The Long Awaited Materialism thread

July 2024 Forums General discussion The Long Awaited Materialism thread

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  • #100335

    I used that quote since it seems an adequate refutation of your claim that value, for Chucky, doesn't contain an iota of matter.My view is that value is material, entirely and completely and is subject to the laws of thrmodynamics, it is only created (and destroyed) in so much as it is one thing transformed into another, ultimately energy from the sun.

    #100336
    DJP
    Participant
    Young Master Smeet wrote:
    My view is that value is material, entirely and completely and is subject to the laws of thrmodynamics, it is only created (and destroyed) in so much as it is one thing transformed into another, ultimately energy from the sun.

    LOL I don't think that's quite right either. You're going too far in the other direction now.How can concepts or social relations be subject to the laws of thermodynamics?The brains that hold these concepts or the bodies (and brains) that act out these relations will be but I can't see how the concepts and social relations are, these things supervene on the physical as it where..

    #100337
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    LBird wrote:
    DJP wrote:
    I'd put it this way though "The meaning of words and concepts like 'ghost' or 'father Christmas' are the result of certain relationships between brains"I don't see how meaning or concepts can exist outside brains.

    Surely 'between' means a 'relationship'?How can a relationship exist inside the components?

    DJP wrote:
    Wouldn't that entail you having to explain how consciousness could exist free floating in space?

    Only if I was a reductionist, and reduced structures to their components. I'm not a reductionist, DJP.I think structures have emergent properties. I've been through this before, though, so I won't labour the point with you, now.

     Value is a conception. A commodity is an object with two different values. The only ones who are saying that an idea can exist in the space or in the universe are the metaphysical, and the believer of a super-natural entity. 

    #100338
    LBird
    Participant
    Marx, Capital, wrote:
    The value of commodities is the very opposite of the coarse materiality of their substance, not an atom of matter enters into its composition.

    [my bold]https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch01.htm#S1It doesn't seem as if we're going to get to the bottom of Marx's quote, on this thread, now.Perhaps he was talking out of his arse, and value is material (whether cloth, 'grey', or titchy bits of the sun…).

    #100339
    DJP
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    It doesn't seem as if we're going to get to the bottom of Marx's quote, on this thread, now.

    It's quite simple. What makes a good a commodity and possess value is not the physical characteristics of the good itself but the social relations between the producers themselves.Now we get to the question of "what is a social relation". I'd say social relations are the aggregate outcome of the actions of people in society. How people act in society depends, to a certain degree on their consciousness and their consciousness is in turn conditioned by the society they are in. Both affect each other in a co-defining relationship.There is nothing in this that leads us to abandoning physicalism (in the metaphysical sense of the word).If you think physicalism is unable to deal with relations you are wrong.

    #100340
    LBird
    Participant
    DJP wrote:
    If you think physicalism is unable to deal with relations you are wrong.

    Surely you mean Marx is wrong?

    Marx, Capital, wrote:
    The value of commodities is the very opposite of the coarse materiality of their substance, not an atom of matter enters into its composition.

    [my bold]https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch01.htm#S1

    #100341
    LBird
    Participant

    The essential difference between our ways of understanding 'value', DJP, is an ideological one.You use 'physicalism', whereas I use 'critical realism'.IMO, Marx's claim that 'value does not contain matter' is more explicable by critical realism, than by physicalism.Since I've already given some explanation of some concepts in CR, and some further reading of texts, for any comrades that are interested in following up this discussion, I'll leave it at that.

    #100342

    DJP,Ideas look like they are immaterial and infinite, but they require processor time (to abuse a computer analogy), and can only come into being through the transformation of energy.

    #100343
    twc
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    So, ‘idealism-materialism’, with no ‘primacy’, just necessary interaction.  Or, as you say, ‘the inseparability of ideas and material conditions’.

