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

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LBird
What about the ICC's method? Don't members use it?

But you're not using the method recommended by the ICC, here, baboon.

You're making a single hypothesis, rather than putting two into 'confrontation'

See my post #70.

lem_
stop being a positivist etc

stop being a positivist etc etc

your MO is to, try and, pick holes in what other people, in their gratitude, post. while sticking your fingers in your ears and singing softly whenever anything implicates what you actually defend

Demogorgon
Marxism and Science

In the spirit of Baboon's post #65, I offer the following as a reflections on the general topic, not a response to any specific point or individual. I can only hope comrades find it useful.

Scientific concepts and theories (e.g. "atoms") are devised to make sense of certain observations and patterns of experience. The more coherent and wide-ranging the theory is (i.e. the more phenomena it makes sense of) the better the theory. If the theory successfully predicts future experiences, it is even better.

But, do atoms really exist? We can't know for certain but we can say that, given current evidence, reality seems to function as if they do. But, because we haven't and cannot examine the whole of reality, still less in a direct, unmediated manner it is perfectly possible to discover instances where reality calls into question our concept of atoms. In fact, this has already happened with the realisation that atoms display the perplexing wave-particle duality of subatomic particles. Even large molecules, in fact, display this behaviour in the right circumstances.

The point being that a "real" atom cannot, therefore, actually be a particle any more than it can be a wave. While widely accepted as a brute fact (thought there are alternative views) and part of the foundation for quantum physics, this a connundrum even for modern physics. Nonetheless, we are able to apply this in other areas of science. Electron microscopy is derived from this duality and, in itself, has massive practical applications in almost every other area of science.

So this lack of absolute certainty shouldn't diminish the remarkable success science has had in establishing certainties in praxis. As another example, there's a reason why Newton's Laws are still the primary basics that are used in most engineering, aeronautics, etc. Quite simply, it's because they work - and work very well - in those arenas. (In fact, some phenomena derived from Newton's Laws, e.g. conservation of momentum, also apply in relativistic and quantum situations as well, but that's a different matter.)

Where does Marxism fit in with all this? Does it offer a way out of the epistemological dilemma of the Kantian conundrum? Or, like science, does it dissolve the problem by adopting contingent praxis?

Certainly, that seems to have been Engels' approach in some circumstances. He argued that the use, by industry, of particular chemical reagents to achieve a particular result demonstrated that we could indeed grasp the inner essence of things. Lukacs, however, countered that this doesn't overcome the problem of the "thing-in-itself". After all, we can only experience the reagents, the chemical process, and its final result (and even our use of it) as phenomena. Thus we're back to square one.

Lukacs' other criticism is that Engels is mistaken "in his belief that the behaviour of industry and scientific experiment constitutes praxis in the dialectical, philosophical sense. In fact, scientific experiment is contemplation at its purest. The experimenter creates an artificial, abstract milieu in order to be able to observe undisturbed the untrammelled workings of the laws under examination, eliminating all irrational factors both of the subject and the object."

Poor Engels. But what does Marx have to say? In one of his prefaces to Capital, Marx points out that "the physicist either observes physical phenomena where they occur in their most typical form and most free from disturbing influence, or, wherever possible, he makes experiments under conditions that assure the occurrence of the phenomenon in its normality". This is why he chooses England, where capitalism is the most developed (and thus unencumbered by "disturbing influence", as the empicial illustration for his critique.

In his elucidation, Marx also examines the various components of capitalism in a very deliberate manner. Unable to use "microscopes nor chemical reagents" he employs "the force of abstraction". It is abstraction that he uses to examine the various aspects of capitalism, each free of "disturbing influence". We see this in the way that Capital proceeds, using simplifying abstractions to do exactly what Lukacs describes perjoritively: creating an artificial, abstract milieu to observe the functioning of underlying mechanisms obscured by surface phenomena!

It gets worse. Marx takes on almost Comtean tonality when he talks of the "natural laws of capitalist production ... working with iron necessity towards inevitable results". Unlike Comte, however, who believed that "social science" would automatically allow the elimination of social ills, Marx appear to imply that consciousness is actually subordinate to those economic laws: "even when a society has got upon the right track for the discovery of the natural laws of its movement — and it is the ultimate aim of this work, to lay bare the economic law of motion of modern society — it can neither clear by bold leaps, nor remove by legal enactments, the obstacles offered by the successive phases of its normal development. But it can shorten and lessen the birth-pangs." Even if a society understands its own mechanisms, it cannot simply overcome them by an effort of will. The laws work with "iron necessity" and the best we can do is accelerate or retard their development.

Marx appears to share the "illusion" derived from natural science and imported into positivist social science that society is governed by "natural laws" that impose themselves on all participants. For the natural scientist, the reason why science can only ever be "contemplative" is because we cannot change "natural laws". Going back to Newton, we cannot change Newton's Laws. F=MA and that is that. We can find ways to exploit it, to work around it, and even find instances where it doesn't apply but otherwise we're stuck with it. Capital makes the same point about capitalism. As Lukacs points out "Marx repeatedly emphasised that the capitalist (and when we speak of ‘industry’ in the past or present we can only mean the capitalist) is nothing but a puppet". This point is made over and over again in Capital.

In that, he shares the vision of the bourgeois economists who set themselves the same task. And, indeed, Capital can be seen as a completion of that bourgeois science. But while the bourgeois economists were content to leave the matter there (or would have been, had they ever completed their project), Marx did not.

From this arises the second aspect of Marx's inquiry: the demonstration of how the contradictions of capitalism's laws work towards the eventual destruction of these laws. This is a dialectical process. Social relationships are manifested in economic laws that dominate and obscure the subjective social processes beneath, becoming "objective". But, this objective functioning pushes forward (with "iron necessity" no doubt) the development of social forces (the class-conscious proletariat) that threaten the social relationships on which those "objective" laws are built. The social produces the economic, which then acts on the social, forcing it to ultimately destroy the economic. The proletariat moves from being the object to the subject of history, while ideology becomes a material force that acts on the material forces that produced it.

