[ To Contents ]
Igor I. Kondrashin
Dialectics of Matter
The nineteenth and the twentieth centuries have brought to humanity a lot of scientific discoveries, and were marked with unprecedented achievements of the intellect. The works of Hegel and Feuerbach, Marx and Engels, Einstein, Pavlov and other great thinkers gave us the opportunity to take a serious view on the universe surrounding us in a new way, to perceive quite differently phenomena and events that are going on around us. The progresses in physics and chemistry, biology and cybernetics, scientific and technological achievements, and as a result, the expansion of industrial production, have considerably increased potential possibilities of the human society in obtaining a large spectrum of consumer goods and articles of general use.
At the same time, beside the said process, a range of problems and questions, which need urgent replies and definite decisions, becomes wider. Among them: the unrestrained growth of population when natural resources are progressively draining; the research of new alternative sources of energy when climatic changes become more fatal; the increasing number of incurable diseases - cancer, AIDS, etc.; a larger-scale of the social polarization of the society and the growth of organized crime and terror; the pressing necessity of the global rise in efficiency of social labour with environmental protection at the same time, a sooner destruction of accumulated stockpiles of nuclear weapons that have a great potential danger to end all the civilization on the Earth.
What are the prospects for a further existence of the mankind, the objectives of its evolution, its optimal pattern and numbers of the population? What should be considered justified and sufficient in its consumption? These and other analogous questions are arising more insistently before the intellectual part of humanity, forcing them to make more and more mental efforts to reach equitable solutions to all the problems.
Meanwhile, after classical ancient philosophers (Heracleitus, Plato, Aristotle), the attempts to solve the mysteries of the universe and to disclose the causality of phenomena of the objective world were undertaken by Bacon, Descartes, Spinoza, Galileo, Newton, Laplace, Kant and other thinkers of the past. Each of them in his own way supplemented the common ACCUMULATING FUND of HUMAN KNOWLEDGE.
The names of Hegel and Feuerbach are occupying particular places in this line as the philosophical concepts of 'dialectics' and 'matter', that gave a key to the understanding of current events and phenomena we are facing in daily life, were crystallised in their books.
The category 'matter' was more or less clear to everybody and the dispute was going only to accept it or not to accept at all, and if to accept, then primarily or secondarily. The situation with the category 'dialectics' was much more complicated. All the progressive intellectuals of that time were understanding that exactly with its help our knowledge about the universe would advance forward, but how to do it, or was it possible to do something of that kind with the current volume of knowledge, nobody knew at that time yet, as in the 'dialectics' itself there were too many confused and incomprehensible things. And the 'dialectics' itself, in the opinion of F. Engels, had been so far closely investigated by that time only by two thinkers, Aristotle and Hegel.
"Any systematisation after Hegel is impossible. It is clear that the universe constitutes itself as a unified system [italicised by me - I.K.], i.e. a constrained unity, but the cognition of this system presupposes a cognition of the whole nature and history, what people never achieve. Therefore those who construct systems, have to fill in an innumerable quantity of blanks by their own inventions, that is to dream irrationally, forming ideologies," - wrote F. Engels in Anti-Duhring. But already this work itself was one of the first attempts to write an encyclopaedic essay of interpretation of philosophical, natural-scientific and historical problems with the assistance of the new method. The systemic approach and certain elements of the materialistic Dialectics were used also by K. Marx during writing of Das Kapital.
In the meantime searching minds of analysts could not be at peace, wishing to crystallise more and more, to sharpen the 'dialectics' and with its help to reconstruct the whole picture of the universe from a historical point of view. It was obvious that only in this way would it be possible to draw laws of development of the nature, of the society. "When I [Marx wrote in a private letter] will be more independent financially, I will write Dialectics. The true laws of dialectics Hegel already has, indeed, in a mystical form. It is necessary to release them from this form". In another letter, addressed to Engels, Marx wrote (in 1858): "If I would have some time again for such works, I would draft with great pleasure on two or three printers' sheets in a form easily understood for human common sense that rational, what is in the method, which Hegel has discovered, but at the same time mystified."
