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By Murph
#13538071
I've tried wikipedia and just found a bunch of gibberish and gobblygook. Social classes exist? Ok cool. Is that it? Some one make some sense of it for me. Dialectical? wtf is that mean?
By Wolfman
#13538482
The Marxist conception of the Dialectic is based off of, and diverts radically from the Hegelian Dialectic, and the idea of Class War, developed by someone who's name I cann't remember. In the Hegelian Dialectic all ideas that can exist, do, and are constantly struggling for intellectual superiority. This idea war will eventually create a single set of ideas which explain all of existence perfectly, and are based off of the existing ideas.
Marxist dialectics, however, say that the classes which are in a state of class war will eventually (how should I put this...) destroy each other? It's hard for me to explain, but essentially the classes will eventually merge together, creating a new group, while destroying the old ones in the process.

This should hold you until one of the people who've read everything Marx ever wrote like 8 times comes in to destroy what I just said, insult me several times, and then explain it to you much better detail.
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By Eauz
#13550684
slimharpo wrote:Social classes exist? Ok cool. Is that it?
The class in this situation is related to a group of people who share common relations to labour and the means of production. Therefore, we are not connecting people, based upon how much money they make.

slimharpo wrote:Dialectical? wtf is that mean?
Dialectics is a method that aims to comprehend things concretely in all aspects, change and interconnections, with the opposite or contradictory side in unity. Dialectics is attempting to get to the essence of things. In regard to general understanding, there is no difference between appearance and essence, but in terms of dialectics, the form and contend of something can be very contradictory. Dialectics attempts to look, not just at the form, but at the whole picture, to completely understand a concept. An excellent example is our current form of democracy. We have democracy in relation to form (The image of democracy), but dictatorship in content (Dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie).
By Zyx
#13556406
Wolfman, from where do you get the idea that an idea war will eventually create a single set of ideas to 'explain existence perfectly?'
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By The Immortal Goon
#13556436
First, a very simple background in dialectics.

This process applies to material conditions. Marx explains it in several places, but probably most succinctly in the following paragraph. It might help to treat each paragraph as its own work when you first read this:

Marx wrote:The first work which I undertook to dispel the doubts assailing me was a critical re-examination of the Hegelian philosophy of law; the introduction to this work being published in the Deutsch-Franzosische Jahrbucher issued in Paris in 1844. My inquiry led me to the conclusion that neither legal relations nor political forms could be comprehended whether by themselves or on the basis of a so-called general development of the human mind, but that on the contrary they originate in the material conditions of life, the totality of which Hegel, following the example of English and French thinkers of the eighteenth century, embraces within the term “civil society”; that the anatomy of this civil society, however, has to be sought in political economy. The study of this, which I began in Paris, I continued in Brussels, where I moved owing to an expulsion order issued by M. Guizot. The general conclusion at which I arrived and which, once reached, became the guiding principle of my studies can be summarised as follows.

In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or – this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms – with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure.

In studying such transformations it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic – in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as one does not judge an individual by what he thinks about himself, so one cannot judge such a period of transformation by its consciousness, but, on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained from the contradictions of material life, from the conflict existing between the social forces of production and the relations of production. No social order is ever destroyed before all the productive forces for which it is sufficient have been developed, and new superior relations of production never replace older ones before the material conditions for their existence have matured within the framework of the old society.

Mankind thus inevitably sets itself only such tasks as it is able to solve, since closer examination will always show that the problem itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution are already present or at least in the course of formation.


The application of this way of reading history, is outlined in a simple document that Engels wrote to define the Principles of Communism - which might help clear some things up.

From this, other things have developed and tweaked and such, but for a broad outline the above isn't a bad place to start.
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By Cookie Monster
#13568050
This topic touches upon the question I have about dialectics as I have difficulty in understanding Hegelian dialectics.

In regard to general understanding, there is no difference between appearance and essence, but in terms of dialectics, the form and contend of something can be very contradictory. Dialectics attempts to look, not just at the form, but at the whole picture, to completely understand a concept.
From what I have understood in Zizek's writing referring to Hegel and Lacan, the form is actually the very important part of dialectics instead of the essence which is a product of interpretation rather than the unravelling of the absolute.
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By Potemkin
#13568995
From what I have understood in Zizek's writing referring to Hegel and Lacan, the form is actually the very important part of dialectics instead of the essence which is a product of interpretation rather than the unravelling of the absolute.

