On the book “And if time didn’t exist?” by Carlo Rovelli: thought in movement

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baboon
On the book “And if time didn’t exist?” by Carlo Rovelli: thought in movement
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: On the book “And if time didn’t exist?” by Carlo Rovelli: thought in movement. The discussion was initiated by baboon.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

baboon
I think that this is a useful

I think that this is a useful piece for situating at least some of the discussion elsewhere on Science as an element with some autonomy from the economic base: the dynamic nature of knowledge; no taboos in discussion and researchy; the need for rigorous method; the need to constantly questioning and overturning. The article is good for situating Roverlli's interesting views and pointing out the weaknesses of science and the absurdity of ideas of scientific islands of purity.

Lee Smolin, who works with Rovelli on Loop Quantum Gravity, is also relavent to this and wider discussion. Smolin dismisses the ideas of multiverses saying that there is one world of which only one history is realised. For him, there's a general overestimation of the scope of societiy's scientific understanding. For example he says that we need a deeper scientific understanding and measurement of quantum theory that goes beyond the incomplete understanding we have in quantum mechanics. We can't make any sort of synthesis between the "large" and the "small" until we have such an understanding.

LBird
Comment

baboon wrote:

I think that this is a useful piece for situating at least some of the discussion elsewhere on Science as an element with some autonomy from the economic base: the dynamic nature of knowledge; no taboos in discussion and researchy; the need for rigorous method; the need to constantly questioning and overturning. The article is good for situating Roverlli's interesting views and pointing out the weaknesses of science and the absurdity of ideas of scientific islands of purity.

Just a short comment, baboon.

I've made the point elsewhere that Engels' 'materialism' and its focus on 'matter' (rather than Marx's concern with 'social production') prevents 'autonomy', 'dynamic knowledge' and 'questioning', and enforces 'taboos' and strengthens bourgeois science and its methods.

baboon wrote:
Lee Smolin, who works with Rovelli on Loop Quantum Gravity, is also relavent to this and wider discussion. Smolin dismisses the ideas of multiverses saying that there is one world of which only one history is realised. For him, there's a general overestimation of the scope of societiy's scientific understanding. For example he says that we need a deeper scientific understanding and measurement of quantum theory that goes beyond the incomplete understanding we have in quantum mechanics. We can't make any sort of synthesis between the "large" and the "small" until we have such an understanding.

Again, 'materialism' 'overestimates' bourgeois society's 'scientific understanding'.

Finally, 'the "large" and the "small" ' are estimations of consciousness, not 'objective properties of matter'. We are the judges of what 'is'; 'matter' does not tell us what it 'is'.

Marx argues for social theory and practice, for active humanity, for the creation by us of a world for us.

'Materialism' is an ideology for elite control. Engels did not understand that.
 

LBird
Recommendation

If anyone is interested, an article by Carlo Rovelli titled 'The Disappearance of Space and Time' can be downloaded and printed, quite easily from the net.

I've just done so, and if anyone wishes to discuss his article, especially in relation to Communism, I'll be only too glad to participate.

LBird
Concepts sit in consciousness, not being

LBird wrote:

If anyone is interested, an article by Carlo Rovelli titled 'The Disappearance of Space and Time' can be downloaded and printed, quite easily from the net.

Now having read Rovelli's article, I think that the title could be better phrased as "The Transference of Space and Time from 'Matter' to 'Relationship' ".

That is, the concepts don't 'disappear', but are re-situated in the relationship between human thought and 'out there', as opposed to the concepts being reflections of 'out there'.

Anyone who is interested in the philosophy of science will recognise that the latter is the outdated bourgeois notion of 'objectivity', which is unfortunately carried on by Engels' 'materialism'.

However, the notion of 'spacetime' as being a product of a relationship between a social consciousness and (what Marx called) 'inorganic nature' ('being' or 'out there') fits very well with Marx's ideas about 'socio-historical production'.

Thus, Rovelli's modern argument about the nature of physics seems to confirm Marx's approach, and to discredit Engels' misunderstanding of Marx.

'Spacetime' is a socio-historical product.

Fred
LBIrd's excellent theses

LBird wrote:
 I've made the point elsewhere that Engels' 'materialism' and its focus on 'matter' (rather than Marx's concern with 'social production') prevents 'autonomy', 'dynamic knowledge' and 'questioning', and enforces 'taboos' and strengthens bourgeois science and its methods.

 

baboon wrote:Lee Smolin, who works with Rovelli on Loop Quantum Gravity, is also relavent to this and wider discussion. Smolin dismisses the ideas of multiverses saying that there is one world of which only one history is realised. For him, there's a general overestimation of the scope of societiy's scientific understanding. For example he says that we need a deeper scientific understanding and measurement of quantum theory that goes beyond the incomplete understanding we have in quantum mechanics. We can't make any sort of synthesis between the "large" and the "small" until we have such an understanding.

 

 

 

Again, 'materialism' 'overestimates' bourgeois society's 'scientific understanding'.

Finally, 'the "large" and the "small" ' are estimations of consciousness, not 'objective properties of matter'. We are the judges of what 'is'; 'matter' does not tell us what it 'is'.

Marx argues for social theory and practice, for active humanity, for the creation by us of a world for us.

'Materialism' is an ideology for elite control. Engels did not understand that.

 

 

I think i see what LBird is getting at. 

 

His comment  "the 'large' and the 'small' are estimations of consciousness, not 'objective properties of matter," struck a cluster of harmonious chords for me.  We have nothing with which to compare our feeble understandings of the universe,  and thus no idea of of its "size".

Ditto: we are the judges of what matter is!  Matter doesn't actually tell us. The rocks don't talk. 

Also "Marx argues....for the creation by us of a world for us."  This is active living creative humanity released from materialism's blinkers, and with a whole new world to win. 

THE CREATION BY US OF A WORLD FOR US. Our concepts of the world as communists are not a mere reflection of it but the result of a living active relationship, constantly renewed,  the essence of creativity.   

LBird
What's the matter?

Fred, thanks for your kind words, but it's important to recognise that these are not simply my 'excellent theses', but are my re-wording of Marx's 'excellent theses' for a modern audience of class conscious workers.

Further, since you seem to be giving some credence to my views at the moment regarding 'matter', have a think about this:

What type of society is likely to produce the concept of 'matter', a concept that is supposed to simply reflect 'reality', an 'out there'?

This 'matter' is something that just 'exists', without a 'history', it precedes human intervention, and so is not a 'social product', and thus can't be 'changed'.

Doesn't that sound like a justification for 'private property'?

That is, a class society will produce a class physics which embodies the 'theory and practice' of the ruling class.

The key socio-historical concept for the bourgeoisie is 'private property', which is not amenable to democracy, and can't be changed by a vote. It just 'is', and is alleged to be a transhistorical 'fact' about the 'real world', and has existed eternally.

Bourgeois physicists use 'matter' as an ideological bulwark for their real concern: a world that they say can't be changed, but must simply be 'objectively observed' AS IT IS.

If one has 'matter' as one's central scientific concern, one can't change 'matter', but must contemplate it.

If one has 'social production' as one's central scientific concern, one can change 'matter'.

For Marxists, 'matter' is a socio-historical product, which we can change. 'Matter' IS 'private property'.

This physics was all lost on Engels.

  

lem_
I don't understand what is so

I don't understand what is so great 

It sounds a bit like semantic internalism put down to the energy of the self rather than its failures.

Both are fairly limited. Our understanding of how things work is, IMHO anyway, quite far from insignificant and limited.

