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File: 1608528010941.jpg (40.95 KB, 554x380, trotsky.jpg)


Alright so I've had a few interactions with people on /leftypol/ who seem to think that Dialectics means rejecting the Aristotelian law of non-contradiction. As far as I can tell this has no real basis in the work of Marx or Engels and is a good to not be taken seriously by anyone who understands logic or philosophy or mathematics. I was really confused about where this came from for a while. I have read Mao's "On Contradiction" many times and I suppose that text could be read that way, but I don't think that is what Mao meant by contradiction or "the unity of opposites". Last night though I read Leon Trotsky's "The ABC of Materialist Dialectics" and I think I've found my answer. In it, Trotsky straight up makes a case for why A=/=A, and does make a somewhat compelling argument until you examine it critically.

This piece is well written like most of Trotsky's work, but his argument is full of non-sequitors and general misreadings of Marx and Engels. I want to make this thread to do some comparing and contrasting between four texts in particular, but we can bring in other lit if people want. Those four texts are…

Anti-Duhring by Engels:

The ABC of Materialst Dialectics:

Dialectical and Historical Materialism:

On Contradiction by Mao Zedong:

The first thing I want to note is in paragraph 12 of the general introduction to Anti-Duhring:

>To the metaphysician, things and their mental reflexes, ideas, are isolated, are to be considered one after the other and apart from each other, are objects of investigation fixed, rigid, given once for all. He thinks in absolutely irreconcilable antitheses. "His communication is 'yea, yea; nay, nay'; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." [Matthew 5:37. — Ed.] For him a thing either exists or does not exist; a thing cannot at the same time be itself and something else. Positive and negative absolutely exclude one another, cause and effect stand in a rigid antithesis one to the other.

Now, on first read this might appear to be a denunciation of Aristotelian non-contradiction, but I am pretty sure it isn't. It isn't a mere assertion of temporarily either because he specifically says "at the same time". I'm pretty sure what he means here is that a thing can be both itself in terms of it's internal relations, and something else in terms of it's external relations. This is supported by the context of this quote, in which Engels is talking about the metaphysical or even naturalistic approach of examining systems in isolation and not in their particular contexts.



It's not trotsky, watch this.


LMAO that is literally the same as Trotsky's argument. Caleb is a crypto-trot confirmed.


It was alleged I think by Aristotle that Heraclitus denied the law of non-contradiction. I don't think that is a fair reading though. Tho say "you never step in the same river twice" is just an assertion of temporality and change. Denying the law of noncontradcition would be saying "you never step in the same river once"… which is basically what Trotsky's arguments in the ABC.


My notes on the first 12 paragraphs of Trotsky's "The ABC of Materialist Dialectics"

>P1: R(dialectics, formal logic) = R(higher, lower math)

this isn't exactly wrong, but the ways in which the relation is the same kinda expose his misunderstanding. You don't get higher geometry by reversing the laws of elementary geometry. There is a trivial congruence here in the difference between euclidean and non-euclidean geometry, but that's not the same distinction as higher and "lower" (elementary) geometry. Higher math takes the same topics as elementary math to a greater degree of abstraction. Trotksy goes on to belittle the notion of abstraction.

>P2: Any assertion of equality we might make will not hold true if the objects we are equating are material, ie A=/A because the letters are different when you look at them under a lense

This is a non-sequitor.

>P3: A=A only of A DNE

Apparently abstractions and thus categories (for categories are abstractions) do not exist.

>P4: When quantitative changes are negligible we may assume A=A

Of course, because you need this law for any practical engagement. Not saying that makes it true, but if it isn't why do you have to assume it?

>P5: (didn't summarize this one)

Okay so he's rejected abstract categories, and yet he places an almost naval-gazing degree of signifigance on the distinction between quantitative and qualitative. It is an important difference so perhaps I shouldn't be frustrated about that, but it seems kinda self-contradictory to place such emphasis on ABSTRACT CATEGORIES when you just rejected the notion of abstract categories being real.

>P6: …

I don't quite understand what he is saying in this paragraph so if anyone could break it down for me that would be appreciated.

>P7:Vulgar though treats categories as "fixed abstraction".

Fair enough. So what is the dialectical way to define these categories or qualitative differences? As emergent properties of quantitative changes? Funny how in order to reject abstract categories you have to appeal again to more abstract categories in order to recover what was lost. Keep kicking the can down the road I guess.

It's also funny how this conforms to contemporary trends in Bourgeois science such as quantizement in physics, and how these trends have spawned cargo cults in other areas of science. Reminds me a bit of contemporary Trotskyism.

P8: This paragraph is the only one worth reading
This is where his actual point is and it is a good point. It's more to do with particularities and context then dialectics though.

