Who can teach us "dialectics"? - We can learn it first, from recognized masters of it, and second, from the very process of knowledge (it is possible to define dialectics as a method of knowledge).
One of the recognized masters of dialectics is Hegel. This given work is a synthesis of my attempt to learn dialectics from Hegel.
1. Defining the subject of dialectics
1. It is very difficult to write about dialectics, for you do not know where to begin. The difficulty was formulated by F. Guizot, when he wrote about the history of civilization in Europe. He said that in modern Europe, as opposed to the Medieval,
|"tous les elements, tous les incidents de la vie sociale se modifient, agissent et reagissent
les uns sur les autres ... Dans les temps que nous avons parcourus, un grand nombre de faits se passaient isoles, etrangers, sans influence reciproque. Aujourd'hui il n'y a pas d'isolement; toutes choses se touchent, se croisent, s'alterent en se touchant".
|"all the elements, all incidents of social life are changing, act and react on each other ... In the time we traveled, many facts were isolated, foreign to each other, without reciprocal influence. Today, there is no isolation; all things meet, intersect, are altered by touching".|
2. Nevertheless, we can start with the most general, the most abstract definition of the subject which we plan to discuss. The term "dialectics" has several meanings which mutually complement each other. First, dialectics is the study of the most general laws of truth. Second, dialectics is a method of knowing the truth, i.e. a study of how knowledge proceeds. The general laws of truth and the method which reveals these laws are symmetrical.
An addendum to #2: Perhaps, it is necessary to give only one definition to dialectics. This definition should grasp as a single whole both the most general laws according to which the Universe develops and the method of knowing these. However, we can do this only in the most general, abstract fashion. For example, Lenin says that dialectics is "a study of development", i.e. a development of the Universe, and of our knowledge about it. Yet, we have to keep in mind the following idea of Hegel: "there exists nothing in which we can not find, in which we are not forced to find, a contradiction, and hence opposite definitions". For example, those who listened carefully to the 3rd part of Beethoven's sonata #23 ("Appassionata") understand that the composer is making fun of his own seriousness, his own unbounded passion. Hence, "Appassionata" is both serious and a comical piece. Thus, if we're forced to give different definitions to the concept of dialectics, it is not a defect of our knowledge.
3. Dialectics is revealed in the course of occupation with different branches of knowledge. This gives a chance to compare and find the common traits which these subjects contain.
2. General character of the Truth
1. Truth has the character of a developing concept; it is not a collection of separate things, related to each other in a superficial way, as chalk and cheese.
First addendum to #1: Each subject is a system of concepts, and hence it demands from us both dialectical depth and breadth, so that we might see the subject as it truly is, i.e. closely related to other spheres of knowledge, historical epochs, etc. Lenin formulated this thus: "the total of manifold relations of a given thing to others". From this it follows that knowledge is encyclopedic in nature, and hence demands a creative effort of a network of people.
Second addendum to #1: It is necessary to sink into the life of a concept, to follow where it will lead. It is not possible to repeat a phrase, learned a long time ago, applying it superficially to some new material. Such approach Hegel calls "monochrome formalism".
2. Truth should be treated as a process of development, and not as a definite and immoveable result. Any "result", or a conclusion, is incomprehensible and useless if it does not involve us in the process of its growth. The process of proof we observe in geometrical theorems; the process of maturing we observe in the life of a human being, and in the life of the human society.
An addendum to #2: The view that the truth is a process, and not an immoveable result, strikes immediately at dogmatism, scholasticism and formalism. For example, learning a subject as something hard and definite, without understanding its history, its process of development and growth, is the very opposite of the truth. Any statement, even the most truthful at the time when it was first spoken, contains within itself something false, and this is because once it is said, it falls behind the real development of things. For example, Marx and Engels, in a preface to "The Communist Manifesto", dated 24 June 1872, said that the program of this document "has grown old in some places... Specifically, the Commune proved that "the working class can not simply lay hold of a state machine and use it for its own purposes". Thus we see that a statement formulated in 1847 becomes outdated by 1872, after the experience of the Paris Commune. It has grown "false".
3. Truth is a process of destruction of a differences. The difference which we have in mind have numerous forms, such as a difference between an object and its idea, differences between social classes, or differences between men and women. When I hear of a statement emphasizing differences between men and women, I don't believe that this person is concerned with the truth, with bringing about progress in relationships between men and women.
4. There is no hard and fast difference between the false and the true. The false and the true not only contradict one another, but are also the necessary for existence of each other. A revolution leads to Restoration; and Restoration explodes in a series of new revolutions (e.g. history of France in XIX century).
5. A very important aspect of Hegel is the necessity of "understanding and expressing the true not only as a substance, but also as a subject as well". In other words, the Universe should be grasped both as the inorganic matter which is in the process of development, and as the conscious process which seeks to understand this development. For example, a revolution is both a historical process, and an attempt by groups of men and women to destroy the old system of society and create a new one. It is both "an object" and "a subject".
