Date: Fri, 06 Feb 1998

Annette on dialectics of nature

From: (Annette Schlemm)

Hi Andy, please forward this mail. (Can someone say me, how I can install in netscape-mail such great Cc-groups automatically?)

Thank you for your statements.

· Yes, "we are not deux ex machina in the universe, but a specific subset of nature with some interesting specificities" (Julio 7.2.). This is an interesting phrasing, which shows the problem exactly.

Therefore dialectics is dialectical itself.

"Human dialectics (is) opposed to natural dialectics" (Julio) because of its new possibility to create (working/ conscious). It negates forms of "old" negativity and creates quite new. The forms of negation differ: in non-human nature, there the borders are exceeded by "consumption of conditions". (This is a principle of self-organization and evolution: each process reaches its borders/limits only by "consumption of conditions" (limit-benefit).) Humans must not wait for any "consumption of conditions". They can conscious decide to do somewhat to reach and exceed borders and limits of their life. (Of course they need some conditions - but they can create conditions itself corresponding their plans. This is a negation with a new quality by comparition with natural negations.)

· "Did Hegel refuse dialectics in nature? I'm not sure this is accurate. IMO, the entire Hegelian universe is "dialectic." (Julio 7.2.). and "Hegel regarded the universe as organic." (Alex 10.2.).

In my knowledge Hegel refused dialectics for nature. In the „Shorter Logic" §24 (1817) he wrote: „Insofar human is a natural being ..., it is a relation, which should not be... The spirit/mind shall be free and... through it-self...". You can interprete this: only „through itself" is a dialectical relation, I think.

In his „Lectures on history of philosophy" (ed. 1833 by Michelet) he said: „There are existences <plural A.S.>, which on-sided belong to necessary, these are natural things." (introduction, A3.). And in his first „organical" writing he also distinguished between „organic things" and „inorganic things" - the later are not dialectically! (Phenomelogy, chapter V A.a.).

„The natural things can't make their mark to the free being-for-itself... their being-there is limited as Being-for-other." (Shorter Logic, § 76). (I hope, you find the quotations, I can't better translate...).

The contradiction of „continuity and discontinuity", which creates motion and its reality matter, is not convincing for me. I can't see any correspondence with cosmical evolution. This is only a subjective-objective dialectics - and not a „objective contradiction of nature in-itself". To grasp motion and matter - it is a brilliant dialectics - but it is not the ground of cosmical evolution!!!

Thank you, Alex, for your hint to §81. Yes, here Hegel writes, that „everywhere that surrounds us may be viewed as an instance of Dialectic..." But I think, he meanes a subjective-objective-dialectics and not the dialectic of objective „everywhere". In this § 76 (see above) he said, that dialectics sees all things „in and for itself". But in § 76 he said, that the being of natural things (inorganic, I think) is limited as Being-for-other!

Schellings philosophy is often overestimated. He refused history in nature, time-life is a „void life". The creative natura naturans only occurs in the „Absolutes" and all „real" things are things of the undialectic natura naturata. They contain „a little" natura naturans, but it is a bad construction...

Really Schelling didn't derive dialectics of nature from nature. He assumed dialectics/productivity of humans and derived from this the productivity of the whole world.

· I don't know about Sartre. (Julio)

Sarte said: Maybe there are dialectical relations in nature, but we don´t know them. You can believe or not believe, that chemical-physikal laws express dialectic reason. Assertion of dialectics in inorganic nature is a out-of-scientifical assumption. (in „Critique of dialectical reason"). In „New left review" (1970) he said: The assumption of dialectics in nature „would reduce humans to a simple product of physical laws".

· "Why does "dialectics" mean exclusively method (and/or theory) and not the objective forms of movement and interconnection, etc.? At least in Hegel, IMO, such restriction in the use of the term doesn't seem to be warranted." (Julio 7.2.)

Hegel really didn´t distinguish that. But exactly this is a problem of Hegel. The logic of dialectics isn´t identically with the historical evolution. Hegel´s dialectics goes from the abstract to the concrete - in (objective) reality concrete forms of matter become other concrete forms of matter. And it seems important to me to distinguish subjective and objective dialectics like physical reality and "physics". In German we often distinguish between "biotical" organisms and bioLOGical science.

· IMO, this is a case of the old Kantian dilemma: Are we truly able to know the thing (eg, nature) in itself? Hegel responded to this in a way that I find convincing. More generally, is there really nature out there? How can we be certain? (Julio)

What is „nature"? We only know „nature for us", because „nature in-itself" don´t exist! „In-itself" would be nature without interactions. In cosmological theory there are some other „universes" without interactions to our home-universe. But exactly these universes are not „in-itself", but only subjectively existing things - until we will interact with them - and than they are „other universes for us". We can be certain, that there is really nature out there, because we are ourselves nature and interact within the nature!

By the way:

· ..."theoreticians who believe firmly that the radical critique of capitalism should jettison the labor-theory of value" (Julio) Hm, I fear that I`am such a theoretician. To analyse capitalism, I use labor-theory of value. But to plan our new wishable society, I hope we can leave such a value-socialisation. In the old texts from Marx I found a lot of arguments for this. (see also my paper: .

Thats all for today, I will bring these texts to my site under: (In German there is a longer paper under

Ahoi Annette