From: Annette Schlemm

Hello again,

It's a lucky accident. Since some days I´am working on the question, if there is dialectic in nature or not. And just now you are discussing this topic. I have much problems to read quickly enough. I can't consider all your interesting mails. But I´am able to write some connected thoughts (in my German-Englisch - excuse me!!!).

Some years ago (in 1982) I read a debate in the German "Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie" about this topic. There wrote two author-pairs. One of them spoke AGAINST dialectics in nature (Renate Wahsner and Horst-Heino von Borzeszksoski) and one (Nina Hager and Fritz Gehlhar) FOR the existence of dialectics in nature. Of course the second opinion was supported by leaders of „marxist-leninist" philosophy in GDR. I couldn't understand the controversy, because the opponents spoke „past of each other". Of course I was convinced in existence of a dialectic of nature - I had read Engels, when I was 15. Some years late I was astonished to find the rejecting of nature-dialectic by the (modern German) „Philosophers of practice". How they could be so stupid!? Reading Sartre I wasn't astonished again. But now I can read his arguments.

I think, we must distinguish two questions:

  1. Is there any dialectic in nature? and
  2. Can science reflect this or need we philosophy to do that?

R.Wahsner argued, that in science only „understanding" occurs - whereas in philosophy „reason" occurs. In a new article she wrote („Marxistische Blätter" 1995) , that this opinion is not identically with a „metaphysical nature".

Hegel and Sartre refused dialectic in nature in order to emphasize the human dialectic. If there were dialectic in nature, the people would be „only" like nature. And Hegel, Sarte and philosophers of practice emphasized the human potential to create new dialectic interactions. (Wahsner didn't discussed this aspect, she and her partner only discussed the epistemology-aspect. )

In understanding this point of view I can see an identity and a distinction. Yes, I support the thinking of a particular role of people. But I can distinguish these aspects WITHIN the dialectic. Lau Kam To wrote:„Dialectics is either comprehensive or you have internal contradiction within the dialectis itself." Why not the second? It would be amazing, if „dialectid" wouldn´t be dialectically!

Sartre missed „totality" and „negation" in nature. (In society it consists in drafts for future). I think, we can interprete it in nature also. I´am avoiding all-university-including wholeness (which use spiritualists often). But I think, that each concrete evolving unity is such a totality and in evolution it negates itself and so on... (I have a problem: Really I can´t say anything about nature „in-itself". I can say something about dialectical interactions in nature for all nature „for us". But „for us" war the whole evolution of nature to our existence!).

Schelling´s assertion of dialectic in nature is not a help for us. He derived this assertion from his starting point for all philosophy: There must be freedom for people. Insofar it is a not-proved assertion. We see: all of them come from assertion of the freedom of people - but Schelling therefore assumed dialectics for nature too - and others refuse dialectics in nature on the same grounds...

My opinion is: Yes, there are dialectically interactions in nature, because there is evolution. (Exactly speech demands to say not :"dialectics in nature". „dialectics" means „method", „theory" (like „physics"). )

To show this, we have to find the dialectical contradictions. And we have some problems in cosmological evolution!! In literature (GDR) I found :

a) dialectical contradiction of „continuity and discontinuity" or „wave and particle" for elementary particles. But: comes evolution from them??? I think: no. These are dialectical contradictions of cognition, not of the nature „in-itself".

b) contradiction between „attraction and repulsion". But in this contradiction not „on moment includes its other moment". It is only a „opposition" („antithesis"), not a dialectical contradiction (in Marxism-Leninism we didn't distinguish, but in this case it is useful). Attraction and repulsion is an application of the 3. Axiom of Newton: Force = Anti-Force. It restricts the possibilities of forces according to the 2. Axiom of Forces - it isn't a source of motion and evolution. Cosmological evolution is grounded in the expansion-impulse. Expansion is the last ground of cosmical structur-building. Gravitation and atomic forces interact - but after 10-43 sec. after „Big Bang" the didn't „include each other" (how dialectical contradictions need). In this sense we have to accept, that we don't know the dialectic interaction-force/contradiction - it existed only before/while/shortly after the Big Bang. It doesn't destroy our materialistic point of view. I won´t miss the searching of these contradiction as a heuristical help of science.

This search shows, that I assume the possibility for science to reflect dialectical contradictios too. If science strives for cognition of „essence", it has to reflect contradictions. In my opinion essence includes contradictions.

If science is able to do that, I didn't know. Maybe - only another science can do that (Marx speculated about unity of science and philosophy in another society!).

Now to some points of your discussion:

Alex asks, if Marxis needes a dialectic of nature to justify the validity of historical materialism? I think: no. It was a false assumtiom from Stalin, that historical materialism is the „extension" of dialectics in nature to society. I need the dialectic of nature against the spiritualist deniers of evolution in nature! They assumed „eternal harmonical cycles" in nature and derive from that, that we have to subordinate our activities in the world under these „natural" cycles again. I´am defending for a co-evolution-concept.


Annette from Fichte´s, Schelling´s , Hegel´s and Hoelderin´s ... town Jena