I think the point Zizek was trying to make is that the 'essence' of a phenomenon, while not usually identical with the appearance of that phenomenon, is not the 'kernel of truth' of that phenomenon which means we can throw away the appearance like the rind of a peeled orange. Instead, the essence and the appearance are both equally important in grasping a phenomenon in all its complexity and in its dynamic interaction with the rest of reality. The appearance is the phenomenon in its sensual aspect, as it presents itself to our senses, and its essence is a conceptual abstraction - its essence is in no sense 'more real' than its appearance, pace Kant and Hegel. As Oscar Wilde said, "It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible." :D
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By Cookie Monster
#13569202
Zizek was referring to Lacan's work on the interpretation of dreams. Usually people try to find a kernel of truth behind the dream. But, if I recall correctly, the dream has no kernel of truth. Any meaning to it must be found in the form in which the dream represents itself. This left me the impression that in Hegelian dialectics the form itself leads you to the essence rather than peeling it off like an onion to reach an absolute inside it.
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By Potemkin
#13569245
Zizek was referring to Lacan's work on the interpretation of dreams. Usually people try to find a kernel of truth behind the dream. But, if I recall correctly, the dream has no kernel of truth. Any meaning to it must be found in the form in which the dream represents itself. This left me the impression that in Hegelian dialectics the form itself leads you to the essence rather than peeling it off like an onion to reach an absolute inside it.

Indeed. As Peer Gynt found, at the heart of the onion there is nothing at all, just emptiness and meaninglessness. The essence of a thing, its meaning, is in some sense inscribed on its surface. This probably relates to the fact that schizoids, who try to protect their 'inner essence' or identity by splitting it off from their 'false self' which they present to the world as their surface appearance, find that they have protected nothing at all, that their 'inner self' is actually empty and meaningless.
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By Cookie Monster
#13569269
Is this why then self-image is so important? That through self-image you create your surface which in turn leads to your essence. While at the same time the self-image, in itself, is nothing. If you become obsessed with it, like the schizoids you described, than in turn it will be in vain.
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By Potemkin
#13569289
Is this why then self-image is so important? That through self-image you create your surface which in turn leads to your essence. While at the same time the self-image, in itself, is nothing. If you become obsessed with it, like the schizoids you described, than in turn it will be in vain.

Schizoids are not obsessed with their self-image; in fact, they tend to be indifferent to either praise or blame. They are fearful of having their personal identity invaded or erased by others, and therefore try to protect it by splitting their psyche into two parts (hence the label 'schizoid') - their hidden 'true self' and their surface 'false self', with which they interact with other people. It is conceptually similar to the Kantian division of the world into the (false) 'phenomenal realm' and the (true but hidden) 'noumenal' realm. In reality, of course, this division or splitting (both of the psyche and of the world) is a delusion. The hidden 'true self' is empty and meaningless, and the surface 'false self' is an artificial construct without authenticity. The surface appearance and the essence should not be separated in this way, and the 'essence' should certainly not be valorised at the expense of the surface appearance. Meaning and significance can only be possible through the interaction of the two.
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By Cookie Monster
#13570117
Schizoids are not obsessed with their self-image; in fact, they tend to be indifferent to either praise or blame. They are fearful of having their personal identity invaded or erased by others, and therefore try to protect it by splitting their psyche into two parts (hence the label 'schizoid') - their hidden 'true self' and their surface 'false self', with which they interact with other people. It is conceptually similar to the Kantian division of the world into the (false) 'phenomenal realm' and the (true but hidden) 'noumenal' realm. In reality, of course, this division or splitting (both of the psyche and of the world) is a delusion. The hidden 'true self' is empty and meaningless, and the surface 'false self' is an artificial construct without authenticity. The surface appearance and the essence should not be separated in this way, and the 'essence' should certainly not be valorised at the expense of the surface appearance. Meaning and significance can only be possible through the interaction of the two.

