login about faq

I want to challenge ye free-marketeers and objectivists with some cognitive dissonance embodied in the writings of a maoist. I myself have not decided what is the truth, it is hard to know what ideas are correct. What do you think: Where do correct ideas come from?

Where do correct ideas come from? Do they drop from the skies? No. Are they innate in the mind? No. They come from social practice, and from it alone; they come from three kinds of social practice, the struggle for production, the class struggle and scientific experiment. It is man’s social being that determines his thinking. Once the correct ideas characteristic of the advanced class are grasped by the masses, these ideas turn into a material force which changes society and changes the world. In their social practice, men engage in various kinds of struggle and gain rich experience, both from their successes and from their failures. Countless phenomena of the objective external world are reflected in a man’s brain through his five sense organs  —  the organs of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. At first, knowledge is perceptual. The leap to conceptual knowledge, i.e., to ideas, occurs when sufficient perceptual knowledge is accumulated. This is one process in cognition. It is the first stage in the whole process of cognition, the stage leading from objective matter to subjective consciousness from existence to ideas. Whether or not one’s consciousness or ideas (including theories, policies, plans or measures) do correctly reflect the laws of the objective external world is not yet proved at this stage, in which it is not yet possible to ascertain whether they are correct or not. Then comes the second stage in the process of cognition, the stage leading from consciousness back to matter, from ideas back to existence, in which the knowledge gained in the first stage is applied in social practice to ascertain whether the theories, policies, plans or measures meet with the anticipated success. Generally speaking, those that succeed are correct and those that fail are incorrect, and this is especially true of man’s struggle with nature. In social struggle, the forces representing the advanced class sometimes suffer defeat not because their ideas are incorrect ! but because, in the balance of forces engaged in struggle, they are not as powerful for the time being as the forces of reaction; they are therefore temporarily defeated, but they are bound to triumph sooner or later. Man’s knowledge makes another leap through the test of practice. This leap is more important than the previous one. For it is this leap alone that can prove the correctness or incorrectness of the first leap in cognition, i.e., of the ideas, theories, policies, plans or measures formulated in the course of reflecting the objective external world. There is no other way of testing truth. Furthermore, the one and only purpose of the proletariat in knowing the world is to change it. Often, correct knowledge can be arrived at only after many repetitions of the process leading from matter to consciousness and then back to matter, that is, leading from practice to knowledge and then back to practice. Such is the Marxist theory of knowledge, the dialectical materialist theory of knowledge. Among our comrades there are many who do not yet understand this theory of knowledge. When asked the sources of their ideas, opinions, policies, methods, plans and conclusions, eloquent speeches and long articles they consider the questions strange and cannot answer it. Nor do they comprehend that matter, can be transformed into consciousness and consciousness into matter, although such leaps are phenomena of everyday life. It is therefore necessary to educate our comrades in the dialectical materialist theory of knowledge, so that they can orientate their thinking correctly, become good at investigation and study and at summing up experience, overcome difficulties, commit fewer mistakes, do their work better, and struggle hard so as to build China into a great and powerful socialist country and help the broad masses of the oppressed and exploited throughout the world in fulfillment of our great internationalist duty. [Source: http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-9/mswv9_01.htm]

By the way, I am not a Maoist; I merely present this to see how objectivism handles Maoist thought. I like objectivism, but I have an idea that one way to test its validity is to see how it handles socialist ideas or just random contrary ideas, does objectivism have a breaking point where it is unequiped to provide a rational interpretation?

Also, an answer to the question first and then a response to the contrary socialist philosophy; that would please. If socialist ideas are not unaccessible to the objectivist to take as his/her own: How?

If you disagree with me placing a large quote in this question's details section tell me; my thinking is to let a comparison between objectivism theory of epistemology and social theory go along side the socialist maoist theories to see which is most valid.

asked Dec 16 '11 at 08:23

Adeikov's gravatar image


edited Jan 05 '14 at 14:14

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

An idea is usually expressed in the form of a proposition. A proposition in turn can be evaluated as true or false. Objectivism holds that the truth or falsehood of a proposition is based on a two-fold evaluation. The first is the validity of the concepts used in the proposition. The second is determined by if the relationship of the proposition to reality is true or false.

