A Rather Weak 'Attempt' To Defend The Indefensible

 

If you are using Internet Explorer 10, you might find some of the links I have inserted won't work properly unless you switch to 'Compatibility View' (in the Tools Menu). That appears to fix the problem.

 

If your Firewall/Browser has a pop-up blocker, you will need to press the "Ctrl" key at the same time or these links won't work, anyway!

 

I have adjusted the font size used at this site to ensure that even those with impaired vision can read what I have to say. However, if the text is still either too big or too small for you, please adjust your browser settings!

 

Summary Of My Main Objections To Dialectical Materialism

 

~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~

 

At RevLeft, a character called 'Vogelman' has posted a rather weak attempt to defend Engels's so-called 'Laws' of dialectics:

 

In this part Rosa Liechtenstein (sic) claims that the laws of dialectics are imposed on nature and that most of evidence (sic) for these laws are (sic) over used "clichés". She reproduces one of these often used examples of water boiling by presenting us a quote from the book "Reason in Revolt" by Ted Grant and Alan Woods. (Which is a rather incorrect description of boiling actually).

 

The passage to which the above was a reply in fact came from an Introductory Essay (link above) that I wrote a few years ago (which was only published on the Internet because several comrades found my main Essays either too long or too difficult), to which I added the following warning at the beginning:

 

Please note that this Essay deals with very basic issues, even at the risk of over-simplification.

 

It has only been ventured upon because a handful of comrades (who were not well-versed in Philosophy) wanted a very simple guide to my principle arguments against DM.

 

In that case, it is not aimed at experts!

 

Anyone who objects to the apparently superficial nature of the material below must take these caveats into account or navigate away from this page. It is not intended for them.

 

It is worth underlining this last point since I still encounter comrades on internet discussion boards who, despite the above warning, still think this Essay is a definitive statement of my ideas.

 

[DM = Dialectical Materialism.]

 

I even posted the following at RevLeft, at the beginning of the essay in question:

 

Comrades need to make note of the fact that this was written in response to a request from RevLefters who were not well-versed in philosophy, but who wanted to read a summary of my main objections, so it is aimed at novices, not experts. Hence, it greatly simplifies the issues. Critics have pointed this out, but when I go on at greater length, and in more detail, they then moan about the length of my replies!
 

Vogelman completely ignored the warning that my arguments had been deliberately simplified, which is partly why Woods and Grant were quoted. [The other reason these two were referenced is that several comrades at RevLeft thought highly of their book, so it was important to challenge their arguments.]

 

Anyway, Vogelman begins with the following observation:

 

She then states that in most cases there aren't even nodal points and gives some examples (Melting: Metal, rock, butter and plastic) which she claims are simply ignored by people who adhere dialectics. Well, let's see if there are any nodal points to find here.

First of all let us look at what a solid is. At a molecular level a solid is characterised by molecules that are bonded together by inter or intra molecular forces which causes the molecules to be very static compared to molecules in the gas or water phase. The only motion these molecules are able to make are oscillations. Because of the different kind of forces between the molecules and because of the different ways they can be orientated, there are different classes of solids: metals, various kinds of crystals, glasses,.... All these classes have there own distinct qualities and quantities.

 

In fact, I have covered these rather obvious objections in several places at my site (for example, here, here, but mainly here).

 

The first point that needs making once again is that the vast majority of DM-fans invariably forget to tell us what a 'quality' is. Indeed, I even pointed this out in the Essay in question at RevLeft:

 

Moreover, this 'Law' only appears to work because of the vague way that "quantity", "quality" and "node" (or even "leap") have been defined by DM-theorists -- that is, if they ever bother to do so. Indeed, after 25 years of searching, I have been able to find only three DM-texts (out of the scores I have studied) that attempt even superficially to do this: Kuusinen (1961), Yurkovets (1984), and Gollobin (1986)! [Once more, their arguments have been taken apart in Essay Seven.] And, in nearly 200 years (if we include Hegel here), not one single DM-theorist has even thought to tell us how long a "node" is supposed to last!

 

Well, does Vogelman even attempt to tell us what a 'quality' is or how long a 'node' lasts?

 

True to form, he does not.

 

Now, this prime example of Mickey Mouse Science 'allows' dialecticians like Vogelman to see 'qualitative changes' whenever and wherever they like, just as it also 'allows' them to dismiss counter-examples that do not fit their vague, subjective and imprecise 'law' whenever it suits them, too.

 

Second, while it is certainly true that there are many rapid changes in 'quality' in nature (where did I deny it?), it is also true that there are equally many, if not more, which aren't. For example, metals change slowly from liquid to solid when heated, as I have also argued elsewhere:

 

But is it true that "each metal has a unique quantitative threshold at which melting begins"? Sure, each metal has a defined melting point at which juncture it will have melted, but despite this, at lower temperatures that metal will soften, and that softening is gradual. Human beings have known this for thousands of years -- this is what makes metals malleable, and formable. So, the "qualitative" transition of metals from solid to liquid is slow, not rapid. At the melting point, the transition ends, but the lead up to it is slow. The qualitative change (solid-to-liquid) here is typically non-'nodal'. The same is true of the other examples I gave. Who does not know that glass and plastic melt slowly?

 

Now, if Vogelman wants to redefine "quality" and "node" so that this 'law' now applies to clearly defined thermodynamic phase changes, fine, but even then he will find that, in the examples mentioned, the 'qualitative' changes (from solid to liquid, hard to soft) will still take place slowly, and non-'nodally'.

 

[There are scores of videos on YouTube that show metal and glass melting slowly for anyone who doubts this -- for example, here, here and here. This, of course, allows metals to be forged. It is also worth reminding ourselves that one of the reasons why the Twin Towers belonging to the Trade Centre in New York collapsed in 2001 was that the intense fire softened the supporting steel columns so that they lost their capacity to hold the buildings up. Sure, the collapse was relatively sudden, but the softening wasn't -- the South Tower took 56 minutes to collapse after being hit, the North Tower 102 minutes.]

 

Of course, this is quite apart from the fact that Hegel and Engels didn't mention these 'new definitions', which means, naturally, that they read this 'law' into nature -- not from nature, contrary to what Engels told us he never does.

 

How is that any different from imposing these 'laws' on the world, as I alleged?

 

Add to that the following points I made in Essay Seven Part One (which Vogelman also failed to consult):

 

As we will see, the nature of these "nodal points" is left entirely obscure by dialecticians. Until they clarify what they mean by this word, not even they will know whether the claims made in the main body of this Essay are inaccurate, or not.

 

To be sure, the picture nature presents us with in this regard is highly complex, which is one of the reasons why Engels's 'Laws' cannot possibly capture its complexity, regardless of the other serious flaws they exhibit.

 

It is worth emphasising at this point that the nature of state of matter transitions is not being questioned, just whether all of them are sudden.

