Subscribe To The Perspectives

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Beginner's Guide To Understand Dialectical Materialism

In this article,the attempt has been to sum up the meaning of dialectics,dialectical materialism and related concepts in two phases,one that consists of several parts and is for those who have been introduced to the basic concepts of Economics,Philosophy,Political Philosophy (and it's even better if Maths or Statistics) ; the second phase consists of a summed up single article called 'About Dialectical Materialism in a Nutshell'.
This short article is recommended for those who have not been introduced to economic or political concepts prior to this but are willingly to learn or are interested in doing so.




Dialectic or dialectics, also known as the dialectical method, is a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned arguments.The term was popularized by Plato's Socratic dialogues but the act itself has been central to European and Indian philosophy since ancient history.




The term dialectic is not synonymous with the term debate. While in theory debaters are not necessarily emotionally invested in their point of view, in practice debaters frequently display an emotional commitment that may cloud rational judgment. Debates are won through a combination of persuading the opponent, proving one's argument correct, or proving the opponent's argument incorrect. Debates do not necessarily require promptly identifying a clear winner or loser; however clear winners are frequently determined by either a judge, jury, or by group consensus. The term dialectics is also not synonymous with the term rhetoric, a method or art of discourse that seeks to persuade, inform, or motivate an audience.Concepts, like "logos" or rational appeal, "pathos" or emotional appeal, and "ethos" or ethical appeal, are intentionally used by rhetoricians to persuade an audience.

Fichtean Dialectics (Hegelian Dialectics) is based upon four concepts:


  • Everything is transient and finite, existing in the medium of time.
  • Everything is composed of contradictions (opposing forces).
  • Gradual changes lead to crises, turning points when one force overcomes its opponent force (quantitative change leads to qualitative change).
  • Change is helical (spiral), not circular (negation of the negation).


In The Classical Period


According to Kant, the ancient Greeks used the word "dialectic" to signify the logic of false appearance or semblance. To the ancients, "it was nothing but the logic of illusion. It was a sophistic art of giving to one's ignorance, indeed even to one's intentional tricks, the outward appearance of truth, by imitating the thorough, accurate method which logic always requires, and by using its topic as a cloak for every empty assertion."


In classical philosophy, dialectic is a form of reasoning based upon dialogue of arguments and counter-arguments, advocating propositions (theses) and counter-propositions (antitheses). The outcome of such a dialectic might be the refutation of a relevant proposition, or of a synthesis, or a combination of the opposing assertions, or a qualitative improvement of the dialogue.

In The Medieval Period


Dialectics (also called logic) was one of the three liberal arts taught in medieval universities as part of the trivium. The trivium also included rhetoric and grammar.

Based mainly on Aristotle, the first medieval philosopher to work on dialectics was Boethius.After him, many scholastic philosophers also made use of dialectics in their works, such as Abelard,William of Sherwood,Garlandus Compotista,Walter Burley, Roger Swyneshed, William of Ockham and Thomas Aquinas.

This dialectic was formed as follows:


  • The Question to be determined

  • The principal objections to the question

  • An argument in favor of the Question, traditionally a single argument ("On the contrary...")

  • The determination of the Question after weighing the evidence. ("I answer that...")

  • The replies to each objection

In The Modern Period

The concept of dialectics was given new life by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (following Fichte), whose dialectically dynamic model of nature and of history made it, as it were, a fundamental aspect of the nature of reality (instead of regarding the contradictions into which dialectics leads as a sign of the sterility of the dialectical method, as Immanuel Kant tended to do in his Critique of Pure Reason).In the mid-19th century, the concept of "dialectic" was appropriated by Karl Marx (see, for example, Das Kapital, published in 1867) and Friedrich Engels and retooled in what they claimed to be a non-idealist manner. It would also become a crucial part of later representations of Marxism as a philosophy of dialectical materialism.


