Editorial: Scientific advances and the decomposition of capitalism

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jk1921
Editorial: Scientific advances and the decomposition of capitalism
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Editorial: Scientific advances and the decomposition of capitalism. The discussion was initiated by jk1921.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

jk1921
There is a lot to support in

There is a lot to support in this article--in particular, its clear and forceful denunciation of the increasing slide of the global captialist system into irrationality and decomposition. However, there are a couple of points that merit some criticism:

First, the article takes a rather clear stance on one side of the ledger in terms of the debates that have been developing on the forum regarding the nature of science. It sees science as a more or less autonomous process that is distorted by captialism. There is no mention of the idea that science itself may be caught up in captialist exploitation in some way; that it is itself a form of domination that will need to be transcended in the course of the proletarian revolution. It is certainly fine for the article to take the position it does, but given that it was offered as an editorial, it seems reasonable to wonder if this is some kind of official statement of the ICC on the issue?

Moreover, on a few other specific points the article fails to acknowledge controversies and seems to offer certain interpretations of contemporary scientific debates as given. For example, in its discussion of the "discovery" of the Higgs Boson, it seems to take the idea that the universe was "born" as an indisputable fact, when in reaity there is some critical dissent from this orthodoxy--including several critics who might describe themselves as Marxists. Similarly, the article seems to take the existence of "mental illness" as a fact--even though there is a long history of critical dissent on this front as well. All of this raises, once again, the tricky issue of the relationship between Marxism, scientific authortity and critique. The article seems to take one position--the idea that science has an authority that is the province of the experts; the job of Marxists is to prepare the conditions under which science can be freed from captialist distortion. Still, there is something like "pure science" that can be rescued. One again, is this now the ICC's position?

On another front--the article states that the global class struggle is what has kept the bourgeoisie from unleashing another world war. In part, this may be true--but isn't it also that the conditions for a another global war simply do not exist?

baboon
big bang again

I haven't seen any serious dissent from the idea of the birth of the universe and the Standard Model, while raising questions, is being refined and reinforced all the time. The latest data from the Planck satellite confirms the Standard Model of inflation (while raising further questions). ordinary and dark matter evolving according to Einstein's equations of gravity and the mysterious cosmological constant thrown in. I don't see how the reality of cosmic background radiation, reinforced again by the latest evidence, can be described as coming from anything except a massive release of energy. The was, on an earlier thread, some talk about the "standard model" sounding somewhat bourgeois. But it sounds better to me than the "fucking silly model".

Of course the bourgeoisie uses science - who doubts it? This is quite a positive article for me.

jk1921
baboon wrote: I haven't seen

baboon wrote:

I haven't seen any serious dissent from the idea of the birth of the universe and the Standard Model, while raising questions, is being refined and reinforced all the time. The latest data from the Planck satellite confirms the Standard Model of inflation (while raising further questions). ordinary and dark matter evolving according to Einstein's equations of gravity and the mysterious cosmological constant thrown in. I don't see how the reality of cosmic background radiation, reinforced again by the latest evidence, can be described as coming from anything except a massive release of energy. The was, on an earlier thread, some talk about the "standard model" sounding somewhat bourgeois. But it sounds better to me than the "fucking silly model".

Of course the bourgeoisie uses science - who doubts it? This is quite a positive article for me.

 

Baboon, do you think Lerner is a quack? What are you talking about when you use the phrase "fucking silly model"?

I don't think you quite understand the critique that had been made. Its not just that the bourgeoisie "uses science." Its that the scientific worldview is itself tied up with capitalist domination. Perhaps, I am not the best person to try to explain this. Maybe you find this "fucking silly," but I am afraid the idea has some wider currency in the milieu.

Nevertheless, there are much deeper questions here over and above whether this or that specific scientific theory is right or wrong--it goes to the very nature of scientific authority, Marxism and the possibility and basis for critique. Its a shame that things have gotten so testy with LBird elsewhere, because I would be interested in hearing what he has to say on these issues.

Still, it seems clear that, even if there is no official position, there is a dominant take on these questions in the ICC that comes across in the editorial: the scientific consensus is an authority, heretics are not to be taken very seriously (even if they are Marxists). Of course, all of this raises the question of on what basis the critique of ideology (when it penetrates science) can even take place.

 

LBird
Reluctance

jk1921 wrote:
Its a shame that things have gotten so testy with LBird elsewhere, because I would be interested in hearing what he has to say on these issues.

Thanks for the acknowledgement, jk, but I don't want to merely repeat what I've already tried to explain on other threads, which are both still awaiting further comment and development.

Of course, if you have a particular question, I'll try to answer it, but so much depends upon one's philosophical and ideological positions, that it's difficult to give 'easy' answers. I always encourage comrades to dig deeper into their own presuppositions, which is, I think, a necessary part of discussing 'science' and 'method' (before we even get to 'Is science a Marxism?' and 'scientific authority').

baboon
My point is

What's in a name? On the other thread on this question,  the concept of the Big Bang, an event that's been validated over and over again to many scientific degreess, is posed as a religious question, an article of wacky faith. How do you know there are stars jk - can you touch them?

In the same vein as posing the eminently scientific idea of the Big Bang as a religious belief, someone, I think that it was you jk, pointed to the name "Standard Model" (ie, the scientific explanation of the Big Bang, which has once again been validated in further detail by the latest evidence from the Planck satellite) and made some suggestion that this name was traditionalist, bourgeois or words to this effect. My point in calling it the "fucking silly model" is a bit of a joke that implies that there's nothing in a name but, you have to admit, the "Standard Model" sounds better.

LBird
Science as Belief?