6. As a result of what was said above, Hegel attempts to define and express in a single term that which in everyday life is seen as separate and opposite to each other. For example, such term as "the concept" does not mean a simple idea, but is a synthesis of the categories of being and essence (see Hegel's "Logic"). But, of course, our "smart" materialists, who dogmatically follow the young Marx, proclaim that Hegel is an "idealist", and that's the end of it. For them, it is not necessary to study him. But Hegel expresses the unity of the material and ideal, of physical and intellectual, as in the sculpture of Rodin "The Thinker".
First addendum to #6: One of the participants of our seminar in dialectics in May 1997 (a mason, and a mother of 7 children) has been able to grasp Hegel's methodology correctly. She used the term "life" to express, on the one hand, the material life of a human being, and on the other hand, her/his intellectual development. But our "smart" Marxists, students of Kiev universities, made fun of this woman, of her awkward terminology, and thus delivered themselves "testimonia paupuratis" (a certificate of poverty).
Second addendum to #6: Since the material being defines consciousness, consciousness also defines the material being. Moreover, the more developed is the subject, the greater is the role which consciousness plays. Thus, an axiom of Marxian materialism - "matter defines consciousness" - is one-sided, and in modernity appears as incorrect.
7. In "Encyclopedia" the truth is spoken of in two senses: "if the truth in a subjective sense is a correspondence of a concept with its object, then the truth in the objective sense is an accord of a thing with itself, a correspondence of the reality of a thing to its concept". Hence, truth is: 1) a correspondence of a subjective consciousness to a given object; 2) a correspondence of an object to that which it must be, in ideal.
8. Truth has two parents, as any child. Its mother is nature, the world of things, the Universe. Its father is reason, our human consciousness. In the "Encyclopedia" there is a beautiful thought: "nature is the bride which copulates with the spirit".
First addendum to #8: The problem of what is the truth can be re-formulated as the problem of what is knowledge. As after a spring thundershower we can glance at the body forms of a young girl, beneath her wet clothes, so in the process of knowledge we should see through the superficial coat of things. Knowledge is the entire reality in the form of a concept. A concept can take on the form of a musical composition; a series of musical notes come alive, become real music only when we play them. Any musical piece is a synthesis of a composer and a performer.
Second addendum to #8: The same participant in our dialectics seminar which I mentioned above defined truth as "a personal understanding of that which is reality, an understanding which changes with time". Here, we tend to see important traits of dialectics. First, the truth is necessarily a synthesis of the subjective and the objective, of our consciousness and the outside world. Second, the truth changes with time: 1) because there is a constant development of consciousness, 2) the external world also changes.
9. The thesis of Hegel that "only the Absolute is the truth" means, first, that the Universe has a unified nature, and second, that there is unified knowledge about this nature. We notice this when we start to learn something limited, but through the process of development begin to learn about all things. Marx and Engels support this view: "We know only one science, the science of history. Looking at history from two sides, it can be divided up into the history of nature and the history of people. Both of these aspects are intimately connected".
An addendum to #9: The great personalities which really advanced the human knowledge held on to the view about the single nature of the world and hence a single method of its knowledge. Among these we will find Plato, Bacon, Descartes and Einstein. In modern knowledge, the tendency towards a unity of knowledge is formulated in such disciplines as the string theory (in physics), fractals (in mathematics), and systems theory.
3. Stages in development of knowledge1. According to Hegel, there are 3 basic stages in the process of knowledge: 1) stating the fact of the very existence of the given object, description of an outer appearance of the object. At this stage of knowledge we can form an "opinion" about the object. 2) Understanding properties of the thing, differentiation between essential and unessential properties, which leads to classification of the thing among other things of its type. This stage of consciousness Hegel calls "perception" of an object. 3) Understanding the laws which govern the object; consciousness goes beyond the outer surface of things and gets to know their inner dialectic. In the course of such investigation, consciousness finds "the force"; it formulates the law of the force. Such consciousness Hegel calls "Understanding".
Hence, the three stages of consciousness in getting to know an object are: 1) opinion, 2) perception, 3) understanding.
2. About the first stage in knowledge of a thing, Hegel says in "Encyclopedia": "Everything is contained in sensation, and, if you please, everything that is contained in the spirit and in the reason, has the sensation as its primary source and origin". E. Sitkovsky, in the Afterward to the "Philosophy of Spirit" makes the following comment on this: "there is nothing in the intellect which originally was not in sensation... sensation is only the original, the most primitive form of thinking - 'the worst form of the spiritual', giving only the singular, accidental and one-sided, subjective knowledge... knowledge of this sort is possessed by the animals too, it can not be a criteria of goodness, morality and religiosity, etc." The axiom of Hegel - "everything is contained in sensation" means that Hegel adopted from the English empiricists - Berkley, Locke and Hume - that useful which they possessed. The origin of knowledge is in empirical data.
3. We get to know an object through essential characteristics of the thing. "Due to this differentiation between the essential and unessential, a concept appears out of the sensual diffusion, and by the means of this, knowledge proclaims that, so far as it is concerned, it is just as important to deal with itself, as with the (external) things. In this double essentiality, it begins to waver and ask whether the things possess that which is essential for knowledge. On the one hand, the properties are meant for serving knowledge - the consciousness uses them to differentiate things one from another; on the other hand, the object of knowledge, in general, is not that which is inessential in things, but that by which they are torn out of the general interrelationship of existence in general, separated from "another" and are essence for themselves. The properties must be not only in an essential relationship with knowledge, but must also be essential definitions of things, and an artifical system of classification must be in accord with the system of nature and must express only that". Hence, due to properties we legislate a certain order among things, as for example the classification in the world of animals. This order represents a kind of ladder, stages in development of the thing, and is not something "subjective", cooked only for "convenience".