 

Consequently, either the 'nodal' aspect of the first 'Law' is defective, or it only works in some cases, not others -- in which case, it cannot be a law.

 

In fact, Physicists tell us that what they call "second-order" Phase Transitions can proceed smoothly. As one online source says:

 

"Second-order phase transitions, on the other hand, proceed smoothly. The old phase transforms itself into the new phase in a continuous manner."

 

[See also Note 9 (in Essay Seven, parts of which have been included here) -- where we will find that "first order" phase changes are not straight-forward, either.]

 

Moreover, under certain conditions it is possible to by-pass phase transformations altogether.

 

Furthermore, it is important to distinguish here between states of matter, and phases:

 

"Phases are sometimes confused with states of matter, but there are significant differences. States of matter refers to the differences between gases, liquids, solids, etc. If there are two regions in a chemical system that are in different states of matter, then they must be different phases. However, the reverse is not true -- a system can have multiple phases which are in equilibrium with each other and also in the same state of matter. For example, diamond and graphite are both solids but they are different phases, even though their composition may be identical. A system with oil and water at room temperature will be two different phases of differing composition, but both will be the liquid state of matter." [Wikipedia.]

 

On another page we find the following:

 

"States of matter are sometimes confused with phases. This is likely due to the fact that in many example systems, the familiar phase transitions are also transformations of the state of matter. In the example of water, the phases of ice, liquid water, and water vapour are commonly recognized. The common phase transitions observed in a one component system containing only water are melting/solidification (liquid/solid), evaporation/condensation (liquid/gas) and sublimation/deposition (solid/gas).

 

"Transitions between different states of matter of the same chemical component are necessarily a phase transformation, but not all phase transformations involve a change in the state of matter. For example, there are 14 different forms of ice, all of which are the solid state of matter. When one form of ice transforms into another, the crystal structure, density, and a number of physical properties change, but it remains a solid." [Wikipedia. Bold emphasis added.]

 

So, here we have a 'qualitative' change that isn't in fact a 'qualitative' change, depending on how one defines "quality"!

 

But, as this Wikipedia article goes on to point out:

 

"In general, two different states of a system are in different phases if there is an abrupt change in their physical properties while transforming from one state to the other. Conversely, two states are in the same phase if they can be transformed into one another without any abrupt changes." [Wikipedia. Bold emphasis added.]

 

So, even here, some "qualitative" changes are non-'nodal'.

 

And the situation is even more complicated still:

 

"In the diagram, the phase boundary between liquid and gas does not continue indefinitely. Instead, it terminates at a point on the phase diagram called the critical point. At temperatures and pressure above the critical point, the physical property differences that differentiate the liquid phase from the gas phase become less defined. This reflects the fact that, at extremely high temperatures and pressures, the liquid and gaseous phases become indistinguishable. In water, the critical point occurs at around 647°K (374°C or 705°F) and 22.064 MPa." [Wikipedia. Bold emphasis added.]

 

"In physical chemistry, thermodynamics, chemistry and condensed matter physics, a critical point, also called a critical state, specifies the conditions (temperature, pressure) at which the liquid state of the matter ceases to exist. As a liquid is heated, its density decreases while the pressure and density of the vapour being formed increases. The liquid and vapour densities become closer and closer to each other until the critical temperature is reached where the two densities are equal and the liquid-gas line or phase boundary disappears. Additionally, as the equilibrium between liquid and gas approaches the critical point, heat of vaporization approaches zero, becoming zero at and beyond the critical point. More generally, the critical point is the point of termination of a phase equilibrium curve, which separates two distinct phases. At this point, the phases are no longer distinguishable." [Wikipedia. Bold emphasis added. Spelling changed to conform to UK English.]

 

This can only mean that qualitative differences between the liquid and gaseous phases of water are energy-neutral beyond this "critical point", contradicting Engels.

 

And, here is what a standard Physical Chemistry text had to say:

 

"[W]e must distinguish the thermodynamic description of a phase transition and the rate at which the transition occurs. A transition that is predicted from thermodynamics to be spontaneous may occur too slowly to be significant in practice. For instance, at normal temperatures and pressures the molar Gibbs energy of graphite is lower than that of diamond, so there is a thermodynamic tendency for diamond to change into graphite. However, for this transformation to take place, the C[arbon] atoms must change their locations, which is an immeasurably slow process in a solid except at high temperatures." [Atkins and de Paula (2006), p.118. Bold emphases added.]

 

In that case, nature (i.e., the real material world, not the Ideal world that Hegel and Engels dreamt up) is far more complex than this Mickey Mouse 'Law' would have us believe.

 

Once more, not every change is 'nodal'.

 

Indeed, scientists in the USA recently reported that they had discovered a new state of matter, which, while being solid, appears to behave like a liquid (hence, here we would have a change of 'quality' with no change in 'quantity'):

 

"In the 15 January 2004 issue of the journal Nature, two physicists from Penn State University will announce their discovery of a new phase of matter, a 'supersolid' form of helium-4 with the extraordinary frictionless-flow properties of a superfluid. 'We discovered that solid helium-4 appears to behave like a superfluid when it is so cold that the laws of quantum mechanics govern its behaviour,' says Moses H. W. Chan, Evan Pugh Professor of Physics at Penn State. 'We apparently have observed, for the first time, a solid material with the characteristics of a superfluid.'

 

"'The possible discovery of a new phase of matter, a supersolid, is exciting and, if confirmed, would be a significant advance,' comments John Beamish, professor of physics at the University of Alberta and the author of a review of Chan's discovery published in the 'News and Views' section of Nature. 'If the behaviour is confirmed, there are enough questions to be answered about the nature and properties of supersolid helium to keep both experimentalists and theorists busy for a long time.'...

 

"'Something very unusual occurred when the temperature dropped to one-tenth of a degree above absolute zero,' Chan says. 'The oscillation rate suddenly became slightly more rapid, as if some of the helium had disappeared.' However, Chan and Kim were able to confirm that the helium atoms had not leaked out of the experimental capsule because its rate of oscillation returned to normal after they warmed the capsule above one-tenth of a degree above absolute zero. So they concluded that the solid helium-4 probably had acquired the properties of a superfluid when the conditions were more extreme....

 

"If Chan's experiment is replicated, it would confirm that all three states of matter can enter into the 'super' state, known as a Bose-Einstein condensation, in which all the particles have condensed into the same quantum-mechanical state. The existence of superfluid and 'supervapor' had previously been proven, but theorists had continued to debate about whether a supersolid was even possible. 'One of the most intriguing predictions of the theory of quantum mechanics is the possibility of superfluid behaviour in a solid-phase material, and now we may have observed this behaviour for the first time,' Chan says." [Science Daily, 15/01/2004. Quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted here; spelling changed to conform to UK English.]

