Refuting A Weak Attempt At Refutation -- Part Ten
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Although I am highly critical of Dialectical Materialism [DM], nothing said here (or, indeed, in the other Essays posted at this site) is aimed at undermining Historical Materialism [HM] -- a theory I fully accept -- or, for that matter, revolutionary socialism. I remain as committed to the self-emancipation of the working class and the dictatorship of the proletariat as I was when I first became a revolutionary nearly thirty years ago. [That puts paid to the allegation that those who reject DM soon abandon revolutionary politics.]
My aim is simply to assist in the scientific development of Marxism by helping to demolish a dogma that has in my opinion seriously damaged our movement from its inception: DM --; or, in its more political form, 'Materialist Dialectics' [MD].
The difference between HM and DM as I see it is explained here.
[Latest Update: 23/01/20.]
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(2) Those Pesky 'Brezhnev-Era Revisionists' Again!
Summary Of My Main Objections To Dialectical Materialism
Abbreviations Used At This Site
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In 2015, I posted the following comment on a YouTube page which was devoted to introducing prospective viewers to a highly simplified version of DM:
Alas for this
video, I have demolished this dogmatic theory (from a Marxist angle) at my site:
Main objections outlined here:
I have posted many similar comments on other pages at YouTube that are devoted to this theory and received little or no response. But, the producer of this film (whose on-screen name used to be Marxist-Leninist-Theory [MLT], but which has now changed to The Finnish Bolshevik -- henceforth, TFB) did respond (and to which I replied, here and here).
Not long afterwards, another video appeared on YouTube -- which was also produced by TFB, but posted to his other YouTube page -- entitled: "Refuting a Trotskyite Attack on Dialectics". I have replied to this largely incoherent video, here, here, and here.
After several, shall we say, 'skirmishes' over the last six months or so, TFB posted a second, even longer video, which attempted to respond to one of my briefer attacks on this failed 'theory' of his:
Video One: The Garbling Continues
As part of my reply to TFB's earlier video, I transcribed the vast bulk of it, which took absolutely ages. I did this for several reasons:
(a) So that others could see how largely incoherent it is.
(b) So that it would be easier to expose TFB's lies and fabrications.
(c) So that I couldn't be accused of distorting what he had said.
I have so far posted six responses to the above video, so this Essay constitutes my seventh reply. All my debates and responses to TFB have now been collected together, here.
Incidentally, I have now decided to post much shorter replies to TFB in order to (i) Increase the probability of him reading them and, consequently, (ii) decrease the likelihood of having to explain the same things to him yet again, over and over, as had been the case up to now -- since he still refuses to read my longer replies, even though he expects his viewers to listen to his voice droning on and on, making the same points time and again, often incoherently, for over an hour!
Those Pesky 'Brezhnev-Era Revisionists' -- Again!
Ok, so TFB's monotonous voice drones on (again, I have tried to transcribe his garbled, repetitive and meandering dialogue as best I can):
And there's another..., ach..., there's another really cheap attack on me saying:
"This is quite apart from the fact [that] in his earlier video TFB was happy to quote from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia -- published in 1979 by 'Brezhnev era revisionists'." [Quoted from here; quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site. Link in the original.]
Erm..., phhh (sic).... So, is this supposed to be some sort of ha..., hypocrisy? What you [presumably me -- RL] don't seem to understand one thing... [Sharp intake of breath.] Just because someone is a revisionist or... [sharp exhaling of breath], or even..., well..., just because some..., something was written during the 70s, during the Brezhnev era, does not mean that it is automatically false. [Dramatic pause.] Just, like, because something was written in the Stalin era doesn't mean it is automatically correct. It just means that personally because I don't agree with a lot of Brezhnevism and a lot of Revisionism, therefore I'm not going to give them the benefit of the doubt. If they're saying something that seems suspicious and weird and I can't confirm it from other sources, then I'm not going to give them the benefit if the doubt. So, I'm just saying, if you're going to quote people don't quote Revisionists to me, because I don't..., I'm..., you know they have no authority in my eyes. So, if you're trying to convince me, then don't use them as evidence, because it's not convincing to me.
I'm not saying that everything they ever said was wrong, because the stuff I quoted from the..., erm..., The Great Soviet Encyclopedia..., I quoted, like, one sentence..., it was, like, a..., like, a definition of a term, and I quoted it from that. Like, but I could already have..., I already had confirmed that from other sources. I already knew what that was. It was just said in a very concise way, like, one sentence in that, so I quoted it. [In fact, TFB quoted three sentences (see below). This is yet another example of his sloppy approach to facts, this time is own facts! -- RL.] So, please, this is..., again, this is so ridiculous. [Sharp intake of breath.] [48:40-50:43. I have added italics where TFB's inflection suggests he wanted to emphasise a certain word.]