Hmmmmm

And does this teach us something about the relations and forces of production and the revolution? :hmm:
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By Potemkin
#13570139
And does this teach us something about the relations and forces of production and the revolution? :hmm:

Probably not. I simply find an interesting parallel between the division of the world into 'appearance' and 'essence' (which Kant called 'the phenomenon' and 'the noumenon') and the splitting of the human psyche which occurs in people with schizoid personality disorder. The psychopathology of ontology? ;)
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By Wellsy
#14894843
To follow above on the interesting summary of Zizek's view on essence, I enjoy this summary of Hegel and Lacan's take on a classic story.
Spoiler: show
https://larvalsubjects.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/existent_s_-_hegel_s_critique_of_kant12.pdf
More intriguingly yet, Hegel Hegel’s account of essence rejects all transcendence in favor of appearances. For Hegel there is not one thing, essence, and another thing, appearance such that essences are transcendent to beings like Plato’s forms, or are unchanging and invariant like Aristotle’s essences. Rather, it is appearance all the way down and there is no further fact “beyond” the appearances that is hidden and that must be discovered or uncovered. Hegel will say, “Essence must appear.”4 The real surprise is that the mediation of essence is a reference to another appreance, not a distinct ontological entity to be contrasted with existence. Indeed, in the Science of Logic, Hegel argues that essence is relation. Thus, as Hyppolite recounts, “The great joke, Hegel wrote in a personal note, is that things are what they are. There is no reason to go beyond them.”5

This is a striking claim that immediately brings Lacan’s discussion of objet a in The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis to mind. There Lacan recounts the story of two artists named Zeuxis and Pharrhosios, locked in competition with each other to see who is the better artist. Lacan remarks that,

"In the classical tale of Zeuxis and Parrhosios, Zeuxis has the advantage of having made grapes that attracted the birds. The stress is placed not in the fact that the grapes were in any way perfect grapes, but on the fact that even the eye of the birds was taken in by them. This is proved by the fact that his friend Parrhosios triumphs over him for having painted on the wall a veil, a veil so lifelike that Zeuxis, turning towards him said, Well, and now show us what you have painted behind it. By this he showed that what was at issue was certainly deceiving the eye (tromper l’oeil). A triumph of the gaze over the eye.6"

The lesson to be drawn from this little parable is that the cause of desire-- not the object desired - -is precisely this enigma of what is behind the veil or curtain. As Lacan will recount elsewhere in The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, we can be naked precisely because we wear clothing. “Doesn’t she know she’s naked under those clothes!” What we have here is the logic of the secret or crypt. Analysis comes to an end when object a falls away and the analysis and no longer attributes a secret knowledge to the analyst. Similarly, it can be said that metaphysics too needs to undergo analysis insofar as all too often it posits a true reality behind appearances in precisely the same way that Zeuxis believes there is something behind the veil painted on the wall.
...
The point here is that the very idea of the thing-in-itself contains an internal contradiction insofar as it calls us to think a thing without determination, yet the very nature of a thing is to contain determinations. In the Phenomenology, Hegel shows that the distinction between the unknowable thing-in-itself as conceived by Kant and appearance is itself a distinction of the understanding, and therefore a product of thought.8 It is nothing but the ego’s reflection of itself into an other.
That is, the thing-in-itself is identical to the ego, as a substrate divested of all concrete properties or qualities, a pure void as Hegel puts it, and therefore a phantasm of thought much like Zeuxis asking what is behind the veil.

http://69.195.124.91/~brucieba/2014/04/13/ilyenkovs-dialectic-of-the-abstract-and-the-concrete-i/
“Hegel’s main idea is that intellectual abstractions do not take consciousness beyond the empirical stage of cognition, that they are forms of sensual empirical consciousness beyond the empirical stage of cognition, that they are forms of sensual empirical consciousness rather than thought in the strict sense of the term, are notions and not concepts. Confusing the two, identifying notion with concept on the grounds that both are abstractions, is a most characteristic mark of metaphysics in logic, of the logic of metaphysical thinking.”

It is a mistake to conceive thought as a separate entity from empirically presented facts in this view and it is the specific task of logic to move from the abstract contemplation of notions or concepts of the empirically presented facts to work out an abstraction that would express the essence of the presented facts given in our notions and concepts. The problem is in drawing out the generalised expression of the real nature of the object under investigation from the empirically obvious facts. This is far from straight forward and constitutes the real challenge in dialectical logic.

For Hegel the essence or content of objects of investigation cannot be known by examining them in isolation. The thing cannot be known in itself as its essence exists outside of itself and in relation to, or in its connectedness with, other objects or phenomena. As Ilyenkov explains:

“That is why a concept, according to Hegel, does not exist as a separate word, term, or symbol. It exists only in the process of unfolding in a proposition, in a syllogism expressing connectedness of separate definitions, and ultimately only in a system of propositions and syllogisms, only in an integral, well-developed theory. If a concept is pulled out of this connection, what remains of it is mere verbal integument, a linguistic symbol. The content of the concept, its meaning, remains outside it-in series of other definitions, for a word taken separately is only capable of designating an object, naming it, it is only capable of serving as a sign, symbol, marker, or symptom.”

