Science for Communists?

February 2024 Forums General discussion Science for Communists?

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 1,436 total)
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  • #82909
    LBird
    Participant

    I'd like to start a new thread to discuss 'science' with those who already consider themselves Communists.

    By that, I mean those who already share similar ideas to me about society.

    I think that I take a broadly Marxist perspective, and so don't consider myself an 'individual', but a 'worker'. I think 'ideas' are socially-produced and class-based, so that 'ideas about science' will also be of class origin. I think, again broadly, that there are two competing 'ideas' about the world (social and natural), that is, 'ruling class' ideas and 'exploited class' ideas, and that these are relevent to a discussion about 'science'.

    If any comrades post, and don't appear to share my 'ideology', the first thing that I'll do is to ask them what ideology they are employing.

    Can those comrades, who already know that they don't share my ideological views, please ignore this thread, because I don't think that they'll benefit from participation. If what I write appears to be 'too much' for those comrades, could they start their own thread to explain their disagreements; perhaps they could title this alternative thread of theirs "Science for Scientists", or somesuch.

    #102541

    What is ideology?  As I've said before, I can probably list about six different meanings of the word (without putting much effort in).  For instance Althusser maintained that ideology is lived and subjectivity is a méconnaissance, so claims to a communist ideology could only be spurious in such a context where the subject lives in the material reproduction of capitalism.

    #102542
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    LBird To say that knowledge is sociologically produced is not a unique 'communisist' position.It is not sufficient to claim that you hold a communist ideology wirthout definining 'communist' and 'ideology' and how they relate.What do you mean by 'communist', 'ideology', 'science' and 'bourgeios science'?What do you mean by proletarian science? You have already told me that it does not exist and that you wish to develope it.How many proletarian scientists are there? Please list them. Is there a group of 'communist scientists'? Or are you the only one? Have you heard of George Walford or read?http://gwiep.net/wp/?p=515If you can define your terms then perhaps others will discuss.   

    #102543
    DJP
    Participant
    Vin Maratty wrote:
    How many proletarian scientists are there?

    Well I would have thought almost all scientists (and philosophers) are proletarians. So in this sense of the term we already have a proletarian science. But of course they carry out there work under the imperatives of the market system.Though of course "proletarian" is not the same thing as "communist" I don't think the terms should be used interchangeably..

    #102544
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    DJP wrote:
    Well I would have thought almost all scientists (and philosophers) are proletarians. 

     I should have said – how many scientists working from a proletarian (or communist) ideology as opposed to a bourgieos ideology.Thanks for drawing my attention to that, DJP.    

    #102545
    DJP
    Participant
    Vin Maratty wrote:
    I should have said – how many scientists working from a proletarian (or communist) ideology as opposed to a bourgieos ideology.

    You are presuposing something here…What does the above actually mean.Though this doesn't quite answer the question we are asking this may be interesting.http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Political_beliefs_of_academics

    #102546
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Not sure what it means, which is why I asked LBird to define his terms Perhap it will all be made crystal clear soon  

    #102547
    SocialistPunk
    Participant

    A piece I found while digging about. I think it is of interest to this thread as it highlights issues within the scientific community that we as socialists would say are a result of the pressures and constraints of capitalism.http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21588069-scientific-research-has-changed-world-now-it-needs-change-itself-how-science-goes-wrong

