Language again.

July 2024 Forums General discussion Language again.

  • This topic has 34 replies, 7 voices, and was last updated 1 year ago by Anonymous.
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    No one knows what idealists and materialists are. The definitions are totally different.

    Must we resign ourselves to the loss of these too, and rewrite those writers, including Marx and Engels, who used them?


    We are going to become a society of deaf-mute, or using Braille signs. Several years ago, some universities had a departments for reading txt books to the blind peoples and we had to read at loud whatever expression the textbooks said, Are they going to change that too ?


    I don’t think Braille is taught much now.


    You did not catch the irony

      Re: “No one knows what idealists and materialists are.”

    Really? What’s wrong with the following:

    1. Materialists hold that nature produces thought
    2. Idealists hold that thought produces nature

    Expressed in “Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy” by Frederick Engels (1886).

      ”Materialism conceives nature as the sole reality”

    “The question of the relation of thinking to being, the relation of the spirit [thought/thinking] to nature — the paramount question of the whole of philosophy”

    “The answers which the philosophers gave to this question split them into two great camps.”

    1. “Those who asserted the primacy of spirit to nature … comprised the camp of idealism”
    2. “The others, who regarded nature as primary, belong to the various schools of materialism”

    “These two expressions, idealism and materialism, originally signify nothing else but this.”

    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding your point. But for me, in all simplicity, —

    There are no credible grounds for socialists to abet philosophical confusion over the meaning of the terms “materialism” and “idealism” as for socialists to abet political obfuscation over the meaning of the term “socialism”.


    I mean today, use the terms, and everyone thinks a socialist is an idealist and that Jeff Bezos is a materialist.


    Well, disabuse them of their philosophical-and-political confusion and obfuscation.

    That is the Party’s stated role — socialist education.

    Engels confronted this same philosophical-and-political confusion and obfuscation over the abuse of the terms “idealism” and “materialism” in his day.

    Here is an abbreviation of Engels’s socialist stance in “Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy”.

    1. It need only be added here that Starcke [the author of the book on Feuerbach that Engels is reviewing] looks for Feuerbach’s idealism in the wrong place.

      “Feuerbach is an idealist; he believes in the progress of mankind…”

      “Are not compassion, love, and enthusiasm for truth and justice ideal forces?”
    2. Engels responds —
      “The French materialists … held this conviction to an almost fanatical degree, and often enough made the greatest personal sacrifices for it. If ever anybody dedicated his whole life to the “enthusiasm for truth and justice” … it was [materialist] Diderot.”
    3. “This merely proves that the word materialism, and the whole antagonism between the two trends, has lost all meaning for him.”
    4. “Starcke … makes an unpardonable concession to the traditional philistine prejudice against the word materialism resulting from its long-continued defamation by the priests.”
    5. “By the word materialism, the philistine understands gluttony, drunkenness, lust of the eye, lust of the flesh, arrogance, cupidity, avarice, covetousness, profit-hunting, and stock-exchange swindling…”
    6. “By the word idealism he understands the belief in virtue, universal philanthropy, and in a general way a “better world”…”

    The abuse of these terms is not so much of “today” as of capitalism.


    Most people don’t have any inclination to listen to these explanations.
    It’s a bore to them. And they continue to misuse the words, just as they misuse the term socialism.

    Bijou Drains

    The historical fact is that all language (like culture) is in a process of continual change. Definitions, meanings, spelling, pronunciations, grammar, usage have continually changed and have done throughout human history. Old English (itself an amalgam of the language of the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, etc|) is unrecognisable to modern English speakers.

    For example a change in usage I did not know about in usage I did not know about until recently is the use of the word terrific in its current usage. Originally the use of terrific was linked to terror and terrify in the same way as horrific is linked to horror and horrify, it changed around the mid 19th century to its current usage of something that was good or exciting.

    There is no such thing as proper English, any more than there is a proper version of chilli con carne.

    The French Academie Francaise have tried (in vain) to regulate the way in which the people make use of their language, being especially upset about the way in which English is changing the use of French. Ironically they do not have same concern for other languages used in France. The Académie Française intervened in June 2008 to oppose the French Government’s proposal to constitutionally offer recognition and protection to regional languages (Flemish, Alsatian, Basque, Breton, Catalan, Corsican, Occitan, Gascon, Arpitan, etc.)

    In my view, the whole idea of there being “proper language” is a bourgeois fantasy and is another attempt of attempting to divide and conquer. The idea that there is a uniform language that fits in to the national boundary is part of the nationalist fantasy of there being a group of “people” that can be defined by their language group.

    I was told for years that my dialect was “wrong” was “slang” or was a sign of lack of education or culture, because my dialect didn’t fit in to the idea of “proper English”, the irony being that it was closer to Old English than most other English regional dialects and was less impacted by the great vowel shift. I still look a house a hoose, a mouse a moose, wear byuts not boots, drink beor not beer and call a table a chebble, just like Chaucer.


    I agree with you here. And linguistic snobbery in France has to be the worst.

    When I use the older form of the numerals 70 (septante), 80 (huitante) and 90 (nonante), still the use in Switzerland btw, the French will always “correct” me, and some rudely. They think i’m being hip and modern, whereas these simpler forms are older than their convoluted ones, which are in fact very recent. And they’ll pretend not to understand, and shout at me “Nonante? What’s that? WHAT’S THAT?” and poke me in the chest.


    Nevertheless, the confused philosophical and obfuscated political use of these terms — promulgated by the left-wing — has barely shifted from the time of Marx and Engels.


    And most people shun what they call “Marxist types”, and would never read these books. Heck, they’re no longer able to read English that was the norm in the last century!

      “Most people don’t have any inclination to listen to these explanations.
It’s a bore to them.
      And they continue to misuse the[se] words, just as they misuse the term socialism.”

    Agreed that “most people” are resigned—albeit grudgingly—to tolerating their subjugation to capital.

    Social experience convinces “most people” that subjugation is eternal, natural and inevitable.

    For a socialist to disabuse “most people” of the “illusion of the [capitalist] epoch” might seem pointless activity—but that’s precisely the only activity now open to socialists.

    In that context, a soporific disquisition on the inevitability of language creep to confuse and obfuscate the socialist message is boring.

    Socialists have always had to combat the language of capitalist epochal illusions, and Marx crafted the scientific arsenal for us to carry on waging the task of our capitalist epoch.

    Rather than tamely submit to—tolerate—the language of capitalist illusion—the illusion we aim to expose—socialists hold that

      We must clarify what we mean—the underlying concepts—by socialist technical terms:

      idealism and materialism;

      capitalism and socialism.


    The (really, media-led it seems) long-term obsession foisted upon anglophones about the Académie française is bizarre.

    With the exception of (superficially) laissez-faire English, *all* languages that come to my mind have some sort of official regulatory body. Some of them concern themselves only with lexicon (or a limited aspect of which, say, Norwegian — both Bokmaal and Nynorsk — translations of recent technical terms coined in English), others also with pronunciation, not to mention syntax (grammar).

    This applies to languages big and small, oppressor and oppressed. Irish Gaelic … Breton … .

    (I say ‘superficially’ because the formal lack of such a body for English has of course in no way stood in the way of Geordie etc etc being stigmatised.)


    I am in no way denying language-oppression in France or elsewhere. Nor am I supporter of ‘standard pronunciation’ etc, far from it.

    My point is a very narrow one: language regulatory bodies are the norm. France is no outlier.

    • This reply was modified 1 year ago by ZJW.
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