    ‘The inseparability of ideas and material conditions’ is deeper than you assume.It may surprise you to learn that the inseparability of thinking-and-being is common consensus among warring idealists and materialists, who nevertheless disagree over whether thinking or being determines the conjunction.Posters, who took comfort from the mere statement of this inseparability condition, were simply deriving circular confirmation of their own take on its meaning, by reading into a common agreement their own take on its meaning.  Oh dear, how easily people can be duped by political ranters proffering a cryptic phrase everyone agrees on, but each interprets differently.You see, “inseparability” is a state of fixity that remains void of content until it is explained by a dynamic theory of its “separable” components [Marx].  You can’t prove anything by the mere invocation of inseparability, but you can sure read anything you want into it.The embarrassing upshot is that those “hidebound” thinkers — the idealists and the materialists — annoyingly never made such a stupid mistake.  They always distinguished themselves from syncretic thinkers by the seriousness with which they take this conjunction of thinking-and-being as one of the serious problems facing mankind, and they seek a commensurately serious answer — not frivolous inseparability.By contrast, it is syncretic contentment in the ineffability of the mere statement of a conjunction of thought and being, that is truly hidebound “thinking”.How stupid!  The ancient Greeks invented philosophy when they recognized the inseparability of thinking-and-being as a problem that must be solved formally.  As always, the Greeks were pre-empted by the agrarian Fertile Crescent, particularly its informal “carpe diem” literature, and probably by others further back in prehistory.  But, contrary to commonsense, not one thinker in that line of thinkers so much as dreamed that inseparability could ever be its own ineffable solution, but each always saw it, quite clearly, as precisely its own outstanding problem.The grand illusion that inseparability is the clinching proof of hermaphroditic idealism-materialism is such a stunning discovery, that we at last appreciate how Marx choked over the stunning discoveries of Proudhon, or Engels over those of Dühring.What a choke!

    #100344
    robbo203
    Participant
    twc wrote:
    ‘The inseparability of ideas and material conditions’ is deeper than you assume.It may surprise you to learn that the inseparability of thinking-and-being is common consensus among warring idealists and materialists, who nevertheless disagree over whether thinking or being determines the conjunction.

     Why should it neccesarily be one or the other? I mean how would you be able to show, for instance,  that "being" determines "thinking" when thinking or thoughts – consciousness – is always there, right at the very start? There is no such thing as being without consciousness.The point Im getting at is that we should move away from this kind of crass mechanistic notion that material conditions "produce" ideas which the base-superstructure model often, unfortunately,  seems to encourage. Actually this is a form of mysticism.  Ideas are held to be latent  in the mysterious workings of the universe and become manifest in its unfolding.  This is to strip history of any kind of creative aspect and reduce us to the role of passive onlookersA more useful model of historical materialism which acknowleges that ideas do have an influence and an internal development of their own is the one outlined by Marx when he pointed out that men make their own history  but not under conditions of their own making.  This posits the idea of material conditions as a constraint rather than a determinant.One of my favourite quotes which puts across this idea very well is from that wonderful book by Carolyn Merchant  – The Death of Nature: Women , Ecology and the Scientific Revolution:An array of ideas exists available to a given age: some of these for unarticulated  or even unconscious reasons seem plausible to individuals or social groups; others do not.  Some ideas spread; others die out.  But the direction and accumulation of social changes begin to differentiate between  among the spectrum of possibilities so that some ideas assume a more central role in the array, while others move to the periphery.  Out of this differential appeal of ideas that seem most plausible under particular social conditions, cultural transformations developThe only point I would add  to that is that the criterion of "plausibility" is itself a socio-cultural phenomenon and we should resist the temptation to impose on history the comparatively modern and eurocentric idea that individuals constitute themselves as atomistic competing units, fundamentally driven by what they perceive to be their own self interest  and by which yardstick they judge the plausibility of such ideas

    #100345
    LBird
    Participant
    robbo203 wrote:
    The point Im getting at is that we should move away from this kind of crass mechanistic notion that material conditions "produce" ideas which the base-superstructure model often, unfortunately, seems to encourage. Actually this is a form of mysticism. Ideas are held to be latent in the mysterious workings of the universe and become manifest in its unfolding. This is to strip history of any kind of creative aspect and reduce us to the role of passive onlookers.

    This is the key philosophic point, robbo, that all of us 'non-materialists' are making.One of the consequences of adopting this 'active and creative human' perspective, however, is to undermine the model of science we are all taught in school, that 'science produces the Truth of material reality'.

    robbo203 wrote:
    A more useful model of historical materialism which acknowleges that ideas do have an influence and an internal development of their own is the one outlined by Marx when he pointed out that men make their own history but not under conditions of their own making. This posits the idea of material conditions as a constraint rather than a determinant.

    Perhaps we should also see 'material conditions' also as developing potential, as well as constraint. Of course, the notion of 'material conditions' determining human actions is the 19th century positivism and materialism, erroneously embraced by Engels.The materialists never answer how Communism is possible (ie. the self-emancipation of the proletariat) if material conditions determine human actions.Humans must consciously create Communism. We can't leave it to 'the rocks' to instruct us.

