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Bunge - critica a dialectica


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Observaciones y criticas a la dialectica hecha por Bunge desde el materialismo

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Bunge - critica a dialectica

  1. 1. About Mario Bunges A Critical Examination of DialecticsAuthor(s): Pavel ApostolSource: Studies in Soviet Thought, Vol. 29, No. 2 (Feb., 1985), pp. 89-136Published by: SpringerStable URL: 31/10/2010 15:41Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTORs Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTORs Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact Springer is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Studies in Soviet Thought.
  2. 2. fPAVEL AP?STOL ABOUT MARIO BUNGES A CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF DIALECTICSWe submit to analysis Mario Bunges 4ACritical Examination of Dialectics,which sums up and develops objections, some of which appeared previously in his Method, Model and Matter (1973). Our comments have to do with this text.1 The admissibility of some ofBunges theses and the rejection of some others seems to us to be justifiablefrom the point of view of a theoretical horizon which cannot be described,now and in this context in all of its logical articulations, but which representsa tacit supposition of our argumentation. This theoretical horizon, equivalentto thinking through and constructing a new version of Marxian dialectics,will be briefly outlined at the end of our study. 0. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS0.1 The fact that we have chosen Bunge in this context is no mere whim. Asa matter of fact, he himself seems to await such a retort, when he writes:"Should anyone feel dissatisfied with this version, he iswelcome to produce amore satisfactory formulation. In fact it is high time that somebody did it."(p. 64). Confrontation with Bunge in this matter presents two advantages: (a) his argumentation is formulated with sufficient precision to permit aprofitable discussion, and (b) his position is representative of some more recent orientations whichhave assimilated acquisitions of the research on foundations of science andthose of analytic philosophy (in the large sense given to the term by W.Stegm?ller).2 0.2 The discussion in extremely difficult conditions which add to evolvesthe usual difficulties which accompany philosophic rhetoric. Without agreeing in many other respects with Jean-Fran?ois Revel, we willacknowledge that "philosophy is the last domain to perpetuate two strongillusions: religion and rhetoric - from which modern thinking in other intellectual fields has tended and partially succeeded in liberating the humanspirit."3 We have to recognize openly that as regards dialectics we oftenStudies in Soviet Thought 29 (1985) 89-136. 0039-3797/85/0292-0089 $04.80.? 1985 by D. Reidel Publishing Company.
  3. 3. 90 PAVEL AP?STOLwitness some unpleasant outbursts of religious dogmatism or of rhetoricalexcesses. While Bunges discourse is undogmatic it avoids the pitfalls of idlerhetoric. 0.3 As a rule - and the author of these lines was no exception to this inthe past4 ? the Marxist and the Marxist-Leninist or Hegelian dialectics areapproached as if we possessed elaborated theories of Hegel, Marx, Engelsor Lenin dialectics. But, on the contrary, as Dieter Henrich notes about in his exegeses on Hegels work: even in Hegels monumental Science ofLogic, published 170 years ago, we find a logical practice, but neither an elaborated concept of the dialectical method, nor the law of unfolding ofits operations, or even the statement of the peculiar conditions of thenapplication.5 Similar remarks are to be made also with respect to Marx,Engels, or Lenin. Certainly, we find also in their works isolated propositionsabout dialectics - with really remarkable differences concerning how theyare understood. There are no elaborated theories on it. Yet we find in theirworks a logical practice of dialectics, embodied in the social research theydid. This logical practice can be considered as so many interpretationsof some abstract patterns of dialectics; but, since the latter have not beenexplicitly formulated, the detecting of these patterns within the frameworkof their interpretation is such a difficult task that it is often equivalent toan invention. 0.4 On the contrary, we retain a didactically operational concept of ?dialectics elaborated, of course, with reference to some theses of Marx,Engels, and Lenin ? as a substitute for a theoretical concept of dialectics.That didactic-operational concept of dialectics represents a mere narrativetexture, in which are integrated quotations and isolated from contextsexpressed through different terminologies and in various languages. This didactically operational pattern of dialectics - which is to be foundin a great number of current handbooks and treatises - is largely indebtedto the exposition attributed to J. V. Stalin (in which can be easily discoveredelements from Adorackij and Rozenthals lectures of the 1930s).6 TheStalinian pattern is undoubtedly indebted to the mechanical-deterministicinterpretation of historical materialism, as formulated by K. Kautsky.7 0.50 Should then the discussion about dialectics be a mere scholasticdispute about a pseudo-concept? Of course, not! Due to the ruse of historicalreason {die List der Vernunft), present-day practice and theory-constructiondemand a discussion about the elaboration or re-elaboration of the concept of
  4. 4. MARIO BUNGE ON DIALECTICS 91dialectics in order to meet both practical and theoretical needs. We willenumerate these requirements. 0.51 One finds the acceleration and increasing complexity of todays social processes and, especially, the need to invent new strategies of radicaltransformation, without which there will be no democratic and socialistissue from the present planetary crisis of civilization. These new revolutionarystrategies are asking for a conceptual and methodological framework whichactually means a new quest for a more flexible, more articulated, more opendialectics, than the old didactical concept that somehow had been canonized. The fact is that even the very complicated, troubled situations whichconfront management and planning in democratic and socialist super-industrialized countries also require a new thinking oriented on dialectics.There are, for example, the achievements of C. West Churchmans school ofoperational research which brings about, in practice, a validation of the ideaof dialectically programmed "inquiry systems", of a dialectical theory ofdecision, management and planning.8 Present-day practice and the actual solutions of its problems leads one to rethink dialectics anew, in an operationalsense. No less relevant seems to me the recent trend in American politicalscience and international studies to resort to dialectical epistemologies andmethodologies in concepts the diverging and/or converging for capturingasymetrical interdependencies that prevail on the global scene.9 0.52 This social need is normal. Practice demands programs of efficient(or good) action even if these do not provide analytic problem-solving algorithms since social problems which accumulate at a very rapid rate andexert an ever-rising and sometimes overwhelming pressure for their solutionare, in a mathematical sense, "ill-formulated" or "ill-raised" problems.10Coping with these presupposes a continuous reflexive return to the problemswording,11 because the most infinitesmal variation in the initial data can provoke excessive variations at the level of approximated solutions. Mathematicsapproaches the matter of ill-formulated problems (that deny linearization)in two ways which seem to be productive: the logic of fuzzy theory12, thelogic of exact operations with terms that designate by definition inexact(i.e. fuzzy) concepts: and the mathematical theory of morphogenesis, T.Thorns13 theory of "catastrophes", an exact (i.e. topological) theory of"qualitative leaps" (structure-building and structure-demolishing, stabilizingand destabilizing change). This confluence of some practical requirements with the elaboration of