The point that the essence of a thing is reference to another appearence seems apt in Evald Ilyenkov's contribution to Marxism in trying to consider the ideal as based in man's activity, such that the ideal part of a thing is a representation of another thing that corresponds to the activity of people. Such that it exists as more than mere subjectivity, as part of a society independent of anyone's attempt to disbelieve it.
Spoiler: show
https://www.marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/ideal/ideal.htm
But here we are immediately confronted with the trickiness of this distinction, which is fully provided for by the Hegelian school and its conception of the “materialisation”, the “alienation”, the “reification” of universal notions. As a result of this process which takes place “behind the back of the individual consciousness”, the individual is confronted in the form of an “external thing” with people’s general (i.e., collectively acknowledged) representation, which has absolutely nothing in common with the sensuously perceived bodily form in which it is “represented”.

For example, the name “Peter” is in its sensuously perceived bodily form absolutely unlike the real Peter, the person it designates, or the sensuously represented image of Peter which other people have of him. The relationship is the same between the gold coin and the goods that can be bought with it, goods (commodities), whose universal representative is the coin or (later) the banknote. The coin represents not itself but “another” in the very sense in which a diplomat represents not his own person but his country, which has authorised him to do so. The same may be said of the word, the verbal symbol or sign, or any combination of such signs and the syntactical pattern of this combination.

This relationship of representation is a relationship in which one sensuously perceived thing performs the role or function of representative of quite another thing, and, to be even more precise, the universal nature of that other thing, that is, something “other” which in sensuous, bodily terms is quite unlike it, and it was this relationship that in the Hegelian terminological tradition acquired the title of “ideality”.
...
What is this “other”, this difference, which is expressed or represented here? People’s consciousness? Their will? By no means. On the contrary, both will and consciousness are determined by this objective ideal form, and the thing that it expresses, “represents” is a definite social relationship between people which in their eyes assumes the fantastic form of a relationship between things.

In other words, what is “represented” here as a thing is the form of people’s activity, the form of life activity which they perform together, which has taken shape “behind the back of consciousness” and is materially established in the form of the relationship between things described above.

This and only this creates the ideality of such a “thing”, its sensuous-supersensuous character.

Here ideal form actually does stand in opposition to individual consciousness and individual will as the form of the external thing (remember Kant’s talers) and is necessarily perceived precisely as the form of the external thing, not its palpable form, but as the form of another equally palpable thing that it represents, expresses, embodies, differing, however, from the palpable corporeality of both things and having nothing in common with their sensuously perceptible physical nature. What is embodied and “represented” here is a definite form of labour, a definite form of human objective activity, that is to say, the transformation of nature by social man.

It is here that we find the answer to the riddle of “ideality”. Ideality, according to Marx, is nothing else but the form of social human activity represented in the thing. Or, conversely, the form of human activity represented as a thing, as an object.

“Ideality” is a kind of stamp impressed on the substance of nature by social human life activity, a form of the functioning of the physical thing in the process of this activity. So all the things involved in the social process acquire a new “form of existence” that is not included in their physical nature and differs from it completely – their ideal form.

So, there can be no talk of “ideality” where there are no people socially producing and reproducing their material life, that is to say, individuals working collectively and, therefore, necessarily possessing consciousness and will. But this does not mean that the “ideality of things” is a product of their conscious will, that it is “immanent in the consciousness” and exists only in the consciousness. Quite the reverse, the individual’s consciousness and will are functions of the ideality of things, their comprehended, conscious ideality.


The last part in regards to it merely being a reflection of the ego (self?) makes me speculate that Kant's thinking about logic in order to make it non-contradictory and coherent results in thinking about itself which results in contentless forms.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/essays/essay4.htm
Fichte also demonstrated this dialectic from the example of the origin of consciousness, of the ‘positing’ of the non-Ego (not-l) by the activity of the Ego, the differentiation of the person himself as the thinking being from himself as thought of, as the object of thought. Could a person become aware of himself, of the acts of his own consciousness, of his own constructive activity? Obviously he could. He not only thought, but also thought about his thinking, and converted the very act of thinking into an object; and that exercise was always called logic.

