Self clarification - Page 2 - Politics | PoFo

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For importunate arguments and postings imponderable to virtually all forum members. Though their authors might believe the only problem is everyone else's impercipience.

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By Wellsy
A wonderful analogy for the place of ideality within activity.
Collective thinking cannot be grasped by vulgar materialism; it is shaped by what Ilyenkov calls ideals. Ilyenkov compares the ideal to “the form of a jar growing under the hands of a potter.” This ideal is situated neither in the piece of clay nor the body of the potter. It arises from the activity of transforming the clay into a jar. Thinking does not occur “inside the head”—but through the interrelations of the hands, the clay, and the tools. Ilyenkov’s conception of transindividual thinking breaks up the divide between material and social.

Accordingly, we do not see through our eyes but with a thinking body that is the totality of social activity. Ideals are “transplanted” into our bodies not through our senses but our interrelations.
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By Wellsy
Review of Value of Value Fine and Harris.

Interesting assessment of how mainstream economists abstract circulation from production and a lot of Marxists abstract production and miss features of their unity.
If we consider the production and circulation of use-values the two spheres can be defined independently of one another : a certain determinate quantity of use-values is first produced and then exchanged one for another. However as soon as we consider the production and circulation of value, which is the basis for our understanding of the social form of production, it becomes impossible to consider production and circulation independently of one another. Labour time is expended in production, but this labour time is only socially validated in circulation, so value cannot exist prior to exchange, while surplus value depends on the relation between the result of two exchanges (of money capital for labour power and of commodity capital for money) . Thus value cannot be determined within production, independently of the social validation of the labour expended within circulation : circulation is the social form within which apparently independent productive activities are brought into relation with one another and have the stamp of value imposed on them . However value cannot be determined in circulation either, for circulation is the form in which the social mediation of private labours takes place and the latter provide the material foundation of the social determination of value . Thus to isolate production from circulation, even analytically, is to isolate independent productive activities from one another, and so to deprive production of its social form . To isolate circulation from production, on the other hand, is to isolate the social relations between producers from their material foundation. It is in this sense that production and circulation can only be seen as moments of a whole, as the development of the contradictory unity of value and use-value with which Capital begins. The argument holds with added force when we turn to surplus value, and so capital, which depends in addition on the commodity form of labour power.

The idea that the circuit of capital is a totality of which production and circulation are moments is not a metaphysical idea, although Marx does say that the commodity appears to be 'a very queer thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties' (Capital, I, p. 71, 1967 Moscow edition) . The totality is not simply a conceptual totality, an Hegelian idea imposed on reality, it is real and it has a concrete existence. Its reality is that of the class relation between labour and capital, and its existence is the everyday experience of millions of dispossessed workers. If we look only at the immediate forms of existence of the relation between capital and labour we cannot find a class relation .

Within circu lation capitalists and workers enter as individuals engaged in a free and equal exchange of commodities. Thus there are no class relations here. Within production again we find only individual relationships between individual capitalists and the group of workers under their command . Certainly workers have a common interest against their own capitalists, and workers have a common interest against capitalists as a whole . But a common interest is not sufficient to define an especially privileged class relation: thus workers in a particular branch of industry also have a common interest with the capitals which employ them but this does not define a class relation, nor does it undermine the priority of class relations . A class relation is not defined subjectively by the existence of a common interest, it is an objective social relation that exists independently of, and prior to, any particular interests.

The foundation of the social relation between capital and labour lies outside both production and circulation, thus outside the circuit of capital, in the separation of the labourer from the means of production and subsistence. Or rather this foundation lies not outside the circuit of capital, it suffuses the circuit as a whole. Thus the real foundation of the unity of the circuit of capital as the totality of the differentiated (economic) forms of the class relation between capital and labour lies in the separation of the labourers from the means of production and subsistence, a separation that is in turn reproduced only in the circuit of capital as a whole. Thus Marx does not discover the class relation between capital and laour in the sphere of circulation, but nor does he find it in the sphere of production, he only discovers it when he comes to consider the unity of production and circulation in the reproduction of capital, in part VII of volume I of Capital after he has considered the moments of the whole separately in the previous sections. In part VII of volume I, and in part I of volume II, Marx reassesses the results of the previous analysis by locating these apparently independent moments within the whole as forms of the class relation.