Simultaneously with Marx and Engels other analysts were understanding as well the importance of improving the method of the materialistic Dialectics. In this connection we ought to mention the works of I. Dizgen, whom F. Engels described in the following way: "It is perfect, that we have discovered not alone this materialistic dialectics, which already during many years was serving as our best instrument of labour and our sharpest weapon; a German worker, Iosif Dizgen, has discovered it anew, irrespective of us and even irrespective of Hegel."
Thus already at that time it was evident that to find solutions for problems that humanity was facing, it was necessary with the help of the method of the dialectical materialism to reconstitute the most full unified picture of the universe, and on the basis of the objective laws and regularities being revealed as a result of this brainwork, to determine the nature of links and the mechanism of interaction of elements of Matter in order to exploit them deliberately in our everyday activity.
However, it was impossible to implement this without extensive knowledge. That is why both Marx and Engels equally showed permanent interest in natural sciences. There was even a peculiar division of labour between them. Marx more thoroughly knew mathematics, history of technics and agrochemistry, besides he was studying physics, chemistry, biology, geology, anatomy and physiology; by comparison with Engels he was studying more mathematics and applied natural sciences. Engels more thoroughly knew physics and biology, besides he was studying mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, anatomy and physiology; by comparison with Marx he was studying much more theoretical natural sciences.
The founders of Marxism were understanding that in order to create a complete world outlook it was necessary not only to reshape critically previous achievements of philosophy, political economy and socialist teachings, but also to summarise the fundamental achievements of natural sciences of that time, without which it would be impossible to give to materialism a new, dialectical form.
As a result of many years of thorough studies of natural sciences in order to generalise them theoretically, Engels made up his mind to write a work based on new original ideas - Dialectics of Nature. As its systematising basis Engels decided to use a classification of forms of motion - mechanistic, physical, chemical, biological - in order to determine in the said sequence common dialectical regularities typical for all these forms of motion. Thus in Dialectics of Nature Engels set for himself a grandiose task - by means of synthesis of theoretical outlines of different spheres of knowledge into a unified scientific theory to prove that in the Nature, through it seems to be a chaos of innumerable changes, the same dialectical laws are paving their way, that also in the History they are dominating over what seem to be chance events, hereby to substantiate the universality of fundamental Laws of the materialistic Dialectics.
Engels himself formulated this task in the following way: "...For me the thing was not to bring the dialectical laws into the nature from without, but to find them in the nature and bring them out of it. However, to fulfil this systematically and in every separate sphere it is a gigantic work. The point was not only that sphere to be mastered is almost immense, but also that the natural sciences themselves in all these spheres are involved in such a tremendous process of radical changes, that only just to observe them one should spend all his spare time he has..."
After the death of K. Marx in 1883, F. Engels, doing his utmost to complete the publication of Capital and at the same time guiding working-class movement, already had no possibilities to study the natural sciences systematically and practically had to stop writing his work. Dialectics of Nature, being only in manuscript drafts, was left unfinished. It was published in the USSR for the first time only in 1925 and V. Lenin did not read it.
Apart from this Lenin was also realising the full importance of extending the dialectical method of cognition, of making use of it in theoretical researches and practical activity. Therefore his next opinions in Philosophical Notebooks are typical: "The principal idea of Hegel is of genius: a universal, all-round, lively connection of everything with everything and reflection of this connection... in a human being's conceptions, which also should be trimmed, broken off, flexible, mobile, relative, interconnected, united in antipodes to comprehend the world. The continuation of Hegel and Marx's cause should be a dialectical processing of the history of human's thought, science and technics. ... From live contemplation to abstract thinking and from it to practical activity - such is the dialectical way of cognition of the truth, cognition of the objective reality." After study of his philosophical abstracts, fragments, notices of 1914-15, it becomes clear that Lenin also had it in his mind to write a special work about Dialectics, but the events of following years left him no possibility to carry out his creative plans.
