Marx, and the myth of his ‘Materialism’

July 2024 Forums General discussion Marx, and the myth of his ‘Materialism’

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  • #115902
    LBird
    Participant
    Young Master Smeet wrote:
    Obviously by "The practical creation of an objective world, the fashioning of inorganic nature" Marx is also saying we make a world of our objects (and as much again, our consciousness resides in our products and the objects we create), not that we create the objective universe, we didn't make the sun, but we made the objects (words, ideas, notions) that accompany it.

    No, this is where we differ.We did 'make the sun', because without our consciousness, 'the sun' would be meaningless, for example to another consciousness which did not share our 'natural' existence (ie., size, speed, pressure, temperature, etc.).You're making the mistake of thinking that Marx was only talking about creating ideas ('words, notions'), but he's talking about us creating our world, 'nature-for-us', if you like.The ideological belief that humans only create ideas, whilst god creates the rest, is at root a religious one, that is, 'idealism'.We must retain the relationship between 'consciousness and being'; a 'being' outside of a 'consciousness' would be meaningless.The bourgeoisie pretended to separate 'being' from 'consciousness' as part of their class rule, and reflects their separation of 'social property' from 'social control'.The 'objects' we make are both ideal and material, a product of social theory and practice.To argue otherwise, YMS, is to argue that 'our sun' (as an 'ideal' object) is an image of 'inorganic sun' (as a 'material' object).The 'sun' we know is our product, an ideal-material product, a mixture of inorganic nature and human labour embodied in our own 'object'.That's why 'the sun' changes for different societies. Unless you wish to argue that the bourgeoisie have 'discovered' eternal knowledge, a 'Truth' that will never change. Science and physics in the last 130 years have taught us otherwise. Or, should have. I wonder why this fruit of science isn't known or taught in schools? Why aren't physicists up in arms about this censorship?

    #115903

    Ah, but you've already accepted that 'inorganic nature' exists, and must be exterior to our creative powers, there is a 'sun' outside the world we create ourselves, and which, must delimit what we can do with that sun.  Anyway

    Lbird wrote:
    You're making the mistake of thinking that Marx was only talking about creating ideas ('words, notions'), but he's talking about us creating our world, 'nature-for-us', if you like.

    I didn't say that, altouh the immediate objects I thought of connected with the sun were ideational, I could equally have included solar farms, windows, even plants and zen gardens as part of our Sun objects.Anyway, it was nice to see you fundamentally disagree with Marx on "Nature is man's inorganic body — that is to say, nature insofar as it is not the human body".But, back to the more immediate point, ven if you did agree with Marx, the pont is that an objective world does not necessarily lead itself to elite rule, which is the central thrust of your contention of why this is eve remotely relevent to anything.  Maybe it could assit elite rule, but it doesn't have to.Finally:

    Lbird wrote:
    The ideological belief that humans only create ideas, whilst god creates the rest, is at root a religious one, that is, 'idealism'.

    No, that's dualism, idealism is the belief that there is nothing but ideas.

    #115904
    LBird
    Participant
    YMS wrote:
    Ah, but you've already accepted that 'inorganic nature' exists, and must be exterior to our creative powers, there is a 'sun' outside the world we create ourselves, and which, must delimit what we can do with that sun.

    If you identify our object 'the sun' with 'inorganic nature', then our 'sun' must be a reflection of that 'organic nature'.But, it isn't. Our 'sun' is a product of human labour upon inorganic nature. We actively produce our knowledge, it isn't a passive reflection.You're separating a supposed object 'sun' from our conscious production.The class that does this is the bourgeoisie, and if they can do this, as they allege, history ends, because once 'inorganic nature' was known, that would be the end of socio-historical products and the start of 'eternal knowledge', the 'knowledge that is the same for every observer, outside of time and place'. It would be the pretence that 'we finally know the mind of god'.If you argue that there is a 'sun' outside the world we create ourselves, then, once known 'as it is', there could be no possibility of further progress. Science would be simply the discovery of the world 'as it is', and the passive listing of this 'inorganic nature' in a great book. A great book named 'The Mind of God, the True Creator'.We differ on this, YMS. Marx argued for the active creation of our objects. And this creation is socio-historical, not individual or timeless.

    #115905
    LBird wrote:
    If you identify our object 'the sun' with 'inorganic nature', then our 'sun' must be a reflection of that 'organic nature'.

    Ah, no.  I chose my words carefully, I didn't say that, and (again), what you says doesn't follow.  I said the object delimits what we can do with it, not that it is a reflection.  More of a translation, under restricted symmetry.

