Speed of neutrinos: is scientific progress faster than its shadow?

127 posts / 0 new
Last post
baboon
E=Mc2

I was going to post this on the other science thread relating to jk's point about the "big crunch". I agree with what Kabir says on this point - ie, expansion just keeps on expanding. And if there was a contraction of the universe it wouldn't mean that we would die and then be born. I don't think that it means time goes backwards in this sense at all.

The point I want to raise here is that if Einstein's theory of Energy equals Mass times the speed of light squared is perfectly reversible - and it must be - then, at some stage, this reversal poses a singularity, a point of such intense energy outside of space and time that is possible from a previous "big crunch",  ie, the big bang could be the result of a big crunch and that this process could never-ending and somewhat timeless.

jk1921
Thanks for that MF, there is

Thanks for that MF, there is much to ponder there. You are right, that Kuhn has been sorely missing from the disussion so far and you relate his insights to the current state of Big Bang theory very well. One question though, you talk about "bourgeois science"--but isn't the point of science that it is universally valid? Can there be one type of science for the bourgeoisie and another for the proletariat? Does this risk falling into a kind of relativism?

Perhaps, the ICC should consider inviting Lerner to its next Congress?

mikail firtinaci
JK 1921, I think your

JK 1921,

I think your question is very important and as you implied to attribute a class perspective to science is or may be dangerous. However, I can argue that science may be bourgeois in two senses;

1- Theoretically; (shall I say 'ontologically'?) by assuming that world of phenomenon, the nature of things are unpenetrable by human cognition' and that human reasoning is an entity that is seperate from its objects. This -following Dietzgen- I think, creates a dualism inherent to the bourgeois ideology. 

To clarify; if a socilogist argues that he can and should stand neutral towards his/her subject of inquiry, because his/her self moral judgements are personal, then this follows a capitalist logic. Simply because, there is no such thing for human reasoning is pure, devoid of self-interest. I do not think however that this is necessarily relativistic, since that does not necessarily comes to say that reasoning itself is a bourgeois activity. Contrary to that, it means reasoning can only be universal through a proletarian science. I think this possibility of a proletarian universalism can best be found in Marx;

Where, then, is the positive possibility of a German emancipation?

Answer: In the formulation of a class with radical chains, a class of civil society which is not a class of civil society, an estate which is the dissolution of all estates, a sphere which has a universal character by its universal suffering and claims no particular right because no particular wrong, but wrong generally, is perpetuated against it; which can invoke no historical, but only human, title; which does not stand in any one-sided antithesis to the consequences but in all-round antithesis to the premises of German statehood; a sphere, finally, which cannot emancipate itself without emancipating itself from all other spheres of society and thereby emancipating all other spheres of society, which, in a word, is the complete loss of man and hence can win itself only through the complete re-winning of man. This dissolution of society as a particular estate is theproletariat.

2- Science can also be class based in organizational or institutional sense. At this point, I tried to refer to Kuhn. Though, Kuhn probably would not claim that, I think the hegemonic paradigms, and also the generations, the institutions that reproduce the hegemonic paradigms are related to capital and state. As such, they may not be directly responsible for the political needs of the state. However, they are directly linked to its economic interests, organizational mentality and social atmosphere though funding, media etc. I do not try to argue that science is bourgeois simply because it funded by the capital. However, the monopolistic tendencies of the paradigms, the hierarchy of scientific organization, the elitism etc. are all results of the domination of capitalist class. This may have effects on the science as well. 

I think I merely repeated myself in a worse way :(

jk1921
I agree with you in many ways

I agree with you in many ways MF. I think the point is that under bourgeois class rule science is distorted by all the things you mention, but underneath there is still something we can recognize as "science" that is more than just another cultural narrative. Could the proletarian revolution lead to one of the "paradigm shifts" Kuhn talks about? But this begs an even deeper question. Are the dynamics Kuhn talks about inherent to science itself or only the distorted science we get under the domination of the state and capital?

Fred
To seek to express the kind

To seek to express the kind of ideas that you are mikail, and in a second language, is wholly admirable. And you do it well enough to catch even the attention of a total science dummy such as myself. Because in a way you start to provide an explanation for the very dumbness I resent. In suggesting that science is shot through with very basic bourgeois assumptions like dualism and unacknowledged self-interest (subjectivity), the hegemony of paradigms, the hierarchies and elitism that pervade the research process, the generally poor way in which science is taught in schools (that the true nature of things is impenetrable by human cognition) you make out a case for science being generally committed to the bourgeois world view. Why wouldn't it be? All else is! Why wouldn't the science produced under the bourgeoisie be bourgeois science taught in a bourgeois way ie. transmitted not experienced.

In an earlier post mikail, you said:" So if the revolutions in science that replace paradigms requires a social levarage, a social revolution we can easily assume that the current stagnations in the world of science can only be overcome by a proletarian revolution. The increasing inability of the capitalist science to get out of obscurantism is an expression of this. We can find this in post-modern social sciences, economics, cosmology and physics. The increasing specilization in science making it ever more uncomprehensible and out of touch of the "real world", the sensual experience, points out a crisis in the explanatory value of science..."

That is well said mikail (meaning I agree!) and, if I may say so, jk agrees too, as can be seen from his post immediately above.

And while not intending to belittle science, and what appears to be its extremely fascinating but speculative endeavors in physics and astronomy, I must end by saying that the only Big Crunch I am looking forward to is the one where the proletariat defeats the bourgeoisie, and sets the scene for a bang of mind-shattering proportions.

jk1921
An article?

Fred wrote:
T

And while not intending to belittle science, and what appears to be its extremely fascinating but speculative endeavors in physics and astronomy, I must end by saying that the only Big Crunch I am looking forward to is the one where the proletariat defeats the bourgeoisie, and sets the scene for a bang of mind-shattering proportions.

 

cool Good One!

I agree Mikhail has some really good insights on this question. I would encourage him to think about writing an article on it, if possible.

Peter Pan
On Kuhn and Chris Knight

Didn't read all the previous posts, but I've seen there is some enthousiasm on what mikail firtinaci writes. And with a good reason. Should he write an article about it? I doubt it, because this is what Chris Knight wrote and defends in the articles written for the ICC and in the last chapter (chapter 15) of his book "Blood Relations".

I found the articles about science on the ICC site and the discussions that followed them untill now very inspiring and of an excellent quality. I must say that I was most impressed by the position Knight (and mikail firtinaci) defend, which are in there turn very influenced by Kuhn's vision of scientific development. I can't say I understand everything of the science discussion, but my feeling is that Kuhn's vision is closest to the historical materialist method, the scientific method, which is also the marxist method, as well as the darwinist one. That's why, apart from a critique of Popper's ideas, a critique of Kuhn's ideas would be as necessary.

I've read in a university course that there are 2 main critiques of Kuhn's vision:

  1. What is a paradigm? This is not very clear. It appears that there are at least 20 definitions of it in "the literature" (that what's the course says).
  2. Is it true that the several "schools of thaught", the different camps organised around different paradigms, can't discuss in a rational way about the (in)validity of each paradigm? So, the transition from one paradigm to a next one is not necessarily irrational, but the actors in a way  can't discuss with each other, because they each think in terms of their own paradigm, which do not have the same "language", the same "definitions".

Now this is what I've read in this course. Kuhn's book (on the structure of scientific revolutions) lies beside my bed, ready to read!

mikail firtinaci
thanks every one

thanks everyone for encouraging comments. I am trying to struggle my way through Lerner's book now. To be honest I am not really capable enough to write an article. But I would love to see the development of this very interesting discussion and if I can to contribute.

mikail firtinaci
A Scientific counter revolution?

Another question I have is, if we have scientific revolutions can we also have scientific counter-revolutions? Assuming that scientific revolutions happen in tandem with the social forces opening the way; a social revolution, then in the absence of a social revolution or even in the defeat of a social revolution maybe we can except scientific counter-revolutions to happen; suppressing the new innovations and leading to the decomposition of the former science.

I am now reading Lerner's book "big bang never happened" and it was really very interesting in that regard. Heisenberg the founder of the principle of uncertainty in physics, represents (according to Lerner) a retreat from observable and rational universe into that of mathematical apstractions and irrationality. It was no surprise for Lerner then that this Heidegger was a young freikorps member fighting with workers during the day and contemplating on occult and platonian dreams during the night leading him to physics on the first place.

The same is also true in the field of philosophy -more clearly- for Heidegger who with his essentialist and irrational rejection of materialism supported the Nazi ideology even practically. We know the lineage of this of thought now represented in most clearly by post-modernism and post-structuralism...

just some thoughts...

jk1921
Here is a quote from Paul

Here is a quote from Paul Mattick that perhaps gets at what I was trying to express in some of the posts in this thread:

"There is no 'bourgeois science' to be replaced by 'proletarian science'. What a Marxist critique of science is directed against is the class-determined ideological interpretation and class-determined practical utilisation of science wherever and whenever it violates the needs and well-being of humanity."

He continues,

"In Marxist values, man is the measure of all things and science should be science for men. As socialism implies the further growth of the social forces of production, it also implies that of science. It intends to add to the principle of scientific objectivity that of social responsibility. And just as it rejects the fetishistic capital accumulation, so it rejects 'science for the sake of science.' This fetishistic attitude towards science, supposedly based on the innate human need to search for ultimate reality, is actually only another expression of the lack of sociality in class society and the fierce competition among scientists themselves. The irresponsible, irrational and self-defeating disregard for humanity on the part of many scientists today, who defend their work in the name of science though it has often no other but destructive purposes, is possible only in a society that is able to subordinate science to the specific needs of a ruling class. The humanisation of science presupposes, however, the humanisation of society. Science and its development is thus a social problem."

Marxism and the New Physics (1960).

What do others think about what Mattick says? Can science be "humanised" as he argues? Or is there a fundamental opposition or incompatibility between "objective science" and humanism? How does society subject science to control--to make it serve "social responsibility"?

Is Mattick's vision of the relationship betweem Marxism and science satisfactory? I think I sympathise with what Mattick says here, but it seems like he doesn't quite get out of the value/fact dichotomy--or another way of saying the same thing: the democracy/science antinomy .

 

Pierre
JK wrote: What do others

JK wrote: What do others think about what Mattick says?

Me likey.

JK wrote: Can science be "humanised" as he argues?

One might argue that science is inherently humanized. The commonly held definition of science is something like "the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment." Given that we are the only known beings capable of studying and critically reflecting on our "condition" ... science is something throughoughly human by definition. But obviously Mattick meant "humanized" in the sense of infusing science with "social responsibilty."

We all know that famous conclusion of Karl Marx, "Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it." Could we say the same thing more broadly, about scientists in general?

JK wrote: How does society subject science to control--to make it serve "social responsibility"?

Mattick mentions that "Marxist critique of science is directed against...the class-determined ideological interpretation and class-determined practical utilisation of science..." I agree with this, I think the bourgeoisie has alienated humanity from the true purpose of science (gaining knowledge, which affects the human condition positively), reducing it to an oppurtunistic means of making more profit.
 

