User:John Bessa/Dialectic

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Hegel's "invisible hand" reinforced the 2500 years of dialectic synthesis that apparently defines the current situation--despite Hegel's reversal.

Note: The accumulated evidence (and experience) for this article is here: Critical Inquiry "Blog", and the discussion group here is here: FB occupy critical inquiry

I came to the topic of the Dialectic by studying the behavior of the Occupy movement--not through philosophy. By searching for material intending to define how Occupy is behaving, I found philosophical and political references that plausibly describe it better than does conflicting current analysis. I am attempting to let my references me lead the direction of the article, rather than use it to impose my own world-view (which is socio- and psychological, that is to say, experiential).

The title is suggestive of Adam Smith's "invisible hand," which he said to symbolize economic market forces, but unlike Adam's intangible force, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's influence is, with practice, instantly recognizable and his life's path symbolizes philosophic forces that are as important now as ever--the rebirth of a philosophic spirituality within the most rational minds. As it happens, Hegel considered himself an economist as well as a philosopher, and he was apparently highly influenced by Smith. Smith, however, never mentioned the Dialectic and his use of it can only be inferred indirectly.

The key point with respect to the Dialectic is that Hegel first crystallized it (2500 or more years after it was initially defined) and then reversed his harsh interpretation of it (that was in line with Plato) by infusing spiritually-based Geist. Shortly thereafter Marx and Engels worked to restore Plato's original harshness which was later confirmed by Trotsky. With its "antithesis" component, the Dialectic often includes negativity that manifests as angered conflict. Hegel and Trotsky express this (with apparently irrationally) as anger for Aristotle's Syllogism (the basis for empirical experimentation) and, in so doin,g "trashed" our most refined of abilities: the power to abstract. This most likely hurt the Soviet Union greatly, and accounted for its "backwardness." Many suggest that this anti-abstract, antithetical anger hurts us now (possibly partially as an influence of communism manifesting as globalism, though combined, of course, with standard university teaching) by diminishing our ability to abstract or "imagine" a person-oriented and humane existence--as John Lennon suggested we should do in his song Imagine.

I cite the references as exact (or slightly-paraphrased) quotes, and I also provide two current and real-life examples of the Dialectic process provided by Occupy movement "occupiers." This includes an attempt to "manage" occupy protests using a thesis-antitheses-synthesis "looping" model by Occupy's Lisa Fithian, and a related anonymous example that reinforces Fithian's attempt with an example of antithetical anger in the classical vein that attacks the humanistic concept of self-actualization in the group context.

The Death of Spirit[edit]

Menos[edit]

An important word that influences my thinking is the Greek and Proto-Indu-European (PIE) word menos which means sense, spirit, enlightenment, and mythological strength ranging universally across the prehistorical PIE borders from India to Ireland (Ref). With Greek logos, or language, it was humanity's comprehensive meaning, and hence morality. During ancient times, it virtually dissappeared from texts, and did not reappear until recent centuries, first as German Geist. Plato, generally agreed to be the founder of Western Civilization with Socrates and Aristotle, dismissed even the of "menos" as inspiration for new knowledge by hypothesizing through the Socratic dialog of Menos, or the paradox of Meno's slave, that knowledge is pre-experienced and it is accessed it through reincarnation--there is no inspiration, according to Plato . He "proved" this through the dialectic. (Ref)

Hegel clarifies the Dialectic[edit]

All else in Socrates and Plato is purely rational in that it relies on highly-reduced subsets of math and objective-orientation, and menos may have been likewise "rationally-reduced" in this dialog to eliminate basic human inspiration (what is presently thought of as "white matter" functionality Ref) possibly to prevent competition from the democratic philosophers whom Plato and fellow oligarchs opposed. Thus, the next generation of the Dialectic, through the original Academy, developed into the dry, simple-calculating, format of Aristotle's Syllogism to ultimately dominate Western thought as rational reduction and to define empirical science in its limited experimental scope (Ref).. In recent centuries the Dialectic was ultimately clarified in the 1800s by Hegel and others in the tripartite of "abstract understanding, negative rationalism, and rational speculation" (whicn is similar to "thesis, antithesis, synthesis"). Just as Hegel was finalizing the Dialectic, he and Husserl moved in an opposite direction by restoring "Geist," or spirituality, to the philosophic equation to effectively reintroduced the ancient and lost "menos" (Ref).