  5. 5. 92 PAVEL AP?STOL some suitable mathematical instruments necessarily leads, of course, to anew defining of the essential concepts of dialectics. 0.53 Scientists thinking about the foundations of their disciplines hasflowed in two directions: (a) an analytic one, deeply rooted in epistemic prob lems for which solutions are found through adequately applied algorithms orarithmomorphic formulae (after the terminology of N. Georgescu-Roegen)14and (b) a dialectical one, in the large sense attributed to the term by F.Gonseth and his review, Dial?ctica15, especially interested in epistemicproblems that resist a purely analytic approach: problems belonging to thedomain of scientific theory-construction, to that of foundations, and basicconcepts of science in interaction with experiment and practice. Looking at the problem more deeply, the very evolution of the analyticapproach has also been characterized by a drift towards dialectics (Popper,the latter Wittgenstein)16, and by the relativization of the synchronie per spectives because of the search for the diachronicity of scientific theories.17 0.54 Philosophic thought itself has led to ever new discoveries and inven tions in dialectics. First of all, the Hegelian and the more recent Marxian exegeses have fundamentally changed the earlier naive images of dialectics. Today we are aware of the extreme difficulties in interpreting these texts and especially in explaining in an acceptable manner "the logical practice characteristic of Hegel, Marxor others.18 Onthe other hand, there are the attempts to formalize the Hegelian ? Idialectics mean, especially, the works of G. G?nther, L. S. Rogowski,M. Kosok and D. Dubarle.19 Even if they have not led so far to generallyaccepted results, they have succeeded in pointing out: (a) the possibilityof describing in a precise language a certain logical practice belonging todialectics, and (b) the existence of some specific dialectical approaches (whatwe actually defined in 1964 as "dialectically operating with formal logicalstructures and operations", valid or productive from an epistemic pointof view, but unfounded from the point of view of conventional logicalformalism). Third, the very process of proliferation of conceiving different visions orperspectives about dialectics constitutes the practical proof that severaldialectics are possible, differentiated enough so that they not be totally anddirectly derived one from the other 20, and creates a space ? or a "theoretical ? for atopos", as Althusser calls it reflection on dialectics. Imean by this an
  6. 6. MARIO BUNGE ON DIALECTICS 93approach in philosophic theory-building similar to that for creating in scienceametatheory with regard to certain theories. In some previous works, I definedsuch an approach as a quasi-meta-theoretical one. In the interpretation I gaveto Marx position versus Hegels dialectics I discovered elements of such ameta-approach; namely Marx does not merely oppose his dialectics to thatof Hegel, but considers that in his own conception about dialectics that ofHegel can be meaningfully interpreted. Such an approach seems to me tooffer the further possibility of constructing other dialectics.21 Finally, the very confrontation between Marxist philosophy and anti ? where the latter raises theMarxist thought question of the responsibilityof Marxian theory for any social practice that claims to derive from it -presupposes dialectics.22 ? These are some practical grounds including the contemporary ideo ? whichlogical practice justify the present discussion. I assert this in thename of the concept of dialectics which I draw from Marx work comparedto that of Hegel, and not in the name of a definitive Marxist or Leninistdialectics. 1. THE GENERAL THESES OF MARIO BUNGE 1.1 Dialectics is an ontological theory. 1.21 This dialectical ontology has a plausible kernel constituted by twohypotheses: 1.211 Everything is in some process of change or other, and 1.212 New emerge at certain moments of any process. But, qualities 1.22 this plausible kernel is surrounded by a mystic fog consistingmainly in the assertion of the following three theses: 1.221 In rapport with every object (thing) there is an anti-object (antithing). 1.222 All opposites are in continuous conflict with each other, this"conflict resulting either in the annihilation of one of them, or in some newobject synthesizing both contradictories". 1.223 Every stage in a development negates the previous one and, furthermore, two successive negations of this kind lead to a stage similar, butsomehow superior, to the original one (p. 63).
  7. 7. 94 PAVEL AP?STOL 2. THE GENERAL CRITICISM OF DIALECTICS BY MARIO BUNGEAs concerns the plausible kernel of dialectics taken as ontology, in the formulation that itwas given, ? ? 2.1 it is as Bunge states a common thesis for every meta processphysics (as a theory of existence, or ontology). 2.2 In order to delimit dialectics against any process metaphysics, it hasto be expanded into "a general (and consistent) theory" (ontology). As to themystic fog that wraps dialectics, it proceeds from 2.3 the use of expressions, such as "dialectical and ambiguous negation" "dialecticalopposition". Bunge thinks that by reducing somewhat the ambiguity of the terms(indicated in 2.3) we can obtain "an intelligible doctrine", which is notdialectics in its present form, but 2.41 this would be a "weaker dialectics" which could not claim univer sality, necessity, essentiality; and would be 2.42 "at best", a limit-case of a richer of transformation. theory 3. FIRST CRITICAL REMARK WITH A VIEW TO MARIO BUNGES CRITICISM3.10 In discussing dialectics, Bunge has in view some formulations of it givenby Hegel, Engels, and Lenin, as well as by I. Narski, G. Pawelzig, and G.Stiehler.23 3.11 Dialectics is examined by Bunge as ontology (i.e. as universal),although 3.12 in the intellectual constructs defining themselves as dialectics, itappears explicitly in this sense only among certain authors; 3.13 others understand it as ontology and epistemology and methodology,and even as logic (but not formal logic); other authors, 3.14 once again, dispute precisely its status as a universal ontology,accepting only the other senses of dialectics (enumerated at 3.13.). Someadmit 3.15 dialectics only as social (historical) ontology, or 3.16 as social ontology, epistemology, methodology and logic of socialresearch, or only as epistemology 3.17 and/or methodology (or logic with a specialmeaning) of social cognition. Finally, it is understood
  8. 8. MARIO BUNGE ON DIALECTICS 95 3.18 as epistemology and or methodology and/or logic of philosophicthinking.24 3.2 The result is that the critical examination of dialectics by Bungeconcerns neither dialectics as such nor dialecticsas a generic term, designatingthe ensemble of dialectics explicitly formulated in the literature, but 3.3 a pattern of dialectics built up by Bunge and relying on his free interpretation of a rather arbitrary selection of texts and authors with a quiteunequal degree of representativity. 3.4 Without any one can assert that the critical examina exaggeration,tion of dialectics by Mario Bunge concerns rather what we called (0.4.) the ? often met with indidactic-operational concept of dialectics treatises,handbooks or monographs ? but even this one has been considered by himonly in a very narrow sense, in the light of the restriction introduced ad hoc ? a restrictionthrough which dialectics is identified with universal ontologywhich is not applied, as a rule, in the writings consulted. Since the critical examination of dialectics by Bunge operates with thisrestriction, it does not relate to any possible dialectics, and, therefore, cannotbe considered a criticism of the actual or possible pattern of logical practice in Hegels work, on the one hand, or in that of Marx, or incorporated Engels,Lenin, on the other hand, and still less of that incorporated or developed inthe writings of Gramsci, Luk?cs, Bloch, Raphael, Adorno, Gurvitch, Sartre,Delia Volpe, De George, Bahm, Althusser, Markovic, etc. 3.5 This does not yet mean that the objections mentioned by Bunge donot deserve our attention, although they cannot aspire to the generalitywhich they suggest. 4. CONSEQUENCES OF THE FIRST CRITICAL REMARKWe have seen (0.54.) that, in fact, there are 4.11 many possible interpretations of some of the intellectual constructsthat present themselves and/or are defined by the scientific and philosophiccommunity as dialectical and, at the same time, that there is 4.12 a diversity of concepts about dialectics. 4.13 We will designate this situation: the diversity of dialectics. 4.20 The diversity of dialectics can be put in order: 4.21 in accordance with, either the author of a discourse about dialectics,or of a work inwhich one can decipher a certain logical practice of dialectics.