Hegelian dialectic, usually presented in a threefold manner, was stated by Heinrich Moritz Chalybäus as comprising three dialectical stages of development: a thesis, giving rise to its reaction, an antithesis, which contradicts or negates the thesis, and the tension between the two being resolved by means of a synthesis. Although this model is often named after Hegel, he himself never used that specific formulation. Hegel ascribed that terminology to Kant. Carrying on Kant's work, Fichte greatly elaborated on the synthesis model, and popularized it.


On the other hand, Hegel did use a three-valued logical model that is very similar to the antithesis model, but Hegel's most usual terms were: Abstract-Negative-Concrete. Hegel used this writing model as a backbone to accompany his points in many of his works.

The formula, thesis-antithesis-synthesis, does not explain why the thesis requires an antithesis. However, the formula, abstract-negative-concrete, suggests a flaw, or perhaps an incomplete-ness, in any initial thesis—it is too abstract and lacks the negative of trial, error and experience. For Hegel, the concrete, the synthesis, the absolute, must always pass through the phase of the negative, in the journey to completion, that is, mediation. This is the essence of what is popularly called Hegelian Dialectics.

In contradiction to Hegelian idealism, Karl Marx presented Dialectical materialism (Marxist dialectics):

My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. To Hegel, the life-process of the human brain, i.e. the process of thinking, which, under the name of 'the Idea', he even transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurgos of the real world, and the real world is only the external, phenomenal form of 'the Idea'. With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought.

In Marxism, the dialectical method of historical study became intertwined with historical materialism, the school of thought exemplified by the works of Marx, Engels, and Vladimir Lenin. In the USSR, under Joseph Stalin, Marxist dialectics became "diamat" (short for dialectical materialism), a theory emphasizing the primacy of the material way of life, social "praxis," over all forms of social consciousness and the secondary, dependent character of the "ideal." The term "dialectical materialism" was coined by the 19th-century social theorist Joseph Dietzgen who used the theory to explain the nature of socialism and social development.





Dialectical Materialism 

Marx and Engels each began their adulthood as Young Hegelians, one of several groups of intellectuals inspired by the philosopher Hegel. But both soon concluded that Hegelian philosophy, at least as interpreted by their former colleagues, was too abstract and was being misapplied in attempts to explain the social injustice in recently industrializing countries such as Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, which was a growing concern in the early 1840s.n contrast to the conventional Hegelian dialectic of the day, which emphasized the idealist observation that human experience is dependent on the mind's perceptions, Marx developed Marxist dialectics, which emphasized the materialist view that the world of the concrete shapes socioeconomic interactions and that those in turn determine sociopolitical reality.Whereas some Hegelians blamed religious alienation (estrangement from the traditional comforts of religion) for societal ills, Marx and Engels concluded that alienation from economic and political autonomy, coupled with exploitation and poverty, was the real culprit. In keeping with dialectical ideas of such sequences as thesis-antithesis-synthesis, thesis-rejection-rejection, and action-reaction-reaction, Marx and Engels thus created an alternative theory, not only of why the world is the way it is, but also of which actions people should take to make it the way it ought to be. Marx summarized, "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it."Dialectical materialism is thus closely related to Marx's and Engels's historical materialism (and has sometimes been viewed as synonymous with it).

Marx's criticism of Hegel asserts that Hegel's dialectics go astray by dealing with ideas, with the human mind. Hegel's dialectic, Marx says, inappropriately concerns "the process of the human brain"; it focuses on ideas. Hegel's thought is in fact sometimes called dialectical idealism. Marx believed that dialectics should deal not with the mental world of ideas but with "the material world," the world of production and other economic activity.

For Marx, human history cannot be fitted into any neat a priori schema. He explicitly rejects the idea of Hegel’s followers that history can be understood as "a person apart, a metaphysical subject of which real human individuals are but the bearers".To interpret history as though previous social formations have somehow been aiming themselves toward the present state of affairs is "to misunderstand the historical movement by which the successive generations transformed the results acquired by the generations that preceded them".Marx's rejection of this sort of teleology was one reason for his enthusiastic (though not entirely uncritical) reception of Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

Marx's criticism of Hegel asserts that Hegel's dialectics go astray by dealing with ideas, with the human mind. Hegel's dialectic, Marx says, inappropriately concerns "the process of the human brain"; it focuses on ideas. Hegel's thought is in fact sometimes called dialectical idealism. Marx believed that dialectics should deal not with the mental world of ideas but with "the material world," the world of production and other economic activity.