    LBird wrote:
    You're separating a supposed object 'sun' from our conscious production.

    As, as you so rightly pointed out, did Marx with his notion of 'inorganic nature'.

    LBird wrote:
    The class that does this is the bourgeoisie, and if they can do this, as they allege, history ends, because once 'inorganic nature' was known, that would be the end of socio-historical products and the start of 'eternal knowledge', the 'knowledge that is the same for every observer, outside of time and place'. It would be the pretence that 'we finally know the mind of god'.

      I used to know someone whose email signature read 'I have an exact map of the univgerse: unfortunately, it is life sized".

    LBird wrote:
    If you argue that there is a 'sun' outside the world we create ourselves, then, once known 'as it is', there could be no possibility of further progress. Science would be simply the discovery of the world 'as it is', and the passive listing of this 'inorganic nature' in a great book. A great book named 'The Mind of God, the True Creator'.

    Actually, bourgeois philsophy, say in the shape of Kant, denies that the phenomenal world can ever be known fully, as a reflection of the infinite use value of money and accumulation, ever perfectable profitability.  I've read enough post-modernist philsopher to see what a reactionary notion the idea of the impossiblility of truth, subjectivity, meaning etc. can be.e.g. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/30/books/review/nothing-is-true-and-everything-is-possible-by-peter-pomerantsev.html?_r=0(A play on William S. Burroughs 'Nothing is true, everything is permitted').

    #115906
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    alanjjohnstone wrote:
    I made my position clear from practically day one and have repeated it often …i have not a clue about this philosophical dispute..materialism, idealist-materialism…most of the book references that's been given over the months on the various threads are by authors i have not a scooby who they are, much less read and understood. And i'm so sure what is at stake is really that important to me…If being a socialist/communist means i have to comprehend and understand what you and LBird, YMS, Robbo, TWC and others have been going on about, then i'm no socialist…Cast me out into the wilderness…

    Your 'failure' to understand the issues involved has nothing do do with your ability or otherwise to understand them.  It is not your fault that reasonaby simple issues are covered in bull.  

    #115907
    Bijou Drains
    Participant

    to quote"when I'm insulted, I'll return the favourand I include bogus psychological diagnosis in the "insult box"Criticise my politics not my alleged mental state and all will be fine"A few points follow from this.1) I am not concerned that you insulted me (Wanker, Dim, Nasty, etc.) I am concerned that you defamed me (Locking people up in asylums, etc.), there is a legal difference. One is actionable, the other is not. I still await a withdrawal and may have to consider other options.2) I did not offer a diagnosis, bogus or otherwise, I have suggested some possible motivations for your actions (stroke seeking, ego defence). I offered this because your postings and responses appear to me unusual.3) Your final statement seems extremely strange and fully at odds with what you are attempting to argue, i.e. that your politics and your mental state, i.e. your values, your attitudes, your perception of the world, your cultural understandings, etc can in fact be separated. Surely the crux of your Idealist-materialist position is that the two are intertwined. If I criticise your politics I am by definition criticising your ideas, thoughts, perceptions, etc. in short your mental state.

    #115908
    moderator1
    Participant

    Remindeer: 7. You are free to express your views candidly and forcefully provided you remain civil. Do not use the forums to send abuse, threats, personal insults or attacks, or purposely inflammatory remarks (trolling). Do not respond to such messages.

    #115909
    LBird
    Participant
    Young Master Smeet wrote:
    LBird wrote:
    If you identify our object 'the sun' with 'inorganic nature', then our 'sun' must be a reflection of that 'organic nature'.

    Ah, no.  I chose my words carefully, I didn't say that, and (again), what you says doesn't follow.  I said the object delimits what we can do with it, not that it is a reflection.  More of a translation, under restricted symmetry.

    LBird wrote:
    You're separating a supposed object 'sun' from our conscious production.

    As, as you so rightly pointed out, did Marx with his notion of 'inorganic nature'.

    [my bold]Again, YMS, this is where we disagree.For Marx, 'the object' is created by humanity from human theory and practice: so 'the object' can't 'delimit'. That would make inorganic nature the active side, as the materialists argue.And Marx did not 'separate an object from consciousness' by referring to 'inorganic nature'; the latter is an ingredient, taken with labour (ie. conscious human purposive activity) from which 'an object' is produced.So, Marx unifies 'consciousness and being', to produce 'our reality', or 'nature-for-us'. It's Engels who unwittingly separated 'being' from 'consciousness' by meekly following bourgeois science, the 'success story' of the 19th century.But, then the 20th century proved Marx to have been correct, and now physicists are seeking for a way to link 'being and consciousness', but without the 'elephant in the room', of 'socialised productive property', the ultimate unification of humanity and our world, coming into being.