    Quote:
    What a load of rubbishEven when flawed research does not put people’s lives at risk—and much of it is too far from the market to do so—it squanders money and the efforts of some of the world’s best minds. The opportunity costs of stymied progress are hard to quantify, but they are likely to be vast. And they could be rising.One reason is the competitiveness of science. In the 1950s, when modern academic research took shape after its successes in the second world war, it was still a rarefied pastime. The entire club of scientists numbered a few hundred thousand. As their ranks have swelled, to 6m-7m active researchers on the latest reckoning, scientists have lost their taste for self-policing and quality control. The obligation to “publish or perish” has come to rule over academic life. Competition for jobs is cut-throat. Full professors in America earned on average $135,000 in 2012—more than judges did. Every year six freshly minted PhDs vie for every academic post. Nowadays verification (the replication of other people’s results) does little to advance a researcher’s career. And without verification, dubious findings live on to mislead.Careerism also encourages exaggeration and the cherry-picking of results. In order to safeguard their exclusivity, the leading journals impose high rejection rates: in excess of 90% of submitted manuscripts. The most striking findings have the greatest chance of making it onto the page. Little wonder that one in three researchers knows of a colleague who has pepped up a paper by, say, excluding inconvenient data from results “based on a gut feeling”. And as more research teams around the world work on a problem, the odds shorten that at least one will fall prey to an honest confusion between the sweet signal of a genuine discovery and a freak of the statistical noise. Such spurious correlations are often recorded in journals eager for startling papers. If they touch on drinking wine, going senile or letting children play video games, they may well command the front pages of newspapers, too.Conversely, failures to prove a hypothesis are rarely even offered for publication, let alone accepted. “Negative results” now account for only 14% of published papers, down from 30% in 1990. Yet knowing what is false is as important to science as knowing what is true. The failure to report failures means that researchers waste money and effort exploring blind alleys already investigated by other scientists.
    #102548
    LBird
    Participant
    SocialistPunk wrote:
    A piece I found while digging about. I think it is of interest to this thread as it highlights issues within the scientific community that we as socialists would say are a result of the pressures and constraints of capitalism.

    Thanks for engaging in the thread in a productive way, SP!You're spot on with your extract. All these failings within (ever more market-driven) bourgeois science, should give room for Communists to engage with those scientists who want to 'do things the proper way', but can't, due to the market of competition, jobs, career advancement, and lack of recognition for the 'mundane, but vital' aspects of verification.But… even if all these problems were fixed, by the magic wand of a proletarian revolution, a fundamental problem would remain. The extract argues that:

    Quote:
    Yet knowing what is false is as important to science as knowing what is true.

    But this is precisely the problem thrown up by Einstein's work, and has been at the centre of philosophical worries ever since.How do we determine 'what is false' from 'what is true'?This is not a problem caused by all the failings outlined in the extract (which humans could, in theory fix (especially for us, given Communism to rectify the market's destruction of 'proper scientific method') these failings of today's bourgeois science).This problem is a philosophical problem for humanity, because it involves human knowledge and our estimation of 'truth'.'Science' does not provide us with a method for determining truth from falsity. This is a bourgeois lie, which they cling to, ignoring their own philosophers, because 'authority' derives from this 'magic' ability, and the capitalist mass of workers are as in thrall to 'science' today, as were the feudal mass of peasants to the 'church'.We should, of course, aim to remedy all the 'market' problems outlined in the extract, and on that basis recruit scientists to our cause.But our central problem is far removed from the concerns of this extract, SP.Here is Rovelli's view, again, for those reading this thread anew:

    Rovelli, The First Scientist: Anaximander and his Legacy, wrote:
    This reading of scientific thinking as subversive, visionary, and evolutionary is quite different from the way science was understood by the positivist philosophers… (p. xii)Facile nineteenth-century certainties about science— in particular the glorification of science understood as definitive knowledge of the world—have collapsed. One of the forces responsible for their dismissal has been the twentieth-century revolution in physics, which led to the discovery that Newtonian physics, despite its immense effectiveness, is actually wrong, in a precise sense. Much of the subsequent philosophy of science can be read as an attempt to come to grips with this disillusionment. What is scientific knowledge if it can be wrong even when it is extremely effective? (p. xv)But answers given by natural science are not credible because they are definitive; they are credible because they are the best we have now, at a given moment in the history of knowledge. (p. xvi)

     'Best' is not 'Truth'.

    #102549
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    LBird wrote:
    Thanks for engaging in the thread in a productive way, SP!

      Implying that my contribution was unproductive.   That's very uncomradely, comrade.    

    #102550
    LBird
    Participant
    Vin Maratty wrote:
    LBird wrote:
    Thanks for engaging in the thread in a productive way, SP!

    Implying that my contribution was unproductive.   That's very uncomradely, comrade. 