Peter Pan
Quote from Mattick

Interesting quote from Mattick. A friend and comrade has send me a different quote from the same writing. (The comrade added the fluo-marks, I don't know how to remove them.)

Marx did not concern himself with the dialectic or any other absolute law of nature because for him “nature fixed in isolation from men — is nothing for men”.[16] He dealt with society as an “aggregate of the relations in which the producers live with regard to nature and to themselves”. Although nature exists independently of men, it exists actually for men only in so far as it can be sensed and comprehended. The labouring process in its various forms, including scientific labour, is the interaction and metabolism between men and nature; it dominates, exploits and alters nature, including the nature of man and society. ‘Laws of nature’ relate not to ‘ultimate reality’ but are descriptions of the behaviour and regularities of nature as perceived by men. Perceptions change with the change of knowledge and with social development which affects the state of knowledge. Concepts of physical reality relate then not only to nature and men but also indirectly to the structure of society and to social change and are therefore historical Although specific social relationships, bound to specific forms of social production, may find ideological reflection in science and affect its activities in some measure; science, like the production process itself, is the result of all previous social development and in this respect is independent of any particular social structure. Concepts of physical reality may be shared by structurally different societies. And just as different technologies may evolve within a particular social structure as, for instance, the current so-called Second Industrial Revolution, so one concept of physical reality may be replaced by another without affecting existing social relationships. Yet, these new concepts are still historical in comparison with earlier concepts of physical reality associated with previous and different modes of production and previous and different social relationships.

Science in the modern sense developed simultaneously with modern industry and capitalism. The rapidity of scientific development parallels the relentless revolutionising of the production process by way of competitive capital accumulation. There is an obvious connection between science, its technological application and the prevailing social relationships. Although modern science is not only quantitatively but also qualitatively different from the rudimentary science of the past, it is a continuation of it nonetheless. Likewise, the science and technology of the hypothetical socialist future — no matter how altered — can only be based on all previous scientific and social development. There is no ‘bourgeois science’ to be replaced by ‘proletarian science’. What a Marxist critique of science is directed against is the class-determined ideological interpretation and class-determined practical utilisation of science wherever and whenever it violates the needs and well-being of humanity.

Fred
Mattick says that, on the one

Mattick says that, on the one hand:" "There is no 'bourgeois science' to be replaced by 'proletarian science'. What a Marxist critique of science is directed against is the class-determined ideological interpretation and class-determined practical utilisation of science wherever and whenever it violates the needs and well-being of humanity." Okay. So far so good. It's the use science is put to which might make it appear bourgeois or not.

But, on other hand, says Mattick: " The irresponsible, irrational and self-defeating disregard for humanity on the part of many scientists today, who defend their work in the name of science though it has often no other but destructive purposes, is possible only in a society that is able to subordinate science to the specific needs of a ruling class. The humanisation of science presupposes, however, the humanisation of society. Science and its development is thus a social problem."

Please note. Society " is able to subordinate science to the specific needs of a ruling class" and under the bourgeoisie that's of course what it does whenever it can. Hence it could be thought permissible to speak of bourgeois science. Also note that "the humanization of science" - which requirement suggests that at the moment there's something wrong with it ie it's inhuman (!!!) - presupposes " the humanization of society." So you might draw the conclusion, using a touch of dodgy logic which in this case is surely allowed, that science will only become truly "free", and only thus truly and completely "science", when released totally from the chains of class society. So in that sense there will never be a chance to speak of "proletarian science" - because under communism the proletariat will have disappeared - but do feel free comrades, to talk of bourgeois science under the present regime. And then, in addition we should note what Trotsky said in those quotes provided by mikail... is that on here or somewhere else...is there another thread about this....?

baboon
big bang

There was a good film on the TV last night about Steven Hawking's early career. It was very good and contrived to get in all the major scientific points without being at all mawkish about his condition. There was a little poetic licence but it was all in the best possible taste. The film reminded me of several points around the big bang:

- The role of Roger Penrose in defining a singularity (and within this the role of imagination in science) and thus the possibilty of Hawkings to theorise, and then prove, the Big Bang.

- The fact that Einstein was more and more posing the revolutionary question of a big bang but abruptly stopped and went back on himself to stick with the "steady state". It wasn't the first time that Einstein drew back 'in the face of God' as it were. Though his own analysis pointed to the forces of sub-atomic physics, Einstein refuted it saying "God doesn't play dice".

- The essentially religious nature of the anti-Big Bang argument. Fred Hoyle, the main proponent of the Steady State and protagonist to the Big Bang put forwards the argument in the 60s, that the Big Bang was an argument based on religion, the idea that there was a God who created everything out of nothing. But as Hawkings pointed out, if any argument was religious, it was the anti-Big Bang, Steady State argument: "Everything in the Universe has always been the same and always will be". More than that, in my opinion, the Steady State idea completely suits that of bourgeois ideology: "nothing can or will change - this is the natural order of things". The Big Bang is a revolutionary theory (and fact for me). To call it religious is scurrilous.

- Fred Hoyle said to Hawkings at one stage: "If there was a Big Bang, where's your microwave background radiation?". Penzias and Wilson, without hearing of Hawkings at the time, definitively nailed it soon afterwards but Hoyle wouldn't accept this overwhelming evidence. Incidentally, their portrayal in this film was a delight.

jk1921
I think Baboon's post

I think Baboon's post illustrates my point. One position says that the Big Bang is religious authoritariansim, the other says that the steady state theory is religious and bourgeois ideology to boot. How are we to decide between them? Can we? Empirical evidence? After postmodernism, isn't this all fungible? 

baboon
the "religious" Big Bang

If validated, the work of the BICEP2 collaboration of Harvard and other universities which has studied the first hundredth trillion trillionenth of a second after the Big Bang will surely drive a stake through the heart of the corpse of the anti-scientific notion that the Big Bang is an expression of religion (And Lo, There was a Big Bang which verily did create dehumidifiers and ostriches and lots of other things).

Of course, we've known for over 50 years, with the confimation of Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), which has been validated many times since, that the Big Bang is a scientific fact, much along the lines that the earth is not the centre of the universe. But this latest research over two years and validated by the same teams for over a year (it remains to validated from the "outside") seems to be quite a potential advance for our understanding. The discovery of CMB 50 years ago demonstrated the effects of the BIg Bang 380,000 years later when atoms were beginning to form but this latest research goes back to almost the event itself. The "Standard Model", which has stood the test of time, predicts inflation and dark matter to explain the "lumpiness" of the universe, ie, how matter came together. But there are problems with the concept of inflation. But this examination of a small area of the CMB shows small fluctuations almost immediately in light waves and in their polarisation which appear to show that inflation, the sudden massive expansion which accreted matter together, happened in the first tiniest fraction of a second. Not only, if validated, does this science underpin Einstein's theory of relativity but it also poses the synthesis of Quantum Mechanics with "normal" physics - something that up to now has been contradictory.

This, as far as I can see, doesn't throw any light on what happened before the Big Bang but it is a potential major scientific advance on what happened immediately afterwards. And related to Einstein's theories and this research is the question of gravitational waves, theorised but unidentified before and this itself could be a significant component of the relationship between classical physics and its sub-atomic variety. A couple of the news reports have talked about these gravitational waves "expanding into space". But my understanding is that they are space, ie, space-time. They create space so what are they expanding into and is this the best way to pose the question?

Red Hughs
Science seems like quite a

Science seems like quite a tricky subject.

Physics and cosmology seem to have established an incredible level of accuracy.

In contrast, the biology of vertebrates is hardly exact.

Extremely accurate sciences, sciences in the their infancy and pure pseudo-science can still use many of the same forms of communication and can leverage of the same prestige. Discovering what is a real science and especially where the boundary between science and pseudo-science lies, is a difficult task for even trained scientists.

Just as much, the meaning of science has become narrower and narrower historically. 19th century science seems to have involved a greater moral integrity but considerably less numerical exactness.

In many ways, I think this narrowing definition of science is a good. I don't think there is really any other "19th century science" aside from perhaps Marxism that one would want to save as a science if it couldn't become a 21st century science.

And I think the thing we can do is see a Marxian analysis as using structural analysis, using scientific insight but more "meta-scientific" than scientific. In many ways, the prestige of science did not serve the Second International well and was even worse for the Third. And the many "professors of Marxism" that exist today may not do us a lot of good either.

A further factor is that a modern science is something like an itterative process, getting closer and closer to the truth, accumulating insights.

Revolutionary theory, as far as I can see, is more like a strategic stance - it accumulates some ideas but actually needs to sift ideas to discover the most important ones for the current moment and to discard ideas that less important or of dubious validity.

Anyway, just some thoughts about how to go forward.

 

 

LBird
Truth, accuracy and opinion

Red Hughs wrote:
Physics and cosmology seem to have established an incredible level of accuracy.... A further factor is that a modern science is something like an itterative process, getting closer and closer to the truth, accumulating insights.

Isn't this an opinion, Red Hughs, rather than an indisputable fact? That is, the issue of 'accuracy' and 'closer to the truth'?

It was certainly the opinion of Lenin, that science was a closer and closer 'approximation to the truth'.

But the ICC recommend a book, regarding the philosophy of science, which contains the following opinion:

Rovelli, The First Scientist: Anaximander and his Legacy, wrote:

This reading of scientific thinking as subversive, visionary, and evolutionary is quite different from the way science was understood by the positivist philosophers… (p. xii)

Facile nineteenth-century certainties about science— in particular the glorification of science understood as definitive knowledge of the world—have collapsed. One of the forces responsible for their dismissal has been the twentieth-century revolution in physics, which led to the discovery that Newtonian physics, despite its immense effectiveness, is actually wrong, in a precise sense. Much of the subsequent philosophy of science can be read as an attempt to come to grips with this disillusionment. What is scientific knowledge if it can be wrong even when it is extremely effective? (p. xv)

But answers given by natural science are not credible because they are definitive; they are credible because they are the best we have now, at a given moment in the history of knowledge. (p. xvi)

[my bold]

Doesn't this view, in contrast to yours, put the emphasis on science as producing 'social knowledge', rather than getting 'closer to the truth' with evermore 'accuracy'?

That is, we now know that the focus of science is 'our knowledge of', rather than 'the truth of' the 'external world'.

Since humans are fallible, what one society regards as 'true' (eg. positivist 19th century science and Newtonian Physics), other societies regard as 'untrue' (Rovelli, a contemporary practising physicist, above).

To summarise, 'Truth and Accuracy' are human opinions, not ahistoric, asocial, accounts of 'reality'.

baboon
Gravitational waves

I don't pretend to understand a great deal of the research and discoveries of the BICEP2 work and what they mean and it's possible that there may be some clarification for it not only from outside agencies checking the work of the team itself but also from the POLARBEAR experiment in Chile and the Planck space telescope (likely to be of sounder quality than BICEP2), which are also analysing elements of Cosmic Microwave Background deep into time and looking at the picture "underneath".