For Marx, human history cannot be fitted into any neat a priori schema. He explicitly rejects the idea of Hegel’s followers that history can be understood as "a person apart, a metaphysical subject of which real human individuals are but the bearers".To interpret history as though previous social formations have somehow been aiming themselves toward the present state of affairs is "to misunderstand the historical movement by which the successive generations transformed the results acquired by the generations that preceded them". Marx's rejection of this sort of teleology was one reason for his enthusiastic (though not entirely uncritical) reception of Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

Marx’s own writings are almost exclusively concerned with understanding human history in terms of systemic processes, based on modes of production (broadly speaking, the ways in which societies are organized to employ their technological powers to interact with their material surroundings). This is called historical materialism. More narrowly, within the framework of this general theory of history, most of Marx’s writing is devoted to an analysis of the specific structure and development of the capitalist economy.

For his part, Engels applies a "dialectical" approach to the natural world in general, arguing that contemporary science is increasingly recognizing the necessity of viewing natural processes in terms of interconnectedness, development, and transformation. Some scholars have doubted that Engels’ "dialectics of nature" is a legitimate extension of Marx’s approach to social processes.Other scholars have argued that despite Marx’s insistence that humans are natural beings in an evolving, mutual relationship with the rest of nature, Marx’s own writings pay inadequate attention to the ways in which human agency is constrained by such factors as biology, geography, and ecology.

Engels postulated three laws of dialectics from his reading of Hegel's Science of Logic.Engels elucidated these laws as the materialist dialectic in his work Dialectics of Nature:

The law of the unity and conflict of opposites
The law of the passage of quantitative changes into qualitative changes
The law of the negation of the negation
The first law was seen by both Hegel and Vladimir Lenin as the central feature of a dialectical understanding of things and originates with the ancient Ionian philosopher Heraclitus.

The second law Hegel took from Ancient Greek philosophers, notably the paradox of the heap, and explanation by Aristotle, and it is equated with what scientists call phase transitions. It may be traced to the ancient Ionian philosophers, particularly Anaximenes from whom Aristotle, Hegel, and Engels inherited the concept. For all these authors, one of the main illustrations is the phase transitions of water. There has also been an effort to apply this mechanism to social phenomena, whereby population increases result in changes in social structure. The law of the passage of quantitative changes into qualitative changes can also be applied to the process of social change and class conflict.

The third law, "negation of the negation," originated with Hegel. Although Hegel coined the term "negation of the negation," it gained its fame from Marx's using it in Capital. There Marx wrote this: "The [death] knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators [capitalists] are expropriated. The capitalist mode of appropriation, the result of the capitalist mode of production, produces capitalist private property. This is the first negation [antithesis] of individual private property. [The "first negation," or antithesis, negates the thesis, which in this instance is feudalism, the economic system that preceded capitalism.] . . . But capitalist production begets, with the inexorability of a law of Nature, its own negation. It [final communism, the synthesis] is the negation of [the] negation."

In Materialism and Empiriocriticism (1908), Lenin explained dialectical materialism as three axes: (i) the materialist inversion of Hegelian dialectics, (ii) the historicity of ethical principles ordered to class struggle, and (iii) the convergence of "laws of evolution" in physics (Helmholtz), biology (Darwin), and in political economy (Marx). Hence, Lenin was philosophically positioned between historicist Marxism (Labriola) and determinist Marxism—a political position close to "social Darwinism" (Kautsky). Moreover, late century discoveries in physics (x-rays, electrons), and the beginning of quantum mechanics, philosophically challenged previous conceptions of matter and materialism, thus Matter seemed to be disappearing. Lenin disagreed:

'Matter disappears' means that the limit within which we have hitherto known matter disappears, and that our knowledge is penetrating deeper; properties of matter are disappearing that formerly seemed absolute, immutable, and primary, and which are now revealed to be relative and characteristic only of certain states of matter. For the sole 'property' of matter, with whose recognition philosophical materialism is bound up, is the property of being an objective reality, of existing outside of the mind.

