Do stones talk to us?

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baboon
Do stones talk to us?
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Stones and bones talk to us

On a thread on the ICC website, and other threads, L. Bird makes a fairly definite rejection of science; "stones don't talk to us", he says as part of his argument, an argument that I have a great deal of trouble in following. I can understand that a future, communist society, should we ever get there, would necessarily consign a great deal of our ignorance to the dustbin of history and open up untold, unknown parameters as it develops - I don't see communism as a static ideal where everything is voted on once and for all.

Marx saw science in its social function and was greatly nuanced about the question, never rejecting it out of hand but, on the contrary, using it as a tool. He saw it like the law, art and religion, as a superstructural element from the infrastructure each of which acted upon and affected elements of themselves, each other and the base. In the Communist Manifesto he was clear about the corrupting effect of capitalist society on science: "The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet and the scientist into wage labourers." Marx, like many revolutionaries working from their insight from proletarian methodology never rejected science and his work reflects it .We know this from Marx's various works about the relationship of humanity to nature,  the Ethnological Notes and his profound approach to issues of ecology are fundamental to his thoughts and attitude towards both science and communism.  Material only published a few years ago, as expounded by Martin Hundt, "The connection of the Mind and Nature: Marx's 1878 notebooks on geology", not yet translated into English I think, show that Marx was engaged in an extensive study of geology while writing Capital. He had hundreds of pages of notes, diagrams and statistical calculations that, in part, served to underline elements of geological formations with the economic formations of society. There have been frequent references about Marx being "diverted" from finishing Capital by branching off to investigate this or that phenomenon. But Capital was always going to be an unfinished symphony and Marx's "diversions" were part of his vital research as he realised the connection of everything to everything else and the effects that they can have on each other. In Capital itself there are many references to geology both directly and as analogies to the development of class society and capitalism. The stones talked to Marx, just like they will talk to anyone who will listen.

So we have the positive impact of, in this case, the science of geology, on the proletariat and its developing theory as well as the noxious effects that developments of science in capitalist society can have on humanity but the latter mustn't force us to reject the former. Like all superstructural developments the science of geology affects itself by its own movement as well as affecting other superstructural elements close to and far distant from it. One could cite the effect that geology had on evolution by confirming Darwin, Marx, etc. on the descent of life and humanity, as well as its later applications to astrophysics and sub-atomic physics.

The argument isn't really about stones but about what I consider to be a reactionary rejection of science, a real throwing out of the baby with the bathwater. But stones, because of their very nature, because of their prime position in the mediation of humanity and nature, have a great deal to do with the argument. And here we've also got to include bones and other body parts (Marx was also interested in physiology) because these calcified remains also present a scientific challenge and scientific information in themselves. From remains in Herto, Ethiopia we are now reasonably clear, if only until the next discovery, that Anatomically Modern Humans existed in Africa nearly 200,000 years ago (University of Utah), tens of thousands of years before previously thought.  Dates are always being put back from the study of stones and bones, particularly as more efficient scientific methods of measurement are developed. Teeth from a recently discovered cave in China has shown that AMH reached Asia around a hundred thousand years ago (Nature, 14.10. 2015), tens of thousands of years before previously validated. And around twenty-thousand years earlier than previously thought, a re-examination of the Kakadu rock shelter, shows AMH living in Australia sixty-five thousand years ago. The site has sophisticated rock art depicting the myths and magic of that time. Because of the time-scale the discovery also further debunks the generally social darwinist idea, a real inversion of science applied by the bourgeoisie throughout the world, that the arrival of humans wiped out the Australian megafauna.

Stone and stones and their use are vital elements in the defence and success of our species. They tell us a great deal of that history, which for a large part was a developing form of primitive communism. Stretching from Clacton in Britain to Asia and Africa, the Acheulean hand-axe was the tool of choice. There were other adaptions, not least bamboo, but the Acheulean axe predominated and with labour became the central means of production. Hundreds of them have been found piled up unused but as worked tool they are versatile and reflecting its mediating role between nature and labour, it became a beautiful piece of art into its million-and-a-half years' existence. Stone, paint and carvings have a great deal to tell us about mankind's further development: there are the graphic stories and images painted on the cave walls of the Upper Palaeolithic in Europe, Asia and Australia, With the stone and the images intertwining these elements to give access to the cosmos and the other worlds that were part of this society's daily life. Further along some millennia, we probably see one of the beginnings of agriculture in the stone temples of Gobleki Tepe, Nevali Cori, 'Ain Ghazal in west Asia where the carved stones in recreated man-made caves not only carry the carved narratives of the belief system but themselves appear like human figures. In the temples of 'Ain Ghazal there is compelling evidence of human sacrifice where ritual stone bowls have been used. Evidence of human sacrifice is often ambiguous, given that the disarticulation of bones of the dead was a ritual event in part celebrating the ancestors, but 'Ain Ghazal, like the fantastic stone structures of the emerging civilisations of South America connecting the earth to the sky, looks to have used it.