A number of physicists commenting on the BICEP2 findings over the last couple of weeks have suggested that this was the first time that gravitational waves, ripples in the curvature of space-time predicted by Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, had been detected (albeit indirectly - telescopes can't see gravitation).

But as the astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell  said last week (The Observer, March 23),  an earlier indirect confirmation of gravitational radiation was first detected 40 years ago from data from a pulsar. In 1974, Russel Hulse and Joseph Taylor detected a binary pulsar, a pair of dead stars giving off pulses of radio waves. The astronomers realised that the two pulsars were losing energy and slowing spiralling towards one another consistent with Einstein's General Theory and that the energy missing from them were being expressed in gravitational waves. Hulse and Taylor got the Nobel Prize for physics twenty years later. Merging black holes also give off "modern" gravitational waves that could be detectable on Earth and the LIGO experiment in the US and VIRGO in Italy are looking for these.

One of the big problems for physics today is the question of quantum gravity which, as far as I understand it, is linked to a possible sub-atomic particle called the "graviton" which is governed by quantum mechanics. which would tell us that gravity obeys quantum laws and would  be a move towards a unified theory of the four fundamental forces of physics (strong and weak nuclear forces, electromagnetism and gravity - with the latter remaining the greatest puzzle). The sudden inflation that this BICEP2 detection underlines with its small fluctuations in the tennis-ball sized universe 10-36 seconds after the Big Bang which eventually became the universe we know and love today, also seems to underline the possibilities of a mulitiverse, ie, that many such bubbles are constantly being created.

Nothing's a done deal here though. One of the orginal architects of the inflation theory, Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University has since become doubtful about it suggesting that the models suggested by the new research are too "ugly looking".

LBird
Philosophy trumps physics!

Yes, but do these scientists regard themselves as being supposedly engaged in getting 'closer and closer to the truth' (as suggested above by Red Hughs), or are they aware that they are humans creatively producing 'social knowledge' (as suggested by Rovelli's quote from the ICC-recommended book)?

The former fits with Engels' positivist 19th century view of the scientific method, whereas the latter fits with Rovelli's 'social knowledge' 20th century view.

IMO, Marx's views are much more like the latter. This philosophical question, as if I didn't need to say, has political implications!smiley

baboon
I don't know

What they are aware of and what they imagine of themselves I don't know - researchers looking into some profound questions of physics back near the beginning of time. I think that's quite exciting and there's a lot of philosophy in physics.

LBird
Philosophy determines physics?

baboon wrote:

What they are aware of and what they imagine of themselves I don't know - researchers looking into some profound questions of physics back near the beginning of time. I think that's quite exciting and there's a lot of philosophy in physics.

Yeah, but those 'social' researchers are 'looking' from the vantage point of our society, now. They are not going 'back in time' to 'reality'.

I agree, too, that "I think that's quite exciting and there's a lot of philosophy in physics". smiley

Fred
Pope John-Paul 2, God and the Big Bang

Pope John-Paul 2,  whose great contribution to the bourgeoisie was in helping win back the working class in Poland for god and the Catholic Church when the class  had.been aiming for something better; or as the bourgeoisie put it "in helping to defeat communism" ie. Stalinism in Poland and elsewhere - for which he was awarded the golden prize of the papacy - once famously met Stephen Hawking and other physicists.  Hawking says the pope warned these physicists not to go searching for what  preceded the Big Bang as this territory was the Deity's.

Well I suppose it might be difficult to examine what didn't yet exist before the Bang and what wasn't actually there yet,  but assuming for the moment that  what was there in formless elegance  was the amazing Creator of us all and everything else, why wouldn't the pope, as number one manager of the Deity's affairs on earth, and as the personal  saviour  for the deity of the polish working class, why wouldn't he want these possibly doubting physicists to come face to face with god in a joyous communion, and reunion, and in rapturous affirmation of the existence of a being yearned for by suffering humanity for thousands of years? Could it be that the pope feared the absence of God prior to the Bang, and by extension, ever since?  

So  what did the pope mean.  If one of the first acts of the Big Bang was to produce something the size of a tennis ball, then what does this suggest about the deity and its dimensions, if it has any that  is?  And if, as baboon has so simply and beautifully  explained above in talking about gravitational waves, and how these can be but thoughtlessly described as "expanding into space"; thoughtlessly because there  wasn't actually any space for them to expand into, nor time, and what these waves did by their own growth was to create space and time in their own progression and for their own purposes,  then how on earth did the deity cope with all of this? Did he/she expand too?  Was she/he yet another product of the bang? Or, as the pope appeared to be suggesting, was he/she/it - its difficult to talk about the deity in a merely  human language - was the deity there all the time, even when there was no space or time existing in which to be, but nevertheless majestically presiding over the celestial explosions of matter, and adjusting the various pulsations and nuclei, and dodging the thunderbolts and lightning   like the grandest Wizard of Oz that ever was or great Jupiter himself? 

 

There may well be "a lot of philosophy" in physics - for, after all, philosophers like physicists only come up with interpretations of the world, or of the multi-various universes as the case may be, but it takes a theologian to explain religious folklore, and a marxist to see the necessary way forwards to a future for all humanity.  

LBird
The 'loud words' of the Rocks

Fred wrote:
There may well be "a lot of philosophy" in physics - for, after all, philosophers like physicists only come up with interpretations of the world, or of the multi-various universes as the case may be, but it takes a theologian to explain religious folklore, and a marxist to see the necessary way forwards to a future for all humanity. 

In my experience, Fred, there seems to be worrying similarities between 'theologians' and 'marxists'!smiley

Scriptures from the dead to provide written authority, popes (CCs) to pronounce of their meaning, and priesthoods (cadre) to disseminate The Truth to the passive laity (workers).

The 'faith' expressed by other posters here in 'science' and its 'neutral method' is not least of my theological concerns!

To me, we're just replacing priests with physicists. And we'll get the same results. Since the 'rocks' spoke with a 'big bang', we must bow down before their authority!wink

Fred
Marxism trumps cynicism

LBird wrote, comparing marxists to theologians:  

Quote:
 Scriptures from the dead to provide written authority, popes (CCs) to pronounce of their meaning, and priesthoods (cadre) to disseminate The Truth to the passive laity (workers).

I see what you mean LBird, but it doesn't have to be that way, and anyway your description better fits what I would call leftism.  The Marxist literature can be seen as scripture from the dead, and posters on redmarx used to say this too -  "dull and dusty manuscripts" was one of their favorite descriptions when trying to put down the ICC. But the work of Bilan, or of the Dutch Left and Pannekoek in criticizing and explaining the degeneration of the 3rd. international and of the Bolsheviks and the dreadful Lenin - so intent on destroying the revolution as you might say, ignoring his immense contribution to proletarian consciousness in, for instance, State and Revolution - are vital contributions to proletarian awareness and contain  important information  that can very usefully inform future struggle when the time comes.  

 

History may be mockable for some, but others of us are capable of learning things from it which can help stop us from repeating mistakes.  And while there are people who go round pronouncing on the meaning of Marxist and what are thus seen as sacrosanct texts in their understanding, well we're  not compelled to listen, or even to agree.  We can think for ourselves. This is important, because this  is what  leftists are frightened of. They want a working class dumb and dead, and in abject slavery to the religion and the scriptures of capitalism.  Marxist texts can easily become part of "the scriptures of capitalism" in the hands of those who wish to empty them of proletarian life, but not all Marxists have this as their aim. Because some Marxists actually are Marxists  and truly believe in what the proletariat is and what its future will be. Some members of the working class are quite capable of discovering and relating to the meaning of Marxist texts without needing popes to elaborate on and falsify their meaning, as does leftism. 

 

 

As to disseminating the truth, well isn't that a trap we can all fall into from time to time.  Don't we all tend to think from time to time that we and only us alone properly understand what's going on and that everyone else is an idiot?  You LBird seem to think that you and Rovelli have a pretty firm grasp on truth, while Engels and Lenin, for instance, were just impostors, liars and/or fools.  But it doesn't matter all that much.  Others can decide that you, or even I, am mistaken.  We decide for ourselves don't we, and don't need popes or leftist-type leaders to tell us what and how to think. For we are not all of us "passive laity", though we may appear to be so from time to time.  The passive laity, so loved by leftism, cannot and will not be making the revolution.  Neither will the theologians of leftism, the high-flying physicists, the bourgeois Marxists or an unthinking working class. Only a working class in the throes of emerging consciousness is capable of freeing humanity from its misery, and that's what we should all be aiming for: more consciousness. 

 

LBird
Firm grasp around neck

Fred wrote:
As to disseminating the truth, well isn't that a trap we can all fall into from time to time. Don't we all tend to think from time to time that we and only us alone properly understand what's going on and that everyone else is an idiot? You LBird seem to think that you and Rovelli have a pretty firm grasp on truth...

I think nothing of the sort, Fred, and I'm surprised you think this of me (or Rovelli, from what I've read).

All I've done is point out that a book recommended by the ICC contains opinions that fundamentally clash with the opinions of posters here, including ICC members, regarding the philosophy of science, and I've tried to generate a discussion about this incongruity.

Far from having 'a pretty firm grasp on truth', I'm trying to ask questions which will help me learn more, but I'm being met with a 'heads-in-the-sand' attitude from those who think that merely using their individual eyes when looking at rocks gives them 'a pretty firm grasp on truth' of rocks. sad

To me, "using one's eyes and common sense" is a conservative method. I think 'theory and practice' ("using our perceptions") is a better method.

So, when someone says that 'I can see a rock', I ask 'what ideology are you using to understand that rock?'. That is, what 'theory' is involved in your 'practice'?

The conservative answer is to say "I'm an individual, I can see with my own eyes, I know what a rock is, and 'idealists' won't shake my convictions".smiley

Fred
glow worms and coy primroses

How about:      "Rock of ages cleft for me; let me hide myself in thee."  One of the pope's favorites  this. 

 OR  "A Rock there is whose homely frontThe passing traveller slights;Yet there the glow-worms hang their lamps,Like stars, at various heights;And one coy Primrose to that RockThe vernal breeze invites."     Maybe even Wordsworth had off-days?  

baboon
BICEP2

The BICEP2 findings about the signature of gravitational waves a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after tbe Big Bang appear to be largely disproved by evidence coming from the Planck space-probe. The latter has picked up the fact that the former has underestimated the degree of space-dust and it is from space-dust rather than gravitational waves that BICEP2 has wrongly claimed to pick up the signals. There is a faint chance that the latter is correct but it is not convincing. It's a good thing then that both the teams of BICEP and Planck have now joined together to investigate further.

 

The discovery and measurement of gravitational waves, predicted by Einstein, would greatly support the "inflation theory" for the exampansion of the universe and strong indications of them have already been found in 1974 in the works of Hulse and Taylor in their studies on remote objects. But verification still awaits.

baboon
Verification comes...

