humanity and nature

I have been somewhat reluctant to weigh-in with an answer to Cyril's questions, because I am trying to come to grips with some points I think Cyril has made, while I still believe Cyril to be quite wrong in other respects. Time is needed. Nevertheless, since we are among friends and comrades, I will venture my thoughts at this moment.

(1) Reading over the Marxists since Marx himself, I can understand the reaction against the "dialectics of nature"; it appears in that history to act as a sort of ticket to dogmatism and bureaucratic voluntarism; on the other hand, its rejection seems to be associated with all that seems fundamental to me in Communism. (impressions).

(2) While I cannot at this point accept the idea that Hegel sat down at his writing desk to write about political economy, but disguised his work as logic, presumably to improve sales, but I am now open to the thesis that his conception of logic must inevitably reflect the social relations of capitalism which must in turn be embodied in his logic, since there is no other way Hegel or anyone else could acquire such concepts,. In that sense, I have much appreciated Uchida's exposition of Marx's critique of Hegel's Logic; not so much the "turning on his feet" thing, but more the specifics.

(3) I accept that the only Nature we know is a "humanised nature", and that the Nature we live in is a Nature produced by human activity. In that sense it seems reaasonable to:

"... refuse to pay any attention unless it concerns the relationship of humans to each other and to nature. (These two are inextricable, because the human relationship with nature is a social one.) Only in this context have philosophers got any business meddling with physics, chemistry, biology etc. There might then be a pay-off in the illumination of some problems faced by the natural scientists. This is because their difficulties often express the contradictions of social life, only the poor dears haven't got a clue about that". [Cyril 3 June]

Cyril also says in his article Marx versus Historical Materialism:

"Marx starts off with the knowledge that humanity is socially self-creating, while it lives in a fashion which directly denies this".

When we irrigate the farms in Northern Victoria until they're all totally salinated and barren, . . . you know the rest, - it seems precisely that we live in a fashion which implies that humanity is self-creating, though in fact, we can accomodate ourselves to Nature (as we always have), and assimilate Nature to ourselves (when we begin to produce), but to the extent that we believe we can freely create Nature, we run a considerable risk of learning the hard way what an illusion this is.

The alienation of humans from their own nature has at its very base the alienation of humanity from Nature, doesn't it?

And isn't it true that Marx not only "negated" the whole history of Western (bourgeois) philosophy, but also "stood on its shoulders". Was that 250 years of agonising about the validity of knowledge just "thrown out" by Marx?

Also, I'm afraid I'm one of the "poor dears" who was motivated by the need to understand nature long before I ever read about Isaac Newton, probably from about the same age when I formed the view that only an "overthrow of all existed social conditions" would make life worth living.

You know, all this stuff about "the observer" in mechanics and quantum physics, which mis-led people into thinking that the behaviour of Nature is dependent upon humans looking at it, causes a lot of confusion. But the fact is that the "subjective" description of natural processes is just a way that we can understand them.

"If you say nature produced them [humans], forgetting the mediation of human purposive activity, you land up with a load of socio-biological Scheisse ..."

True, and vice versa too.

In relation to Cyril's questions:

"Everybody (except me) seems to be clear that dialectics is a way of thinking, although it might be other things as well. ...
Does everybody do it?
If not, why not?
If yes, why is Hegel such hard work?
When Hegel - or any other philosophical geezer - talks about the world, just what are they discussing?"

I don't think answering these questions would clarify anything while other questions are at issue and I do not intend to attempt answers.

I remember Cyril, when we were involved in that "mathematics" project, you then expressed distain for the view of the Maoists who would just repeat that "mathematics is social relations". Is this still your view? or is it now just that it doesn't matter, as you "refuse to pay any attention to the question". I think it is a vital question of the relation of humanity to nature whether our thought-forms reflect anything in inorganic nature or not, and if so, how. Are we actually able to irrigate Northern Victoria to our heart's content? Or is salination the result of capitalism which Socialism will overcome without paying attention to "some problems faced by natural scientists"?