As a superstructural element belief systems, with remarkably similar concepts around the globe as evidenced by stone and on stone and also in the burying and use of particular stone in the great Neolithic "temples",  acted as a cohering factor in society. I don't think that we can understand the line of thought and how that was applied in the Palaeolithic or even the Neolithic but the concept of the ancestors and the tiered cosmos spans both periods. As we enter the Neolithic and the enormous change towards class society, then no longer are animals carved on stone but geometric shapes based on and developed from universal mental concepts. Some stone has clear "special" qualities that are closely related to the spiritual world. Quartz, called "the semen of the Gods" by one South American tribe, was used extensively in European Neolithic buildings and further, ritual "decorations";; flint is closely related to the way in which it was mined (often, the hardest route to get to it was deliberately taken), showing its spiritual quality and the rituals involved in mining it point to a descent to a nether world where labour and spirituality were not separate and the world was multi-dimensional. The bluestones of Stonehenge and Avebury transported over miles point to a specific recognised quality.

If, as expressed by the stones, the belief systems depicted were a factor in the coherence of society, then we already see in the Upper Palaeolithic, strains and tensions emerging in cave art. By the Neolithic, in general, there are further developed antagonisms that are clearly expressed in the stories of the stones. One clear example, due to extensive research and scientific analysis, is the 5000 year-old megalithic structures of the Bend in the Boyne (Ireland), the Scottish islands and parts of the mainland, Anglesey (Wales) and Wiltshire (England). There are of course the megalithic structures right across Europe (particularly Brittany) and the Middle East but the "British Isles" structures show evidence of a new, related polity that is beginning to use the ubiquitous belief system(s) in order to develop its own distinctions, its place as a ruling elite and, very possibly, the beginnings of class society (in this area of the world at least). Old ancestor based systems expressed on stone carvings are defaced and anthromorphic, carved stones of the "old religion" are literally turned upside-down (sometimes making a comeback) emphasising a new order. Like the South American structures to the Gods, the ritual areas become more restrictive and open only to the few which, along with other developments, begin to manipulate belief systems to its own advantage..

These are just a few elements, of a few significant areas where stones talk to us. It's not crystal clear what they are saying and probably will never be given the specific level of the development of consciousness in those areas. But contrary to L. Bird and his rejection of science, stones do talk to us. And from the magic of the stones came the science of ceramics and metallurgy which represented further advances for humanity and further elements that reinforced the tendencies to class society.
 

LBird
The ruling class ideology of 'self-talking stones'

You should be honest in your posts, baboon. You're following the Stalinist method of slandering your opponents, prior to building a dishonest case against them.

Our disagreement, as I've said many times, is not whether either of us rejects 'science' - I don't, and I don't falsely accuse you of doing so, either. I'll quite happily state openly that 'baboon employs science'.

The issue, which you're so keen to avoid discussing, and which is why you use dishonest tactics, is the socio-historical nature of 'science'.

Put simply, you seem to think 'science' is an asocial, ahistorical 'activity', done by an 'elite' of 'disinterested experts'.

On the contrary, I think 'science' is a 'socio-historical activity', which is done differently in different societies, over time.

So, the question of whether 'stones talk to us' or not, can only be answered by reference to the 'science' that makes either claim.

Again, trying to keep this as short as possible, the 'idea' that the 'stones talk to scientists' is a bourgeois invention, and is intended to keep the 'ignorant masses' out of this 'objective activity' of bourgeois 'science'. The bourgeoisie pretend that they have an 'elite' that 'stones talk to'.

The contrary view, from a Democratic Communist perspective, is that, as Marx argued, that 'we create our objects', and so we can change them. Whatever 'stones' supposedly 'say' is a function of the theories of those doing the 'asking'.

So, for revolutionary proletarians, the 'theories' and 'questions' that are 'put to stones' are under the political control of the community. If we allow an 'elite' to claim, as you apparently do, that the 'stones are talking, from their own volition, to careful, disinterested listeners', then we workers are handing over the power to initiate this 'conversation' to a 'scientific elite'. Of course, this 'scientific elite' pretends that 'the stones are talking to them', but class conscious workers know, from their study of history and society, employing Marx's theories, and concepts like 'modes of production', that different societies socially produce different accounts of what 'stones say'.

This is what our disagreement is about, baboon.

You want an 'elite science', which workers do not control.

I want a 'democratic science', which workers do control.

baboon
I had the distinct impression

I had the distinct impression that you rejected science L. Bird from some of your earlier posts. I agree with you that science is a "social-historical activity" and within this stones talk, just as they still talk to workers today.

Science has thrown up determinism and Social Darwinism and the way to confront these abominations is from a materialist analysis that is in part based on science which makes for a strong historical materialism.

Driving a wedge, between Marx and Engels (and Marx, Engels and others), doesn't just weaken a materialist analysis of the relationship of man to nature deveeloped by them both (and others), nor is it only a great underestimation of the contribution that Engels made to the workers' movement, but it also tail-ends the divisions within the workers' movement that the bourgeoisie like to play up.

John Bellamy Foster wrote: "Marx's standpoint thus demanded of science that it be materialist, if it were to be scientific at all. In this view, no study of changing historical developments and ;possibilities could be free from the study of natural science. Hence Marx laboured relentlessly, throughout his life, to keep abreast of developments within science. The common misconception that this was an obsession of Engels, of which Marx was not a part, is contradicted by an enormous mass of evidence - a fact much more obvious to us today, after additional scientific notebooks by Marx have been published, than was true even a decade ago". This is from "Marx's Ecology" published in 2000. Since then even more scientific works by Marx have been found (see the first post).