Following the above we now have what seems to be definite verification of the existence and measurement of gravitational waves according to the Ligo research published yesterday.. It confirms Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Nothing is fixed in science and everything is open to question but one regularly reads of supposed theories that dramatically overthrow Einstein's General Theory that it's good to see it validated in so much detail once again. According to the Guardian today "It took just 20 milliseconds to catch the merger of two black holes at a distance of 1.3 billion light years with this then backed up with various means of instrumentation, checking and double-checking that lasted for months. The Guardian says that this has never been "seen" before but indications of it appeared in the work of Hulse and Taylor in 1974. This latest development is a triumph for science and method. One of its uses, as a different form of measurement, is that it will be possible look back at the singularity of the Big Band even more clearly while the discovery of gravitational waves makes the current inflation model associated with it even more likely.

 

This new tool can go even deeper and have a more profound outcome than the measurements of the spectrum of visible light, gamm-rays, x-rays and radio waves. Light couldn't get through the early Universe so looking backwards one can't see through the fog, the clutter and debris of space until it clears about 400,000 years after the Big Bang 13.4 billion years ago. The fact that gravitational waves (the weakest of the main forces) can now be detected and verified to cause ripples in space-time (space-time slowing down and speeding up again) will be a tool for looking back even further as far as I understand it.

 

I think that this latest experiment (and its validation) is another example where science, like art, while being fundamentally linked to the economic base, has a certain "independence", a certain autonomy from that base. One can see that clearly in this long-term experiment involving over a thousand well-paid and dedicated workers from all over the world not in competition but in cooperation. The expression of a certain autonomy of this superstructure from the economic base has, in my opinion, been a feature throughout class society and even before it.

LBird
The autonomy of the ruling class

baboon wrote:

I think that this latest experiment (and its validation) is another example where science, like art, while being fundamentally linked to the economic base, has a certain "independence", a certain autonomy from that base... The expression of a certain autonomy of this superstructure from the economic base has, in my opinion, been a feature throughout class society and even before it.

It makes one wonder why Marx never thought of it, baboon.

It certainly allows those adopting this 'autonomy' thesis, like academics, to keep workers and their democracy out of the social task of building knowledge.

And it's also handy for the Leninists, too.

So, we have the 'autonomous party' separate from the 'basic class'.

In fact, Marx did think of this, in his Theses on Feuerbach, where he warned workers of where it would lead.

The separation of society into two parts, one superior to the other.

'Autonomy' is a class ideology. And your version, baboon, is helpfully ahistoric, and nothing to do with 'class'!

Fred
science and art have no freedom

It would be difficult to prove that either science or art have ever had any real freedom from the dominant ideas emanating from any ruling class.  Even artists who are in revolt against the dominant ideology are still to an extent controlled by it because they are only acting against it theoretically and artistically. It's their motivating force. Yes indeed.  But they're not motivated to overthrow it, because it's what sustains them.

The working class also reacts against the dominance of the ruling class, but eventually organises itself to get rid of that hindrance. The working class is revolutionary.  Artists don't do that. They're not revolutionaries  They depend on the status quo for their livelihood. Even though they may criticise it non-stop. And even though they make revolutionary breakthroughs, like Beethoven's late string quartets or Turner's mature paintings. These revolutionary  breakthroughs may be exciting in the realm of ideas, but constitute no threat to class society. Scientists and those who work in the sciences are the same. What they are allowed to do doesn't constitute a threat to the ruling class no matter how new it may seem. Scientists are  paid to do as they're told. If they have ideas the bourgeois think profitable, then investment  is available. Otherwise funds dry up. 

The long term scientific experiment baboon mentions involving "over a thousand well-paid and dedicated workers from all over the world not in competition but in cooperation" sounds very idyllic and is probably a delight  to be involved in.  I wonder to what extent however, the perceived "dedication" may not be a product of being "well-paid"?  Also to what extent the "cooperation" isn't also just a polite and apparently happy submission to being well-paid and thus made ready to play the part of a dedicated work force? Employers who pay enough can always secure the desired response at least within superficial parameters. 

But do these dedicated workers really think deep down that what they're involved in is what they would have chosen to be involved in had any choice been available? Or that what they are doing is really worthwhile?  Did the project emerge out of serious discussion among that particular workforce,  about what work is valuable and socially needed? Or might they have seen some other project, like flood defences, or climate change, as being more urgent if they had actually been communist workers rather than expensive, pampered and submissive wage slaves? 

There is no real autonomy in class society. We just kid ourselves there is to keep going. 

Demogorgon
Science

Quote:
It would be difficult to prove that either science or art have ever had any real freedom from the dominant ideas emanating from any ruling class.  Even artists who are in revolt against the dominant ideology are still to an extent controlled by it because they are only acting against it theoretically and artistically. It's their motivating force. Yes indeed.  But they're not motivated to overthrow it, because it's what sustains them.

This, superficially, could apply to the working class as well, of course. And revolutionaries, of course, who (at present) are also sustained by capitalism and can only (as present) act against it "intellectually".

It also devalues the role that ideas play in pushing forward history. Cultural products aren't simply a mechanical expression of the ruling class, even if they dominate it; culture also expresses the fractures and contradictions in the ruling ideology. In that sense, culture reflects the contradictions in the economic foundation of society. But, for Marx, the cultural arena, the arena of consciousness is not simply a reflection of the economic or the material, but is a conscious appropriation of it. It is here that the intellectual battles of the class struggle are fought, often long before those struggles are fought on the economic terrain: "In studying such transformations it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic – in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out".

Your comments on science in bourgois society are also somewhat superficial in my opinion. It seems to reduce scientists to simple slaves of the bourgeoisie. Of course, you are right when you say that science as it is normally practices is not a threat to the bourgeoisie. However, you also seem to suggest that they simply produce the results their paymasters demand of them. I don't mean to deny that science is not distorted by capitalism which, ultimately, determines at the very least what is studied and what uses discoveries are put to.

In the corporate sector, Big Pharma is a good examples of the distortions. More money is spent on marketing than research (as much as three times!). In addition, we also see efforts directed into developing treatment for long-term, non-fatal chronic conditions. The reason is obvious: you gain more of an income stream from someone with a chronic stomach condition who takes your drug every day than an antibiotic that someone may only use once or twice. If you can find a condition that a lot people have (or make them thing they have), even better!

It is true to say as well, that you can find "hired prize fighters" working in the sciences. One can point to the various distortions of science in Stalinism (where Einstein's theories were derided as petit-bourgois) or the studies that were done on smoking by Big Tobacco that denied its harmful health effects for years. In more recent years, we have the studies offered up by the petrochemical industries denying global warming (or at least anthroprogenic global warming).

And yet, it was the application of scientific method by other scientists that exposed those studies as the one-sided studies (and, in some cases, outright frauds) that they were. It is also scientists that are leading challenges to the Big Pharma by pointing out that without, for example, new antibiotics that we will soon be in very serious trouble. Of course, their challenges are built around essentially demanding that the state pick up the slack and so are not radical in that sense. But it is still an ideological expression of the fundamental conflict in the economic base between use-value and exchange value, even if that conflict still hasn't taken on an explicit intellectual, let alone material, revolutionary form.

Quote:
Or might they have seen some other project, like flood defences, or climate change, as being more urgent if they had actually been communist workers rather than expensive, pampered and submissive wage slaves?

I can't help feeling that this sentiment reminds me of the classic bourgeois attitude to science. It reduces scientists to ivory tower intellectuals who ought to stop wasting their time on this physics shit and do something practical (dare I say profitable?) instead. It also forgets the large amount of money that actually is put into funding climate change research (which is also one of the biggest drivers for developing super-computing).

In fact, we would probably see more of this sort of research in communism where the intellectual restrictions derived from economic foundations are gradually removed. Communism will widen access to scientific training and facilities to the whole human community. Debates between scientists will, in Trotsky's words, have a "purely ideologic character" and won't be poisoned by competition between science businesses (i.e. universities).

baboon
I think that only L. Bird

I think that only L. Bird could conclude from an idea that there is some autonomous elements to the superstructures of society that the working class is treated with contempt and that the party takes power over it. It's a perverted form of "method" that L. Bird has exhibited on a number of occasions.

 

Marx did think about it, wrote about it and defended the idea of this autonomy as Demo points out in his excellent response. In Grundrisse, Marx writes: "In the case of the arts, it is well known that certain periods of their flowering are out of all proportion to the general development of society, hence also to the material foundation, the skeletal structure as it were of its organisation". Marx goes on to talk about Greek art specifically: "But the difficulty lies not in understanding that the Greek arts and epic are bound up with certain forms of social development. The difficulty is that they still afford us artistic pleasure and that in a certain respect they count as a norm and as an unattainable object". Greek art (in this case) carries an "eternal charm" although the economic base of that society has long disappeared. Marx poses and confronts the problem here. L. Bird retreats into a vulgar denial.

 

No-one is saying that artists are revolutionary vectors Fred; they can go from clowns of the ruling class - as in the case of Picasso - or be acutely critical of the nature of capitalism, as some elements of the early 20th century. They can also detest the ruling structures while expressing their emotions in new forms of art, as Cezanne for example. In the main artists are tortured petty-bourgeois souls, not forces for revolution, but that doesn't mean dismissing them. The working class and its organisations doesn't do that.

 

On to 'cosseted' scientists: Demo makes the point that one could apply this argument to the working class (and marxism and marxists - marxism has a definite autonomy in relation to capitalism, doesn't it?).  Not only is there an autonomy to these superstructural elements (art, science, philosophy, religion - and Marx included law), but there is a certain relationship between these domains one to the other which can be outside the economic base and effective on it in a dialectical process.

 

Just another example of how science can escape the grip of the ruling class and demonstrate a small element of its autonomy: During the 70's and 80's (from memory) the same weight of ideology arguing now against the idea of  man-made global warming were carrying out similar arguments against any idea of a hole in the ozone layer. Their arguments were totally contradicted by science; by experiments, measurements, validation and finally irrefutable proof. The bourgeoisie were forced to act. The last estimate that I saw was that the hole would heal around 2025 but not before causing millions more deaths through cancer.

 

I don't think that it's only in class society that there is an autonomy to the expressions above in relation to the means of production, the economic infrastructure. I think that this also applies to prehistoric societies and I will return to the question in more depth in the future..

 

Fred
scientists are slaves of the bourgeoisie - but aren't we all?

This is Demogorgon replying to Fred's post 103 above. 

Quote:
 Your comments on science in bourgois society are also somewhat superficial in my opinion. It seems to reduce scientists to simple slaves of the bourgeoisie. Of course, you are right when you say that science as it is normally practices is not a threat to the bourgeoisie. However, you also seem to suggest that they simply produce the results their paymasters demand of them. I don't mean to deny that science is not distorted by capitalism which, ultimately, determines at the very least what is studied and what uses discoveries are put to.
 