    #100346
    DJP
    Participant
    robbo203 wrote:
    The point Im getting at is that we should move away from this kind of crass mechanistic notion that material conditions "produce" ideas which the base-superstructure model often, unfortunately,  seems to encourage. Actually this is a form of mysticism.  Ideas are held to be latent  in the mysterious workings of the universe and become manifest in its unfolding.  This is to strip history of any kind of creative aspect and reduce us to the role of passive onlookers

    Indeed. And Engels said words to this effect in the 1890'shttps://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1890/letters/90_09_21.htmhttps://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894/letters/94_01_25.htmBut this is quite seperate to the metaphysical question of materialism and physicalism.

    #100347
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    LBird wrote:
    The materialists never answer how Communism is possible (ie. the self-emancipation of the proletariat) if material conditions determine human actions.Humans must consciously create Communism. We can't leave it to 'the rocks' to instruct us.

     Yes we do. Humans can create communism where the material conditions exist. Humans could not have created communism in the year 600AD. From your perspective can you explain why communism was not possible in the year 600AD: Were humans mere rocks in those days? I suggest the answer is a materialist one  

    #100348
    twc
    Participant

    So what do you imagine the nature-imposed necessity, that compels all life forms to daily reproduce themselves, compels society as a whole to practice and think about, if it is not its own ever-recurring social process?If not, show me how society can free itself from that determinism, characterized by Marx as acting with the inexorability of a law of nature.If you accept that society is incapable of freeing itself from having to implement its own renewal, what do you imagine social practice is compelled to implement if not the social renewal process itself, as ever-recurring social practice?If not, show me how social practice is perfectly free of the determinism to implement the social practice of social renewal, and so is in-deterministically free to block the social renewal process just as it pleases.If you accept that social practice is compelled to implement the social renewal process, how do you imagine social relations are compelled to form themselves if not in order to actuate the social practice that must implement the social renewal process?If not, show me how social relations are perfectly free of the determinism to form themselves in order to actuate the social practice that implements the social renewal process, and so are in-deterministically free to form themselves in order to block the actuation of the social practice that implements the social renewal process, just as they please.If you accept that social relations are compelled to actuate social practice in implementing the social renewal process, how do you imagine social thought is compelled to think, if not to think the thought of social relations that must form in order to actuate the social practice that implements the social renewal process?If not, show me how social thought is perfectly free of the determinism to think the thought of social relations that form themselves for actuating the social practice that implements the social renewal process, and so are in-deterministically free to undermine the thought of social relations that form themselves for actuating the social practice that implements the social renewal process, just as it pleases.Note that I have been discussing social, not individual, consciousness.  The latter is beyond the immediate scope of abstract Marxian thought, and the present discussion, because it is far too concrete, and requires many tortuous determinations of Marxian science to comprehend that myopic thing.  But, of course, critics cannot see things scientifically like Marx.Social thought, social relations and social practice may be autonomous but they are highly dependent on the society they serve.  Social thought, social relations and social practice may violate their social conditions of existence for differing amounts of time — so much for the syncretic belief in the “inseparability of thinking and being” — but ultimately they must be brought back to earth by the society they function in and whose reproduction they function for.Social thought, social relations and social practice may delude themselves that they are free of compulsion.  Such voluntarism is the illusion of social freedom in, and from, society.  [The Communists and the Labour Party are exemplars of voluntarism being brought down to earth ultimately, by determinism, against their wills but rather reforming their wills, to serve necessary social needs.]The vaunted freedoms of social thought, social relations and social practice can never be long-term freedoms from such compulsion — they may, however, be semi-permanent freedoms for a portion, or class, in a fractured or socially-riven class society.So far I have only considered the determinisms that permeate each and every society, whether socialist or class based.  These determinisms are tame by comparison with the insidious determinisms that are compelled to reproduce class society as class society.I now turn to the consideration of society, no longer as a unified whole, but as a congeries of classes based on ownership and control of the process of social renewal.  In particular, let’s examine capitalist social reproduction.In haste, and breaking midstream because at a different time zone, I will return tomorrow to consider the far more potent determinisms that are absolutely essential for reproducing class-based societies.

    #100349
    LBird
    Participant
    Vin Maratty wrote:
    Humans can create communism where the material conditions exist.

    [my bold]To me, Vin, this 'potential' clashes with:

    VM wrote:
    I suggest the answer is a materialist one

    Why reduce 'can' to 'material'?If you'd written 'must', then the answer would simply be a 'materialist one'.The 'can' doubt destroys the logic of the 'materialist' answer.Theory and practice is not 'materialist', but 'idealist-materialist'.Any formulation that reduces to 'material' has lost Marx's advances made in the Theses on Feuerbach.I'm not a 'materialist', Vin, and I don't think that the answer is a 'materialist one'.

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