Since that time there was nobody, in fact, who showed serious scientific interest, trying to guess the meaning of mysteries of Dialectics, who liked to come to know its universal Laws.
In the meantime the Life continues its impetuous flight on our grain of sand - the Earth lost in the boundless ocean of the Universe. The problems of our existence are clambering up higher and higher with every passing day while Humanity now self-sufficiently, now carelessly and at times with fear, is gazing at them in the most part of the mass even not thinking and not suspecting that one day these piles can finally collapse and fall down on their heads, ruthlessly crushing and overwhelming everything, that was created by the human civilization in the course of thousands of years.*) If it happens, then by this it can be only proved, that our civilization appears to be a deadlocked branch in the general Plan of the Evolution of Matter. So deadlocked or passable, self-destructive or not?
If objectively there is a reply, then the only one who can grant it, is the joint Human Intellect - the supreme creature of the evolving Matter. And the only reliable tools for this purpose can and should be the Dialectics, that universal instrument, with which help the Humanity can be able to disclose secrets yet not disclosed, to keep safe and even to increase what is already gained, to outline barely visible goals ahead and perspectives. Only with the help of the Dialectics is the Intellect capable of this. The refusal to follow this or even to abstain temporally from contacts with it can lead to the most lamentable results, including also in our every day life. The piling problems of nowadays are an evidence of this.
*) Both fear and unconcern as well as groundless optimism appear as a result of narrow-minded estrangement from generally existing problems.
"Indeed, dialectics cannot be despised," Engels wrote in Dialectics of Nature, "with impunity. However great one's contempt for all theoretical thought, nevertheless one cannot bring two natural facts into relation with each other, or understand the connection existing between them, without theoretical thought. The only question is whether one's thinking is correct or not, and contempt of theory is evidently the most certain way to think naturalistically, and therefore incorrectly. But, according to an old and well-known dialectical law, the incorrect thinking, being carried to its logical conclusion, inevitably arrives at the opposite of its departure point. Hence, the empirical contempt for dialectics is punished in the way that some of the most sober empiricists are being led into the most barren of all superstitions - into modern spiritualism." Unfortunately these words are actual nowadays as well.
Thus a continual, more and more extending theoretical way of thinking, a further penetration into mysteries of Matter, revealing the Laws of its motion, drawing of the general Plan of its Evolution - all that undoubtedly requires dialectical generalisation of the achievements of natural sciences of nowadays. On the other hand, the undeserved consigning of Dialectics to oblivion, the refusal to study it further for more than a half century, and as a consequence, a forced necessity to make use of some of its conclusions without taking into account the appeared anew factors of the changed epoch, finally all that leads to the triumph of 'antidialectics' - agnosticism, dogmatism and neospiritualism.
In connection with this the words of V.I. Lenin from his article 'Our Program', written in 1899, sound more justified: "We do not look at all at the theory of Marx as at something completed and untouchable; on the contrary, we are convinced, that it put only corner-stones of the science, that socialists must [underlined by Lenin] extend further in all the directions, if they do not want to be left behind by the course of life." Unfortunately this very important scientific and practical recommendation of the classic of socialism in fact was left without proper attention by present-day socialists and his warning proved to be oracular.
Consequently even a temporary suspension of studying Dialectics is a deviation from it, a contradiction to its spirit of permanent development, which is strengthening the position of antidialectics.
Lenin wrote how to carry out the process itself of dialectical cognition: "It is impossible to understand outside the process of understanding (acquaintance, actual study, etc.) In order to understand something it is necessary to start empirically acquaintance, studies, from empeiria go to general. To learn swimming it is necessary to enter water."
