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

From: Dave Zachariah (
Date: Mon Mar 31 2008 - 08:03:13 EDT wrote:
> Dialectics is the only scientific concept today.

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.

> Can you please give some reasons to justify your claim that dialectics 
> is pre or even pseudo-scientific?

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".

Here are some reasons why dialectic is pre-scientific. A minor point is 
that it pre-dates the scientific method. More importanly, the natural 
sciences can describe the same type of processes given above much more 
accurately with no need to add a notion of 'dialectic'. 'Dynamical 
systems', 'discontinuities', 'feedback signals' and 'phase transitions' 
have more precise meaning and predictive power in scientific theories. 
Dialectic is at best a redundant concept.

At worst, 'dialectic' is used as pseudo-scientific nonsense. What does 
any claim that "one must think dialectically" or a reference to the 
'dialectical method' mean to a physicist? Nothing at all. Yet it is 
evoked by some Marxists when looking at social processes, as if it were 
a scientific method. It reminds me of something I read by Francis Wheen 
who quoted a letter from Marx to Engels regarding an article on the 
Sepoy mutiny in 1857:

    "It’s possible that I shall make an ass of myself. But in that case
    one can always get out of it with a little dialectic. I have, of
    course, so worded my proposition as to be right either way."

I have no source of the quote, but that is irrelevant. The point is that 
'dialectic' used in this way is not even a pre-scientific concept but 
pseudo-scientific nonsense.

//Dave Z
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