4. On the basis of essential properties appears a concept of a thing. Development of a concept leads us to formulating a law of a given thing. For example, development of the concept of value leads us to formulating the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to decline. Often, a law appears first in an impure form, surrounded with fetishes of a singular existence (for example, the law of Trotsky about the combined development of a society, formulated only on the basis of observation of the USSR). Hence, it is necessary to have a repetition of experience several times before we can formulate law more precisely.
5. The concept of a "law" has two meanings. One meaning Hegel formulates in the following way: a law "consists in an unbreakable unity, in a necessary internal relationship of different definitions". The second meaning of "law" is that which is produced in the "Parliaments", "Soviets", and other such places. It is necessary for method of formulating the social laws not to be different from the method of formulating the physical laws.To summarize stages in knowledge of a thing:
1) beginning of knowledge is in empirical data about a thing;
2) after collection of the data, properties of the thing must be studied;
3) on the basis of the study, a law of the thing must be formulated.
4. Labor, hardship and development of consciousness
1. In parallel with the development of consciousness about the outside world, develops the self-consciousness. Self-consciousness is a reflection into self from the outside sensual world. The need to explain something (at the stage of understanding) plays a significant role in development of self-consciousness, as the most difficult explanations we have to give to ourselves: "consciousness as self-consciousness from now on has a double object: one is the immediate object of sensual perception and certainty, which object, however, for the self-consciousness has the character of a negative; and the second object is itself, which is a real essence, and initially it is present only as an opposite of the first. Self-consciousness manifests here as movement in which this opposition (between the external and the internal objects) is negated".
2. Self-consciousness appears in the course of the relationship between a master and a slave. The slaves work the fields in order to produce products consumed by the slaveholder. However, the consciousness of a slave, in the process of work, comes to itself. Labor educates (as well as any hardship which we encounter on our life path). This means two things: 1) labor forms the product over which a laborer works, it forms the product; 2) the labor also forms the consciousness of the laborer. In this healing, educational function of labor is contained the possibility of freedom for humanity. The product produced in the course of labor takes on an ever more complex form, demands, as a condition for its production, an increasing degree of freedom. Together with the product changes the consciousness, which creates it; this consciousness becomes more complex and free. The consciousness of the laborer is soaked with self-dignity. Thus, together with the material basis, there is created subjective condition for a revolution in social relations, for the slave becomes smarter than the master (as, for example, is illustrated by Diderot's novel "Jacques the Fataliste ").An addendum to #2: Fichte, a contemporary of Hegel, writes: "The need in human labor should gradually decrease to the level in which it is necessary for the human body for its development, growth and repair, and this labor should stop being a hardship; as an intellectual being is not meant to be a heavy-load carrier". Physical labor is just as necessary for human being as intellectual, for an all-around development. Physical labor can bring to a human being the happiness of sensual being, the happiness of consciousness of own physical strength, the happiness of relationship to wild nature and work together with other people. Physical labor thus turns into a physical culture, sport and tourism.
5. A perception of the external and the internal as a single whole
1. After the stage of self-consciousness there is a synthesis of consciousness and self-consciousness, called "reason" in "Phenomenology": "Reason is a certainty of consciousness that it is all reality". Such certainty appears because consciousness finds out that in experience it is dealing only with itself - both in the external world, and in the world of its own sensations. All reality is related to this consciousness. It perceives the other as itself, and does not see in the other something alien to itself. "There is a difference, but it is completely transparent, and it exists as a difference which at the same time is not a difference".2. Reason, similarly to consciousness before it, attempts, first, to observe things, second, to fix their essential properties, and third, to understand law which governs the life of a given thing. But this time knowledge has the character of self-knowledge. "The reason attempts to know the truth, to find as a concept that which for opinion and perception is only a thing, i.e. to have in the thing only consciousness of its own self. The reason becomes interested in the world because it is a certainty that it (the reason) exists in the world, or (in other words) that existence is reasonable. It is looking for its "other" knowing that in that "other" it obtains noting but itself; it is looking for its own infinity".
6. A realization of the reason in a singular
1. Reason can be observing, or it can be involved in action. The "actual reason" is the higher form of reason. "The true being of a man is his action". The reality of a human being is not himself, but that he has created, the product of his creativity. The word "product" should be understood in a wide sense, as for example a child is a product of his parents, or a musical piece is a product of a composer, or a social system is a product of society. Through our products, we make a step towards immortality: "the character of an action is defined by whether it will be a real being, which will last, or it will be only a false product, which being internally paltry, will perish".
2. The acting reason moves through different stages of its realization in reality. In other words, it is constantly involved in a different process of creation. First, it is conscious of itself in the form of some other individual. For example, this can be a sexual love between a man and a woman; in the words of Hegel, this consciousness "strives, while contemplating another independent entity, to realize 'being for self' ". The very realization of the goal of love is negation of a singular self-consciousness, "as it does not become an object for itself as this singular, but, just the opposite, as a union of itself and another self-consciousness, and hence as a negated singular or as a universality".
