From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>

Date: Thu Sep 10 2009 - 11:54:53 EDT

Date: Thu Sep 10 2009 - 11:54:53 EDT

"Rosa" replied to me as follows:

Thanks for your reply Jurriaan, but you seem to think I do not know this:

"a dialectical contradiction differs from a logical contradiction"

For the last 25 years or more, I have been reading and studying the material

dialecticians have been churning out (over the last two centuries), and have

yet to see a clear explanation of the latter of these two uses of the word

"contradiction". Let's see how you get on:

"From a logically contradictory type of statement anything can follow. A

dialectical contradiction describes a situation in which a condition

co-exists meaningfully with another condition, in such a way that although

the one is the opposite of the other, it also presupposes the other. The

dialectical contradiction is 'held in place' by the fact that it is mediated

by something, or contained by something else."

Well, Marx added that the two interconnected 'halves' of a 'dialectical

contradiction' "mutually exclude one another". If that is so, then they

cannot exist together, which means that cannot 'contradict' one another in

the way you require. On the other hand, if they do 'contradict' one another,

and both exist at the same time (perhaps as opposing forces, or

determinations (depending on how you give them physical being)), then they

cannot "mutually exclude" one another.

Jurriaan:

"a dialectical contradiction differs from a logical contradiction in that a

logical contradiction is basically a formal inconsistency of meaning,

evaluated according to certain inferential rules of propositional logic.. In

formal logic we call this either a paradoxical statement, or a nonsensical

statement."

Alas, dialecticians are always making this mistake. An inconsistency, in its

simplest form, involves two propositions which cannot both be true, but they

can both be false, whereas a contradiction involves two propositions that

cannot both be true and cannot both be false. So, in logic no contradiction

(sans phrase) is an inconsistency, nor vice versa.

And this is incorrect, too:

"In formal logic we call this either a paradoxical statement, or a

nonsensical statement."

Well a paradox might lead to a contradiction, but the two are quite

distinct, and no contradiction can be nonsensical, otherwise we'd not be

able to understand it to see if it is contradictory or not.

Jurriaan:

"But in fact in practical life we encounter such dialectical contradictions

all the time, and there is nothing particularly mysterious about it."

I'd like to see an example!

But you helpfully gave us one:

"To illustrate: I work as a public servant for a local government

bureaucracy obliged by oath to follow the rules, yet if I tried to conduct

myself only and exclusively according to consistent rules, analogous to a

computer programme or a machine, I would find this practically impossible to

operate, and my activity would be quickly paralysed. I find myself

constantly confronted with dialectical contradictions I have to negotiate,

sometimes a bit like a "catch-22? situation.

"Now the interesting thing in this example is that even although I cannot

practically act, only and exclusively, according to consistent rules and

survive, nevertheless most people do not regard my behavior as essentially

arbitrary, irrational and random. Some of it might be, but most of it is

not. They recognise it has a non-arbitrary pattern. And not only that; they

can also make correct and valid inferences from my behaviour, even although

my behavior is not following any given rule. One could even say that much of

my behaviour is predictable, even although does not involve executing a

rule."

And yet you failed to tell us what the 'dialectical contradiction' is here!

Jurriaan:

"From this kind of insight you can learn that there are forms of reasoning

(inferential processes) which, although they do not conform to deductive

logic, and do not lead to only one conclusion, are nevertheless

non-arbitrary, and very meaningful. The reason why they are non-arbitrary is

because they 'rule in' some possibilities, and 'rule out' others; some

things cannot follow and are ruled out, the number of things that can follow

are limited, and some things are more likely to be the case than others -

and all this, even although there is not just one logically compelling

conclusion from the reasoning, but several. Again this is a rather obvious

insight, but the question now is 'why this is so', how that works, how we

could model or describe that. There are many different trends of thought

about this (pragmatism, para-consistency, fuzzy logic etc.) and dialectics

is one of those trends. One sort of answer is that ordinary language itself,

although reasonable, does not conform to formal logic, and therefore that an

association can be meaningful and non-arbitrary, without being logical."

Yes, I know about "fuzzy logic" and "informal logic", but I fail to see how

this helps anyone understand the obscure phrase "dialectical contradiction".