    #115910
    robbo203
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    robbo203 wrote:
    Values come from all kinds of sources.  Do you value your partner, friends and family, LBird? Do you value your environment – natural wilderness, for example? ,Are you concerned with the wellbeing of animals? Are you a fan of Arsenal or Chelsea and which one of these incarnates the material interests of the proletariat? (no dont answer that LOL) Anything you attach importance to, that means something to you, is a source of value in that subjective sense.

    So, none of these are political issues?To me, they all are.Which ideology separates out the 'political' from the 'personal'; the 'individual' from the 'social'?Why won't you tell us your ideology? Once we know that, we can then talk about our constrasting views of physics.But we can't have you pretending to everyone that your views are 'objective', untainted by your living in this society. You're hiding something, robbo, as do the academic physicists, which we'll find out, once you reveal your ideological viewpoint.

     You do talk a load of tripe ,LBird. Why dont you bother to actually read what people are saying instead of putting words in their mouths?  Since when have i been "pretending to everyone that (my) views are 'objective', untainted by (my) living in this society"? I went out out of my way to criticise the fact-value distinction and positivism in general.  I explicitly stated that I did not believe science is value free.  So where on earth did you get the idea that you think I consider my views to be "objective" and untainted by my living in society?My point was quite a different one and I note that yet again you have suceeded in evading it – that there are other values then just class values.  I gave you a few examples of this (see above).Some of these are "indeed poilitical issues" or have political ramifications;some are not (unless your attachment to your friends, partner and familty is undertaken for political reasons) but even those that are "political issues"  dont necessarily boil down to a question of class. Class is important but it is not the only variable in townWhat I was attacking was your crude reductionism which would have us believe that the theoretical content of the hard sciences like physics , biochemistry , geology and so on are somehow a reflection of class values. I asked you to explain how – how for instance is string theory influenced by, or "reflects",  the class structure of capitalism? – but you declined to do so. So it is not me who is hiding something but you and your silence on this matter speaks volumes…

    #115911
    LBird
    Participant

    Once you tell me your ideology, robbo, we can proceed.We can then examine physics from class perspectives: my Marxist, proletarian, communist, democratic one, and your…?Whilst you don't tell us your class perspective, you can pretend to have an 'objective', politically-neutral, view of physics.This is an ideologically-loaded stance, and I want to make sure, both that you are aware of it and that you openly proclaim it to everyone.The pretence that physics is not class-based is an ideological view. I've already mentioned which class I think is behind it, and why they created the ideology, and when the ideology emerged.Unless you either acknowledge this socio-historical emergence of the ideology of bourgeois science, or completely deny my account and give a different political account, then we can't get any further.You'll simply pretend that Marx was wrong, and that humans don't create their object, as the bourgeoisie alleged when Engels was forming his ideas.