I just know I'm going to regret re-entering this thread, but it's like a bright flame to a not-very-bright moth.

baboon wrote:
On the other thread on this question, the concept of the Big Bang, an event that's been validated over and over again to many scientific degreess, is posed as a religious question, an article of wacky faith. How do you know there are stars jk - can you touch them?

The problem, baboon, is that 'scientific validation', even 'over and over again', does not mean a concept is 'True'. 'Truth' is a human construct, which should be based upon the external, real, world, but access to that 'real world' is problematic.

We now know from the study of what scientists have done in practice over the last couple of centuries (as opposed to what they say they do, in theory), that, time and time again, 'scientific truths' which have been verified 'over and over again to many scientific degrees', have turned out to be 'not true', when measured against reality using different theories.

Does this mean (as comrades who say this are often accused of meaning) that 'anything goes' or that 'religious truth' can be accepted as 'true for us'?

No, it means we have to discuss what is really going on during the 'scientific method', and try to reduce the 'mistakes' it makes. Part of the problem is that science is a human activity, and we live in a class-based society, so it seems reasonable to at least posit for discussion the idea that 'science' has at least a 'class component'.

Now, if anyone wishes to interpret that as arguing for 'proletarian molecules' or wishing to resurrect Stalinist Lysenkoism, then we won't get very far.

These are philosophical problems, and comrades can't just answer 'Well, I can see a cat, and it is a cat because I can touch it!' and think that exhausts the possibilities of scientific theory, research and knowledge.

We should also discuss the difference between 'science' and 'religion', because I, for one, think it's far more difficult to separate them, than one would suppose. I think it can be done, but it requires ditching the 'belief' that 'science and its method produces The Truth about reality'.

In fact, it's amazing how much the defenders of 'science as objective' use similar arguments to religious believers and ignore perfectly good evidence that contradicts their 'beliefs'.

Oh shit, I wish I hadn't risen to the bait... damn you, jk!

jk1921
Good Post

LBird wrote:

Oh shit, I wish I hadn't risen to the bait... damn you, jk!

Come on, you know you enjoy it. And I think you made a good post, even if I don't agree with all of it (although much of it is compelling).

jk1921
One part of the article that

One part of the article that really intrigued me was the discussion of the possibility of a "total cure for AIDS." The advances in HIV therapy were cited as evidence that despite decompositon, science is still capable of making tremendous advances. I suppose this was meant to illustrate, that for all its distortions by capitalism, science is its own process; has its own autonomous logic, etc. Of course, under captialism this is distoreted by the profit motive such that the vast majority of those who could benefit from the new HIV therapies never get it. And although the article doesn't state this, one could extend the argument to show that decomposition also plays a role in preventing these therapies from having their full effect--such as through the ideological stupidity of  Thabo Mbeki (former President of South Africa) who was a HIV-denier or in the attitude of many young men in Africa (as described by public health workers) who say that they will probably die of something else before they get AIDS from HIV, so it is not worth the dulled sexual sensation to use a condom.

Nevertheless, I am struck by the apparent contradiction between the advances in HIV therapy (even if a "total cure" is still quite a way off) and the apparent impasse that modern medicine has reached in dealing with much more mundane, even if no less devasting in terms of disability and suffering, epidemics like depression, anxiety and chronic pain. Modern medicine simply has no good answer for these things--and often its proffered therapies only make the condition worse. There is, of course, dramatic controversy around these topics within medicine:

In the instance of chronic pain--doctors are divided into those who wil prescribe opiates as the only effective treatment for intractable and chronic pain and those who see this practice as an absolute abomination that only makes the patient worse. Of course, it is not clear what the anti-opiate doctors can offer instead. Lately, the tide appears to be turning toward "patient-blaming" and writing off chronic pain patients as psychological cases, who need to undergo a tough love treatment and learn to "decenter" the pain experience. Its not a physiological problem, its a personality issue. It is not difficult to follow the arrows of this line of thought to the seemingly inevitable conclusion that if you are not happy with your life, its your own damn fault. Doctors who prescribe you pills, families that coddle you and governments that give you disability benefit checks are only enabling your self-centered, descent into dependency.

Still, its not clear that drugs are the answer either. The evidence suggests that any substance that acts on the central nervous system at the level of synaptic receptors is capable of producing tolerance, addiction and will eventually stop working, necessitating more and more dramatic pharmacologic or surgical interventions (ECT anyone?) In fact, at a certain point in the process, these substances can even overload the brain and actually cause paradoxical effects and "hyperalgesia." The pharmacologic approach doesn't seem like any better of an alternative that the psycho-somatic dogma.

One patient described this situation as the "decline of medicine." I don't know if that is the case, or if it has just reached an impasse, or perhaps maybe has even reached the limits of the human condition, but it is clear that medical science currently has no answer for these problems. This stands in sharp contrast to the progress that has been made on fighting HIV (although I suppose those who take anti-retrovirals would testify to the devasting side of effects of those treatments).

How do we understand this? It seems clear that the "march of science" is far from unidiretional. Its pretty stark that in the case of chronic pain and many so-called "mental disorders" (half of the medical community thinks chronic pain is a mental disorder anyway) science is brought into the service of the state and capital and becomes a force of discipline and domination rather than healing and rejuvenation. Is is all to be chalked up to capitalist distortion? Or are their inherent limits/problems in bringing science into certain areas of the human experience? Once science has been set free, is there anything that can be done to prevent it from colonizing all of our attempts to address human problems? Can we understand all these problems through the scientific lens?