 

Sure, the above change is sudden (again, whoever denied that some changes were?), but while that particular aspect of the first 'Law' has been partially confirmed in this case, the main part (where Engels said it was impossible to alter the 'quality' of an object/process without the addition or subtraction of matter or energy) has been refuted by the discovery of such superfluids/supervapors, and now by these supersolids: and that is because the substance in question remained Helium either side of the change.

 

Even so, it is entirely unclear whether the term "quality" -- as it is used by dialecticians -- means the same as "state of matter" or "phase". Either way, the substance involved, whether it is in a different phase or state, remains the same substance. So, in that sense, if "quality" is defined in terms of the nature of substances (as was the case with Hegel and Aristotle -- on that, see here and below), it is clear that phase/state of matter changes cannot count as qualitative changes of the right sort, since these substances remain the same throughout.

 

Hence, howsoever slowly or quickly iron melts or solidifies, for example, it still remains iron.

 

Now, has a single DM-fan ever given any thought to this?

 

Are you serious?

 

[Recall, this is Mickey-Mouse Science we are dealing with here!]

 

What about the following?

 

Now let us return to water, this time in its solid form: ice. When we heat up ice the molecules in the crystal structure gain more energy and begin to oscillate more and more. At a certain point the heat added gives the individual water molecules enough energy to overcome the bonds between themselves and the other molecules (In this case hydrogen bonds) so they can now move freely around (or more scientifically: translate), in other words the solid became a liquid. Everyone knows that relatively pure water melts at 0°C. Before this temperature we don't see any change, ice doesn't become more and more liquid, on the contrary it changes immediately.

 

But, I nowhere deny this.

 

My point isn't that there are no 'nodal' changes in nature (that is, if we are ever told how long a 'node' is supposed to last -- no good asking Vogelman!), only that not every 'qualitative' change in nature is 'nodal'.

 

Now, in relation to water, what I have said is that there is no change of 'quality' in the Hegelian/Aristotelian sense of the word (used by Engels). Once again, here is how I tackled this topic in Essay Seven Part One:

 

Qualities, as characterised by dialecticians -- or, rather, by those that bother to say what they mean by this word -- are those properties of bodies/processes that make them what they are, alteration to which will change that body/process into something else:

 

"Each of the three spheres of the logical idea proves to be a systematic whole of thought-terms, and a phase of the Absolute. This is the case with Being, containing the three grades of quality, quantity and measure.

 

"Quality is, in the first place, the character identical with being: so identical that a thing ceases to be what it is, if it loses its quality. Quantity, on the contrary, is the character external to being, and does not affect the being at all. Thus, e.g. a house remains what it is, whether it be greater or smaller; and red remains red, whether it be brighter or darker." [Hegel (1975), p.124, §85.]

 

As the Glossary at the Marx Internet Archive notes:

 

"Quality is an aspect of something by which it is what it is and not something else and reflects that which is stable amidst variation. Quantity is an aspect of something which may change (become more or less) without the thing thereby becoming something else.

 

"Thus, if something changes to an extent that it is no longer the same kind of thing, this is a 'qualitative change', whereas a change in something by which it still the same thing, though more or less, bigger or smaller, is a 'quantitative change'.

 

"In Hegel's Logic, Quality is the first division of Being, when the world is just one thing after another, so to speak, while Quantity is the second division, where perception has progressed to the point of recognising what is stable within the ups and downs of things. The third and final stage, Measure, the unity of quality and quantity, denotes the knowledge of just when quantitative change becomes qualitative change." [Quoted from here. Accessed August 2007. The definition has been altered slightly since.]

 

This is an Aristotelian notion.

 

Cornforth also gamely tries to tell us what a 'dialectical quality' is:

 

"For instance, if a piece of iron is painted black and instead we paint it red, that is merely an external alteration..., but it is not a qualitative change in the sense we are here defining. On the other hand, if the iron is heated to melting point, then this is such a qualitative change. And it comes about precisely as a change in the attraction-repulsion relationship characteristic of the internal molecular state of the metal. The metal passes from the solid to liquid state, its internal character and laws of motion become different in certain ways, it undergoes a qualitative change." [Cornforth (1976), p.99.]

 

And yet, as we have seen, no new substance emerges as a result; liquid iron, gold and aluminium are still iron, gold, and aluminium.

 

Kuusinen's book is one of the few other DM-texts that seems to make any note of this difficulty:

 

"The totality of essential features that make a particular thing or phenomenon what it is and distinguishes it from others, is called its quality.... It is...[a] concept that denotes the inseparable distinguishing features, the inner structure, constituting the definiteness of a phenomenon and without which it cease to be what it is." [Kuusinen (1961), pp.83-84. Italic emphasis in the original.]

 

And yet, if we use this notion of 'quality', the boiling and/or freezing of water can't be an example of 'qualitative' change, since, either side of the phase change, the substance in question is still H2O, just as Iron, as a solid or a liquid is still Iron. Once more, it is only because dialecticians like Vogelman are operating with a loose and ill-defined notion of "quality" that they think they can claim otherwise.

 

Here is what I added on this in Essay Seven Part One:

 

The boiling water example is one of the most overworked clichés in the dialectical box of tricks. Hardly a single DM-fan fails to mention it, so mantra-like has dialectics become.

 

However, it is worth noting that as water is heated up, steam increasingly leaves the surface in a non-'nodal' fashion. So, even here we have a smooth transition from liquid to gas; indeed, if a pan of water is kept at 99oC for long enough, all of the water will slowly disappear as steam. Hence, this example illustrates a well-known fact: many, if not most processes in nature run smoothly, and are non-'nodal'.

 

At 100oC, events accelerate dramatically; but even then they do so non-'nodally'. A few tenths of a degree below the critical point, depending on the purity of the water, ambient conditions and how it is being heated, bubbles begin to form in the liquid more rapidly. This accelerates increasingly quickly as that temperature is reached. What we see, therefore, is a non-'nodal' change of phase/state of matter, even here. The phase or state of matter change here is not sudden -- like the snapping of a rubber band, or of glass breaking. We do not see no bubbles, and then a micro second later a frothing mass, which we would do if this were 'nodal'.

 

Of course, dialecticians could concede the truth of the above observation -- that before water reaches 100oC water molecules leave the surface all the time --, but they might argue that this is not non-nodal. Thus, when a water molecule changes from its liquid to its gaseous state certain chemical bonds are broken, and that happens suddenly, and nodally.

 

Once more, this depends on how a "nodal point" is defined.

 

As we saw earlier, since the time interval allowed for a dialectical 'node' to be described as such is left hopelessly vague, dialecticians might want to challenge the above assertions. But, they can only do so if they are prepared to specify the length of a DM-'nodal' interval. Otherwise, my opinion here is as good as theirs -- which is why I earlier labelled this 'Law' subjective in the extreme. Is there a DM-standards authority to which we can appeal? Genuine scientists use this system; that is why their results can be checked. Are there any standards at all in this branch of Mickey-Mouse Science?

 

The answer is pretty clear: no, there are none.

