23 February, 2016

Emergence is Key

What is to be Done: X
The essential tasks for the Marxists of today

Now, we must not get embroiled in the many possible diversions which can be brought to notice at this point.

This is NOT a similar “ignoring” as was essential in the pluralistic methods, but a refusal to be scuppered by irresponsible “Yes, buts...” A coherent contribution is always welcomed, but the throwing of rocks without evidence must ALWAYS be excluded. [I have dealt elsewhere with Changes of State (Phase Change), such as in the transitions from solid to liquid, and liquid to gas, but these are accommodated elsewhere, and would only (and perhaps purposely) confuse this current and important narrative, with which we are primarily concerned here.

In addition, I must admit that I am laying the essential groundwork for that most important radical change in the history of Reality, which is termed an Emergence. For where these arise may be seen as somewhat similar to those of Changes of State, but they are NOT identical. Though when attempting to explain Domains of Applicability this is still a fair approach, though applied in a much more limited area. The differences are to do with repeat-ability, and reverse-ability. While Changes of State and “Domain hopping” are reversible, Emergences are NOT. An Emergence is NO local change of phase. It could, I believe, be considered as a “System-wide Revolution”

Instead of a local, formal or organisational-only change, we are here addressing a major flip, which would take the form of a whole series of veritable avalanches, finally precipitating a Whole New Level. And such a Level – the Emergence – would be not only organisational, but also creative and indeed revolutionary.

Now, if such a description seems mystical or airy-fairy, you MUST be directed to consider the first, and totally unique Origin of Life on Earth. That was no mere Change of State, was it?

Did it happen? Indeed it did! And what did it achieve? It created wholly new Forms – living things – which were both self-maintaining and self perpetuating, and which transformed Everything.

They even transformed their own environment, such that the very rocks beneath our feet are the remains of living things (when limestone), or or even the products of living things when they are oxidised minerals, as the necessary free atmospheric Oxygen was only possible with the constant action of Plants during Photosynthesis.

An Emergence then is most certainly a Revolution. It couldn’t possibly described as anything else.

And it also has a more profound element – that can only be called Overall Stability. From one universal environment with its own form of this stability, an Emergence precipitates an entirely NEW environment, with a different but similar stability. So different, indeed, that the new form is packed full of new, never-been-in-existence-before entities, properties and even laws.

Indeed, within the New Level, the old prior Level situation has ceased to exist, and has been replaced by something entirely New.

It is HERE, at this remarkable transition, that the old pluralistic methods fail absolutely, and can provide NO explanations at all for what has appeared and taken over. The old Level dominant relations have gone, and new dominances have arisen. Even the old variables have vanished into that same obscurity as that to which we relegated our old unobservables and negligibles of our prior Level Science.

Indeed, this process, along with the creations of entirely new variables and relations, prohibit the extrapolation of the old precursor Level laws into the new Level. You cannot predict the New Level from the Old due entirely to our methods of analysis, which though practical “within Level”, deliver nothing when Levels change.

The Consequences of Emergences

Thus, we cannot use our old pluralistic methods to explain the Origin of Life, because they do NOT contain the essential factors that are involved in the transition. We had thrown them away!

But even more amazingly, the very Stability of the new Level militates against our wholesale condemnation of those methods.

Why is this?

It is because it re-enables their use “from scratch” at the New Level. The same pluralistic compromises will AGAIN be possible to allow its entities, properties and laws to be isolated, extracted and abstracted in exactly the same way nd with the same pragmatic usefulness, BUT FOR A DIFFERENT WORLD, and hence producing a whole new set of things at the New Level.

AND, it must be stressed, that this resurrection of Plurality infers NO CONTINUITY across the transition.

The system simply DROPPED OUT during transition, but could be effective again within the new Stability, at the New Level.

Yet that Assumption of Continuity is precisely what the vast majority of our researchers assume. They DO expect to be able to explain the Origin of Life from prior non-living processes using the old pluralistic methods.

It is in our Thinking that we are Stymied!

Now, once again, I must stress the difference between Being and Epistemology! The above assertions do not mean, “Give up now you’ll never do it!” Not at all! There is NO doubt that there is a “continuity of cause” between the pre-Life Level and that of Living Things – just as there MUST be between precursor and consequent Levels in every single Emergence. That is indisputable! But what we are revealing here is that such a Continuity is impossible to reveal using our universally accepted pluralistic methods.