 

 

Fred
jk wrote: (1)...are their

jk wrote:
(1)...are their inherent limits/problems in bringing science into certain areas of the human experience?   (2)  Once science has been set free, is there anything that can be done to prevent it from colonizing all of our attempts to address human problems? (3)  Can we understand all these problems through the scientific lens.
 

jk asks three important questions - the numbering is mine.  With regard to question (1) Yes, there are clearly problems with bringing what some may assume to be science - just because the bourgeoisie has taken it for granted for years that some particular bit of knowledge constitutes "science" rather than some long lasting "belief" -  into certain (all?) areas of human experience, as some recent threads on this forum show.  Simply put, the problem is that there appears little agreement about what science is anymore,  or whether its an unchangeable object  with a life of its own, or whether it rules humanity or whether we can/do/or should/ must rule it. 

Question 2. "Once science has been set free" How long has it been a prisoner?  Who controls it? Does it control us, like some alien force in a movie? SCIENCE has no existence of its own; its just something that we humans do. So it can't be set free. Only humans, and other forms of life, can be set free. So there's no danger of it "colonizing" (interesting word - AJ.Ayer,  the great logical positivist,   would wonder "what do you mean by "colonize" and what do I mean by "mean"? Indeed, how do I know I "mean" anything... " blah blah and fart) so it's not likely that a rampant science, set free and running wild, will stop us addressing human problems, only capitalism's relations of production do that. 

Question 3. Do we have to understand all these problems through the scientific lens?  It depends what you mean by "lens" and indeed by "scientific".  For myself I understand some problems a bit, by thinking about them, and reading what posters say about them in this forum.  I don't know whether that involves the scientific lens or not. It may involve an experiential lens - so what do you mean by "experiential " exactly? - which may or may not be scientific!  Couldn't it be some literary based understanding, or an unusual capacity for meandering thought gained from listening a lot to the "logic" of Bach? I don't know.  But occasionally on this forum these days I think that an insistence on science - as being somehow more reliable than an insistence on humanity, and especially the revolutionary working class - has bent the stick to far, as the great Lenin once said about something.  Oops! Have I mentioned the forbidden name?  Well, I know he wasn't always great, and made some awful and disastrous  mistakes, but we've learned a lot from him, haven't we? 

LBird
Bachian Oracle method?

Fred wrote:
Couldn't it be some literary based understanding, or an unusual capacity for meandering thought gained from listening a lot to the "logic" of Bach? I don't know.

Good point, Fred. Once we locate 'science' within humanity, and start to ask 'from where do hypotheses originate?', it seems reasonable to expect 'art' to provide at least some of the intuition that we already know that humans use when engaging in 'science'.

Once again, this approach seems to provide support for my outline method of science I gave on the other thread, which I think was something like 'Society, ideology, theory, method, hypothesis, experiment, and cycle to theory'. Of course, this is mostly off the top of my head, and I think other comrades could improve it, by adding/changing/removing/re-ordering steps.

Perhaps it's useful to think of 'reality' as like an Ancient Greek oracle: it initiates nothing, just answers the questions posed of it, but the answers given are often opaque, and require a re-formulated question, which continues until we humans get the answer that we want!

Fred
Thank you for this

Thank you for this interesting article. But one bit that puzzles me is this

Quote:
...these people who run the world can sometimes understand the dangers involved, but whatever their moral conscience, they continue in the same direction because they are prisoners of a system that goes towards catastrophe. There is a mechanism that exceeds human will and whose logic is stronger than the will of the most powerful politics. Today the bourgeoisie themselves have children who are concerned about the future ... The looming disasters will hit the poorest first, but the bourgeoisie will also be increasingly affected. The working class not only bears the future for itself, but for all of humanity, including the descendants of the current bourgeoisie.
 

There's a lot of stuff compacted in this paragraph and I would have liked some elaboration. The people who understand some of the dangers, but they are "prisoners of a system that goes towards catastrophe", why are they "prisoners", and in what sense, and why can some people escape "prison" - the writers of this article for instance - whereas Al Gore can't see, doesn't want to see(?), why the bourgeoisie is impotent in the face of global warming: and can't draw the conclusion (or is in denial?) that the problem is precisely the bourgeoisie and its economic system, which needs dealing with. Or does he have too much to lose, do you think? 

What is the " mechanism that exceeds human will" and has a logic stronger than the most powerful politics?  Is this capitalism itself?  Or is it MERELY ideology, which isn't so strong as to be beyond critique. Is it?  For, as you say, even the bourgeoisie now have children who are concerned about the future.  But surely they always have had eg Marx and Engels, so are you suggesting there's something special about today's situation? Are you at all suggesting that even some members of the bourgeoisie may come to see the faults, failures and dangers of capitalism as things get horrifically worse? Can they never escape their intellectual imprisonment? 

We really need LBird's Ancient Greek oracle to answer some of these questions, though she was always high and out of her head on the mind-changing gases that filled her cave. This required priests to interpret her jabberings. Where does that leave us?(lol)

LBird
What is 'science'

The title of the article is 'Editorial: Scientific advances and the decomposition of capitalism'. I'd argue that before we get to either 'capitalism' or 'decomposition', or indeed even to 'advances', we need to discuss what we mean by 'science'. This is a philosophical argument, and it can't be settled by 'common sense' replies like 'it's what scientists do'. That merely begs the deeper question of 'what is it that they do?'.

Perhaps we could move forward by getting some agreement upon some basic questions?

Like: 'Is science a human activity?' (with the emphasis on 'active') or 'Does science require humans to be passive (to be outside of 'human activities', like politics, and to ignore non-scientific issues)?

If someone wants to start the ball rolling, by choosing one of those answers, or by suggesting another answer, or indeed by suggesting an entirely different pair of basic questions, then perhaps we can start a discussion.

