Song without words

Routeburn Track, New Zealand

Routeburn Track, New Zealand

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Lenin: the recent revolution in natural science, and philosophical idealism – part eight

A massive star in NGC 6357

A massive star in NGC 6357

“Matter has disappeared” (continued)

The opinions expressed by Bogdanov in 1899 regarding “the immutable essence of things”, the opinions of Valentinov and Yushkevich regarding “substance”, and so forth – are similar fruits of ignorance of dialectics. From Engels’ point of view, the only immutability is the reflection by the human mind (when there is a human mind) of an external world existing and developing independently of the mind. No other “immutability”, no other “essence”, no other “absolute substance”, in the sense in which these concepts were depicted by the empty professorial philosophy, exist for Marx and Engels. The “essence” of things, or “substance”, is also relative; it expresses only the degree of profundity of man’s knowledge of objects; and while yesterday the profundity of this knowledge did not go beyond the atom, and today does not go beyond the electron and ether, dialectical materialism insists on the temporary, relative, approximate character of all these milestones in the knowledge of nature gained by the progressing science of man. The electron is as inexhaustible as the atom, nature is infinite, but it infinitely exists. And it is this sole categorical, this sole unconditional recognition of nature’s existence outside the mind and perception of man that distinguishes dialectical materialism from relativist agnosticism and idealism.

V.I.Lenin, Materialism and Empirio-criticism: Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975, 243

The first image (a 180 degree panorama) sent from another planet (Venus). Venera 9, 1975

The first image (a 180 degree panorama) sent from another planet (Venus). Venera 9, 1975

Opportunity at Santa Maria Crater, Mars, 2011

Opportunity at Santa Maria Crater, Mars, 2011

Philae on comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko, 2014

Philae on comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko, 2014

Flying past Neptune’s moon Triton

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Part eight/to be continued…

Full text at Marxists Internet Archive

Image sources: 1st/2nd/3rd/4th

Aristotle and Nicholas of Cusa: to be and/or not to be, that is the question

Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet ‘…she described her character as “manly and resolute, but nonetheless thoughtful…[he] thinks before he acts, a trait indicative of great strength and great spiritual power”.’ (Wikipedia)

Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet ‘…she described her character as “manly and resolute, but nonetheless thoughtful…[he] thinks before he acts, a trait indicative of great strength and great spiritual power”.’ (Wikipedia)

‘Now it is also the case that there can be nothing intermediate to an assertion and a denial. We must either assert or deny any single predicate of any single subject. The quickest way to show this is by defining truth and falsity. Well, falsity is the assertion that that which is is not or that that which is not is and truth is the assertion that that which is is and that that which is not is not. Thus anyone who asserts anything to be or not to be is either telling the truth or telling a falsehood. On the other hand, neither that which is is said either not to be or to be nor is that which is not.

And if there were an intermediate of contradictory statements, then it would either be like grey between black and white or like the non-man-non-horse between man and horse.’

Aristotle The Metaphysics, Gamma 7 1011b, Trans. and Introduction by Hugh Lawson-Tancred, Penguin, London, 2004, 107

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‘I want to tell you of one more thing that I see to be marvellous above other things. …since all things are singular, they are both similar, because they are singular, and dissimilar, because they are singular; (and they are not similar, because they are singular), and not dissimilar, because they are singular. A corresponding point holds regarding same and different, equal and unequal, singular and plural, one and many, even and odd, concordant and discordant, and the likes, although this (claim) seems absurd to the philosophers who adhere – even in theological matters – to the principle that each thing either is or is not (the case).’

Nicholas of Cusa, De Venatione Sapientiae (On the Pursuit of Wisdom), Nicholas of Cusa: Metaphysical Speculations, Six Latin Texts Translated into English, Trans., Jasper Hopkins, The Arthur J. Banning Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1998, 1320-21

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Engels on the exaltation of man

Michelangelo, ‘David’, marble, 1501-1504, Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze (Florence)

Michelangelo, ‘David’, marble, 1501-1504, Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze (Florence)

So much is certain: comparative physiology gives one a withering contempt for the idealistic exaltation of man over the other animals. At every step one is forced to recognise the most complete uniformity of structure with the rest of the mammals, and in its main features this uniformity extends to all vertebrates and even – in a less distinct way – to insects, crustaceans, tapeworms, etc. The Hegelian business of the qualitative leap in the quantitative series is also very fine here. Finally, among the lowest infusoria one reaches the primitive form, the simple, independently existing cell, which in turn is not to be distinguished by anything perceptible from the lowest plants (fungi consisting of single cells – the fungi of the potato and the vine diseases, etc.) or from the germs of the higher stages of development up to the human ovum and spermatozoon inclusive, and which also looks just like the independent cells within the living body (blood corpuscles, the cells of the epidermis and mucous membranes, the secretion cells of the glands, kidneys, etc.)…