Marx wasn't part of an "elite" was he?

LBird
'Stones' are our puppets - we put words into their mouths

baboon wrote:

I had the distinct impression that you rejected science L. Bird from some of your earlier posts.

I don't know which posts you got this 'distinct impression' from, baboon, because I've never written anything about 'rejecting science'. I think your 'distinct impression' was formed by your 'theory and practice' (as are all socio-historical 'impressions', distinct or blurry). Your theory is Engels' 'materialism', which echoes 19th century 'bourgeois science', in the developmental state it was in then, that 'matter' is the basis of 'ideas'. From your bourgeois ideology (let's be clear about this being political and ideological), you see any attempt by Democratic Communists (ie., Marxists who argue that only the social producers can democratically determine their world) to argue that any 'science' which can satisfy the needs, interests and purposes of the class conscious proletariat must be under their own democratic control, as an example of 'idealism', 'post-modernism', 'religion', etc.

So, for this 'materialist' ideology, any attempt to criticise 'science' (ie. bourgeois science) is, in effect, an attack on 'Science'. Thus, you read, through the lens of your ideology, me as writing that I reject 'Science'. In fact, as I've written plenty of times, I reject bourgeois science.

You do not regard 'science' as a socio-historical activity which can be changed. You regard 'Science' as a politically-neutral 'tool' for 'scientists', an elite, which you regard yourself as belonging to.

baboon wrote:
I agree with you that science is a "social-historical activity" and within this stones talk, just as they still talk to workers today.

If you really agree with this, then you must agree that 'science', its theories, its practices, and its social products (ie. scientific knowledge), can be changed. That is, your first post about 'talking stones' can be voted to be 'scientifically wrong'. You do not have a personal, individual, access to 'talking stones', which you can 'hear' to the exclusion of the working class. Only the proletariat can determine what 'questions' are 'asked' of 'stones'. The bourgeoisie have not produced a complete set of 'questions' which are 'objective' and cannot be changed. The 'stones' IN-THEMSELVES do not produce 'scientific knowledge'. This is a bourgeois myth. Bourgeois scientists are either liars or poorly educated about the world we all live in

baboon wrote:
Science has thrown up determinism and Social Darwinism and the way to confront these abominations is from a materialist analysis that is in part based on science which makes for a strong historical materialism.

Marx wasn't a 'materialist' and didn't employ 'historical materialism'. These claims are from Engels, not Marx. I've written many posts on many threads, to substantiate this, so I won't do so again, here.

Marx was an 'idealist-materialist' (ie. a 'social productionist', whose 'science' was 'theory and practice').

baboon wrote:
Driving a wedge, between Marx and Engels (and Marx, Engels and others), doesn't just weaken a materialist analysis of the relationship of man to nature deveeloped by them both (and others), nor is it only a great underestimation of the contribution that Engels made to the workers' movement, but it also tail-ends the divisions within the workers' movement that the bourgeoisie like to play up.

The 'wedge between' them was 'driven' by Engels, as any reading of their works shows.

For example, Marx argued that any 'relationship of man to nature' was a socially productive one, in which humanity produces their nature. This is politically very different to Engels' argument that 'nature' is 'out there', already produced, simply awaiting our 'discovery' of it. The latter is the claim of 'materialists', that a 'material nature' is already in existence - and thus, this 'nature' is not a socio-historical product of human conscious activity, but a 'nature' which IN ITSELF impinges upon a passive humanity. 

Engels' contribution wasn't in the area of science, philosophy or epistemology, none of which he understood.

Your last point is very ironic, because it's 'bourgeois materialism' that 'plays up divisions between workers'. The only answer for the workers' movement is democracy. This is the one thing that bourgeois science will not have - the election of 'truth', or the democratic control of the production of 'scientific knowledge'. 

baboon wrote:
John Bellamy Foster wrote: "Marx's standpoint thus demanded of science that it be materialist, if it were to be scientific at all. In this view, no study of changing historical developments and ;possibilities could be free from the study of natural science. Hence Marx laboured relentlessly, throughout his life, to keep abreast of developments within science. The common misconception that this was an obsession of Engels, of which Marx was not a part, is contradicted by an enormous mass of evidence - a fact much more obvious to us today, after additional scientific notebooks by Marx have been published, than was true even a decade ago". This is from "Marx's Ecology" published in 2000. Since then even more scientific works by Marx have been found (see the first post).

I've got a number of John Bellamy Foster's books and articles, and Neil Smith's and Paul Burkett's and Noel Castree's and Reiner Grundmann's, but a discussion of 'Green Marxism' is for another thread.

Quote:
Marx wasn't part of an "elite" was he?

Yes, he was. Part of an 'elite' of Communists. Like us, comrade.

That's precisely our political problem - to end our 'elite status', and ensure that Communism becomes the viewpoint of all workers.