My comments on science in bourgeois society may be superficial Demogorgon but, overall, it appears you agree with them in the end. 

I also made the point, which you overlooked, that the working class is able to escape submission to bourgeois ideology and its enslavement precisely because it is the revolutionary class, capable of developing a class consciousness that indicates the road to freedom and the alternative to dumb acceptance. Artists and workers in science can't do this in their professional capacity,  because they are beholden to the patronage of their paymasters through and through like pampered pets. 

The arts and the sciences are all distorted by capitalism, as you point out Demogorgon, and so are those who work in them. The only way out for them, as for workers everywhere, is to consciously start to see themselves  for what they are - exploited members of the working class - and embrace Marxism. It isn't science and the arts that need to escape the tentacles of the bourgeoisie but the people who work in them. Marxist revolutionary theory is the only way out. 

I don't know at this present dire moment in history whether physics is shit or not, what I do know is that unless a finally liberated proletariat doesn't get to grips with the problems facing humanity and the planet as an Eco-system pretty soon,  physics like all else will cease to be of any consequence. You mock me Demogorgon  for this petty bourgeois "sentiment" but it's a fact isn't it.  Environmental destruction will put an end to just about everything we as communists pinned our hopes  on. And although you heap praise on the bourgeoisie for all the money they're piling into environmental research and the like, yet even you seem to acknowledge that this would be better done under communism. 

So, at least we reach some superficial agreement.

By and large baboon in his post appears to agree with much that Demogorgon says. But baboon is right when he points out that science and art can occasionally appear to escape the grip of the ruling class, but this is probably the exception that proves the bourgeoisie's rule. And their iron grip on everything, except fledgling proletarian consciousness.  

 

Demogorgon
No mockery intended

Firstly, I want to say right off that I had no intention of mocking you. If my post left you with that impression, I apologise.

Quote:
So, at least we reach some superficial agreement.

I think the agreement is superficial. Obviously, we agree that the working class is able to escape the grip of bourgeois ideology. That is not under debate. The issue at hand is whether science or art can stand apart from the dominance of the bourgeoisie.

Your position seems to be that it cannot.

My position (and I think also, baboon) is that science and art are arenas for struggle between contending ideas and thus also arenas for class struggle (although this is much more the case for art).

You state that all the examples we give are "the exception[s] that proves the bourgeoisie's rule". And, yet, there are an awful lot of exceptions, where scientific enquiry has disputed and dispelled myths propagated by interest groups (CFCS and the ozone layer, climate change vs denialism from the petrochemical industry, medical scientists demanding more antibiotic research, medical scientists vs big tobacco). I've no doubt that many more examples can be given.

Science, even as practiced within capitalism, is demonstrably capable confronting ideology with reality and exploding the former.

I am, of course, assuming that we agree that scientific method is capable of revealing aspects of reality, even if this is problematic. (It must be remembered that science is always critiquing "established" descriptions, refining them, etc.)

And perhaps the underlying question here is whether you believe that scientific method is capable, even in theory, of grasping reality through the fog of ideology. Is scientific method the practical expression of the unity between being and consciousness posited by Marxism? Is Marxism itself an expression of scientific method or does it offer a critique of it? Modern science arose, more or less, hand-in-hand with capitalism and one could argue that it is in some respects a product of the latter - does this mean that science is, therefore, only valid within bourgeois society or does it have validity beyond it?

Fred
No statue for Galileo

Hi Demogorogon. You mocked me for being sentimental over the environment. But I remain unrepentant in this matter. 

I don't know why you keep suggesting I have no time for science. It's just that I believe it to be crippled under bourgeois rule, but that it will come into its own  under communism. How art can be seen as "an arena for class struggle" however, is something I don't get at all. Did you actually mean to say this? 

Marxism is perhaps the best expression we currently have of the scientific method! Because marxism  is aware, unlike science today, of the deadly ideological constraints under which all human pursuits, especially intellectual pursuits suffer, and thus posits a way out.  Science can't do this  at the moment. Individuals like Rovelli, who is under some consideration today on another thread on this website,  understand  and analyse the constraints that  the bourgeois, with its blinkered grasp of what science is, places on science, and is an important critic of this failing and all that it implies.  Rovelli ought to be a Marxist but isn't. 

You remind us Demo, that science was born along with the bourgeois themselves.  I thought of Galileo.  He is greatly admired by the scientific community and society at large today although this hasn't always been the case, and he is still regarded as suspect in some quarters. We should also recall Galileo's having had to renounce his own scientific findings at the behest of the rulers of christian/bourgeois  society in charge at the time who managed to repress Galileo's science for many long years.  Are things starting to change though?  

[quote=wikipedia] On 31 October 1992, Pope John Paul II expressed regret for how the Galileo affair was handled, and issued a declaration acknowledging the errors committed by the Catholic Church tribunal that judged the scientific positions of Galileo Galilei, as the result of a study conducted by the Pontifical Council for Culture. In March 2008 the head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Nicola Cabibbo, announced a plan to honour Galileo by erecting a statue of him inside the Vatican walls.In December of the same year, during events to mark the 400th anniversary of Galileo's earliest telescopic observations, Pope Benedict XVI praised his contributions to astronomy. A month later, however, the head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Gianfranco Ravasi, revealed that the plan to erect a statue of Galileo in the grounds of the Vatican had been suspended.[/quote] 

The point to be made simply is that in a class ruled society science generally is at the service of that society's rulers. Science is permitted, but risks control, via funding,  and even repression cf. AIDS research in the US in the 'eighties. 

 

 

 

Demogorgon
Quote:You mocked me for being

Quote:
You mocked me for being sentimental over the environment.

I did no such thing. Only a chronic misreading could bring anyone even close to such a conclusion. I criticised you for sharing an instrumentalist vision of science with the bourgeoisie which is cutting funding to anything that doesn't meet its immediate practical needs. I suggested that science would pursue knowledge for its own sake on a greater basis under communism. At best, the use of the term "this physics shit" added a flippancy to the argument that probably shouldn't have been there, but that hardly counts as mockery, let alone mockery for concern about the environment!

And while we're on the environment, let’s just take a moment to consider how we even know the environment is in trouble. The ecological crisis has been laid bare by scientists practicing the scientific method, against some extremely powerful interest groups. This fact leads to two possible conclusions: either scientific practice is capable of acting against these interest groups ... or the bourgeoisie (parts of it at least) has an interest in climate research and is actually trying to understand and even fix the problem, even if this is actually beyond its capacities).

Whichever way you go, it becomes clear that the issue is nowhere near as black and white as is sometimes suggested.

Quote:
I don't know why you keep suggesting I have no time for science. It's just that I believe it to be crippled under bourgeois rule, but that it will come into its own under communism.

It's because you say things like:

  • "It would be difficult to prove that either science or art have ever had any real freedom from the dominant ideas emanating from any ruling class"
  • "Employers who pay enough can always secure the desired response at least within superficial parameters."
  • and that scientists are "expensive, pampered and submissive wage slaves"

All of which imply that scientists are simply mouthpieces for the bourgeoisie, something which is demonstrably not the case as both myself and baboon have amply demonstrated. The relationship between capitalism, the ruling class and science is contradictory.

Quote:
How art can be seen as "an arena for class struggle" however, is something I don't get at all. Did you actually mean to say this?

Yes, I did mean to say this. Unless you think it's impossible for radical ideas to be expressed through art, literature, etc. it seems fairly obvious. Even where art is not explicitly revolutionary, the best of it expresses  and explores the limits, fractures and contradictions of the dominant ideology. Nor does this idea originates with me. See the quote above where Marx describes the "legal, political, artistic or philosophic" forms where the struggle between classes in expressed as a struggle between ideas.

Quote:
We should also recall Galileo's having had to renounce his own scientific findings at the behest of the rulers of christian/bourgeois  society in charge at the time who managed to repress Galileo's science for many long years.

Galileo was more actually more a representative of the revolutionary bourgeoisie against a decadent feudal class, ideologically represented by the Church. Crudely speaking, science in the Renaissance period was suppressed at certain points because it undermined the ideological underpinnings of feudalism and was thus subsumed into the class struggle of the revolutionary bourgeoisie against the old structures. Rationalism, materialism, the development of scientific method, etc. became vitally important both economically (as scientific rationalisation became a driving force behind production) as well as ideologically.

Today, the bourgeoisie is no longer revolutionary, and its relationship with science is deeply problematic as a result. As in its revolutionary days, it still embraces science in order to meet its economic imperatives which still revolve around continually revolutionising the forces of production. This continual advancement of the technical basis of production is a fundamental element of the bourgeoisie's economic life which it cannot abandon. Because this technical advancement is dependent on scientific advancement, the bourgeoisie is unable to abandon science - it is a fundamental element of its material and ideological life. On the other hand, as a ruling class in a decadent social system, it is deeply threatened by science which continually threatens its ideological domination by pointing out the awful consequences of its social system.

On the subject of climate change and the ecological crisis, for example, science already offers some possible technical solutions to many of these issues. However, their application would deeply disturb the increasingly fragile economic base. Science identifies the problem and even offers solutions but the social order is unable to adopt them without a fundamental reorganisation of its own bases. Even without an explicitly radical posture, science implicitly threatens the bourgeoisie because of its potential to reveal the reality of its malfunctioning social system.

Disregarding the environmental question and taking a more general view, technical advance is also problematic for capitalism in that the technical advance it generates in itself disturbs the economic bases of capitalism. At the most superficial level, this relates to the rising organic composition of capitalism and its effects of the rate/mass of profit, which destabilise the system both on a secular and cyclical basis. Science is a productive force that more and more comes into conflict with the bourgeois relations of production

The bourgeoisie thus cannot completely suppress science as this is against its class interests. It is not just a matter of permitting science; science is fundamental to the bourgeoisie. It cannot fully suppress science (or the free enquiry essential to scientific advance) but, at the same time, it cannot allow it to flower either as, not only is it too "expensive" to fund non-productive research, but even the productive research progressively undermines capitalism's economic mechanisms by destabilising its fundamental economic relationships. The productive forces are thus fettered by capitalism and science is thus an aggravating factor in the advance of capitalism's decadence.

Fred
Hi Demogorgon. Thank you for

Hi Demogorgon. Thank you for taking the trouble to write such a detailed reply.  

The following is a quote from Demogorgon which starts off with a quote from Fred.

Demogorgon wrote:
 

Quote:I don't know why you keep suggesting I have no time for science. It's just that I believe it to be crippled under bourgeois rule, but that it will come into its own under communism.

 

It's because you say things like:

  • "It would be difficult to prove that either science or art have ever had any real freedom from the dominant ideas emanating from any ruling class"
  • "Employers who pay enough can always secure the desired response at least within superficial parameters."
  • and that scientists are "expensive, pampered and submissive wage slaves"

All of which imply that scientists are simply mouthpieces for the bourgeoisie, something which is demonstrably not the case as both myself and baboon have amply demonstrated. The relationship between capitalism, the ruling class and science is contradictory.