 

On the other hand, if dialecticians take the trouble to re-define the word "node" just to accommodate these awkward non-dialectical facts (we noted earlier that in certain circumstances this is sometimes called a "persuasive definition"), it would become increasingly difficult to distinguish DM from stipulative conventionalism....

 

To this end, DM-theorists could specify a minimum time interval during which a phase or state of matter transition must take place for it to be counted as 'nodal'. In the case of boiling water, say, they could decide that if the transition from water to steam (or vice versa) takes place in an interval lasting less than or equal to k seconds/minutes (for some k), then it is indeed 'nodal'. Thus, by dint of just such a stipulation, their 'Law' could be made to work (at least in this respect). But, there is nothing in nature that forces any of this on us -- the reverse is, if anything, the case. Phase/state of matter changes, and changes in general take different amounts of time; moreover, under differing circumstances even these will alter, too. If so, as noted above, this 'Law' would become 'valid' only because of yet another stipulation or imposition, which would make it eminently 'subjective'.

 

However, given the strife-riven and sectarian nature of dialectical politics, any attempt to define DM-"nodes" could lead to yet more factions. Thus, we are sure to see emerge the rightist "Nanosecond Tendency" -- sworn enemies of the "Picosecond Left Opposition" -- who will both take up swords with the 'eclectic' wing: the "it depends on the circumstances" 'clique' at the 'centrist' "Femtosecond League".

 

However, if such phase/state-of-matter changes are defined thermodynamically, then many are undeniably abrupt. But, even this is not as clear-cut as it might seem:

 

"The first-order phase transitions are those that involve a latent heat. During such a transition, a system either absorbs or releases a fixed (and typically large) amount of energy. Because energy cannot be instantaneously transferred between the system and its environment, first-order transitions are associated with 'mixed-phase regimes' in which some parts of the system have completed the transition and others have not. This phenomenon is familiar to anyone who has boiled a pot of water: the water does not instantly turn into gas, but forms a turbulent mixture of water and water vapour bubbles. Mixed-phase systems are difficult to study, because their dynamics are violent and hard to control. However, many important phase transitions fall in this category, including the solid/liquid/gas transitions and Bose-Einstein condensation.

 

"The second class of phase transitions are the 'continuous phase transitions', also called second-order phase transitions. These have no associated latent heat. Examples of second-order phase transitions are the ferromagnetic transition and the superfluid transition.

 

"Several transitions are known as the infinite-order phase transitions. They are continuous but break no symmetries.... The most famous example is the Kosterlitz-Thouless transition in the two-dimensional XY model. Many quantum phase transitions in two-dimensional electron gases belong to this class." [Wikipedia. Bold emphases added.]

 

Which is, of course, just another way of making the same point that was made earlier: not all changes are unambiguously 'nodal' (that is, once more, if we are ever told how long one of these 'nodes' is supposed to last).

 

 Vogelman continues:

 

This is the case for any more or less pure substance. It happens so sudden at a given temperature which is specific for every material, in the past the determination of the melting temperature was often used to identify a compound. (Today more easy and accurate methods are used.) If the substance is diluted this melting point can lower or even not happen at all, we will than find an interval (mostly a couple of degrees) at which the substance melts. This is because of the fact that the different compounds in the substance start to at a different temperature instantly (sic). Therefore this method is often used to see how pure a certain substance is.

 

I have already dealt with much of this above, but the concessions Vogelman makes simply underline the point that nature is far too complex to be squeezed into a dialectical boot it won't fit. This shouldn't surprise us; science has progressed a long way since Hegel dreamt this 'Law' up (which he based on very little evidence at all, just a few trite anecdotes), and a long way, too, since Engels unwisely attempted to copy him and impose it on nature, in like manner.

 

What about these claims, though?

 

Now let's continue and take a look at the examples that were given by Rosa. Let us start with metal. For some reason Rosa claims that metals don't melt like ice does, that it becomes gradually a liquid. First of all this shows she has little knowledge of science and confuses different phenomena.

Melting a metal is quite the same as melting ice, at a certain temperature the metal ions gains (sic) enough energy to escape from the crystal structure. What she probably confuses with the process of melting is the fact that metals can be bend (sic) and manipulated more easily at higher temperatures. The fact that metals are easier to deform at higher temperatures is a direct consequence of the nature of the metal bonding. In a metal the individual atom has released some of its outer shell electrons. These positive charged atoms are called ions and are organised in a crystal structure, around these ions the electrons they gave away move freely. One of the effects is that this kind of bond is extremely durable, but also can be bended because the space and orientation of the metal ions can change without breaking the bond.

 

If we heat up the metal the bonds become less strong and so we are able to change the place the ions more simply. However, this doesn't make the metal a liquid. The ions are still firmly on their place and if we don't exert any force will stay there.

 

Again I have covered much of this above. However, is Vogelman trying to deny that when heated, metals soften gradually and slowly turn into a liquid (i.e., flow readily)? If he is, then this more accurately applies to him:

 

[he] has little knowledge of science and confuses different phenomena.

 

If not, then he agrees with me: the actual melting of metals is slow and non-'nodal'.

 

Once more, Vogelman's argument only 'seems' to work since he steadfastly refuses to tell us a what he means by "quality", despite the fact that the Essay he is criticising challenged dialecticians to come clean on this.

 

But, there is more:

 

Now lets look at glass. Glasses are class of solid on there own, they're characterised by an amorphous structure. (They aren't arranged in a crystal structure.) Rosa confused in this case the same phenomena. This time the flexibility of the product to bending at higher temperatures is a consequence of the structure and not the type of bonding. A crystal would mostly brake if we tried to bend it, even at higher temperatures. The fact it is amorphous makes it possible for the molecules in the solid to change place when bend without necessarily breaking the bond. It's kind of analogue to the metal.

 

Once again, I covered this in detail in Essay Seven Part One:

 

A few years back, a comrade raised several legitimate points about glass, claiming (at first) that it is a liquid, not a solid. In which case, what I have asserted in the main body of this Essay (that the phase transition is slow, not rapid) cannot be correct. Or, so he thought.

 

However, scientists are not quite to sure. Here is what one online source says:

 

"It is sometimes said that glass in very old churches is thicker at the bottom than at the top because glass is a liquid, and so over several centuries it has flowed towards the bottom. This is not true. In Mediaeval times panes of glass were often made by the Crown glass process. A lump of molten glass was rolled, blown, expanded, flattened and finally spun into a disc before being cut into panes. The sheets were thicker towards the edge of the disc and were usually installed with the heavier side at the bottom. Other techniques of forming glass panes have been used but it is only the relatively recent float glass processes which have produced good quality flat sheets of glass.

 

"To answer the question "Is glass liquid or solid?" we have to understand its thermodynamic and material properties."

 

[The author of this article then went into considerable detail, which I won't quote.]