I just mean that we know an awful lot about how things behave, and I assume tthat our empirical successes won't be thrown out even if it happens that reality isn't composed or structured as we expect, i.e. we end up explaining it differently.

Of course it would turn out we are being deceived by absolutely everything. I don't think that has anything to do with Marxism though, cos I think Marx allows for some things to be more true that others.

lem_
I just mean that even if our

I just mean that even if our current theories turn out to be wrong, and there is a scientific (not technological) revolution which makes them a redundant mess, we do know how our observable world behaves, and there's no reason IMHO anyway to think that observable world isn't real.

So even if you embrace reductionism and global skepticism about whatever the world reduces to, there still is a world of things. It's just that they don't break up how we hoped. i.e. whatever happens, the things in the world are real, useful, and knowable. This is materialism, in that we are not eliminating matter but changing our minds about what it is,.

BTW I just think that critiquing science from this persective is irrelevant and not really much do with with Marxism. How are we being exploited by the labour of scientists? Not, IMHO, cos we believe there really is a Higgs Buson. At best that's flakey, at worst it's prenicious ideology.

It's conceivable that the attitude that there is, is fetishistic. But this has nothing to do with Capitalism meaning we cannot know anything at all

Fred
everything's the matter!

Hi LBird. 

The word "matter" is open to various interpretations. But when Engels said something like: "Consciousness is the highest development achieved by matter so far," he was using the word quite differently from the more obvious way in which the  bourgeois uses it. Maybe he was thinking of "matter" as being the fundamental stuff of the universe and what we call life? I believe he would include thought, social relationships, love and comradeship in his Engelsian concept of "matter". And if "consciousness" is the highest achievement of "matter" so far - at least in this corner of our universe - then class consciousness, when we attain it again, will be an even greater one.  

Engels sees matter as the stuff of the universe. We don't know much about it as yet, but when we all free up our grey matter from the bourgeoisie's blockage on its wider use, we could well be amazed. 

In any case, I think it's a mistake and somewhat unkind to forget or overlook the great sustaining life giving friendship between Engels and Marx, who kept each other going for forty miraculous years. 

lem_
Quote:The word "matter" is

Quote:
The word "matter" is open to various interpretations.

I totally agree.

I suppose the thing is that I see Communist consciousness, of science too, as, sure a break with history, but also its consummation. 

Of course whether that matters, that freedom isn't just something we don't yet have, depends on how we are suffering. I would take the idea that this 'suffering' is sense building, over some epiphany

LBird
Who is the 'achiever'? Matter or us?

Fred wrote:

Hi LBird. 

The word "matter" is open to various interpretations. But when Engels said something like: "Consciousness is the highest development achieved by matter so far," he was using the word quite differently from the more obvious way in which the  bourgeois uses it.

[my bold]

No, Fred.

'Matter' does not 'achieve'; 'human social theory and practice achieves'.

'Matter' is a PRODUCT of 'human social theory and practice'.

Engels was unfortunately using it in precisely the same way as the bourgeoisie use it.

The SOCIAL PURPOSE of 'matter' is to pretend to remove 'out there' from human creativity.

'Matter' and its usage is bourgeois 'theory and practice'.

'Matter' is the physics accompaniment to 'Private Property'.

'Matter' DOES NOT HAVE any other social purpose.

Engels did not understand Marx's ideas about 'theory and practice'.

With Marx's ideas, we can locate the emergence of 'matter' in a specific socio-historical context, and thus change it

For Engels, 'matter' just 'is', and so it can't be changed, it can only be contemplated.

'Materialists', like Engels, do not regard us as the 'active side', as Marx did.

'Materialists' regard 'matter' as the 'achiever', as the 'active side'.

  

lem_
It's a fugure of speech

It's a figure of speech

Quote:
For Engels, 'matter' just 'is', and so it can't be changed, it can only be contemplated.

total nonsense IMHO.

unless you mean it cannot be changed by thought alone, or cannot be completely changed.

things are recalcitrant. your idea that materialism is bunk is just contemplation of fantasy.

which has nothing to do with practice, either yours or anyone else's, and never will.

at best it's asceticism. at worst it's demagoguery 

Fred
We are matter, like it or

We are matter, like it or not. Flesh, bone and blood.  There wouldn't be any "human social theory and practice" if it wasn't for our material existence.  Matter is the fabric of the uniiverse and all that's in it, including theory and practice, all thought, intuitions, impulses and so on. 

But really LBird, we've kinda had this discussion before.  And got nowhere. So I don't want to do it all again.  And get nowhere. Accepting our "material existence" doesn't make someone a "materialist" bourgeois political style.  And as to the "active" side -  well nothing is more active than the stuff of the universe, which changes all the time, and we're part of it. 

But if it is essential to your on-going material existence to believe that Engels was a materialist, deficient and backward looking - well that's okay by me.  

We are matter!  We are the achievers! We are "the active side."  We are matter but not materialists! 

Now I have finished for today.  Good night sweet prince. 

LBird
We create our world, matter, spacetime and all

No problem, Fred.

I've no wish to go through it all again, either.

It's just that your post #7 seemed to be a bit of an epiphany regarding what I'm arguing about physics, which fits with Marx and Rovelli.

All I can ask is, if you say 'We are matter'...what is 'matter'?

Modern physics seems to be moving in the direction of Marx - that 'matter' (like 'spacetime') is a social product.

If 'matter' is a 'social product', then we create it.

And so, as Marx argued, we can change it.

Engels failed to understand this.

Fred
what I mean by "matter"

"Matter" is the basic stuff of the universe, It isn't a social product as it precedes all life.  But it is what produced on earth the first primeval amoebic cell, then the fish that crawled from the sea onto the land and eventually the apes and monkeys including us.  And  we (if this isn't total human vanity) are its most intelligent product so far in that we have developed consciousness and are even capable of class consciousness which is the next step forward for us and the planet in our evolutionary movement towards freedom from want. 

I did have an epiphany in my  post #7, but your pooh-poohed it because I mentioned Engels. 

I will confess that I have little idea of what I mean by the word "matter". But there was lots of material around on the planet before any life appeared, and it must have been the chemical and environmental interactions of some of this "matter" that sparked the beginnings of life.  Thus we human beings are ipso  facto the highest and most developed product of this matter so far.  It produced us, we didn't produce it. This is is nothing to be ashamed of.  Freedom of thought, or the possibility of it, is all the result of some basic original single cell life form leading to  that fish that dared to crawl onto the land. 

Matter has freed us to create our world.  (For "matter" you could of course read "god". But while scientists can tell us what constitutes matter,  they can't do that for god.)

 

LBird
A matter of sadness

Fred wrote:

It produced us, we didn't produce it.

Fred, many Marxists have pointed out that since Engels managed to produce a 'Marxism' that tells workers like you that they are not the producers of their world, but that 'matter' is the producer, that this 'Engelsism' destroys the fundamental insight of Marx.

Marx argued that the 'active side' is humanity, and that social theory and practice is their method.

Whilst workers look to 'matter', they won't look to themselves.

The irony is, Fred, that bourgeois physics is moving in this direction, pioneered by Marx, but that the workers' movement, dominated by 'matter', has remained in the 19th century.

It's so sad. We Communists should be providing a lead for all the workers engaged in physics.

Fred
I haven't said that workers

I haven't said that workers don't produce our social world - and doubt if Engels said that either - but surely even you would agree that the planet itself, the Earth, the beginnings of life itself, were not the products of Humanity! We came on the scene much later.  Or are you some latter day N.American religious freak who believes the Creation myth? Everything was produced in six days including Adam and Eve? 