Lenin was developing the work of Engels, who said that "with each epoch-making discovery, even in the sphere of natural science, materialism has to change its form." One of Lenin's challenges was distancing materialism, as a viable philosophical outlook, from the "vulgar materialism" expressed in the statement "the brain secretes thought in the same way as the liver secretes bile" (attributed to 18th-century physician Pierre Jean Georges Cabanis, 1757–1808); "metaphysical materialism" (matter composed of immutable particles); and 19th-century "mechanical materialism" (matter as random molecules interacting per the laws of mechanics). The philosophic solution that Lenin (and Engels) proposed was "dialectical materialism", wherein matter is defined as objective reality, theoretically consistent with (new) developments occurred in the sciences.

In his later works and actions, Lukács became a leader of Democratic Marxism. In the 1960s his associates, which became known as the Budapest School. He and his associates became sharply critical of the formulation of dialectical materialism in the Soviet Union that was exported to those countries under its control. He modified many of his formulations in his 1923 works and went on to develop a Marxist ontology and played an active role in democratic movements in Hungary in 1956 and the 1960s.

Lukács philosophical criticism of Marxist revisionism proposed an intellectual return to Marxist method. As did Louis Althusser, who later defined Marxism and psychoanalysis as "conflictual sciences";[38] that political factions and revisionism are inherent to Marxist theory and political praxis, because dialectical materialism is the philosophic product of class struggle:

For this reason, the task of orthodox Marxism, its victory over Revisionism and utopianism can never mean the defeat, once and for all, of false tendencies. It is an ever-renewed struggle against the insidious effects of bourgeois ideology on the thought of the proletariat. Marxist orthodoxy is no guardian of traditions, it is the eternally vigilant prophet proclaiming the relation between the tasks of the immediate present and the totality of the historical process. 

Moreover, "the premise of dialectical materialism is, we recall: 'It is not men's consciousness that determines their existence, but, on the contrary, their social existence that determines their consciousness'. . . . Only when the core of existence stands revealed as a social process can existence be seen as the product, albeit the hitherto unconscious product, of human activity". Philosophically aligned with Marx is the criticism of the individualist, bourgeois philosophy of the subject, which is founded upon the voluntary and conscious subject. Against said ideology is the primacy of social relations. Existence — and thus the world — is the product of human activity; but this can be seen only by accepting the primacy of social process on individual consciousness. This type of consciousness is an effect of ideological mystification.

In On Contradiction (1937) Mao outlined a version of dialectical materialism that subsumed two of Engels' three principal laws of dialectics, "the transformation of quantity into quality" and "the negation of the negation" as sub-laws (and not principal laws of their own) of the first law, "the unity and interpenetration of opposites".

About Dialectical Materialism in a Nutshell


Dialectic or dialectics, also known as the dialectical method, is a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned arguments.
"Dialectic ....the Hegelian process of change in which a concept or its realization passes over into and is preserved and fulfilled by its opposite... development through the stages of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis in accordance with the laws of dialectical materialism ....any systematic reasoning, exposition, or argument that juxtaposes opposed or contradictory ideas and usually seeks to resolve their conflict ...
....the dialectical tension or opposition between two interacting forces or elements."

"Dialectical Materialism ... 1 : the Marxist theory that maintains the material basis of a reality constantly changing in a dialectical process and the priority of matter over mind."
The concept of dialectical materialism emerges from statements by Marx in the preface to his magnum opus, Capital. There Marx says he intends to use Hegelian dialectics but in revised form. He defends Hegel against those who view him as a "dead dog" and then says, "I openly avowed myself as the pupil of that mighty thinker [Hegel]."Marx credits Hegel with "being the first to present [dialectic's] form of working in a comprehensive and conscious manner". But he then criticizes Hegel for turning dialectics upside down: "With him it is standing on its head. It must be turned right side up again, if you would discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell."

