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Dialectical Materialism

  1. Apr 24, 2003 #1
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 24, 2003 #2

    Tom Mattson

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    What is the original document in which this is all presented? I read the Natural Philosophy part of Anti-Duhring, but that is clearly not the primer I am looking for.
  4. Apr 24, 2003 #3
    Here are some source for dialectical materialism:


    And here's a primer on http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1938/09.htm" by Stalin (1938)
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  5. Apr 24, 2003 #4


    Dialectics is the method of reasoning which aims to understand things http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/help/hints.htm#abstract" which begins with a fixed definition of a thing according to its various attributes: ‘a fish is something with no legs which lives in the water’.

    Darwin however, considered fish dialectically: some of the animals living in the water were not fish, and some of the fish had legs, but it was the http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/help/glossary.htm#genetic" of all the animals as part of a whole interconnected process which explained the nature of a fish: they came from something and are evolving into something else.

    Darwin went behind the appearance of fish to get to their http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/help/hints.htm#essence" of something can be quite contradictory — parliamentary democracy being the prime example: democracy in form, but dictatorship in content!

    And for dialectics, things can be contradictory not just in appearance, but in essence. For formal thinking, light must be either a wave or a particle; but the truth turned out to be dialectical — light is both wave and particle. (See the http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/help/glossary.htm#excluded")

    We are aware of countless ways of understanding the world; each of which makes the claim to be the http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/help/hints.htm#absolute-truth", which leads us to think that, after all, “It’s all relative!”. For dialectics the truth is the whole picture, of which each view make up more or less one-sided, partial aspects.

    At times, people complain in frustration that they lack the Means to achieve their Ends, or alternatively, that they can justify their corrupt methods of work by the lofty aims they pursue. For dialectics, http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/help/hints.htm#means")

    One example of dialectics we can see in one of Lenin's call: “All Power to the Soviets” spoken when the Soviets were against the Bolsheviks. Lenin understood, however, that the impasse could only be resolved by workers’ power and since the Soviets were organs of workers’ power, a revolutionary initiative by the Bolsheviks would inevitably bring the Soviets to their side: the form of the Soviets during the time (lead by Mensheviks and SRs) were at odds with the http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/help/glossary.htm#content" of the Soviets as Workers’, Peasants’ and Soldiers’ Councils.

    Formal thinking often has trouble understanding the causes of events — something has to be a cause and something else the effect — and people are surprised when they irrigate land and 20 years later — due to salination of the land, silting of the waterways, etc — they have a desert! Dialectics on the other hand understands that http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/help/hints.htm#causality" are just one and another side of a whole network of relations such as we have in an ecosystem, and one thing cannot be changed without changing the whole system.

    These are different aspect of Dialectics, and there are many others, because dialectics is the method of thinking in which concepts are flexible and mobile, constrained only by the imperative of comprehending the movement of the object itself, however contradictory, however transient.

    Dialectics has its origins in http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1880/soc-utop/ch02.htm" of Logic which is the foundation of what we today call Dialectics.

    As Engels put it:

    “the whole world, natural, historical, intellectual, is represented as a process — i.e., as in constant motion, change, transformation, development; and the attempt is made to trace out the internal connection that makes a continuous whole of all this movement and development.” [http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1880/soc-utop/ch02.htm#013"]

    It was in the decade after Hegel’s death — the 1840s — when Hegel’s popularity was at its peak in Germany, that Marx and Engels met and worked out the foundations of their critique of bourgeois society.

    Hegel’s radical http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/help/collect.htm#young-hegelians".

    Marx and Engels began as supporters of Feuerbach. However, very soon they took up an http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/theses/theses.htm" and place the method on a materialist basis:

    “Hegel was an idealist. To him, the thoughts within his brain were not the more or less abstract pictures of actual things and processes, but, conversely, things and their evolution were only the realized pictures of the ‘Idea’, existing somewhere from eternity before the world was. This way of thinking turned everything upside down, and completely reversed the actual connection of things in the world. ” [Fredrick Engels, http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1880/soc-utop/ch02.htm#014"

    Thus, for Marx and Engels, thoughts were not passive and independent reflections of the material world, but products of human labour, and the contradictory nature of our thoughts had their origin in the contradictions within human society. This meant that Dialectics was not something imposed on to the world from outside which could be discovered by the activity of pure http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/help/isms.htm#reason".
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  6. Apr 24, 2003 #5
    DIALECTICS [continuation]

    Since Dialectics is a concept which attempts to capture in a method of thinking, something as concrete and historical as human practice, there are many, many http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/works/sl/slidea.htm#SL229".

    §Dialectical Materialism

    Dialectical Materialism is another name for Marxism, coined by Karl Kautsky and popularised in the Second International after the death of Marx and Engels, emphasising the origins of Marx's thinking in the materialist philosophical trends of Western philosophy and the http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/help/isms.htm#dialectics"
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  7. Apr 24, 2003 #6


    Matter is a philosophical category denoting all that which exists outside of and independently of thought — objective reality. As a philosophical category, “matter” must be distinguished from any particular theory of matter developed by natural science and from its meaning in physics as mass as opposed to radiation.

    See Hegel's http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/works/sl/slbeing.htm#SL98n1_2" on this question.


    Those philosophical trends which assert the material world (the world outside of consciousness) to be primary to thought, especially in relation to the question of the origin of knowledge. For materialism of all kinds, thoughts are pictures or http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/help/glossary.htm#reflection" in his critique of Empiricism.
    See http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1913/mar/x01.htm"[/i].
    See also http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/help/mean09.htm"
    See also http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/help/mean08.htm#04"
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  8. Apr 24, 2003 #7

    Nicely said. One thing I would add is that dialectics can be derived within paradox. In other words, infinite polarity can be derived within paradox as in yin and yang. Properly speaking, the Tai Chi should be seen in motion.
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  9. Apr 25, 2003 #8

    Dialectics is the law of contradiction within matter itself and thought, that is the cause for motion / change. There are some simularities indeed with Yin-Yang vision of opposities, but the point of view is fairly different I think.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2003
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