Friday, August 5, 2016

Nick Johnson — Marx and Engels on the dialectics of nature


I've left a couple of comment there.

The Political Economy of Development
Marx and Engels on the dialectics of nature
Nick Johnson

15 comments:

jrbarch said...

Tom – am philosophically curious:

You mentioned to Nick - ”Ontological uncertainty entails epistemological uncertainty, whereas epistemological uncertainty does not necessarily entail ontological uncertainty”.

So I am interpreting that as:

Existential uncertainty entails human knowledge uncertainty, (OK) whereas
Human knowledge uncertainty does not necessarily entail existential uncertainty (??)

So, I am thinking if you are uncertain about existence then you cannot avoid existential uncertainty?

So I am not getting the meaning? Thanks ....

Matt Franko said...

Tom,

99.99999% of people are all going around with "we're out of money!" as falsely named knowledge (to them..) or thinking we are still under the metals as again falsely named knowledge (to them...)

Marx wrote at a time when we were under the metals so his thinking is all within that context that "money!" is metals, etc...

So now WE KNOW (the 1,000 or so of us) that we are not under metals today and we are NOT "out of money!" etc.... so doesnt this knowledge then change us?

Doesnt the addition of knowledge change people? it has permanent cognitive effects..

If so, how come you keep going back to Marx for insight? He didnt know what we know today so what good is he? He didnt have the same knowledge as we do today so why keep going back and examining what he said?

There is no insight there that is applicable today... we have knowledge that he didnt have... from an economic perspective...

Its similar to you guys wanting to jump in on one of these sides politically Dem or GOP... both those sides DO NOT have the knowledge we have so why would any of us want to jump into that fray on the one side?

I dont get it...



Ryan Harris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Hickey said...

”Ontological uncertainty entails epistemological uncertainty, whereas epistemological uncertainty does not necessarily entail ontological uncertainty”"

If an event is contingent, then it is ontologically uncertain. For humans, the future is contingent and independent of our knowledge and will, so it is ontologically uncertainty. Probability and statistics do not and cannot predict specific events or outcomes, only likelihood based on mathematical probability, like a coin toss, or statistics based on modeling. One can compute the probability of the outcome of the next coin toss but not the actual outcome. This is contingency, for us. Perhaps greater knowledge in physics will roll that back but if some conditions are random outcomes, like genetic mutation, then some ontological uncertainty will remain.

On the other hand if occurrences are regular then it is possible to rite a function predicting the outcome in any particular case. But even in the case of most robust scientific laws, a negative result is always possible. So science is tentative.

No matter how long the run of positive results, the probability never reaches 100%. The certainty of science is the deductive certainty of the theory, but all theories are tentative on future discovery. P = 1 is reserved for logical necessity or tautology (truism), and p = 0 is reserved for logical impossibility aka contradiction. In addition, while classical physics is ergodic and apparently deterministic, QM is (apparently) grounded in ontological uncertainty owing to quantum randomness. This is paradoxical and presents a puzzle. See Quantum Randomness.

On the other hand, there are events that have already occurred (determined) that are potentially knowable but which remain unknowable on account of lack of evidence, for example. History is not contingent but it may be undecidable. It already happened but evidence and context are sparse in many cases, so our ability to know what happened is limited or non-existent in those cases. Different accounts are advanced but no definite criteria are available to decide them based current data and methods. Unlike dealing with the future, better methods or more data can result in more definitive knowledge.

continued

Tom Hickey said...

continuation

An interesting paradox arises in philosophy over certainty. Metaphysics is the study of "being qua being," and the first principles that apply to being as the most general category that includes all existence. The ancients were conceded with the question, "What is being." Descartes pointed out that the more fundamental question is, however, epistemological, namely, what we can know for sure about being. He famously asserted that one cannot doubt one's own existence. For Descartes the Cogito is the foundational principle since it is both ontologically and epistemologically certain.

But the thinkers of the East, notably Buddha, and subsequent thinkers in the West, notably Hume, pointed out the knower or experience assumes a self in Descartes formulation and there is no continuous self to be found since experience is continually changing. That is to say, for the experience, self in insubstantial, its mode of being always fluctuating. The only certainty is that being is ever-changing and no stable substance can be located in experience.

What I have presented is not offered as an argument but only a very brief summary of the history of thought. Some may find it curious, strange or merely a waste of time, but the questions raised are enduring and cognitive scientists have taken them up.