In the capitalist social order, the "natural laws" can be challenged and changed, even if this is actually the result of the operation of those laws. And because, in the same social order, these laws produce a new social consciousness, the interplay between subject and object, their unity and contradiction, reach their apogee. This is why the science Marx offers is a critical science, which ultimately dissolves its own presuppositions of laws that work with "iron necessity". The dissolution of the capitalist social order is, at the same time, the dissolution of Marxism.

Moving back to natural science, one wonders whether the dialectic process may one day allow us to alter physical laws in ways we haven't before dreamed of. Personally, I have my doubts, but I leave you with this final thought:

"Abort, Retry, Fail? was the phrase some wormdog scrawled next to the door of the Edit Universe project room. And when the new dataspinners started working, fabricating their worlds on the huge organic comp systems, we’d remind them: if you see this message, always choose Retry!"

lem_
You guys are too soft on

You guys are too soft on scientific anti-rationalists.

It should be obvious that LBIrd is trying to concoct a religion with themself (and marx and einsten) as its leadership

lem_
This entire discussion is

This entire discussion is just the worst fucking irrelevance. Read the council communists...

We could be talking about anything at all

baboon
Good post Demo! You're a bit

Good post Demo! You're a bit negative lem.

lem_
Which is with good reason:

Which is with good reason: LBird ignoring anything which, they think, doesn't support their viewpoint.

 

 

LBird
ICC's method ignored, once again

Demogorgon wrote:

Scientific concepts and theories (e.g. "atoms") are devised to make sense of certain observations and patterns of experience.

This is a bourgeois ruling class myth, demo.

Marx argued that the scientific method is 'theory and practice'.

Einstein backed up Marx's method with statements like 'It is the theory that determines what we observe'. This is the reverse of your claim.

You seem to have been influenced by Engels' acceptance of bourgeois 19th century science, which claimed to use the method of 'induction' ('practice and theory').

The ICC's article supports Marx's method, ie. 'theory and practice'.

LBird
Why publish articles that are ignored by the members?

MH, post #26, 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.  

I thought that I'd revisit MH's earlier post, because of a wider issue that has become apparent on this particular thread.

What's the point of the ICC publishing articles about 'science', when it appears that the members themelves either don't read them, or do read them and simply ignore what they argue?

It's clear that the ICC article about Rovelli contains some 'theory' about 'science'. As far as I can tell, I broadly agree with the writer(s) of the article, but it seems that when the discussion takes place, the actual contents of the article are ignored.

Am I missing something? Is there a cleavage within the ICC about 'scientific method'?

Or is it that the ICC members/supporters here think that physics is 'non-political', and so the ideologies of competing physicists can be ignored?

Genuine questions.

 

lem_
Quote:Am I missing

Quote:
Am I missing something?

looks like it

lem_
i asked you LBird

i asked you LBird specifically what points you agreed with all i got was

Quote:
Can't you read, lem_?

you seem to draw most of your conclusions from the following quote

Quote:
...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.

but this doesn't confirm that science provides us with no knowledge, either empirical or about reality.

all it tells us is that science does not take its past for granted.

even your 'theory-practice' idea isn't confirmed by this.

have you blown it up to mean that its past theories are assumed to be wrong, rather than provisional?

Fred
two conflicting worlds

I certainly don't want to boycott you LBird, it's a horrid suggestion, and in fact 'I've got you under my skin' like it or not. 

That fascinating film "Einstein and Eddington" was on tv again last night.  Does HBO follow this thread? In it a theory of Einstein's about the orbit of Mercury and the many implications of this for Newton, the solar system, the universes  and the supposed sanctity of physics, is proven right in practice.  This is one up for Einstein and proletarian physics.  (That is the proletarian physics and world outlook of doubt, critical questionings and  uncertainty, where theory is conjoined with practice,  as opposed to the dogmatic confidence of the bourgeois that they've got everything sorted out once and for all, and where theory is derived from bourgeois practice, and where it's increasingly apparent they got a lot wrong.) 

Demogorgon's post above seems to juxtapose these two conflicting worlds.  Marx appears able to inhabit both or either as it suits him.  One is the capitalist world we occupy, where even the bourgeoisie are rendered puppets as Demo says, and the other is a sort of advanced representation through the insights of physics and Marx of a quite different world - communism - where freedom of thought and of action has been released. As Demo puts it: "the proletariat moves from being the object to being the subject of history". The implications of this for theory and practice, and all the sciences are of enormous import, though we can only imagine at the moment what it'll be like and peer through a glass darkly. 

LBird inhabits increasingly this alternative world of the "new"  physics.  That's what makes it so problematic to talk with him because those of us who have still got at least one foot planted in the geriatric dying capitalist world are always making mistakes as ideas from the old worn out image of the bourgeois "natural"  world leak out into the emerging understanding of the new and less certain one as elaborated by Rovelli and others. 

If I may stick my neck out LBird, I would say in answer to your question posed above that in the ideological world of capitalism we currently inhabit like it or not, physics is not regarded as a political issue anymore than the working class is currently regarded as being a major political threat to bourgeois rule. With the emergence however of the proletariat actively posing its own solution to capital's crisis, and even more insisting on the establishment of its own dictatorship over society, things could start to change a lot and physics and all the sciences become hot potatoes. 

LBird
Revolutionary proletarian democratic physics

Fred wrote:

That is the proletarian physics and world outlook of doubt, critical questionings and  uncertainty, where theory is conjoined with practice,  as opposed to the dogmatic confidence of the bourgeois that they've got everything sorted out once and for all, and where theory is derived from bourgeois practice, and where it's increasingly apparent they got a lot wrong.

I agree with this outline, Fred.

The problem is that 'materialism' does not. 'Materialism' insists upon the method of 'derivation from practice', to use your terms. Within this outlook, 'matter' is said to be the active side, and 'matter' determines 'consciousness'.

This is a ruling class myth, and simply allows an elite of experts to hide the truth that they create the 'material conditions'.

This applies to physics as much as to politics.