3. The acting mind finds out that its product is not a singular entity. From a universal which lacks self-consciousness we notice a transition towards self-conscousness. Hegel gives the following formulation: "As a separate individual who in his singular work does some general work, although without a consciousness of this, so does this consciousness does general work as its own conscious subject".
4. At this stage, the consciousness follows "the law of the heart", i.e. its own understanding of what is good and what is bad. This understanding is opposed to the "law of objectivity", i.e. such order of things as an individual finds in the world.
Here we find truly revolutionary notes in Hegel, which makes him akin to Beethoven. Hegel says that humanity, following the law of objectivity, "lives not in a happy union of the law of the heart, but either in a deep strife and suffering, or at least without enjoying itself, while it is following the law..." Further, the strength of revolutionary phraseology grows, until it turns into a storm: "The beating of the heart for the good of mankind must change into the frenzy of crazy self-consciousness, in angry attempts of consciousness at preserving itself from destruction by expelling from itself perversion, which is itself, and which it attempts to proclaim as 'the other'. Thus, it proclaims the general law to be a perversion of the law of the heart and its happiness; this general law is made up by fantastic priests, perverted despots and their servants, who reward themselves for their own humiliation by humiliating others".An addendum to #4: the thinking of Hegel can understood as an idea that degradation, humiliation exists universally in a class society, from a President of the United States, who has to ask for money, to the meanest bum.
7. Spiritual forms
1. The basis of the previous stages of development, and, in a sense, their realization, is "spirit". All the previous forms are only abstractions of the spirit, better or worse approximations of it.
An addendum to #1: it is interesting to notice that for revolutionaries, if we substitute the word "spirit" with the concept of "revolution" - and revolution is full of spirit, zest and audacity! - we get the statement that realization of development of society, the very basis of its development, is "revolution". It shines forth throughout the development of the society in all the various forms - in art, philosophy, science, and social practice. Thus, the statement about "spirit" is not crazy after all.
2. It is important to note that "spirituality" is an attribute of the whole nations, as well as of separate individuals. Hegel notes that stages of development of each separate individual in a sense repeat the stages of development of the whole society.
3. The spirit, as a life of an individual person, or as a life of an entire nation, takes on the following three forms: religion, art and science. About these three forms Hegel writes in "The Philosophy of History": in religion "the will of a person gives up his own private interest; he puts it aside following a feeling of awe, which leads him to forget his private interest. With a sacrifice the person expresses the idea that he gives up his property, his will, his special sensations. A religious concentration of spirit is a feeling which is transformed into thinking; this last finds its expression in a cult worship. The second form of a union of the objective and the subjective in spirit is the art; it manifests itself to a greater extent than religion in reality and material manifestations; the most valuable is its desire to depict if not the spirit of god, then at least the image of god, and divine and spiritual in general. The divine can become visible through the medium of art; it is depicted for the sake of a fantasy and contemplation. But the true is expressed not only in the form of a conception and feeling, as in religion, and in a form to be contemplated, as in art, but in a thinking spirit; due to this we obtain the third form of a synthesis - the philosophy. Hence the philosophy is the highest, the most free and the wisest form". The forms of our consciousness are different, but they contain something in common, which becomes more concrete and deeper, as we approach the present.4. Religion, as other forms of consciousness, goes through many stages of development. Hegel says that "one religion differs from another according to the concreteness of the form in which the spirit knows itself". The original form of religion is materialistic; the sun, the moon, the fire and other forms of nature are worshipped. Then religion takes on a more spiritual forms, and we observe the cult worship of plants and animals. Gradually, the forms of cult take on more human forms; for example, as a transitional stage we observe that the ancient Egyptians worshipped gods whose body partially consisted of humans, and partially of animals. Sphinx is the most famous image of this form - a head of a man, a body of lion. This is an ideal, depicting a synthesis of mind with physical prowess. In Greeks we observe how their religion inherited the remnants of the earlier cults. Apollo is identical to the sun; Zeus is identical to the light and thunder, and Athena is identical to the owl, which the Greeks perceived as embodiment of wisdom.
5. From polytheism there is a transition to monotheism, which is deification of a man. Such deified personalities were Buddha, in the East, Christ, in the West, and Mohammed, in the Arab world. These modern religions originated from protest of the oppressed humanity and search for new ways of development. Hegel writes: "it is possible that in no place on Earth there were so many revolutionary speeches as in the Gospels".
6. The protest which is the basis of new religion does not run out when it becomes an official cult. It is transformed into attempts to reform this new religion, make it come closer to the "initial purity". An example of this is Reformation in Europe, at the end of the Middle Ages, and especially Puritanism, the militant ideology of the English revolution. In the modern world, we see an opposition of own, native religion to the one which is brought into the country by imperialists (for example, in Ireland this is local Catholicism against the English Protestantism; in Algiers this is Muslim cult against Western Christianity).
An addendum to #6: a religion, which is based on faith, is opposed in the modern world to science, which is based on experience. Hegel puts the last nail into the coffin of religion by saying that faith "is an escapism from the real world". Modern world knows other forms of escapism, such as Hollywood movies, alcohol, drugs, etc.
