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Re: [xmca] "Rising to the concrete"

Well, these issues are not going to be solved in 5 minutes, Huw. Analog and digital belong to a completely different frame than the concepts of abstract/concrete and general/universal which I think Greg asked about initially.

Let me be brief then. Ilyenkov famously makes the point that (exchange) value is an ideal, but it is also real. The market implements a process of abstracting the value of commodities but it is the very concreteness of the market which makes that process possible. Democracy is an ideal which really motivates millions of people and underpins constitutional governments.

Universal suffrage allows that insane people, criminals and children do not vote. And what is more, when the President is elected, only the votes of 51% count. (There are of course plenty of "Ah, but ..."s about this, but this is what is meant by the difference between the general and the universal.)



Huw Lloyd wrote:

On 15 August 2012 12:30, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    Ha, ha! We can't be too far apart then, Huw, as I wrote that
    definition, albeit 13 years ago.
    The main thing though, as Brecht observes, is that there are *two
    movements*, somewhat like analysis and synthesis.

Well that bodes well, I think. :)

    A natural or social process itself is both abstract and concrete.

I disagree. The only thing that a natural thing is is itself. It is analog. Abstract and concrete are digital. "Is" is only really useful in the domain of the digital.

    The abstract and concrete are only separated in the act of
    conception and action.

    What exactly did you mean in counterposing "every" and
    "universal", Huw?
    Hegel indeed makes a big issue of the distinction between the
    general and the universal, and it's part of his critique of
    parliamentary democracy, for example. But I couldn't quite catch
    how you brought this in.

"It is universal that workers are payed" is the same as "every worker gets payed". By which we allude to going around and checking that every worker we encounter gets payed in some form. We are looking at it from the outside in. Work here refers to the instances that we encounter.

Whereas to say, "payment is a universal (a principle) of work", we are looking from the inside out. Work here is no longer the instances, it is the concretized general.



    Huw Lloyd wrote:

        I'm not sure where you're going with "both abstract and
        concrete", but this doesn't seem to be the main point which
        hinges on universal.

        The example of the worker, is applying universal as "Every",
        which is a weaker version of universal as "princicple".

        Both "every" and "principle" are abstractions, yes.

        Measurements are abstractions.

        The principle of dialectics is also an abstraction.

        But the original quote is perfectly accordant with Marx.

        One moves from an empirical (abstract) appreciation to a
        dialectic one (concrete).

        In other words, the universal in the quote refers to the
        principle by which one attains the concrete.

        Lenin is referring to process (methods), Marx is referring to
        form.  They are referring to the same thing.

        The parts about context and experience I am happy with.
         However, we have a caveat for the contextual truths and that
        is that principals (universals) should apply across our
        historical contexts, what was a principal (universal) then
        will still be a principal now.

        I am perfectly happy with the description of concrete and
        abstract in the glossary on the Marxists site:


        Abstract and Concrete

        Abstract and Concrete are philosophical concepts concerned
        with the development of conceptual knowledge. An understanding
        of what is meant by “abstract” and “concrete” is vital to
        making sense of dialectics. For Hegel and for Marx, the
        contrast between abstract and concrete
        does NOT mean the contrast between an idea and reality. Rather
        ‘A concrete concept is the combination of many abstractions’.
        A concept, such as a number or a definition, is very abstract
        because it indicates just one of millions of the aspects that
        a concrete thing has, or a brand new idea which has not yet
        accrued nuances and associations. Concepts are the more
        concrete the more connections they have. If we say “The
        British working class are those who work for a wage and live
        in the UK,” then we've made a very /abstract/ concept. To make
        it more concrete is to show the many aspects of it; showing
        the historical circumstances of its rise and development, the
        state of the world it developed in, etc.


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*Andy Blunden*
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Book: http://www.brill.nl/concepts

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