Fred wrote:
LBird inhabits increasingly this alternative world of the "new"  physics.  That's what makes it so problematic to talk with him because those of us who have still got at least one foot planted in the geriatric dying capitalist world are always making mistakes as ideas from the old worn out image of the bourgeois "natural"  world leak out into the emerging understanding of the new and less certain one as elaborated by Rovelli and others. 

If I may stick my neck out LBird, I would say in answer to your question posed above that in the ideological world of capitalism we currently inhabit like it or not, physics is not regarded as a political issue anymore than the working class is currently regarded as being a major political threat to bourgeois rule. With the emergence however of the proletariat actively posing its own solution to capital's crisis, and even more insisting on the establishment of its own dictatorship over society, things could start to change a lot and physics and all the sciences become hot potatoes. 

We can only do this with being open that the human method, as Marx argued, is social 'theory and practice', and not the supposed 'inductive' method of 'practice and theory' (usually seen as 'individual practice and theory', like Pragmatism).

If we have the power to change our social theory and practice, we can change our 'scientific knowledge' and thus change our world, both social and natural, to our design. We create our object.

Thus, we can vote on 'truth'.

There is not an elite expert minority, in either politics or physics, who have a 'method', which the majority cannot understand, which allows the minority to 'discover' a fixed 'reality' which is 'out there' and simply awaiting our passive contemplation.

We humans create our world. And for the revolutionary proletariat, this world must be our democratic creation.

Arguments about physics will be at the forefront of our revolution.

LBird
'Mathematics' is a social tool, not a glimpse into 'nature'

One of the components of our revolutionary physics, IMO, will be the insistence that the language of physics has to be understandable to the majority. 'Mathematics' is itself a social product, and merely hides this truth. Galileo pretended that 'maths is the language of nature', and even many bourgeois physicists still seem to believe this bourgeois myth.

So, for us, 'maths' (a useful social tool, which changes, because it is a socio-historical product) must be translated into the vernacular, to allow us to vote upon 'scientific knowledge' and 'truth'.

At present, 'maths' is a tool of 'physicists', to read 'nature', keeping the 'proletariat' powerless, similar to 'Latin' as a tool of 'priests', to read 'the bible', keeping the 'peasantry' powerless.

Just as the translation of the language of the bible into the language of the peasants was a revolutionary act, so too will be the translation of 'physicist maths' into ours.

Within Communism, a potential physicist who cannot explain their work to the satisfaction of those who will produce 'knowledge', will not be elected to any position of power. Part of a 'physics' education will be 'poetry'.

baboon
Just to keep the record

Just to keep the record straight Fred, you explicitly agreed to some sort of boycott of L. Bird in your post on March 14 (number 57). I woldn't say it was a "horrid suggestion" but not a useful one.

LBird
Analogies for explanation

Another way of explaining an unfamiliar subject is through the use of analogy. We all know that analogies are never perfect, and if pushed too far are no longer useful, and they already contain an uavoidable bias in favour of the proposer, but nevertheless they can help comrades to 'get a hook' into a subject with which they don't initially know the details (which the devil is always in).

So, to illustrate the method recommended by the ICC article, of 'confronting' two viewpoints, regarding quantum physics and consciousness:

One ideology of physics argues that consciousness is within 'particles'; the other ideology argues that it emerges from 'complexity'.

The former tends to see 'consciousness' as within individual brains (and thus located in the spinning particles of 'grey matter').

The latter tends to see 'consciousness'  as a relationship between social individuals (and thus located outside of 'particles').

As an analogy, if we regard consciousness as a product of complexity, we would regard it as like 'bounce' in a ball. If bounce was in the particles of the ball, we could stick a knife in the ball, thus destroying its structure, and the ball would still bounce, because we haven't removed any particles, just simply re-arranged them.

From this perspective, looking for either bounce or consciousness at the quantum level is likely to be fruitless.

But those physicists, who unconsciously subscribe to 'bourgeois individualism', will continue to search for social phenomena in 'particles', just as they do in their day-to-day lives, in politics and economics (power inside individuals, and value inside a commodity), where they seek answers in the components of society, rather than in socio-economic relationships.

Physicists are members of society, and all hold to ideologies. Class ideologies.

lem_
ignorance and bliss

Quote:
I woldn't say it was a "horrid suggestion" but not a useful one.
whereas LBird just ignores anything i say

 

Fred
Rosa

So where did Rosa Luxemburg locate "consciousness" might we say? In individual brains or in the relationship between workers?  (This is the point at which I wish I had read a lot more than I have!) To refer back to her image of class consciousness spreading among striking workers in "fructifying waves" that would suggest she saw it as the product of a relationship between people and even of the members of a particular historical class.  The class of workers. 

But it might be argued that while the Marxist consciousness is the revolutionary product of the class, and is particularly to be found among the comrades of the revolutionary  party, the organised avant-guard of the class, it also requires the contribution of human brains to identify, name and see  it for what it is.  Revolutionary class consciousness.  

LBird
The ideology behind 'consciousness'

Fred wrote:

So where ...[do we] locate "consciousness" might we say? In individual brains or in the relationship between workers?    

If one subscribes to bourgeois individualism and its concommitant 'physical' reductionism of the world to tangible 'matter' (that is, what a biological individual can 'touch'), as unfortunately espoused by Engels, then one will look to the 'grey matter' of brains as the 'location of consciousness', perhaps within its 'quantum particles'.

If one subscribes to proletarian communism and its concommitant 'democratic' creating of its world by producers, (that is, what a social class can 'vote for'), as outlined by Marx, then one will look to 'relationships between producers' as the 'location of consciousness', requiring 'theory and practice'.

The former defines 'real' as 'material', the latter defines 'real' as both 'ideas and material'.

The former looks to 'real things' ('being', alone, 'as it is'), the latter looks to 'real relationships' ('consciousness and being', in relationship, 'as it produces').

It's best to be open with oneself (if not with everyone else) about which ideology one starts from.

LBird
Is 'consciousness' analogous to 'value'?

Marx, Capital, pp. 138-9, wrote:
Not an atom of matter enters into the objectivity of commodities as values;...their objective character as values is therefore purely social. From this it follows self-evidently that it can only appear in the social relation between commodity and commodity.