I have never heard of or come across any workers who accept the absurd idea you credit once again to Engels that workers don't produce everything, but rather that matter does! And how such cock and bull rubbish could ever be regarded as Marxism defies my comprehension.  

You make things up LBird.  You hold some ideas that don't make sense and will go to endless lengths to protect them as if your honour depends on it.  

It  is a fact that the first life on this planet was produced in a concoction of primeval slime.  This primeval slime was the original "matter" from which life on Earth began.

Yes humanity is "active" and has its "active side"! And Marx said it first.  But oh god LBird haven't you realised that your endless repetition of your mantras, like on a prayer wheel, doesn't go anywhere, or persuade anybody that "you're right". 

You say: "workers don't look to matter they look to themselves!" Wow! That must be the insight of the week.  Of course workers don't look to matter.  (The very phrase " look to matter" is meaningless.) That doesn't mean however that they aren't made out of it - flesh and bone, don't you know? - nor does it mean that the workers movement is "dominated" by matter, as if matter was an ideology, or that Marx's critical theories aren't also the product of his brain. His grey matter. 

If you LBird are one of those providing a lead for workers in physics then I feel sorry for the whole lot of them. They must be stultified. 

 

LBird
Revert to type: abuse, not argument

Fred wrote:

I haven't said that workers don't produce our social world...

No, Fred, that's Engelsism.

Marx argued that we produce both our natural and social world. Marx sought a unified method to do so. The bourgeoisie separated 'science' into 'hard, physical' and 'soft, social' portions, for their own political and ideological purposes. Engels mistakenly followed their lead.

The rest of your post, rather than read and reply to Rovelli (or Marx) consists in slagging me off.

Why argument seems to bring the worst out of 'Engelsian materialists', I don't know.

As you've said Fred, we've probably exhausted any channels between us. Your last post reminds of this. Clearly, I made a mistake in taking your post #7 at face value.

Are there any other comrades who wish to discuss Rovelli's 21st century physics, and how Marx can help make sense of those 'social physics'?

lem_
Where has Fred been abusive

Where has Fred been abusive to you, please quote. Did he call you a bourgeois?

I think in saying you are defending your honour, Fred is trying to help. I also think that he is providing an argument, and that is stronger than yours, which is both unusual and unconvincing.

 

 

LBird
Engels and physics

lem_ wrote:

Where has Fred been abusive to you, please quote. Did he call you a bourgeois?

I think in saying you are defending your honour, Fred is trying to help. I also think that he is providing an argument, and that is stronger than yours, which is both unusual and unconvincing.

Since you are another poster who quickly turns to abuse, rather than reading and discussing differences, I'll make this quick and singular.

Fred hasn't 'provided' any 'argument'; he hasn't even read Rovelli; he hasn't examined the differences between Marx and Engels regarding epistemology.

The only reason you regard my argument as 'unusual and unconvincing' is that you haven't read any philosophy of physics, by Einstein, Bohr, Schrodinger, Heisenberg, Born, etc.

The reality of physics during the 20th century is that it moved ever closer to Marx's ideas about humans actively creating their world, and that humans use social theory and practice to do so, and that all human science, including maths and physics, is produced by us.

The bourgeois philosophers are laying the ground for Democratic Communism, the social control of the means of production...

...and most Communists, including you and Fred, are still looking to Engels' 19th century misunderstanding of Marx, and 'matter', for a lead.

You couldn't make it up.

lem_
Quote:Since you are another

Quote:
Since you are another poster who quickly turns to abuse

you are another poster that quickly turns to "far out" ideas based on triviality, selective quotation, abuse, and sheer nonsense.

btw, if you want me to read and respond to your entire post, maybe don't preface it with playing the victim, or calling me bourgeois.

lem_
The argument e.g in his 1st

The argument e.g in his 1st paragraph above:

Quote:
I haven't said that workers don't produce our social world - and doubt if Engels said that either - but surely even you would agree that the planet itself, the Earth, the beginnings of life itself, were not the products of Humanity! We came on the scene much later.  Or are you some latter day N.American religious freak who believes the Creation myth? Everything was produced in six days including Adam and Eve?

Is that if Marx, or even you, really believed that nothing is not produced by the practical activity of labour, then the "beginning of life itself" was itself also so. which seems no different to biblical studies.

no i don't read physics books. i'm not sure you should either.

Quote:
You couldn't make it up.
quite

 

lem_
I mean whatever you think of

I mean whatever you think of our alienated labour, you have to say that we did well in creating the universe with it lol.

Quote:
Marx argued that we produce both our natural and social world

I suppose Marx could've argued philosophically for something that later turns out to be proven with physics. i.e. yoiur thesis that there is no physical reality and all is labour and consciousness.

And it is seems true that nowhere does he unequivocally say that this isn't the case.

But neither did he unequivocally say that he wasn't a robot. So, I guess, you have that too

BTW I have studied the philosophy of physics. I subscribe to structural realism

MH
Agree with the ICC?

LBird, I was curious to see what your reaction would be to the publication of this article by the ICC. I think it was the ICC that first introduced you to Rovelli's work?

While the article doesn’t express an ‘official’ position of the organisation on Rovelli’s arguments – for reasons the article itself explains – at the very least we have to assume it expresses a broad line of thinking in the ICC on this subject. There is no indication it defends a minority or dissident view.  

So here’s the question: how is it possible that the ICC - an organisation you have repeatedly criticised for its ‘Engelism’, ‘Leninism’, ‘elitism’, etc. – can defend a Marxist revolutionary position on such a crucial scientific issue for you despite defending a completely false and reactionary position on materialism?

Or do you disagree with what the ICC says about Rovelli? If so it would be very interesting to know what your areas of agreement and disagreement are…

LBird
Rovelli complements Marx, not Engels

MH wrote:

LBird, I was curious to see what your reaction would be to the publication of this article by the ICC. I think it was the ICC that first introduced you to Rovelli's work?

While the article doesn’t express an ‘official’ position of the organisation on Rovelli’s arguments – for reasons the article itself explains – at the very least we have to assume it expresses a broad line of thinking in the ICC on this subject. There is no indication it defends a minority or dissident view.  

So here’s the question: how is it possible that the ICC - an organisation you have repeatedly criticised for its ‘Engelism’, ‘Leninism’, ‘elitism’, etc. – can defend a Marxist revolutionary position on such a crucial scientific issue for you despite defending a completely false and reactionary position on materialism?

Or do you disagree with what the ICC says about Rovelli? If so it would be very interesting to know what your areas of agreement and disagreement are…

Yeah, MH it was the ICC that got me into Rovelli's work. I think his views are very thought-provoking, and close to Marx's.

The problem is, the posters on this site apparently don't agree with Rovelli's arguments about physics. Since at least some of the posters are ICC members, I found this very strange, until I realised that the posters here look to Engels, and not Marx.

I've tried very hard, on dozens of threads, to discuss this difference between Engels and Marx, and have provided probably hundreds of quotes from Marx, Engels, Pannekoek, Dietzgen, Lukacs, Korsch, etc., to say nothing about physicists, but I only seem to meet, at best, religious devotion to 'matter', and at worst, abuse.

To sum up, it seems to me that I agree with Marx, Rovelli and the ICC, but when I point out that Engels and 'materialists' don't, with plenty of evidence to back this up, it causes, not thoughtful, critical discussion, but personal abuse.