'Materialism' does nothing whatsoever to advance that political aim - and so, the last 130 years since Marx's death, with the dominance of Engels' 'materialism' (which is why Lenin must link Marx and Engels into the unity 'Marx-Engels'), have not advanced the cause of the class one iota.

The 21st century proletariat must re-think its own theory and practice, and reject Leninism, Engels' 'materialism', and bourgeois 'science', with the aim of instituting their own political rule.

Arguments about 'science' are political arguments about 'power', and 'who' wields it.

baboon
That is now clear to me at

That is now clear to me at least; you don't reject science but you reject "bourgeois science". I'm not entirely sure what "bourgeois science" means but, and I'm assuming now, you would also reject the science of Antiquity including the Ancient Greeks and the Roman poet Lucretius? I don't know, but at any rate the rejection of bourgeois science wasn't the path that Marx took in his research from his early days of study. Marx's thesis on the "Difference between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature" (1840 - 41) showed that the scientific works of Epicurus were central to the developments of Marx's political understanding.and central to his materialism in the struggle of materialism against idealism. I'm surprised that you that wouldn't call Marx a "materialist" - or maybe this is something else that I've misunderstood of you L. Bird?

Epicurus explicitly raised views on evolution and adaptability and, against the Gods, called the Earth, "Mother" Along with others he envisaged atoms, boundless space, endless time, infinite worlds and he rejected the idea of  divine power over Nature. And this was a struggle that Marx continued (also basing himself greatly on developments in "bourgeois science") with his materialist approach. Marx's positive interest in Epicureanism, which he also used to put Hegel the "right way up", is evident in his seven "Notebooks on Epicurean Philosophy" and in the works he wrote with Engels: "The Holy Family" (1845) and "The German Ideology" (1846).

LBird
Marx wasn't a 'materialist' in the Engelsian sense

baboon wrote:

That is now clear to me at least; you don't reject science but you reject "bourgeois science". I'm not entirely sure what "bourgeois science" means ...

In effect, to keep this short, 'bourgeois science' means 'materialism'.

baboon wrote:
... central to the developments of Marx's political understanding.and central to his materialism in the struggle of materialism against idealism. I'm surprised that you that wouldn't call Marx a "materialist" - or maybe this is something else that I've misunderstood of you L. Bird?

Marx wasn't engaged 'in the struggle of materialism against idealism'. That is a myth that you've picked up from Engels. Marx was engaged in taking the best from both idealism and materialism.

So, Marx wasn't a 'materialist' - that belief is an Engelsian belief. Marx is best described as an 'idealist-materialist', which he sought to unify.

No misunderstanding there, baboon - I don't call Marx a 'materialist', because he wasn't.

By 'material', Marx meant 'social', eg. by 'material production' he means 'production by humans', 'conscious activity', or, easiest to understand, simply 'social production'.

It was Engels who 'translated' Marx's use of 'material' to mean 'matter'. This was a commonplace of 19th century thought and science.

Unless workers in the 21st century can come up with a version of 'science' which is suitable for their own needs, interests and purposes, then they will be in the power of those who claim that bourgeois scientists have already built their world, and thus workers can't change it.

Engels' 'materialism' is not suitable for those democratic purposes. 

baboon
If "bourgeois science" is

If "bourgeois science" is materialism then Marx is a bourgeois scientist, which of course he wasn't because he spent his life developing a materialist analysis.

The quote from Epicurus above, where he characterises the Earth as "Mother" is a good example of stone talking to humanity through Epicurus, because stone, under the effects of other elements, produces soil which is a vital ingredient of life and the reproduction of life. Why does one have to belong to any sort of "elite" to appreciate that soil comes from stone?

The relationship between Marx and Engels was a coalescene rather than the division that L. Bird proposes. They weren't automons but fighters for the proletariat who sometimes had different approaches and different emphases at different times. But their works went in the same cooperative direction. Again, I point to their joint work of "The Holy Family" and "The German Ideology". The  materialism of both men was based on the developments of materialism from Antiquity and developments in "bourgeois science" which dealt not just with the idealism of "divine intervention" but the bourgeoisie's ideological adaption with its idea of "a world made for man", its "Final Cause" theory.

LBird
Who or what socially produces 'stones' and 'soil'?

baboon wrote:

If "bourgeois science" is materialism then Marx is a bourgeois scientist, which of course he wasn't because he spent his life developing a materialist analysis.

You seem to have (again) stopped reading what I'm actually writing, baboon. It's no way to carry on a conversation. You have to respond to what I'm writing, not a figment of your own ideology.

Once again, Marx isn't a 'materialist', so he isn't a 'bourgeois scientist'.

If you disagree with this, that's fine, but you have to stop reading what you want me to write, and then arguing with that illusion.

baboon wrote:
The quote from Epicurus above, where he characterises the Earth as "Mother" is a good example of stone talking to humanity through Epicurus, because stone, under the effects of other elements, produces soil which is a vital ingredient of life and the reproduction of life. Why does one have to belong to any sort of "elite" to appreciate that soil comes from stone?

Because, for Marxists, only the revolutionary proletariat can determine for themselves 'what comes from what'. You're arguing that an elite can pre-determine what the revolutionary proletariat consciously decides for itself (and 'how' it does so). That's Leninism, baboon, not Marxism.

