Thursday, 26 July 2007

Haldane and Marxism

It is a great pity that J.B.S. Haldane, evolutionary biologist, co-founder of population genetics, and rather clever chap, was addled somewhat by ideology:
[D]ialectical materialism . . . is not merely a philosophy of history, but a philosophy which illuminates all events whatever, from the falling of a stone to a poet’s imaginings. [1]
One can only guess at what deep reasons might have led so clever a man to fall for something so shallow and foolish; but one can see quite clearly that the greatest gift to the persistence of this folly and many others is the favour of such men.
.....
[1] J.B.S. Haldane, Preface to Friedrich Engels’ Dialectics of Nature, tr. C. Dutt, (New York: International Publishers, 1940), reproduced online at Marxists.org. (Elsewhere: “I have tried to apply Marxism to the scientific problems of my own day, as Engels did over many years, and Lenin in 1908 [in Materialism and Empirio-Criticism]. I do not doubt that I have made mistakes. A Marxist must not be too afraid of making mistakes.” J.B.S. Haldane, The Marxist Philosophy and the Sciences (London: Random House, 1939), reproduced online at Marxists.org, 2002.

6 comments:

Graham Cragher said...

Fichtean-Hegelian dialectics, on which it is based, negates itself. If everything turns into its opposite, resulting in a new combination, then the dialectic process itself must turn into its opposite. In so doing, it goes out of existence and becomes part of something that is a new combination. That is sometimes the outcome when we reason by using universals such as "everything" and "all."

Pietr said...

Bollockean-Fuckupistic Diuretic Magellanisticism would dictate that we all shave our left armpit but leave the right alone just in case we are gender-checked when doing a Nazi-istic salutation.

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

The Lord must have "an inordinate fondness for beetles and Marxists" because he made so many of them.

Jeffery Hodges

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Deogolwulf said...

It's all queerer than we can suppose.

Daimyo Higham-Baka-Ohta said...

...the greatest gift to the persistence of this folly and many others is the favour of such men...

You mean the favour they enjoyed or the favour they bestowed?

Slave Revolt said...

You didn't counter the suppositions of this man, who was writing a introduction, pointing to the pertinence of Engles ideas to today's world.

The metaphysical and broad nature of his statements, point to his ideology, his political tendency.

Indeed, you are invited to take issue with his politics--instead of sniping at him behind his back. That would show a degree of graciousness and good will.

But, hey, after Iraq--goodwill is for suckers, right.