As I have pointed out several times (but TFB misses the point just as often since he refuses to read my replies), when I first engaged with him over at YouTube, I thought he was a common-or-garden Communist and had no way of knowing he rejected 'Brezhnev-era revisionists' as authoritative. [But what about Khrushchev-era theorists? I quoted at least one of those! Are they reliable or forbidden? Are they to be given the "benefit of the doubt"?]
But he now says this:
Just because someone is a revisionist or... [sharp exhaling of breath], or even..., well..., just because some..., something was written during the 70s, during the Brezhnev era, does not mean that it is automatically false. [Ibid.]
Ok, so let's have a look at what TFB had to say before he was rumbled:
"Er.., so 'self-motion' means that..., er..., that the development is...is (sic) determined by internal attributes of a given thing. That's as simple as I can make it. For example, no matter how much you heat a small stone it will never hatch into a chick. It will eventually break and melt, but it will not become a chicken, because it's not in its nature...it's..., er..., its essence. This is what it means: the internal contradictions..., er..., determine the change that will happen. That is, an egg becomes a chicken; a stone will crack..., er..., will crack or melt, but the process is..., er..., of course, it's also affected by external forces. It doesn't happen in a vacuum, either. Er..., like dialectics is the exact opposite of claiming that things exist in a vacuum.
"So, this is from..., er..., The Great Soviet Encyclopedia... (So, one would think that finding this information would not be that difficult..., cos..., I just made a quick Google search and this...is what I came up with), er..., so:
'In dialectical materialism, the idea of self-motion is based on the premise that internal causes are the source of self-motion. These internal causes are, first of all, the contradictions inherent in all objects with a systemic structure.... The influence of external conditions on a specific self-moving system is indirect, through internal sources.' [The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 'Self-Motion'. Quoted from here -- RL. Ellipses corrected.] [This is from his first video, approximately: 33:10-34:33.]
We can see from this that TFB quoted this encyclopedia after a quick Google search, and he did so because he was having trouble coming to terms with Lenin's use of the phrase "self-motion", even calling it into question somewhat:
"Now, I don't understand where that is coming from. Like Lenin talked about this self-motion thing like once or twice in his entire life. He like wrote once or twice about this and pretty much only in his Philosophical Notebooks, which were never meant to be published, anyway. So [undecipherable word], that's like wrote (sic) a hay (sic)...a Hegel quote and wrote some notes about it, and that's it. It's not like he extensively explained what he meant and then..., er..., said that he denied external forces." [First video, approximately 37:17-37:42.]
In fact, I had to bring Lenin's published thoughts on this topic to his attention. Here is my first attempt to degrade TFB's ignorance of his own theory (as part of a point I was trying to make about 'antagonistic contradictions' -- in what follows "MLT" was my old name for TFB!):
"...[L]et's have another look at what Lenin actually said about 'self-motion' -- where we'll see he used this term many more times than he used 'antagonistic' and 'contradiction' in the same sentence:
'The identity of opposites…is the recognition…of the contradictory, mutually exclusive, opposite tendencies in all phenomena and processes of nature…. The condition for the knowledge of all processes of the world in their "self-movement", in their spontaneous development, in their real life, is the knowledge of them as a unity of opposites. Development is the "struggle" of opposites. The two basic (or two possible? or two historically observable?) conceptions of development (evolution) are: development as decrease and increase, as repetition, and development as a unity of opposites (the division of a unity into mutually exclusive opposites and their reciprocal relation).
'In the first conception of motion, self-movement, its driving force, its source, its motive, remains in the shade (or this source is made external -- God, subject, etc.). In the second conception the chief attention is directed precisely to knowledge of the source of "self-movement".
'The first conception is lifeless, pale and dry. The second is living. The second alone furnishes the key to the 'self-movement' of everything existing; it alone furnishes the key to the 'leaps,' to the 'break in continuity,' to the 'transformation into the opposite,' to the destruction of the old and the emergence of the new.
'The unity (coincidence, identity, equal action) of opposites is conditional, temporary, transitory, relative. The struggle of mutually exclusive opposites is absolute, just as development and motion are absolute." [Lenin (1961), pp.357-58. Italic emphases in the original. Bold emphases added.]
"Here, Lenin tells us that the 'identity of opposites' involves the recognition of the 'contradictory, mutually exclusive, opposite tendencies in all phenomena and processes of nature', and that this further implies the 'self-movement' of 'all processes on the world' -- not most processes, but all phenomena and processes in nature. This, it seems to me, leaves no room for these 'external forces', or 'external contradictions', as Stalinists and Maoists have re-labelled (some or all of) them ever since. This doesn't imply, of course, that Lenin didn't believe in 'external forces' (nor am I suggesting this!), but it does mean that he interpreted them in a rather specific way in order to undercut theism and mechanical materialism, among other things -- as we will see.
"But, Lenin goes even further, he contrasts the idea that there are 'external forces' with his 'dialectical' understanding of nature:
'In the first conception of motion, self-movement, its driving force, its source, its motive, remains in the shade (or this source is made external -- God, subject, etc.). In the second conception the chief attention is directed precisely to knowledge of the source of "self-movement".