Alternatively, perhaps someone can just suggest a personal, basic definition of 'what science is'.

Whatever route we might choose, it's going to be a difficult journey, from my previous experience of asking about the nature of 'science'. To me, it soon becomes obvious that people have often invested an awful lot of belief and emotion in 'science', and even merely questioning 'science' generates a 'passion' which seems at odds with science's supposed status as an 'objective', 'truth-producing', 'disinterested' search for 'knowledge'.

Furthermore, for those who see 'Marxism' as a 'science' (meaning it produces the 'truth' about society), it can seem as if asking questions can only undermine Marxism. I don't think it does, but I know many comrades will disagree with me. I would like to emphasise that don't mean those on this site, I'm talking about many past discussions, over years.

Finally, we motivates me to keep asking, is that I don't fully understand the temporary answers I have come to myself. I think the answers must be social answers, arrived at by discussion and debate. We all need help from others: I certainly do.

PS. should the ICC start a new thread for this precise question, and leave this thread for the article itself?

Fred
LBird says : we need to

LBird says : we need to discuss what science is. But that's just about all we're discussing on 3 or 4 different threads. The trouble is we don't get anywhere because no one's prepared to admit their current view of the question might be wrong and in need of change. So we get a bit circular. 

LBird wrote:
Perhaps we could move forward by getting some agreement upon some basic questions?

 Like: 'Is science a human activity?' (with the emphasis on 'active') or 'Does science require humans to be passive (to be outside of 'human activities', like politics, and to ignore non-scientific issues)?

  Answers. Yes, science is  human activity - even if we don't know exactly what it is(lol) - what else could it be?   Does it require us to be passive. Science doesn't require anything, being a human activity not a living thing in its own right.(  But NB. Capitalism isn't a living thing either, but it certainly has its demands and requirements we all submit to. )  The bourgeoisie, given their understanding of what science is, ie procedures in continual search of objective truths, preferably those which will produce profits, or render competitors invalid  in some way, including war, expect humans who aren't properly trained and recognized as scientists in the bourgeois model, to be passive and keep quiet. But then they require the majority of their subservient populations to be passive with regard to just about everything, except the production of surplus value. And even this should be carried out as "passively" as possible: no asking questions or doubting the use of what's being done, no disrupting production.  Under the bourgeoisie, even scientists are expected to be moderately passive and servile. This goes against the spirit of science. The bourgeoisie doesn't want any science, even if it's objectively searching for the truth, to rock the boat - unless the rocking was to raise the chance of some hefty profit later.   So,  generally speaking,  scientific research under the bourgeoisie, isn't the pursuit of free spirits questioning everything in the universe, but a much more limited and restricted endeavor. Often restricted just by a lack of funds. This is another  issue that scientists and science suffer from greatly;  another shackle emanating from capitalism.  Under the bourgeoisie science has remained generally speaking "instrumental": it's concerned with things not people.  This is  why it's difficult  to talk about Marxism as science. Marxism is ONLY concerned with people. Even Marx's detailed analysis of Capital is concerned at heart with people, the working class, and the fact, proven "objectively" in the work, that the system's decline opens up the possibilities for revolution. It is the latter that interests Marx, as a communist, not the purely scientific analysis of the system's workings.  A science of society has yet to be invented - perhaps it never will be. Marxism isn't a science of society; it's a theory of revolution arising from a scientific investigation of the history of class struggle.   I hope I have contributed something LBird. Farewell for now. 
LBird
Are we discussing 'science'?

Fred wrote:
LBird says : we need to discuss what science is. But that's just about all we're discussing on 3 or 4 different threads. The trouble is we don't get anywhere because no one's prepared to admit their current view of the question might be wrong and in need of change. So we get a bit circular.

Well, it's my opinion that there is no discussion going on at all!

The trouble is, not a lack of willingness to admit one is wrong, but a lack of willingness to actually make a statement in the first place.

I've tried discussing the development of science as an historical activity, (Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos), theories of cognition (Schaff), the different conceptions of the activity of science (paradigms versus research programmes), the nature of society (Archer). I was going to try to also discuss the nature of 'reality' (Bhaskar), but don't seem to be able to spark a discussion about anything.

I've even tried to to outline a tentative 'scientific method' of my own (perhaps to be termed a 'proletarian science'), but no-one reponds to anything with their views. Just silence and assumptions.

Science just 'is'.

Fred
What is science?  Science is

What is science?  Science is a methodology ( or a way of thinking) that seeks to define problems and then come up with a solution, using previous research, if there is any, as a starting point. You first of all have to define your problem. This may begin as a hunch. Then you look at the literature that's been written on the field in which your putative problem is embedded, to find if a "solution" already exists. This helps you further define the problem. If you discover that no other workers in the field have dealt satisfactorily with the problem, or question, you are raising, then you have a piece of scientific work to engage with, and you're on your way. In defining the "problem" you wish to investigate you've probably also defined a possible solution. Further work will establish whether this is so. 

Example: why did the apple fall down from the tree? 

Another example: why did the Russian revolution turn out to be such a cock-up? Was it just because the revolution failed to develop internationally, or did the Bolshevik party make any mistakes themselves? 

LBird. You say above that no one ever responds, just silence!  Well, you may not like what I am saying now, and appear to have ignored what I tried to say on the subject in my post 14 (I agree it may well be rubbish - but all I got too was silence) but DON'T SAY THERE WAS NO RESPONSE  again. Perhaps you're not getting what you would regard as the proper response from the proper people.  So you'll just have to make do like the rest of us!!! 