Marx and Engels restore Plato's meaning[edit]

Marx took much from Hegel and, with Engels, established the "material dialectic" (without actually naming it) as basic communism by removing Geist, or "menos". In reaction to the prevailing utopian socialism of the mid-1800s which was abstracted and idealistic, they deliberately removed Geist to create an atheistic restoration of Plato's anti-sentimentality that effectively eliminated important inspirations for social progress, such as the reality of worker alienation, and, apparently, inspiration itself as menos (Ref).

In the "historical dialect" they defined the worker himself as the product of production itself in parallel with similar ideas that the person is purely the product of external effects (Ref). They restored both Plato's Dialectic (by removing Geist from Hegel's work) and his republic (that negated self-determination for normal people as well as non-oligarchic philosophers) to their 2500 year-old formats with the "material" and "historical dialectics" that remained the basis of communism until its end in recent decades.

Trotsky and Hegel call the "abstract" vulgar[edit]

The communists attacked Aristotle's Syllogism as it was inadequate for communist thought because, according to Trotsky, the material dialectic must take into consideration time and place, where as the Syllogism was more about empirical measurement (and 23-2400 years old). Trotsky described that a pound of sugar is not empirically sugar, but its "quantity" converts into "real quality" under differing circumstances, such as "where it is from," or "has it been tainted?"

In his writing about the Dialectic, Trotsky also evoked Hegel's "angry, conflicting, Being" that, through it's negativity of antithesis, denied the possibility of scientific phenomena as scientific experience is a "vulgar" pseudo-experience that is not derived from reality, but instead from abstracted ideas that he viewed necessarily as nonsense. Through Hegel, Trotsky simultaneously smashed the Syllogism even though it was the math that helped define the Dialectic's rational reductive thought process of empirical science. Simultaneously, he confirmed Hegel's development of Didactic truth-deriving loops of antithetical conflict as a basis of communist thought. By depriving Dialectic thought of its mathematical rationality, he (and other communists) denied for communism the possibility of our current use of abstraction that uses real material and experiences to construct scientific models, or whole system models. In so doing, he even deprived the Soviets of their abstract art known at time as Constructivist.

Trotsky and the other communists, and especially Stalin, failed to see that objective models such as Gestalt were becoming abstracted objects for many aspects of life or for life itself, such as in the context of therapy. These models would eventually become the basis for whole systems modeling ideas that are central to every sophisticated project ranging from emotional functionality to weather forecasting (as examples). Trotsky would have hypocritically called his humanistic contemporaries, such as the person-oriented Carl Rogers, "vulgar" even though they were creating "evolutional" models for every thinking organism's personal self-actualization. This is now the model that all current therapists use (or should use) to empower even the sickest with genuine self-dictatorship of the proletariat.

Attack against the "abstract"[edit]

Hegel, Trotsky, and the communists confused advanced abstract organization techniques with the basic empirical definitions and deductions methods that defined empirical reasoning (and science) that are the basis of Socrate's, Plato's, and Aristotle's Dialectic. They apparently intended to attack empiricism, but instead unnecessarily deprived communism of inspiration and the ability to evolve--perhaps as a bi-product of their hatred of Utopian socialism. Had they successfully attacked empiricism, they would, of course, have negated the Dialectic, which would have left them with Geist--a communist impossibility.

Hegel reverses his Dialectic[edit]

To Hegel's emmense credit, his Dialectic was ultimately influenced and ultimately eroded by collaboration with Husserl to create phenomenology, and philosophers such as Kierkegaard and Hume further advanced with ideas of experience and objectivity ultimately paving the way for ideas such as fields of perception, experience and the process of symbolization. This is the basis of our current conceptions of self, other, and the universe. Adam Smith stole a small portion of objectivity from Scotland's Hume to set a track of capitalization ideas that we see in Ayn Rand's objectivity, which is libertarian and property-oriented. Smith's objectivity, as it is economic and anti-humanistic, then seems to parallel Marx's and Engel's (and ultimately Stalin's) Dialectics. The communist dialectic must have been Mao's objectivity as well, as communism's underlying theories were nothing if not dogmatic. This suggests that there is a single university-defined paradigm (to occupy) based purely on Plato's Dialectic as it was restored by the communists.