 

Quote:How art can be seen as "an arena for class struggle" however, is something I don't get at all. Did you actually mean to say this?

 

Yes, I did mean to say this. Unless you think it's impossible for radical ideas to be expressed through art, literature, etc. it seems fairly obvious. Even where art is not explicitly revolutionary, the best of it expresses  and explores the limits, fractures and contradictions of the dominant ideology. Nor does this idea originates with me. See the quote above where Marx describes the "legal, political, artistic or philosophic" forms where the struggle between classes in expressed as a struggle between ideas.

 

I don't think scientists are SIMPLY mouthpieces for the bourgeoisie, but that the bourgeoisie are their employers with all that this implies.  In fact I don't think you or baboon, who isn't really involved, have  amply demonstrated anything much although I agree that you,  Demo, have certainly illustrated that "the relationship between capitalism, the ruling class and science is CONTRADICTORY."  Perhaps my "expensive, pampered and submissive wage slaves", which after all is a fair if exaggeratedly expressed description of science workers (the labour aristocracy and so on) is reducible to your more polite expression that their position is  "contradictory"?  

And perhaps it was your expression "arena for class struggle" which misled me in my understanding of your comments on art.  I agree that radical ideas can be expressed through art, literature etc., but have never really considered that the expression of such ideas was part of, or could be seen automatically as part of the actual class struggle.  

Does  the ICC generally regard the expression of "radical ideas" as indicating a revolutionary potential? After all, artists like philosophers only interpret the world, and criticise it.  Criticism is all very fine, but  not all critics are revolutionaries.  Marx says in your quote from him, that in art and philosophy  the struggle between classes is expressed as a struggle between ideas.  This doesn't mean the latter can ever be a substitute for the former.  In art the class struggle is presented metaphorically.  This alone will hardly change the world. Beethoven and Wordsworth were products of the bourgeois revolution.  They didn't contribute to it as such.  They expressed feelings about it and arising from it after the event.  

(But notice this.  Perhaps  Mozart and his librettist were able to make a revolutionary contribution via "The Marriage of Figaro" which has not only a very outrageous and subversive plot, but which is given music of such outstanding brilliance and wit that nobody can really miss the point being made. This point is that "time for change is here." And 1793 was of course  just around the corner! The Archduke or Archbishop or which ever big wig it  was involved in the work's commission commented to Mozart that the work "has too many notes. Too many notes by far, " and was presumably rattled by it all.  Mozart replied: "Only as many notes as required," thus proving that artists don't always know when to shut up. But Mozart was to be in his pauper's grave just a couple of years before the revolution. Was this the Archbishop's revenge?) 

If I could risk another quote, which I daren't, I would here present your closing paragraph Demogorgon, with which I heartily agree. Thank you for posting.  

 

Alf
science and art

Marx developed his materialist analysis of history in oppositionto the idealists for whom ideas, beliefs, kings, queens or prophets were the sole moving force in historical change. Hence the necessity to emphasise that these were in the end products of a real movement going on in the entrails of social life. But Marx also began his work in combat with the various forms of bourgeois materialism, for whom man was purely the product of his circumstances and was not an active factor in altering them. Thus the fight is on two fronts, not only idealism, but also reductionist interpretations of marxism which see art, science, consciousness itself etc as no more than a reflection of objective factors. The following two contributions argue agains this approach, the first with regard to science, the second with regard to art. Demogorgon's posts seem to go in a similar direction, by emphasising that science cannot be entirely dominated by bourgois ideology if it is to remain science. 

http://en.internationalism.org/icconline/2011/07/marxism-and-science-chris-knight

 

http://en.internationalism.org/icconline/201509/13379/max-raphael-and-marxist-perspective-art-part-1

Demogorgon
A cultural movement

And, more concretely, the most recent Report on the Class Struggle talks of the proletarian class struggle not being "limited to the purely economic domain but from the beginning had a powerfully cultural and moral element: as Rosa Luxemburg put it, the workers’ movement is not limited to 'bread and butter issues' but is a 'great cultural movement' The workers’ movement of the 19th century thus encompassed not only struggles for immediate economic or political demands, but the organisation of education, of debates about art and science, of sport and leisure activities and so on".

Quote:
Perhaps my "expensive, pampered and submissive wage slaves", which after all is a fair if exaggeratedly expressed description of science workers (the labour aristocracy and so on) is reducible to your more polite expression that their position is  "contradictory"?

I think there is a confusion here between science and scientists which I have neglected to unpick. Scientific practice in capitalism is effectively run along capitalist lines. Some scientists are proletarians, some are bosses, and some are even in the lower echelons of the bourgeoisie. The top professors can command very impressive salaries, especially if they bring research funding into a university. So some are not "wage slaves" at all.

None of this changes the fact that science as a practice and method has a contradictory relationship with capitalism and the ruling class. Recalling baboon's original point about base and superstructure, this is the key element to this discussion. In marxism, the distinction between base and superstructure is methodological, part of a process of abstraction in order to understand how the different phenomena in society act and interact. But base and superstructure also form a unity, in that the latter often provide the form for the content of the former.

Law for example is the direct formal "superstructural" expression of the economic property relationships of the base. Although they are distinct in one sense, they also form a unity in that it is through the legal structure of capitalism (employment law, contracts of employment, company regulation, etc.) that we experience and practice the economic relationship. These superstructural aspects are directly related to the domination of the bourgeoisie, although even here there is an autonomy to legal structures which is also related to the relative autonomy of the state. There is a place for class struggle even here, of course, though much reduced in decadence.

Science and art, however, do not have this sort of direct linkage to the economic base. They are expressions of the totality of society and its intellectual structure. In capitalism, they express reification undoubtedly but they also express the cracks in the ideological edifice. It is no accident that many feel that "art" (including music, theatre, film, etc.)  allows the expression of their humanity as counterposed to the dehumanification of everyday life in capitalism, even when the art concerns deals with that everyday life. In many ways this is, of course, a delusion. And, while artistic expression may display revolutionary angst, it is usually fragmentary and confused.

Take for example, the first verse of Guerilla Radio, by Rage Against The Machine which is a savage condemnation of bourgeois democracy, controlled and manipulated by the military-industrial complex. RATM as individuals, or a band, of course aren't revolutionaries but a consumer product that made lots of money for the music industry. But some of the ideas they express are revolutionary, even though distorted and incoherent. So again, an inherent contradiction arises between a capitalist music industry selling a product that has revolutionary undertones and undermines its own basis of operation. The fact that there was a market for this, a whole generation who found an expression of their own fury with bourgeois society in this genre of music, shows how art can criticise and condemn while still remaining under the domination of the relations of production. Similarly, I paid substantial funds for my little library of Marxist texts. (There are, of course, many lefist ideologies expressed by RATM and similar bands as well, but we are talking about art, not deep political treatises. Art appeals as much to emotion and sentiment as to rational thought.)

This contradictory "autonomy" of the cultural and scientific spheres is one of consequences of the division of material and mental labour which reaches its apogee in capitalist society. The more profound this cleavage, the more prone the mental aspects have of developing and then developing according to their own laws of motion. We see this also with proletarian class consciousness which is neither automatically derived from simply being a worker, nor from the direct movements of the economic sphere, or even the class struggle itself.

The difference between bourgeois and proletarian consciousness is that while bourgeois consciousness finds its strength in this division, for workers it is a barrier to be overcome. In the latter case, proletarians appropriate art, philosophy, and science even though they do not necessarily become artists, philosophers or scientists. Marxism is the first expression of that appropriation in the sphere of philosophy, where it poses the transformation from "merely interpreting the world" to trying to change it. This transformation happens first only in the realm of ideas, but also finds its corresponding expression in the class action of the proletariat. Thought links to practice, the mental to the material, and the divisions begin to be overcome.

baboon
Agree with the last two

Agree with the last two texts. It’s clear that this discussion, while related to it , is outside of the centrality of the proletariat for the revolutionary perspective – a position we all agree on.

The question is, and Demo and Fred are on different sides, can superstructural expressions of any society have some independence or autonomy from the infrastructural economic base? Marx posed the question and to me clearly thought that they could and that included the domains of science, art, religion, philosophy and law (including Marx’s work on the old Irish and Scottish legal systems in his Ethnological Notes). I would – and will – argue that such a phenomenon of autonomy – certainly in art and science – existed before class society. Art and artists (music, painting, sculpture, literature later on, etc.) has always aspired to heights above the limitations imposed by the economic base and, in the best cases, expressed its “eternal nature”.

It’s similar for science and Fred’s example of Galileo is one that demonstrates the ability of science and scientists to also rise above such restrictions. Galileo paid for his "autonomous through" with imprisonment and recantation but Copernicus wisely kept his head down and published most of his revolutionary work after his death, thus keeping himself relatively safe. Nostradamus in his early life was at the cutting edge of revolutionary physics until he was flipped by the church into doing its apocalyptic bidding.

Closer in time and space there’s the work of that eminent and typical bourgeois Charles Darwin (and A. R. Wallace) who completely overturned bourgeois ideology with his revolutionary “Origin...”, then overturned that with the equally revolutionary “The Descent of Man...” that described the rise, survival and development of humanity in terms that shook the bourgeoisie to the core (that’s when they understood it). The Yankee officer, Lewis Henry Morgan undertook a scientific work so profound, so methodical and so rigorous that in the end it forced him into a communist perspective. So much so that Marx and Engels embraced his work almost without criticism and turned it into one of the greatest classics of the workers’ movement. Today we have scientists of the imaginative and methodical character of the likes of Lee Smolin and Carlo Rovelli pushing at the limitations of physics.

Fred calls scientists, a particular element of the working class today, “pampered, expensive and submissive”. I doubt very much that the great majority of scientists working on the LIGO project for example, earn half as much as train drivers in the major European capitals. Does that make the latter even more pampered, etc? Such denunciations of elements of the working class can be divisive and dangerous.
 

Demogorgon
Scientists as workers

Quote:
Fred calls scientists, a particular element of the working class today, “pampered, expensive and submissive”. I doubt very much that the great majority of scientists working on the LIGO project for example, earn half as much as train drivers in the major European capitals.

This will certainly be true for early career academics, who do the bulk of the legwork in these researches. But salaries can rise considerably for high level professors leading research teams. These people are also bosses and could certainly be described as expensive and pampered, to some degree. I don't think I've ever met a submissive academic, though, certainly not at that level!

Darwin and Wallace, though, are excellent examples of what we've been trying to explain to Fred. Evolutionary theory is also notable for its dialectical approach in that it demonstrates that the hitherto static categories used to classify different forms of life are fluid and changeable.