7. Art is a transitional form. Art, according to Hegel, should move from an immediate towards self-consciousness. For example, a musical piece, if it is played the right way, can be thinking aloud in musical form, but thinking which is indefinite and poetical. The flow of such thinking reminds us of the sound of a small stream, the rustling of the leaves or the light of the stars. Art is like a telescope: it makes the voice of nature audible for consciousness.An addendum to #7: Consciousness, typical for the man of art, "is only a striving towards thinking and is awe-inspiring. This thinking is like an awe before the sound of the church bells or before the warm clouds of fog, musical thinking which does not reach the level of a concept".
8. An appearance of science
1. After the spiritual forms, we have an appearance of science. Scientific knowledge is first knowledge on the basis of experience; the beginnings of this we observe in Europe in XIII century. One example of this we see in the personality of Roger Bacon (1214-1292), who, although he was a monk, emphasized experience as the means of knowledge, opposing this to the authority of the church, and also to the logical thinking (the method of Aristotle). Here are the words of Bacon: "the experience allows to separate the true from the false in sciences". Bacon thought that on the basis of experience, he continues to study god, i.e. in his self-consciousness, he continued to be engaged in theology. However, the scientists who, centuries later, followed after Bacon, called this form of activity "natural philosophy" (e.g. Newton). Thus we see that a new method of approach to what seems to be an old subject leads to a total change of subject. New methodology means new subject, and visa versa: a new subject implies a new methodology. The method and the subject are intimately related, and form a united system.
2. Development of any subject, and science in particular, proceeds at a slow pace, as the mind must pass through "a gallery of images, every one of which embodies a complete wealth of spirit, and hence the movement is slow, as self must drill through all the wealth of this substance and digest it". The spirit must show itself in each and every form which it meets on its path. An example of development of material culture we see in the novel of "Robinson Crusoe" (by Daniel Defoe).
3. When a new form appears, its content can not be understood by a general public, and hence it appears as an esoteric knowledge of a very small number of people, or even one individual. Others can look upon the individual as "strange"; there were times when people of progressive views were jailed (e.g. Roger Bacon), or burned at stake (G. Bruno). However, after some period of development, the new form of culture becomes accessible to a large number of people. This state of a subject Hegel calls "reasonable", for with the help of his reason an average individual can rise above the widespread common opinions to the new form of culture.
4. An appearance of a new attitude to reality is incompatible with the old world view, with its ancient institutions. The new always appears separately from the old, lives its own life, while the old finishes up its life cycle. Hegel writes about the epoch of Renaissance: "When in the epoch of the so-called rebirth of sciences different phenomena of nature came to be explained by different forces, the church called this project unholy, for if the force of gravity moves the celestial bodies, and the force of growth is the cause for the plants growing, no role is left for the divine providence to play, and hence God is diminished to a role of a mere spectator in the play of the forces".
5. Science in its full form appears together with development of machine production. It is possible to say that revolutionary changes in material production obtain their complement in the new methods of investigation. Condorcet, being a participant in the Great French revolution, writes in "The Sketch of the Progress of Human Mind in History": "The progress of sciences assures the progress of industry, which in turn fastens the progress of sciences; and this mutual influence, the action of which never stops, should be called the most active, the most powerful cause of perfection of the human species". Condorcet was a real dialectician, for sees a "cause-effect" relationship in both directions - from science to industry, and from industry to science. But our homegrown "Marxists", after having learned that "the being determines consciousness", are not aware of one-sidedness this statement.
6. Engels writes about the appearance of science: "Before XVIII century there was no science; the knowledge of nature obtained a new scientific form only in XVIII century, and in some spheres a bit earlier. Newton created scientific astronomy with his law of gravitation, scientific optics with the law of decomposition of light, scientific mathematics with the theory of calculus, and scientific mechanics with knowledge of the laws of nature. Physics also obtained its scientific character in XVIII century; chemistry was only created by Black, Lavoisier and Priestley; geography has been raised to the level of science through definition of the form of the Earth and the many travels, which only now have become useful; the same with the natural history - Buffon and Linneaus; even the geology started to become free from the fantastic marsh of hypothesis in which it was leading a sorrowful existence. The XVIII century was characterized by the idea of an encyclopedia; it was based on the consciousness that all sciences are related to each other, but it was not yet possible to fill in the transition from one science to another, but only put them next to each other. The same in history; we meet for the first time the multivolume compilations in general history, but without criticism and completely lacking in philosophy, but still it was general history, instead of former historical fragments, limited by a given place and time... the political economy was reformed by A. Smith. The pinnacle of the science of XVIII century was materialism, the first system of natural philosophy and a result of completion of natural sciences".
We can add that the science of war has also appeared in XVIII century, and it, similarly to political economy and other great discoveries and inventions in that era, appeared in England. The founder of the military science is general Lloyd, 1729-1783. For example, here is one of his remarks (translated back to English from Russian): "The fact that there is no more difficult science than the military one is a widely recognized fact; however, according to a strange contradiction, so typical for the human mind, people who devote themselves to the military career, spend little or no time studying it. Probably they think that it is enough to know a few childish maneuvers to become a great military leader" (see "Strategy in the Works of Military Classics", ed. by A. Svechin, USSR). The remark of Lloyd should be re-read by modern revolutionaries, especially those who lean towards terrorism. Just like the military men whom Lloyd mentions, they think that it is enough to learn a few statements from Marx, Lenin or Trotsky to become experts in the theory of revolution. They have no inkling that Revolution is a science which is yet to be developed.