'Soil', 'stone', even 'the Earth', are social products of conscious human activity, which is why Marx stressed 'social production'.

You're following Engels' 'materialism' (who himself was following 19th century bourgeois science), that 'matter' pre-exists its production by humans, and so it's just 'sitting there' simply 'awaiting' our 'discovery' of 'it-in-itself'. This is bourgeois elitism, baboon, and you're following ruling class ideas about 'science'.

baboon wrote:
The relationship between Marx and Engels was a coalescene rather than the division that L. Bird proposes. They weren't automons but fighters for the proletariat who sometimes had different approaches and different emphases at different times. But their works went in the same cooperative direction. Again, I point to their joint work of "The Holy Family" and "The German Ideology".

Have a look at some recent work, that shows that the supposed 'joint work' of 'The German Ideology' is a product of a Soviet scholar in the 1920s.

Marx and Engels had completely different views about 'production'. For Marx, 'material' meant 'human' (as opposed to 'ideal' meaning 'divine'), whereas, for Engels, 'material' meant 'matter' (which was the current ideology of the bourgeois science that he uncritically read).

baboon wrote:
The  materialism of both men was based on the developments of materialism from Antiquity and developments in "bourgeois science" which dealt not just with the idealism of "divine intervention" but the bourgeoisie's ideological adaption with its idea of "a world made for man", its "Final Cause" theory.

So, you don't accept Marx's concept of 'modes of production' then?

Different 'modes' socially produce different ideologies, so any 'science' has to be located in the 'mode' that produced it.

As I said in a previous post, you have an asocial and ahistorical view of 'science'. To you, 'materialism' is some sort of 'Eternal Truth', which has a politically-neutral method, which allows a 'special individual', the 'genius' of bourgeois mythology, to 'disinterestedly' examine 'matter' ('reality', 'object', 'existence', etc.), and so to prejudge the political decisions of the revolutionary, class conscious, proletariat, when it comes to the social production of their own 'scientific knowledge'.

You should be open with us, and yourself, baboon, about your political and ideological views about 'science' (or, 'Science', as no doubt you regard it).

Only a 'democratic science' can serve the needs, interests and purposes of workers, because only they can determine those. There is not an elite, like you seem to want to belong to, which can pre-determine our 'science'.

As a 'materialist, you want an elite science, which rejects democratic activity, in favour of pretending to 'know matter'. Thus, for you, 'stones' and 'soil' are eternal categories, which we can't change. It's nothing to do with Marxism, comrade, and everything to do with Engels (and Lenin).

baboon
Stones changed to soil L.

Stones changed to soil L. Bird, atoms changed to stars and planets. Nothing is fixed and everything is in movement.

With Epicurus and Lucretius we have elements of what you call "bourgeois science" centuries before capitalism was even a twinkle in the eye of feudalism and centuries before the bourgeoisie existed. That is L. Bird, that "bourgeois science", materialism, predates the existence of the bourgeoisie by over a dozen centuries. The writings of the two mentioned above prefigure some of the major discoveries of the Enlightenment - but, presumably you reject all of that given that there's a certain consistency in your rejection of all science in favour of some post-dated, global democratic vote by all the workers on all the questions of science.

L. Bird's views are in opposition to the materialist Marx, for whom Epicurus "was the greatest representative of the Greek science and he deserves the praise of Lucretius" (Marx and Engels, Collected Works, Volume I). The materialism of Epicurus wasn't based on a mechanical determinism, no more than the materialism of Marx and Engels themselves.It was Marx, more than anybody, who first revealed the profundity of what Epicurus called the "swerve" in atoms which is totally analogous to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of modern quantum mechanics. What's remarkable about Marx's analysis of Epicurus is how little was known about his work in Marx's time compared to today and from the scraps available Marx was also able to develop his theory of man's alienation from Nature. Works of Epicurus recently found among the charred remains of papyri in the Herculean library have confirmed Marx's interpretation of his work which was based on very little but intuition and hard work.

What distinguishes Epicurus from what is generally thought to be the first to talk about atoms, Democritus, is his "swerve" in the disposition of atoms, which does away with the mechanical and deterministic approach of Democritus and lays the basis for various possibilities that include the development of Nature and life which are essential for the further development of "modes of production".

 

LBird
'Swerving' the political issue? An Epicurian baboon?

baboon wrote:

Stones changed to soil L. Bird, atoms changed to stars and planets. Nothing is fixed and everything is in movement.

Apparently, except when you're studying them, baboon.

Funny that, isn't it? As an 'elite materialist', you pay lip service to 'change', but insist to workers that you 'know matter' that doesn't change. And you certainly won't have workers changing stones, soil, atoms, stars or planets, will you? Because you already 'objectively know' all these 'objects'.

babon wrote:
With Epicurus and Lucretius we have elements of what you call "bourgeois science" centuries before capitalism was even a twinkle in the eye of feudalism and centuries before the bourgeoisie existed. That is L. Bird, that "bourgeois science", materialism, predates the existence of the bourgeoisie by over a dozen centuries. The writings of the two mentioned above prefigure some of the major discoveries of the Enlightenment - but, presumably you reject all of that given that there's a certain consistency in your rejection of all science in favour of some post-dated, global democratic vote by all the workers on all the questions of science.