'The first conception is lifeless, pale and dry. The second is living. The second alone furnishes the key to the "self-movement" of everything existing; it alone furnishes the key to the "leaps," to the "break in continuity," to the "transformation into the opposite," to the destruction of the old and the emergence of the new.' [Ibid.]
"The first conception (as Lenin terms it) seems to leave the driving force of change 'in the shade', or it is viewed as 'external' to the action -- which view, when its implications are spelt out, implies that 'God' kick-started everything in an act of creation. Lenin pointedly contrasts this approach with the second conception where attention is focussed on 'self-movement', which Lenin then claims is the only way to comprehend 'the "self-movement" of everything existing' -- notice, once again: Lenin isn't referring to most things, nor yet nearly everything, but every last thing in the entire universe for all of time (which I take it is the same as 'everything existing').
"There would be no contrast between these two conceptions if objects in nature and society weren't 'self-moving', both developmentally and as they move. As we have seen, this is indeed how Lenin has since been interpreted by his epigones, holding to the view that things actually self-develop and self-locomote.
"[Now, there were for Lenin good reasons for asserting this, which I covered in my first response to MLT (here and here) -- more about this later.]
"MLT objects that Lenin only said this in an unpublished work, but he in fact made the same points in published writing. In a debate with Trotsky and Bukharin on the Trade Unions, Lenin not only repeated this idea, he argued that Dialectical Logic [DL] 'demanded' and 'required' that change should be seen in no other way:
'Dialectical logic demands that we go further…. [It] requires that an object should be taken in development, in "self-movement" (as Hegel sometimes puts it)….' [Lenin (1921), p.90. Bold emphases in the original. Italic emphasis added.]
"So, not only are objects said to be capable of moving themselves, but Lenin added that DL 'requires' us to view their motion precisely this way.
"Finally, we have already seen Lenin quoted in The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (which MLT conveniently ignored), as follows:
'Self-motion that exhibits direction and irreversible change is a special type of self-motion called self-development. Here the idea of self-motion merges with the dialectical conception of development. In this conception, "the chief attention is directed precisely to knowledge of the source of 'self-movement'" (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. sock, 5th ed., vol. 29, p.317).' [Quoted from here; quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site.]
"As Lenin also noted, in this he was merely echoing Hegel:
'But contradiction is the root of all movement and vitality; it is only in so far as something has a contradiction within it that it moves, has an urge and activity.' [Hegel (1999), p.439, §956. Bold emphasis added.]
"Unfortunately, MLT has allowed himself to become distracted by subsequent Stalinist and Maoist attempts to ignore what Lenin actually argued.
"[Exactly how eggs, for example, manage to develop without the influence of 'external forces' (that is, according to Lenin's view of things) will be explained later.]
"Now, I devoted the whole of Essay Eight Part One (nearly 43,000 words!) to trying to resolve this conundrum: how is it possible for objects and processes to be entirely 'self-moved' and for them (seemingly) to be influenced by 'external forces'? In fact, one sub-section of the aforementioned Essay was entitled 'Unfair to Lenin?', where I go out of my way to try to absolve Lenin of making a serious blunder, here. Some of this material was reproduced in a modified form my first reply to MLT's other page on YouTube. I'm not going to reproduce it here; if readers what to find out what MLT missed, they should click on that link. [However, I have summarised parts of it, below.]
"[Spoiler: we found that there is no way these two ideas can be made consistent with one another, or with other DM-theses.]
"MLT ignored this material, so no wonder he 'doesn't understand'. Indeed, if he stubbornly refuses to learn, I have a good mind to leave him in that blessed condition." [Quoted from here. Quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site. Emphases in the original. Details concerning the sources I have used or quoted can be found here.]
So when TFB says this:
I'm not saying that everything they ever said was wrong, because the stuff I quoted from the..., erm.., The Great Soviet Encyclopedia..., I quoted, like, one sentence..., it was, like, a..., like, a definition of a term, and I quoted it from that. Like, but I could already have..., I already had confirmed that from other sources. I already knew what that was. It was just said in a very concise way, like, one sentence in that, so I quoted it...,
we should take it with a pinch of salt, since it is now quite clear that he is woefully ignorant of his own theory, and that when he said he had "confirmed that from other sources. I already knew what that was" he had done no such thing. He not only cast doubt on Lenin's unpublished comment, he knew nothing of his published thoughts in this area.
Even worse, those 'Brezhnev era revisionists' I quoted -- to whom he refuses to "give the benefit of the doubt", and who he rejected out-of-hand -- agree with Lenin, and they quoted him! Once more, that makes TFB the 'Revisionist!' here -- that is, until I forced him back onto the "narrow path that alone leads to (dialectical) salvation" -- since he later thanked me for bringing Lenin's published thoughts on this topic to his attention!
