History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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The left’s loss of dialectical sympathies

May 22nd, 2015 · No Comments

Nothing is more detested by the left than idealism, but in the long run it seems likely that idealism will win out over straight materialism. The left (what to say of scientists themselves) is stuck here: how did they get into this situation? By failing to stick to their own basic idea of the dialectic. If we study the modern transition we see a far vaster set of ideas than the materialism that suddenly took to the fore in the wake of that transition. How do we explain this paradox? In the ancient transitions we see a core narrative develop and then take off near the divide, but in the modern case this doesn’t seem to happen. There are a number of good reasons for this: first, modernity is far more complex than a mere ‘ism’. It is a massive does of multiple complementary opposites in a dialectical progression, if we can still use that word which is a sort of mental fetish unable to mediate the opposites we see in the modern realization. The sudden shift to materialism in the wake of the modern transition is the beginning to a dialectical progression, but instead the whole thing freezes and we are stuck with the cruder forms of positivism. The left, viz. the realm of frozen marxism needs to recover the larger meaning of dialectic and the left should be able to ride herd over the complexity of modern thought, especially the miniature universal of German Classical philosophy. It is very strange that by 1848 the entire achievement of the early modern was thrown away for the crudities, destined to fail, of historical materialism and the rest of it. But by one and the same token this starting ‘affirmation’ was perfectly Ok but simply a call to the transformation of starting points. Instead we get the rigid crystallization of a cadre ideology, frozen in place, and designed to keep people from thinking at all.
Here we see that the classic counterpoint of materialism and idealism is hardly suitable for a dogmatic materialist leftist religion. The left needs to be able to play the razzledazzle of the real complexity of the early modern.
And we can see that the attempt to be rid of idealism once and for all by Smolin is just as likely to fail: transcendental idealism (why is it so excoriated?) is a potent player will probably undo Smolin’s initiative.


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