LBird
What the ICC says differs from Engels' 'materialism'

Since I haven't been abused, I thought I would give some quotes from the ICC article about Rovelli and the production of scientific knowledge, to show the impossibility of using Engels' 'materialism', and the necessity for using Marx's 'theory and practice' (ie., 'idealism-materialism').

ICC article wrote:
...a dynamic vision of science and the truth...

Thus, the 'truth' of 'matter' is not something 'material' that we can touch, but an idea we produce, and it's an idea that is socio-historical and can change. Thus, in physics, 'matter' has disappeared, to  replaced by 'energy'.

ICC article wrote:
...the scientific method always begins by... calling into question... old theories...

Thus, critical ideas are the starting point, not 'material'.

ICC article wrote:
...a debate of ideas...

Thus, not asking of 'material'.

I'll give more, if there is a taste for discussion.

LBird
Some words from Rovelli

Rovelli, quoted by the ICC, wrote:
...the force of scientific thought is revealed...not through experiments, neither 'mathematics', nor in a 'method'. It is in scientific thought's own capacity to always question. Doubt its own affirmations.

Thus, the key is 'critical thought': 'new ideas', 'novel conceptions', freshly created by human consciousness, which are then followed by human practice, which characterises Marx and Rovelli's science. The bourgeoisie are finally approaching where Marx arrived in the 1840s. That is, revolutionary science.

This is nothing whatsoever to do with Engels' 'materialism'.

Those who subscribe to 'materialism' are opposed to Marx, Rovelli and the ICC (if the ICC does agree with 'theory and practice').

Engels followed bourgeois positivist 19th century science, and its erroneous concerns with 'matter', 'objective fact', 'Eternal Truth' and 'Universal Knowledge'.

We humans create our world, both 'natural' and 'social'. We can create a 'unified method' that applies to all science, whether sociology or physics, as Marx sought to do.

lem_
Quote:Since I haven't been

Quote:
Since I haven't been abused

Quote:
Rovelli and the ICC (if the ICC does agree with 'theory and practice').

wait, are you now suggesting that the ICC agree with your claims?

are they following your lead, or is it just a coincidence?

LBird
The ICC article is Marxist, not Engelsist

lem_ wrote:

Quote:
Rovelli and the ICC (if the ICC does agree with 'theory and practice').

wait, are you now suggesting that the ICC agree with your claims?

I'm merely quoting the ICC, and quoting what the ICC says that Rovelli says.

The Rovelli book seems to be in Italian, which I can't read.

As a help, I told comrades about a Rovelli book chapter which is in English.

lem_ wrote:

are they following your lead, or is it just a coincidence?

That's what I'm trying to find out: do the ICC members and supporters who post here, agree with the points made by the ICC article to which this thread refers?

Broadly speaking, I agree with the article - because the article does not embody Engels' 'materialism', but Marx's 'social theory and practice' ('idealism-materialism').

MH
Something doesn't add up

LBird wrote:

Broadly speaking, I agree with the article - because the article does not embody Engels' 'materialism', but Marx's 'social theory and practice' ('idealism-materialism').

And yet, the ICC also claims to defend historical materialism as the valid method of Marxism and has explicitly rejected your claims of a fundamental difference between Marx and Engels on this question.

So something doesn’t add up here. How can the ICC be correct in dealing with Rovelli but in your view defend bourgeois and reactionary positions when dealing with Engels and materialism?

Either you are right, and the ICC defends completely contradictory positions on these very basic questions.

Or maybe you are wrong, and beneath your perhaps justifiable ‘bending of the stick’ against the distortions of leftism, you broadly agree with the ICC not just on Rovelli but on the substance of the Marxist method and its approach to questions of science?

LBird
Not sure with whom my agreement is

MH wrote:

LBird wrote:

Broadly speaking, I agree with the article - because the article does not embody Engels' 'materialism', but Marx's 'social theory and practice' ('idealism-materialism').

And yet, the ICC also claims to defend historical materialism as the valid method of Marxism and has explicitly rejected your claims of a fundamental difference between Marx and Engels on this question.

So something doesn’t add up here. How can the ICC be correct in dealing with Rovelli but in your view defend bourgeois and reactionary positions when dealing with Engels and materialism?

Either you are right, and the ICC defends completely contradictory positions on these very basic questions.

Or maybe you are wrong, and beneath your perhaps justifiable ‘bending of the stick’ against the distortions of leftism, you broadly agree with the ICC not just on Rovelli but on the substance of the Marxist method and its approach to questions of science?

Yes, MH, 'something doesn't add up here'.

Since the article (by an ICC member) does not 'defend' Engels' materialism, and yet you claim that the ICC (as an organisation) does do so, I'm keen to discuss this.

I'm not sure whether I'm broadly agreeing only with the author's personal opinions or with the ICC.

I've given quotes from the article that clearly show the leading role of social conciousness in creating our world. There is no mention of 'matter' determining social consciousness, only the vital role of critical thought.

Marx, too, argued for 'omnibus dubitandum' - 'doubt everything'.

'Matter' does not 'doubt' - doubt requires consciousness.

LBird
Clarification, hopefully

MH, I'm trying to make my differences with Engels' 'materialism' as clear as possible for you.

I consider 'doubt' to be a property of consciousness, and not a property of a 'matter' that is outside of consciousness.

Engels did not understand this subtlety: that, although consciousness emerged from being, once it had emerged it had properties that 'matter' (I prefer Marx's 'inorganic nature', but will leave that for now) does not have.

So, 'doubt' is not simply 'material', but 'ideal' (or, Marx's 'organic nature', 'ideal-material').

'Inorganic nature' is the 'material' ingredient to labour, which produces 'organic nature'.

Unless we use the formulation ???-materialism, where '???' represents 'idealism', we can't use 'theory and practice'.

If 'historical' equals 'ideal', then 'historical materialism' will suffice.

But, for those influenced by Engels, H M is simply 'materialism', with a meaningless prefix.

lem_
Quote:'doubt' is not simply

Quote:
'doubt' is not simply 'material', but 'ideal' (or, Marx's 'organic nature', 'ideal-material').
quit being so coy.

you claim nothing is not a product of consciousness. that isn't "ideal-material" (a term you put in quotes, as if marx used it) but idealism.

if the icc agree with you, then which parts of the article support your claims? either about engels, theory never being developed from practice, or idealism.

these afaict are your key claims

lem_
Quote:I consider 'doubt' to

Quote:
I consider 'doubt' to be a property of consciousness, and not a property of a 'matter' that is outside of consciousness.

Engels did not understand this subtlety: that, although consciousness emerged from being, once it had emerged it had properties that 'matter' (I prefer Marx's 'inorganic nature', but will leave that for now) does not have.

nowhere in this trivial claim do you argue for, let alone prove, that everything is made by consciousness, as you say.

that is what you say, right ?

and i sincerely doubt that you can show that engels thought rocks had ideas about being rocks lol

LBird
ICC articles are too complex for reading

lem_ wrote:

if the icc agree with you, then which parts of the article support your claims?

Can't you read, lem_?

lem_
You're obsessed.Without, it

You're obsessed.

Without, it seems, any warrant at all

baboon
A few elements to the discussion

There have been many attempts to "split" Marx and Engels and show how one was opposed to the other. There are some secondary issues between them but they are exactly that and both of these voices spoke as one through dialectical materialism - a new and groundbreaking scientific advance. This advance didn't appear out of nothing but was based on previous philosophical and material advances, particularly that of the proletariat in action. In the same way Rovelli's work doesn't appear out of nothing but is built upon and relies upon previous knowledge of the likes of Niels Bohr, Einstein, Roger Penrose, etc.