The class relation between capital and labour is quite distinct from other social relations because it is constituted prior to the circuit of capital, it is the social precondition for that circuit . Other social relations that develop on the basis of common economic interests are determined within the circuit of capital, and so presuppose the class relation between capital and labour. This applies to the relations between different capitals, between different sections of the working class, and to relations within which workers may even identify with capitalists . Moreover the disposession of the labourer is not only the basis of the workers' entire social existence, and so the basis on which workers enter not only production and circulation, but also engage in leisure activities, enter political relationships, and conceptualise their relationships with the social and natural conditions of their existence. Dispossession is thus a total social experience, an experience not only of exploitation, but also of social, political and even natural domination. The crucial feature of the capitallabour relation is not that it is defined in production, but that it is prior to both production and circulation as the social precondition for human existence within a capitalist society . Production and circulation are therefore in this very concrete sense moments of a totality, particular complementary forms of a single social relation.
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By Wellsy
This identity yet not complete identity is an interesting point. They are essentially linked but not the same.
My Japanese Maple tree is not my Japanese Maple tree because it resembles others of my trees or any such thing, or because of any contingent attributes of the vision from my window; it is what it is because of the specific identity of Particular, Universal and Individual described above.
It doesn’t matter whether you have in mind a material object of which someone has a thought within some formation of consciousness, or you have in mind the thought of that object as constituted within that formation of consciousness. In either case, the same relations of Individual, Universal and Particular apply: an object thought of, or the thought of an object. This is not to say that the object and a thought of it are the same, but such a distinction is indicative of movement and contradiction within the formation of consciousness. Such contradictions are manifested in the non-identity of universal, particular and individual.
In fact, Individual, Particular and Universal never completely coincide. There is always a degree of dissonance between them. The meaning of a word is never quite the same from one context to another, what people do is never quite normative, people never quite manage to say what they mean or do what they say. So when we say that a concept is the identity of Particular, Individual and Universal, we recognise that such an identity never exists. So a concept is always to one extent or another imperfect and riven with contradictions.

To summarise: in the argument of Capital, labour-time, value, and
exchange-value (price) are not three discretely distinct variables, nor are
they identical with one another. There is a continuity as well as a
difference between all three. The relation between them (in any combi-
nation) is not posed in terms of an independent variable determining
a dependent variable.
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By Wellsy
As a young adult or emerging adult, I experienced an issue of being verbose, of overthinking things that have not immediate or practical use-value and just being an kid with his head in the clouds wanting to think through theories and make sense of things for my own satisfaction.
Now as a father and husband with greater responsibilities, especially interpersonal ones, there is a detriment of such a tendency to overthinking and being the airhead because it comes as neglect of my family.
People online tend to take me as being smart and thoughtful, often attributing to me some sort of experienced and wise age beyond my actual years, but in reality, the same qualities that bring such an impression and typically as praise, also present themselves as the negative qualities that are seen as selfish, self-indulgent, negligent and a waste of time.

Would I be better off without such an inclination? A simpler or less ruminating mind? It is mental leisure really and such leisure is more so the vocation of men who do not support others while their wives and female relatives undergo the manual and mental labor supporting everyday living, and especially so for those with the wealth to purchase such labor of others.
But it tends to make me sad that I can't dive into things and learn freely, to go where my mind wants to wander at length.