Unfortunately, there is more:
Aaah..., she continues:
"So what does FB have to say next? Wonder no more, for here are his more profound thoughts...." [This, and all the other quotations below, come from here.]
Obviously being sarcastic. [Clearly, nothing gets past TFB! -- RL.] Er..., then there's a short quote from me [i.e., a quote from TFB -- RL]:
"Maybe you've found more quotes then (sic) I have, since you're most likely older then (sic) me. Duh."
"Ouch! I can see I have met my match!! Or, just maybe I know TFB's 'theory' better than he does..."
[The next section is somewhat garbled and was therefore rather difficult to decipher -- RL.]
Are you [undecipherable word, which I think is "kidding"] me? Oh, god! This is ridiculous. Are you serious? [Dramatic Pause.] You say, "Oh, again, I had to educate you because you don't know something." [This isn't a quote from me, by the way, just another TFB-invention -- RL.] And I'm like, "Well, you're prob..., you're..., you're boasting that you have been doing this for like thirty years...." [Voice tails off -- RL.] Not even joking. That's.... [Pause.] I covered that in the earlier video. I read from her website, where it's like "I've studied this in there, I've studied this in here. I've read this, I've read that, I've read everything. I've been studying this for all my life...." [Again, not a quote from me, nor anything like what I have ever said to TFB, and not even like anything he 'covered' in his first video, either -- so TFB not only tell lies about me, he fibs about his own video! Readers can check the transcript for themselves, here, here and here -- RL.]
And now you're saying that "Oh, why do I always have to teach you these things?" You haven't taught me sh*t. [So, it looks like TFB learnt what little DM-sh*t he knows all by himself -- RL.] All you've done is brought up a bunch of quo..., quotations I didn't know. And that's what I'm saying in this comment. Maybe you've found more quotes than I have since you've [indecipherable word] being doing this for a hundred years. Like, w-o-w! [Dramatic Voice.] What a deep understanding of the subject! [Dramatic Pause.] And you're saying that "I'm [TFB isn't quoting me, here, just inventing again -- RL.] making more, oooh, profound thoughts, like..., maybe I know Finnish Bolshevik's theory better than he does, w-o-w!" [TFB adopts a rather odd voice here; he is clearly a talented actor with a truly impressive range -- look out Hollywood! -- RL.]
"Well, at least I don't post ill-informed and largely incoherent videos on YouTube pretending to be some sort of authority on this failed 'theory'. When I assert something I have the evidence to hand (or I don't assert it) -- unlike TFB, who seems to think self-inflicted ignorance counts as proof."
Holy fu*king sh*t! [TFB is getting technical now! He clearly knows a few swear words better than his own 'theory' -- RL.] "Incoherent, ill-informed videos on YouTube pre..., pretending to be some sort of authority". When have I pretended to be an authority on anything? You're the one who has been saying all the time that "Oh, I've been studying this for ages..., and I've..., I have a degree in that, and I have studying logic and philosophy, and I have been studying all this in various places [garbled sound]...". Like, I never said that, you said that. I..., I haven't pretended to be an authority on dialectics.
In my last video, which this is a response to by the way, I said that "Oh, I should probably get to..., to get back to reading more Hegel because I haven't read enough." So, does that sound like I'm pretending to be an authority, like I'm some..., somehow infallible? [Garbled noise.] I'm like "You know this is my understanding. I'm not really sure because I haven't read enough, and I should get back to reading more." You know, sounds like I'm really trying to pretend I'm sort of infallible authority.
This response..., this short response is even more filled with, like, stupid ad hominem attacks than your..., than your normal stuff, which is saying something. [50:43-53:50]
Looks like I really rattled TFB's cage here -- which is precisely what I intended --, since he is quite happy to assert falsehoods and lies about me and my ideas in these incoherent videos of his. Apparently, he thinks he alone is allowed to do this.
Be this as it may, while there is very little of substance in the above, a few comments are called for:
(1) Am I kidding when I say I know TFB's theory better than he does? No, not at all. Again, as I have pointed out to him many times, I am deadly serious. For example, he knew nothing of these "external contradictions" and why they were invented (until I informed him of them, and even then he suggested the term had been invented, and he persists in confusing these with 'external forces'), or how and why they in the end scupper DM. He knows nothing of Lenin's endorsement of Hegel's theory (and how this had been developed in answer the David Hume's criticism of rationalist theories of causation). I have tried on several occasions to degrade his self-inflicted ignorance, but he refuses to read what I have written, seeming to prefer the bliss of continued ignorance to dialectical enlightenment. He also displayed a sketchy knowledge of Engels's 'Three Laws' (which I found quite easy to expose -- here, here and here), and no knowledge of Formal Logic -- even though he seems happy to pontificate about it:
"It [FL] is generally perceived as dealing with static objects which exist in a vacuum and not with..., you know..., real things." [Video One, approximately 03:10.]