So, not within 'commodities', but in a 'social relation between'.

The same for consciousness?

Not within 'brains' or 'quantum particles', but rather in the 'social relationship between' humans.

And 'objectivity' can be 'purely social'.

 

Alf
not inside, but between

So, not within 'commodities', but in a 'social relation between'.

The same for consciousness?

Not within 'brains' or 'quantum particles', but rather in the 'social relationship between' humans

 

 

I think that LBird is following Marx here: consciousness is not a value locked inside the head, it is social, common, and can only arise when creatures act in common.. 

 

 

 

LBird
'Time' is also the product of 'theory and practice'

Alf wrote:

I think that LBird is following Marx here: consciousness is not a value locked inside the head, it is social, common, and can only arise when creatures act in common.. 

To perhaps push my luck a little on this thread... this is precisely why I think that the formulation 'ideal-material' works better when discussing Marx's views (as opposed to Engels', and his 'material').

If it is 'not locked inside the head' (a common reading of 'materialism', related to 'grey matter'), but is 'social action', Marx's 'theory and practice', which requires both 'thought' and 'something acted upon', the more sensible term is 'idealism-materialism', which captures the key role of 'critical, active, social thought'.

The followers of Engels' 'materialism' will look for tangible 'matter' as the source, rather than 'theory and practice', which requires 'active consciousness', and so looks to relationships, not 'material things'. These 'relations', as for 'value', are 'ideal-material'.

We produce 'consciousness' - just as Rovelli argues that we produce 'time'.

MH
Agreement again?

Alf wrote:

So, not within 'commodities', but in a 'social relation between'.

The same for consciousness?

Not within 'brains' or 'quantum particles', but rather in the 'social relationship between' humans

I think that LBird is following Marx here: consciousness is not a value locked inside the head, it is social, common, and can only arise when creatures act in common.. 

Since Alf has also previously shown that Engels was far from being a crude materialist, here

…and since LBird has also previously accepted the existence of material conditions in determining consciousness, here

…does this mean we are now, despite appearances, close to agreement, not just on Rovelli but also on the Marxist understanding of the role of consciousness in history…?

 

 

LBird
Agreement close?

MH wrote:

Since Alf has also previously shown that Engels was far from being a crude materialist, here

…and since LBird has also previously accepted the existence of material conditions in determining consciousness, here

…does this mean we are now, despite appearances, close to agreement, not just on Rovelli but also on the Marxist understanding of the role of consciousness in history…?

As long as by 'material', it is accepted that Marx meant 'ideal-material' (ie., 'theory and practice'), and did not mean, as Engels' at least sometimes misunderstood, 'matter'.

If any comrades hold to Engels' 'material' (meaning 'matter'), we can't explain either Marx's 'value' or Rovelli's argument about 'time'.

Value and time emerge from human 'theory and practice', and thus are social products, not 'stuff out there', passively waiting to be 'discovered' by 'objective scientists' employing a 'socially and politically neutral method' - this is a bourgeois myth.

Thus, we can change them, as Marx argued.

So, 'close to agreement'?

You tell me.

Demogorgon
What exactly is being changed?

Quote:
Thus, we can change them, as Marx argued.

Just to be clear, is this claim limited to the concepts of value and time or would you also apply it to, say, so-called physical "laws" and change the atmospheric boiling point of water, for example?

LBird
Our limits are our limits

Demogorgon wrote:

Quote:
Thus, we can change them, as Marx argued.

Just to be clear, is this claim limited to the concepts of value and time or would you also apply it to, say, so-called physical "laws" and change the atmospheric boiling point of water, for example?

I'm with Pannekoek on this one, Demo.

Humans create the (so-called) 'laws of physics'.

This is why Engels' concern with 'physical matter' leads us away from Marx's insights, which are to do with the metabolic change of 'inorganic nature' by active humanity into 'organic nature'.

Demogorgon
That's not exactly what

That's not exactly what Pannekoek said. What he actually said was: "Hence Historical Materialism looks upon the works of science, the concepts, substances, natural Laws, and forces, although formed out of the stuff of nature, primarily as the creations of the mental Labour of man. Middle-class materialism, on the other hand, from the point of view of the scientific investigator, sees all this as an element of nature itself which has been discovered and brought to light by science. Natural scientists consider the immutable substances, matter, energy, electricity, gravity, the Law of entropy, etc., as the basic elements of the world, as the reality that has to be discovered. From the viewpoint of Historical Materialism they are products which creative mental activity forms out of the substance of natural phenomena."

Yes, the creation of a law is a creative mental process, but one that is based upon our observation and interaction with the material world.

LBird
Observe what?

Demogorgon wrote:

That's not exactly what Pannekoek said. What he actually said was: "Hence Historical Materialism looks upon the works of science, the concepts, substances, natural Laws, and forces, although formed out of the stuff of nature, primarily as the creations of the mental Labour of man. Middle-class materialism, on the other hand, from the point of view of the scientific investigator, sees all this as an element of nature itself which has been discovered and brought to light by science. Natural scientists consider the immutable substances, matter, energy, electricity, gravity, the Law of entropy, etc., as the basic elements of the world, as the reality that has to be discovered. From the viewpoint of Historical Materialism they are products which creative mental activity forms out of the substance of natural phenomena."

Yes, the creation of a law is a creative mental process, but one that is based upon our observation and interaction with the material world.

Why do you choose to put 'observation' first, Demo?

That's an ideological decision.

Pannekoek actually says 'primarily as the creations', and not 'primarily as the passive observations'.

Marx was big on 'social activity', too. He talked of 'theory and practice', doubt and creation, to change the world, not 'observe' it, 'as it is'.

Einstein said, even more clearly, 'it's the theory that determines 'what' we observe'.

I think that you're an adherent of Engels' 'materialism', Demo.

I'm not.

And Rovelli doesn't talk about 'observing' time.

lem_
i'm not in "agreement"

MH wrote:

Alf wrote:

So, not within 'commodities', but in a 'social relation between'.

The same for consciousness?

