Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (1880) by Friedrich Engels

August 2020 Forums Reading groups Suggest a text Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (1880) by Friedrich Engels

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  • #105305
    ALB
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    You argue:theory A and practice on reality A if successful gives knowledge A.This is the end of the issue for you (and 'materialists'). The 'proof of the pudding is in the eating', as conservatives always say. Once a 'successful practice' has worked, the knowledge produced is 'true' and thus fixed.

    Do I? That's news to me. I don't recall arguing that knowledge is fixed, at least not for all time. But you argue, too, that knowledge is fixed for a while, i.e until the next vote. Anyway, we're not discussing your views or mine here but those of Marx and Engels. So, here's how Engels explains what he means by the proof of the pudding is in the eating (which I've quote earlier and where I've here added the bold but not the italics):

    Quote:
    The proof of the pudding is in the eating. From the moment we turn to our own use these objects, according to the qualities we perceive in them, we put to an infallible test the correctness or otherwise of our sense-perception. If these perceptions have been wrong, then our estimate of the use to which an object can be turned must also be wrong, and our attempt must fail. But, if we succeed in accomplishing our aim, if we find that the object does agree with our idea of it, and does answer the purpose we intended it for, then that is proof positive that our perceptions of it and of its qualities, so far, agree with reality outside ourselves.

    This is a good example of how humans prove the "truth" of their thinking through practice. I'd have thought that the introduction of "purpose" might have pleased you.

    Bird wrote:
    I and Marx

    I like it !

    Bird wrote:
    If you were transported to, say peasant society in 1500 England, you would argue, on the basis of your theory, that 'the sun went round the earth', whereas I would follow Marx and say its only 'true' becuase human theory and practice is producing the truth.

    Follow Marx? What do you mean? Marx wrote extensively on history but never made the absurd post-modernoid claim you have been making.[quote-LBird]Including Mengele's poison ivy?[/quote]Not him again ! We're talking about opinions here, not acts. Why wouldn't he be allowed to express his opinion? Isn't freedom of speech part of democracy? Or have you retained the "No Platform for Fascists" stance from your SWP days? In any event, a vote wouldn't change his opinion any more than it would change yours or mine. As a minority of one you should know.

    #105306
    LBird
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    Engels wrote:
    …infallible…
    ALB wrote:
    Do I? That's news to me. I don't recall arguing that knowledge is fixed, at least not for all time. But you argue, too, that knowledge is fixed for a while, i.e until the next vote. Anyway, we're not discussing your views or mine here but those of Marx and Engels. So, here's how Engels explains what he means by the proof of the pudding is in the eating (which I've quote earlier…

    [my bold]Continuously quoting to same erroneous posts doesn't make the words change. I can read.  I can understand.But can you?What does 'infallible' mean, if not 'for all time'?If you agree with Engels' term 'infallible', you must agree that it is 'for all time'. Otherwise, using 'infallible' to mean 'fallible later' doesn't make sense in English, never mind in philosophy.As you say, I'm consistent: If I argue 'knowledge is fixed for a while' (to use your phrase, not mine), then I'm arguing that it is 'not fixed for ever' and it is thus entirely 'fallible'.Because you follow Engels' materialism and its nonsense about 'infallible', you think there is a minority who have access to this 'infallibility' (and no doubt you, YMS, DJP, Vin and the 'special' SPGB all share this access), and so won't have workers voting against your 'infallibility'.You find me a quote where Marx says either humans, experience, knowledge, practice or testing is 'infallible', and I'll accept that I'm wrong about Marx, and reject both Marx and Engels.The interaction of subject and object precludes 'infallibility'. Humans are all too fallible, which is why democracy is a necessity.

    #105307
    ALB
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    ALB wrote:
    Engels wrote:
    …infallible…

    I can read. 

    Are you sure? Read again what Engels wrote and he's saying that it's the test that is infallible not its outcome. You've really been reduced to scraping the bottom of the barrell.Any as you say that the result of a democratic vote can never be wrong you're more into "infallibility" than Engels since you are arguing that both the test and the result are infallible.