"...They argue that modern temporal logic, for example, copes with change rather well.... So, judging from this talk about math and temporal logic I think this person misunderstands what people mean when they say formal logic can't handle change. It's not that some change cannot be represented in terms of formal logic -- for example, you can use time as a variable and then say, for example, 'Now A is x and after one hour A is y', or something like that [sic!] -- however, that doesn't change the fact that this is purely theoretical, that these are only static objects that have no connection to reality, whereas things in the real world are interconnected and being affected by each other, changing and creating change elsewhere, almost as if they were in a dialectical relationship [said with a slightly funny voice! -- RL]. What do you know! That said, even if the claims of this Trotskyite were true...it still wouldn't be an argument against dialectics, because it's only a defence of formal logic." [Approximately 05:03-06:08.]
Even to this day TFB remains ignorant of the development of 'dialectical thought' in the fSU and China. He even seems to think this is somehow connected with the fact that I have managed to find a few quotes that he knew nothing about! However, I have told him on many occasions: use your time more wisely; post far fewer garbled and incoherent videos on YouTube. Spend the time saved learning your own theory!
It is in no one's interest if an avowed Marxist posts ignorant and ill-informed videos on YouTube.
[Reading Hegel (again) won't help, it will only confuse him still further!]
I could go on, but he refuses to read my answers, so there seems little point.
Stay ignorant then; see if I care.
(2) Why did I highlight my background in philosophy, logic and mathematics? Check out his first video where he repeatedly addresses me in a patronising and condescending tone, as if I were an ignoramus of some sort. Here are just a few examples drawn from that video:
"Our Trotskyist seems to think highly of themselves...god I really admire the modesty here". [This and subsequent quotes come from the transcript of Video One, approximately 01:30.]
"They [meaning me -- RL] don't even attempt to explain how Formal Logic deals with change." [04:03.]
"I for one can't figure it out.... I guess our Trotskyite revisionist has some brilliant theory about this which is just beyond the minds of us mere mortals...." [04:19.]
"Our Trotskyite brings up this paradox, and roughly..., you know, explains it, but doesn't really deal with it in any way; but just points out 'Oh, this is a paradox, blah, blah, blah.... Therefore something....'" [07:46. This comment was in relation to Zeno's Paradox. Here TFB has simply ignored my actual argument and has airily put words in my mouth, words which bear no relation to anything I have said, or would say, as we are about to see.]
So, here is a section from my first reply to Video One:
MLT then refers his viewers to another page (over at the Soviet Empire Forum), where another comrade attempted to refute my case against DM, after which MLT states:
"The interesting thing here is that the comments exchanged [MLT's words aren't clear here - RL] that is cited doesn't actually fare too favourably for the Trotskyite. The person challenging them gives a completely sufficient refutation of their arguments to which they don't respond with anything, and instead just, you know, just gloat here to have demonstrated how this theory apparently leads to 'even more ridiculous conclusions'. So, the refutation that the person challenging our Trotskyite's views [again this part isn't too clear -- RL] is based on Physics and is the following (also got to love the fact that (garbled) the explanation by this Trotskyite...they're so vague, it's like...couple, multiple times it seems like they're just saying 'Oh, this is a contradiction, therefore it's wrong', even though, of course, it's a contradiction, that's the whole point...):
'when a body is in motion its velocity is not zero and therefore...v = dx/dt =/= 0
discussing are fundamental facts of physics which you have to understand prior
to attempting to understand philosophical theories involving them....
'During motion, the position of a body in physical terms is defined by x and yet it is not defined by x but is defined by dx. When in motion a body is at one point x and yet it is at two points whose difference is dx. The same applies to time -- you can define the body in motion at time t and yet there is a difference of two times, dt, which also characterizes temporally a body in motion. These are obviously contradictory conditions of motion, coexisting. Motion is a constant resolution of these contradictions. This is what physics says....'
"And the Trotskyite counter-argument is...seems to be..., er... 'This is silly, hah hah hah' ..., like, that's not an argument. 'Yeah, I mean, physics is kind of funny sometimes', that's not an argument. The rest of their counter-arguments are just silly. Instead of contesting the fact that things in motion exist in multiple places at the same time, they turn around and argue that really all physical bodies exist in multiple places, for example, beans exist inside a tin and inside a store. or your head and your feet exist in different places despite being your body. However, this is simply word-play. The point they're making is that things don't exist in a single point but in an area, but that has no impact on the argument whatsoever on Engels nor anyone that the Trotskyite is arguing against has (sic) ever claimed that humans, beans or tin cans exist in a single point. It's obvious that wasn't hat Engels was arguing about. Besides, this kind of talk is metaphysical. And then they proceed to say that 'You know, this is an...um.., mistake by Engels because this kind of idea applies to things that are not in motion, for example, you know..., beans in tin cans. But as I just pointed out, that's not what Engels was talking about at all because, yeah..., well, you get the point. It's just, er..., word games to say 'Oh, beans exist inside a tin can inside a warehouse..., that's.. obviously it's not the same location, it's not the same point existing inside a tin and also inside a factory or a warehouse, whatever, doesn't mean they exist in two different points." [07:50-11:50.]