However, it would be one-sided to suggest that Marx approached Darwin uncritically. He and Engels also critiqued Darwin for importing Malthusian viewpoints into natural history. There is also a question about paradigms here as well. The clockwork universe of Newtonian mechanics has given way to more modern ideas as the universe as a giant information processing system. The parallels with the development of technology, etc. are obvious.

baboon
What I said Marx was (almost)

What I said Marx was (almost) uncritical about was Lewis Henry Morgan's "Ancient Society..." It forms a good part of Engels "History..." The one thing that the bourgeoisie had to do to Darwin's work was distort it - as far as I remember Darwin never used the term "survival fo the fittest". Darwin and Wallace used some of Malthusian arguments for "Origin..." and then overturned that with "The Descent..." (and associated papers) - which Marx did not read. In a sense he fell for the bourgeoisie's lies about Darwin's work - but he was very busy. See the article on Patrick Tort on this website. 

There are radical anthropologists today who still think that Darwin's arguments were Malthusian when they were just the opposite.

Demogorgon
Darwin and Malthus

Survival of the fittest was Spencer if I remember rightly. It's interesting that Darwin apparently overturned his "Malthusianism". (You are far more well-read on this subject than me, so I'll take your word for it). If so, it amply demonstrates that, although science can still be influenced by prevailing social conditions, it's also capable of moving beyond them.

On the question of paradigms, though, I wonder if part of it is simply that humans have a tendency to reason by analogy. Analogy is an essential element of cognition and reason, although it can also lead to flaws in reasoning. That's probably another topic and one I am simply not clever enough to pursue ...

Fred
jk 1921 wrote: It seems to me

jk 1921 wrote:

It seems to me that there is a tension going on right now in the ICC between the reflex to "defend science" and the need to be critical of ideological thinking. The instinct to "defend science" is something shared with certain factions of the bourgeoisie (Dawkins, the humanist left, etc.) who recognize that it is under attack from increasing obscurantism. Knowing when to be critical of received scientific truth and unmasking the manifestations of power and domination expressed as "science" is a much more difficult task. These questions arise in a number of different fields: cosmology, psychiatry, evolutionary, neuroscience, etc. I just don't know how we do it. There is a need to defend "scientific rigour" as you say, but there is also a need to form a critique of social power and domination that often masks itself as science  (Obvious in the "science" of economics). Moreover, there is also a need to stay clear of the multifarious proliferation of quackery today. It is not easy to accomplish all of this. There are some difficult debates ahead on these question, I suspect.

 

This quote is taken from very early on in this thread in 2011.  

I think. Demogorgon and baboon and possibly the ICC itself feel the need to defend science, as explained above by jk, so that anyone who appears to be raising doubts about its freedom from bourgeois interference may find themselves accused of being anti-science, which is a non-sequitur.  But this  has happened to me this week.  It isn't true: I am not anti-science.  I merely query the extent to which it suffers from bourgeois interference and control. 

Demogorgon and baboon want to make out science has more freedom than some of us give it credit for, but at the same time admit on the side that it does suffer from bourgeoisie control. It's like: on the one hand science is free but  on the other hand it isn't!  As Pannekoek explained long  ago this - on the one hand yes, on the other hand no - is a favoured manner of argument for the bourgeois who considers everything in this way. Will the UK remain in the EU, or will it leave? But I'm not suggesting either Demo of baboon are bourgeois  thinkers. 

Demogorgon wrote:
 Darwin and Wallace are excellent examples of what we've been trying to explain  to Fred.

This puzzles me. I thought that what Demo was trying to force rather dogmatically down my throat was that science shouldn't be regarded discriminately as in any way under bourgeois  control - though we should always bear in mind that sometimes it is?  This "contradiction" as Demo calls it.  This paradox. It's free but it isn't. Darwin and Wallace were excellent examples of bourgeois scientific researchers who did magnificent work despite  the bourgeoisie.  Yes they did.  But of course they were working  alone as individuals, as amateurs almost, at a time when this was how science got done. They were explorers and adventurers. Science and scientists aren't like that today, not at least in physics, medicine, biology, advanced engineering and the like, where big bucks are involved, masses of investment and large forces of wage labour. Even the advanced and high powered professorial academics Demo cites approvingly are on somebody's payroll.  Being on somebody's payroll makes a difference to how researchers and, yes, even academics think and feel about themselves and what they do. Though we must remind ourselves  that Demo "has never met a submissive academic."  Pause here for thought. devil

As jk said long  ago: there are difficult debates ahead. Or there could be.  Probably not though! 

jk1921
The direction of this thread

The direction of this thread is totally lost on me, but Fred is right to point to the increasingly instrumentalist intertwinement of science with the state and capital today, compared to how science was practiced in the period of bourgeois ascendance. But I think others' point is that, despite this, science itself retains an underlying autonomy as a product of the human capacity to reason--to understand, react to and transform nature in the context of human praxis. But then again, I don't think Fred was saying something different, even if he appears much less sanguine about the role of science and the nature of scientific practice today in late capitalist society than others. There are numerous concrete examples we could point to either way of how 1.) "Science" produces fundamentally anti-human dogma as a product of the instrumentalist needs of the state or this or that faction of capital--this can be true even when there is a technical truth to the 'scientific' assertion or 2.) how the remaining bastions of autonomous science deepen our understanding of the world and humanity's place within it in a way that poses the possibility of a transcendence of the status quo--such moments can even arise from research conducted in the most instrumentalized forms of scientific practice that have been totally colonized by the state.

jk1921
Rage?

Demogorgon wrote:

Take for example, the first verse of Guerilla Radio, by Rage Against The Machine which is a savage condemnation of bourgeois democracy, controlled and manipulated by the military-industrial complex. RATM as individuals, or a band, of course aren't revolutionaries but a consumer product that made lots of money for the music industry. But some of the ideas they express are revolutionary, even though distorted and incoherent. So again, an inherent contradiction arises between a capitalist music industry selling a product that has revolutionary undertones and undermines its own basis of operation. The fact that there was a market for this, a whole generation who found an expression of their own fury with bourgeois society in this genre of music, shows how art can criticise and condemn while still remaining under the domination of the relations of production. Similarly, I paid substantial funds for my little library of Marxist texts. (There are, of course, many lefist ideologies expressed by RATM and similar bands as well, but we are talking about art, not deep political treatises. Art appeals as much to emotion and sentiment as to rational thought.)

Rage aren't revolutionary? Damn it, I want my money back for those t-shirts and back pack patches I bought! (An expression of the performance of revolution as a consumer lifestyle in the late capitalist culture industry without implying that some of the ideas expressed actually aren't revolutionary).

Demogorgon
Quote:Demogorgon and baboon

Quote:
Demogorgon and baboon and possibly the ICC itself feel the need to defend science, as explained above by jk, so that anyone who appears to be raising doubts about its freedom from bourgeois interference may find themselves accused of being anti-science, which is a non-sequitur.  But this  has happened to me this week.  It isn't true: I am not anti-science.  I merely query the extent to which it suffers from bourgeois interference and control.

Except that both myself and baboon have stated quite clearly that we accept it suffers from "bourgeois interference and control" and that it is stultified under capitalism. I even gave specific examples of those distortions. You, however, seem to be saying that science cannot have any real independence at all. We showed this was false by showing how many of the distortions previously identified were discredited by the scientific community at large and how science has, on several occasions, forced bourgeois society to confront the consequences of its mode of production (e.g. climate change).

Apparently, you interpret this argument as "on the one hand science is free but  on the other hand it isn't!". Although you say you're "not suggesting either Demo of baboon are bourgeois thinkers", you are suggesting that one or both of us are using a bourgeois method. You support this with a vague reference to Pannekoek claiming he says that "on the one hand yes, on the other hand no - is a favoured manner of argument for the bourgeois who considers everything in this way".

Unfortunately, you don't quote or reference this argument from Pannekoek so we don't know what he actually said. However, your characterisation has some pretty serious implications for Marxist methodology which is based on tracing inner contradictions within phenomena! Take for example, the problem of accumulation. Is it good for capitalism or bad for capitalism? Well, it must be good because accumulation is what capitalism is all about. But wait! Accumulation creates crisis which is bad, so does that mean its actually bad for capitalism? One the one hand, yes ... on the other hand, no.

Quote:
I thought that what Demo was trying to force rather dogmatically down my throat was that science shouldn't be regarded discriminately as in any way under bourgeois  control - though we should always bear in mind that sometimes it is?

Strawman argument. Nowhere have I said that science shouldn't be regarded critically. Ironically, that would be anti-science, given the methodology is based on constantly re-evaluating and testing hypotheses, even those that have been previously seemed to be verified. Nor does this apply to baboon; he stated earlier that "nothing is fixed in science and everything is open to question".

More to the point, this is another attempt at claiming I am somehow contradicting myself. The problem is not my argument, but the actual situation of science which is contradictory. A contradictory argument is when two statements contradict. For example:

  • A: The ball is black.
  • B: The ball is white.

Attempting to defend the two positions at the same time is logically impossible.

But this isn’t at all what I’m doing. Contradiction in Marxism deals not with logical contradictions but contradictions in terms of process and tendency. For example:

  • Process A leads the rate of profit to fall
  • Process B leads the rate of profit to rise

Both processes can exist within the totality, but one can only be fully realised by negating the other. If neither is permanently negated, then the movement of the total process (i.e. the unity of A and B) is jagged and contradictory.

How does this apply to our discussion?

As I have pointed out previously, there are tendencies within capitalism that do attempt to subordinate science to the needs of the bourgeoisie. Similarly, there are tendencies that enable science to escape that control. Thus, in the actual process of life in capitalism, we have situations (like the studies on tobacco) where science is co-opted by the bourgeoisie (or a faction thereof) and others where science can raise an incipient challenge (as with climate change).

In order to defeat my argument, you cannot simply say my argument is contradictory. The problem of the contradiction is located in the situation of science within capitalism. Given that we agree that Tendency A (towards the co-option of science) exists, the crux of this debate hinges on the question of Tendency B (the tendency for science to escape control).

What you have to do is demonstrate that there is no Tendency B or that Tendency B is wholly suppressed. You can’t, of course, do this without attacking the examples I’ve given – something which you haven’t attempted so far.

Quote:
Darwin and Wallace were excellent examples of bourgeois scientific researchers who did magnificent work despite the bourgeoisie.  Yes they did.  But of course they were working alone as individuals, as amateurs almost, at a time when this was how science got done.

And yet this picture of the isolated genius, toiling alone, etc. is the absolute classic bourgeois vision. It is clearly related to the classic period of capitalism where capitalists were largely individual capitalists and bourgeois ideology centred much more around the glorification of the individual. Given the low level of accumulation, a single capitalist could afford to build a factory. Similarly, the limited extent of scientific knowledge and the lower cost base necessary to undertake scientific research, allowed the existence of “Gentlemen Scientists”.

In any case, your agreement that Darwin achievements were “in spite of the bourgeoisie” means that any claims about the co-option of science can no longer be universal. Perhaps it only applies in decadence? Even if so, you will still need to attack the examples given earlier in this thread as they all were drawn from the decadent period.