Not within 'brains' or 'quantum particles', but rather in the 'social relationship between' humans

I think that LBird is following Marx here: consciousness is not a value locked inside the head, it is social, common, and can only arise when creatures act in common.. 

Since Alf has also previously shown that Engels was far from being a crude materialist, here

…and since LBird has also previously accepted the existence of material conditions in determining consciousness, here

…does this mean we are now, despite appearances, close to agreement, not just on Rovelli but also on the Marxist understanding of the role of consciousness in history…?

 

 

Oh how frustrating. What LBird claims isn't a philosophical theory of whether cosnciousness is bound up in social conditions: but that neither the theoretical nor empirical products of science are knowledge.

They then argue that this proves that there is nothing independent of social conditions, and that individual workers cannnot learn from past practices.

They also misuse the term "positivist" and "bourgeois" for anyone who disagrees, which is intolerable.

lem_
nonsense meet stuff

LBird wrote:

Demogorgon wrote:

That's not exactly what Pannekoek said. What he actually said was: "Hence Historical Materialism looks upon the works of science, the concepts, substances, natural Laws, and forces, although formed out of the stuff of nature, primarily as the creations of the mental Labour of man. Middle-class materialism, on the other hand, from the point of view of the scientific investigator, sees all this as an element of nature itself which has been discovered and brought to light by science. Natural scientists consider the immutable substances, matter, energy, electricity, gravity, the Law of entropy, etc., as the basic elements of the world, as the reality that has to be discovered. From the viewpoint of Historical Materialism they are products which creative mental activity forms out of the substance of natural phenomena."

Yes, the creation of a law is a creative mental process, but one that is based upon our observation and interaction with the material world.

Why do you choose to put 'observation' first, Demo?

That's an ideological decision.

Pannekoek actually says 'primarily as the creations', and not 'primarily as the passive observations'.

Marx was big on 'social activity', too. He talked of 'theory and practice', doubt and creation, to change the world, not 'observe' it, 'as it is'.

Einstein said, even more clearly, 'it's the theory that determines 'what' we observe'.

I think that you're an adherent of Engels' 'materialism', Demo.

I'm not.

And Rovelli doesn't talk about 'observing' time.

what a terrible obfuscating pseudo-reply.

Demo nowhere says that obseravtion is not "theory-laden" (a term common in the philosophy of science, hence why i put it in quotes), and you have done exactly nothng to show that theory-ladeness proves any of your beleifs.

besides, i suppose, put your 'terms' in single quotes a lot

lem_
It is common, in the

It is common, in the philosophy of science, to say that if our theories about the furnniture of the universe ("unobservables") weren't at least approximately true its empirical success would be like a miracle.

I would like to add that if our empirical succcesses were generally an illusion, then our technologies would be a miracle.

How did we fly to the moon if we don't know how any of this stuff works?

Demogorgon
Dodging the question

I'll come back on Pannekoek later, if I have the time. In the meantime, answer my original question. Can you change the atmospheric boiling point of water?

LBird
No sidetracks anymore

Demogorgon wrote:

I'll come back on Pannekoek later, if I have the time. In the meantime, answer my original question. Can you change the atmospheric boiling point of water?

This is getting close to a repeat of before.

You're ignoring the philosophy in pursuit of your 'questions'.

I'm not willing to engage in tit-for-tat anymore.

You define 'atmospheric' for yourself, and answer your own question.

I'm interested in Marx's theory and practice.

And Rovelli, and 'time'.

lem_
the very wrong way to use a forum

Quote:
You're ignoring the philosophy in pursuit of your 'questions'.

I'm not willing to engage in tit-for-tat anymore.

NO.

 

just no LBird.

this is borderline antisocial, using the forum not to argue for your ideas but just 'presenitng' and 're-presenting' then with very 'selective' replies...

LBird
Bourgeois physics or revolutionary politics?

Demogorgon wrote:

I'll come back on Pannekoek later, if I have the time. In the meantime, answer my original question. Can you change the atmospheric boiling point of water?

There is no 'meantime', Demo. Either you want to discuss the politics and philosophy behind physics, or you don't.

If you don't, just stick with bourgeois physics, and the questions and answers that it generates.

I'm interested in a democratic, revolutionary, proletarian physics, as outlined by Marx, Pannekoek and, perhaps, Rovelli.

The sequence of 'enlightenment' is understanding politics, philosophy and then physics, in that order.

Every physicist who later tries to 'philosophically justify' their bourgeois physics, ends up with, surprise, surprise, bourgeois individualist philosophy, like existentialism or pragmatism.

If you honestly read your Pannekoek quote again, you'll recognise that it expresses a philosophy of physics far removed from the 'common sense' physics that you espouse.

FWIW, I don't think that you are really interested in philosophy behind physics, and simply wish to 'carry on regardless' with what you 'know' already.

Problem is, you won't be able to understand Marx, Pannekoek or Rovelli.

 

lem_
How about both?

Quote:
Bourgeois physics or revolutionary politics?

 

think i'll take both LBird

LBird
'Both' actually means 'bourgeois'

lem_ wrote:

Quote:
Bourgeois physics or revolutionary politics?

 

think i'll take both LBird

The problem, lem_, is that bourgeois physics doesn't allow workers to construct their world and vote on 'truth', and it retains these active creations for the purposes and interests of an elite.

Of course, they pretend that they do no such thing, and that they merely 'observe' an existing 'reality'.

But if it is 'true reality', then it is 'known forever', and we can't change it.

This is a fundamental political and philosophical problem for workers who aim to build Communism.

So, you say you will 'take both', but in fact you'll defer to bourgeois physics. You'll take the side of 'true reality' against 'democratic creation of reality'.

Thus, no 'revolutionary politics'.

 

Demogorgon
Nice Try

Nice try.

I'm encouraging you to apply your theoretical framework to a practical question, so I can better understand it. I'm doing this on the basis of claims you made.

You said, in reference to value and time, that we can change these because we create them. You also said that we create the "laws" of physics. I asked if this means you think we can also change the laws of physics and followed up with a concrete example.

Why do you refuse to give a straight answer? It's a perfectly simple question that actually gets to the heart of this debate. It certainly gets to the heart of whether I've actually understood your position. Answering it could clear up many potential misunderstandings.