  9. 9. 96 PAVEL AP?STOLThus, we will speak about various types of dialectics: Heraclitian, Platonic, . . . . . . . . .Aristotelian, Hegelian, Fichtean, Marxian, Engelsian, Leninist,Gramscian, Sartrean, Luk?csian, etc., etc.; 4.22 the philosophic domain where a certain dialectics in accordance with is found. We distinguish different levels of dialectics: dialectical ontology, epistemology and, in a wider sense, methodology as well as "logic".25 4.23 Finally, admitting the possibility of some regional dialectical ontologies, without accepting thereby the legitimacy of a general or fundamentalontology, from which these could be derived, one can differentiate amongdiverse dialectical fields: dialectics of history, of society, of communication, etc. 4.30 A certain theoretical construct can refer to 4.31 either a certain type, 4.32 or a certain level, 4.33 or a certain dialectical field, 4.34 or different possible combinations of these. 4.4 The generic term dialectics designates the set of the sets enumeratedat 4.31-4.34. 4.5 We postulate, as an assumption which is to be checked, the possibility ?of one or more meta-dialectics in the sense building quasi-meta-theories shown at 0.54 ? within which different dialectics could be meaningfully interpreted and reformulated with relatively satisfactory precision. 5. A SHORT HISTORICAL EXCURSUS: THE PROBLEM OF DIALECTICS AS GENERAL (FUNDAMENTAL) ONTOLOGY 5.1 The understanding of dialectics as a general ontology and its identity, as such, with the process and theory of knowledge, method and logic, is constitutive for the absolute idealism of G. W. F. Hegel: Absolute Spirit is the ground and the fulfillment of its own self-development, this development is for Hegel the essence of dialectics.26 5.2 But even inHegelian philosophy, dialectics, understood as ontology,cannot be dealt with, as is done in the paper of Bunge, independently fromdialectics conceived as method, logic, process and theory of cognition. 5.30 Marx critically examined Hegels dialectics of the Absolute21. His criticism includes some elements of a possible (quasi-meta-theoretical) interpretation of the Hegelian dialectics, as part of which the Hegelian dialectics
  10. 10. MARIO BUNGE ON DIALECTICS 97is relativized (it is ascribed a definite domain of validity: the philosophy ofabsolute idealism), but, at the same time, 5.31 I consider the Marxian approach to be asserting the possibility ofsome other dialectics than what Marx calls the real one. S32 This assertion can be bolstered by outlining ameta-approach (metadialectics, quasi-meta-theory of dialectics), in which can be meaningfullyinterpreted not only the Hegelian version, but also any other possible dialectics.28 One can then identify, inMarx, ? the dialectical 5.33 the logical practice of a dialectics of the realtheory of the classical capitalistic economys development, 5.34 the outlining of a dialectical theory of social development, thematerialistic view of history, and 5.35 the elements of an epistemology, methodology, and logic of social sciences, from among which the critique of ideologies represents a majorcontribution.29 5.36 But we do not find, inMarx, any explicit reference to dialectics asuniversalontology. It seems that such an intellectual enterprise appeared tohim both useless and impracticable. 5.37 This last supposition can be argued indirectly, namely, 5.38 when Marx makes up the regional ontology of a social-economic structure (i.e. capitalism) in its development, he resorts in an authenticallycritical way30 to a tridimensional approach: (a) the study of the economic (and social) phenomenon as human = dasactivity Ding-fiir-uns, (b) its confrontation with the intellectual constructions which differentauthors and (ideologists) of the economic process elaborate theoreticianswith referenceto this activity (= authentic or inauthentic; ideological, in anegative sense) of knowledge and (c) the study of the practice under both of its aspects, material (a) and ideal (b) in order to reveal whether das Ding, as it showed itself to the actors, is independent of their will or wish; and, therefore, that the relevant actionprograms are feasible or not. 5.39 It seems, therefore, plausible to suggest that Marx did not allow forthe dogmatic construction of an ontology, separated from the relevantepistemologies and practices, in which both of them are found and inwhichalone they could be captured. 5.40 The position of Engels is somewhat different. On the one hand,
  11. 11. 98 PAVEL AP?STOL 5.41 he contests even the possibility as well as the utility of universalontology31, but admits of three correlated regional ontologies: nature,society, thinking (knowledge). On the other hand, 5.42 he still speaks about dialectics in the sense of universal ontology ofdevelopmental processes (the objective dialectics) but only in interdependence with an epistemology and a methodology (the subjective dialectics),both of which are continuously correlated with social-historical practice. 5.43 Anyhow, when Engels writes about dialectics as a universal theoryof development, from his point of view this is not a universal ontologyof the traditional type, but can actually be interpreted rather as a theory,comparing descriptions and scientific theories dealing with peculiar developments. Therefore, it is universal but conditioned; namely comparing theories or case-descriptions of some developmental processes.particular 5.50 As concerns Lenins outlook, this has to be drawn especially fromhis Philosophic Notebooks as well as from the study of the logical practiceof dialectics in his social (economic, sociological, politological) research.But the formulations from the Philosophic Notebooks cannot be takeninto account as such: they are reading notes, within which formulationsfrom the text cited often interfere. That iswhy their interpretation increasesthe difficulties. We will mention the meanings that seem principal to us: 5.51 Lenin defines dialectics, in his well-known article about Karl Marx,published in the Granat Encyclopaedia, as the "formulation of the principle of development", in nature and society, in the theory of cognition(of cognitions development), as well as in methodology.32 In the Philosophic Notebooks dialectics is also defined as logic (different from formallogic33). 5.52 Sometimes, Lenin seems to admit the Hegelian position of identity(in a sense typical of dialectics: concrete, contradictory identity) of logic,dialectics and theory of cognition.34 5.6 On the contrary, many authors, acknowledged as dialecticians of ?Marxian as A. Gramsci35, G. Luk?cs36, L. Goldmann37 and expressionH. Lef?bvre38, et al. ? interpret dialectics mainly as social (human) methodand ontology. 5.7 In the above examples, dialectics cannot be interpreted as universalontology, as Bunge seems to think.
  12. 12. MARIO BUNGE ON DIALECTICS 99 6. COUNTER-ARGUMENT6.11 Although Bunges thesis about dialectics as universal ontology is notconsistent with the examples and interpretations above, it is abusive onlybecause of its claim to characterize any dialectics at all. 6.12 The thesis mentioned at 6.11 above is legitimate ? with somerestrictions as shown above (5.1?5.2) ? for Hegelian philosophy and othersthat are similar (absolute idealism, objective idealism, etc.) 6.13 It is also compatible with some formulations found in Engels andLenins writings (and in those of some others who have taken over such aninterpretation), although, as has been shown (5.4 and 5.5), the general spiritof these works does not admit 6.131 the equivalence between dialectics and universal ontology nor 6.132 the interpretation of (universal) ontology without its connectionwith cognition (epistemology, methodology, logic) and practice. 6.20 of dialectics as universal ontology Even if the definition is extremelyproblematic, sometimes (with Hegel, for instance) this thesis is consistentwith an idealist, objective philosophic standpoint. Sometimes (in some ofEngels and Lenins formulations) it is necessary to specify the meaning ofthe interpretation of some formulae. For example, dialectics is the generalview on the development of nature, society, knowledge (thinking), i.e.dialectics = the theory of development. 6.21 Considering Marx and Lenins or Engels general conception, one interpretation has to be excluded the very beginning; namely that fromproposed by Bunge: dialectics as universal ontology (theory of any possibleand actual, past, present and future existent [das Seiende] ?. Like the previous speculative metaphysics out of which could be derived any particularkind of existence or existent, this will not hold. Against such an interpretation one can unambiguous texts. quote 6.22 The do not leave out the understanding of dialectics texts whichas ontology refer to any existent or any existence, but to and only do notto existents in development and destruction, or to the development anddestruction of existents, or, in other words, it refers to existents in so far asthese represent constituent moments in some processes of development (anddestruction), and therefore could be intelligible only as such. [Here and in what follows, I differentiate change (any observable variationof state, properties, relations) from transformation (any observable variation