>P9: R(dialectical thought, vulgar thought) = R(video, photograph)

He sure likes drawing these relational equivalencies, funny how that too is a form of abstraction. Almost like you can't even argue AGAINST abstraction without appealing to abstraction. Also apparently dialectics is when you know that things change over time…

P10: Allegory of the caves reference where Hegel is trapped in the cave and Marx escapes.
Thank you Trotsky, very cool.

P11: Volition is not a part of nature, and "consciousness grew out of the unconscious"
How exactly?


Getting tired. Might finish these notes tomorrow or maybe I will just move on to Stalin and see if that's any better.


> https://www.marxists.org/glossary/terms/i/d.htm#identity
This seems to trace it back to Hegel. I have no idea if Trotsky ever read Hegel, it could be that he got it from Lenin.


I wonder if Lenin ever asserted that dialectics mean denying the law of identity. I haven't found it anywhere but then again I haven't read all of Lenin.

I think this is based on Trotsky's misreading of Engels, but the itself can be traced back to Aristotle's misreading of Heraclitus.


Maybe we'll have to actually read the Science of Logic to get an answer on this, but it seems like if it went from Hegel to Marx and Engels to Lenin to Trotsky and Stalin and Mao then it would actually show up in Marx and Engels.

Thanks for the link btw. Gonna check out this piece by CLR James.



There is no such thing as rejecting the principle of non-contradiction. One either accepts it, or rejects and accepts it. Think about it.


Kek. That is a good point. It's actually an illustration of what is known as the "principle of explosion". There is nothing dialectical in the Hegelian or Marxist sense though.


Thank you anon!


observation: a good historical illustration of the principle "negation of negation" is illustrated in the events of April 6, 1871, when the guillotine was brought out by the 137th battalion of the National Guard, and publicly burnt, amid great popular rejoicing. the guillotine once represented the negation of the feudal power and the victory of revolution, but by 1871 the Parisian proletariat saw the guillotine also a symbol of bourgeois tyranny. by burning the guillotine, did they renounce its liberatory role? no, as on May 5 the Commune ordered the demolition of the Chapel of Atonement, which had been built in expiation of the execution of Louis XVI. this illustrates that the negation of the negation is not the same as the reversal of the negation.


File: 1608528028468.png (2.89 MB, 1200x2461, that_rite.png)

There was a crimethinc article about that which Rad Shiba (the one true communist youtuber) brought up in his last livestream. Interesting observation Akko and a good demonstration of dialectics as it applies to history.

Relevant section from Anti-Duhring:



File: 1608528029427.jpg (40.05 KB, 318x432, antid.jpg)

Here are my notes on the general introduction to Anti-Duhring in video form.





This is called the "principle of explosion".




File: 1608528046117.jpg (140.03 KB, 413x550, voash.jpg)

Notes on the second introduction to Anti-Duhring in video form.



Are you the same guy who does those music videos, I know one was about Kaczynski.


File: 1608528046337.jpg (15.13 KB, 255x255, skmk.jpg)

Yeah that's me. One of the only avatar or namefags left in this wretched den. God I miss afroplasm.


>One of the only avatar or namefags left in this wretched den
I could point you to several websites where everyone is a namefag.


True. There are plenty of namefags here too. I meant out of the 2017 cohort.


File: 1608528050160.jpg (263.82 KB, 1600x970, cosmoedu.jpg)

Notes on Anti-Duhring section III in video form.



File: 1608528309896.jpg (54.69 KB, 724x345, vus.jpg)

Copy-Pasting some relevant posts I made from a different thread to here. Would just link but /leftypol/ has gotten pretty fast lately.


First Post

Here, I intend to show that for Engels, science was a mater of empirical investigation. The following quotations are from the general introduction.

>"The beginnings of the exact investigation of nature were first developed by the Greeks of the Alexandrian period, and later on, in the Middle Ages, were further developed by the Arabs. Real natural science, however, dates only from the second half of the fifteenth century, and from then on it has advanced with increasing rapidity."

Engels–like the Philosophers of Science in the 1920s–viewed natural sciences as a model from which principles of method could be abstracted, but–unlike the Philosophers of science in the 1920s–Engels did not see the method employed in natural sciences as an idealized form to which any future science must conform, but rather as a stage in the development of science, subject to historical contingencies with it's own shortcomings.

>"The analysis of Nature into its individual parts, the groupings of the different natural processes and natural objects in definite classes, the study of the internal anatomy of organic bodies in their manifold forms–these were the fundamental conditions of the gigantic strides in our knowledge of Nature which have been made during the last four hundred years. But this method of investigation has also left us as a legacy the habit of observing natural objects and natural processes in their isolation, detached from the whole vast interconnection of things; and therefore not in motion, but in their repose; not as essentially changing, but as fixed constants; not in their life, but in their death. And when, as it was the case with Bacon and Locke, this way of looking at things was transferred from natural science to philosophy, it produced the specific narrow mindedness of the last centuries, the metaphysical mode of thought."

Engels had a vision of an approach to science which could overcome these limitations, and he worked to actualize this vision in his work.