Dialectic and homeostasis[edit]

This writing attempts to show how Hegel's dialectic contributed to Soviet's progress-killing homeostasis that ultimately resulted in its downfall (though the Soviets competed in space travel to the end). A parallel homeostasis exists now in globalism where technology gets superficially "fancier" (cameras shrink and websites become more complicated), but there is no improvement in content's "spiritual" meaning (or menos). What passes for today's popular culture is actually decades-old, and long predates the the fall of communism and rise of globalism; rock and roll and rap music were products of the "free" and spiritual period following the 60s revolution. For the seemingly brief decade of he 1990s, America was momentarily able to do "good" again, and emerged as a beneficial world leader in information sharing technology. But, this rise sadly reversed itself with collapse known notoriously as the "dot com" financial bubble. I can almost see Hegel's or Trotsky's cynical "Being" as an "invisible hand" of antithetical negativity smashing down those deluded idealists whose genuinely-constructed or generously-supported information abstractions momentarily gave the World reason for hope in capital and technology.

Hegel is innocent[edit]

I am unfairly blaming Hegel for all our problems, because as soon as he had successfully crystallized Plato's Dialectic (for the final time), he moved with Husserl in the opposite direction to restore menos to philosophy with Geist; that is, to make it democratic again after 2400 years of oligarchic suppression. By Geist, Hegel meant "actualizing" (or struggling for) freedom, literally a revolutionary concept in a tripartite of psychology, social interaction, and society. While Marx and Engels were Hegel's contemporaries, Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin were not--Hegel and long discarded the Platonic/Socratic Dialect and died when his Didactic crystallization of "synthesis through conflict" was revived and sealed in the form of the World Communism.

What have we learned?[edit]

Finding living persons to blame for the cyclically reinforced homeostasis of the Dialectic challenging, but a new character profile has emerged. This is someone whose dialectic nature attacks new thought cynically and obsessively as though the ghost of Plato. This character can be used as an identifying criterion.

Occupy's Fithian and Occupy Chappell: Current examples[edit]

Fithian's consensus process in comparison to Dialectic Behavior Therapy[edit]

Lisa Fithian's consensus-creating process (which she does not describe as a model) was instantly recognizable to me as a veiled didactic "shaping" or "motivating" tool by its similarity to Lineham's Dialectic Behavior Therapy (or DBT). DBT, which, as applied to self-damaging therapy clients, superficially "validates" client's thoughts and experiences by acknowledging them, but seeks to change them by (un-democratically and didactically) altering clients' thought process. The dialectic had not yet been identified as the "searched-for" component in Occupy that would make it same as every other related human endevour, though the naming of DBT offered a clue.

Occupy Chappell's synthesis through struggle[edit]

I was ultimately made aware of the dialectic by the occupier, Occupy Chappell, who had presented me to Fithian's consensus-creating process in a dialog I had with him in which I (partly deceptively) got him to acknowledge that his own revolution-building process included excessive ego-clashing as a part of a process of taking all human knowledge and blending it to create a synthesis from no initial goals that, through ego-clashing, would become the revolutionary reality.

Occupy's negative Dialectic[edit]

Together, Fithian and Occupy Chappell demonstrate the "negative" Dialectic as described by Adorno (in Negative Dialectics and by others), and demonstrates how Plato's Dialectic defines authority (to right to lead the republic) as coming from the ability to dominate the ego-clashing process of antithetical "looping" to define how the outcome, or synthesis, of the struggle becomes the final decision (Fithian), or law (Plato).

Identifying components of Fithian's process in classical terms[edit]

In DBT, the Dialectic struggle components are well-defined; the initating hypothesis, or abstraction, is the client's presumably distorted thinking--why he or she self-destructs. The therapist offers antithesis to the alleged distortions in which the thinking is destructed through dialog and though the authority of the therapist, and replaced with thoughts that are presumably beneficial (though not part of the client's basic being). The cycle is classic and well-defined, and devoid of democracy; DBT rules are emphatic that clients not be allowed to follow their own logic paths, especially in group sessions.

Fithian suggests at the outset that there is no "revolutionary" goal, that is to say that there is no hypothetical model or abstraction being presented at the outset, just a proposals for protest action that need to be pushed-through via process of clarification, ammending, and un-blocking that resists alternative ideas, or "thinking" as she says.

Occupy Chappell's support for Fithian's process confirms that this is a classic process, and since we see an antithetical looping mechanism that we recognize from Raapana's and Friedrich's criticism of Hegel, but there is no obvious abstract thesis that is being destructed. Occupy Chappell also refutes the validity of building on experience as DBT does (but only because he believes the dialectic is the only way), and desires "synthesis" as a desired outcome of the chaos of antithetical struggle. In other words, for both, the Occupy Dialectic creates synthesis and from it makes a reality that is irrespective of desired outcomes, though Fithian suggests occupy camp "community values" as a cornerstone.

