All Articles All Articles

Sometimes asking for the impossible is the only realistic path. Banner

Dialectics Precede ... Part 4

Dialectics Precede ... Part 4 (On Theses on Feuerbach and Marx Melding Materialism with Dialectics)

By Dennis Loo (12/29/17)

Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here.

It is probably wise here for me to explain something implicit in this series. In philosophy, as Frederick Engels once said, there are basically two schools of, and in, philosophy: there is idealism and there is materialism. All that exists in philosophy is a variant of one or the other school. 

We use these terms not in their ordinary forms but mean by idealism the way that Plato meant it - that any concrete object (if even they exist at all, since some idealists do not believe in real objects - really[1]), are first an idea. The leading ideas and those who embody those leading ideas, according to the Idealist School, make history. The idea of a chair, for example, precedes any real chair, according to Idealists. Thus, their name - ideas precede ideas' expression in material objects. 

Materialism (again, I’m using the term in its philosophic sense), on the other hand, says that before you have a thought, you must first have a brain. In the case of a chair, a materialist would say that it probably originated from sitting on a tree stump, or log, or rock, or some such thing, and then the idea for a chair began from that. Material forces and/or material activity are generally primary over idealist ones, according to a materialist dialectician, although ideas play an important, though overall secondary, role.

Read more: Dialectics Precede ... Part 4

Dialectics Precede ... Part 3

Dialectics Precede … Part 3 (The Liar's Paradox Solved and Godel's Incompleteness Theorem Revisited)

By Dennis Loo (12/23/17)

For more on why there is or isn’t a purpose or meaning for something or someone within themselves as opposed to being an outside force, autonomously chosen by that person or "given" courtesy of and by a god figure: consider this – a purpose or meaning (especially in the philosophical sense such as “what purpose does my life serve?”) necessarily involves making a judgment or involves some kind of interpretation. For either to happen, at a level above fight or flight, means that that interpretation must occur outside of the thing itself. Interpretation though necessarily involves consciousness, does it not? Without interpretation, then a thing, process, or a person, is just a thing in itself, nothing more, but nothing less either. That, by the way, is a good thing, not bad.

Since there are differing levels of consciousness, a critical mass of neurons must assemble together, or else certain levels of consciousness are impossible. Self-consciousness, for example, only happens to certain species such as the great apes and not, for example, in insects.

It makes no sense, though I realize lots of people believe in it, that a perfect being with perfect knowledge of everything including himself and of what was, is, and all things that will ever be (the latter in at least many religions) who then has no physical presence (again, usually) – pure spirit, God – could have come into being ex nihilo – and in turn then created an imperfect world. It makes perfect sense, however, the other way around: that we created God in our image, rather than the other way around. We made Him perfect, all knowing, all powerful, and immortal, because we are none of these, but we wish we were.

Read more: Dialectics Precede ... Part 3

Dialectics Precede ... Part 2

Dialectics Precede ... Part 2 (On the Basic Nature of Reality)

By Dennis Loo (12-18-17)

A friend asked me to expand upon this passage in my last article:

“For something to have meaning (i.e., a purpose beyond itself) then something has to exist OUTSIDE of the universe, but it cannot, and not only by definition, but by the very nature of dialectics and existence itself. That is why ‘materialist dialectics’ is correct, but ‘dialectical materialism’ is not. The modifier here is ‘materialist’ not ‘dialectics.’’’

I was speaking at the time in a kind of philosophical shorthand. The section my friend asked about could actually be expanded into three books.

As a general statement of my view, let’s look at the first part: why do I say that purpose and meaning exist outside of the thing itself? The first and perhaps the best way to answer that takes us to a kind of Zen Buddhist understanding of reality: that is, anything or process is, on one level, if you withdraw your judgment or interpretation of it, merely is itself; it just is. It doesn’t, and you don’t have a purpose; they and you just are.

For the sake of clarity, I am going to do much of this in a dialogue format.

Read more: Dialectics Precede ... Part 2

Elaine Brower 2

Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait speaking at the NYC Stop the War on Iran rally 2/4/12