The above is a complete fabrication -- as I then proceeded to point out:
1) However, I am genuinely amazed by the blatant lies in the above passage! Did MLT imagine that no one would check my answers to the critic he quoted -- while he [MLT] failed to quote (or summarise) any of my responses? Did he honestly think that when others read what I posted they would summarise my words as follows: "This is silly, hah hah hah"? In fact, I rather suspect he was hoping no one would visit the Soviet Empire Forum and check this for themselves -- and from the comments posted below this video, it looks like he was right; no one bothered to check his downright lies!
Ok, so here is part of what I posted in reply to this individual (who wrote under the name 'Future World' [FW]) -- see if you think any of it amounts to "Yeah, I mean, physics is kind of funny sometimes!" -- or even "This is silly, hah hah hah":
Well, this isn't my objection (and I note you do not quote me to this effect). My objection is far more complex than this. Here, in fact, is just one of my core objections to Engels and Hegel:
From this point on
it will be assumed that the difficulties with Engels's account noted in the
previous section can be resolved, and that there exists
some way of reading his
words that implies a contradiction, and which succeeds in distinguishing moving
from motionless bodies.
Perhaps the following will suffice:
L10: For some body b, at some time t, and for two places p and q, b is at p at t and not at p at t, and b is at q at t, and p is not the same place as q.
This looks pretty contradictory. With suitable conventions about the use of variables we could abbreviate L10 a little to yield this slightly neater version:
L11: For some b, for some t, for two places p and q, b is at p at t and not at p at t, and b is at q at t.
This latest set of problems revolves around the supposed reference of the "t" variable in L11 above.
It's always possible to argue that L11 really amounts to the following:
L12: For some b, during interval T, and for two 'instants' t1 and t2 [where both t1 and t2 belong to T, such that t2 > t1], and for two places p and q, b is at p at t1, but not at p at t2, and b is at q at t2.
[In the above, t1 and t2 are themselves taken to be sets of nested sub-intervals, which can be put into an isomorphism with suitably chosen intervals of real numbers; hence the 'scare' quotes around the word "instant" in L12.]
Clearly, the implication here is that the unanalysed variable "t" in L11 actually picks out a time interval T (as opposed to a temporal instant) -- brought out in L12 -- during which the supposed movement takes place. This would licence a finer-grained discrimination among T's sub-intervals (i.e., t1 and t2) during which this occurs. Two possible translations of L12 in less formal language might read as follows:
L12a: A body b, observed over the course of a second, is located at point p in the first millisecond, and is located at q a millisecond later.
L12b: A body b, observed over the course of a millisecond, is located at point p in the first nanosecond, and is located at q a nanosecond later.
And so on…
Indeed, this is how motion is normally conceived: as change of place in time -- i.e., with time having advanced while it occurs. If this were not so (i.e., if L12 is rejected), then L11 would imply that the supposed change of place must have occurred outside of time -- or, worse, that it happened independently of the passage of time --, which is either incomprehensible, or it would imply that, for parts of their trajectory, moving objects (no matter of how low their speed) moved with an infinite velocity! This was in fact pointed out earlier.
And yet, how else are we to understand Engels's claim that a moving body is actually in two places at once? On that basis, a moving body would move from one place to the next outside of time -- that is, with time having advanced not one instant. In that case, a moving body would be in one place at one instant, and it would move to another place with no lapse of time; such motion would thus take place outside of time (which is tantamount to saying it does not happen, or does not exist).
Indeed, we would now have no right to say that such a body was in the first of these Engelsian locations before it was in the second. [That is because "before" implies an earlier time, which has just been ruled out.] By a suitable induction clause, along the entire trajectory of a body's motion it would not, therefore, be possible to say that a moving body was at the beginning of a journey before it was at the end! [The reasons for saying this will be provided on request.]
Despite this it would seem that this latest difficulty can only be neutralised by means of the adoption of an implausible stipulation to the effect that whereas time is not composed of an infinite series of embedded sub-intervals -- characterised by suitably defined nested sets of real numbers --, location is.
This would further mean that while we may divide the position a body occupies as it moves along as finely as we wish -- so that no matter to what extent we slice a body's location, we would always be able to distinguish two contiguous points allowing us to say that a moving body was in both of these places at the same time --, while we can do that with respect to location, we cannot do the same with respect to time.
Clearly, this is an inconsistent approach to the divisibility of time and space -- wherein we are allowed to divide one of these (space) as much as we like while this is disallowed of the other (time). [It could even be argued that this is where the alleged 'contradiction' originally arose -- it was introduced into this 'problem' right at the start by this inconsistent (implicit) assumption, so no wonder it emerged at a later point -- no puns intended.]