    #105308
    DJP
    Participant

    FWIW there's a whole chapter critising the idea of "eternal truths" in the uncut version of Socialism, Utopian and Scientific (aka Anti-Duhring)https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1877/anti-duhring/ch07.htm

    #105309
    LBird
    Participant
    DJP wrote:
    FWIW there's a whole chapter critising the idea of "eternal truths" in the uncut version of Socialism, Utopian and Scientific (aka Anti-Duhring)https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1877/anti-duhring/ch07.htm

    Yeah, this is what I keep pointing out, DJP.In Engels, one can find stuff that fits with Marx, as you have helpfully shown.But, also in Engels, one can find terms like 'infallible', which contradicts Marx (omnibus dubitandum?), as ALB has helpfully shown.I can reconcile this, by realising Engels' 'materialism' is not the 'materialism' of Marx.How do you and ALB reconcile Engels' contradictions?

    #105310
    DJP
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    But, also in Engels, one can find terms like 'infallible', which contradicts Marx (omnibus dubitandum?), as ALB has helpfully shown.I can reconcile this, by realising Engels' 'materialism' is not the 'materialism' of Marx.

    So your argument above is Engels used the word "infallible" therefore Engels contradicts Marx, therefore Marx and Engels "materialism" are not the same?

    #105311
    ALB
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    But, also in Engels, one can find terms like 'infallible', which contradicts Marx (omnibus dubitandum?), as ALB has helpfully shown.

    Hey, come on. Why have you not taken into account my point that Engels was using the term "infallible" to describe the test for deciding the validity of an idea and not the the result, i.e that an idea that turns out to be validated is "infallible"?Here, so you can correct yourself, is the context in which Engels used the term:

    Quote:
    The proof of the pudding is in the eating. From the moment we turn to our own use these objects, according to the qualities we perceive in them, we put to an infallible test the correctness or otherwise of our sense-perception. If these perceptions have been wrong, then our estimate of the use to which an object can be turned must also be wrong, and our attempt must fail.

    Especially as you've declared that your method of validation (a democratic vote) can never be wrong; in other words, is infallible.

    #105312
    LBird
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    Hey, come on. Why have you not taken into account my point that Engels was using the term "infallible" to describe the test for deciding the validity of an idea and not the the result, i.e that an idea that turns out to be validated is "infallible"?

    Aren't you reading what you write, either, now?You've already agreed with me that physics can produce two 'validated ideas' of the same 'material', so neither can be 'infallible'.So, by your agreement, Engels must be wrong when he mentions 'infallible'.

    ALB wrote:
    Especially as you've declared that your method of validation (a democratic vote) can never be wrong; in other words, is infallible.

    But you've already said that I say the there is 'fixed truth for a time' and so, according to your account of what I say, a democratic vote is 'right' whilst the workers say it is.I've always said that a democratic vote is fallible, because otherwise a vote, once taken, couldn't be overturned, and I've always argued for the defeated position to be retained as a 'Plan B', so that if the 'truth' voted for at one point is later under suspicion, it can be overturned.You're just grasping at straws, now.

    ALB wrote:
    Engels wrote:
    The proof of the pudding is in the eating. From the moment we turn to our own use these objects, according to the qualities we perceive in them, we put to an infallible test the correctness or otherwise of our sense-perception.

    Yes, can't you see now that Engels is talking nonsense?'Sense perception', according to Marx, is a social product, so anything 'tested' against them is historically and socially fallible.If you're arguing that because 'something works' that it constitutes 'the truth', then you're forced to agree that at 1500 that 'the sun went round the earth', because, as your priest Engels said,"The proof of the pudding is in the eating. From the moment we turn to our own use these objects, according to the qualities we perceive in them, we put to an infallible test the correctness or otherwise of our sense-perception."I think you're some sort of pragmatist, ALB.Whatever you are, though, you're not following Marx, but Engels, and Engels, as you and DJP have shown this afternoon, is inconsistent.Not even modern physicists claim to be 'infallible'; the only strain of thought that claims any 'infallibility' is religion.You're a priest reading from 'infallible texts', as a member of the religious order of the Church of the Holy SPGB, whose truth is as revealed by the prophet Engels, who bows to the lord 'matter'.And your argument that you can't find 'democratic control of science' in Marx, is very similar to those theologians who were confronted with the arguments in favour of sunspots by Copernicus/Brahe/Gallileo, and retorted that they'd re-read Aristotle from beginning to end, and could find no mention of sunspots, and so they couldn't exist, no matter what observation reported.We're supposed to be critical thinkers, who use Marx and Engels critically, and employ their insights to produce new ways of thinking, like 'democratic control of science' (which is entirely in keeping with all Marx's arguments about workers' democracy), and reject any parts of Marx and Engels that we now don't agree with.You're acting just like a religious sect, confronted by a heretic.Who'd have thought that the SPGB, well-known as the most openly democratic of the leftwing parties, would fight tooth and nail against a worker arguing for democracy?

