Tag Archives: Socrates

Trying to figure out Marxism, page by page…


Video by video, podcast by podcast, and even pretension, by irritating pretension. Before we get too far, do I really understand the works of Marx? Nope I’m still neck deep in working it out, but recently my head crested the surface after something like 2 months of on and off reading, watching and general research.

So if you read some of my other posts on philosophy you may have noticed me mention I do not like it when anyone uses over complicated and difficult to understand terms to describe their work. Especially when it is an introductory piece. There no need for it, and regardless of how fashionable being hard to understand is if you goal is to create something to be use to improve the world, it will need to be able to apeal to people not steeped in your field already.

Now Marx was writing in a different time, and in many ways a climate where deep intellectual materials where simply the norm, so he writing would have been easier to digest. Yet there has been over a century of time dividing his work from us, and while plenty of people exist to carry on his work. Marxist still can’t explain what the fuck Material Dialectics are. There’s this expectation you need to read Hegel, and Marx, and sometime Lenin to really understand what Marxism is. Though I’m here to tell you, in my experience whenever someone has said that, “only x y or z can explain that,” to me it’s been bullshit. I think the real problem is many Marxism either worship the shrine of Marx, hoping to get the long dead man’s approval, or simply don’t really get the methods and just parrot what they know, because it’s confusing and that’s the only thing they know how to do.

That itself is of course an over simplification of what Marxists are doing, an abstraction if you will *wink wink*, but my frustration is real. So what have I been trying to accomplish since late September? To understand the basic of what Marxism are, so I can begin to both discuss and explain wtf it is to my own satisfaction. Because I firmly beilive that if you can’t explain the basics of a concept to a high school student in under 30 minutes, you don’t understand it yourself.

Now I wouldn’t have made is post if I was completely confused still, indeed I would have written much sooner if I had better luck in my search, but I got lucky, and decided to backtrack from Marx and figure out that “Dialectics” are in the Hegelian sense, which was much of the basis of Marx. The Luck Really kicked in when I found this lovely video series outlining the basics of Hegel’s Dialectics.

Not to be confused with the Dialectical Method of Socratic fame.

The Long and the short of it is as follows, Dialectics are not a formula for thinking, they are a method very much akin to the scientific methods. Not a single paths, but a basic system of thought that allows you to critically analyze concepts and physical processes. From what I’ve deduced and inferred from my readings. Material Dialectics, and Hegel’s Dialectics  are in turn a scientific method itself, and almost a scientific method, but still holding on to  the idealism (Think platonic if you aren’t familiar with what idealism entails) present in much of early a pre-enlightenment thinking.

So what is Marx Method? Well he died before he ever laid one out explicitly… THANKS MARX. However, Hegel was more kind, and laid the following three steps which should apply well to Marx with some tweaking. Thanks Hegel!

1 Abstraction, 2 Negation, 3 Concrete.

1. The Abstraction: This is the first step in what is a cyclical cycle. Fairly analogous to Hypothesis and experimental design in the common description of the scientific method. The Material Dialectic, when you begin to attempt to understand anything, first you must begin to make an abstract of it you must deconstruct how you think it work. Determine what it’s parts are, the inputs, the outputs, followed later by how that parts relate to one another.

2. Now like a good materialist as good scientist you must destroy what you’ve made. Now it is time for Negation! You now get to see if your abstraction can survive when it come into contract with the real world, or at least can withstand logical bombardment, in Socratic Method sense, as you and ideally some critics attempt to find its weak points.

3. Concrete is a bad name, but basically once you’ve done your best to negate the abstraction, you should be left either with nothing as your idea was wrong and completely unsalvageable (return to step one) or you should have helped move your abstraction closer to the real (material) world, and can use it to better describe the world. In essence you start with the simple abstraction, and through negation to bring it’s abstracted parts at least partially back together in a way that effectively describes, and ideally helps predicts the world.

4. Same as step one, but you take your idea from step 3 and feed it back though, in an endless cycle as you attempt to approach a perfectly accurate description of reality.

Is that all correct and accurate? Probably not, but if not I can certainly run in it back through the system, because the funny thing was, if I’m even close to being right, I have been doing material dialectics all along.

Questions and comments are more than welcome. If you know a fair bit about Marxism even better, but regardless I’ll keep up my investigations, and share again when I have something of interest.



Logical Arguments. Syllogisms, and Logical Connectives.

