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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

QUANTITY TO QUALITY


... an entry from my MS on The ABC of Neo-feudalism

QUANTITY TO QUALITY


Marx and Engels, following on from Hegel’s law of transformation, famously postulated the leap from quantity to quality, both to explain natural and socialist evolution. The latter seems to have stalled for the time being and instead we are experiencing an interlude of ‘if one does not learn from history one is condemned to repeat it’.

Apart from the trivial application of an increasing quantity acquiring a new quality - drops of water accumulating in an ocean - we have as yet no better explanation for human evolution. We have no idea how masses of brain neurons and associated bits and pieces of chemistry and physics give rise to language and mind. This state of affairs explains the still very powerful recourse to religion, superstition and other supernatural beliefs when it comes to the explanation of human nature as opposed to all other nature - which seems firmly in the grip of empirical sciences. Indeed the human capacity for irrationality - especially when dealing with other humans - is in itself a puzzle worthy of explanation.

One can only speculate. Perhaps the empirical sciences themselves offer a few clues as to the inexplicitness that exists. The aptly named quantum theory in physics together with Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Theory seems to have hit a glass ceiling with respect to the location of sub-atomic particles. If we make this analogous with the human mind, we cannot pinpoint as to where we are - mentally - at any given time but we can arrive at a high level of statistical certainty. Human nature and human evolution seem to follow this principle. There are always certain statistical trends in human populations but no individual can be picked with certainty to represent that trend. Indeed social and socialist theory may be predicated on this observation: the more socially homogenous a society is the more predictable are its operational trends - presumably an argument for socialism. The more heterogeneous a society - with a high degree of individuality - the less predictable its operational trends, resulting in the swings and roundabouts presently experienced. The high success rates of empirical sciences are of course predicated on near perfect statistical certainty of not being able to falsify so-called laws of nature. Gravity rules without exception - as far as we know.

Human language emanates from the human brain and as far as we know it must follow the laws of nature as far as we know them. Communication seems to be predicated in the same way: there is a good statistical reliability that people are able to communicate what they think via what they express through their use of the language. On an individual basis there is no such certainty. Indeed I myself may be a prime example of not being able to communicate what I think. People may not understand what I am trying to say, or if they get an inkling, they may not want to understand because the message is too much to take. I may strike a proverbial chord only in those individuals who, like me, seem to suffer from a certain statistical neglect these days. We are not recognized. We are not commercially viable. We are not trendy. We exist on the periphery. We are never there when society looks for individuals to celebrate. We are invisible to the naked eye of the empiricist. We are like light, unsure if we have substance or if we exist as electromagnetic waves only.   

We certainly lack in numbers - quantity - and as such seem unable to effect changes in quality. We survive in the hope that the reverse will happen: our quality of thought will effect quantitative changes, infecting like a virus all those who hitherto were immune to socialist reason. This effect in turn will create a chain reaction and vast numbers of the human population will make the promised leap to a new socialist quality hitherto unknown in human evolution. Unfortunately in the meantime, as repeated over and again, the current statistical trends point to a reversal of fortunes, namely to the crass elevation of  individuals to the realm of feudal lords and ladies while the masses will have no statistical value despite their strength in numbers.

The interplay between quantity and quality isn’t just a one-way street. Hegel’s law of transition needs further investigation.   




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