 

Fred
the nature of reality

Hello again LBird, jk and baboon.   "How do you know there are stars jk, can you touch them."

 

So why did this fascinating thread fizzle out? No one ever responds, LBird complained, and then stopped responding himself! 

In fact  the beguilingly simple and almost hypnotic article by Wim and...I've forgotten the other writer's  name, please excuse me.... which sparked the thread deals with topics other than just plain old "science" like the practical illustrations  given in it  of the dumbfounding effects of decomposition on society 一 the mass murders  in schools, the suicides, the epidemic of "mental illnesses" (jk was very good on this subject earlier on - what exactly is "mental illness" does science know? Is Big Bang Theorizing a sort of mental derangement? - just being silly here!

AND WHAT IS THE NATURE OF REALITY? LBird's number one question. But no one wants to discuss it.  LBird tried his hardest to bring us out of our shells, to get us interested in the things that really matter, but we're all so bloody stupid we ignore his leadership and go our own miserable ways.  

For me, the nature of our current historical reality is rather like hell on earth. The bourgeoisie is dead and decaying on its feet but won't lie down and let us bury its stinking corpse.  And even if it did surrender and lie down the working class is arrayed in the clothes of submissive citizenship and would probably just arrange a massive and splendid State Funeral  with members of Royal Families and Californian and Indian film stars in attendance dressed beautifully. 

Like the John Cleese science character tells Klatuu, who's come from an advanced civilisation to kill off humanity for destroying planet Earth, in the film "The Day the Earth Stood Still",  with Bach playing in the background:  "Yes, so we've made a mess of the earth, we're selfish and greedy"  - he doesn't say we're living under capitalism, which would have explained everything!- "but we're on the brink now and we can change. Don't kill us off.  We know we've made mistakes but we can change. Give us another chance." Notice the submissive tone in "give us another chance" as if addressing a Deity. But Klatuu is more impressed by Bach. Perhaps Bach saved the day, or is it the display of affection between a woman and child that he witnesses? So destruction is averted.

But we are 'on the brink" aren't we. Even Hollywood knows.  Doesn't everyone increasingly realize we can't go in like this for much longer as time is running out for the environment and then there's all the human misery which the article above explains so beautifully and simply.  And then there's all the goon squads roaming the planet, and famines and diseases which we could easily deal with now, given our technological advances, if only they were realeased from their capitalist shackles and humanity let out of capitalism's vast prison.

That is the nature of reality LBird.  We live in a vast and stupefying prison called capitalism. 

 

LBird
'Leadership', or just questioning?

Fred wrote:

AND WHAT IS THE NATURE OF REALITY? LBird's number one question. But no one wants to discuss it.  LBird tried his hardest to bring us out of our shells, to get us interested in the things that really matter, but we're all so bloody stupid we ignore his leadership and go our own miserable ways.  

I haven't tried to provide any 'leadership', Fred.

I merely want a critical discussion about 'science', during which we all, me included, develop our understanding.

From discussions here, LibCom and the SPGB, I've found that questioning science and physics is the equivalent of denying god to American Fundamentalist Christians.

It seems to make all 'Communists' and 'Marxists' angry.

'Why?', I don't know.

Especially because I'm a Communist and a Marxist.

  

Fred
Questioning science and

Questioning science and physics doesn't make me angry, LBird.

LBird
Physics is political

Fred wrote:

Questioning science and physics doesn't make me angry, LBird.

I stand corrected, Fred!

There is one comrade who doesn't get angry when I question science and physics!

What about the democratic control of the production of knowledge, Fred?

Should any 'truth' produced by physics be elected?

That's what I argue.

Fred
Thank you LBird. I don't

Thank you LBird. I don't think there should be any control at all on the production of knowledge, only perhaps on its application. 

The question about should any truth from physics be elected I don't understand. But I always thought that you were dead against the incorrect idea that science, physics etc. dealt in TRUTHS! 

Actually (to be frank) I do sometimes get a little angry when you LBird question things, not because of the questioning but because of the slightly bossy know-all manner way  in which you do it. If you don't mind me pointing this out. (Perhaps I shouldn't have said this?) 

LBird
Know it all? Or just want to know it all?

Fred wrote:

Thank you LBird. I don't think there should be any control at all on the production of knowledge, only perhaps on its application. 

The question about should any truth from physics be elected I don't understand. But I always thought that you were dead against the incorrect idea that science, physics etc. dealt in TRUTHS! 

Actually (to be frank) I do sometimes get a little angry when you LBird question things, not because of the questioning but because of the slightly bossy know-all manner way  in which you do it. If you don't mind me pointing this out. (Perhaps I shouldn't have said this?) 

That's the key question, Fred - 'TRUTH' (as a universal, eternal, once-discovered-True-for-ever) versus 'truth' (as a socially-produced, thus historical, criticisable, changable, true-for-now).

Physicists (who provide the model for bourgeois science) claimed to produce the former - TRUTH.

We now know, since Einstein and Bohr, that they produce the latter - relative truth.

This is a big disappointment for those who erroneously followed Engels and his 'materialism', which follows 19th century science and positivist TRUTH

Marx was correct; but then, he was an idealist-materialist, who was a relativist - modes of production, for example.

Our knowledge of the world is relative to our mode of production.

But, 'know-it-all? No, I'm just a worker constantly enthusiastic to find out more about my social and natural world!

A wannabee 'know-it-all', perhaps!

  

jaycee
ok, LBird this is probably a

ok, LBird this is probably a better thread to discuss Engels/materialism etc.