    #115912
    Dave B
    Participant

    As a scientist I am getting too pissed off with this ignorant attack on science and scientists. Scientists do no not believe in any ‘eternal truths’, it is not even passive, they are opposed in principal to believing in eternal truths. Scientists are, or should be, even uncomfortable with words like ‘facts’; there is data and information which can be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or ‘misleading’. (This can degenerate into semantics but scientists have to work with the ‘value’ laden words and language they are provided with.) Wittgenstein, of the ‘poker’ fame, as if anybody really understood him properly, appeared to be interested in this kind of thing. He was one of the successful group of bright young talent that were recruited around 1905 and founded the scientific reputation of ManchesterUniversity. And stuff about how words and language lag behind and are inadequate to the development of ‘scientific concepts’ etc etc.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_Wittgenstein So to deal with some of the material issues? The idea that of the way we experience things? And the new and original term ‘sense perception’ in the middle 1800’s; I think that must be begging for a non trivial wiki entry.   Can be, err, different to how scientist, well err, think about it. I will certainly come back to that bit later with Karl’s materialist mentor Feuerbach. So lets take temperature it doesn’t ‘exist’ as we experience it. It is atoms and molecules flying and jiggling around like excited ping pong balls faster or slower or whatever; so it seems at the moment as a working hypothesis. Pressure doesn’t ‘exist’; it ‘is’ jiggling atoms/molecules pummelling the inside of a barrier with more force than the ones outside it. Moving on into the 20thcentury, and testing the headache to the extreme, there is no gravity in the ‘sense’ of an invisible elastic band or force keeping the moon in its orbit. The moon ‘is’ according to current scientific thinking travelling in a straight line through curved space time etc etc. Before we disappear up our own arseholes on this kind of shit lets go back Sidney Hook on Feuerbach of 1840. "That systematic knowledge cannot be developed on the basis of sense-perception alone, Feuerbach of course does not deny” Eg gravity, apples falling from trees, Galileo cushions falling from the tower of pizza and Newtonian invisible elastic bands operating through ‘empty space’ (even Newton didn’t believe that and he believed in some crazier stuff) whilst rooted in more familiar sense perception concepts is no longer,  Einstein like, “systematic knowledge”. Then; “He admits that even science, which he holds up as an illustration of the fact that sense-perception can be important element in systematic knowledge, must recognise an inescapable opposition between objects of sense perception and scientific objects." So we in our interest in the ‘element’ gravity as a ‘sense perception’ led to the development of the Einstein like ‘systematic knowledge’ or ‘scientific object’. Anybody who thinks that there isn’t an ‘inescapable opposition between objects of sense perception’ eg gravity and Einstein’s curvature of the space time continuum is a liar. It gets worse in quantum mechanics which was even too much for Einstien and isn’t called ‘Alicein wonderland’ for nothing.  But we couldn’t give a shit, because it works; or in other words we ‘believe’ for the non eternal moment in time from our ‘sense perception experiences’ it is an ‘effective human method of controlling experience’, like for what?; or predicting what will happen next if we do one thing or another. Thus;"But in science as distinct from philosophy this opposition between sense-perception and thought (in modern terminology sense data and hypothesis) is not unmediated.” Like personal experience or sense perception doesn’t come into it. Like it didn’t with Bishop Berkeley and his stone. http://www.samueljohnson.com/refutati.html  “That is to say, scientific thought even though it must transcend sense-perception takes its point of departure from it and returns to it somewhere in the process of scientific proof.""Science is not opposed to ordinary experience. It does not deal with another order of being but is an effective human method of controlling experience." It is functional and materialistic. What kind of experiences we wish to control or what we desire to predict as a ‘use value’ is outside the immediate remit of science of itself. Just as the ‘eternal truth’ of the use values of commodities was outside the remit of the labour theory of value. Eg Opera, branded Calvin Klien underpants or watching Newcastle United getting stuffed at Saint James Park. Kline knows jackshit about Karl’s ‘materialism’ when she says that our desires are often not concrete material. Karl dipped into it in Volume Four; like getting a blow job off a prostitute or listening to an opera was concrete material; he juxtaposed the two 50 years before Freud did. So to move on to producing leafcutter ants, social instincts, instincts in general, the so called ‘special supernatural nature’ and ‘anti-materialist’ and thus idealist concept of consciousness and Darwin etc. And the dialectical analysis, or approach, of ‘content and form’. On life; which is admittedly a very special category in the universal scheme of things and in fact sticks a finger up and spits in the face of ‘entropy’. It evolves or ‘finds’ ‘better’ ways of doing things, content; the terms are ‘Wittgenstein like’ loaded again. When it comes to behaviour most animals ‘achieve’ that by the ‘development’ of ‘instincts’. ‘Instincts’ is a loaded term as well ie do plants have ‘instincts’?  It is dealt with by the Hegelian, and Wittgenstein like, concepts of ‘quantitative’ changes leading to qualitative ones?  Conciousness and intellect etc etc is just an ‘improvement’ or different ‘form’ of ‘solving the problems’ or ‘challenges’, the content,  of the material existence of ‘life’. We just attach special importance and ‘value’ to it because, as with Mandy Rice Davis, “we would, wouldn’t we’.  Who is the ‘value’ laden ‘clever’ then? Chemosynthetic bacteria who maybe ‘happily’ trans-galactically colonizing the universe, or us?  We are locked into satisfying our given biological urges, there is no supernatural 'value' to conciousness/intelligence however tempting that can be as an idea. Professor Brain Cox has no idea I expect what kind of Hegelian he is when he goes on about us being here to contemplate the 'wonders' of the universe.

    #115913
    robbo203
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    Once you tell me your ideology, robbo, we can proceed.We can then examine physics from class perspectives: my Marxist, proletarian, communist, democratic one, and your…?  

     My ideology? Im a democratic communist – which explains why I dont take too kindly to your viewsNow can we finally "examine physics from class perspectives" as you keep on promising to do but never do. So to kick off the conversation – can you please explain what is the connection between string theory and the class structure of capitalism,  Ive been dying to know what it is ever since you raised the tantalising prospect that such a connection exists…

    #115914
    Bijou Drains
    Participant

    Dave B – "Or wathcing Newcastle United getting stuffed at St James' Park"Howay bonny lad, there's no need for that. Don't you think I've had enough chew to put up with today from that clown L Bird without you intruding on personal grief.