Fithian's process may be antithesis that is maintained in a "wait state" in anticipation of abstract and original thought, what she calls "thinking," that is the natural expression component of any group meeting. Alternatively, Fithian's process may function as an agent inside the much greater abstraction that is society, and as such has a single purpose--to infect like a virus. In that case, original thinking would be ruinous to her process because most people hold themselves higher than microbes. She has a further difficulty in that her dialectic process is what Plato viewed as the civilizing process, (though he could not have called it that as it had yet to succeed), so therefore her anti-civilization dialectic cannot be called the process of civilization, unless she is planning a wholesale "sell out" to the system. (This last idea is not out of the scope of possibility, as she mentions a desire for "accountability" in protest, and she may have joined Chris Hedges' attempt to make a deal with the police to set up anarchist-leaning "black bloc" types for specially-targeted abuse.)

How Fithian's and Occupy Chappell's processes help define the current Dialectic[edit]

In short, they reconstruct ideas whose clarity may have been obstructed over time, and whose extensions and developments have become the exceedingly complicated topics of philosophical argument. Fithian does provide a functioning process (but not model), and through her video shows her approach in real-time by using it to handle inquiry, or even criticism, from her group of hopeful "facilitators." While Fithian will never mention the Dialectic (as she self-promotes as a democratic liberator, where deception is not beyond Dialectic-types), Occupy Chappell waves like it is the revolutionary flag itself. Thus Fithian and Occupy Chappell show in their different ways that the oligarchic process is an established component of Occupy, and that, for all appearances, the Occupy movement that they define is the opposite of what common people, especially protesters, would expect. It is oligarchy instead of democracy; authority instead of freedom.

Mediated citations[edit]

Plato[edit]

  • "Meno is one of the earliest dialogues in which Plato seeks to define virtue. Socrates is asked can virtue be taught."

Meno by Plato and translated by Benjamin Jowett google books

  • "Plato had employed a wide range of metaphors, where gods and the soul are often portrayed in anthropomorphic terms."

Personification In The Greek World: From Antiquity To Byzantium by Emma Stafford and Judith Herrin google books

Palto describes Socrates as saying "that [Meno's slave] has "spontaneously recovered" knowledge he knew from a past life without having been taught. Socrates is satisfied that new beliefs were "newly aroused" in the mind. Meno Wikipedia article


Dialectical materialism[edit]

  • "Historical materialism is deterministic; that is, it prescribes that history inevitably follows certain laws and that individuals have little or no influence on its development. Central to historical materialism is the belief that change takes place through the meeting of two opposing forces (thesis and antithesis); their opposition is resolved by combination produced by a higher force (synthesis)."

InfoPlease http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/society/A0815402.html


Trotsky[edit]

  • "Whoever has come to understand that evolution process through the struggle of antagonistic forces; that a slow accumulation of changes at a certain moment explodes the old shell and brings about a catastrophe, revolution; whoever has learned finally to apply the general laws of evolution to thinking itself, he is a dialectician, as distinguished from vulgar evolutionists. Dialectic training of the mind, as necessary to a revolutionary fighter as finger exercises to a pianist, demands approaching all problems as processes and not as motionless categories."

Leon Trotsky: The ABC of Materialist Dialectics (1939) https://epress.anu.edu.au/archive/trotsky/1939/12/abc.htm


Jordan[edit]

  • "Since Marx and he [or Engels] had tried to emancipate the German workers from sentimentality and socialistic day-dreams for decades, they could not allow some ‘muddleheads’ to influence the leaders of German socialism with their ‘silly, stale, and reactionary’ utopianism."

Marx Myths and Legends by Z. A. Jordan http://marxmyths.org/jordan/article.htm


Adorno[edit]

  • "In all its historical forms, dialectics prohibited stepping out of it... Although dialectics allows us to think the absolute, the absolute as transmitted by dialectics remains in bondage to conditioned thinking. "
  • Negative Dialectics by Theodor Adorno (1969) [1]

Kojeve[edit]

  • Quoting Hegel: "(Seiten):
(a) the abstract or understandable (versändige) aspect;
(b) the dialectical or Negatively rational (vernüntige) aspect,
(c) the speculative or positively rational aspect."
  • "There is no scientific truth in the strong and proper sense of the term. Scientific experience is thus only a pseudo-experience. And it cannot be otherwise, for vulgar science is in fact concerned not with the concrete real, but with an abstraction."

Introduction to the Reading of Hegel by Alexandre Kojeve [2]


Hegel[edit]

  • "The conception that knowledge comes from without, that is from experience such as upbringing or habit, is found in abstract, vulgar philosophers who give the soul indeterminte possibilities." (clarified from original translation)

Hegel's Dialectic and Its Criticism By Michael Rosen google books

  • "For Hegel there are three divisions of .. Geist:" psychological," "moral," and "well-developed"--or abstract.