Jurriaan:

"We can also approach the problem from another angle. Deductive logic has

severe limits, since P follows 'if' Q is the case, and that can be a very

big 'if. A deductive argument cannot compel us to induce all the premises it

contains, it can tell us only that if we induce certain premises then the

conclusion follows. Thus deductive logic only specifies the conditions for

making consistent sense; the inductions into the deduction process may be

reasonable, but not logically compelling. Therefore, in practice we are

always forced to apply two criteria of truth, namely correspondence and

coherence, but in applying these criteria we additionally assume a context

which exists beyond those criteria. If you pursue this line of thought, you

find that actually it is possible to make a very large number of true

statements about one object, using various criteria, without necessarily

being able to say that one statement is more true than another, or without

there being clear criteria for choosing between them, or how they would fit

together."

Once more, whatever the limitations of formal logic are (and from the above

I am far from convinced you have a firm grasp of logic), this in no way

helps us understand the phrase "dialectical contradiction".

Jurriaan:

"The question then is whether there are some meta-criteria of meaning and

reason, captured by basic categorizations, which would allow us to order the

whole of the truths we have discovered about an object in a non-arbitrary

synthesis, such that through a series of conceptualizations, the truth about

the object 'explains itself', becomes 'self-explanatory'. The dialectician

would say 'yes', this is possible, we can discover those criteria, but it is

not possible to do so by means of deductive inference only, not only because

we somehow have to induce premises non-arbitrarily, but also because we need

to refer to a meaningful context not provided by the deductions and

inductions themselves. We need to start both with what the object is, and

what it is not (its negation), and constantly elaborate further what it is

and is not, and this involves explicating the dialectical contradictions

involved with the object, how these are mediated and resolved, how they give

rise to new contradictions. At the conclusion it is proved that, provided a

certain starting assumption is made about what the object is and is not,

this assumption will validate itself, by showing that it provides

non-arbitrary means to integrate all truths about the object consistently,

in such a way that the truth about the object 'explains itself', that its

full meaning is understood.

"This is merely to say that the dialectical procedure aims to understand the

full meaning of the object of study and relativise it appropriately, using

meta-criteria to order truth-coherences and truth-correspondences in an

rigorous interpretation, which goes beyond formal logical procedures

although it utilizes them. The question then remains, whether dialectical

properties are just a characteristic of the meaningful universe that human

beings generate themselves (a human way of understanding), or whether

dialectical characteristics indeed exist mind-independently as objective

social realities or objective physical realities. A realist dialectician

argues that indeed dialectical features exist objectively in nature and

society, since human dialectical meanings have originally evolved out of,

and in relationship to, those objectively existing dialectical features ('mind'

has evolved out of 'matter'). If we say for example that 'mind and body are

a unit' or a 'whole', we cannot really say that the mind features

dialectical characteristics, while the body doesn't."

Well, there is much here I could take issue with, but I won't since it is

not directly connected with the challenge I raised to Andrew - what the hell

is a (Marxist) 'dialectical contradiction'? - but I notice you keep helping

yourself to the phrase "dialectical contradiction" when it is still far from

clear what one of these is. [Much of the above is in fact an idealist

analysis, anyway --, unless, of course, you can give it a materialist twist

somehow. And, good luck there! No one has succeeded on that score in the

last 150 years.]

Jurriaan:

"However it is not possible to write a dialectical 'rule book' like Marxists

try (see above), the question is only whether you can discover the

dialectical characteristics of a subject matter by means of a comprehensive

analysis of all it contains. The dialectician claims, that if you are

prepared to delve sufficiently deeply and systematically into the subject

matter, you will sooner or later confront the dialectical relationships

beneath the apparent logical paradoxes and puzzling relationships in the

subject matter. However, even if you can prove that a dialectical

contradiction objectively exists, dialectical thinking does not of itself

offer any logical or empirical proofs. It merely claims that 'if' a certain

assumption is adopted, or 'if' you see the subject matter this way, then it

becomes self-explanatory, and makes integral scientific sense."

Thanks for that, but I am no clearer - and since I am interested in a

Marxist analysis of this obscure phrase, I'm not sue you are the person to

help me.

And the Einstein quote you added seems to confirm that you are indeed an

Idealist, just like he was.

_______________________________________________

ope mailing list

ope@lists.csuchico.edu

https://lists.csuchico.edu/mailman/listinfo/ope

Received on Thu Sep 10 11:57:01 2009

*
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8
: Wed Sep 30 2009 - 00:00:02 EDT
*