    #115915
    rodshaw
    Participant

    I'm not a scientist but am very interested in science programmes on the telly. In particular, there was one on recently about Einstein and discoveries since his death. At the risk of repeating some of what's already been said, let me give my own slant on them.Einstein showed theoretically that there is such a thing as space-time and that it gets warped near large objects. He couldn’t prove it in practice, but scientists since then have found examples of this warping in the universe.Einstein also did the maths to show that time travels faster the further away you are from a large object. Again he couldn’t prove it in practice but it has since been found to be so because the clocks on satellites have to be updated periodically to keep the same time as on earth.Einstein knew that his view of the universe doesn’t apply to the quantum world, where particles behave very unpredictably indeed, and a unified theory to explain both the Einsteinian view and the quantum world has yet to be found. In time, I daresay it will.Of course, all the above has been determined by a small group of scientists living in capitalist society, and ratified more or less only amongst themselves. There is no way that more than a handful of people, with specialised training, a certain aptitude, and the time, could do the maths and go through all the experiments needed to arrive at conclusions like the ones above. The rest of us can either accept it or look on sceptically when we’re told about it. Or not give a shit, as may be. That is, if we know about it at all. There are people in all four camps. I can’t imagine it being different in a socialist society.So how is all the above knowledge, whatever we think of it, inextricably linked to class rule?In a socialist society, knowledge would be a common resource. Scientists would not be an elite group with any special hold on it, or in thrall to a ruling class that would manipulate that knowledge for their own ends. They would be regarded as people with a particular interest or mandate to study their specialisms and presumably report on their findings. But would all scientific knowledge to date have to be considered unsound, because it was decided in a class-based society? I think not.If applied to all aspects of scientific knowledge, for example how a steam engine or an iphone works, the decision-making process could otherwise take a very long time indeed.

    #115916
    LBird
    Participant
    robbo203 wrote:
    LBird wrote:
    Once you tell me your ideology, robbo, we can proceed.We can then examine physics from class perspectives: my Marxist, proletarian, communist, democratic one, and your…? 

     My ideology? Im a democratic communist – which explains why I dont take too kindly to your viewsNow can we finally "examine physics from class perspectives" as you keep on promising to do but never do. So to kick off the conversation – can you please explain what is the connection between string theory and the class structure of capitalism,  Ive been dying to know what it is ever since you raised the tantalising prospect that such a connection exists…

    Well, I'm glad we got there, robbo!So, we're talking about 'proletarian physics', that is, your 'democratic communist' perspective upon the social production of the 'ideal-material' by different classes.As we are now in 'class aware' mode for understanding production, we can compare 'the current production of widgets in a bourgeois factory' with 'the current production of knowledge in a bourgeois academy'.As in any bourgeois production, the theories, ideas, concepts, assumptions, methods, structures, ethics, morals, purposes, etc. will be those of the ruling class. That is, the 'production' is not just asocial, ahistorical 'production', but a 'production' in which all the things that I've just listed have an historical origin, and a social class basis.As a constrast to our 'class aware' mode, the bourgeoisie pretend that their 'production' is simply an eternal yearning by humans for 'Truth', which, since most workers are stupid, ignorant, uneducated, lazy, uncaring (and indeed busy working in employment for their betters), must be carried out by the minority who are clever, knowledgeable, erudite, active, enthusiastic (and indeed have the time since they live off others' labour). So, for the bourgeoisie, 'production' is by an elite, who carry out 'production' for bourgeois purposes using bourgeois assumptions. And as it is for the factory, so it is for the academy.Shall we now examine the origins, concepts, purposes, etc., etc., of bourgeois production, robbo, to provide a socio-historical basis for our building of a picture of current physics?Since you no longer subscribe to the ideology that bourgeois physicists are simply engaged in an unbiased search for 'The Truth' of 'inorganic nature', and you know that their ideology, like every human's, comes from their society, we could situate 'modern physics' in its rightful context.Are you up for a discussion about the emergence, social basis and historical development of bourgeois physics? I find it a fascinating subject.It's funny, y'know, those infected with bourgeois ideology always pretend to be 'practical men', just interested in the 'practice' of any activity, and always keen to get down to 'the nitty gritty' of the subject, of what an isolated genius individual can do. But that is not our proletarian method, is it? We are keenly aware of the socio-historical nature of the production of any 'concept', including 'string theory'.

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