This protocol might at first sight seem to neutralise an earlier objection (i.e., that even though a moving body might be in two places, we could always set up a one-one relation between the latter and two separate instants in time, because time and space can be represented as equally fine-grained), but, plainly, it only achieves this by stipulating (without any justification) that the successful mapping of places onto (nested intervals of) real numbers (to give them the required density and continuity) is denied of temporal intervals.
So, there seem to be three distinct possibilities with these two distinct variables (concerning location and time):
(1) Both time and place are infinitely divisible.
(2) Infinite divisibility is true of location only.
(3) Infinite divisibility is true of either but not both (i.e., it is true of time but not place, or it is true of place but not time).
Naturally, these are not the only alternatives, but they seem to be the only three that are relevant to matters in hand.
Of course, one particular classical response to this dilemma ran along the lines that the infinite divisibility of time and place implies that an allegedly moving body is in fact at rest at some point; so, if we could specify a time at which an object was located at some point, and only that point at that time, it must be at rest at that point at that time. [This seems to be how Zeno at least argued.]
Nevertheless, it seemed equally clear to others that moving bodies cannot be depicted in this way, and that motion must be an 'intrinsic' (or even an 'inherent' property) of moving bodies (that is, we cannot depict moving bodies in a way that would imply they are stationary), so that at all times a moving body must be in motion, allowing it to be in and not in any given location at one and the same time. [This seems to be Hegel's view of the matter -- but good luck to anyone trying to find anything that clear in anything he wrote about this!]
If so, one or more of the above options must be rejected. To that end, it seems that for the latter set of individuals 1) and 3) must be dropped, leaving only 2):
(2) Infinite divisibility is true of location only.
However, it's worth pointing out that the paradoxical conclusions classically associated with these three alternatives only arise if other, less well appreciated assumptions are either left out of the picture or are totally ignored -- i.e., in addition to those alluded to above concerning the continuity of space and the (assumed) discrete nature of time. As it turns out, the precise form taken by several of these suppressed and unacknowledged premisses depends on what view is taken of the allegedly 'real' meaning of the words like "motion" and "place".
The above is taken from Essay Five at my site (where I detail several other fatal objections to Engels and Hegel).
[Added on edit --
the above passage has been re-written extensively -- in order to make my argument
even clearer -- since
this comment was posted at the aforementioned site. Despite this, readers are
encouraged to visit
this site and see for themselves to what extent MLT is a
'stranger to the truth'. I have left the original in so I can't be accused of
So, I hope readers spotted my "This is silly, hah hah hah", and my "Yeah, I mean, physics is kind of funny sometimes!" in there somewhere.
Furthermore, in the thread in question, I responded to FW's supposedly 'mathematical arguments' (which response MLT ignored); here is part of it. First of all I quote Engels:
"As soon as we consider things in their motion, their change, their life, their reciprocal influence…[t]hen we immediately become involved in contradictions. Motion itself is a contradiction; even simple mechanical change of place can only come about through a body being both in one place and in another place at one and the same moment of time, being in one and the same place and also not in it. And the continual assertion and simultaneous solution of this contradiction is precisely what motion is." [Engels (1976), p.152. Bold emphasis added.]
I did this as part of my reply to the passage MLT quoted:
"When a body is in motion its velocity is not zero and therefore...v = dx/dt =/= 0
discussing are fundamental facts of physics which you have to understand prior
to attempting to understand philosophical theories involving them....
"During motion, the position of a body in physical terms is defined by x and yet it is not defined by x but is defined by dx. When in motion a body is at one point x and yet it is at two points whose difference is dx. The same applies to time -- you can define the body in motion at time t and yet there is a difference of two times, dt, which also characterizes temporally a body in motion. These are obviously contradictory conditions of motion, coexisting. Motion is a constant resolution of these contradictions. This is what physics says...."
I then pointed out the following:
[Engels] is quite clear: a body is "both in one place and in another place at
one and the same moment of time, being in one and the same place and also not in
it", that is, it moves with no time having lapsed.
If he had meant this:
E1: For some b, for two instants t(1) and t(2), b is at p at t(1) and not at p at t(2), and b is at q at t(2).
where t(1) and t(2) both belong to some time interval T (such that dt =/= 0), there would be no contradiction. His [Engels's] 'contradiction' depends on the time difference between t(1) and t(2) being zero.