  13. 13. 100 PAVEL AP?STOLof structural i.e. qualitative determinations) and from development (a seriesof oriented transformations, for instance from simple to complex, from theembryo to the grown-up individual, etc.)] 6.231 Postulating that all that exists is, finally, a moment of a development (and destruction) process, a hypothesis can be formulated that it is possible to build up a general substantive theory of development (anddestruction).. 6.232 In this case, it has to be demonstrated that such a general theory is also necessary, from a certain point of view, in comparison to particular theories of development (and destruction) regarding certain ontological regions. 6.24 Independently of the way in which we specify the meaning assignedto the expression "general theory of development (and destruction)", at leastin the works of Engels or Lenin, this theoretical position is not constructedby replying only on direct observations of development (of some processesof development and destruction), but by confronting such observations withvalid (verified or verifiable, tested or testable, confirmed or confirmable,etc.) scientific descriptions or theories, as parts of a certain social-historicalpraxis. 6.25 Such an intellectual construct (as that shown in 6.24) is logically andhistorically subsequent to the particular scientific theories about developmentand destruction and to the social-historical practices within which these havebeen formulated. 6.26 The situation presented at 6.25 evinces (as shown also in 5.32) remarkable analogies with the function of meta-mathematics vis-?-vis mathematics, and of a meta-theory vis-?-vis a theory (or theories). That is why, 6.27 we can specify dialectics (in the sense of 6.24) as a construct be longing to the foundations of any conceptualization of development anddestruction as such, carrying out toward them a function similar to that ofa meta-theory toward a theory. 6.28 Thus, dialectics is concerned with the conditions for making development and destruction intelligible and, as such, underlies any conception or intellectual construct that refers to these. 6.29 Taking into account the considerations mentioned above, it turnsout that dialectics ? even when interpreted as an ontology ? does not refer to things (phenomena, complexes, systems are preferable terms) but to the development and destruction of these and, consequently, it cannot be
  14. 14. MARIO BUNGE ON DIALECTICS 101well-formulated in an objectifying (verdinglichende, chosifiant) language,as done by Bunge. 6.30 Dialectics can be interpreted as an ontology (of development anddestruction of complexes, of systems, etc.) in the manner of the logic ofscience and contemporary epistemology which associate with each theorythe respective ontology not as a description of the object as such, but asa description of the object of a certain theory (or an intellectual construct)within the framework of an approach that leaves out the practical (existential,pragmatic) relationship among the theory, the object of the theory, and theobject of the praxis, with which the object of the theory and the respectivetheory ought to be associated. 6.31 In this sense, which is not yet to be explicitly found in texts ofsome authors dealing with dialectics, one can assert that dialectics is alsoan ontology of development and destruction. 6.32 But, even on this hypothesis, its principles cannot be formulated in the language used by Bunge (and described at 6.29). 6.40 Since the dialectics of Marx, Engels or Lenin have been formulatedwithin the Weltanschauung of a revolutionary movement, one may ask 6.41 whether the materialist dialectics or dialectical materialism,understood as universal ontology, is necessary for its legitimation? 6.420 There are at least three reasons for not answering 6.41 in theaffirmative. 6.421 First of all, there is a historical reason. The elaboration of Marx(and Engels) conception proceeds from the study of social praxis (the condition of the working-class in capitalist society and its fights for the improvement of its own status) and not from a purely revealed dialectics of thedevelopment and implicitly of the destruction of some social systems (thematerialist conception of history), as well as the dialectics of the cognitiveprocess about these. This dialectics of development and destruction of theforms of human societies and of the adequate scientific and ideologicalconstructs grounded the option for revolutionary action. Only after drawingthis conclusion did the analysis of some scientific theories ? especially in -Engels work bring out, in connection with these, a dialectics inherent inthe scientific image of the world (= nature), meaning a reconstitution of adialectics (in the sense of 6.3). With the help of a reflection about of naturescientific issues, therefore, from a historical standpoint, the revolutionaryconception and action could be unfounded ? and was argued as such by
  15. 15. 102 PAVEL AP?STOLMarx and Engels ? the elaboration of a dialectics of nature The beforelatter, subsequentlysupported, in their eyes, the plausibility of the former. 6.422 Secondly, the validity of revolutionary conclusions emerge forthem from the social dialectics, the development and destruction of somesocial realia and from reproduction of these (theories, quasi the mentaltheories, ideologies) and do not result and cannot result from some characteristics of nature (non-society). With respect to this, from a logical point of conclusions are free from the admission or non-admissionview, revolutionaryof a dialectics of nature or from that of a dialectics understood as universalontology. 6.423 Finally, one could construct a (idealistic-objective, for instance)dialectics of nature and of the Universe, as Teilhard de Chardin did, whichdoes not come to social-revolutionary consequences. 7. BUNGES FORMULATION OF THE PRINCIPLES OF DIALECTICAL ONTOLOGY7.1. The principles of dialectical ontology are formulated by Bunge in alanguage which I designated as being (6.29) objectifying and which I characterized as improper for meaningfully expressing any other interpretation ofdialectics than that of their author. 7.2 Bunge formulates five principles of dialectical ontology in as manydefinitions (p. 64), to which he also adds some derived definitions (pp. 64,67, 69, 70) and some corollaries. These five definitions and the correspondingderivatives are: Dl : "Everything has an opposite." Dla: "For every thing (concrete object) there is an anti-thing." Dlb: "For every property of concrete objects there is an anti-property." This definition has also a Sveaker form (p. 67): Die: "For some properties there are others (called their anti-properties) that counteract or neutralize the former." D2: "Every object is inherently contradictory, i.e. constituted by mutually opposing components and aspects."
  16. 16. MARIO BUNGE ON DIALECTICS 103 Here also there is aVeaker formulation (p. 69): D2a: "Some systems have components that oppose one aspect in some other system." D3 : "Every change is the outcome of the tension of struggle of oppo sites, whether within the system of interest or among different systems." Once more, the statement of the principle will be proposed in a weakervariant (p. 70): D3a: "Some changes are brought about by the opposition (in some respects) of different things or different components of one and the same thing." D4: "Development is a helix, every level of which contains, and at the same time negates, the rung." previous D5: "Every quantitative change ends up in some qualitative change and every new quality has its own new mode of quantitative change." 7.3 It is obvious that Dl, D2, and D3 reproduce the content of textbooksof dialectics, and treatises of dialectical materialism call them the principleor the law of "dialectical contradiction", of and of contraries" "unity fight(or of opposites, as Anglo-Saxon authors would rather D4 corre say).39sponds to the principle or law of negation of the negation, while D5 isthe principle or law of the leap from quantitative changes to qualitativetransformations. 7.4 For Bunge only Dl, D2, and D3 are typical of dialectics. 8. BUNGES ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT OF HIS CRITICISM OF DIALECTICS8.10 As regards each of the suggested definitions of dialectics and, especially,Dl, D2, and D3, Bunge brings arguments aimed to prove 8.11 the groundless claim to universality.Let us examine these arguments. 8.20 As regards Dl, (and Dla and Dlb), Bunge shows, and he is perfectly right, that the definitions formulated in propositions using the terms
  17. 17. 104 PAVEL AP?STOL"anti-object" and (pp. 64?65, "anti-property" respectively 65?68) aremeaningless (are inconsistent, bring about formal contradictions). He adds,again correctly, that this deficiency manifests itself differently 8.21 in idealist dialectics, which is possible though scarcely plausible(p. 68), and 8.22 in materialist ones, which would be implausible and inconsistentwithin an interpretation of knowledge as reflection. [The argument used in connection with Dlb is as follows (p. 68): theset of predicates of a certain order (arity) and a common reference (as in thecase of the totality of unitary predicates concerning mammals) is a Booleanfunction, while the corresponding set of properties of the same individuals(the mammals in the given example) is a semi-group, where the concatenationis interpreted as the conjunction of properties. Bunge says that ina materialist dialectics, which does not admit the real existence of negativeproperties, one cannot state that the "structure of predicates mirrors thestructure of properties" (ibidem). In this respect, we will note that in mostdialectical-materialist epistemologies reflection is not understood as an exact ideal copy of an objectively real original, as Bunge supposes, butrather as an relationship between the two terms and I have equivalencespecified it is a congruence relationship (see my paper in Dial?ctica, that 1972). Compared to these interpretations of reflection, the argument ofBunge has probatory strength only if the impossibility of establishing anypossible relationship of equivalence between the set of predicates and the setof properties could be demonstrated. But such a relationship of equivalenceis not conditioned by any homomorphism of the structures considered.] 8.23 This argumentation relies on the supposition that dialectics and itsprinciples would refer to things and properties of these, because it is in thiscase and only in this case, that the rejection of the existence of dialecticson the ground of the impossibility of anti-things and anti-properties caneffectively be asserted. 8.24 But is this supposition really confirmed by the texts in which areformulated ? even without sufficient clarity and precision ? different viewson dialectics? 8.30 We will answer this question, after the examination of the argumentsused to show the inconsistency of the definitions D2, D2a, and D3. 8.310 Bunge formulates D2 in this way: "every thing is an unity of itsopposites".40