 

Rovelli's (Einstein's) idea of "time dilation" given in the example of the film "Intersteller" in the article above applies at the level of the massive and at the level of creatures such as us (as the film accurately depicts it). Atomic clock experiments have shown that our heads, because of the slightly different gravitational fields that they exist in, age slower than our feet (always sleep on the top bunk - you'll live longer (relative to the person underneath). My mass, the matter I am made up of, is what seems to be preventing myself from existing in two places at once - as a sizeless, massless electron can for example. If this time dilation effect works at the massive level - black holes, galaxies, stars, etc.., and at the level of an average size human being - which we know it does - then it must affect all forms which have mass down to molecules - but not down to massless objects of the quantum world. So these latter phenomena can "superpose" - be in two places at once - as physicists say, making any number of universes possible. But at the level of anything with mass then such superposition is impossible - or seems to be.

 

Any number of values, anything at all, can be applies to an endless number of universes but Lee Smolin, who works with Rovelli on quantum gravity has some misgivings about this not least in relation to what we can measure because none of the questions of multiverses can be checked or verified - not yet anyway. Thus a  failed explanation is proposed as a success.  For Smolin, our universe has a history and laws that can be checked and  verified (or not).and this is the way forward particularly in advancing the measurements of the quantum world which, at the moment, are being undertaken on very limited areas rather than widening out.

 

One of L Bird's inconstistencies I think is his separation of matter from energy. Mass is not exactly the same thing as matter but for all intents and purposes, certainly here, they are the same and matter and energy are interchangeable under certain conditions (E=MC2) just as theory and practice are.

lem_
not inconsistent, incomprehensible

LBird wrote:

lem_ wrote:

if the icc agree with you, then which parts of the article support your claims?

Can't you read, lem_?

 

Can you support anything you say, LBird ?

LBird
The article does not refer to 'matter'

baboon wrote:

There have been many attempts to "split" Marx and Engels and show how one was opposed to the other. There are some secondary issues between them but they are exactly that and both of these voices spoke as one through dialectical materialism - a new and groundbreaking scientific advance.

But the article doesn't support this belief, baboon.

As I've shown with quotes from the article, it places emphasis on thought, ideas, doubt, not on 'material'.

If by 'dialectical' you mean 'ideas', why not simply use the term 'ideal', when speaking to interested workers?

The article doesn't support any notion of Engels' views on 'matter'.

Plus, Marx never used the phrase 'dialectical materialism'

 

lem_
Quote:As I've shown with

Quote:
As I've shown with quotes from the article, it places emphasis on thought

this is exactly how obsessions become dangerous to the obsessed.

emphasis ?

what are you trying to get out of this? are you trying to join the icc, or prove them wrong? maybe prove that you should've joined the icc? then what?

someonem somewhere, will maybe remember you...

lem_
This reminds me of my stint

This reminds me of my stint as an undergraduate. 

I was absolutely convinved that the end of life wasn't death, and took existentialism study with a young lecturer with some enthusiasm.

By the end of the lecture, I had probably read more than any of his undergraduate students ever had. But of course, he was much more able than me. In our last meeting, he asked me some 30 questions about my dissertation.

I just imagined that he was insane, and only answered one. Actually, it was a good answer, and he seemed almost shocked. His reply was better than mine though.

Maybe you have something important to add to our understanding of Engels. Your reading of Marx though is terrible IMHO

lem_
hand waving

lem_ wrote:

LBird wrote:

lem_ wrote:

if the icc agree with you, then which parts of the article support your claims?

Can't you read, lem_?

 

Can you support anything you say, LBird ?

please LBIrd, if not for your own conviction then at least to show other people you're not just making stuff up.

prove that all of reality is a construction of consciousness.

baboon
There's an interesting seven

There's an interesting seven minute clip from Roger Penrose on the nature of science, quantum mechanics specifically, and consciousness. Google "Roger Penrose, the quantum nature of consciousness". I think that Penrose is one of the greatest theoretical physicists alive today. He paints imaginative pictures and while I don't understand all his arguments, nor most of them, he is worth listening to.

lem_
phsyics is canny.

phsyics is canny.

LBird
Consciousness - within 'me' or within 'us'?

baboon wrote:

There's an interesting seven minute clip from Roger Penrose on the nature of science, quantum mechanics specifically, and consciousness. Google "Roger Penrose, the quantum nature of consciousness". I think that Penrose is one of the greatest theoretical physicists alive today. He paints imaginative pictures and while I don't understand all his arguments, nor most of them, he is worth listening to.

I've had a quick listen to the clip, baboon. To me, he is still looking for consciousness in the 'brain', rather than in a 'society'.

For anyone trained in bourgeois physics, which like all the bourgeois sciences is informed by the reductionism of the ideology of bourgeois individualism, the 'individual brain' is likely to be the setting for 'consciousness'. It's a bit like looking for 'value' in a 'tin of beans', rather than in 'social relationships'.

In science, you choose your ideology, and then do your 'objective practice'!

As a Democratic Communist and Marxist, I'm inclined to look for 'consciousness' as a emergent property of a 'society'; that is, in our present world, of a 'class'.

LBird
Physics is an argument

Baboon, have a look at the quote from the mathematical physicist Henry Stapp that I gave in post #21 on the 'Fetishism' thread.

That seems to suggest that looking for 'bits in the brain' might not be the best way to understand 'consciousness'.

Perhaps a comparison of the various ideas of Penrose and Stapp might be informative.

Fred
class consciousness

LBird wrote:
 In science, you choose your ideology, and then do your 'objective practice'!

As a Democratic Communist and Marxist, I'm inclined to look for 'consciousness' as a emergent property of a 'society'; that is, in our present world, of a 'class'.

 

I didn't know science was an ideology, but understood  the "upside-downess" of ideological thought to be kind of anti-science.  (You'll remember LBird that Marx said Hegel "stood on his head" etc.) Also I don't think people "choose" their ideology, but rather accept it dumb and uncritical. That's why it's called ideology.  It stands in opposition to consciousness 

You say you're inclined to look for 'consciousness' as an emergent property of 'society'.  I am inclined to agree with you on this.  In fact I understand consciousness as best revealed in "class consciousness". After all it'll be "class consciousness" that achieves the revolution or not. And Luxemburg's description of class consciousness developing among striking workers -  she described consciousness as spreading in "fructifying waves"- is memorable and has to be true! 

Fred
ideology again

I've been trying to find Marx's definition of ideology LBird, but can't.  Last time we had the "discussion about ideology" which is one of your favourites I think (and me too!) Alf intervened and supplied Marx's. But you have clearly not taken it on board.  And I can't find it on this site. But here is another kind of explanation I found on the web. 

Quote:
On top of the economic base Marx poses the "superstructure", all cultural structures that are the result of the economic base. An important part of the superstructure is, according to Marx, ideology. Ideology according to Marx is a veil pulled over the economic base in order to prevent people from seeing its inherit injustice (that is, until communism comes). Ideology convinces people that the current state of production is justified, warranted, "natural" or anything else which gets them to comply to it. Ideology has been famously referred to my Marx as "false consciousness". Revolutions come about when the fallacy of this consciousness is recognized
 

It isn't one of the world's best examples of a definition, or explanation, but unless Alf is prepared to jump in again, it'll have to do.  