 

"There is no clear answer to the question "Is glass solid or liquid?". In terms of molecular dynamics and thermodynamics it is possible to justify various different views that it is a highly viscous liquid, an amorphous solid, or simply that glass is another state of matter which is neither liquid nor solid. The difference is semantic. In terms of its material properties we can do little better. There is no clear definition of the distinction between solids and highly viscous liquids. All such phases or states of matter are idealisations of real material properties. Nevertheless, from a more common sense point of view, glass should be considered a solid since it is rigid according to everyday experience. The use of the term 'supercooled liquid' to describe glass still persists, but is considered by many to be an unfortunate misnomer that should be avoided. In any case, claims that glass panes in old windows have deformed due to glass flow have never been substantiated. Examples of Roman glassware and calculations based on measurements of glass visco-properties indicate that these claims cannot be true. The observed features are more easily explained as a result of the imperfect methods used to make glass window panes before the float glass process was invented." [Quoted from here. Accessed 10/11/08. Bold emphasis added. Quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted here.]

 

In that case, according to the criteria we ordinarily apply to other substances, glass is a solid, and when heated it loses its solid properties gradually, and non-'nodally'.

 

This is confirmed by the Wikipedia article on Glass:

 

"Glass in the common sense refers to a hard, brittle, transparent amorphous solid, such as that used for windows, many bottles, or eyewear, including, but not limited to, soda-lime glass, borosilicate glass, acrylic glass, sugar glass, isinglass (Muscovy-glass), or aluminium oxynitride....

 

"In the scientific sense the term glass is often extended to all amorphous solids (and melts that easily form amorphous solids), including plastics, resins, or other silica-free amorphous solids....

 

"Glass is generally classed as an amorphous solid rather than a liquid. Glass displays all the mechanical properties of a solid. The notion that glass flows to an appreciable extent over extended periods of time is not supported by empirical research or theoretical analysis. From a more commonsense point of view, glass should be considered a solid since it is rigid according to everyday experience." [Quoted from here. Accessed 10/11/08.]

 

See also this New York Times article:

 

"'It surprises most people that we still don't understand this,' said David R. Reichman, a professor of chemistry at Columbia, who takes yet another approach to the glass problem. 'We don't understand why glass should be a solid and how it forms.'...

 

"Scientists are slowly accumulating more clues. A few years ago, experiments and computer simulations revealed something unexpected: as molten glass cools, the molecules do not slow down uniformly. Some areas jam rigid first while in other regions the molecules continue to skitter around in a liquid-like fashion. More strangely, the fast-moving regions look no different from the slow-moving ones....

 

"For scientists, glass is not just the glass of windows and jars, made of silica, sodium carbonate and calcium oxide. Rather, a glass is any solid in which the molecules are jumbled randomly. Many plastics like polycarbonate are glasses, as are many ceramics....

 

"In freezing to a conventional solid, a liquid undergoes a so-called phase transition; the molecules line up next to and on top of one another in a simple, neat crystal pattern. When a liquid solidifies into a glass, this organized stacking is nowhere to be found. Instead, the molecules just move slower and slower and slower, until they are effectively not moving at all, trapped in a strange state between liquid and solid.

 

"The glass transition differs from a usual phase transition in several other key ways. Energy, what is called latent heat, is released when water molecules line up into ice. There is no latent heat in the formation of glass.

 

"The glass transition does not occur at a single, well-defined temperature; the slower the cooling, the lower the transition temperature. Even the definition of glass is arbitrary -- basically a rate of flow so slow that it is too boring and time-consuming to watch. The final structure of the glass also depends on how slowly it has been cooled." [New York Times, 29/07/08. Accessed 10/11/08. Quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted here.]

 

Notice the following:

 

"Scientists are slowly accumulating more clues. A few years ago, experiments and computer simulations revealed something unexpected: as molten glass cools, the molecules do not slow down uniformly. Some areas jam rigid first while in other regions the molecules continue to skitter around in a liquid-like fashion. More strangely, the fast-moving regions look no different from the slow-moving ones....

 

"In freezing to a conventional solid, a liquid undergoes a so-called phase transition; the molecules line up next to and on top of one another in a simple, neat crystal pattern. When a liquid solidifies into a glass, this organized stacking is nowhere to be found. Instead, the molecules just move slower and slower and slower, until they are effectively not moving at all, trapped in a strange state between liquid and solid.

 

"The glass transition differs from a usual phase transition in several other key ways. Energy, what is called latent heat, is released when water molecules line up into ice. There is no latent heat in the formation of glass.

 

"The glass transition does not occur at a single, well-defined temperature; the slower the cooling, the lower the transition temperature. Even the definition of glass is arbitrary -- basically a rate of flow so slow that it is too boring and time-consuming to watch. The final structure of the glass also depends on how slowly it has been cooled." [Ibid. Bold emphases added.]

 

So, and once more, we have here a non-'nodal' change in 'quality'.

 

See also here, from where we find the following (however, I have not yet been able to check these quotations):

 

"Glass is an amorphous solid. A material is amorphous when it has no long-range order, that is, when there is no regularity in the arrangement of its molecular constituents on a scale larger than a few times the size of these groups. [...] A solid is a rigid material; it does not flow when it is subjected to moderate forces [...]." [Doremus (1994), p.1.]

 

"Glass includes all materials which are structurally similar to a liquid. However, under ambient temperature they react to the impact of force with elastic deformation and therefore have to be considered as solids." [Pfaender (1996), p.17.]

 

"Amorphous substances, like crystalline solids, are usually characterized by certain areas of short-range order [...] A long-range order, as in crystals, does not exist in amorphous substances. The designations 'amorphous' and 'noncrystalline' describe the same fact [...].

 

"Glasses are noncrystalline or amorphous substances. Nevertheless, the term vitreous state is restricted to (i) solids obtained from melts, or (ii) solids produced by other methods and obtained in a compact form or as thin coherent films [...].

 

"Glasses have numerous properties in common with crystalline solids, such as hardness and elasticity of shape [...]. The term 'amorphous solid state' has a more comprehensive meaning broader than that of the 'vitreous state'. All glasses are amorphous, but not all amorphous substances are glasses." [Feltz (1993), pp.7-8. Italic emphases in the original.]

 

"As kinetically frozen forms of liquid, glasses are characterized by a complete lack of long-range crystalline order and are the most structurally disordered types of solid known." [Jeanloz and Williams (1991), p.659.]

 

Several more quotations along the same lines can be found at the above link (where a simple test to decide whether a substance is solid or liquid is outlined in the Appendix at the end).

 

And here is what we find in a recent article from Science Daily:

 

"Scientists fully understand the process of water turning to ice. As the temperature cools, the movement of the water molecules slows. At 32°F, the molecules form crystal lattices, solidifying into ice. In contrast, the molecules of glasses do not crystallize. The movement of the glass molecules slows as temperature cools, but they never lock into crystal patterns. Instead, they jumble up and gradually become glassier, or more viscous. No one understands exactly why." [Science Daily, 13/08/07. Bold emphasis added.]