The starting point in this case, as was shown above, could only be I, the Ego (Ich, das Selbst) understood as the subject of an activity producing something different from itself, that is to say the product, the recorded result. The Ego was initially equal to itself (I= I) and, considered as something active, creative, creating, already contained in itself the necessity of its own transformation into a non-Ego (not-I). We saw and knew this directly, from self-observation, for consciousness in general was realised only insofar as a representation of something else arose in it, a representation of a non-Ego, a thing, an object. There could not be empty consciousness not filled by anything.

This is where the view of self-identity as a law of logic in actuality necessarily leads to something (being) instead being nothing, it lacks determination/existence/ reality, reflecting itself back onto itself leaves it abstract and without content.
Language becomes independent from reality and there is no content to it. And part of why this occurs is of how bourgeoisie thought abstract in an analytical way that things become isolated from things in the world, which necessarily renders them mere signs without content and what ever content they do derive is that which is spontaneously given from one's thought without understanding the origins of it, spontaneous thought unconscious to it's own thinking and activity tends to recreate and naturalize the conditions of existence, naturalize them as eternal.
Spoiler: show
https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1877/anti-duhring/ch08.htm
This is only giving a new twist to the old favourite ideological method, also known as the a priori method, which consists in ascertaining the properties of an object, by logical deduction from the concept of the object, instead of from the object itself. First the concept of the object is fabricated from the object; then the spit is turned round, and the object is measured by its reflexion, the concept. The object is then to conform to the concept, not the concept to the object. With Herr Dühring the simplest elements, the ultimate abstractions he can reach, do service for the concept, which does not alter matters; these simplest elements are at best of a purely conceptual nature. The philosophy of reality, therefore, proves here again to be pure ideology, the deduction of reality not from itself but from a concept.

And when such an ideologist constructs morality and law from the concept, or the so-called simplest elements of “society”, instead of from the real social relations of the people round him, what material is then available for this construction? Material clearly of two kinds: first, the meagre residue of real content which may possibly survive in the abstractions from which he starts and, secondly, the content which our ideologist once more introduces from his own consciousness. And what does he find in his consciousness? For the most part, moral and juridical notions which are a more or less accurate expression (positive or negative, corroborative or antagonistic) of the social and political relations amidst which he lives; perhaps also ideas drawn from the literature on the subject; and, as a final possibility, some personal idiosyncrasies. Our ideologist may turn and twist as he likes, but the historical reality which he cast out at the door comes in again at the window, and while he thinks he is framing a doctrine of morals and law for all times and for all worlds, he is in fact only fashioning an image of the conservative or revolutionary tendencies of his day — an image which is distorted because it has been torn from its real basis and, like a reflection in a concave mirror, is standing on its head. Herr

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/german-ideology/ch03p.htm
— Thought and Language —

One of the most difficult tasks confronting philosophers is to descend from the world of thought to the actual world. Language is the immediate actuality of thought. Just as philosophers have given thought an independent existence, so they were bound to make language into an independent realm. This is the secret of philosophical language, in which thoughts in the form of words have their own content. The problem of descending from the world of thoughts to the actual world is turned into the problem of descending from language to life.

We have shown that thoughts and ideas acquire an independent existence in consequence of the personal circumstances and relations of individuals acquiring independent existence. We have shown that exclusive, systematic occupation with these thoughts on the part of ideologists and philosophers, and hence the systematisation of these thoughts, is a consequence of division of labour, and that, in particular, German philosophy is a consequence of German petty-bourgeois conditions. The philosophers have only to dissolve their language into the ordinary language, from which it is abstracted, in order to recognise it, as the distorted language of the actual world, and to realise that neither thoughts nor language in themselves form a realm of their own, that they are only manifestations of actual life.