7. Hegel attempts to formulate the goal of science many times. In "Phenomenology" he writes: "the goal of any science consists in that the spirit, in everything which there is in the world, gets to know itself". Thus the goal of science was briefly formulated by the priests in ancient Greece when they wrote, over a temple in Delphi, "Know thyself". The reason which gets to know itself in everyone was poetically formulated by Roger Waters, a former member of Pink Floyd, in the song "I recognize myself in every strangers' eyes".
In "Encyclopedia" the goal of science is formulated thus: "to understand the necessity hidden under the cover of an accident". The program of science thus boils down to get to know the inner logic of things which leads to the visible results.An addendum to #7: Hegel can be accused of not formulating a single goal of science (as is done by our homegrown "Marxists"). But his approach signifies a long-term, deep search, so typical for all adventurers, inventors, and colonizers of the new worlds. This makes it progressive, breathtaking and exciting. But our "Marxists", having obtained a single formula, have stopped in their development.
9. A system of sciences
1. In XIX century an idea appeared that there is an order according to which subjects should be studied, i.e. that there is a connection between sciences. Hegel writes: "Nature should be understood as a system of stages, each of which necessarily flows from the previous and is the nearest truth of that from which it appeared".
2. The order of sciences is the same in which the world developed. In the times of Hegel the nature was divided up into three kingdoms: "the animal kingdom is the truth of the plant kingdom, and this last is the truth of the mineralogical nature. The Earth is the truth of the Solar system. In every system there is an abstract beginning, which is the first member, and the truth of every sphere is the first member of the higher stage of development". Often, it is impossible to distinguish one science from another: "The nature erases the essential boundaries everywhere, creating transitional and unsuccessful formations, which act as proofs against all hard-and-fast distinguishing signs".Hence, the system of sciences are:
- 1. cosmology (physics, mathematics)
- 2. geology (earth history)
- 3. chemistry (menerology)
- 4. biology (botany, zoology, paleontology, etc.)
- 5. human history (sociology, economics, art, etc.)
10. A concept of freedom
1. "It is not freedom that reigns in nature but the necessity". A transition to freedom takes place in the sphere of the spiritual. Freedom is the goal of development. At the same time, it is what makes development possible.
2. What is freedom? Hegel writes: "freedom consists in being in another, yet feeling there as though being at home, it is being dependent only on oneself, shaping oneself by oneself". And another quote: "Freedom is there where there is nothing else which is not oneself".
An addendum to #2: "Freedom is the ideal of the immediate and natural; yet, it is not immediate and natural, but should be deserved and obtained through infinite self-improvement, discipline of knowledge and will". Freedom manifests itself as "hustle and bustle", energy and liveliness, both of individual and society. Revolutionaries of all epoch were the greatest admirers and lovers of freedom.
3. What is love if it is not freedom? Love I understand as seeing another - an object, a person - as a part of oneself, yet different from oneself. Hegel writes: "in love one individual becomes conscious of oneself in the consciousness of another, one alienates oneself and in this mutual alienation receives oneself" ("Philosophy of history"). The object of love makes a person independent and goal-oriented. "The greatest independence of a human being consists in knowing oneself as that which is totally directed by an absolute idea; such consciousness and behavior Spinoza calls amor intellectualis Dei (intellectual love of god)". For a revolutionary this means that every moment of his/her life s/he subsumes his behavior to the struggle for Revolution. In the struggle for revolution, for the new forms of relationships between people, an independence of a revolutionary manifests itself, as s/he digs the tunnels as a mole, while all around there is the darkness of "national and religious Renaissance".
4. "Freedom is knowledge of necessity". The social necessity the Greeks understood as "a fate". An example of this world view we can see in such ancient Greek tragedies as "Oedipus" and "Antigone". The consciousness of the Middle Ages, religious in nature, called this "Divine providence". Hegel is not satisfied by the answer which religion provides about the meaning of history: "they say that this plan is hidden from us and it would be audacity for us to desire to know this". It is exactly audacity that every pioneer, every seeker after Truth should possess. Freedom is a function of audacity. The necessity is the law, or the internal life of every phenomena. Hence, to become free we should independently understand the law of the subject which interests us.
An addendum to #4: In "Philosophy of history" Hegel recounts the following curious anecdote: "In a conversation with Goethe about the essence of a tragedy, Napoleon expressed a thought that the new tragedy is significantly different from the old in that we have no need for 'the fate' which is oppressing the people, and the role of the ancient fate is now played by politics". Fate, as a concept, as something independent of our will, disappears, and its place is taken by politics, i.e. that which in principle we can learn to manage.5. The state is the realization of freedom for Hegel. This view is not so absurd, as it appears at a first glance, for it is necessary to keep in mind that the nearest historical goal for the German people was overcoming the feudal fragmentation, and creation of a single, unified state. Hence, freedom can also be understood as a goal of development.