Engels to Marx in London, Manchester, July 14, 1858, Marx Engels, Selected Correspondence, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1982, 102

Tardigrade or water bear (Macrobiotus sapiens) in moss. Colour enhanced scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a water bear in its active state. Water bears are tiny invertebrates that live in aquatic and semi-aquatic habitats such as lichen and damp moss. They require water to obtain oxygen by gas exchange. In dry conditions, they can enter a cryptobiotic state of desiccation, known as a tun, to survive. In this state, water bears can survive for up to a decade. This species was found in moss samples from Croatia. It feeds on plant and animal cells. Water bears are found throughout the world, including regions of extreme temperature, such as hot springs, and extreme pressure, such as deep underwater. They can also survive high levels of radiation and the vacuum of space. Magnification: x250 when printed 10cm wide.

Tardigrade or water bear (Macrobiotus sapiens) in moss

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Images: top/bottom

Hegel on the Light of Life

Bioluminescent phytoplankton, River Derwent, Tasmania

Bioluminescent phytoplankton, River Derwent, Tasmania

‘…vast tracts of sea break out into phosphorescent light…the whole surface of the sea, too, is partly an infinite shining, partly an immeasurable, immense sea of light which consists purely of points of life lacking any further organisation.’

G.W.F.Hegel Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature, Part Two of the Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences (1830), Trans., A.V.Miller, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2004, 297

Vaadhoo Island, Maldives

Vaadhoo Island, Maldives

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Images: top/bottom

A meditation on creative thought

*   *  *

I believe the brain plays a game – some parts providing the stimuli, the others the reactions, and so on…One is only consciously aware of something in the brain which acts as a summariser or totaliser of the process going on and that probably consists of many parts acting simultaneously on each other. Clearly only the one-dimensional chain of syllogisms which constitutes thinking can be communicated verbally or written down…If, on the other hand, I want to do something new or original, then it is no longer a question of syllogism chains. When I was a boy I felt that the role of rhyme in poetry was to compel one to find the unobvious because of the necessity of finding a word which rhymes. This forces novel associations and almost guarantees deviations from routine chains or trains of thought. It becomes paradoxically a sort of automatic mechanism of originality…And what we call talent or perhaps genius itself depends to a large extent on the ability to use one’s memory properly to find the analogies…[which] are essential to the development of new ideas.

Stanislaw M. Ulam, Adventures of a Mathematician, 1976, in Scientific American, October, 1994, 83

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Video

Could Turner create like this?

Still Life with NGC 2170

NGC 2170: Still Life with Reflecting Dust

The Flame Nebula in Infrared

The Flame Nebula in Infrared

 The Antennae Galaxies in Collision

The Antennae Galaxies in Collision

Monsters of IC 1396

Monsters of IC 1396

Hidden Treasures of M78

Hidden Treasures of M78

The Southern Cliff in the Lagoon

The Southern Cliff in the Lagoon

Star Forming Region S106

Star Forming Region S106

M16 and the Eagle Nebula

M16 and the Eagle Nebula

Spiral Galaxy NGC 4038 in Collision

Spiral Galaxy NGC 4038 in Collision

HH-222: The Waterfall Nebula

HH-222: The Waterfall Nebula

I don’t think so.

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Image sources: 1st/2nd/3rd/4th/5th/6th/7th/8th/9th/10th

Lenin: the theory of knowledge of dialectical materialism – part twenty-one

Space and Time (continued)

Engels, exposing the inconsistent and muddled materialist Dühring, catches him on the very point where he speaks of the change in the idea of time (a question beyond controversy for contemporary philosophers of any importance even of the most diverse philosophical trends) but evades a direct answer to the question: are space and time real or ideal, and are our relative ideas of space and time approximations to objectively real forms of being; or are they only products of the developing, organising, harmonising, etc., human mind? This and this alone is the basic epistemological problem on which the truly fundamental philosophical trends are divided. Engels, in Anti-Dühring, says: “We are here not in the least concerned with what ideas change in Herr Dühring’s head. The subject at issue is not the idea of time, but real time, which Herr Dühring cannot rid himself of so cheaply [i.e., by the use of such phrases as the mutability of our conceptions]” (Anti-Dühring, 5th German edition, S. 41).