  18. 18. MARIO BUNGE ON DIALECTICS 105 8.311considering that this "essential thesis of dialectics" could also beinterpreted with the help of the definition: "Property (or relation) P2 ifPI tends to check (neutralize, balance, or dim) P2 and conversely", while,later. 8.312 he reformulates it in the statement: "all systems are contradictory". 8.213 All these formulations are meaningless, according to Bunge, whoadmits only 8.314 "the weaker thesis" stated in D2a. More than this. 8.315 the idea of dialectical opposition (contradiction or contrariety)seems to him an "oversimplifying" one, belonging to a pre-scientific ("archaic") mentality, unable to cope with "intermediate states" in whosedescription and explanation there is no room for polarity (p. 69). 8.40 It should be stressed that here too dialectics is related to things(replaced, at a given moment (pp. 68 and 69), without an explicit justification, by the term system), manifesting itself exclusively as opposition 8.41 between polar properties of things or 8.42 between components of systems. 8.5 We recall the question at 8.24 and we strengthen it with another:is it true that in all the texts of some dialecticians or in most of these "theunity of opposites" and similar expressions refer really to polar propertiesof things, to polarized components of systems, or to something others 8.6 But there is one specific question raised: does dialectics mean aconceptualization of change, as has been postulated by Bunge for instance,or of development (which, as we have shown before, is not the same)? 8.7 This question is legitimate because Bunge rejects dialectics (pp. 70?71) with the argument that it represents an unsatisfactory conceptualizationof change, which can be more adequately described through a series ofunpolarized states! 8.80 The principle stated in D4 is very superficially dealt with (p. 71) intwo sentences: 8.81 the terms "dialectical negation" and "sublation" are foggy, that iswhy 8.82 D4 is also dim, confused, unintelligible (misty). The same for 8.90 the principle formulated in D5, called this time "the quality-quantitythesis". It is superficially dealt with, showing that 8.91 the thesis about "the conversion of quality into quantity and conversely" is unintelligible and
  19. 19. 106 PAVEL AP?STOL 8.92 that it cannot be obtained as "a theorem within a general theoryof change". 8.931 We also note here that the argumentation refers to sentencesformulated in object terms and 8.932 that dialectics is considered as a particular case of a theory ofchange. 8.94 The study contains a chapter dealing with the relation between"dialectics and formal logic" (pp. 73-76) which forms a special topic. Criticalexamination of Bunges opinions in this respect occurs below. 9. BUNGES CONCLUSIONS9.11 The formulation of the principles of dialectics in the extant literature(rather, Bunges arbitrary selection therefrom) is ambiguous and imprecise.Whence 9.12 the necessity of their reformulation. 91.3 Obviously, Bunges study tries to offer the pattern for such a clearerformulation: 9.21 Formulated more carefully, the principles of dialectics lose theiruniversality, get a weaker form, through the application of particularizers,whereby 9.22 become mere platitudes. they 9.3 Even more clearly formulated and without any claim to universality, the principles of dialectics do not offer a ground for a "modern theory of change" which has to be "more precise, explicit and complete than that" (p. 76). 9.41 Dialectics does not embrace formal logic, and 9.42 it is "incompatible with any realistic epistemology" (p. 77; about this matter, see 8.94) 9.5 Yet Bunge concedes that one could designate a field proper to dia lectics (see, especially 18.1-18.8), but, 9.6 a dialectical ontology relies obligatorily upon modern logic, mathematics, and science.
  20. 20. MARIO BUNGE ON DIALECTICS 107 10. THE SECOND OBJECTION AGAINST BUNGES CRITICISM: REJECTION OF THE FORMULATION GIVEN TO PRINCIPLES OF DIALECTICAL ONTOLOGY10.01 I refused above the groundless restriction of the meaning of dialecticsto that of a universal ontology, underlying the critical examination undertaken by Bunge, who neglects the most frequent meanings attributed to theterm. 10.02 That is why I concluded that the criticism calls for an ad hocconcept of dialectics, which is far from being generally admitted. Now wemust go on presenting arguments. 10.11 Since the strongest meaning of dialectics ? according to itssystem-building (systembildende) function and its frequency in very represen ?tative texts refers to development. 10.12 of dialectics, of its field and principles in terms of the formulation ? to which it is objects and properties of objects hereafter added, from ? isoutside, as a dynamic principle illicit, and as such, 10.13 can generate only meaningless and inconsistent statements. Relative to the referent of dialectical discourse (development), one has to operate notwith objects and properties (and relations among these), but 10.14 with terms suitable for constructing meaningful statements aboutdevelopment (and destruction). 10.15 The ontic referent of all materialist dialectics and also of somenon-materialist ones) is development (and destruction as mode of existenceof the things (= phenomena, finite processes, systems, etc.) and by no meansthe things as such (and/or their properties and relations) seen separatelyfrom their mode of existence. 10.16 In amaterialist perspective, dialectics is not that universal ontologywhich Bunge presents, but a theoretical reflecting (of a quasi-meta-theoreticaltype) upon some particular theories of development, aiming 10.17 not at discovering a priori principles out of which could be inferedany development, but 10.18 at establishing some firm criteria of intelligibility of development,which could be retrieved, as they are applied, in any valid scientific theoryof the development (and destruction) of a certain peculiar ontological region.These criteria of intelligibility work as principles of construction in particularscientific theories of development (and destruction), and dialectics ? even
  21. 21. 108 PAVEL AP?STOLtaken as ontology, with the restrictions in our first objection ? specifiedis no substitute for them. 10.19 Dialectics is not ontology. On the contrary, any ontology or intel lectual construct with the function of an ontology (the scientific image ofthe Universe, Weltanschauung, etc.) has to be a dialectical one if it wantsitself compatible with particular scientific theories of development (anddestruction). 10.21 That is why we hold that the principles of dialectics ? as clearlyformulated as possible ? refer to the process of development (and destruction)and not to things (properties and relations) cut off from their natural modeof existence, which is dialectical. 10.22 Observing this linguistic convention (compatible with the literature),confused and meaningless expressions or terms, like opposition within thethings, opposition between thing and anti-thing opposition betweenproperty and anti-property (of the things), negation and sublation in thesenses defined by Bunge, transform themselves into meaningful expressions: divergently polarized tendencies in and through which the development (ordestruction) constitutes itself, opposition (here taken as equivalent to contradiction and contrariety) between these (tensorially) divergent tendenciesspecific to development, opposition between the determinations, moments,etc. of development (and destruction), negation and sublation not in theformal logic sense (as operators), but as establishment and/or discarding of acertain moment, determination, etc., of development (and destruction), etc. 10.23 That which appears meaningless with respect to object under stood out of its mode of existence designated by the term development,becomes intelligible and can be conceptualized with reference to this modeof existence. 10.24 From a logical point of view, therefore purely formally, development can be considered as a particular case of or transformation change,(but only in the sense of the distinctions introduced before); but dialecticsunderstood as a philosophic (quasi-meta-)theory of development (and destruction) cannot be built up this way. It can be elaborated only starting from the theories of development 10.25(and destruction) actually accepted in science, with respect to determinedontological regions (or fields), as they can be grasped at the level of a determined practice, within the framework of the interaction between the con structor of the theory and the object of the latter.