Spirit/Mind from the Hegel Wiki [3]


Fithian[edit]

  • "We have the potential to be a rudderless, but hugely powerful and effective movement."
  • "If people start saying I think then is it is not part" of the consensus building process. "This is about training people to act..."
  • "Think of [concensus building] as a container; if people start mixing things up and it flows, [concensus building] is harder."

Tools for a Movement of Leaders: Lisa Fithian OWS Facilitator Workshop youtube still


Occupy Chappell[edit]

  • Occupy Chappell says "we are not born with the ability to fcilitate toward concensus. learning proper facilitation is an absolute necessity, and has been a small stumbling block for theoccupy community."
  • His perferance is for a "process of exploding domains/slash paradigms/concepts and tossing them into schroedinger's black box to shake them up, dump them out, and reconfigure a new domain, that takes those aspects that share some functional/empirical/practical and yes, let's throw in abstract similarities, to create a sythesis of the best of all possibilities" (Note that he allows for "abstraction," suggesting familiarity with the Marxist version of the Dialectic; this was before I knew that abstraction was a target of the Hegel's and Marx's Dialectics.)
  • He asked me "why you pull yer double edged sword here? my ego is willing to engage with yer ego... yer ego seems to be highly invested in pushing its weight around? i come from this position: people ACCUSE others of what they fear most IN themselves? that beingsed, is yer ego willing to engage in a critical inquiry without foisting itself as the central authority?"

FB material: Occupy Chappell, Occupy critical inquiry group

Future Research[edit]

A working hypothesis was confirmed and the agent identified--but coming from an unexpected actor[edit]

The research confirmed a working hypothesis that there are elements of homeostasis within change movements that prevent significant change, where the agent was identified as the dialectic. The surprising learning was that, in recent experience, the agent is found more frequently change-seeking movements than it is in the cultures of the conditions that need to be changed. It was expected that "smoking gun" would be found in the hands of capitalists, but it wasn't; it was found most recently with communists. This suggests that social change is really about confirming and improving existing processes individually as narrowly-focused causes. When demands for social change attack the "big picture," such capitalism itself, the "ship" suddenly becomes "rudderless," perhaps by design. With no universal, or abstracted, comprehension of the problem, such as "the economy," reality is synthesized through argumentation by a dialectical elite. If an abstracted conception is presented, then, without doubt, vigorous antithesis will reduce it (thus making it meaningless). It can come from either from a conservative platonic perspective based on didactic university education, or from a revolutionary platform (that views abstraction as vulgar, or simply immature ego combat.

Dialectic process is linked to didactic method[edit]

Attempts to add to this writing only clarified how the dialectic as persuasive education through argumentation developed into the didactic which is persuasion through lectures, reading assignments and, most persuasive, good or bad marks. The dialectic survives in the form of seminars or class discussion generally for higher-level students with the general thesis, or world-view, of the instructor typically being antithetical to newly-constructed ideas. Both the dialectic and didactic ontologies survive to preserve or enhance the synthetic homeostasis over 2500 years dialectic antithesis. While the didactic is as ancient as the dialectic, it only superseded it as universities grew in size as the dialectic is inefficient for large numbers of students. In today's terms both are behavioral, cognitive, and, in the final analysis, the results of empirical experimentation that is rooted in sadism (such as Watson's Little Albert experiments) where the bulk of its use is exploitative (marketing).

Pulling the struggle from thesis/antithesis to modelling vs. processing[edit]

Since it appears that there is a struggle is between an instructional approach (that insists that answers will come from, or be synthesized by, argumentation of a trained elite), and an experiential approach (where participants access and share learning from life that they have arranged in an abstracted framework that they wish to contribute to a much larger collaborative framework). When comparing my experiential approach to Occupy Chappell's argumentation-synthesis approach, I cannot help but thing that we are different species. My new working hypothesis is that one approach is unnatural by definition as it is synthetic, and that the other is how humanity evolved. If correct, the struggle has to be removed from the cycles of thesis-antithesis (new ideas being destructed to preserve homeostasis), and become a struggle between naturally-constructed comprehension and dialectically-produced synthesis. It may be that the synthesis faction simply cannot abstract human conception, and further cannot collaborate to construct greater abstractions such as community knowledge, perhaps because of white-matter mutations. If this is the case, then the struggle may be a DNA war as evolutionist Dawkins suggests with the selfish gene, or meme.