Marx's criticism of Hegel asserts that Hegel's dialectics go astray by dealing with ideas, with the human mind. Hegel's dialectic, Marx says, inappropriately concerns "the process of the human brain"; it focuses on ideas. Hegel's thought is in fact sometimes called dialectical idealism. Marx believed that dialectics should deal not with the mental world of ideas but with "the material world," the world of production and other economic activity.

For Marx, human history cannot be fitted into any neat a priori schema. He explicitly rejects the idea of Hegel’s followers that history can be understood as "a person apart, a metaphysical subject of which real human individuals are but the bearers".To interpret history as though previous social formations have somehow been aiming themselves toward the present state of affairs is "to misunderstand the historical movement by which the successive generations transformed the results acquired by the generations that preceded them". Marx's rejection of this sort of teleology was one reason for his enthusiastic (though not entirely uncritical) reception of Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

Dialectics is not just about capital,or economics or social sciences,it is far,far broader than what we can think of.We cannot obviously think of how far we are capable of thinking but as far thinking goes,so will dialectics. Dialectics has been viewed as complex changes within the human mind and its perceptions to its surroundings.Marx viewed dialectics a little more practically.It would be interesting to note that Hegelian and Marxian dialectics have common roots at some point because Marx was inspired by Hegel's work on the same but he criticised Hegel's increasing approach to metaphysics.Marx wanted to limit this theory to more practical consequences,which he did in his work,as it has been observed.For example,after the Industrial Revolution,two classes were formed,namely the capitalist class and the working class.The capitalist class and working class had conflicting interests (and continue to have them) which results in the mass protests,in uprisings,in revolutions.As history proves it,as many times there are conflicts,the forces continue to form,on both sides but generally the side that acquires majority and are subject to deprivation for comparatively longer periods of time.But as said in the beginning,dialectics is not so narrow,it is a very broad concept.Most of the contradictions,conflicts can be epistemologically explained with the help of this concept.There is no empirical certainty about this,or any fundamental theorems of some sort but the involution law (as seen in Set Theory or Boolean Algebra) can be implied.It means negation of negation is positivity,or basically how compliment works in mathematical logic.
But that does not mean the entire concept is based on mathematical calculation,absolutely not but some paradoxes like the heap of sand paradox have been used to relate to it.


Foreword


In the past few decades, European and American logicians have attempted to provide mathematical foundations for dialectical logic or argument. There had been pre-formal treatises on argument and dialectic, from authors such as Stephen Toulmin (The Uses of Argument), Nicholas Rescher (Dialectics), and van Eemeren and Grootendorst (Pragma-dialectics). One can include the communities of informal logic and paraconsistent logic. However, building on theories of defeasible reasoning (see John L. Pollock), systems have been built that define well-formedness of arguments, rules governing the process of introducing arguments based on fixed assumptions, and rules for shifting burden. Many of these logics appear in the special area of artificial intelligence and law, though the computer scientists' interest in formalizing dialectic originates in a desire to build decision support and computer-supported collaborative work systems.

Bibliography


Share this PostPin ThisShare on TumblrShare on Google PlusEmail This

2 comments:

  1. I'm sorry to have to tell you that the triad, 'thesis-antithesis-synthesis', isn't Hegel's method, it's Fichte's:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Thesis_Anti-Thesis_Synthesis.htm

    Moreover, I have demolished this theory ('Dialectical Materialism'), and from a Marxist angle, here:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/Why%20I%20Oppose%20DM.htm

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But Madame,
      https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hegel-dialectics/
      faculty.goucher.edu/eng105sanders/thesis_antithesis_synthesis.htm
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thesis,_antithesis,_synthesis

      These authentic sources claim that it originated from Fitche but Hegel elaborated the necessary.
      However,I find this intriguing and will definitely go through it once I get a chance to.

      Delete

What are your perspectives?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Click to get your copy of 'The Big Question Manifesto'!

Got A Doubt? Or A Suggestion?Talk To Us!

Name

Email *

Message *