  22. 22. MARIO BUNGE ON DIALECTICS 109 10.26 The way suggested by Bunge (cf. 10.24) refers to the logical reconstruction of a theory of change (development), leading to an axiomaticformulation, as meta-theory of any possible substantive theory of change;but 10.27 that these substantive theories are or can be brought forth in anexact form, is to be proved. 10.28 Or, such a general theory of change, fulfilling in fact a metatheoretical function vis-?-vis the particular theories, cannot be stronger,of course, than the referenced theories. If this is the state of things, then 10.29 the condition formulated by Bunge with respect to a future dialectics seems to be an excessive one, especially, a contentious role. having, 10.30 Bunge is certainly right, when he says that discourse about dialecticssuffers from obscure and often confused and vague terms: but, 10.31 of the principles of dialectics suggested by the reformulationshim do take account of the inconsistency of the theses (the Hegelian one,the Marxist-Leninist, the didactic interpretation), as such, but only theinconsistency of these against the theoretical horizon adopted by Bunge:the Verdinglichung of an ontology claiming, at the same time, a dialecticalcharacter. 10.32 Through this method has been expelled the effective ontic referentwhich any materialist dialectics and many non-materialist ones known to us ?had in view development and destruction. 10.33 From a logical point of view, the method used by Bunge is theinterchange of the significance of the terms (meaning change), withoutany other justification except the appeal to evidence.The criticism of the critical examination of dialectics by Bunge has obligedus to formulate some objections. The refutation (elenchus) did not resultonly in negative aspects; proceeding self-critically we tried to evince somelandmarks for a positive reconstruction of the dialectics. Before starting toexamine in detail Bunges opinions concerning the relation between dialecticsand formal logic, we would like to present concisely some consequences ofthe previous critical confrontation. As was obvious, Bunge contests in particular the intelligibility of theHegelian concept of Aufhebung, dialectical negation and negation ofthe negation. Without doubting the intelligibility of these Hegelian concepts, as Bunge actually does, there is no question that with Hegel, with
  23. 23. 110 PAVEL AP?STOLhis interpreters as well as with some dialecticians who claim themselves tobe Marxists but who do not want to pay the appropriate attention to thecriticism of the Hegelian dialectics, as dialectics, conceived by Marx (muchmore developed in Kritik des Hegeischen Staatsrechts of 184341 and in the?konomisch-philosophische Manuskripte of 184442), it is exactly on these concepts that the fog (the term belongs to Bunge) or the mystification ofdialectics concentrates itself. Let us proceed, then, with a problem largelydiscussed in the Hegelian exegesis. 11. THE TERNARY STRUCTURE OF THE DIALECTICAL LOGIC IN HEGELS PHILOSOPHY 11.1 The kernel of Hegels dialectics, its constitutive principle is a ternaryschema.44 11.2 The triad is evident in the architectureof the system and not only asan exterior cover but, on the contrary, it is blended with the very substanceof the Hegelian philosophy of the Absolute Ideas and of the Absolute Spiritsself-development. This ternary structure, the triad, defined by Hegels dis ?ciples in its three moments thesis, antithesis and synthesis, is to overcomethe philosophic presuppositions of Absolute Idealism45 11.3 This determined Marx to concentrate his criticism of Hegels dialectics on the category of the Aufhebung, even in his youth, and to take itup again inDas Kapital, where he writes: "Die Entwicklung (der Ware) hebtdiese Widerspr?che nicht auf, schafft aber die Form, worin sie sich bewegenk?nnen. Dies ist ?berhaupt die Methode, wodurch sich wirkliche Widerspr?chel?sen."46 11.4 The philosophic and consequently the ideological over-saturation (inthe sense of L. Althussers sur-d?termination) of the Hegelian triad47 doesnot justify its simple rejection; we have to ask ourselves whether this ternarystructure aims to be more than the mere manifestation of the dialectics ofthe Absolute1. 11.5 Our answer is in the affirmative. Within the framework of his exposition of divine logic, the logic of Gods thinking, Hegel states quite thefrequently theses of a human logic.48 Taking into account this perspective,we have to ask ourselves which is the real meaning of this ternary structure. 11.6 It is not the first time49 that I state that by the identification ofa ternary structure Hegel defines the necessary condition of the intelligibility
  24. 24. MARIO BUNGE ON DIALECTICS 111of development and destruction and for conceptualization of them (of becoming in its Aristotelian acceptance: change, generation and corruption,growth and diminution, alteration). In other words, this ternary structureallows and only it allows one to make meaningful statements about development and/or destruction, constituting the minimum for conceptualizingdevelopment and destruction, a minimum, the minimum of cognitive intelligibility for coherent discourse on development and destruction. 11.7 Development and/or destruction are interpreted as a series oforiented transformations; TlfT2, T3,...,Tn,which can be in fact the conceptual threshold for distinguishing an oriented transformation from whatever transformation is occuring. The first two transformations (taking only them) warrant the conclusion that a transformation occurred without any reference to its positive or orientation. negativeOnly allows us to specify if and to what extent the the third transformation respective series of transformations represent a development and/or destruc tion (the maintaining, ? under a certain improving explicitly formulated ? on respect structuring, or, the contrary, the destruction, degeneration,destructuring of the complex dynamic totality in view). This ternary structure consisting of three asymetrically interdependent terms (determinations= Bestimmungen) (three transformations, three moments, thesis?antithesis . . . and it is only this structure that us to estab synthesis. ) permits permitslish a conceptual limit between an indefinite series of any transformations(which does not affect the complex and dynamic totality from a qualitativeand structural point of view), and a series of oriented transformations:development and/or destruction.50 11.8 Thus the ternary structure identified by Hegel represents the necessary condition but obviously not also the sufficient one for the intelligibilityand the conceptualization of development and destruction; consequentlyfor any theory of development and/or destruction. 12. THE LAWS OF DIALECTICS 12.11 In the literature, especially in that of Marxist orientation, the lawsof dialectics are often referred to. This way of speaking is derived from the
  25. 25. 112 PAVEL AP?STOLclassic German philosophic tradition, in which law is used in its larger senseof order, norm or rule, specific to a series of events. 12.12 By no means does law, in this context, claim to be equivalent to law in the experimental or exact sciences, as the term is used in French and linguistic areas.Anglo-Saxon 12.13 It would to say that it represents the Aristotelian be much betterarche (ta prot?) through which anything can be known ? a presuppositionwhich cannot be demonstrated but which represents in fact the starting pointof any cognition and rational argumentation.51 12.21 The laws or principles of dialectics revealed by the Hegelian andMarxian exegesis represent a system of conceptual determinations according to which development and destruction, identified through the ternary structure (presented at 11) ? identification which represents the necessarycondition of their intelligibility ? become understood or conceptuallydetermined and this is the sufficient condition of their intelligibility. 12.22 The principles are, therefore, criteria of the logical validation of thecorrect use of the terms development and destruction. 12.23 Understoodas such they designate the logical field in which anytheory of development and/or destruction can be conceived with a sufficientdegree of consistency. 12.31 If we admit of dialectics as a theory of development and destruc tion, we have to specify from the very beginning that we are actually dealingwith a philosophic theory (in the large meaning of the word, not in themathematical one), in a position to formulate the conditions of intelligibility of devel 12.32opment and destruction (as shown in 11.1?12.23), 12.33 as well as their significance for understanding and transforming thehuman condition.52 12.34 Within this context a legitimate question arises as to whether or nota philosophic theory of development and destruction, distinct from theoriesof development and destruction belonging to other sciences (astronomy-cosmogony, biology, history, sociology . . . ) has any justification when it is notconceived in the exact language of a (formalized) meta-theory of those special theories ? a meta-theory with the help of which some other such particular scientific theories of development and destruction could be provided. 12.35 The problem requires a discussion which cannot be engaged inhere.53 Nevertheless,