The answer of perennial wisdom based on the testimony of sages, grounded in their own putative non-ordinary experience is that ontological and epistemological uncertainty are based on the mode of knowing. The experience of those in gross consciousness is limited to experience of the gross world through sense experience of material objects. Those in gross consciousness use life energy and mind but do not know either life energy or mind directly, nor do they know real existence as that which is unchanging (absolute) directly. Being as such and consciousness as such are identical, although at this level the terms apply only analogously in terms of the mode of the knower using them.

According to sages, those is subtle consciousness know life energy directly, but not mind or unchanging existence. Those in mental consciousness know the mind directly but not unchanging existence. Only those that have transcended mind know unchanging existence directly. Those in gross consciousness, which is most people, have ontological certainty of existence of experience but the do not know the real nature of the knower or the known, which are one in the state of the identity of knower and known but appear to be separate in states of duality. This would suggest that ontological and epistemology certainty are relative to the mode of knowing.

The testimony of sages is ancient, as is the philosophical debate, although not as ancient. Now this is being investigated in transpersonal psychology.

Tom Hickey said...

If so, how come you keep going back to Marx for insight? He didnt know what we know today so what good is he? He didnt have the same knowledge as we do today so why keep going back and examining what he said?

No one is right about everything. Even those who accept their scripture is the word of God have to admit that scripture has different interpretations and there is no absolute criterion available for deciding which interpretation was intended by God.

I am neither a Marxist nor a Marxian since I am relatively inexperienced with the body of Marx's work. I think he was correct about several matters that conventional economics rejects. First, Marx emphasized that social science including economics is historical so there are not timeless economic laws. Marx also emphasized that economics is closely related to anthropology and sociology, and that is it necessary to consider the deep connection among the social, political and economic aspects of life.

A lot of ink has been spilled over Marx's view of money that I don't want to add to since it is no long relevant in light of contemporary conditions. Marx was writing not only under the gold standard but also under mercantilism, which was about a nation accumulating gold through international trade. That ended when Nixon shut the gold window. But under the gold standard or bi-metal standard of international trade, mercantilism was determinative both economically and politically. This gives a different perspective to M-C-M'. M= gold. The end in view of capitalist enterprise was gold accumulation.

However, now that this is no longer the case it doesn't necessarily follow that everything Marx wrote was either wrong or irrelevant now. There are still a lot of useful insights there to build on. Marx focused on rent-extraction by a rentier class. That is still with us, and conventional economics seeks to bury it.

jrbarch said...

OK. Thankyou in appreciation of your answer Tom.

For me, I think I start from P = ∞ 0 doesn’t exist or is another symbol for ∞ and all of the other numbers emerge from ∞

In regard to Cogito I would say ‘I am’ and thinking is a mirror in which I can see either the world or myself, depending upon which way it is aimed. In turn I become the mirror in which I can see reflected a persona way down below, or a higher Self way way above, depending upon which way it too, is aimed. Am just using words to very poorly paint an experience here. The world and thinking vary; I as a viewer and a mirror have a beginning and an end, but the Self remains.

Am reading about the possibility that all of the cosmological gravitational theories are illusionary (not what they pretend to be) at the moment – electromagnetism has a greater role – so that’s a lot of fun!!

Gary Hart said...

That is impressive Tom Hickey!

Ryan Harris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Franko said...

"No one is right about everything."

Sure one can be right about everything what do you mean by this 'predict the future'? if this is what you mean then I would agree that no one can do that about 'everything'... iow 'a fool can ask more questions than a wise man can answer' type thing ....

but as long as the subject is known then people can be 'right about everything' all the time... if we dont know what we are doing then of course we can be seen to be wrong as that becomes 'trial and error' (keyword there 'error'...) but as long as we understand what we are talking about we can certainly be right about 'everything' ...

" have to admit that scripture has different interpretations"

And I dont agree with this either... unqualified teachers can get involved, there has been mistranslations from the original language, religious dogmas have been introduced (sects, rituals, etc..) , additional doctrines (hell, trinity, etc...)

But there are not different 'interpretations' I dont see that... there are only wrong interpretations and a correct interpretation....

Matt Franko said...

wrt Marx ok I forgot about Marx on 'rent'... agree that is pretty valuable and not well understood presently... but beyond that I dont see much there....

Kaivey said...