On that note, just as the individual capitalist is now more or less extinct, making way for collective capitalist so, too, are the “gentleman scientists”. You are quite right in your description of modern science as “big bucks are involved, masses of investment and large forces of wage labour”. This is an inevitable consequence of the development of the productive forces of which science is a part.

Yet what is the a priori reason that makes science produced under the latter, proletarianised conditions more vulnerable to appropriation than science produced under the former? At the risk of repeating myself, capitalism cannot completely prescribe scientific enquiry. It is hard to predict, even in bourgeois terms, what sort of research will produce profitable applications. It has to allow free enquiry for science to do the job it needs it do. In circumstances where there is overt ideological control over science (for example, the Stalinist regimes in the Eastern Bloc), scientific progress is retarded (the regime’s attachment to Lysenkoism obliterated some cutting edge science on genetics). When this happens science is transformed more and more into pseudoscience. That the Soviet Union fell drastically behind in technical development thanks to this ideological control is common knowledge.

So we’re back to the contradiction I identified earlier in this thread. Capitalism cannot allow the free flow of science as it can threaten its ideological domination; at the same time, it needs that free enquiry to gain the benefits of science that are fundamental to its economic processes. Either tendency may dominate in a particular circumstance, as the multiple examples given in this thread by a parties demonstrate.

baboon
Yes Demo it was Spencer who

Yes Demo it was Spencer who used this distortion and it's Spencer's 'Social Darwinism' that Marx (and most people today) thought was what Darwin was implying:

"Contrary to an idea that predominated for a long time, Darwin never adhered ideologically to the Malthusian theory of the elimination of the weakest in the social struggle brought about by demographic growth. In The Origin of Species he simply used this theory as a model for explaining the mechanisms of organic evolution. It is thus totally wrong to attribute to Darwin the paternity for all the ultra-liberal ideologies advocating unbridled individualism, capitalist competition and the ‘law of the strongest'.

In his fundamental work, The Descent of Man, Darwin is actually categorically opposed to any mechanical and schematic application of elimination by natural selection to the human species that has embarked on the path of civilisation. Patrick Tort explains in a remarkably well-argued and convincing manner, supported by numerous quotes, how Darwin saw the application of his law of evolution to man and human societies.  Contrary to an idea that predominated for a long time, Darwin never adhered ideologically to the Malthusian theory of the elimination of the weakest in the social struggle brought about by demographic growth. In The Origin of Species he simply used this theory as a model for explaining the mechanisms of organic evolution. It is thus totally wrong to attribute to Darwin the paternity for all the ultra-liberal ideologies advocating unbridled individualism, capitalist competition and the ‘law of the strongest'.

In his fundamental work, The Descent of Man, Darwin is actually categorically opposed to any mechanical and schematic application of elimination by natural selection to the human species that has embarked on the path of civilisation. Patrick Tort explains in a remarkably well-argued and convincing manner, supported by numerous quotes, how Darwin saw the application of his law of evolution to man and human societies." (The Darwin Effect, Patrick Toit, on this website).

 

Demo above mentions "paradigms" - I don't know much about that or what it means so maybe Demo could explain a bit? Is it getting somewhat esoteric to talk about analogy. I don't think so because its entirely relevant to art and science although it can be a weak element, that is it can show the gulf as well as the connection between things. In Prehistoric Cave Art, Max Raphael says that Einstein's discovery of the dependence of mathematics upon the electromagnetic and gravitational fields was anticipated by Hegel and adds that, from his life and art, Palaeolithic man would "have been familiar with analogous dependence". But that's another question.

Demogorgon
Quote:Demo above mentions

Quote:
Demo above mentions "paradigms" - I don't know much about that or what it means so maybe Demo could explain a bit?

Paradigm probably isn't the right word, which has a more technical meaning when applied to science, as I understand it. I meant more in the sense of a kind of overarching narrative that offers a particular lens through which to view the world. The classic example would be the "clockwork universe" a concept that encapsulated the fundamentals of Newtonian mechanics but also related to the development of actual mechanics and ... well ... clockwork in that period.

"Survival of the Fittest" would be another one, which certainly dominated the popular understanding of Darwinism, viewing the natural world through the lens of bourgeois competition.

I only meant that these examples do indicate that human thought (even in science) is obviously dominated by the historical circumstances in which it arises and this seems linked to the human tendency to explain the unfamiliar by analogy with the familiar.

I'm not sure if that makes any sense whatsover.

Fred
thank you again Demogorgon

Hi Demogorgon.  First my apologies for not knowing where my reference to what Pannekoek said comes from.  But it was in something by him I read on libcom about how he believes  the proletariat engages in a style of thinking quite different from that of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeois thinks in the style of "either /or" but the working class escapes the dichotomous trap and sees further.  But it'll come as no surprise to you that I am muddled about this  and can't even quote it correctly.  Mea culpa!

The extended quote from your post #119  which I give  below starts off with a quote from me.  I had said that science is under bourgeois control; you say not always.  In rebutting this as straw man stuff you deny that you ever said science shouldn't be regarded critically.  To which I reply now that I never said that anyway.  My point was about the imposition of bourgeois control. And how that shouldn't be accepted uncritically; not about science in itself.   (There is always the endless struggle with words as T.S. Eliot observed.)  

Demogorgon wrote:
 

Quote:I thought that what Demo was trying to force rather dogmatically down my throat was that science shouldn't be regarded discriminately as in any way under bourgeois  control - though we should always bear in mind that sometimes it is?

 

Strawman argument. Nowhere have I said that science shouldn't be regarded critically. Ironically, that would be anti-science, given the methodology is based on constantly re-evaluating and testing hypotheses, even those that have been previously seemed to be verified. Nor does this apply to baboon; he stated earlier that "nothing is fixed in science and everything is open to question".

More to the point, this is another attempt at claiming I am somehow contradicting myself. The problem is not my argument, but the actual situation of science which is contradictory. A contradictory argument is when two statements contradict. For example:

  • A: The ball is black.
  • B: The ball is white.

Attempting to defend the two positions at the same time is logically impossible.

But this isn’t at all what I’m doing. Contradiction in Marxism deals not with logical contradictions but contradictions in terms of process and tendency. For example:

  • Process A leads the rate of profit to fall
  • Process B leads the rate of profit to rise

Both processes can exist within the totality, but one can only be fully realised by negating the other. If neither is permanently negated, then the movement of the total process (i.e. the unity of A and B) is jagged and contradictory.

How does this apply to our discussion?

As I have pointed out previously, there are tendencies within capitalism that do attempt to subordinate science to the needs of the bourgeoisie. Similarly, there are tendencies that enable science to escape that control. Thus, in the actual process of life in capitalism, we have situations (like the studies on tobacco) where science is co-opted by the bourgeoisie (or a faction thereof) and others where science can raise an incipient challenge (as with climate change).

 

This is all excellent stuff Demogorgon and you really do amaze me at taking such trouble. It reminds me of "The Brain's Trust" on the wireless years ago and the way that A. J. Ayer would make his points, with others agreeing to disagree. But I am beginning a little to feel like a fly trapped in a spider's web, with the magnificent spider itself, all beady eyed and glossy looking at me from his den, and thinking of lunch. Baboon is there too, egging you on from the sidelines but dying to get in with Max Raphael.  

baboon
Fred gives two reasons for

Fred gives two reasons for firmly cementing the superstructural elements of society into its economic base: One is the centrality of the proletariat and the second, in the case of science, is the latter's total absorbtion into capitalism. No-one on here disagrees with the centrality of the working class and nor do they disagree with the idea of the integration of science into the developments of state capitalism, militarism and the war economy. That's not the argument here which is one of a relative autonomy of elements which can strain against and attempt to go beyond the economic base. It's a contradiction but as Demo suggests, that is what marxism deals with. This "tension" is not a contradiction of marxism but a contradiction of society and the dialectical relationship of its infrastructurre/superstructures.

 

The vast majority of scientific workers on a research project like LIGO are made up mainly of technicians, engineers and research assistants on low wages and it is wrong to demonise them because they are part of a scientific community. Many workers now, through the arms and related industries and through developments of state capitalism, are directly working for the war economy. That doesn't make them pampered or submissive - it simply makes them part of the working class exploited by capital that is increasingly in crisis.

 

For all his thick lines of separation between base and superstucture Fred's arguments are permeated by his human experiences; thus he likes the revolutionary music of Beethoven and Mozart (I like that of the father of both, Joseph Haydn - you can see where the kids get it from). He appreciates elements of art and architecture in much the same way that most workers in Europe say have an acquaintence with (however fleeting) and appreciation of Greek art. Why should that be? It's dead and its economic basis has long disappeared.

 

Fred talks about the individual genius of Darwin and Wallace. Certainly their joint work, and the bravery of both, made significant developments but this didn't appear out of nowhere. Their works were based on many previous scientific contributiohs published and unpublished, named and anonymous. Medievel Islamic science had a theory of evolution as did the ancient Chinese.

 

Neither does the proletariat come from nowhere. It has a history, antecedents and relationships to elements that exist outside itself. It is the ability of the working class to confront, reject or recognise and absorb these elements outside of its immediate class interests that contribute in part to making this a revolutionary class.

Fred
Thank you for your

Thank you for your interesting post baboon.  I was surprised to hear you like Haydn. But why surprised? Haydn's music is honest and straightforward without the complications of Romanticism and his heart beat is firm and steady. A peasant raised to the stature of Court Musician he never lost his love of a joke or a good tune. But he could write fugues along with the rest of them if he wished.  In later life he was the darling of the London  musical scene.  No doubt his honesty and outward simplicity was a  breath of fresh air to a bourgeoisie ceaselessly toiling to make money in the ever expanding markets. And Haydn mostly sounds confident.  No self doubt for him. Not admitted anyway. That wouldn't be good form.

Apart from that I take note of your delicate censures of what you see as my ahistorical approach to art and science (Darwin and Wallace) while wanting to say that you're wrong anyway. Posts on the web can't always be giving potted histories of the working class, or scientific and art history. This is the case, even if, as you appear to think, Marxism may seem to demand it. I also want to apologise to Demo for comparing his posting style  to the "logical positivist" and now discredited outpourings of A J Ayer. Though there is a faint resemblance.  

Demogorgon
Another example

This article highlights the contradictions being discussed on this thread. On the one hand, the government controls funding to ensure that science is aimed towards subjects with "relevance and impact". On the other, it is trying to prevent "researchers who receive government grants from using their results to lobby for changes to laws or regulations".

State interests certainly seem to see science as (or rather should be) a wholly neutral, contemplative exercise. It looks like the scientific community just isn't smart enough to grasp how that whole science thing works, though. Why, it's almost as if they think there's a link between theory and practice!

lem_
You would think that the

You would think that the bigger and more succesful science gets, the more neutral it is

i.e. it is more neutral than it ever was

The issue for me is more in the opposite... that governments and research agencies could create something unintended

Mcl Huahin
Science and Autonomy

In other words mikail, members of the scientific community are no more likely to operate autonomously than members of bourgeois society?