All Articles All Articles

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

Dialectics Precede ... Part 5

Dialectics Precede … Part 5 (our decoding of Theses on Feuerbach Continues and Preview Why Dialectics Are Key Even As To Materialism)

By Dennis Loo (1/2/18)

Before I continue my exegesis of Marx’s 1888 germinal Theses on Feuerbach, a reminder: I am breaking with a tradition where the materialist part of materialist dialectics is emphasized and am stating unequivocally that dialectics are key between it and materialism. Both are important, but of the two, dialectics is more important overall then materialism. This has philosophical and real-world implications that I will shortly address.

But first, the rest of Theses:

Feuerbach wants sensuous objects, really distinct from the thought objects, but he does not conceive human activity itself as objective activity. Hence, in The Essence of Christianity, he regards the theoretical attitude as the only genuinely human attitude, while practice is conceived and fixed only in its dirty-judaical manifestation. Hence he does not grasp the significance of “revolutionary”, of “practical-critical”, activity.

Ludwig Feuerbach was a contemporary of Marx and he made a sensation when he argued that instead of God creating humankind, the reverse was true – humankind created god and religion. Feuerbach believed that knowing this would free humanity from religion’s hold. But as Marx points out, especially in the Fourth Thesis:

Feuerbach starts out from the fact of religious self-alienation, of the duplication of the world into a religious world and a secular one. His work consists in resolving the religious world into its secular basis.

But that the secular basis detaches itself from itself and establishes itself as an independent realm in the clouds can only be explained by the cleavages and self-contradictions within this secular basis. 

Read more: Dialectics Precede ... Part 5

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

Elaine Brower 2

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