There are also interesting thoughts of A. Einstein describing the mechanism of a modern theoretical research: "Initial hypothesis become more and more abstract, more and more distant from feelings. But at the same time we are approaching more closer to the most important target of the science - from a fewer number of hypothesis and axiom logically to receive in the deductive way maximum of genuine results. At the same time the way of thinking from axiom to sensible results and verified consequences becomes more longer, more refined. A theoretician has more to be guided during searches of theories by purely mathematic, formal consideration, since physical experience of an experimenter does not give the possibility to rise directly to spheres of the highest abstraction. Primary inductive methods, inherent to the youthful period of science, are replaced by searching deduction. Moreover, it is essential to advance so in the creation of such a theoretical construction, that to come to the results, which are possible to compare with experience. Naturally the experience is serving here as a powerful judge. But its verdict can follow only after long and difficult mental work, making the bridge between axiom and consequence." This scheme is valid for theoretical searches in any sector of scientific knowledge.
It is well known, that all the existing natural scientific theories usually reply first of all to the question how?, while for disclosing of mysteries of our being it appears much bigger need to find replies to numerous questions why, WHY? This task can be solved only by the creation of a universal theory of evolution, which could be able to comprehend by a unified theoretical scheme the whole way of the Evolution of Matter - from the lowest forms of its existence to the most evolved ones, moreover, to comprehend it in such a way, that it would be possible to show the process of the evolution of the highest forms out of the lowest ones and at the same time to reveal the causality of the said process.
Until now there was no such universal Theory, and its creation and popularisation was always the first and most important target of all philosophers-theoreticians. The creation of such a Theory can be effected on the basis of the Dialectical Materialism, as only the Dialectical Materialism, differing from any other method of cognition by studying individual regularities of motion, is able to outline laws of universal motion and development. This difference is conditional, as the dialectical logic is not a closed system of concepts, consisting of strictly determinate number of laws and categories, but allows any changes of its essence and the introduction of new categories. The classics of Marxism considered it as a continuously developing system, requiring regular supplements of new elements, making in categories the necessary changes, which are dictated by the course of development of scientific cognition, the creation of new philosophical concepts.
In order to meet all these requirements the materialistic Dialectics should regularly expose its categorical apparatus to self-examination, define its ability to give a proper appreciation to deterministic conditionality of events and phenomena and find optimal solutions to actual problems, supplement the essence of laws and categories on the basis of generalisation of new facts about the development of society and scientific knowledge, extrapolate evolutional motion of forms of organisation of Matter at least for the nearest historical future (in spite of all neospiritualistic forecasters and pseudo-astrologers) to smooth over, although for Humanity, the consequences of the forth-coming negative events and cataclysms. Hence in its arsenal, besides perceptions and formal logical deduction, there should be the most advanced forms of thought, able more freely and easily to handle elements of scientific abstraction with the help of intellectual intuition in the process of the analysis of numerous phenomena aiming to unite synthetically the revealed regularities in a unified theory.
Thus the development of dialectical logic means first of all a further elaboration of categories of the materialistic Dialectics, enrichment of the content of their meaning, advancement of new concepts, appearing as categories of Dialectics, establishment of associations between them, creation of a unified logical system, allowing in the most complete and authentic form to reflect the reality and to advance the scientific cognition ahead in the way of further disclosing of mysteries of the evolving Matter.
In this book the author makes an attempt, summarising well-known scientific knowledge in the considered sphere and adding new necessary elements, to create on this base sought for logical system, continuing and carrying out the plans of founders of Dialectics (first of all of Engels) and meeting at the same time the requirements of the present-day scientific cognition. It is quite natural, that even not every professional philosopher has enough theoretical preparation and a bulk of individual knowledge, especially natural-scientific, to understand adequately all elements of the system being described. Therefore the description is of a somewhat scientific-popular type, and any reader who has enough interest and inclination, by thinking logically can easily get the dialectical essence of the theory being suggested.
[ To Contents ] [ Part I ]