In the last part, this is emphasized in how the thing-in-itself is posited as simply the ego and fits in well with the sense of the self as an empty container for the world because we mistake it for a substance when it is in fact simply a process.
Man was not non-thinking body or a bodyless thought as conceived in a Cartesian dualism. The mistake being that with the language where we speak of an I, we mistake the word for reality itself. Instead, we exist in unity, and it's from Spinoza we best find an apt position.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/essays/essay2.htm
What is thought then? How are we to find the true answer to this question, i.e. to give a scientific definition of this concept, and not simply to list all the actions that we habitually subsume under this term (reasoning, will, fantasy, etc.), as Descartes did? One quite clear recommendation follows from Spinoza’s position, namely: if thought is the mode of action of the thinking body, then, in order to define it, we are bound to investigate the mode of action of the thinking body very thoroughly, in contrast to the mode of action (mode of existence and movement) of the non-thinking body; and in no case whatsoever to investigate the structure or spatial composition of this body in an inactive state. Because the thinking body, when it is inactive, is no longer a thinking body but simply a ‘body’.

https://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/works/story-concept.htm
Human consciousness arises from the interaction between human physiology and human behaviour. Both these two processes are perfectly objective processes which are observable. Thought cannot be identified with neurons. I can think of a neuron, and I can think with a neuron, but a thought cannot be a neuron or any combination of neurons or neuronal processes. And nor is a thought identical to its object, either in form or content. But when my cat looks behind the mirror to find the other cat, I know what’s in his mind; but it is an appearance, an illusion; it is not my illusion, but his illusion, and such appearances can be studied scientifically.

This directs us to seeing thought in relation to the world rather than the obsolete view of thought as merely something inside one's head.
This is where Hegel, follows this sensible view of not isolating thought to that which is in the head, but considering it in a novel way.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/essays/essay5.htm
Having thus posed the problem Hegel proved to be the first professional logician who resolutely and consciously threw aside the old prejudice that thought was presented to the investigator only in the form of speech (external or internal, oral or written). The prejudice was not accidental; thought could only look at itself from the side, as it were, as an object different from itself, only insofar as it had expressed itself, embodied itself in some external form. And the completely conscious thought that all the old logic had in view really assumed language, speech, the word, as its outward form of expression. In other words thought achieved awareness of the schemas of its own activity precisely through and in language. (This circumstance had in fact been recorded in the very name of logic, which is derived from the Greek logos, word.) Not only Hegel and the Hegelians, incidentally, spoke of this, but also some of their opponents in principle, like Trendelenburg, who noted that traditional (formal) ‘logic becomes conscious of itself in speech and so in many respects is a grammar absorbed with itself’.
...
But, that being so, man’s actions, and so too the results of his actions, the things created by them, not only could, but must, be considered manifestations of his thought, as acts of the objectifying of his ideas, thoughts, plans, and conscious intentions. Hegel demanded from the very start that thought should be investigated in all the forms in which it was realised, and above all in human affairs, in the creation of things and events. Thought revealed its force and real power not solely in talking but also in the whole grandiose process of creating culture and the whole objective body of civilisation, the whole ‘inorganic body of man’ (Marx), including in that tools and statues, workshops and temples, factories and chancelleries, political organisations and systems of legislation.

It was on that basis that Hegel also acquired the right to consider in logic the objective determinations of things outside consciousness, outside the psyche of the human individual, in all their independence, moreover, from that psyche. There was nothing mystical nor idealist in that; it meant the forms (‘determinations’) of things created by the activity of the thinking individual. In other words, the forms of his thought embodied in natural materials, ‘invested’ in it by human activity. Thus a house appeared as the architect’s conception embodied in stone, a machine as the embodiment of the engineer’s ideas in metal, and so on; and the whole immense objective body of civilisation as thought in its ‘otherness’ (das Idee in der Form des Anderssein), in its sensual objective embodiment. The whole history of humanity was correspondingly also to be considered a process of the ‘outward revelation’ of the power of thought, as a process of the realisation of man’s ideas, concepts, notions, plans, intentions, and purposes, as a process of the embodying of logic, i.e. of the schemas to which men’s purposive activity was subordinated.

It would seem that Hegel was in accordance with Spinoza's view in eschewing introspection, which apparently at it's peak would result in Kant's contentless forms and a transcendental logic independent from the world itself and considered the activity of people and their creations. Even consideration of language was but an examination of thought in a partial form in which it was objectified, placed outside the subject in order to be an object of his activity.
https://www.ethicalpolitics.org/wits/vygotsky-consciousness.pdf
BUT my consciousness, I cannot investigate scientifically. As Feuerbach put it quite correctly: “what for me is a mental, non-material, suprasensory act, is in itself a material, sensory act.” The other point about Marx’s aphorism is that he defines it as “My relation to my environment” without any qualification. It is all-inclusive. Marx does not limit consciousness to “awareness” nor does he exclude emotions, or make any other such qualification. It is the totality of my relation to my environment. The problem of the further specification of consciousness cannot be settled in advance by philosophy but requires positive, experimental investigation. So philosophy can only give this very starting point: “My relation to my environment is my consciousness.”