  26. 26. MARIO BUNGE ON DIALECTICS 113 12.36 there is a pragmatic argument in favour of the legitimacy of sucha philosophic theory of development and destruction (Ph.T.D.D.) with a function; namely, even in their vague form suchquasi-meta-theoretical ? ?Ph.T.D.D.s have allowed one as if they were the very meta-theories toelaborate dialectical inquiry systems5*, planning patterns55, dialecticaldialectical theories56, dialectical methodologies decision in economics andsocial sciences57 Certainly these are only examples of possible positiveanswers to the question reformulated in proposition 12.34, and not a demonstration of an answer.58 I promised a reformulation of the principles of dialectics as a 12.40 system of the conceptual determinations of development and/or destruction. Here and now, such a task cannot be carried out. We can only pointout the direction inwhich its achievement appears possible: 12.41 one can make meaningful statements with reference to development and destruction if and only if it can be detected empirically or if it canbe presupposed in accordance with the scientific data available: 12.42 the presence of an ontic field made up by a series of asymmetricallyinterdependent quantitative changes (growth) which, reaching a certain limit specific to each category of object, (here meaning the bearer of a development process), complex totalities, dynamic systems etc., generate necessarilya transformation qualitative-structural (or transformations), namely, 12.431 that a new quality and/or structure emerges from the precedingone, representing, at least, either 12.432 an enlarged, but selective and/or (at least under a certain perspective) optimized reproduction of the object (complex totality, system or considered59, orquasi-system) being 12.433 of a new complex totality, other than the preceding a productionone (i.e. a significant part of the former goes directly into the structureobtained by its transformation), or, contrariwise, 12.434 a disaggregation, disintegration, destruction, decomposing, destructuring, destabilization ... of this one, (I observe that destruction (and itssynonyms) do not mean complete annihilation, but destruction of a givencomplex totality (complexity), understood as mode of existence and, at thesame time, liberation of its components which become in this way possiblecomponents of other complex totalities). 12.5 These asymmetrically interdependent and oriented transformations signify development and/or destruction // and only if they are the result of
  27. 27. 114 PAVEL AP?STOLa collision (clashing, opposing) of at least two (in a vectorial sense) divergent ?tendencies, immanent to the process considered diverging tendencies whichpresuppose each other (at least for a lapse of time) and, simultaneously,exclude each other reciprocally in the series of transformations taken into consideration. 12.6 The system of these conceptual determinations designates the ontic referent one has in view in the various formulations of the laws of dialecticsor, as is preferable, of the system of the principles of dialectics. 12.71 The formulation proposed above does not resort to terms ex traneous to the language of science and 12.72 does not neglect or reject the rules of formal logic. 12.8 Dialectics, understood like Ph.T.D.D. and relying on the study of the theories of development and destruction belonging to different sciences,establishes the conditions of intelligibility (the ternary structure) and thecriteria of intelligibility (the conceptual determinations, called principles ofdialectics), which are absolutely necessary to conceptualize (to describe to explain . . . one in rational terms, ) the referents that has in mind. 12.9 We cannot examine here the relations between the Ph.T.D.D. and thehuman condition. 13. A SHORT ASIDE ON THE POSSIBILITIES OF FORMULATING DIALECTICS MORE PRECISELY 13.1 There are several attempts to formalize dialectics (or at least the logicof dialectics used by Hegel).60 13.2 Except for Dubarle, these attempts ignored von Neumanns criticalremarks on the one-sidedness of formal (mathematical) logic. He wrote in 1948: "Everybody who has worked in formal logic will confirm thatit is one of the technically most refractory parts of mathematics. The reasonfor this is that it deals with rigid, all-or-none concepts, and has very littlecontact with the continuous concept of the real or of the complex number, that is, with mathematical analysis. Yet analysis is the technically most successful and best-elaborated part of mathematics. Thus formal logic is, by the nature of its approach, cut off from the best cultivated portions of mathematics, and forced onto the most difficult part of mathematical terrain, intocombinatorics."61 13.3 It is not our purpose to examine here the consequences of these
  28. 28. MARIO BUNGE ON DIALECTICS 115objections directed against logical-mathematical reductionism, but we willmention Ren? Thorns recent attempt to capture in amathematical formalism the origin and the end of the systems62, and mathematical morphogenesisunderstood as an exact study of any creative or destructive process.63 13.41 So we are confronted with an approach based upon non-conven tional mathematical means (different from the Boolean ones of mathematicallogic), which make possible a topological description of genesis and of thedestructive processes, which present remarkable analogies with the conceptsof development-destruction, and of dialecticity that we have used above. 13.42 This analogy is revealed once more by the concept of generalizedcatastrophe introduced by Thorn to designate the emergence of somethingnew which is also aimed at by the so-called dialectical leap: "Dune mani?reg?n?rale, lapparition dune nouvelle phase dans un milieu initialement conduit ? ce genre que noushomog?ne dapparence, appelons catastropheg?n?ralis?e; tout processus dans lequel il y a rupture dune sym?trie initialeest de ce fait, structurellement instable, et conduit ? une catastrophe g?n de tels processus ne sont pas formalisables: mais ...?ralis?e, [l] issuefinale [du processus], elle, peut-?tre bien d?termin?e ... La mort dun?tre vivant semanifeste par le fait que la dynamique de son m?tabolisme localpasse dune r?currente a une de cest, configuration configuration gradient; typiquement, une catastrophe g?n?ralis?e."64 13.5 The above-mentioned analogy becomes more convincing as the generalized catastrophe is understood as the result of a conflict, of a or of a struggle65: "Dans la mesure o? lon fait du conflit competition,un terme exprimant une situation g?om?trique bien d?finie dans un syst?medynamique, il ny a aucune objection ? user de ce terme pour d?crire rapidement et qualitativement un syst?me dynamique."66 13.6 a Ph.T.D.D. can be thought again and reformulated Consequently,in the language and within the conceptual framework of the mathematicaltheory of morphogenesis.67 But that is not the purpose of this study. 14. DIALECTICS VERSUS FORMAL LOGIC IN MARIO BUNGES VIEW14.1 Bunge attributes to the dialecticians the claim that "logic is a specialcase of dialectics", which is, in fact, he states, a "false claim" (p. 73), because
  29. 29. 116 PAVEL AP?STOL 14.21 "formal logic . .. cannot be a particular case of dialectical ontology:for the very reason that 14.22logic does not arise from an ontology and 14.23 any rational non-logic theory presupposes a logic." 14.24 To put it in another way: "formal logic refers to everything butdescribes or represents nothing but its own basic concepts" (p. 74). So, 14.25 the logical concepts refer or can be applied to propositions and notto materialobjects. The argumentation 14.261 is based, Bunge pursues, on the disjunctionbetween physical objects and conceptual ones (p. 75). 14.262 Of course, this hypothesis cannot be proved but it can be madeplausible. On the contrary, 14.263 "the thesis of the oneness of logic and ontology is possible, naynecessary, in an idealist system" (p. 75). He considers then that 14.3 "The idea that the understanding of change requires a logic of itsown, be it dialectical logic or some version of temporal logic, because formallogic is incapable of dealing with change, is a relic from ancient philosophy"(pp. 75-76). 14.4 From the perspective of contemporary science, says Bunge, wewould not think any longer in opposites, but in degrees, meaning that "weno longer think dialectically, i.e. in opposites and without distinguishinglogic from the disciplines dealing with facts" (p. 76). 14.51 Consequently, "dialectics does not embrace formal logic" (p. 76),and 14.52 "the claim that dialectics generalizes logic can be upheld only withina Platonistic ontology and is incompatible with any realistic epistemology,in particular with naive realism (the reflection theory of knowledge)" (pp.76-77). In conclusion,and Iwant to say from the very beginning that I completelyagree with these theses, although my reasons are different from Bunges: 14.60 "the legitimate concerns of dialectics" consist in 14.61"the analysis and codification of the patterns (both valid and merelyplausible) (cf. Polyain 1958 on plausible reasoning) of actual argumentation", 14.62 "theory invention and problem solving" and, especially, 14.63 "the patterns of rational dialogue" and 14.64 those of "inductive inference" (p. 77).
