This strange eventful history 1

Face of an actor

Face of an actor

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Routeburn Track, New Zealand

Routeburn Track 4

Lenin: The Theory of Knowledge of Dialectical Materialism – Part Three

The ‘Thing-in-Itself’ (continued)

The question at issue is Marx’s second Thesis on Feuerbach and Plekhanov’s translation of the word Diesseitigkeit.

Here is the second Thesis:

“The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory, but is a practical question. In practice man must prove the truth, i.e., the reality and power, the ‘this-sidedness’ of his thinking. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking which is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question.”

Instead of “prove the this-sidedness of thinking” (a literal translation), Plekhanov has: prove that thinking “does not stop at this side of phenomena”. And Mr. V. Chernov cries: “The contradiction between Marx and Engels has been eliminated very simply…It appears as though Marx, like Engels, asserted the knowability of things-in-themselves and the ‘other-sidedness’ of thinking” (loc. cit., p. 34, note).

What can be done with a Voroshilov whose every phrase makes confusion worse confounded! It is sheer ignorance, Mr. Victor Chernov, not to know that all materialists assert the knowability of things-in-themselves. It is ignorance, Mr. Victor Chernov, or infinite slovenliness, to skip the very first phrase of the thesis and not to realise that the “objective truth” (gegenständliche Wahrheit) of thinking means nothing else than the existence of objects (“things-in-themselves”) truly reflected by thinking. It is sheer illiteracy, Mr. Victor Chernov, to assert that from Plekhanov’s paraphrase (Plekhanov gave a paraphrase and not a translation) “it appears as though” Marx defended the other-sidedness of thought. Because only the Humeans and the Kantians confine thought to “this side of phenomena”. But for all materialists, including those of the seventeenth century whom Bishop Berkeley demolished (see Introduction), “phenomena” are “things-for-us” or copies of the “objects in themselves”. Of course, Plekhanov’s free paraphrase is not obligatory for those who desire to know Marx himself, but it is obligatory to try to understand what Marx meant and not to prance about like a Voroshilov.

V.I.Lenin, Materialism and Empirio-criticism: Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975, 89

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Part three/to be continued…

Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach

Form and Content

Newnes

Newnes

Form and Content

Newnes

Newnes

Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, Tasmania

The Overland Track

The Overland Track

An Insight Into Australian Culture: Tall Sword Syndrome

The Sydney Morning Herald 28.08.14, pp. 4-5

‘Swordsman Bob won’t be drawn by Keating’s unholy cuts’, Tony Wright

Paul Keating has always taken wicked pleasure in cutting his enemies down to size, but his delight in shrinking Bob Hawke’s most treasured legend to that of a minnow surely ranks close to the unholiest cut of all.

There wasn’t, according to Mr Keating, actually much to behold when the honourable member’s member was exposed to the light.

How relived must Tony Abbott find himself? He merely has to suffer the slings of those who find themselves confronted by his attachment to budgie smugglers and the breadth of his budget.

Mr Keating recalled on Wednesday the days of government in the 1980s when he and other cabinet ministers would stroll the grounds of the Lodge to find Mr Hawke, Prime Minister of Australia, sunning himself au naturel by the pool.

“It does take a certain chutzpah to meet ministers in the nude,” the former Treasurer offered. Indeed, he and the then foreign minister Gareth Evans had once arrived in suits, sweating, the business of government at hand, to discover Mr Hawke on full display. “I said, ‘don’t worry – midgets’,” he recalled. And to ensure no one missed the import of his reflection, he held out his hand in the universal fisherman’s gesture of insignificance, the thumb and the forefinger barely an inch apart.

Mr Keating was moved to relate his memories of government in the raw while launching the former Senator Evans’ diaries from the early Hawke-Keating government’s years, 1984-1986.

Professor Evans, now chancellor of the Australian National University, gives a robust telling in his diary – Inside the Hawke-Keating Government – of the clashing egos of what he calls a “cantankerous” gathering of mostly men in the cabinet, none of them quite as cantankerous as Hawke and Keating themselves.

He also recalls being sacked as Attorney-General after being summoned to the Lodge where he found Mr Hawke sunning himself by the pool, though there is nothing about the prime minister’s state of costume.

Mr Keating, who finally snatched power from Mr Hawke in 1991, clearly felt the time had come to put that omission to rights. Mr Hawke, known in the blokey vulgarity of his circle as a considerable swordsman in his day, has suffered uncharitable observations previously regarding the alleged dimensions of his weapon.

The man he deposed as labor leader in 1983, Bill Hayden, waited until he published his autobiography in 1996 to offer the same sort of critique as Mr Keating.

Mr Hawke has maintained an unusually lofty silence about the subject, and his spokeswoman, very sensibly, refused to be drawn on the matter on Wednesday.

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On 04.09.92 Maxine McHugh in an interview of Keating (on the ABC’s AM show) asked him (he was then Prime Minister) a bizarre question, indicative of a deeply sick culture – all the more so in being put to that nation’s leader: ‘Can we be considered a nation of losers?’ Keating acknowledged the validity of the question and referred to Australians ‘hopping into’ those who ‘we’ perceive have more ability than us.

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Related:

Shame and the Need to Shame

How bleak is our valley

The Lucky Country: Part Three

Routeburn Track, New Zealand

Lake Mackenzie

Lake Mackenzie

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Form and Content

Newnes

Newnes

Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, Tasmania

Mt. Pelion West from the Overland Track

Mt. Pelion West from the Overland Track