Putting this together with the problem of the difference between phenomenon and being in psychology, what this means is that introspection may contribute something to an elaboration of consciousness, but consciousness is not given to introspection. Introspection is a phenomenon in its own right. I cannot step outside of myself and make my own consciousness an object of my consciousness.

Instead of a mind-body dichotomy from Descartes which seems an issue of ontology which he posed as an epistemological issue by generalizing his introspection to everyone, there is a focus on the subject-object relation.

To try and get back on track, not sure that universals are considered synonymous with essence, but it seems to me that as distinct from Hegel though through his method, there is meant to be an effort to identify a concrete universal. The universal commonly conceived is an abstract one where one identifies attributes that are found in every case of an entity that fits within the concept/category. If it does not fit, because something about it contradicts the category, like all swans are white and one witnesses a black swan, then we either adjust the category to include black swans or the entity is placed under another category.
Apparently, Hegel following Goethe, seeks to find not that which has shared attributes and when stripped away of any in-essential attributes one has a abstract universal form. Instead one is to find the simplest unit which gives rise to other forms, so it doesn't necessarily look like all others, instead all particulars are derived from it.
And for Marx, apparently there is a real existing universal, where through empirical analysis we can find the example in the world. For Marx, he found it with the concept of the commodity, by analyzing this cell of capitalism, he was able to unfold it and derive a concrete understanding of relations of capitalism. But to identify the commodity as the basic unit of analysis, he had to consider the whole and work through it empirically.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1857/grundrisse/ch01.htm#loc3
If I were to begin with the population, this would be a chaotic conception of the whole, and I would then, by means of further determination, move analytically towards ever more simple concepts, from the imagined concrete towards ever thinner abstractions until I had arrived at the simplest determinations. From there the journey would have to be retraced until I had arrived at the population again, but this time not as the chaotic conception of a whole, but as a rich totality of many determinations and relations.

What distinguishes this approach is that it seeks out the essential thing, instead of arbitrary features (tendency of formal logic in trying to find a common attribute).
https://kapitalism101.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/abstraction-abstract-labor-and-ilyenkov/
If we are free to select one general feature over another we can radically change the concept of capital. If we choose only the ahistorical features we can make capital seem eternal. If abstraction is just seen as the identification of general features then we have no choice but to be arbitrary in our abstractions. But if abstraction is seen differently, as identifying the essential nature of an object, as identifying the “relation within which this thing is this thing” as Ilenkov puts it, then we can be scientific about our abstractions.

When we make an abstraction we want to select that aspect of the object which identifies its essence. Since the essence of things is in their relation to other things, we want to identify the essential relations which govern the object, abstracting away other non-essential aspects. Thus capital’s essence is in the increase of value in production through the exploitation of wage labor. A funny thing happens when we make abstractions of this kind: They often cease to be general features of the entire class. For instance, the above abstract definition of capital does not describe the general features of all capitalist activity. For instance, banks have an increase in value over time but they do not engage in production. Neither do landlords. So the abstraction, capital, is not a general property of capital. Instead it is an abstraction that gets to an essential relation. The profit of banks and landlords is a derivative profit, a subtraction from the surplus value created in production by other capitalists. This is a very different sense of abstraction that we are often used to. Here the abstraction ‘capital’ identifies the essential relation which makes all forms of capital possible, wether or not they share the same general features! The same is true with the basic abstract starting point of Marx’s theory: the commodity. As Ilenkov points out, Marx defines the commodity form very abstractly, even abstraction away money at first and just looking at the relation of one commodity to another. But this basic commodity-commodity relation is generative of the whole complex of social forms that exist in a capitalist economy. Even though some aspects of capitalism (credit default swaps for instance) are not the exchange of one product of labor for another this basic C-C relation is the logical and historical cell which is generative of the whole.

This way of abstracting gets us out of the arbitrary nature of old-logic where we chose whatever general features we wanted. Instead when we abstract we must identify the essential relation which defines an object, a relation that is generative of the class. This requires a very careful scientific approach to understanding how one form generates another, etc. This is the process of unfolding contradictions, etc…. but I will not get into that here.