L. Bird's views are in opposition to the materialist Marx, for whom Epicurus "was the greatest representative of the Greek science and he deserves the praise of Lucretius" (Marx and Engels, Collected Works, Volume I). The materialism of Epicurus wasn't based on a mechanical determinism, no more than the materialism of Marx and Engels themselves.It was Marx, more than anybody, who first revealed the profundity of what Epicurus called the "swerve" in atoms which is totally analogous to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of modern quantum mechanics. What's remarkable about Marx's analysis of Epicurus is how little was known about his work in Marx's time compared to today and from the scraps available Marx was also able to develop his theory of man's alienation from Nature. Works of Epicurus recently found among the charred remains of papyri in the Herculean library have confirmed Marx's interpretation of his work which was based on very little but intuition and hard work.

What distinguishes Epicurus from what is generally thought to be the first to talk about atoms, Democritus, is his "swerve" in the disposition of atoms, which does away with the mechanical and deterministic approach of Democritus and lays the basis for various possibilities that include the development of Nature and life which are essential for the further development of "modes of production".

You're just repeating yourself, now, baboon.

Unless you address the political issues of 'who creates objects' and 'how they do so', you'll continue to pretend to workers that your 'Leninist Elite' already 'know objects'.

And your political practice will follow your 'scientific' practice, of a 'knowing elite' having power over an 'ignorant mass', who won't be allowed to decide for themselves whether stones, soil, atoms, stars and planets 'exist for workers'.

Once again, Marx wasn't an Engelsian Materialist, and you're still employing an ahistoric and asocial method, for which a classless 'humanity' has always sought 'Truth'.

You might be able to bluff your way past other Leninists, with some classical knowledge, but you won't fool workers seeking a democratic science, which suits their own needs, interests and purposes, for whom Engels' hule is a class-based concept (which he didn't understand), and would rather employ Marx's hupokeimenon, a concept that allows for democratic production.

For 'materialists', there are only ahistoric and asocial 'needs, interests and purposes', and so you can pretend that Epicurus, Democritus, Aristotle, Plato, and Engels, Kautsky, Lenin, and Heisenberg, Bohr, Einstein, all knew better than the class conscious proletariat.

But then, you're not interested in democratic science, are you, baboon? You should be honest with workers about this, and stop your 'swerving'.

This discussion can only progress further if you address the lack of democracy within your 'scientific method'. Marx wished to unite all science on a revolutionary basis, not to continue to tell workers that they should meekly follow the 'science' of their 'betters'.

LBird
Science as a social power

baboon, you need (politically) to introduce some explanation of where workers, social production, historical change and democracy, fit into your ideological conception of 'science'. You never mention these factors.

If this discussion doesn't address the question of 'power' within 'science', it seems a bit pointless the ICC hosting this site. After all, politics is the core reason that we're all here, isn't it?

jaycee
what do you think of Marx's

what do you think of Marx's idea that there will be 'one science' L.Bird?

Baboons point is the key one. It begs the question, what is 'science'?

Science as an ideology is bourgeois but as a practice has existed as long as humanity. In this sense science simply means 'knowledge based on experience'. All human practice is therefore a science (and an art).

Science as an ideology is however at the root of mechanical 'materialism' in that it is based on a world view/ideology/religion based on the idea that the universe/existence can be fully explained by its mechanics and what human beings can observe in the 'outside' world. Even when the bourgeoisie believed in the 'spiritual' world it seperated it from the 'real' world it was studying and has always in truth elevated it above the 'spiritual world'. This is deeply connected to the secular ideology and the need of capitalism to constantly revolutionise the productive forces because it is the need for constant progress/profit that drives the need to constantly change the 'moral' laws of society; in particular when it comes to money and the domains it is considered acceptable in.

I personally think this gets to the root of the point about 'materialism'. It is based on a definition of 'matter' as opposed to 'mind'/'spirit' (generally unconsciously and by athiests as much as theists) where matter is still viewed as part of the 'base'/'profane' world. 

This is again linked to the reason capitalism fragments eveything into smaller and smaller units in every area of life/society. This is why I started with the question about 'one science'. If in communism we go back towards a conception of knowledge that is regarded and practiced as part of one endevour for 'knowledge' in general then the problem of 'elitism' in science is also overcome. In this situation it would be absurd to have to vote on every aspect of what 'truth' is. 

That is the thing I really have a problem with when it comes to your ideas L.Bird. This insistence that 'truth' can be voted on. Truth has to be demonstrated to be true and will convince people eventually (if given an even playing field). Also your view to me suggests an elitist vision in which there is still a 'body' to decide the truth even if they get everyone to vote to decide it. Surely if we were living from each ones abilities to each ones needs then different theories/ideas would simply have free reign to develop and prove themselves superior to other theories (this part would probably become unnecesary most the time too).  

 

 

 

LBird
'Who' produces 'truth'? Or is it 'out there', awaiting us?