Which is why he [Engels] argued elsewhere as follows:
"How are these forms of calculus used? In a given problem, for example, I have two variables, x and y, neither of which can vary without the other also varying in a ratio determined by the facts of the case. I differentiate x and y, i.e., I take x and y as so infinitely small that in comparison with any real quantity, however small, they disappear, that nothing is left of x and y but their reciprocal relation without any, so to speak, material basis, a quantitative ratio in which there is no quantity. Therefore, dy/dx, the ratio between the differentials of x and y, is dx equal to 0/0 but 0/0 taken as the expression of y/x. I only mention in passing that this ratio between two quantities which have disappeared, caught at the moment of their disappearance, is a contradiction; however, it cannot disturb us any more than it has disturbed the whole of mathematics for almost two hundred years. And now, what have I done but negate x and y, though not in such a way that I need not bother about them any more, not in the way that metaphysics negates, but in the way that corresponds with the facts of the case? In place of x and y, therefore, I have their negation, dx and dy, in the formulas or equations before me. I continue then to operate with these formulas, treating dx and dy as quantities which are real, though subject to certain exceptional laws, and at a certain point I negate the negation, i.e., I integrate the differential formula, and in place of dx and dy again get the real quantities x and y, and am then not where I was at the beginning, but by using this method I have solved the problem on which ordinary geometry and algebra might perhaps have broken their jaws in vain." [Engels (1976), p.175. Bold emphasis added.]
As he [Engels]
notes, it is the alleged "disappearance" of these 'quantities' (when they equal
zero, when dy/dx or dx/dt = 0) that creates/constitutes the 'contradiction'.
And why he asserted:
mechanical change of place can only come about through a body being both in one
place and in another place at one and the same moment of time,
being in one and the same
place and also not in it." [Bold added.]
him, a moving body is in one place and not in it at the same time. In other
words it has moved while time
Much of the rest of the discussion in the thread in question revolved around this point, and how FW's interpretation of this part of DM differed from Engels's view of his own theory, and of the Calculus. Now, there might be some readers who still agree with FW (but, it isn't too clear how they could possibly do that if they want to defend Engels), but how many who have read the above will think my words can be summarised as follows: "This is silly, hah hah hah", or by "Yeah, I mean, physics is kind of funny sometimes!"?
And yet, MLT seems to be able to see words like this in there. Which suggests he either didn't read my response to FW, or he prefers to tell lies -- or both.
I also go on to point out (to FW) that his ideas are based on an obsolete 18th century view of the calculus -- a point I don't expect MLT to be able to grasp, since he, unlike me, hasn't got a degree in mathematics. Again, I add this comment not to brag, or to 'pull rank', but merely to note that the only reason MLT is impressed with FW's argument is that he knows rather too little mathematics (and seems not to have read Engels too carefully, either!) -- as if dx/dt is a division! [Which is how MLT depicts this symbol in the video.] It was a division for 18th century mathematicians, but no one since Riemann or Weierstrass has argued this way (except perhaps the ignorant).
Moreover, the points FW makes are mathematical, not physical. It isn't possible to conduct an experiment (or imagine one that could be conducted -- even in an ideal world, and the experimenter were possessed of 'god'-like powers of perception) to test and thus verify what he (or Engels, or Hegel) had to say about motion; so it can't be Physics, can it?
In fact, if anything is "'purely theoretical' and thus has 'no connection to reality'", this argument of FW's is!
How come MLT failed to spot this?
[The rest of my response to TFB/MLT can be found here.]
There are countless other examples I could quote; but it is quite clear how arrogant, patronising and dissembling TFB was in his first video (and he continued in the same vein in the second one, too), So, I needed to deflate his arrogance, and to show him he wasn't dealing with a novice, but with someone who knew an awful lot more than he did (again, not to brag, but simply to slap him down).
(3) Finally, he claims he never tried to suggest he was an expert, but the above arrogant and patronising comments (coupled with his peremptory attempts to put me in my place) tell a different story. He now says this:
In my last video, which this is a response to by the way, I said that "Oh, I should probably get to..., to get back to reading more Hegel because I haven't read enough." So, does that sound like I'm pretending to be an authority, like I'm some..., somehow infallible? [Garbled noise.] I'm like "You know this is my understanding. I'm not really sure because I haven't read enough, and I should get back to reading more." You know, sounds like I'm really trying to pretend I'm sort of infallible authority. [Loc cit.]
Again, as I have pointed out several times, long experience debating with Dialectical Mystics has taught me that they lie, invent and dissemble -- which is why I have spent countless hours posting a word-for-word transcript of these two videos -- partly so that I could catch this fabulist out. And, lo-and-behold, it seems I have: transcripts of the first video can be found here, here and here. Readers should do a search on each page -- they will find nothing even remotely resembling this from TFB: "Oh, I should probably...get back to reading more Hegel because I haven't read enough." Or, this: I'm not really sure because I haven't read enough, and I should get back to reading more."
[Of course, it is always possible I might have missed something, so if anyone can find those words in that first video, e-mail me with the details and I will withdraw the above allegation, apologise and correct the transcript.]
Until then, these two videos stand as exhibits A and B testifying to the truth of this earlier allegation of mine:
"Well, at least I don't post ill-informed and largely incoherent videos on YouTube pretending to be some sort of authority on this failed 'theory'."
And, yes, I am still serious.
More to follow...
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