I can imagine what the correct interpretation of the Bible would be. My one, I guess?

Matt Franko said...

Kevin its not to be "interpreted" it is read...

Its "rote" vs. "creative learning".... Paul taught it via 'rote'... you just read it .... its pretty simple...

Think of your multiplication tables back in the day: "4 x 4 = 16, 5 x 5 = 25, etc..." there is no "interpretation" needed....

Paul to the ecclesia at Colossi: " Beware that no one shall be despoiling you through philosophy...in accord with human tradition...." Col 2:8

Christendumb is led by philosophers in the human tradition... "creative learners" or often translated into 'disciples' in English... Paul did not 'make disciples' or 'creative learners' he taught via rote...

Dont over-think it... just read it....

Tom Hickey said...

The sages say that there is a value in reading scripture, even in the original language without understanding it, because "you become what you think." That is to say, the consciousness that formulated the expression is embedded the words, not only in meaning but also sound, and one absorbs some of that influence spontaneously by reading and reflecting.

But over-thinking does inhibit this process by intruding oneself into it rather than let it happen naturally.

However, as soon as one even quotes scripture to make a particular point, one is automatically interpreting scripture for a self-selected purpose. Any use of an expression that goes beyond the expression itself involves some degree of interpretation, even if it is commonly assented to in a community.

Moreover, as I have pointed out previously, scripture is rich is meaning and contains aspects that are literal, allegorical, moral, and mystical. If one just reads scripture, over time this unfolds, that is, "reveals" itself, depending on the level of awareness of the reader aka "mode of knowing."

But communicating this insight to others involves interpretation. Nothing wrong with that as along as one admits that this is a personal interpretation based on one's own understanding and level of erudition about the original language, historical context and other factors that scholars address in exegesis and hermeneutics in order to avoid naivety and increase analytical rigor.

A lot of ink has been spilled about this and wars fought over it.

Why is it important here. Currently, there is a dialectical conflict in progress between liberalism and traditionalism, and traditionalists in particular are influenced culturally by their scripture. We have seen this recently in the discussion her in the comments about interpretations of Islamic scripture and tradition. Wars are now being fought over it. It's also a raging subject in Russia over Russian Orthodoxy, Byzantine Orthodoxy, Western Christianity (Catholicism and Protestantism) and Western secular humanism. In the West, the US in particular, there is a raging conflict between "traditional values" and modern liberalism based on secular humanism.

These are key influences in the world dynamic at present.

jrbarch said...

“Having said all that, in my view there is no final ‘model’ of the things which we perceive, study and act upon. We can only view reality through the ‘software’ (our mind) that emerges from the ‘hardware’ (our brain and nervous system), so even the above conception, or any other, has its limits, and I find it helpful to be aware of this”. [Nick Johnson from the article]

IOW humility is the best option.

After 200,000 years on the evolutionary road, we get to watch a contest between H & T. Oh brother! Reality tv!

Meanwhile, I am reading about electric currents in space plasma that span galaxies; and people arguing about whether or not it is gravity (astroscience, unidentified, and the weakest force in nature) or electromagnetism (heretics, identified, 10^39 more powerful a force) that causes the accretion of matter.

“Closer to home, the star nearest to us known as Proxima Centauri is 4.3 light years (ly) away. This turns out to be a little more than 25 trillion miles. Here I have summarised an understandable model which illustrates the distance our own Sun is away from Proxima Centauri. I have taken this from Don Scott’s book “The Electric Sky” but it was originally put together by Robert Burnham Jr., an American astronomer ... “Consider the distance of one mile. At one end we have our Sun the size of the full stop at the end of this sentence and the Earth one inch away from it as an almost invisible speck of dust. Pluto’s distance from the Sun would be around three and a half feet away and Proxima Centauri would be another full stop, four and a half miles away!” There is a further interesting point to consider here. The gravity model of the universe tells us that everything is subject to gravitational relationships. What then do you think the gravitational relationship will be between two specks of burning hydrogen the size of full stops that are four and a half miles distant from each other?
Much further away than Proxima Centauri we have our nearest major galaxy Andromeda at 2 million ly. That is around 12,000,000,000,000,000,000 or 12 billion, billion miles away; not by anyone’s standards a Sunday stroll after lunch!”
[p.79 A Beginners View of our Electric Universe Tom Findlay]

So, what does it mean to be human?