Your reluctance to answer seems to indicate a lack of confidence in your own theoretical framework.

As for the philosophy of science, I'll be inflicting the forum with some more thoughts about that soon enough. But you'll just use it as an excuse to weasel out of answering my question: if physical "laws" are social products, can we change them? Can we change the atmospheric boiling point of water?

LBird
Not Marx's method of 'theory and practice'

Demogorgon wrote:

Nice try.

I'm encouraging you to apply your theoretical framework to a practical question, so I can better understand it. I'm doing this on the basis of claims you made.

[my bold]

Nice try.

'Practical bourgeois' always want to ask 'practical questions' and receive 'practical answers'.

As in economics, so it is in physics.

If you ask 'practical questions' of capitalism and markets ('true, existing, reality'), then you'll get their answers, not an explanation of Marx's value.

Stick with 'practical', Demo, and leave me out of it.

I'm only going to discuss the politics and philosophy that underpins physics.

'Theory and practice'.

I doubt that you're even a Marxist, otherwise you wouldn't harp on about 'practice', alone.

 

lem_
too much

LBird wrote:
So, you say you will 'take both', but in fact you'll defer to bourgeois physics. You'll take the side of 'true reality' against 'democratic creation of reality'.

Thus, no 'revolutionary politics'.

 

no-one except you is saying i have to choose between the two, and you are just being, at best, irrational about it

really, which do you think i would choose if i had to? thankfully, revolutionary politics doesn't have to abandon everything that has ever happened, except i suppose in your, irrational, head.

look, i harbour you no hostility. a part of me thinks it's sad that, without any apparent communist surge, its solitary adherents aren't thinking rationally about themselves.

but that's life, i too am kinda 'expectant'

Demogorgon
Nice Try Redux

"The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question. Man must prove the truth — i.e. the reality and power, the this-sidedness of his thinking in practice. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking that is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question."

Prove the truth of your thinking LBird, by applying it to a practical question.

If physical "laws" are social products, can we change them? Can we change the atmospheric boiling point of water?

 

LBird
Your ideological choice, Demo

Demogorgon wrote:

Prove the truth of your thinking LBird, by applying it to a practical question.

If physical "laws" are social products, can we change them? Can we change the atmospheric boiling point of water?

I've answered this question, time and time again. Last time, now, Demo, either discuss the politics and philosophy behind physics, or I'm leaving you to answer your questions to your own ideological satisfaction.

According to Marx and Pannekoek, yes, we can change them.

According to Engels and Lenin, no, we can't change them.

You choose. If you choose the former, get back to me.

Rovelli suggests even time is our product, never mind 'boiling pressure'.

 

lem_
> According to Marx and

> According to Marx and Pannekoek, yes, we can change them.

unproven.

> Rovelli suggests even time is our product

highly unsophisticated

Quote:
In his 2004 book Quantum Gravity, Rovelli developed a formulation of classical and quantum mechanics that does not make explicit reference to the notion of time. The timeless formalism is needed to describe the world in the regimes where the quantum properties of the gravitational field cannot be disregarded... then how does time emerge? In 1993, in collaboration with Alain Connes, Rovelli has proposed a solution to this problem called the thermal time hypothesis. According to this hypothesis, time emerges only in a thermodynamic or statistical context. If this is correct, the flow of time is an illusion, one deriving from the incompleteness of knowledge.

Quote:
It postulates that physical time flow is not a priority given fundamental property of the theory, but is a macroscopic feature of thermodynamical origin

i.e. the flow of time we experience is an illusion and "product" of heat and temperature.

lem_
What about

What about Mattick?

Quote:
Marx, of course, had only the natural science of his period to rely on; but the changes in science since then do not affect his theories. Marx did not coin the term dialectical materialism but used the word material to designate the basic and primary conditions of all human existence... materialistic conception of history did not stem from the “physical determinism derived from Newtonian mechanics”... it was, first of all, a theory of men and society... Lenin found it “unconditionally true that to every scientific theory there corresponds an objective truth, something absolutely so in nature”... 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’... Marxism, which does not think in absolutes, accepts the state of physics for what it is, convinced that like any other state previously it, too, is transitory and is not the final end... Ideologies are weapons, but in the age of the atom bomb they are no longer decisive or even very important weapons.

i.e. even though physical facts are revisable, any change to our idea of them has to be based on our past sciences

LBird
Mattick half right, half wrong

lem_ wrote:

What about Mattick?

Quote:
Marx, of course, had only the natural science of his period to rely on; but the changes in science since then do not affect his theories. Marx did not coin the term dialectical materialism but used the word material to designate the basic and primary conditions of all human existence... materialistic conception of history did not stem from the “physical determinism derived from Newtonian mechanics”... it was, first of all, a theory of men and society... Lenin found it “unconditionally true that to every scientific theory there corresponds an objective truth, something absolutely so in nature”... 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’... Marxism, which does not think in absolutes, accepts the state of physics for what it is, convinced that like any other state previously it, too, is transitory and is not the final end... Ideologies are weapons, but in the age of the atom bomb they are no longer decisive or even very important weapons.

Simple, lem_.

Mattick was correct to point out that Marx's physics were not Newton's physics or Lenin's physics.

But Mattick was wrong to ignore the ideological basis to all physics. It is a social activity, and is thus socio-historical and changes.

Humans produce the so-called 'laws of physics' (just as we do 'laws of sociology') and, as Marx argued, humans can change them.

 

lem_
LBird, all wrong no right

Quote:
Simple, lem_.

Mattick was correct to point out that Marx's physics were not Newton's physics or Lenin's physics.

But Mattick was wrong to ignore the ideological basis to all physics. It is a social activity, and is thus socio-historical and changes.

Humans produce the so-called 'laws of physics'

yes it is very 'simple' to 'prove' your point against an 'authority' by just saying they're wrong and repeating yourself. 

i suppose that the only thing which could convince LBird is to show that their 'idea' is self contradictory.

even then i have my 'doubts' tho

Demogorgon
Avoidance of Doubt

Quote:
I've answered this question, time and time again.