This would seem so clear that even the Yushkeviches should be able to grasp the essence of the matter. Engels sets up against Dühring the proposition of the reality, i.e.., objective reality, of time which is generally accepted by and obvious to every materialist, and says that one cannot escape a direct affirmation or denial of this proposition merely by talking of the change in the ideas of time and space. The point is not that Engels denies the necessity and scientific value of investigations into the change and development of our ideas of time and space, but that we should give a consistent answer to the epistemological question, viz., the question of the source and significance of all human knowledge. Any at all intelligent philosophical idealist – and Engels when he speaks of idealists has in mind the great consistent idealists of classical philosophy – will readily admit the development of our ideas of time and space; he would not cease to be an idealist for thinking, for example, that our developing ideas of time and space are approaching towards the absolute idea of time and space, and so forth. It is impossible to hold consistently to a standpoint in philosophy which is hostile to all forms of fideism and idealism if we do not definitely and resolutely recognise that our developing notions of time and space reflect an objectively real time and space; that here, too, as in general, they are approaching objective truth.

“The basic forms of all being,” Engels admonishes Dühring, “are space and time, and being out of time is just as gross an absurdity as being out of space” (op. cit.).

V.I.Lenin, Materialism and Empirio-criticism: Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975, 158-159

Part twenty-one/to be continued…

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Full text at Marxists Internet Archive

Patriarchal reason and dreaming

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When will academic philosophers and their concealed priesthood accept that the brain functions as a material unity and philosophise about thought in all its material forms – as it reflects the world?

For Hegel, the high-priest of ‘Reason’, we are always thinking:

‘it is also inadequate to…(say) vaguely that it is only in the waking state that man thinks. For thought in general is so much inherent in the nature of man that he is always thinking, even in sleep. In every form of mind, in feeling, intuition, as in picture-thinking, thought remains the basis.’

G.W.F.Hegel Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind, Part Three of the Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences (1830), Trans., William Wallace, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1971, 69

Who has questioned how this assertion bears on Hegel’s philosophy (and on academic philosophy generally)? What is the relationship between ‘reason’ and dreaming?

A slice of the discussion now:

James Pagel (University of Colorado School of Medicine): ‘we use our dreams in creative process, we use our dreams in art, we use our dreams in understanding in ways that we don’t attain with conscious thought. These appear to be mind-based correlates that we can see within a dream. Now, most dreams may not show those. Most dreams are reflections of our waking life. But some dreams can be very special.’

Ilana Laps (Psychotherapist): ‘One particular dream I remember. I was considering moving to another country to study their work on trauma, and while I was there doing research I had a dream. It was a very sunny dream and I was at a conference for nurses, and it all seemed very positive until suddenly one by one all the nurses’ eyes became black and haunted, and the earth started to give way beneath me. So there was a real twist in the plot, which is one of the things that we look for in dreams. And when I woke up and I did the dream work, I felt very strongly that it was a warning dream, letting me know that that would not be a healing place for me to work. So I changed my plans. (my italics) …In general terms the logical, linear, rational part of our brain is powered down when we’re dreaming, but everything to do with our emotional life and our motivation and our memory banks are actually wide awake. So what we have is access to an uncensored landscape of memory and emotion. And of course that’s the promised land of therapy.’

ABC Radio National/All in The Mind/Dreams – windows to the mind 26.10.14

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

Causality and Necessity in Nature (continued)

“Objective scientific knowledge,” says Dietzgen in his The Nature of the Workings of the Human Mind (German edition, 1903), “seeks for causes not by faith or speculation, but by experience and induction, not a priori, but a posteriori. Natural science looks for causes not outside or behind phenomena, but within or by means of them” (S. 94-95). “Causes are the products of the faculty of thought. They are, however, not its pure products, but are produced by it in conjunction with sense material. This sense material gives the causes thus produced their objective existence. Just as we demand that a truth should be the truth of an objective phenomenon, so we demand that a cause should be real, that it should be the cause of an objectively given effect” (S. 98-99). “The cause of a thing is its connection” (S. 100).

…The world outlook of materialism expounded by J. Dietzgen recognises that “the causal dependence” is contained “in the things themselves”.

V.I.Lenin, Materialism and Empirio-criticism: Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975, 141

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Part nineteen/to be continued…

Full text at Marxists Internet Archive