, we will steer them away from more powerful tools
that are essential for a deeper understanding of social processes; in a
phrase, disarming them.

>I would perhaps put it differently: "We have to study dialectics
>because it explains our world and we have to study Marxism because it
>is the most developed concepts of dialectics in our age and because it
>helps us to understand our epoch called capitalism."

I think you should replace "dialectics" in this sentence with "computer
science, mathematics and the philosophical tradition of dialectical
materialism". That's my advice to any youth that might listen.

Best wishes,
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