    My apologies, Vin, that wasn't my intention.It's just that I thought I made it clear with my first post that I wanted a more productive discussion, with those more sympathetic to my questions about 'science'. I didn't want a mere rerun of so many other, largely unproductive threads, and, quite honestly, the posts from before SocialistPunk were asking the usual, in the usual way.If someone wants, for example, to discuss the meaning of 'ideology', then let them start a thread about that issue.I'm determined to keep the focus on 'science', and the problems about its philosophy and method, already identified by bourgeois thinkers, and about which I think Marx has some answers, and that Engels is part of the problem (for Communists, at least).I want to stretch and deepen my understanding of these issues, if possible. I think I need the input of comrades who can recognise the problems, and want to seek for solutions, if possible, or at least to clarify the issues for those who have an interest in science. I need criticism of 20th century bourgeois philosophers, not the reinforcement of mistaken 19th century ones, and the Communists who were taken in by positivism (Engels, Lenin, perhaps Dietzgen and Untermann).If comrades are not really interested, or think my task a fool's errand, then they don't have to participate. On the other hand, anyone who genuinely wants to explore these vital issues is welcome to ask critical questions about science and its problems. I'll try to answer them, if I can, or take the critical discussion forward, if I can't. I'd like my understanding to increase, too.

    #102551
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    You ask for contibutions from people who share your ideology. I don't know if I share your ideolgy as you will not say what you mean by ideology. So I will have to guess.You say that you think that 'ideas are socially produced and class based'. The cororally  of that being that Engels, myself and others on this forum believe that ideas are produced by the isolated individual and are not related to class. I do not hold such a crass view of ideas in society.Defining 'ideology'  is a prerequisite for a discussion of science and ideology.YMS has referred to Louis Althusser  "Ideology represents the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence "  and  "Ideology has a material existence" I mentioned George Walford who's ; “basic premise was that people’s assumptions and identifications (the factors making up their ‘ideology’) are not explicable in terms of material conditions in general and their relationship to the means of production in particular—and are never likely to be. Instead, there are persistent and distinct ideological groups in society, cutting across social classes and forming a series, with the largest groups being most typically guided in their thoughts and actions by a preference for family, authority, familiarity and tradition. Politically, these preferences find predominant expression in the ideas of the large number of so-called ‘non-politicals’ in society, and in Conservatism and then Liberalism (the strength of these preferences gradually weakening through the series).As the series progresses further, the next, progressively smaller, ideological groups seek to repress these identifications and preferences in favor of dynamism, social change, logical thought and the pursuit of theory as a guide to decision-making, these being expressed politically in Labourism, more overtly still in Communism and then, in an ultimate and extreme form, in Anarchism (or ‘Anarchosocialism’, the purist variety of it allegedly expounded by the Socialist Party of Great Britain). The more an ideology represses the preferences for family, tradition, etc. in favour of social change, dynamism and the pursuit of theory as a guide to action, the fewer in number its adherents are likely to be, with anarchists (or ‘anarcho-socialists’) being the smallest of all. Those seeking radical social change, so the theory contends, will always be hampered and restrained by the enduring preferences of the largest ideological groups.”Wiki He believed that the SPGB's ideology would never spread any further. The assumption being I suppose that ideology was some how a physical thing we socialists were born with. I hope this spreads some light on the need for you to explain 'ideology' to me.   

    #102552
    DJP
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    If someone wants, for example, to discuss the meaning of 'ideology', then let them start a thread about that issue.

    It does seem strange that "ideology" forms the cornerstone of you theory of science and epistemology and yet you do not want to discuss what you mean by it..

    #102553
    LBird
    Participant
    LBird, post #11, wrote:
    If someone wants, for example, to discuss the meaning of 'ideology', then let them start a thread about that issue.I'm determined to keep the focus on 'science', and the problems about its philosophy and method, already identified by bourgeois thinkers, and about which I think Marx has some answers, and that Engels is part of the problem (for Communists, at least).
    #102554
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    LBird wrote:
    LBird, post #11, wrote:
    If someone wants, for example, to discuss the meaning of 'ideology', then let them start a thread about that issue.I'm determined to keep the focus on 'science', and the problems about its philosophy and method, already identified by bourgeois thinkers, and about which I think Marx has some answers, and that Engels is part of the problem (for Communists, at least).

     But you ask people to declare their idological position! 

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