Please evidence where you've answered the question regarding the boiling point of water.

Quote:
Last time, now, Demo, either discuss the politics and philosophy behind physics, or I'm leaving you to answer your questions to your own ideological satisfaction.

I am discussing the philosophy behind physics. But as Marx says, this is a practical question and thus I am asking you to show how your theory applies in a practical sense.

Quote:
According to Marx and Pannekoek, yes, we can change them.

That's what I thought you said. Okay, you've made your theoretical statement. Now I want to examine what that means in a practical sense.

So, I repeat, can you change the atmospheric boiling point of water?

I am not talking about finding incidences where the observation doesn't apply. For example, you can boil water at lower temperatures by reducing atmospheric pressure, hence why I've asked for the atmospheric boiling point. You can also change it by mixing it with other compounds, e.g. salt.

But that is not changing the behaviour of matter, it is simply understanding and manipulating other known properties of matter to overcome the limitations of the first. Similarly, we can overcome gravity by using aerodynamic lift. That's not the same as changing gravity itself.

This is how the bourgeoisie approach social science i.e. with the assumption that, say, the law of value is like the law of gravity. We can adapt to it, manipulate it, counter it, but we cannot fundamentally change it. Marx says - and here we agree - that the law of value can be changed. In fact, he says the law of value can be completely erased.

What you seem to be saying is that Marx was also saying that about physical laws. That he evisaged (or his theory predicts), for example, that humanity could simply erase the law of gravity. I think it is highly dubious that Marx envisaged anything of the sort - and if he did envisage it, I think it's a highly dubious conclusion.

So, is that what you mean by changing physical laws? Can you change the observed behaviour or properties of matter? Can you, for example, change the atmospheric boiling point of water?

Now, I could be wrong. But your refusal to answer my basic questions makes me suspect that (a) my interpretation is right and, (b) you realise that the practical implications of your theory are actually highly questionable, and that, (c) you don't want this to be exposed.

But, as I've said, I could be wrong. But you're going to have to show me how I'm wrong by answering the question.

lem_
what's so good about this "proletarian science"

let's suppose that scientific labour creates its own facts with no objectivity, only the chimera of it.

is that not a scientific fact about society?

and if it is created, and "produced" by humans, then surely it too can be "changed".

whereas if it is an unchangable fact about humanity that they cannot create an objective science, then in what way would "proletarian science" be an improvement over "bourgeois science"? in giving up its claims to objectivity it can also be no more true, objective, or succesful. you may reply it's more creative, but it isn't objectively so. and i see no reason to suppose that subjectivity which imagines it is subjective somehow imagines itself anymore creative. if anything, it would be more static and bored, a glance in the mirror

 

LBird
You want party physics, not proletarian physics

lem_ wrote:

 in what way would "proletarian science" be an improvement over "bourgeois science"?

We're getting to the political basis of both, firstly, the philosophy, and secondly, the physics, being argued for here, by both lem_ and Demogorgon.

Have you never heard of 'proletarian democracy', lem_? Workers' power?

Our revolutionary physics must have a democratic method, because only the proletariat can determine 'truth' for us.

You are both Engelsian 'materialists', and, like the bourgeoisie, argue that 'truth' is the product of a class-neutral method, and which is an activity done by an elite, so democracy is not necessary. You pretend that 'the physical' talks to you.

This is the basis of Leninism, not Marxism.

Demogorgon
Argument from (tedious)Assertion

Yep, I'm an Engelsian materialist and a Leninist, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Now show me what's wrong with my arguments.

LBird
'19th century arguments', not 'yours', Demo

Demogorgon wrote:

Yep, I'm an Engelsian materialist and a Leninist, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Now show me what's wrong with my arguments.

You're wasting your time with a Democratic Communist and Marxist like me, Demo.

Go and talk to Engelsian Materialists and Leninists, and they'll back up your arguments, and you'll remain convinced that you're right.

Anyone interested in 21st century physics? Even 20th century? Rovelli?

LBird
Some words from a famous physicist

Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy, 1958, p. 43, wrote:
...we cannot disregard the fact that natural science is formed by men. Natural science does not simply describe and explain nature; it is part of the interplay between nature and ourselves; it describes nature as exposed to our method of questioning.
Different classes ask different questions. Physics is class-based, and physicists are ideologists, just like economists. No sane Communist would simply accept a bourgeois economist's description of capitalism, and the same applies to bourgeois physics' description of nature.
Demogorgon
More obfuscation

Yet more attempts to dodge the question with repetitive assertions. Your Heisenberg quote is irrelevant. Show me where I have disputed that natural science is a product of human beings. That's not the question.

The point at issue is your claim that we can change the "laws" of physics. I want to know what that means in practice. If what you mean is that we can change our ideas about the behaviour of matter, then that's fine, we actually agree. But you seem to go further and seem to suggest that changing our ideas actually changes the behaviour of phenomena. And, despite repeated questioning, you refuse to clarify whether or not this is actually what you think.

I ask again: Can you change the observed behaviour or properties of matter? Can you, for example, change the atmospheric boiling point of water?

Demogorgon
Irony

I also feel compelled to point out the irony that you're attempting to quote authorities from the world of physics to support your effort to prove that physicists don't have any authority (because they're "bourgeois"). That's not a serious point, I'm just enjoying the comedy value.

LBird
Enjoy it while you can!

Demogorgon wrote:

That's not a serious point, I'm just enjoying the comedy value.

Laughs are about all you're going to get out of the conversation, unfortunately.

lem_
antisocial irrationalist use of the forum

LBird wrote:
We're getting to the political basis of both, firstly, the philosophy, and secondly, the physics, being argued for here, by both lem_ and Demogorgon.

Have you never heard of 'proletarian democracy', lem_? Workers' power?

"workers power" accoring to you is not an objective fact.

it is the machinations of an individual's imagination on itself. no different to a bourgeois fancying themselves rather kind and nice.

it's such a sorry state of affars that an argument so obviously deficient and riddled with irrationalism can find a place for itself in communist discussuion. or even believe the ground is feritile enough for if without being proposed by someone with a frank inability to judge consensual reality.