11. An idea about the next form of knowledge
1. Marx and Engels wrote that they know only one subject, history. Every subject, be it astronomy, or mathematics, or something other, should be understood as a historical process, i.e. as something which cannot be differentiated from the general development of things, as a part of the developing Universe. Unfortunately, science, as a form of knowledge, suffers from separation from practice. For example, "history" dedicates itself to the past, but not the living present. It is busy with abstract problems, but not those which life actually presents. Of course, we can find consolation that sometime science will get down to Earth and occupy itself with actual problems, that in its development it will eventually reach for the actual knowledge. But how many scientists do this? There are too many "important" problems and tangent points (and we're not mentioning career interests) which do not allow people with scientific training to occupy themselves with actual experience, i.e. that which in its early days differentiated science from scholasticism. Hence, we're going towards a new form of knowledge. I call this new form "a vortex".2. What is this concept of "a vortex"? It is an idea that both the large and the small develop according to the same laws. It is an idea that forms that are present in one sort of things are also present in others, totally different from the first (in mathematics, this is called "fractals"). Such form is typical for most of the galaxies, including our own, "the Milky Way". It is also a form that is typical for many of the important phenomena on Earth, such as tornado. The human history develops in a vortex kind of fashion. A social revolution is a sort of a vortex, a kind of a social tornado in the atmosphere of a society.
3. A vortex, as a form of knowledge, a form of creative self-activity, differs from science in that it proposes a society in which the differentiating lines between "respectable" intellectual labor and "mean" physical labor are being erased, i.e. the vortex unites different, opposite forms of creativity. An ability to act both in practical and theoretical ways leads to the next stage in approximation to truth. A vortex can be described in the same words which Hegel uses to describe freedom: "Only this end goal realizes itself, only this remains constant under all conditions and circumstances, and this is the only true acting cause".
4. A new approach to reality means using new categories of thinking. Hegel writes: "all difference between different levels of education boils down to differences in the categories used. All revolutions in sciences, as well as in the general world history, come from the fact that the spirit, in its striving to understand and hear itself, its desire to take hold of itself, changes its categories and thus grasped itself in a more truthful, deeper, more intimate fashion, and achieved unity with itself".
12. How should we learn
1. We have already said that the method and the subject are related. They mutually condition each other. Hence, in order to rise to the level of "vortex", a freedom of thinking and action are necessary. This freedom has to be conquered.
An addendum to #1: Hegel writes, the substance of the spirit is freedom. To kill this freedom means to kill spirituality. But, is it not this that is done in schools? Hence, do they not infect us with a greater disease then they are trying to cure?
2. Together with freedom, a necessary condition for life is multidimensional labor. The greater is the number of different spheres of life we delve into, the more opposite they are to each other, the easier and deeper we understand their common essence; we're able to grasp the different as the same, we can better understand the interrelationship of different phenomena. The necessity of combining the opposites is the main condition for the birth of the new world. Plato expressed this property of the Universe in the dialogue "Timeaus": "God has made the world from the nature of the one and another; he combined them and obtained the third, which partakes of the nature of the one and another".
3. Knowledge proceeds in three stages. The first stage - the object to be known exists as something simple and singular ("thesis"). Second stage - the opposition of the subject to itself; splitting of the simple into two opposites hostile to one another ("antithesis"). And the third stage - restoration of unity, but on a new, higher level of development. In the words of Hegel, the true is that which returns back into the simplicity, but it is not the natural simplicity, but philosophical ("synthesis").
4. Every subject should be investigated in its development. This development always takes place in opposite directions. Hegel formulates this in the following way: "the internal appearance and development of a substance is directly a transition into the external or actual being, into being for another, and, visa versa, development of the actual being is return to the essence". Hence, development of a subject takes place from the "internal" into "external" and, at the same time, from the "external" into the "internal". For example, heroes of some writers leave the closed world of science to go into the external and multidimensional world (e.g. Goethe's Faust), while the heroes of other writers leave the hustle and bustle of business to go into internal world (e.g. Jack London's Martin Eden).
5. Dialectical approach to a subject means it should be investigated in relationship to other subjects. Dialectics is opposed to a mechanical approach where each subject is looked on in isolation: "mechanical attitude in its superficial form consists in that parts of a whole are perceived as independent vis-a-vis to each other and the whole". Such mechanical approach is characteristic of modern science. Its one-dimensionality and narrow character leads to scholasticism of the Middle Ages; its representatives are afflicted with false vanity and conceit.
An addendum to #5: It is necessary to note that the modern military doctrine stands for the need for interaction of different armed services. It is the combination of different kinds of arms that leads to superiority on the field of battle, as for example the Nazi German has shown at the end of the 1930's.
6. In the process of knowing a subject, it is necessary to keep together two opposites - first, the concrete empirical data, second, the general methodological thoughts. Forgetting one of these components leads either to naked empiricism, or to a priori, rationalistic ratiocinations which totally ignore the facts. Thus, any concrete knowledge without dialectics, and, visa versa, dialectics without a concrete knowledge, are miserable. Hegel writes about the method of study of history: "the requirement that history should not be studied according to some objective goal appears similar to a seemingly correct requirement that a historian should not belong to anyone party... [in this way they] require that a historian should not introduce any goal or opinions from himself, according to which he highlights and discusses the events; he should recount them in the very accidental manner in which he finds them, in their unrelated and totally meaningless particularity". But a history which lacks an objective goal appears to be "only a helpless play of imagination, and not even a children's fairy tale, for even the children require in fairy tales a certain interest, i.e. some goal should be dimly perceived and also some relation of the events and actions to this goal". History requires both the subjective and the objective, i.e. a party attitude, and a careful treatment of the facts.