I'll get to what I think is the key point of your post, jaycee. I can address your other points later, if you still wish me to do so.

jaycee wrote:

That is the thing I really have a problem with when it comes to your ideas L.Bird. This insistence that 'truth' can be voted on. Truth has to be demonstrated to be true and will convince people eventually (if given an even playing field). Also your view to me suggests an elitist vision in which there is still a 'body' to decide the truth even if they get everyone to vote to decide it.

If the social producers are not to 'vote on truth', who or what does socially produce 'truth'?

What is the 'body' with the authority to make such scientific decisions?

I argue that the 'authoritative body' is the revolutionary, class conscious, democratic proletariat. This, by its very nature (a majority employing democratic methods within its science) cannot be an 'elite'.

This political answer of mine will be insufficient for two political reasons:

1. my political opponent is not a Democratic Communist, a Marxist, and a revolutionary;

2. my political opponent believes that 'truth' is not a social product, but is a 'reflection of reality'.

jaycee wrote:
Surely if we were living from each ones abilities to each ones needs then different theories/ideas would simply have free reign to develop and prove themselves superior to other theories (this part would probably become unnecesary most the time too).
[my bold]

Your statement assumes that the 'authoritative body' in your ideology is an 'individual', rather than a social producer. It also assumes that 'theories' themselves 'prove' what is 'true'. You don't say 'who' is the producer of these social theories, and then contradict your belief in apparently freestanding, asocial 'theories', and say that even that is mostly unnecessary. If even 'theories' are unnecessary, you must believe that Marx was wrong, because he stressed the need for 'theory and practice', in that order.

From all this, I think that you regard 'individuals' who simply 'do practice' (without worrying about social theories), as the source of 'truth'. This is some form of US, late 19th century Pragmatism, which stresses, as we'd expect for a bourgeois American capitalist theory and method, the 'individual who acts in isolation', who produces 'truth' for themself as an authoritative individual, and 'reflects their own reality'. As an extension of this, you probably regard 'scientists' as simply 'discovering' what already 'exists', and so trust this 'scientific elite', and so see no need for 'democracy' within 'science'.

I think that this is where we disagree, jaycee.

I'm a Democratic Communist and a Marxist, a worker who wants to see a 'democratic science' which is employed by humans collectively, in their social pursuit of building a 'world-for-us', which is our social product, a 'truth-for-us'. 

jk1921
Secular?

jaycee wrote:

This is deeply connected to the secular ideology and the need of capitalism to constantly revolutionise the productive forces because it is the need for constant progress/profit that drives the need to constantly change the 'moral' laws of society; in particular when it comes to money and the domains it is considered acceptable in.

I am not sure I understand the point about "secular ideology." What does this refer to? "Mechanical" materialism?

jaycee wrote:

I personally think this gets to the root of the point about 'materialism'. It is based on a definition of 'matter' as opposed to 'mind'/'spirit' (generally unconsciously and by athiests as much as theists) where matter is still viewed as part of the 'base'/'profane' world. 

Right, and I think we see that in rejection of "decadence" in the milieu (to bring in another thread) and the idea that capitalism is driven by "objective" forces that are not immediately susceptible to human agency. There is a moral objection to such a conception in that it seems to construct a "profane" world of material forces that are largely outside of human control, supposedly leading to the idea that communism can only be the result of some kind of "mechanical" breakdown or led by a professional elite that has mastered these objective laws. It is seen as denying proletarian (human) agency in favor of impersonal forces nobody fully controls or maybe even understands, except the experts. So what is the "spiritual" remedy for such a world? Some kind of subjective "democratic" revolt that restores the spiritual balance to the universe disturbed by capitalism's inhuman, objective "laws." In many ways, this instinct is a healthy reaction to capitalist dehumanization evidencing a needed skepticism towards substitutionist (Jacobin) models of social change, but taken to its bathetic extreme, this fetishization of agency ends up in an absurd universe where people vote on scientific truth.

It may very well be the case that there is a certain tension or even incoherence between democracy and scientific truth. We even see that today in capitalism in decomposition wherein different social groups increasingly live in their own self-constructed truth bubbles and even self-consciously defend their right to do so. The question then is why is "democracy" useful to the goal of communism? Is it a means to an end? In what sense? Or is it a goal in and of itself? A goal even more important than scientific truth? Or is it the argument that communism will at some point reconcile these things and therefore make the distinction meaningless?

LBird
Democracy, Communism, and Science are all interlinked

jk1921 wrote:

 The question then is why is "democracy" useful to the goal of communism? Is it a means to an end? In what sense? Or is it a goal in and of itself? A goal even more important than scientific truth? Or is it the argument that communism will at some point reconcile these things and therefore make the distinction meaningless?

This is the heart of the issue, jk.

As a Marxist (and Marx was a Democrat), I define 'Communism' as 'Democratic', and 'Democracy' as 'Communism'

It's open to any worker to define 'Communism', in contrast, as either 'Individualist' or 'Elitist' (which therefore obviously removes the 'democracy-communism' link). But if any worker does this, they should be open with other workers about exactly what they are proposing politically.