Anyway, the same issue will be back again in a couple of months. To see science as ideology however, is surely a little problematic?  Although I do notice sadly that Rovelli abandoned his revolutionary  interests in favour  of science!  

I wonder why he did that? Couldn't he have pursued both, and brought  them together?  

LBird
All science is ideological

Fred wrote:

LBird wrote:
 In science, you choose your ideology, and then do your 'objective practice'!

As a Democratic Communist and Marxist, I'm inclined to look for 'consciousness' as a emergent property of a 'society'; that is, in our present world, of a 'class'.

 

I didn't know science was an ideology, but understood  the "upside-downess" of ideological thought to be kind of anti-science.  (You'll remember LBird that Marx said Hegel "stood on his head" etc.) Also I don't think people "choose" their ideology, but rather accept it dumb and uncritical. That's why it's called ideology.  It stands in opposition to consciousness 

If we embrace Marx's method of 'theory and practice', Fred, then we have to assume a link beween 'theory' and 'ideology'. That is, all forms of social consciousness are 'ideological', or biased. It's part of the human condition. There is no 'objective' position in the universe, what's been called derisively 'the view from nowhere'. Since we create our object, in science the term must always be 'social-objective'.

Einstein and Marx agree. Engels identified with pre-Einsteinian physics, and was wrong to do so.

Fred wrote:

You say you're inclined to look for 'consciousness' as an emergent property of 'society'.  I am inclined to agree with you on this.  In fact I understand consciousness as best revealed in "class consciousness". After all it'll be "class consciousness" that achieves the revolution or not. And Luxemburg's description of class consciousness developing among striking workers -  she described consciousness as spreading in "fructifying waves"- is memorable and has to be true! 

We agree on this, Fred.

But if 'consciousness' emerges from a 'society', and all societies have 'production ideologies', then the 'theory and practice' of that society in all 'production', including 'knowledge production', will be based upon pre-existing 'theories' - that is, an 'ideology'.

Democratic Communism is our ideology, and all of our production will be informed by Democratic Communism, including physics and maths.

LBird
We can all learn, including Rovelli

Fred wrote:

I've been trying to find Marx's definition of ideology LBird, but can't.  Last time we had the "discussion about ideology" which is one of your favourites I think (and me too!) Alf intervened and supplied Marx's. But you have clearly not taken it on board.  And I can't find it on this site. But here is another kind of explanation I found on the web. 

Quote:
On top of the economic base Marx poses the "superstructure", all cultural structures that are the result of the economic base. An important part of the superstructure is, according to Marx, ideology. Ideology according to Marx is a veil pulled over the economic base in order to prevent people from seeing its inherit injustice (that is, until communism comes). Ideology convinces people that the current state of production is justified, warranted, "natural" or anything else which gets them to comply to it. Ideology has been famously referred to my Marx as "false consciousness". Revolutions come about when the fallacy of this consciousness is recognized
 

It isn't one of the world's best examples of a definition, or explanation, but unless Alf is prepared to jump in again, it'll have to do.  

It's not only not 'the world's best', Fred, it's wrong.

It's based upon Engels, not Marx.

'False consciousness' was a concept invented by Engels. We had a thread on this, where I gave the relevant quotes. You were involved in the discussion. 

Fred wrote:

Anyway, the same issue will be back again in a couple of months. To see science as ideology however, is surely a little problematic?  Although I do notice sadly that Rovelli abandoned his revolutionary  interests in favour  of science!  

I wonder why he did that? Couldn't he have pursued both, and brought  them together?  

As far as I know, Rovelli isn't a Democratic Communist, at the moment. And so, he is not 'in favour of science'. He seems to be an academic, which will influence his ideology.

We must insist, as part of the development of revolutionary class consciousness amongst workers, that the only 'scientific method' is our class' method of Democratic Communism.

Thus, we can teach Rovelli.

baboon
I think that you have it

I think that you have it wrong about the line of research that Roger Penrose is taking L. Bird. Although I don't understand it, and Penrose himself doesn't seem to be too sure about it, the one thing that he is not doing is reducing the question to a local biiological one, that is, the individual brain. How can he be when he's talking about the relation of the brain to the quantum "field". There has to be a connection between the two - if you think about it. Fred's quote about Rosa talking about proletarian consciousness moving in waves is interesting. Trotsky describes the same thing in his History of the Russian Revolution.

I think that there are differences, or rather specifics to consciousness generally and proletarian consciousness.

It is generally positive when different elements of science come together to clarify questions rather than being shut off one from the other. The more that come together the merrier - in this case sub-atomic physics and biology. It's an interesting development.

LBird
Grey material stuff, or intangible ideal-material relationships?

baboon wrote:

I think that you have it wrong about the line of research that Roger Penrose is taking L. Bird. Although I don't understand it, and Penrose himself doesn't seem to be too sure about it, the one thing that he is not doing is reducing the question to a local biiological one, that is, the individual brain. How can he be when he's talking about the relation of the brain to the quantum "field". There has to be a connection between the two - if you think about it.

If I were to 'picturalise' the relationship between 'mind' and 'brain', I would see 'mind' (a social relationship) like an electricity power network, and a 'brain' as a plug. Clearly, a plug is needed to access the 'power', but one wouldn't seek to know how electricity works or comes from, by looking at the plug. Whilst bourgeois academics like Penrose keep looking at bourgeois plugs, they won't be able to give us Communists answers about social electricity relationships.

If Penrose wants answers, he needs to become a Communist and look at social production: that's where the secrets of 'mind' lie. He still using his old, round, two-pin bourgeois brain, when he needs to use our new, square, three-pin proletarian brains!

baboon wrote:

I think that there are differences, or rather specifics to consciousness generally and proletarian consciousness.

It is generally positive when different elements of science come together to clarify questions rather than being shut off one from the other. The more that come together the merrier - in this case sub-atomic physics and biology. It's an interesting development.

Sub-atomic particle physics (the physics complement to bourgeois individualist sociology) and biology (brain-matter as the seat of an individual's 'mind')?

Think I prefer Stapp, referring to the ideology of physics that looks to an individual particle as 'a set of relationships that reach outward to other things'.

When physics embraces Communism, we humans might get somewhere!

lem_
No offence to the person, but

No offence to the person, but I don't know why anyone still replies to LBird. He or she obviously has nothing to even begin to prove their idea, and won't be convinced otherwise.

They just repeat the same 'catchphrases'.

I suggest ignoring them until something changes

lem_
No offence to the person, but

Oops double post.

I'm not going to even read their 'posts' anymore... If they had a point that could be proven, if they thought as much about argument as imagining it, I expect someone other than themselves would know by now. FWIW, i will just repeat myself

Quote:
you claim nothing is not a product of consciousness. that isn't "ideal-material" (a term you put in quotes, as if marx used it) but idealism.

if the icc agree with you, then which parts of the article support your claims? either about engels, theory never being developed from practice, or idealism.

these afaict are your key claims

the same goes for physics, and marx.

i'll also add that we do have some, empirical, knowledge

Quote:
we know an awful lot about how things behave, and I assume tthat our empirical successes won't be thrown out even if it happens that reality isn't composed or structured as we expect, i.e. we end up explaining it differently.

if you really do disagree, then jump out a window or something haha

Fred
the repetition of 'catchphrases'

lem_ wrote:

No offence to the person, but I don't know why anyone still replies to LBird. He or she obviously has nothing to even begin to prove their idea, and won't be convinced otherwise.

They just repeat the same 'catchphrases'.

I suggest ignoring them until something changes

Im sorry to have to say this but I believe you are right lem. And I intend to take your advice. Fred. 

lem_
i guess...