 

So, I was not wrong to call glass a solid, nor allege that the phase change here is slow, and not the least bit 'nodal'.

 

However, all this was unknown in Engels's day, but he surely cannot have been ignorant of the fact that glass melts slowly. Why then did he "foist" this 'Law' on the facts?

 

This shows that I was well aware that glass is an amorphous solid, contrary to what Vogelman suggested. Why does Vogelman compound this error by repeating it?

 

However, Vogelman was forced to make the following grudging, half-concession:

 

The rock and the butter are more difficult to explain. Rock seems to melt gradually, however this is not the case. Rock consists of a range of different kinds of crystals and the composition differs from rock to rock. The melting of a rock is difficult process. To put it most simple: different crystals melt at their own melting temperature. When a rock melts it is thus a mixture of solids and liquids.

 

So, even though rock does melt slowly, Vogelman says it doesn't. A nice unity of opposites, and no mistake! [The other points he makes have been dealt with above.]

 

Butter is a water in oil emulsion. In other words, very tiny bubbles of water which are enclosed by the milk proteins are spread through the solid oil. These bubbles are one of the reasons why butter is as easily spread if we exert force on it. However, this doesn't make it a liquid yet. If you put the butter in the pan and heat it you'll see the oil melt, the water boil away and the proteins will probably disintegrate because of the heat. Though a multitude of reactions happen, both chemical and physical, the melting itself stills happens nodal[ly].

 

Ok, let's imagine a simple experiment: put a slab of butter in the deep freeze (at about -30°C) until it is almost rock hard. Take it out and allow it to warm up in an oven whose temperature is slowly raised from zero to 40°C. Even the most short-sighted dialectician will then see that slab of butter slowly soften and melt. Or, is Vogelman going to deny what his eyes will tell him?

 

So, no 'nodal' point here, either.

 

And it is worth emphasising yet again: Vogelman is only able to get away with what he says because he has yet to tell us how long a 'nodal' point is supposed to last, or what a 'quality' is.

 

But this is Mickey Mouse Science after all.

 

For plastics I cannot provide an answer, simply because this term is far too vague and covers a wide range of materials.

 

Vogelman is being a little disingenuous here, since it is pretty clear that the majority of plastics melt slowly (as several of the quotations above argued). Here are a few videos of this phenomenon if he doubts this well-known fact.

 

The conclusion?

 

In all the above examples, we can clearly see that the quantitative addition of heat results in a qualitative sudden change: melting.

 

But, we are still waiting for a clear definition of "quality" and "node". Moreover, Vogelman has completely ignored the following examples of 'qualitative' change which aren't the least bit 'nodal' (again, this is taken from Essay Seven Part One):

 

The difficulties the first 'Law' faces do not stop there. For example, when heated, objects change in quality from cold to warm and then to hot, with no 'nodal' point separating these particular qualitative stages. The same happens in reverse when they cool. Moving bodies similarly speed up from slow to fast (and vice versa) without any 'nodal' punctuation marks affecting this transition. In like manner, the change from one colour to the next in the normal colour spectrum is continuous, with no 'nodal' points evident at all -- and this is also the case with the colour changes that bodies experience when they are heated until they are red- or white-hot. Sounds, too, change smoothly from soft to loud, and back again, in a 'node'-free environment. In fact, with respect to wave-governed phenomena in general, change seems to be continuous rather than discrete, which means that since the majority of particles/objects in nature move in such a manner, most things in reality seem to disobey this aspect of Engels's unimpressive 'Law' -- at least, at the macroscopic level. Hence, here we have countless changes in 'quality' that are non-'nodal'.

 

To be sure, some wave-like changes are said to occur discontinuously (indeed, the word "node" is used precisely here by Physicists), but this is not the result of continuous background changes. For example, quantum phenomena are notoriously discontinuous, and such changes are not preceded by continual quantitative increases. They occur suddenly with no build-up. So, discontinuous quantum phenomena cannot be made to fit this 'Law', unless, that is, it is altered just so that they can. Of course, that done, this 'Law' would no longer be 'objective', just as it will have been "foisted" on nature.

 

This is contrary to what Hegel, Engels, Plekhanov and Lenin all asserted:

 

"It is said, natura non facit saltum [there are no leaps in nature]; and ordinary thinking when it has to grasp a coming-to-be or a ceasing-to-be, fancies it has done so by representing it as a gradual emergence or disappearance. But we have seen that the alterations of being in general are not only the transition of one magnitude into another, but a transition from quality into quantity and vice versa, a becoming-other which is an interruption of gradualness and the production of something qualitatively different from the reality which preceded it. Water, in cooling, does not gradually harden as if it thickened like porridge, gradually solidifying until it reached the consistency of ice; it suddenly solidifies, all at once. It can remain quite fluid even at freezing point if it is standing undisturbed, and then a slight shock will bring it into the solid state." [Hegel (1999), p.370, §776. Bold emphasis alone added.]

 

"With this assurance Herr Dühring saves himself the trouble of saying anything further about the origin of life, although it might reasonably have been expected that a thinker who had traced the evolution of the world back to its self-equal state, and is so much at home on other celestial bodies, would have known exactly what's what also on this point. For the rest, however, the assurance he gives us is only half right unless it is completed by the Hegelian nodal line of measure relations which has already been mentioned. In spite of all gradualness, the transition from one form of motion to another always remains a leap, a decisive change. This is true of the transition from the mechanics of celestial bodies to that of smaller masses on a particular celestial body; it is equally true of the transition from the mechanics of masses to the mechanics of molecules -- including the forms of motion investigated in physics proper: heat, light, electricity, magnetism. In the same way, the transition from the physics of molecules to the physics of atoms -- chemistry -- in turn involves a decided leap; and this is even more clearly the case in the transition from ordinary chemical action to the chemism of albumen which we call life. Then within the sphere of life the leaps become ever more infrequent and imperceptible. -- Once again, therefore, it is Hegel who has to correct Herr Dühring." [Engels (1976), pp.82-83. Bold emphasis added.]

 

"[I]t will be understood without difficulty by anyone who is in the least capable of dialectical thinking...[that] quantitative changes, accumulating gradually, lead in the end to changes of quality, and that these changes of quality represent leaps, interruptions in gradualness…. That is how all Nature acts…." [Plekhanov (1956), pp.74-77, 88, 163. Bold emphasis alone added.]

 

"The 'nodal line of measure relations' ... -- transitions of quantity into quality... Gradualness and leaps. And again...that gradualness explains nothing without leaps." [Lenin (1961), p.123. Bold emphasis alone added. Lenin added in the margin here: "Leaps! Leaps! Leaps!"]

 

"What distinguishes the dialectical transition from the undialectical transition? The leap. The contradiction. The interruption of gradualness. The unity (identity) of Being and not-Being." [Ibid., p.282. Bold emphasis added.]