Demogorgon
Quote:Laughs are about all

Quote:
Laughs are about all you're going to get out of the conversation, unfortunately.

I'm certainly not getting any competent rebuttals (or any rebuttal at all, in fact) to the points I've made or answers to any questions I've asked.

It appears your vaunted theoretical method cannot provide them. It seems that Engelsian Leninist Materialism has very little to fear.

 

LBird
Passive observation of matter is conservative ideology

Demogorgon wrote:

I ask again: Can you change the observed behaviour or properties of matter?

Yes.

'Matter' is a social construct. 'Observation' is a social activity dependent upon a prior social theory. 'Behaviour' and 'properties' are a function of our 'theory and practice'.

You might as well ask if we can change the behaviour of Piltdown Man.

The answer is still 'Yes'.

'Matter' is a socio-historical product, not a 'reflection' of 'out there'.

Its 'behaviour and properties' will change as we change our 'theory and practice'.

This is what Marx, Pannekoek and Rovelli argue. We can change our 'natural' world. Just like our social world.

LBird
Materialism is dead for workers

Demogorgon wrote:
 It seems that Engelsian Leninist Materialism has very little to fear.

No, nothing from me.

Just from revolutionary irrelevance.

Demogorgon
Finally getting somewhere?

So you agree with the proposition that it is possible to change the atmospheric boiling point of water?

LBird
Stable waters run shallow

Demogorgon wrote:

So you agree with the proposition that it is possible to change the atmospheric boiling point of water?

I've already said so, along with 'nature', 'time', 'society', 'the universe', 'space', FFS.

What's the fetish with 'boiling water'?

If it takes this long for you to read what Marx, Pannekoek, Rovelli and me are writing, you might as well pack in any idea of a revolution.

Does 'change' come as such a surprise? And humans actively 'changing' their world?

Have you never read Marx?

No wonder the ICC is languishing. It's concerned with 'stability'.

Demogorgon
Concretising abstract statements

Quote:
I've already said so, along with 'nature', 'time', 'society', 'the universe', 'space', FFS.

No you haven't and you know you haven't. But I'll accept that as an answer that you agree with the proposition from post #132.

Now, explain to me how we would change it.

 

 

 

baboon
I don't think it helps when

I don't think it helps when L. Bird defaults to his "You're not a marxist, I am!". How will we know that L. Bird - will all the workers vote on it and come to a clear, conscious decision?

Matter, we now know, in various changing forms, existed before humanity. It wasn't hiding away waiting to be discovered. We are not only conscious of matter but, along with the likes of Rovelli, are trying to understand it all the more deeply. We are conscious that matter existed before we were conscious of it and we are conscious that much more work is needed in trying to understand it in all its complexities. We are conscious that matter existed before humanity and therefore we are able to pose questions about it, i.e., theorise, experiment, validate or not and push the question forwards.

In L. Bird's universe physics is bourgeois. No argument. The physicist Rovelli is not bourgeois though. But those that laid the scientific ground for Rovelli (unless you think that his ideas appear out of thin air) - and there were many of them, those that are working alongside him - and he is not a lone wolf, and those that inspired and continue to inspire him - are all bourgeois.

It's not just Einstein but scientists have produced revolutionary breaks from previous thinking for centuries and Engel's "Dialectics of Nature" has been validated by both Einstein and quantum mechanics. It's interesting that Rovelli uses the same process that Engels uses for an "intuition" going beyond observation that lays the ground for further enquiry.

LBird
Back to an elite determining 'boiling point of water'

I'm the one quoting Rovelli, baboon. And the ICC article. And Marx.

I'm now going to ask a question, for all of you.

How will workers democratically control physics and maths?

How can they vote for the end of 'matter'? How can they alter the 'boiling point of water'? How can they get rid of 'Piltdown Man'? 'The ether'? 'Phlogiston'?

If you can't answer these revolutionary questions, then you're of no use for revolutionary workers.

lem_
not as bad

Quote:
How can they vote for the end of 'matter'? How can they alter the 'boiling point of water'? How can they get rid of 'Piltdown Man'? 'The ether'? 'Phlogiston'?

If you can't answer these revolutionary questions, then you're of no use for revolutionary workers.

what? i suppose the scientific method may change a little, and it will definitely be held accountable to the broader public, in terms of what research is pursued.

curious question.

Quote:
I'm the one quoting Rovelli, baboon. And the ICC article. And Marx.
everyone inolved in the disccussion is quoting people. some better than others.

if there is something to gain from this dsicussion it is IMHO this:

postmodernism is not just an offputting way of framing communist theory and practice, but actually is both a sign of the degenration and isolation of the proletarian movement

LBird
PoMo the BoMa

lem_ wrote:
postmodernism

That's a strange thing to call "workers' power" in physics.

But not for a 'materialist', I suppose.

I suppose 'PoMo' is the new 'Idealism'. The Bogey Man.

Let's leave it to the 'material' to decide, eh?

Matter is indestructable, in ideology, at least.

 

lem_
hm yeah i wonder what history will say

LBird wrote:

lem_ wrote:
postmodernism

That's a strange thing to call "workers' power" in physics.

But not for a 'materialist', I suppose.

I suppose 'PoMo' is the new 'Idealism'. The Bogey Man.

Let's leave it to the 'material' to decide, eh?

Matter is indestructable, in ideology, at least.

 

next time, just post "lalalala i'm not listening" it'll be just as convincing 

lem_
guarantee

i absolutely fucking guarantuee you that whatever the poor state of present scientific theory and practice, any future utopian society will not prove that all reality is and always has been a product of labour, especially not one with no objective features.

LBird
Idealism by any name is still the BoMa

lem_ wrote:
utopian

It's getting even better!

lem_
oh jesus_christ, no

get your head out your butt LBird.

even if your "ultimate reality" could be "finally" proven by physics (the exact opposite of what Mattick is saying), that too would be a subjective and fictional proof.

i.e. it all bottoms out into the reality which we have.

so i definitely think that "utopian" is the only vision you have...

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