I don't mind replying, but it's frustrating to read posts which don't go anywhere and don't seem to really want to.
 

I feel kinda bad saying that tbh. It's not like anyone else is using the forum

LBird
Catchphrases or ideologies?

Fred wrote:

lem_ wrote:

No offence to the person, but I don't know why anyone still replies to LBird. He or she obviously has nothing to even begin to prove their idea, and won't be convinced otherwise.

They just repeat the same 'catchphrases'.

I suggest ignoring them until something changes

Im sorry to have to say this but I believe you are right lem. And I intend to take your advice. Fred. 

I'm unsure where this has come from, Fred.

I thought that the exchanges on this thread were going pretty well.

We've even started, with baboon's help, to discuss the differing ideologies within physics, as represented, perhaps, by Penrose and Stapp

lem_
Eh I don't think it matters.

Eh I don't think it matters. I do kinda think that you LBird have your serious and not serious dials set up wrong.

But yes, I still think you're OK... you just need to either stick to one thread or be more 'rigorous'.

Alf
No Things

Engels always admitted that he did not possess Marx’s depth of thinking, and in common with a very large component of the workers’ movement of his day, sometimes lapsed into a philistine and reductive understanding of ‘materialism’.  But he could also display a real understanding of some of the most profound insights of Hegel, and was thus very far from being a crude materialist.

Evidence? Two paragraphs from Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classic German Philosophy, chapter 4.

I have turned the two passages on their head here, putting the second one first, because it seemed to me more understandable to begin with Engel’s summary of Hegel’s critique of “metaphysical” investigation in science: that it has no sense of becoming, but sees the world as a collection of static objects, each divided from all, without any feel for “the interconnection which binds all these natural processes into one great whole”.

The old method of investigation and thought which Hegel calls “metaphysical”, which preferred to investigate things as given, as fixed and stable, a method the relics of which still strongly haunt people’s minds, had a great deal of historical justification in its day. It was necessary first to examine things before it was possible to examine processes. One had first to know what a particular thing was before one could observe the changes it was undergoing. And such was the case with natural science. The old metaphysics, which accepted things as finished objects, arose from a natural science which investigated dead and living things as finished objects. But when this investigation had progressed so far that it became possible to take the decisive step forward, that is, to pass on the systematic investigation of the changes which these things undergo in nature itself, then the last hour of the old metaphysic struck in the realm of philosophy also. And in fact, while natural science up to the end of the last century was predominantly a collecting science, a science of finished things, in our century it is essentially a systematizing science, a science of the processes, of the origin and development of these things and of the interconnection which binds all these natural processes into one great whole. Physiology, which investigates the processes occurring in plant and animal organisms; embryology, which deals with the development of individual organisms from germs to maturity; geology, which investigates the gradual formation of the Earth’s surface — all these are the offspring of our century.

In the next paragraph Engels says without hesitation that what was revolutionary about Hegel’s thinking was the notion that you cannot understand the world as something “made up of readymade things”. This is the death blow, at least in anticipation, to the old bourgeois materialism, which claimed that it was possible to reduce all reality to a quantifiable amount of separate objects, to the realm of the atoms, of hard and fast stuff. Engels, aided by Hegel and the dialectic of nature, has a forward glimpse into the physics of the 20th century, which has overturned absolute space and time, while undermining the solidity of the atom and the certainty that “ours” is the only universe. There are thus no Things

In this way, however, the revolutionary side of Hegelian philosophy was again taken up and at the same time freed from the idealist trimmings which with Hegel had prevented its consistent execution. The great basic thought that the world is not to be comprehended as a complex of readymade things, but as a complex of processes, in which the things apparently stable no less than their mind images in our heads, the concepts, go through an uninterrupted change of coming into being and passing away, in which, in spite of all seeming accidentally and of all temporary retrogression, a progressive development asserts itself in the end — this great fundamental thought has, especially since the time of Hegel, so thoroughly permeated ordinary consciousness that in this generality it is now scarcely ever contradicted. But to acknowledge this fundamental thought in words and to apply it in reality in detail to each domain of investigation are two different things. If, however, investigation always proceeds from this standpoint, the demand for final solutions and eternal truths ceases once for all; one is always conscious of the necessary limitation of all acquired knowledge, of the fact that it is conditioned by the circumstances in which it was acquired. On the other hand, one no longer permits oneself to be imposed upon by the antithesis, insuperable for the still common old metaphysics, between true and false, good and bad, identical and different, necessary and accidental. One knows that these antitheses have only a relative validity; that that which is recognized now as true has also its latent false side which will later manifest itself, just as that which is now regarded as false has also its true side by virtue of which it could previously be regarded as true. One knows that what is maintained to be necessary is composed of sheer accidents and that the so-called accidental is the form behind which necessity hides itself — and so on.

In Anti-Duhring, Engels again takes up this theme, and links it to his criticism of “common sense” logic:

To the metaphysician, things and their mental reflexes, ideas, are isolated, are to be considered one after the other and apart from each other, are objects of investigation fixed, rigid, given once for all. He thinks in absolutely irreconcilable antitheses. "His communication is 'yea, yea; nay, nay'; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." [Matthew 5:37. — Ed.] For him a thing either exists or does not exist; a thing cannot at the same time be itself and something else. Positive and negative absolutely exclude one another, cause and effect stand in a rigid antithesis one to the other.At first sight this mode of thinking seems to us very luminous, because it is that of so-called sound common sense. Only sound common sense, respectable fellow that he is, in the homely realm of his own four walls, has very wonderful adventures directly he ventures out into the wide world of research. And the metaphysical mode of thought, justifiable and even necessary as it is in a number of domains whose extent varies according to the nature of the particular object of investigation, sooner or later reaches a limit, beyond which it becomes one-sided, restricted, abstract, lost in insoluble contradictions. In the contemplation of individual things it forgets the connection between them; in the contemplation of their existence, it forgets the beginning and end of that existence; of their repose, it forgets their motion. It cannot see the wood for the trees.

I think it’s also worth pointing out that in the highlighted section, Engels also anticipates the adventures of Bilbo Baggins. 

LBird
Engels remained a 'crude materialist'

Alf wrote:
Engels always admitted that he did not possess Marx’s depth of thinking, and in common with a very large component of the workers’ movement of his day, sometimes lapsed into a philistine and reductive understanding of ‘materialism’.  But he could also display a real understanding of some of the most profound insights of Hegel, and was thus very far from being a crude materialist.

Evidence? Two paragraphs from Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classic German Philosophy, chapter 4.

... these things undergo in nature itself...

[my bold]

'in nature itself' ? This is not Marx, but Engels. This is 'crude materialism', Alf.

As you then (correctly) say:

Alf wrote:
... a forward glimpse into the physics of the 20th century, which has overturned absolute space and time, while undermining the solidity of the atom and the certainty that “ours” is the only universe. There are thus no Things
[my bold]

But then Engels contradicts himself:

Engels wrote:

In this way, however, the revolutionary side of Hegelian philosophy was again taken up and at the same time freed from the idealist trimmings which with Hegel had prevented its consistent execution. The great basic thought that the world is not to be comprehended ...

He implies that it is to be comprehended in a different way, in the rest of his sentence.

In other words, not 'things' alone ('materialism'), but the 'comprehension of things' relationship ('idealism-materialism').

This is the problem, Alf. Engels contradicts himself. He didn't understand Marx.

Marx was talking about the 'social production relationship', of 'theory and practice', not 'nature in itself', supposedly outside of our social ideas.