As in the previous post, this will once again be an overview. There are many different methodologies and factors to keep in mind and I cannot be conclusive here. I suggest looking into all of these matters further should you be interested in strengthening your skills at argumentation.

There is my process in which a logical argument can be formed. Some are better then others, and some can only be used in specific circumstances. I will state it again: I won’t be covering all of them, instead I’ll be focusing on a few important logical processes: the Syllogism, and logical connectives.

A Syllogism formally is three lines where first you make a universal claim followed by a particular claim which is predicated (based on, directly related too) on the first universal claim. The third sentence is then composed from those first two sentence. As an example, I will use the most famous form of Syllogism posed by Aristotle:

1. All men are mortal.

2. Socrates is a man.

3. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

I hope everyone can see how the third sentence here follows logically from the first two. We know from the first line (for the sake of this argument) that all men are mortal, so when we are also told that Socrates is a man, we know that Socrates must then be mortal.

Going back to my previous post it would be easy to rewrite the format of this argument in premises and conclusions, which I will do below:

P1. All men are mortal.

P2. Socrates is a man.

C. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

This is one of the most basic forms of a logical argument and is based around the definitions of those terms it uses. It’s useful because, when we try to misuse Syllogism, it tends to be quite obvious. This is because the concluding line will not be predicated from the first two lines. For example:

P1. Some Greeks are mortal.

P2. Socrates is a Greek.

C. Therefore, Socrates is immortal.

Again I hope it’s clear why this doesn’t work. In the first premise we see there is room for some Greeks to to be not moral, so for the sake of this argument we could say that it is the case that any given Greek could be mortal or not moral (perhaps immortal perhaps something else, since it is not specified). So when we are told Socrates is a Greek we know there is some possibility he is not mortal, but that’s all we know. We cannot say he is moral or otherwise based on this argument. All we could say is C. Socrates is possibly moral. Nothing more.

These simple syllogisms can be extended into more complex forms, but the take away here is that you should be making sure that your conclusions are predicated on your premises. Otherwise you’ll at best end up making mistakes and at worst end up speaking nothing but gibberish as your conclusions end up lack any cohesion with your premises. It’s best to avoid that if you can.

Next are logical connectives which do not serve a propose in this post more than to lay the ground work for other posts.

I’ll briefly list them going into a bit more detail below. If you want to know a bit more about how they work I’d either Google logical connectives, or go play with red stone logic circus in Minecraft (make a locking door but make sure you look up the wiki: you need at least an and, and or gate, but I like to use xor gate for mine 😉 ).

As to what logical connectives are, they function basically the same way we use them in language: by connecting different statements together, and trying the truth of both statements in a particular way. Technically you can create a system which contains all of the following connectives with only “and” and “or” connectors, but it’s far easier to talk about these logical relationships without trying to tie them altogether:

… and… (&)

The whole statement is only true if both sides of the and connective are true.

… or…

The whole statement is true when at least  one side of the statement is true.

if… then…

“If…then” statements works such that if the “if” statement is true, then the “then” statement must be true for the whole connected statement. If the “if” is false, then the “then” can be true or false to no effect. If x happens, then y happens. The statement remains true even if y happens with out x. The statement is only falsified when x is true, but y doesn’t occur as well.

… if and only if…(iff)

This is like the “If…then” statement, but instead x can only occur if y occurs and vise versa. The statement is false only if one occurs without the other. Iff can also, in some cases, indicated equivalency, but this is not necessarily the case.

… Elusive or… (xor, either)

Opposite to iff, this statement is only true when only one side of the statement is true. You can either have pudding or cake, but not both.

negation… (-, not)

Negation is reversing the meaning of the statement. Where (n) is a cat (-n) is not a cat.

… Equivalency… (=)

When two or more things are the same. They are equivalent. 2+3 = 5 = 1+ 1 + 1 + 1 + 1

I’ve included formal logic terms, short hand, and math symbols above many of which double as grammar. Each of the above can and are regularly used in English. I’m certain if you’re unsure of how to figure any of this out, you can manage it with a Google search or two. The biggest reason to include this early on is to clarify some of the common terminology and expose those reading this to some common ways people talk about these connectives. Besides, all of these connective are used in language and argument, so it is important to understand how we ought to use them within our arguments so that others will understand what we mean.

Hopeful I haven’t bored you all out of your minds. Next time I’ll get to induction and deduction. Which I feel is far more interesting.


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