  30. 30. MARIO BUNGE ON DIALECTICS 117 15. A FIRST ARGUMENT AGAINST BUNGES THESES ON DIALECTICS VERSUS FORMAL LOGICS 15.10 I. Narski68 is among the first to have responded to Bunges conceptionof the adepts of Hegelian or non-Hegelian dialectics. 15.11 We can only partly agree with his retort, for reasons that havebecome evident through our discussion. It must be recalled that Bungesremarks with respect to the relationship between dialectics as ontology andformal logic refer again rather 15.121 to the concept of dialectics which we have called the didacticallyoperational one, 15.122to the opinions of a small number of authors, in some cases ofa very doubtful representativity, 15.123 ignoring completely the positions that could not be subordinatedto the model built up by Bunge, claiming, without sufficient reason to bevery characteristic of the position of the Hegelian or Marxian dialecticians,of the Marxist-Leninist or the non-Hegelian ones, and 15.124 neglecting especially many well-elaborated positions regardingthe relationship between formal and dialectical logic.Remark No. I (to the proposition 15.11) In my books and studies publishedup to 1965, Imade regrettable concessions, adopting the didactically opera tional concept of dialectics but, replying on the texts, I largely argued thatMarx dialectics is not a mere transposition of the Hegelian one onto amaterial bearer but, on the contrary, it is radically different from it, asdialectics, being in fact another dialectics in comparison with that expoundedin Hegels works. The main difference lies in the fact that Marx rejectedthe speculative identity between the Absolute Subject and the AbsoluteObject69, the identity of ontology and dialectical logics70, the identificationof the name (designating logical objects) with the real referent (the physicalobject).71 The materialist reversal of the Hegelian dialectics does not refer ? as it isonly to the bearer of the dialectical process and to its causes oftentaken to be ? but it affects the most intimate structure of dialectics. Thisobliged us to introduce the distinction between Hegelian dialectical structuresand non-Hegelian ones. The differences between those two types of structurescan be shown up through the "dialectical cell" which I call ternary structure(set up for identifying a definite process of development). In the event of
  31. 31. 118 PAVEL AP?STOLthe Hegelian ternary structure the transition from the initial moment tothe other ones is achieved with the help of an operator of necessity (thisconception is quite legitimate within the framework of Absolute Idealism, inwhich all these moments represent determinations of the Absolute Spirit andconsequently they can move only with absolute necessity); whence the uniqueness of the third moment. On the contrary, in the case of a non-Hegelianternary structure (e.g., that found in the economic analyses made by Marx)the transition is achieved with the help of an operator of probability, hence,the plurality of third moments. Marx text is fully conclusive in this respect if we remember that for Marx, the commodity is not a thing, but a dynamicrelationship: "Der der Ware immanente Gegensatz von Gebrauchswert undWert, von Privatarbeit, die sich zugleich als unmittelbar gesellschaftlicheArbeit darstellen muss, von besonderer konkreter Arbeit, die zugleich nurals abstrakt allgemeine Arbeit gilt, von Personifizierung der Sache und Verdinglichung der Personen ? dieser immanente Widerspruch erh?lt in derGegens?tzen der Warenmetamorphose seine entwickelten Bewegungsformen.Die Formen schliessen daher die M?glichkeit, aber auch nur die M?glichkeitder Krisen ein. Die Entwicklung dieser M?glichkeit erfordert einen ganzenUmkreis von Verh?ltnissen, die vom Standpunkt der einfachen Warenzirkulation noch gar nicht existieren".72 Thus, let us take Tfor dialectical transitionor transformation, Ml, Ml, M3 for the significant moments of a processidentified as dialectical (a process of development or destruction), v for an -> foroperator of necessity, and m for an operator of probability and implication, and then: in aHegelian ternary structure we will have Tv(Ml,M2)^Tv(M2,M3)For each sequence Ml, Ml, M3 there is only one M3, which occurs withnecessity. On the contrary, a non-Hegelian ternary structure, Tv (Ml,M2) ->Tm (M2, {M3})for each sequence Ml, Ml, M3 there is a determined set of {M3}s which arenot necessarily equiprobable. Or, admitting the linguistic convention of designating the three momentsby thesis (T), antithesis (AT), and synthesis (S), in the first case we will have:
  32. 32. MARIO BUNGE ON DIALECTICS 119 v(T->AT-+S)and, in the second, v(T-*AT)->m {S1,S2,S3...}I have mentioned some possibilities of interpretation to make clear thearbitrary characterthe simplification of Bunges problem: dialectics or of logic? His arguments are justified only against the conceptions which operatewith the model of dialectics built up by himself. Remark No. II Bunges argumentation (14.1 and 14.21) a direct establishesrelation between as ontology or the theory of the dialectics (understoodphysical object) and formal logic. Both the authors quoted by him andmany others tackle the problem differently; namely, mediating terms areintroduced between dialectics as ontology and formal logic; i.e., (a) dialecticsas method or methodology; and (b) dialectics as dialectical logic. 16. TERMINOLOGICAL EXPLANATIONS 16.0 To avoid misunderstandings of a terminological nature, we want tospecify the meaning with which we use the terms: "(process of) cognition","knowledge", "epistemology", "methodology", "formal logic", and then"dialectical logic".73 16.1 Thus we understand by cognition the processing of informationbeing input by some privileged material systems (e.g. human beings), with ?cybernetic properties, which are able to develop some psychic (ideal) partly ?conscious, partly unconscious, spontaneous and/or deliberately provokedinternal models, always formulated in an interindividual communicativelanguage, of any other discernible real or ideal system and even of itself, functioning as referent or object (of the cognitive process under consideration). 16.2 By knowledge we understand the set of results of the process shown in 16.1. 16.3In this context, epistemology appears to be the sole disciplinewhose subject-matter is cognition and knowledge in all their complexityand dynamics, in all their aspects and dimensions, as a dialectical unityof their formal and informal components. Epistemology is a philosophicdiscipline, too, since the finitist reduction of the potentially infinite set of
  33. 33. 120 PAVEL AP?STOLdynamic relations which constitute the field of the cognitive process has onlya pragmatic validity with reference to human existence. In the philosophy ? or or philosophicof knowledge (or philosophic epistemology) metaphysics, ? are considered in their explicitlyanthropology cognition and knowledgeformulated connection with human existence ? (individuals interacting ? and in societies ? in their turn ?among themselves grouped interactingwith specific parts of the explored universe), a connection only implicitlyinvolved in the properly epistemological approach. 16.4 The object of synchronie logic (formal and symbolic) is the structure(elements, components) of and the possible relations among meaningfulstatements, their properties, laws of combination and/or transformation into logical complexes, following explicit rules. In addition to formalism,mathematical logic studies abstract structures, some of which may be interpreted as able to convey products (results) of human cognition. As such,mathematical logic explores not only the effectively used demonstrativestructures (texts), but also the possible ones. 16.5 Diachronie logic deals with the temporal status of the logical constructs described by synchronie logic. logic of science (synchronie and/or diachronic), 16.6 The in its turn,studies the effectively utilized logical structures which convey actually, ininterhuman communicative languages, the results of scientific cognition(knowledge), verified, confirmed, and conforming to explicit rules admittedin the world of science. Therefore, the logic of science concerns only asubset of the structures described in symbolic logic. 16.7 Paraphrasing Rossers and Turquettes expressive metaphorical term, - in general - is dealing with the conduct of propositionslogic (theircombinations, and transformations), whereas the methodology of cognitionor knowledge (and applying certain restrictive instances, that of scientificresearch) deals with the conduct (behaviour) of determined cognitive subjects(actors, agents) in making use of logical complexes (syntactic structures,in corresponding semantic interpretations) for solving problems in someepistemic situations (by means of acquisition, handling, transformation,etc., of data). Broadly speaking, methodology is a strategy or an operational programto apply noetically relevant logical and exological structures to cognitive(epistemic) actions. 16.8 By dialectical logic we will understand, at least for the time being,