The tension I feel is that while the critique of neglect to everyday life is valid, I feel a desire to also resist the collapsing of my mind ventures in part because what I feel is pressure from existing as a worker in a class society. That I am meant to be instrumental and productive with no other existence beyond as such. Only lip service to having any inclination beyond it, where even my private life becomes one of being time efficient and productive in order to have basic needs met so as to be productive at work.
That it is the infection of a way of life, or a suppression of one's existence to reproduction of one's existence but never the pleasures of being human.

As academia gets more and more integrated into the market and the instrumental reason of corporate pragmatism and professionalization, efficiency and technocratic specialization become the privileged, if not absolute, standards of value, the humanities and particularly disciplines such as literature or philosophy are perforce due to find their relevance put under serious question.

The well-rounded individual tends to be those well-off enough to leisurely pursue knowledge, experiences, and reflection at length. To learn and want to know more for myself and not simply be told but to explore should be of some value, but not for the likes of me.
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By Wellsy
I am now digging into how the concrete universal that is foundational to the unfolding of some specific subject has telological implications because it becomes the cause of itself by transforming preconditions of it's own existence into it's own cause, so the anomlous effect becomes the cause of itself.
Hegel showed that causality is extremely limited in its explanatory capacity, because the invocation of causation leads to an infinite regress. Efficient causes are always of interest, but a phenomenon is only understood when it is grasped as a cause of itself (a causa sui), that is, the relevant process is seen to create and recreate the conditions for its own existence. But even then, explanation often takes the form of Reciprocity of cause and effect. Hegel (1831) grants that “to make the manners of the Spartans the cause of their constitution and their constitution conversely the cause of their manners, may no doubt be in a way correct,” but still explains nothing. But Reciprocity is as far as Causality can go. The understanding of a process as a cause sui means grasping it as a concept and usually incorporates an investigation of its origins and development.
The essential task then in the study of history is to determine the germ cell of the present day, most advanced formation. It was in Evald Ilyenkov’s chapter on abstract and concrete in the same work I have referred to that we find an exposition of how once the germ cell is isolated, its further concretisation can be traced as it colonises, so to speak, all the other elements of the social formation, and in the process of merging with other relations the cell is itself modified, ultimately able to reproduce itself out of conditions which are its own creation. But as the germ cell develops, its inner contradiction, formerly enclosed by the relations it builds around itself, breaks out, and it is at this point that revolutionaries have the chance to determine the course of events.
The way an institution which is becoming the dominant relation in society transforms existing, more ancient institutions, into subordinate organs of itself, such that the developing formation becomes self-reproducing. It is in this sense that logic works in the opposite direction to history in as much as the most ancient forms prove to be derivative forms of the central formation.
The real case-history of economic (market) relations testifies, however, in favor of Marx who shows that the “form of value in general” has not at all times been the universal form of the organization of production. Historically, and for a rather long time, it remained a particular relation of people and things in production although occurring haphazardly. It was not until capitalism and the “free enterprise society” came into being that value (i.e., the market form of the product) became the general form of inter-relationships among the component parts of production.

Similar transitions, of the “individual and accidental” into the universal is not a rarity, but rather a rule in history. In history – yet not exclusively the history of humanity with its culture – it always so happens that a phenomenon which later becomes universal, is at first emergent precisely as a solitary exception “from the rule,” as an anomaly, as something particular and partial. Otherwise, hardly anything could ever be expected to turn up. History would have a rather mystical appearance, if all that is new in it emerged at once, as something “common” to all without exception, as an abruptly embodied “idea.”

It is in this light that one should approach the reconsideration by Marx and Lenin of the Hegelian dialectical conception of the universal. While highly esteeming the dialectical tendencies in Hegel’s thought, Marxism furthers his conception in depth and in breadth, and thus, turns the category of the “universal” into the foremost category of the logic governing the investigation of concrete and historically evolving phenomena.