It is WE who “wall off” the possibility of our understanding, because of our current inadequate methodology. Being is undoubtedly coherent, but our methods of dealing with it are not!

The impasse (as always) is one self-made by Mankind. We always construct the barriers to our own understanding, by the very methods that we invent to reveal Reality, for in finding ways to bring fragments of Reality into our sphere of affecting it, we simultaneously prohibit the revelation of how Reality itself continually recreates itself in innumerable new Levels of existence.

Our tackling of Reality cannot be direct and obvious, but ONLY consistent with where we are at any particular point in the process. We can NEVER jump out of our situation. Our methods can initially ONLY arise out of what we already know.

But we are Thinking creatures, and we do make break-throughs, and indeed progress!

It is just that such particular required break-throughs are truly MONUMENTAL! To achieve it we have to transcend our previous methodology! AND IT HAS BEEN DONE ALREADY!

A Sucessfully transcended Emergence: but what have we learned?

Momentary and significant transcendences of the sort necessary here HAVE been achieved, and then LOST!

What do you think Lenin did in 1917?

So, let us recap how far we have got in the re-vitalisation of Marxist Theory.

We have deduced that the usual pluralistic methodology of theory development over the whole range of Human endeavour, including Science, is incapable of dealing with the real drivers of Change in Reality, and crucially in its most significant and creative mode – that of an Emergence.

We have, I believe, already demolished that methodology outside of within-Level Stability. That old methodology has fragmented our Understanding into quite separate Level-defined Sciences, and has directed all our gains towards technological Control and Production.

Though attempts to understand still exist, they are also largely emasculated by the universal acceptance of the same pluralistic methods. The best of our scientists have realised the problem, and have taken on the task of opposing the worst excesses of pluralistic Science – as in Quantum Theory & Cosmology for example –BUT they are clearly inadequately equipped to succeed. They have neither understood nor rejected the established methodology, but ONLY its results.

Their standpoints are modern, secular versions of the God-of-the-Gaps “hope”, in that they know what fragments have been achieved by their pluralistic methods, but they merely “expect” that they will be unified in the future by new discoveries – found by the same, old methods, that will “bridge the gaps”
So, how do we Proceed?

I believe that by now it must be clear to the reader that this is a forlorn hope. The waited for “bridging discoveries” are indeed unabtainable by those methods,

What has to be done is to complete the task, and that is no mere “add-on” to old work! It involves the thorough demolition of the old methods, and a root-and-branch overhaul of our methodology to devise a NEW appropriate set of techniques equipped to deal with Emergent Change.

For someone who has been attempting to be a real Marxist for 50 years, such assertions seem unnecessary, but the reverse is true. I have never come across an anlysis of pluralistic assumptions and methods by any Marxist in this very long period. The self-professed Marxists themselves subscribe to these alien methods as if they have no choice in the matter. They embrace the same methodology as their avowed enemies, and true philosophical Marxism dissolves away to be replaced by a sort of moral socialism.

Marx himself in his Poverty of Philosophy, and many other works, condemned Socialists such as Proudhon and his like for their Utopian Socialism, and their totally inadequate philosophical methods. He (like me) arrived at Socialism via Philosophy, but he was aware that Mankind’s knowledge and methodology was “drenched-through” with a totally inadequate approach. He spent whole decades combating such things. But, in spite of their crucial role in the development of his overall Philosophy and Programme for action, we miss all this out to concentrate on his political commitments.

We copy his activism, while ignoring his fundamental philosophical work.

And, sin of all sins, we look to him for ALL the answers. That MUST be the most damning error of all! High-point though Marx was in the Ascent of Man, he was no God. He didn’t have prescience to accurately predict the future and direct our work for the coming centuries.

That MUST be our job!

But, that Task has already been commenced... My efforts, particularly in the last couple of years, have, I believe, begun to indicate what has yet to be done. The most thrilling and demanding task must be in carrying through Hegel’s objective of a Science of Logic – a Logic of Change, and the subsequent orchestration of all the gains of Mankind since the second flowering with Lenin & the Bolsheviks in 1917 into a coherent Whole, PLUS the central crux that is the trajectory of an Emergence. (see The Theory of Emergences in SHAPE Journal)

How does Reality raise its game, and rush to a new creative Level?

Can we tackle “bridging the Gaps” ?

This post is the tenth in a blog series entitled "What is to be done?" on the crises in both Marxism and Science, and how a revolution is necessary in both. This body of work is now available as a Special Issue. Read it all here!

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