While I think you are getting at something important with your 'idealist-materialist' in terms of the need for a critique of bourgeois materialism and bourgeois science in general I do think you are a little harsh on Engels. I don't deny that aspects of bourgeois /vulgar materialism have been a real presence in the workers movement and are a danger for lots of reasons. I also don't deny that Engels may have made some commenets which tended towards this which Marx was in general less prone to (possibly as a result of his deeper study of philosophy and I think being the better writer of the two helps too) but i also think Engels a) cannot be blamed entirely or even mainly for this b) at times attempts to go beyond this.

For example in the very attempt to construct a 'dialectics of nature' he was attempting to transcend many bourgeois aspects of the contempory materialism and science.- firstly the seperation of Man and society from nature and also in emphasising 'becoming' and 'relativity' (in terms of reality as being based on dialectical relationships). Whether you think he was successful or not is not the key point here- the point is what he was attempting.

In more general terms, while I agree that science and its ideology of 'materialism' under capitalism firstly inherently falls short of its own 'ideals' because of unconscious/social-economic pressures; its 'ideals' themselves are also constricted and flawed because of their bourgeois nature so far. The extent of these flaws is something I think has not been adequately dealt with by the workers movement in general.

LBird
Dialectics is discussion

jaycee wrote:

ok, LBird this is probably a better thread to discuss Engels/materialism etc.

While I think you are getting at something important with your 'idealist-materialist' in terms of the need for a critique of bourgeois materialism and bourgeois science in general I do think you are a little harsh on Engels. I don't deny that aspects of bourgeois /vulgar materialism have been a real presence in the workers movement and are a danger for lots of reasons. I also don't deny that Engels may have made some commenets which tended towards this which Marx was in general less prone to (possibly as a result of his deeper study of philosophy and I think being the better writer of the two helps too) but i also think Engels a) cannot be blamed entirely or even mainly for this b) at times attempts to go beyond this.

I think that that's a fair summing up of my position, in many ways, jaycee.

The main point of disagreement would be that of Marx 'being the better writer'. I think Marx was more profound and suggestive, but he was an awfully unclear writer. Hence our current difficulties and disagreements

jaycee wrote:

For example in the very attempt to construct a 'dialectics of nature' he was attempting to transcend many bourgeois aspects of the contempory materialism and science.- firstly the seperation of Man and society from nature and also in emphasising 'becoming' and 'relativity' (in terms of reality as being based on dialectical relationships). Whether you think he was successful or not is not the key point here- the point is what he was attempting.

This notion of a 'dialectics of nature' shows that Engels didn't understand Marx or 'dialectics'.

'Dialectics' comes from the Greek for 'talk-through' (in the sense of 'discuss'), so there can't be a 'dialectic' outside of consciousness.

jaycee wrote:

In more general terms, while I agree that science and its ideology of 'materialism' under capitalism firstly inherently falls short of its own 'ideals' because of unconscious/social-economic pressures; its 'ideals' themselves are also constricted and flawed because of their bourgeois nature so far. The extent of these flaws is something I think has not been adequately dealt with by the workers movement in general.

Put simply, science is ideological (including physics and maths). It is bourgeois ideology to claim science (and knowledge and truth) is non-political.

lem_
> so there can't be a

> so there can't be a 'dialectic' outside of consciousness.

This is logically incorrect and IMO gross "understanding" of marx.

For starters, you can't look look at the etymology of a word, then claim that because it mentions something only humans do (talk) that the term cannot refer to nature.

Words evolve, both in and out of one's consciousness. Words can be metaphorical, when an era "dies" it doesn't do so literally.

And most importantly, even if you legitimately believe that dialectics always includes consciousness, that does not mean that it *only* includes consciousness - not e.g. material conditions, even nature. You could assert that mind independent qualities cannot be dialectical, but even if you have any evidence of Marx or Marxists agreeing with you there, your opponent could say that the essential movement of dialectics - of the synthesis of negatives, really is found in physical reality. 

e.g. when a +vely charged atom gains a -vely charged electron. It's a poor example but I have no scientific knowledge anymore.

LBird
Marx and science

Which political ideology are you using, lem_?

You appear to be following bourgeois materialism, with talk of 'electrons', rather than 'our knowledge of electrons'.

'Electrons' is 'being', alone. Object.

'Our knowledge of electrons' is 'consciousess and being', together. Subject/Object.

When bourgeois physicists talk of 'electrons', they are hiding their consciousness.They pretend to know 'The Truth' of nature, outside of any social consciousness (ie., ideology or politics).

Einstein and Bohr didn't think this was possible.

No reputable modern philosopher of science does so, either.

They are all just catching up with Marx. Knowledge depends upon the mode of production.

lem_
> It is bourgeois ideology to

> It is bourgeois ideology to claim science (and knowledge and truth) is non-political.

is it a bourgeois ideology to claim that the time i take a shower or change my clothers is non-political? you may claim that the study of mathematics is more team-based, and so more political, but i'm being nagged to do so right now.

i'm not saying i think that the purer sciences are apolitical, e.g. their funding is nothing of the sort. but when the scientist records the position of an elemental particle, he or she is not doing so with bourgeois eyes (unless they're lying). if i am paid by some capitalist oligarch to demolish homes and make way for a runway for his jet, that doesn't mean that the demolished house isn't really ruins, or that my skills at demolition are somehow more capitalist than they would be under communism.

yes we would have different scientific even mathematical and certainly philosophical theories with different economic models. but that doesn't mean that science doesn't establish the truth, certainly doesn't mean that science establishes bourgeois truth, and absolutely doesn't mean that everything that science does is bourgeois.

at a bare minimum, empirical facts are empirical facts that are true regardlelss of how we constructed them. reality is more tricky, but then you don't think that reality is dialetical so perhaps believe that we'll always have a bourgeois understanding of it?