In the context of the materialistic conception of the dialectics of history and of thinking, the Hegelian formulas have different significance than in the language of their originator, being shorn of the slightest sign of mystical coloring. The “universal” comprises and embodies in itself “the entire treasure of particulars” not as an “Idea,” but as a totally real, special phenomenon which tends to become universal and which develops “out of itself,” by force of its intrinsic contradictions new but no less real, phenomena, other “particular” forms of actual progress. Hence, the “genuine universal” is not any particular form found in each and every member of a class but the particular which is driven on to emerge by its very “particularity,” and precisely by this “particularity” to become the “genuine universal.”

And here there is no trace of the mysticism of the Platonian-Hegelian breed.

This is also where dialectics is more advanced than mechanical materialism that crudely interprets idealism due to it's mystified fashion of the concrete universal.
Meanwhile, for Engels, a teleological account only means the absence of a proper scientific explanation for natural phenomena’ unanswered problems. 36 In nature, he says, “nothing happens as a consciously desired aim.” 37 But if that is Engels’ position, why do his detractors accuse him of pantheism and hylozoism 38 ? Because he conceives nature as a historical realm of active processes able to create higher (more concrete) forms of existence out of simpler interaction forms. 39 From the perspective of objective idealism, the spontaneous transition from an inferior to a superior state, e.g. from inanimate matter to living creatures, seems to be a miraculous violation of the famous ex nihilo nihil fit (nothing comes from noting) principle. For there is nothing alive in chemical or physical interaction out of which one can derive a bacteria, let alone a human being; just as there was no alcohol or sweetness in the water out of which Jesus made wine during the marriage at Cana. Thus, it seems that every higher stage must have been conceived first in the form of a concept. This ideal design expresses itself through the lifeless matter, just as the pots form manifests itself in the mud shaped by the craftsman. Like the pot, an organism is not a product of a merely random (blind, unguided) combination of parts. How can we explain why our eyebrows seem to be designed with the purpose of preventing the sweat of our forehead from falling into our eyes without recourse to a designer’s purpose? Indeed, the incapacity to explain the spontaneous emergence of higher (not just new) forms of movement is the Achilles heel of mechanistic materialism. 4
For metaphysical materialism, the rejection of teleology meant that developments in nature, such as the evolution of the thinking brain, were pure aleatory events even if step-by-step causally determined. 46 Hence, although Engels disagree with the Stoics’ notion of the ‘everlasting recurrence’ 47 without the smallest variation in its numberless cycles, he is on their side when they claim that the mind is not a mere (expendable) accident within the flow of nature but an immanent and necessary attribute of it. This does not mean that the mind has to be present in each part of the world (panpsychism), but that nature, as a whole, must necessarily produce the mind at some random point in space and time. 48 But in what precisely does this ‘necessity’ consist? How is that the appearance of new and more complex forms of the organization of matter develop not just as happy coincidences but with ‘iron necessity’? And how this is realized without the intervention of a conscious guiding hand?

Dialectical thought found the answer to those questions in the category of interaction —“reciprocal action is the true causa finalis of things.” 49 And as we have seen with our billiard balls and our dismembered hand, such a category only can assume this (dialectical) role as internal interaction of a concrete totality. It’s true that Hegel’s dialectical conception of the concrete universal anticipates this brilliant solution. 50 However, he quickly buried it under his idealism. In Hegel, interaction is seen not mainly as an activity of matter but as that of objective judgments, purpose, concepts, and syllogisms expressed in matter. 51 That’s why Ilyenkov claims that only dialectical materialism offers “a rational explanation of the fact that any given stage of development (any state of affairs) contains within itself, as if in an ‘embryo,’ the objectively determined and therefore scientifically determinable future.” 52 In nature (i.e., without any conscious intervention), a newly emerged form of interaction archieves its universality by subordinating the preceding forms as its ‘moments,’ as subsystems demanded, and thus reproduced by, its peculiar development.