 

"The identity of opposites (it would be more correct, perhaps, to say their 'unity,' -- although the difference between the terms identity and unity is not particularly important here. In a certain sense both are correct) is the recognition (discovery) of the contradictory, mutually exclusive, opposite tendencies in all phenomena and processes of nature (including mind and society). 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 '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., pp.357-58. Quotation marks altered to conform to the conventions adopted here. Bold emphases alone added.]

 

The argument here is plainly the following: (1) A quantitative increase in matter or energy results in gradual change; (2) At a certain point, any further increase breaks this gradualness, and induces a "leap", a sudden qualitative change.

 

But, this does not even happen in the Periodic Table; between each element there is no gradual increase in protons and electrons, leading to a sudden change, there are only sudden changes as these 'particles' are added. For example, as one proton and one electron are added to Hydrogen, it suddenly changes into Helium. Hydrogen does not slowly alter and then suddenly "leap" and become Helium. The same is true of every other element in the Table. In that case, one of the best examples dialecticians use to 'illustrate' this 'Law' in fact refutes it! There is no "interruption" in gradualness here. The same is true of quantum phenomena, too.

 

That disposes of two more classic and over-used examples to which DM-fans appeal to illustrate this hopeless 'Law'.

 

Now, that is surely a more honest reading of the available data, is it not? And not a single foisting anywhere in sight!

 

We come now to the last few points Vogelman makes (in this case, in response to my argument about stereoisomers):

 

Here Rosa shows she even manages to confuse between on the one hand change and on the other difference. Not any sane dialectician [sic] would claim that things can't differ even though they have the same material and energetic properties. Rosa proves this in the quote above. However, the first law of dialectics is not about difference but about how things become something different, in other words: how the change [sic].

For a certain stereoisomers to change in another one [sic], we would still have to add energy to break bonds before the atoms of this molecule could get a different spacing. Ironically Rosa [sic] her own example turns against her.

 

And yet Engels himself appealed to isomers, allotropes and similar "differences" to illustrate his 'Law'! Does this mean that Vogelman thinks Engels isn't sane?

 

Here is what I have argued on this in Essay Seven Part One, again:

 

However, Engels and other DM-fans themselves appeal to various co-existent organic molecules and elements in the Periodic Table to illustrate the first 'Law' (on this, see Note 9 below), produced by parallel chemical reactions. In that case, if they can appeal to examples like this to support their 'Law', they can't legitimately complain when examples of the very same sort are used against them.

 

"All qualitative differences in nature rest on differences of chemical composition or on different quantities or forms of motion (energy) or, as is almost always the case, on both. Hence it is impossible to alter the quality of a body without addition or subtraction of matter or motion, i.e. without quantitative alteration of the body concerned. In this form, therefore, Hegel's mysterious principle appears not only quite rational but even rather obvious.

 

"It is surely hardly necessary to point out that the various allotropic and aggregational states of bodies, because they depend on various groupings of the molecules, depend on greater or lesser quantities of motion communicated to the bodies.

 

"But what is the position in regard to change of form of motion, or so-called energy? If we change heat into mechanical motion or vice versa, is not the quality altered while the quantity remains the same? Quite correct. But it is with change of form of motion as with Heine's vices; anyone can be virtuous by himself, for vices two are always necessary. Change of form of motion is always a process that takes place between at least two bodies, of which one loses a definite quantity of motion of one quality (e.g. heat), while the other gains a corresponding quantity of motion of another quality (mechanical motion, electricity, chemical decomposition). Here, therefore, quantity and quality mutually correspond to each other. So far it has not been found possible to convert motion from one form to another inside a single isolated body." [Engels (1954), pp.63-64. Bold emphases added.]

 

Indeed, Woods and Grant list several molecules from Organic Chemistry (but they merely lifted this material from Engels). Here, the qualitative differences between the organic compounds they mention are independent of whether or not they have been derived from one another. They patently exist side-by-side:

 

"Chemistry involves changes of both a quantitative and qualitative character, both changes of degree and of state. This can clearly be seen in the change of state from gas to liquid or solid, which is usually related to variations of temperature and pressure. In Anti Dühring, Engels gives a series of examples of how, in chemistry, the simple quantitative addition of elements creates qualitatively different bodies. Since Engels' time the naming system used in chemistry has been changed. However, the change of quantity into quality is accurately expressed in the following example:

 

'CH2O2 -- formic acid         boiling point 100o melting point 1o
C2H4O2 -- acetic acid        ".............." 118o  "..............." 17o
C3H6O2 -- propionic acid   "..............." 140o  "..............." —
C4H8O2 -- butyric acid      "..............." 162o  "..............." —
C5H10O2-- valerianic acid  "..............." 175o  "................" —

 

and so on to C30H20O2, melissic acid, which melts only at 80o and has no boiling point at all, because it does not evaporate without disintegrating.'" [Woods and Grant (1995), p.52, quoting Engels (1976), p.163.]

 

Moreover, Engels himself used the example of isomers to illustrate this 'Law':

 

"In these series we encounter the Hegelian law in yet another form. The lower members permit only of a single mutual arrangement of the atoms. If, however, the number of atoms united into a molecule attains a size definitely fixed for each series, the grouping of the atoms in the molecule can take place in more than one way; so that two or more isomeric substances can be formed, having equal numbers of C, H, and 0 atoms in the molecule but nevertheless qualitatively distinct from one another. We can even calculate how many such isomers are possible for each member of the series. Thus, in the paraffin series, for C4H10 there are two, for C5H12 there are three; among the higher members the number of possible isomers mounts very rapidly. Hence once again it is the quantitative number of atoms in the molecule that determines the possibility and, in so far as it has been proved, also the actual existence of such qualitatively distinct isomers." [Engels (1954), p.67. Bold emphases added.]

 

Notice, Engels uses this law to account for the differences between molecules that have in no way been formed from one another.

 

So, and once again, if Engels can use such examples to illustrate his 'Law', dialecticians can hardly complain if similar examples are used to refute it.

 

Anyway, it is quite clear that Engels did not appreciate how this radically compromised his claim that:

 

"It is impossible to alter the quality of a body without addition or subtraction of matter or motion, i.e. without quantitative alteration of the body concerned." [Ibid., p.63. Bold emphasis added.]

 

Once more: here we have change in geometry "passing over" into a qualitative change, refuting this 'Law'. This is a point that at least one dialectician has in fact has already conceded:

 

"However, do all qualitative changes arise from the 'addition or subtraction of matter or motion'? Engels points to another factor that is sometimes involved: 'by means of a change of position and of connection with neighbouring molecules it ["the molecule" -- Cameron's insertion] can change the body into an allotrope or a different state of aggregation'.... Engels then is arguing that qualitative change can come about by means of 'change of position' or as he put it in another passage, 'various groupings of the molecules'...." [Cameron (1995), pp.66-67. Quotation marks altered to conform to the convention adopted here.]