LBird
Clarity

Now I am clear that you're using bourgeois ideology, lem_.

You argue for theoryless 'empirical facts'.

lem_
bourgeois materialism and bourgeois idealism

> You appear to be following bourgeois materialism, with talk of 'electrons', rather than 'our knowledge of electrons'.

you what? that's frankly absurd... that is bewilderingly strange, i won't go on about that - without you explaining what you mean. 

> No reputable modern philosopher of science does so, either.

reputable to who? there's a tonne of realists about science - it's actually way more in vogue than bourgeois idealism!

please don't read that horrible critical realist "marxist", he seems almost pernicious - what sort of thought he encourgaes in miliutants.

lem_
umm

LBird wrote:
You argue for theoryless 'empirical facts'.

no i didn't please quote of gtfo.

Quote:
Now I am clear that you're using bourgeois ideology, lem_.
tbh i won't flatter you with enough credit by sensibly replying to this statement.

tomatoes by potatoin

 

lem_
i don't believe we can make

i don't believe we can make observations without a grond of theory and assumptions. incidentally, this is the mistake that bourgeois popper makes.

i DO believe that empirical observations are facts - that regardless of why we study them, they are true.  no philosophers of science seek or would want to refute the empirical successes of science - which are huge.

i find it awful strange that you are trying to claim your anti realism as "proletarian". in what way is your anti realism any different to that of bourgeois idealism?? because you go the extra mile and say that science is not empirically succesful - that's a bourgeois illusion?

well, you're welcome to that claim, but it is philosophically inert and i would prefer you didn't call the alterantive "bourgeois" without even trying to "talk" about why.

lem_
i am highly amused and

i am highly amused and angered by your calling me a bourgeois ideologue. i suggest you edit your post, thanks.

or i will leave this here: you are a bourgeois nihilist.

 

 

have a good day, comrade.

lem_
if you had ever studied

if you had ever studied anything other than your own butt, you would realize that

>  talk of 'electrons', rather than 'our knowledge of electrons'.

actually does the opposite of what you think. saying "electrons" needn't suggest that what we seem to know about them are facts. "knowledge of electrons" tho, does exactly that. suggest that i have children and they are X or Y, but strictly implicates that these are facts. i do not know how to convince you of this, because you are so bourgeois is concealing your assumptions and knowledge.

you argue for bouregeois [i.e. objbectivist] idealism [i.e. utopianism]. there is no if or but, you are a bourgeois, and will be until you stop looking in your butt.

 

 

thanks.

lem_
unless you think that saying

unless you think that saying "electron" rather than "knowledge of electron" erases the role of labour in science? also absurd, there is no talk of "electrons" without centuries of study and experiment with nature.

anyway - claiming like you do that there is no bourgeois constructivism is bourgeois, as well as completely false!!

it's just another form of nihilism - this time about science [- all of which is you claim false - and vain, because scientists aren't working class [also a bourgeois claim]], and the only nihilism which is not bourgeois is active nihilism.

so you are a bourgeois nihilist, as well as wrong about everything - some struggle haha :)

lem_
ok here's a flow chart 1. is

ok here's a flow chart

1. is science empirically succesful 

no - go to 5.

2. is it a fact that science is empirically succesful

no - go to 5.

3. if it's a fact that science is empitically succesful, then are its empirical successes facts

no - go to 5.

4. if the empirical successes of science are facts, then does science tell us empirical facts

no - go to 5.

5. congratulations, you're insane. and bourgeois lol.

jaycee
I don't think calling people

I don't think calling people insane, or even bourgeois is too helpful here Lem.

However LBird, when you say that we can only talk of our 'knowledge of electrons' not electrons themselves this is true (Shroedeners at and all that) but there is still a reality out there. It is the contemporary bourgeois relativism/post-modernism that denies the existence of independent reality. This is an expression of the deep alienation of the bourgeois outlook. Even in Kant and the early bourgeoisie  it expresses alienation, the idea that humanity is eternally estranged from existence/truth is a reflection of alienation from nature which reaches unprecedented levels in capitalism.

It is the subject/object split which is the problem, this is why I think Iwas correct to say that LBird has not really gone beyond this seperation despite the idea of a idealist-materialist' synthesis. For me this is the problem bourgeois science can never go beyond (at least not practically or thoroughly) and it is expressed well in the bourgeois view of consciousness shown in psychiatry. There is good reason they have not really moved on from the days of phrenology and lobottomies (they call phrenology neuro-science and lobbottomies medication now) but the difference is minimal.

While it is true that the stories we make up about the world of which 'science'- reified and seperated from all other forms of knowledge- is still one, despite being in many ways a clearer (at least in terms of the mechanics of reality) reflection than others in the past- are never quite the reality itself. It is also the case that our stories are part of reality but that nature of the stories is the question,; are they alienated and perverted by unconscious social economic forces or are they arrived at 'naturally' and freely and to what extent.

LBird
Out there? What is it? Who knows? How do they know?

jaycee wrote:

However LBird, when you say that we can only talk of our 'knowledge of electrons' not electrons themselves this is true (Shroedeners at and all that) but there is still a reality out there. It is the contemporary bourgeois relativism/post-modernism that denies the existence of independent reality. 

jaycee, the statement "knowledge of electrons" is a statement of consciousness and being.

It includes both 'mind' and 'a reality out there', so your 'but' is superfluous.

It is a myth beloved of 'materialists' that anyone who argues for subject/object is an 'idealist', and that this supposed 'idealism' denies 'a reality out there'. Not even Kant or Berkeley denied 'a reality out there'.