This is how the new and higher form of interaction prevails in time as a relatively autonomous process that guides itself into existence, even if, at any time, it presupposes lower levels of reality as its preconditions. As with any concrete historical process, the appearance of a new and higher form of interaction always takes place based on specific preconditions created by the processes that precede it in time. However, its specificity is that this new form does not remain as the passive result of its preconditions; it becomes an active producer of such conditions that appear now as its means of existence. Thus, it spontaneously becomes the goal of the interaction between itself and its requirements. “Further process, from this point of view, looks like the transformation of this form of interaction from potentially dominant, potentially universal into actually dominant, actually universal.” 53

First, a higher level of development appears as an anomaly, as an exception to the (previous) levels. How does it become not just a casual, isolated event but a genuinely universal form? By producing and reproducing its own conditions, integrating and subordinating its constituents’ logic of functioning into its own. That’s why it’s contrary to dialectics to reduce the specific logic of the development and existence of a whole to the logic of its components. You cannot understand society by studying human individuals separately, let alone by the careful consideration of cells, molecules, or subatomic particles. Each of these levels has its specific logic of functioning that is integrated and subordinated by each higher form. This is why neuro-physiological reductionism is incapable of explaining thought. 54 Reductionism is unable to see in the whole anything else but an aggregate of parts externally (casually) interacting with each other. Dialectics sees in the whole a concrete totality in historical (directional) development, which poses itself as the law, as the goal, as the end of its subordinated (preconditional) forms of interaction. In this quid pro quo from outcome to source, from effect to cause, from efficiency to finality, from object to subject, lies all the secret of the ‘smartness’ of matter.

Crude or mechanical materialism allows Darwin's theory of evolution yet still has no proper place for understanding the qualitatively distinct nature of humans as from apes. There are definitely insights but manny place human consciousness as a mystical phenemonon and of course it remains mystified strictly within a mechanical materialist account and plays a God of the Gaps but with different place holders.
‘Emergence’ is the idea used by atheists to fill the gaps which religion fills with God – “I don’t know how this property of some complex organism is produced, it emerged naturally.” Emergence is a category of processes which includes a wide variety of intelligible processes which have little in common with each other, other than not being explicable solely in terms of causality. It is generally associated with processes which only occur when the number of individual components, causal iterations or level of complexity passes a critical level. It is then often falsely concluded that this complexity functions as the cause of the phenomenon concerned, being an efficient explanation for its occurrence under the relevant conditions. It should be noted that causality is not synonymous with intelligibility. In this sense, part of the role of ‘emergence’ is to restore ‘causality’ to its hegemonic role in positivist science. Another motivation is the problem in Analytical Philosophy as to how a collection of objects can exhibit a property which is not present in any one of the component objects individually, or in the precursor collections. For example, evolution proceeds for millions of years without any organism exhibiting consciousness, and suddenly homo sapiens ‘emerges’. Did God inject consciousness into Man, or did it ‘emerge’ naturally? Obviously the latter. However, to say that consciousness emerged at a certain point in evolution no more explains consciousness than does Divine intervention.

‘Emergence’ is also intended to counter the reductionist refusal to grant relative independence to sciences which rest on ‘emergent’ forms of motion. ‘Emergence’ means that ‘mental phenomena’ can be described and explained without any reference to ‘physical phenomena’ or explanation of the phenomena in physical terms. It is here that the concept of emergence acts specifically as a barrier to science because it functions to sanction the idea that there is no intelligible explanation for the ‘emergence’ since ‘emergence’ itself functions as such an explanation.

Darwin would hardly be remembered as a founder of modern biology if The Origin of Species had simply proclaimed that new species ‘emerged’ because biological processes were ‘complex’. He is remembered because he observed that off-spring resemble their parents, and formulated the idea of natural selection of variations in inherited characteristics. Even though it is evidently ‘directional’ in that it tends to produce more and more elaborate organisms, evolution is not teleological, because it does not act through consciousness. But nor is evolution causal, in that it relies on the random nature of variations and the accidental impact on survival of each mutation.

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