    #105313
    DJP
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    I've always said that a democratic vote is fallible, because otherwise a vote, once taken, couldn't be overturned, and I've always argued for the defeated position to be retained as a 'Plan B', so that if the 'truth' voted for at one point is later under suspicion, it can be overturned.

    But if the truth of something is only determined buy what the majority vote for it what is it that subsequently causes that truth to be doubted?

    #105314
    ALB
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    'Sense perception', according to Marx, is a social product, so anything 'tested' against them is historically and socially fallible.

    Agreed. Engels was not challenging that.

    LBird wrote:
    Not even modern physicists claim to be 'infallible';

    Agreed again, as Engels says in that chapter DJP drew to your attention:

    Quote:
    Things are even worse with astronomy and mechanics, and in physics and chemistry we are swamped by hypotheses as if attacked by a swarm of bees. And it must of necessity be so. In physics we are dealing with the motion of molecules, in chemistry with the formation of molecules out of atoms, and if the interference of light waves is not a myth, we have absolutely no prospect of ever seeing these interesting objects with our own eyes. As time goes on, final and ultimate truths become remarkably rare in this field.
    LBird wrote:
    You're a priest reading from 'infallible texts', as a member of the religious order of the Church of the Holy SPGB, whose truth is as revealed by the prophet Engels, who bows to the lord 'matter'.

    I don't have to put up with crap like this. So game over.

    #105315
    LBird
    Participant
    DJP wrote:
    LBird wrote:
    I've always said that a democratic vote is fallible, because otherwise a vote, once taken, couldn't be overturned, and I've always argued for the defeated position to be retained as a 'Plan B', so that if the 'truth' voted for at one point is later under suspicion, it can be overturned.

    But if the truth of something is only determined buy what the majority vote for it what is it that subsequently causes that truth to be doubted?

    The cause of doubt? Critical thinking of what exists and creative thinking regarding building something new from the 'material conditions' we are confronted with.Put simply, 'theory and practice'.'Material conditions' are not the cause of doubt. Humans are.Criticism and creation produce change. Humans are the 'active side'.This is all entirely in line with the SPGB's strategy of education, propaganda and respect for democracy.If Engels' 'material' is the cause of doubt, why agitate? The 'material' will drive ideas and change.No, Engels' ideas are at variance with Marx's, and indeed with the actual strategy of the SPGB.Why my insistence, that the SPGB should openly adopt Marx's 'activist' philosophy of 'theory and practice' as the ideological basis to their political practice (and reject Engels' fatalist and fixed 'materialism'), is causing so much heartache to the SPGB, is a mystery to me.

    #105316
    LBird
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    I don't have to put up with crap like this. So game over.

    I could say the same in reply to your championing of Engels' crap, but unfortunately I do have to put up with it, as does the rest of the working class, from parties who aim to save us from ourselves.We're quite capable of seeing through the 'saviour party'.The 'party' will do what the class decides. I said that to the ICC, too, and they were just as outraged.

    #105317
    DJP
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    The cause of doubt? Critical thinking of what exists and creative thinking regarding building something new from the 'material conditions' we are confronted with.Put simply, 'theory and practice'.

    Think about it. You're actually suggesting that there is another measure of truth.If a vote really is all and only that determines what is true and what is false (as you suggest) once the vote was cast what reason is there to question it once it has been cast.But I'm going to leave you to it now…

    #105318
    LBird
    Participant
    DJP wrote:
    If a vote really is all and only that determines what is true …

    Why do you persist in ignoring most of what I say, and selectively emphasise, to confuse?I've always said that 'social theory and practice' precedes 'a vote', so where you've got your 'all and only' from, god knows.

    DJP wrote:
    But I'm going to leave you to it now…

    Thanks for that small mercy, at least. It's like talking to a particularly slow policeman.

    #105319
    Young Master Smeet
    Participant

    LBird,let's try the question another way: how will we decide how to vote?

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