The aforementioned shortcomings Engels labels as metaphysics, and as we will see in the next section, it is overcome through dialectics.


Second Post

The previous section illustrated a congruence between Engels' use of the word science and contemporary uses of the same word. This and all subsequent sections will instead repudiate the existence of any such congruence in use cases of the respective terms.

First: metaphysics. In contemporary academia, metaphysics refers to a branch of philosophy which seeks to answer questions of the substance or fundamental nature of reality. In the previous quotation from Anti-Duhring we can see that Engels uses the term quite differently. For Engels, metaphysics refers to conceptions of systems or things as isolated from the world around them. In other words, the metaphysical outlook sees the internal relations of a things or system, but not the external relations. To view a system as static is metaphysical because it neglects to consider the system in relation to time. This particular metaphysical outlook is the cause for much confusion, because it is used frequently and sometimes taken as the whole picture. It is important to keep in mind that metaphysics includes all models which neglect either internal or external relations, not just static models.

We pick up where we left off:

>"To the metaphysician, things and their mental images, ideas, are isolated, to be considered one after the other apart from each other, rigid, fixed objects of investigation given once for all. He thinks in absolutely discontinuous antithesis."

The opposite of metaphysics, that is to say, a view of objects and systems that considers internal and external relations, and the interrelations between these relations, IS dialectics. The aforementioned reduction of metaphysics to conceptions as static, consequentially reduces dialectics to an acknowledgement of change as constant. Hence, the common misconception that dialectics is the principle that all things are in constant motion.


Third Post

In contemporary philosophy, idealism and materialism describe metaphysical schools of thought that respectively assert consciousness (or mind or concepts or will) and matter as the fundamental substance of our world. I will not mislead you, Engels does espouse a form of conventional materialism. In addition to this however, he gives idealism and materialism new meanings, I think best illustrated by this section from section "III. Classification. Apriorism" The quotation follows a lengthy section, paraphrased from Eugen Duhring which I will not subject you to here, but the beginning may be confusing as a result.

>"What he is dealing with are therefore principles, formal principles derived from thought and not from the external world, which are to be applied to Nature and to the realm of man, and to which therefore Nature and the realm of man have to conform. But whence does thought obtain these principles? From itself? No, for Herr Duhring himself says: the realm of pure thought is limited to logical schemata and mathematical forms (the latter, moreover, as we shall see, is wrong). Logical schemata can only relate to forms of thought; but what we are dealing with here are only forms of being, of the external world, and these forms can never be created and derived by thought out of itself, but only from the external world. But with this the whole relationship is inverted: the principles are not the starting point of the investigation, but its final result; they are not applied to Nature and human history, but abstracted from them; it is not Nature and the realm of humanity which which conform to these principles, but the principles are only valid insofar as they are in conformity with Nature and history. This is the only materialistic conception of the matter, and Herr Duhring's contrary conception is idealistic, makes things stand completely on their heads, and fashions the real world out of ideas."

This quote can be difficult to parse so read it over again if you need to. Engels unequivocally states here that the distinction between idealism and materialism is one of METHOD, rather than metaphysical substance. The primary difference between materialism and idealism for Engels is not metaphysical at all, it is epistemological! It regards principles, ie, statements, laws of nature, empirical claims. Let's break down his definition of the "materialistic conception" into three points:

>The principles are not the starting point of the investigation, but it's final result.

>They are not applied to nature and human history but abstracted from them

>It is not up to nature to conform to these principles but rather it is up to the principles to conform to reality

Clearly, materialism for Engels entails a particular method of empirical investigation. You might say, a scientific method. The first two points regard how empirical claims are apprehended. Karl Popper explicitly excludes any specifications in this domain from his criterion, so Engels method already has a wider array of applications, but the third point–upon careful consideration–contains the rational embryo for falsifiability! If principles are shown to not conform to reality, what are we to do with the? Throw them out! In this one line, Engels has implied Poppers criterion forty or more years before it's advent! Admittedly, it is not spelled out in Poppers characteristic autism, but I think what it lacks in rigor it makes up for in elegance.


the socialist materialists are idealists
dialectical materialism is nothing else but idealistic materialism
ascribing history and change to dead matter brings forth the concept of god

the truth of the matter regarding A ≠ A is the following:

the reversal of metaphysics

1.if everything is becoming then nothing is being
if nothing is being then nothing can become

2.if everything is trying to overcome being
it will always revert into being

3.being is becoming, becoming is being
what is besides becoming and being?



File: 1608528333805.jpg (237.52 KB, 424x433, Friedrich_Engels.jpg)



You understand this is schizo nonsense, right? This is why no one comes here.


File: 1608528376771.pdf (713.59 KB, 40403102.pdf)

gonna leave this here, seems relevant


Not me.

And yes, I know my reading is schizo, but it is still better than Trotsky's!!!!


Thank you for the contribution!

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