 

Plainly, Vogelman needs to catch up!

 

But, what about the following point?

 

For a certain stereoisomers to change in another one, we would still have to add energy to break bonds before the atoms of this molecule could get a different spacing. Ironically Rosa her own example turns against her.
 

Once more, I covered this obvious objection in Essay Seven Part One. Vogelman's point depends on another idea Engels left rather vague: What exactly constitutes an 'addition' of energy and matter? No one doubts that bonds will have to be broken and then re-formed, but is that an addition of energy to the molecules in question? Vogelman is silent on this issue. Here is how I made this point in Essay Seven Part One:

 

In response, it could be argued that Engels had already anticipated the above objection:

 

"It is surely hardly necessary to point out that the various allotropic and aggregational states of bodies, because they depend on various groupings of the molecules, depend on greater or lesser quantities of motion communicated to the bodies.

 

"But what is the position in regard to change of form of motion, or so-called energy? If we change heat into mechanical motion or vice versa, is not the quality altered while the quantity remains the same? Quite correct. But it is with change of form of motion...; anyone can be virtuous by himself, for vices two are always necessary. Change of form of motion is always a process that takes place between at least two bodies, of which one loses a definite quantity of motion of one quality (e.g. heat), while the other gains a corresponding quantity of motion of another quality (mechanical motion, electricity, chemical decomposition). Here, therefore, quantity and quality mutually correspond to each other. So far it has not been found possible to convert motion from one form to another inside a single isolated body." [Engels (1954), pp.63-64. Bold emphases added.]

 

However, Engels slides between two different senses of "motion" here: (1) change of place, and (2) energy. In this way, he is able to argue that any change in the relation between bodies always amounts to a change in energy. But, this depends on the nature of the field in which these bodies are embedded (on this, see below, and in Note 4a); Engels's profound lack of mathematical knowledge clearly let him down here.

 

Independently of this, Engels also confused the expenditure of energy with energy added to a system. The difference between the two is easy to see. Imagine someone pushing a heavy packing case along a level floor. In order to overcome friction, the one doing the pushing will have to expend energy. But that energy (appearing as heat) has not been put into the packing case (as it were). Now, if the same case is pushed up a hill, Physicists tell us that recoverable energy has been put into the case in the form of Potential Energy.

 

Now, as far as can be ascertained in the examples of interest to dialecticians (but again, they are not at all clear on this), it is the latter form of energy (but not necessarily always Potential Energy) that is relevant, not the former. The former sort does not really change the quality of any bodies concerned; the latter does. If that is so, then the above counter-examples (e.g., involving Enantiomers) still apply, for the energy expended in order to change one isomer into another is generally of the first sort, not the second.

 

To be sure, some of the energy in the packing case example will appear as heat (and/or perhaps sound), and will warm that case slightly. But that energy will not be stored in the case as chemically recoverable (i.e., structural, or new bond) energy.

 

Despite this, a few die-hard dialecticians might want to argue that any expenditure of energy is relevant here. That would be an unfortunate move since it would make this 'Law' trivial, for in that case it would amount to the belief that any change at all (no matter how remote), since it involves the expenditure of some form of energy somewhere (but not necessarily energy put 'into' the bodies concerned), is the cause of qualitative change to other bodies somewhere else. This would make a mockery of Engels's claim that only energy added to the bodies concerned is relevant to this 'Law'.

 

"Change of form of motion is always a process that takes place between at least two bodies, of which one loses a definite quantity of motion of one quality (e.g. heat), while the other gains a corresponding quantity of motion of another quality (mechanical motion, electricity, chemical decomposition)." [Ibid. Bold emphasis added.]

 

Several examples of this sort of (remote) change are given below. The problems they create are discussed at length in Note 5 and Note 6a, where attempts to delineate the thermodynamic boundaries of the local energy budget involved (which would have to be specified in order to prevent remote objects/energy expenditure being allowed to cause proximate change) are all shown to fail.

 

It rather looks like Vogelman is guilty of the same sort of equivocation.

 

I hope I was able to show in this post that Rosa Liechtenstein (sic) in order to show that the laws of dialectics were imposed upon nature, she made grave scientific errors. In the end it even turns out that the dialectic law was observed after all.

 

But, as we have seen this is not even remotely correct -- so my criticisms still stand.

 

And finally, we have this:

 

In her essays many more of these scientific errors can be found. I'm willing to post them and correct them if people are interested.

 

Brave words from someone who can't be bothered to read my arguments in their entirety, but has to rely on a summary aimed at novices!

 

Added on edit: Vogelman has disappeared into the mists of non-dialectical time, so we will just have to wonder what my many 'errors' are. Perhaps he had second thoughts now that we know that in relation to the specific issues he raised above, it was his good self, not me, who screwed up.

 

 

References

 

Atkins, P., and de Paula, J., (2006), Physical Chemistry (Oxford University Press).

 

Cameron, N. (1995), Dialectical Materialism And Modern Science (International Publishers).

 

Cornforth, M. (1976), Materialism And The Dialectical Method (Lawrence & Wishart, 5th ed.).

 

Doremus, R. (1994), Glass Science (John Wiley & Sons, 2nd ed.)

 

Engels, F. (1954), Dialectics Of Nature (Progress Publishers).

 

--------, (1976), Anti-Dühring (Foreign Languages Press).

 

Feltz, A. (1993), Amorphous Inorganic Materials And Glasses (Weinheim/VCH Publishers).

 

Gollobin, I. (1986), Dialectical Materialism. Its Laws, Categories And Practice (Petras Press).

 

Hegel, G. (1975), Logic, translated by William Wallace (Oxford University Press, 3rd ed.).

 

--------, (1999), Science Of Logic (Humanity Books).

 

Jeanloz, R., and Williams, Q. (1991), 'Solid-State Physics: Glasses Come To Order', Nature, 350, pp.659-60.

 

Kuusinen, O. (1961) (ed.), Fundamentals Of Marxism-Leninism (Lawrence & Wishart).

 

Lenin, V. (1961), Philosophical Notebooks, Collected Works, Volume 38 (Progress Publishers).

 

Pfaender, H. (1996), Schott Guide To Glass (Chapman & Hall, 2nd ed.).

 

Plekhanov, G. (1956), The Development Of The Monist View Of History (Progress Publishers).

 

Woods, A., and Grant, T. (1995), Reason In Revolt. Marxism And Modern Science (Wellred Publications).

 

Yurkovets, I. (1984), The Philosophy Of Dialectical Materialism (Progress Publishers).

 

Latest Update: 21/01/13

 

Word count: 11,060

 

Return To The Main Index

 

Back To The Top

© Rosa Lichtenstein 2014

 

Hits Since 07/05/11:

 

Sierra Trading Coupon
Sierra Trading Coupon