I argue (and I think that this was Marx's position) that only the proletariat as a social force can build Communism. That is, not 'individuals' each on their own, nor an 'elite' who supposedly have a 'special' form of consciousness that workers can't have (at least, prior to the 'elite' having carried out a revolution). So, only the mass of the proletariat (again, to stress, the majority) can build Communism.

Thus, only 'democracy' can be the legitimate political means of building Communism. There are no 'special' individual geniuses, nor 'special' cadre parties, who can do this for the proletariat, by non-democratic means.

Thus, regarding 'science', it is a ruling class myth that they have special geniuses or academic elites that simply 'discover' The Universe, 'Nature As It Is'. As Marx argued, there is only a nature that we have socially produced, the one we know, a 'Nature For Us'. Thus, there can be a 'unified science', which employs the same political method in its science, whether sociology or physics (and all disciplines in between, including maths and logic).

At bottom, these are all political issues, about 'power' and 'who wields it'.

In one's politics, one has to choose between 'individualism', 'elitism' and 'democracy'. Marx chose democracy, and argued that only the class conscious proletariat could, by its own self-determination, builds its own revolutionary consciousness.

There are no non-democratic short cuts to this political process.

baboon
L. Bird, in post number 10

L. Bird, in post number 10 you mock the revolutionary idea of the Epicurean swerve. In respect of this the main thing you should bear in mind is the discussion in Antiquity over the atom in Epicurus's response to Democritus: "It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got swing" (loosely translated by me).

As you say, it wasn't just Heisenberg that developed the Epirurean swerve at the sub-atomic level but it was also demonstrated by Eddington's 1919 experiment on the path of Mercury which showed that light itself could be bent. Eddington's experiment, which has been confirmed to a number of decimal points by subsequent experiments with far superior measurements, confirmed Einstein's General Theory of Relativity: photons of light, elementary electromagnetic particles that have no mass, swerved under the influence of fundamental forces.

You remember Einstein L. Bird - you designated him as a revolutionary on an earlier thread, even though there has been no vote in the working class on this issue which is essential in your terms for defending any position. In fact on all the issues you defend, contrary to your overall position, there has been no vote by the working class. This to me sort of undermines your overall positions.

I will repeat myself by saying that Marx took a "swerve" in a very positive direction by understanding the import of the scientific analysis of Epicurus compelling him to investigate natural sciences, eventually seeing, as Jaycee says above "ONE science" (Marx's emphasis) from his recognition that "natural science will in time subsume the science of man just as the science of man will subsume natural science".  I embrace the connection that he made between natural history and human history, Nature and man.
 

LBird
How does baboon know 'light itself'?

baboon wrote:

... light itself... 

Can you please tell me, baboon, how you (or Eddington, or Einstein, or Bohr, or Engels, or Lenin) know 'light itself'?

It's a serious question - please outline what method the bourgeoisie (or, if you wish, ahistoric, asocial, 'timeless humanity' or 'special geniuses') employ to 'know light itself'.

I follow Marx on this issue, that humans socially produce their 'knowledge', by 'theory and practice', and so 'scientific knowledge' is not a 'reflection' of 'nature itself', but is located in the ideas and activity of different modes of production (and so, within class-divided modes, by differing class views of 'theory and practice').

I've asked you this political and ideological question before, but you don't seem to follow Marx, but to follow the bourgeois prize-fighters of physics. That is, you seem to believe that either 'special individuals' alone or 'academics' as an elite have found a way to 'know light itself'.

If they have, we can't change it.

Marx argued that we create 'our nature', and so we can change 'our nature'. I suspect that you just want to 'contemplate' the truth of 'light itself'. Marx opposes this passive conception of 'reality in itself'.

LBird
Marx's unified science

baboon wrote:

... as Jaycee says above "ONE science" (Marx's emphasis) from his recognition that "natural science will in time subsume the science of man just as the science of man will subsume natural science".  I embrace the connection that he made between natural history and human history, Nature and man.
 

Yes, I actually pointed this out myself, that Marx wants the same scientific method for both sociology and physics.

But I'm not sure you do 'embrace the connection', because when I ask what is the defining characteristic of all science, you don't seem to agree with Marx that it is that we create sociology and physics (and all other disciplines, including logic and maths), and so we can change them.

Marx sees both 'society' and 'nature' as our social products, so that any 'society' that we know is a 'society-for-us', and that any 'nature' we know is a 'nature-for-us'.

It's a ruling class myth that bourgeois elites 'objectively' study either sociology or physics, and that their social product (bourgeois scientific knowledge) gives them access to 'society-in-itself' or 'nature-in-itself'.

This realisation by workers that the bourgeois physicists are lying to us, and that we workers can play our part in building both our society and our nature, is the basis of Marx's 'unified scientific method'. The social producers become conscious of their own creative role in creating our world, and so both sociology and physics (et al) come under our sway.

Because both the 'laws of society' and the 'laws of nature' are our social products, we can change them. The bourgeoisie dispute this, and argue that only a 'disinterested' elite has the capability of 'objectively knowing' a supposed 'nature-in-itself', including 'light itself'.

If you claim that you (or any other 'genius' or 'elite') already know 'light itself', you are politically and ideologically opposing Marx, and denying the power of the class conscious proletariat to change its sociology and physics.