Friday, October 3, 2014

The First Law of Dialectics

A small group of revolutionaries stood, listening in on the discussion between Elizabeth and John. The striking warriors ignored them. They really didn't care about dialectics... at all.

John looked at the spectators, feeling pleased that most of them were ardent dialectical materialists. He had Elizabeth outnumbered and that made him feel confident. So long as the other activists were on his side, he knew that he was right.

John: The problem with you Liz is that you fail to see how dialectical materialism accurately explains reality.

Elizabeth: Reality now? Using it to fail to explain social conditions isn't enough for you?

John: Dialectics was read from reality and shown to apply to social conditions. You ought to know that by now.

Elizabeth: Please John, there is no reason to assume that any description of physical phenomena can explain social phenomenon. That would be like using Newton's first law of motion (that an object in motion stays in motion) to explain the advance of the working class.

John: Could you let me finish? If you would let me explain the three laws of dialectics, you would see, so long as your blinders are off, their truth.

Elizabeth: Fine, but I do have a proposal.

John: Yes?

Elizabeth: I think we ought to discuss each of these laws in turn-

John: Agreed.

Elizabeth: -so that you can keep track of my objections more easily.

John: ...Fine, whatever helps your ego.

John cleared his throat and began.

John: The first law of dialectical materialism is the transformation of quantity into quality. According to this law no change can occur without the addition or subtraction of matter or motion. As a system has an increase in either matter or motion, it reaches a nodal point and it suddenly changes. To make this clear, think about a glass of water. At the temperature changes, the motion in the water increases or decreases accordingly. At a certain temperature, the water changes in quality and becomes either ice or steam. What do you say to that Liz?

Elizabeth: I have a few problems with that law. First, I have a question. How do you define quality in that example?

John: I define quality the same way that Hegel does in his Logic. A quality is a property that, if changed, the object is changed.

Elizabeth: What essential property changed in the water?

John: I don't follow. It started as a liquid, but then it became either a solid or a gas.

Elizabeth: Let me make this clear for you, water is H2O. Agreed?

John: Agreed.

Elizabeth: Your Hegelian definition of quality is one that Hegel borrowed from Aristotle. According to your own understanding of quality, states of matter are accidental properties, they are not essential properties. Much in the same way that melted wax is still wax, water, ice and steam are all H2O.

John: How does that defeat the transformation of quantity into quality?

Elizabeth: Because by your own definition of quality, your example of water fails to count.

John: You just don't understand what quality means.

Elizabeth: Actually you don't. I was using your definition. Until you provide another definition of quality, then your example doesn't work.

After a moment of silence, Elizabeth went on.

Elizabeth: Another object I have is related to nodal points. How long is a nodal point?

John: What do you mean? A nodal point is sudden.

Elizabeth: Sudden compared to what? Glacial movement? Quantum events? How long it takes you to shit? You have given no length of time that a nodal point is supposed to last.

John: Its just sudden! You're being a pedantic ass.

Steve: Pedantic? She is asking you something that any scientist would be able to answer. Scientists define their terms in precise detail. If you want dialectical materialism to be anything but mystical bullshit, you have to act like a scientist.

John: Well I am not a scientist-

Steve: That much is clear.

John: -I am an activist. I will leave it to the scientists to define these things.

Elizabeth: Well since you gave up that point, then you have given up on a key feature of the transformation of quantity into quality. I didn't even have to point out how things like butter and iron melt smoothly and not suddenly, or that isomers differ in quality without any addition or subtraction of matter or motion. They are different simply because of their structure.

A Voice from the Crowd: You haven't proven anything Liz! Shut up!

Elizabeth: The insults have already started. A bit earlier than usual. Well, I propose we move onto the next law.

John: Sure, if you say so.

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