Engels fell for 19th positivist science, which claimed to know nature 'as it is', 'things in nature itself'.

Demogorgon
What is Positivism?

This debate might be greatly enhanced if terms were defined. What is the definition of positivism?

LBird
Materialism is ruling class physics

Demogorgon wrote:

This debate might be greatly enhanced if terms were defined. What is the definition of positivism?

For the purposes of this thread, that is, understanding Rovelli's views of physics, it is the ideological belief that:

"science has a method to produce positive knowledge that reflects nature 'as it is' ".

It is the 'common sense' (ie. conservative) view in our society, that physicists have an access to 'reality' that can't be voted upon by non-physicists.

Whilst this is believed, and it's a ruling class idea, the proletariat cannot become the ruling force in society.

Again, for this thread's purposes, 'materialism' equates to 'positivism'.

Engels erroneously introduced these ideas into the socialist movement, and Rovelli's texts help to combat them.

Rovelli, like Marx, emphasises 'doubt', not 'Truth', in physics and all science, including maths.

baboon
Lem and Fred above make a

Lem and Fred above make a point about a sort of boycott of L. Bird. I'm aware of the challenging nature of L. Bird's positions. He has raised points in this discussion about the nature of science and consciousness that at least got me thinking about the question. My aim is not to convince L. Bird - that's not going to happen in a million years and would be a particularly pointless excercise.My aim is much more modest and that is to join in a discussion of general interest, i.e., a collective discussion from the point of view of the working class. The type of to and fro "bat and ball" arguments between two people on here are mostly fruitless and the only way forwards is to widen the discussion out.

 

Contrary to L. Bird, I think that an attempt, however tenuous, to link sub-atomic activity to the functioning of the brain can't be seen as a descent into individualism. L. Bird indicates that the quantum world is the framework for individualism and that this is the epitomy of bourgeois society. One of the themes of L. Bird's posts seem to me to be that everything outside of a pure communist consciousness (which nowhere exists) is a waste of time. And I don't think it wise to point to the individualism of the quantum world, as L. Bird does, when the spin of one sub-atomic particle will affect another on the other side of the Universe and everything in between.

LBird
Collective science

baboon wrote:

Lem and Fred above make a point about a sort of boycott of L. Bird. I'm aware of the challenging nature of L. Bird's positions. He has raised points in this discussion about the nature of science and consciousness that at least got me thinking about the question.

That's the point of Marxism, baboon, to raise questions about 'common sense' ideas in our society.

baboon wrote:

My aim is not to convince L. Bird - that's not going to happen in a million years and would be a particularly pointless excercise.My aim is much more modest and that is to join in a discussion of general interest, i.e., a collective discussion from the point of view of the working class.

You can't get much more 'discussion of general interest' to the collective working class than about the possibilities of our own production of our world.

'Science' is central to it.

LBird
'Spin'? By whom? Spin-doctors of physics?

baboon wrote:

... when the spin of one sub-atomic particle will affect another on the other side of the Universe and everything in between.

Where did you get this idea from, baboon?

baboon
From the lecture of Brian Cox

From the lecture of Brian Cox "A night with the stars". It seems to be based on the 'Pauli exclusion principle'. The idea would seem to contradict "normal" physics because in appearance its suggestion is of a speed faster than light but I'm sure it's more complicated than that.

LBird
Abnormal, off-centre spin as the source of 'bad consciousness'?

baboon wrote:

Contrary to L. Bird, I think that an attempt, however tenuous, to link sub-atomic activity to the functioning of the brain can't be seen as a descent into individualism. L. Bird indicates that the quantum world is the framework for individualism and that this is the epitomy of bourgeois society. One of the themes of L. Bird's posts seem to me to be that everything outside of a pure communist consciousness (which nowhere exists) is a waste of time. And I don't think it wise to point to the individualism of the quantum world, as L. Bird does, when the spin of one sub-atomic particle will affect another on the other side of the Universe and everything in between.

So, Cox and Pauli, both bourgeois academics, seem to think that the source of complex phenomena (even social consciousness) might be in an individual 'particle'?

Doesn't this strike you as very similar to suggesting that, say, 'fascism', is in individual Germans? That is, bourgeois philosophy always seems to reduce complex events/behaviour/ideas to its constituent parts.

Surely a more likely candidate for origin of 'consciousness' would be in the 'social world', rather than the 'quantum world'? That is, 'consciousness' is an emergent property of societies, rather than 'bits in a brain', even if the 'bits' are very tiny?

Wouldn't a physicist who is a Communist, probably look to complex structures and processes, to seek 'consciousness' in 'social spin' rather than 'physical spin'?

If 'science' was an 'objective search for The Truth', done by 'disinterested experts' who 'leave their politics outside the laboratory', surely we'd find as much money, effort and resources being employed on researching both concepts of 'spin'?

I suppose if they find 'consciousness' in 'particle spin' in the brain, we'll be back to lobotomies to correct the 'communist off-spin' in our heads, to make us 'proper' thinkers!

LBird
Confronting hypotheses - the ICC method

ICC article wrote:
...in order for our knowledge to have a "dynamic nature", it is imperative that our hypotheses are confronted one against another...

Well, a good method.

Let's 'confront' the hypotheses of 'quantum spin' and 'social spin' with each other.

First, what are the ideological theories behind these ideas? What are the politics of the theorists who produce these hypotheses?

Or does the 'quantum' level speak only to 'experts', but not us? And they don't have to explain their ideas to us, but simply fob us off with 'mathematical symbols'?

And then we'll know why most workers are so badly educated - it says in the 'equations' that our 'spin' in our worker brains can't cope with 'complex ideas'.

Another objective triumph for 'science', to rank with 'eugenics'!

What? Society as the cause?

Now, you're just being ideological - god help 'science' if the commies get control of it, eh?

lem_
Quote:For the purposes of

Quote:
For the purposes of this thread, that is, understanding Rovelli's views of physics, it is the ideological belief that:

"science has a method to produce positive knowledge that reflects nature 'as it is' ".

It is the 'common sense' (ie. conservative) view in our society, that physicists have an access to 'reality' that can't be voted upon by non-physicists.

for what it's worth the exact opposite of what positivism actually means.

Quote:
Positivism, in Western philosophy, generally, any system that confines itself to the data of experience

most famously the neopositivists, who claimed that specualation on "reality" had no sense.

so you, LBird, are the positivist.

unless you mean that science also makes no cogent empirical predictions, in which case your stance, that science provides no knowledge whatsoever, may not have a name...

baboon
I insist again that sub

I insist again that sub atomic physics is not a question of individualism or "fascism" as presented by L. Bird. Nobody, not Rovelli, has an adequate explanation for the link between the vast and the very small but the one thing that we can say for certain is that it's not a question of individualism. There's a correlation and dependence in the quantum world that goes beyond Newtonian physics. Quantum particles only exist in relation to each other and this is known as Quantum Entanglement. The quanta is a discrete package of energy with wave-like qualities. It is essential for chemical bonding and the production of matter (mass) and to see it in individual terms is absurd..

For Rovelli's loop quantum gravity (LQG) above, space itself, not just matter, has a quantum structure and within the fabric of space are "spin networks" that form wave-like motions. The "signal" from one particle to another the other side of the universe is not sent because the effect is immediate but is already woven into the space-time fabric.

Graham Fleming from the University of California has done some work which apparantly shows the effect of quantum mechanics on photosynthesis which is the most efficient means so far for producing energy.

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