A good abstraction, one that really identities the essential “relation within which the thing is the thing” is called a ‘concrete abstraction’. From the standpoint of old-logic this seems a contradiction in terms. But it makes perfect sense once we jettison the prejudice that abstract-concrete refers to thought-reality. Concrete abstractions don’t just refer to ideas. They refer to real things in the world. Every concept is abstract in the sense that it just refers to one aspect of reality. Every concept (every well-defined dialectical concept) is concrete in that it refers to the specific features that define an object in relation to the whole rather than to abstract general features. So every well-conceived dialectical concept is a concrete-abstraction.

So it seems that the essence of things is a comprehension of not only it's relations in reality but how it is governed by such relations. This is how Marx ends up with interesting definitions such as class defined by relation to the means of production, where one doesn't identify things by shared features but precisely by the opposites lacking in the other. This allows for a non-arbitrary view of class (ie socioeconomic status, cultural capital - examples of strata within classes).
This is because in reality, identity isn't fruitful to identifying essential relations between things.
https://www.marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/articles/universal.htm
What is “common” between the employer and employee? Or consumption and production?

Clearly, the concrete-empirical, apparent essence of the relation that binds together various phenomena (individuals) into some “one,” into a common “set,” is by no means delineated and expressed by their abstract-common feature, nor in the definition equally characteristic of both. The unity (“or commonness”) is provided much sooner by the “feature” which one individual possesses and another does not. The very absence of the known feature ties one individual to another much stronger than its equal presence in both.

This I suspect presently, is the interpenetration of opposites and is perhaps only a moment in Hegel's method, though I wouldn't be able to confirm this not knowing Hegel's method.
http://69.195.124.91/~brucieba/2014/04/19/ilyenkovs-dialectic-of-the-abstract-and-the-concrete-iii/
Ilyenkov has established that thinking in concepts entails revealing the real living unity of things, their concrete connection of interaction and not abstract dead unity.

Sameness is usually assumed to identify a link or interaction between phenomena. Yet the sameness does not reveal the essence of interconnection. For example two gears are locked together between their teeth and grooves not between tooth and tooth. They are connected through their opposite reflection.

A similar process is observed in chemical process between particles when to become a molecule one particle finds its compliment in another in the electrons within its opposite structure. Bonding takes place through one particle finding in the other a property which it lacks. Without this continuous coming together and breaking apart no cohesion or interaction exists either.

Indeed were two phenomena absolutely identical it would be hard to see any interaction between them ever taking place. Identical phenomena may exist side by side but in order for there to be interaction between them certain changes must take place within them that turns them into mutually opposing moments within a coherent whole.
By Senter
#14935561
I'd like to briefly summarize my view of all this with the hope that some who are well versed in Marxism and Marx's writings will comment.

I believe it is fair to say that Marx developed a detailed analysis and critique of capitalism, but he didn't deal so much with how to create the next alternative or how it would look. That is mostly left to others like us, today, to work out. As such he provided an explanation as to why we are seeing capitalism in crisis and inspiration that it is possible to move beyond it. But how to move beyond is yet to be determined, and what the details of the next system will be are yet to be worked out.

And therefore, it seems to me that arguing over, or even trying to determine, what strategies are "truly Marxist" in the effort to establish the next system is useless intellectualism dedicated mostly to an effort to "win" an intellectual argument that gets nowhere. We can't propose any detailed strategy with the imagined "detailed authority" of Marx because there is no such authority. Strategies will be developed largely in a trial-and-error method guided by a desire to achieve a rather general goal that solves the problems of capitalism which Marx identified so well.

In this context even debating and arguing over fine points of Marxist analysis constitutes an impotent intellectual waste of time as it relates to any actual achievement of the goal. General understandings are important as they provide some general guidance. But how to "get there" is up for grabs as long as we learn from past failures and develop strategies to avoid the same pitfalls in the future.

Comments?
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By Wellsy
#14935819
I think this might be an apt point
https://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/seminars/solidarity.htm
The expansion of rights, giving access to the political process to more and more people, at the same time further isolates people. Solidarity is not a relationship of rights. It brings people together. It does not presuppose collectivism or sacrifice of individuality; solidarity actually supports individuality. Without struggle of course, there can be no solidarity, so there has to be a struggle. Just as the rule of capital bases itself on the ethos of equal exchange, socialism bases itself on the ethos of solidarity. It will be solidarity which binds the working class together, not agreement on theory.

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