The question is about knowledge of the 'reality out there'. That's the problem to be addressed, 'how' we know, not 'whether reality exists'.

Unless you address your ideological beliefs about 'reality out there', you'll fail to grasp your own viewpoint.

lem_
> I don't think calling

> I don't think calling people insane, or even bourgeois is too helpful here Lem.

1. "Insane" is a tongue in cheek joke

2. LBird had already called me bourgoeis because they "misunderstood" what I said. 

lem_
No that is fundamentally

No that is fundamentally incorrect and misinformed, Berkley was not an epismeological idealist, he was a metaphysical idealist.

i..e there is nothing independent of mind, because everything is mind.

lem_
> anyone who argues for the

> anyone who argues for the inseprability ot subject and object IS an idealist.

an idealist is someone who argues that we know nothing about what is othing independent of mind.

this is exactly what you do.

you can claim that this epistenological idealism isn't idealism, but only because it's just a arbitrary term designating a broad range of bourgeois beliefs such as your own.

an epistenological idealist denies that there is anything "really out there" which we can know.

lem_
this whole discussion is so

this whole discussion is so awful. like your analysis of the transition to communism, your understanding of the philosophy of science, LBird, is trivial, poorly informed, and fabricated. and also wrong.

moreover you extend this stupidiity to reading internet forums.

LBird
Bourgeois science predicated upon Private Property

The key here, I think, is to grasp that we need to be talking about (like Marx) relationships.

This requires both being and consciousness (because if either is subsumed into the other, the relationship disappears).

So, lem_ is incorrect: not 'everything is mind'.

But... understanding 'being' ( a 'reality of there', to echo jaycee) requires 'consciousness'.

Our problem is determining the nature of the relationship between the two: between 'mind' and 'reality out there'.

The centrepiece of bourgeois science was the pretence that bourgeois scientists had a 'method' that removed 'mind' and revealed 'reality out there' AS IT IS. That is, 'as reality is', without any consideration of 'mind/consciousness'.

Of course, when 'mind' has to be taken into account, since 'mind' is social (and thus political), science has to address the question of the politics of the physicist.

Bourgeois society abhors the notion that we should ask political questions of science, because it leads to questions about 'the final frontier' of a 'reality outside of social consciousness': Private Property.

While 'being' is believed to be outside of social considerations in science, so Private Property will remain so, too.

 

LBird
Zero knowledge

lem_ wrote:

this whole discussion is so awful. like your analysis of the transition to communism, your understanding of the philosophy of science, LBird, is trivial, poorly informed, and fabricated. and also wrong.

moreover you extend this stupidiity to reading internet forums.

lem_ , it pains me to say it, but you seem to know nothing about science, ontology, epistemology, Marx, Engels, physics, maths, being, consciousness, capitalism, transitions or Communism.

Or the relationships between them all.

lem_
hmm, well i'll let little

things that LBird is a know nothing bourgoies nihilist about:

marxism

the working class

philosophy

science

reading

writing

maths

history

the internet

jesus let's just say everything and make it simple for you - YOU ARE FUCKING ABYSMAL.

lem_
Zero knowledgeZero

Zero knowledge

Zero knowledge

Zero knowledge

Zero knowledge

Zero knowledge

i do not claim to have knowledge i do not have (unlike you) i have read a smattering of marx, and i majoried in the philosophy of science at undergrad, also, i seem to have the capacity to speak to others rather than projectsions of my own failures haha.

And I am sorry for calling you names, but dishonestly claiming someone is bourgeois, as you did, ranks pretty highly on my name-calling chart.

lem_
So, lem_ is incorrect: not

> So, lem_ is incorrect: not 'everything is mind'.

For the love of jesus christ, I did not say that everything is mind - please!!! You have taken what I said completely out of context, and are starting to make me feel physically ill.

Quote:
The centrepiece of bourgeois science was the pretence that bourgeois scientists had a 'method' that removed 'mind' and revealed 'reality out there' AS IT IS. That is, 'as reality is', without any consideration of 'mind/consciousness'.
what a very odd idea. where did you get this narrative from???

No "scientiststs" are going to think that their work creates theory that tells us nothing about the empirical world, that has no empirical content - e.g. obseravation sentences.

So I cannot make sense of your comment - you either completely fabricated a narrative about "bourgeois science" or you somehow believe that anti-realism is proletarian. It isn't.

lem_
I apologise to everyone else

I apologise to everyone else for my rudeness to LBird, no-one wants to see it...

Anyyway, I wanted to respond to your assertion that mental illness doesn't exist.

Frst off there are a few things that we can probably agree on:

Psychological states like psychosis do exist pretty much as they are described in the psychiatric literature.

But they may not exist in the same way without psychiatry.

Partly because psychiatry treats and changes psychosis, and partly because a different way of framing a mental illness might result in a literature or discourse on it which makes the "illness" in practice very different.

And finally, whether or not we call (even) psychosis an "illness" rather than a (metaphorical) curse or even gift, isn't clear cut - because of the vast differences in what can precipitate or cause psychosis.

 

BUT it seems to me that mental illness does still "exist". Obviously it depends on what you mean by "exist" but the "mental illness" (or curse or gift) I suffer from has a tangible effect on my day to day life. One that I am not in control over, even if that is in principle I could do away with those effects with the right medication, or if I had enough control over the rest of my world.

It could be argued that there is no such thing as "control" over a mental state, only irresponsible people (if you feel sad you aren't living right which is only down to you). But this Szaszian article is pretty unconvincing and also quite mean spirited - IMO it demonstartes that "philosophy" can overstep its remit sometimes.