An addendum to #6: A. Svechin, in criticizing the rational method of general Vilizen, writes: "We are far removed from such treatment of military history according to which the history is only an illustration for statements of a theory... We first bring the facts, and then we strive to discover their origin and the influence which they have had. But, of course, every great military historian, before he gets down to work, already does the preliminary mind work, at least in part, which Lloyd and Vilizen recount in their essays. They can not abstain from pre-determining some point of view, for without this they will get lost in the mass of information; a certain pre-judgement will be perceived in the choice of facts, in the interest which an investigator pays to this or that aspect of events".
7. In general we can say that every concept is a product of many opposites, and not just two. For example, not only a special subject should be combined with philosophy, but it is necessary to constantly struggle to combine the mental labor with the physical, creative work together with people and in solitude, etc.
8. Understanding the cause-effect relationship is an essential characteristic of knowledge. Hegel's treatment of this problem, it seems to me, boils down to two statements. First: "cause and effect are not only different, but also identical". In other words, cause and effect become one another; that which was cause becomes the effect, and visa versa. Second: "interaction is a causal relationship, in its full development" ("Encyclopedia", paragraph #156). Thus, if "A" and "B" interact, "A" causes "B" and "B" causes "A".
First addendum to #8: Primitive people when they try to formulate cause and effect relationship, take two things not related to one another. Hence, such phenomena as superstition.
Second addendum to #8: Lenin, in his "16 elements of dialectics", formulates a dialectical concept of the cause-effect relationship: "from co-existence to causality, and from one form of causality and interrelationship to another, more deeper and more general".
Third addendum to #8: the concept of causality should be differentiated from the concept of a pretext, i.e. the immediate cause which leads to a given events. For example, in England at the end of XIV century there was an uprising the cause of which was an attempt of feudal lords to restore the feudal form of paying the taxes. However, an immediate cause was that one of the tax collectors asked a smith why he doesn't pay taxes for his daughter. The smith answered that his daughter is not an adult yet. Then the tax collector said that he will check whether she is an an adult and wanted to rape her. The smith took his hammer and broke the head of the tax collector. His actions were supported by the villagers in the area, and this was a spark that started the uprising. It is important to note that the general causes fluently become the immediate causes of events. Thus we can say that a cause and a pretext are interrelated.9. There is something Epicurean in the process of knowledge. Leonardo da Vinci writes that a painter can sweeten his senses with a music while he is working on a painting and spends a long time in thinking - more in thinking than working with the brush. Knowledge is identical to sex, and this can become boring, banal and disgusting only through "school", "work" or "family life". It is not accidental that Denis Diderot, one of the leaders of the Enlightenment, said: "Nature is similar to a woman, which likes to dress in different ways, and which shows one part of a body from under her dresses, then another, and thus gives a hope to her constant admirers that sometime in the future they will get to know her whole". Knowledge is that which is to be enjoyed; if it is not enjoyed, it is not knowledge.
1. Dialectics is a study about different kinds of relationships between opposites. This opposites are both antagonistic and complement each other.
2. Something new appears as a result of a struggle between two opposites. This new process is a synthesis of the two former ones, and hence carries the birthmarks of its parents.
3. Dialectics is characterized by transitions from the simple to the complex, from something known to the unknown, from something abstract to something more concrete, from something backward to something more progressive, from false to the true.
4. The truth has both a subjective and an objective character. Interpenetration and interrelationship between the opposites in order to form unity is what we call the truth. Due to the changes in the subjective conception and in the objective aspect of reality, the truth does not have a character of something constant, but is a process, a constant approximation to a deeper and wider synthesis of the objective and the subjective.
5. One of the most brilliant observations of Hegel is about the sequence of forms in which we experience things. Hegel states it like this: "the development of consciousness appears as changes in the definitions of its object", and "consciousness defines its relationship to the other being, or to its object, in different ways, depending upon which stage the self-conscious world spirit is standing on". New stage in development of the world culture means a new definition of the object of knowledge, and together with it a new method of knowledge.
6. Modern science more and more resembles scholasticism, rather than revolutionary method of knowledge which it appeared in XIII century, as it has become the servant of the powers that be. The first objective of the modern learning centers is to mold obedient slaves. In these centers they are busy with copying and re-counting the opinions of the "authorities" who have already lost their life force. Hence, modern knowledge negates "science" as something dull, limited and dogmatic, and it takes us towards the vortex, in one or another of its forms.
7. The stage of "science" corresponds to the development of the printing press, the machine production and bourgeois society in general. The vortex corresponds to Internet as the main source of information, while the machine production is in the process of transition to the stage of nanotechnology. Vortex is a new of knowledge and self-consciousness in the epoch of globalization and new revolutionary wave.