In this regard, a proposition is derived from reality, not social practice. Objectivism identifies a relationship between concepts and the existents. Words like ‘ball’, ‘table’, ‘bird’ and ‘tree’ refer to what can be identified as first-level concepts. The word ‘roll’ is abstracted from observations of how a ball, or tire act or move. The word ‘walk’ is abstracted from observing how animals with legs move about. The word ‘justice’ requires an understanding of a complexity of concepts such as ‘proof’, which in turn requires knowledge of ‘evidence’, which in turn requires a grasp of how the various concepts can be related back to various and often interconnected observations within reality.

Man’s distinguishing characteristic is his rational faculty, that is his ability to reason or think. This is as true and necessary on an island, by himself; or within a social setting. The ideas that a man accepts define his philosophy. His only choice in this regard is whether his ideas are true or false, that is, if his ideas are derived correctly from reality or not. Determining what is safe to eat and how to produce food becomes a matter of life and death on an island by oneself.

In a group of people, the ideas he needs to discover become more diverse and complex. Determining who is safe to associate with, or who to vote for can have repercussions that are much more difficult to evaluate without a proper philosophy to guide his choices. Understanding the difference between a ‘constitutionally limited republic’ and a ‘dictatorship’ and determining which ideas lead to which results can aid in selecting between a ‘Thomas Jefferson’ or an ‘Adolph Hitler’, between choosing a champion of a government guided by the principle of the inalienable rights of man, or a government guided by the subordination, that is sacrifice, of the individual to the group.

The Maoists are correct in their assessment that ideas change society and the world. This is the power of ideas. This is the power of philosophy. This is why it is crucial to have a means or method of determining which ideas lead to peaceful cooperation among men leading to innovation, trade and prosperity, or which ideas lead to the suspicion and distrust of others leading to stagnation, political favoritism and poverty.

To address “dialectic materialism”, I will just select the following passage from
The Journals of Ayn Rand
Part 3 - Transition Between Novels
8 - The Moral Basis Of Individualism

“It is the doctrine which denies the existence of the rational faculty in man. It holds choice as an illusion and reason as a by-product of physical environment, nutrition and "conditioning," operating without volition, automatically and unalterably. There is a catch in that doctrine, however. Its proponents claim to have reached it by rational deduction. They urge us to take action upon it, to improve our physical environment in order to improve the by-product, our brain, and they beg us to take such action through a conscious decision of—our rational faculty. It is an embarrassing contradiction which no dialectic materialist has ever explained away. Until it is explained, the doctrine is not worth considering or discussing.”

If you understand and regard a contradiction as the identification of an error in thinking, then you might just want to give Objectivism the serious consideration it deserves and evaluate for yourself by the ruthless, honest judgment of your own mind how it ascertains the criteria by which to determine what is true.

answered Dec 17 '11 at 21:16

dream_weaver's gravatar image

dream_weaver ♦

Points to be made: | • Dialectical materialism contradiction needs verification, that what Rand says socialists say is what they say, and that she is attacking the correct target as it is. | • If objectivism is a product of social practice, might Mao still be right? Would I be aware of objectivism by any other means than social practice? | • Objectivism may be right about epistemology, but Mao may be right about how that epistemology reaches people via social practice. | I will investigate. I sought to find weak points, I could be wrong, but good practice it is to be critical.

(Dec 18 '11 at 09:21) Adeikov Adeikov's gravatar image

Follow this question

By Email:

Once you sign in you will be able to subscribe for any updates here



Answers and Comments

Share This Page:



Asked: Dec 16 '11 at 08:23

Seen: 1,403 times

Last updated: Jan 05 '14 at 14:14