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Dialectics of Nature
Dialectics of Nature
(German: Dialektik der Natur) is an unfinished 1883 work by Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels
that applies Marxist ideas – particularly those of dialectical materialism – to science. History and contents[edit] In his 1939 preface to the work, the biologist J. B. S. Haldane
J. B. S. Haldane
states "most of the manuscript seems to have been written between 1872 and 1882, that is to say it refers to the science" of that era. "Hence it is often hard to follow if one does not know the history of the scientific practice of that time. The idea of what is now called the conservation of energy was beginning to permeate physics, chemistry and biology, but it was still very incompletely realised, and still more incompletely applied. Words such as 'force', 'motion', and 'vis viva' were used where we should now speak of energy". Some then controversial topics of Engels' day, pertaining to incomplete or faulty theories, are now settled, making some of Engels' essays dated. "Their interest lies not so much in their detailed criticism of theories, but in showing how Engels grappled with intellectual problems". One "law" proposed in the Dialectics of Nature
Dialectics of Nature
is the "law of the transformation of quantity into quality and vice versa". Probably the most commonly cited example of this is the change of water from a liquid to a gas, by increasing its temperature (although Engels also describes other examples from chemistry). In contemporary science, this process is known as a phase transition. There has also been an effort to apply this mechanism to social phenomena, whereby population increases result in changes in social structure.[1] Dialectics and its study was derived from the philosopher G. W. F. Hegel, who, in turn, had studied the Greek philosopher Heraclitus
Heraclitus
and author of Science of Logic. Heraclitus
Heraclitus
taught that everything was constantly changing and that all things consisted of two opposite elements which changed into each other as night changes into day, light into darkness, life into death etc. Engels's work develops from the comments he had made about science in Anti-Dühring. It includes the famous "The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man", which has also been published separately as a pamphlet. Engels argues that the hand and brain grew together, an idea supported by later fossil discoveries (see Australopithecus afarensis#Bipedalism). Most of the work is fragmentary, but it has points of interest. A quotation from its biology:

Vertebrates. Their essential character: the grouping of the whole body about the nervous system. Thereby the development of self-consciousness, etc. becomes possible. In all other animals the nervous system is a secondary affair, here it is the basis of the whole organisation. — 1972 Progress Publishers
Progress Publishers
edition, p. 309.

Notes and references[edit]

^ Carneiro, R.L. (2000). "The transition from quantity to quality: A neglected causal mechanism in accounting for social evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 97, No. 23, pp. 12926–12931.

External links[edit]

Full text on-line . Also available as pdf Michael Kosok, Essay on Dialectics of Nature Dialectics and Chaos

v t e

Works by Karl Marx
Karl Marx
and Friedrich Engels

Marx

Capital

Capital, Volume I
Capital, Volume I
(1867) Capital, Volume II
Capital, Volume II
(1885, posthumous) Capital, Volume III
Capital, Volume III
(1894, posthumous)

Other works

Scorpion and Felix
Scorpion and Felix
(1837) Oulanem (1839) The Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature (1841) "The Philosophical Manifesto of the Historical School of Law" (1842) Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right
Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right
(1843) "On the Jewish Question" (1843) "Notes on James Mill" (1844) Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844
Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844
(1844, published 1927) "Theses on Feuerbach" (1845, published 1888) The Poverty of Philosophy
The Poverty of Philosophy
(1847) "Wage Labour and Capital" (1847) The Class Struggles in France, 1848–1850 (1850) The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon
The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon
(1852) Grundrisse
Grundrisse
(1857, published 1939) A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy
A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy
(1859) Theories of Surplus Value
Theories of Surplus Value
(three volumes, 1862) "Value, Price and Profit" (1865) "The Belgian Massacres" (1869) "The Civil War in France" (1871) Critique of the Gotha Program (1875) Mathematical manuscripts of Karl Marx
Karl Marx
(1968)

Marx and Engels

The German Ideology
The German Ideology
(1845, published 1932) The Holy Family (1845) The Communist Manifesto
The Communist Manifesto
(1848) The Civil War in the United States (1861) Marx/Engels Collected Works
Marx/Engels Collected Works
(1975 - 2004) Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe
Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe
(1975 - today)

Engels

The Condition of the Working Class in England
The Condition of the Working Class in England
(1845) Principles of Communism
Principles of Communism
(1847) The Peasant War in Germany (1850) "The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man" (1876) Anti-Dühring
Anti-Dühring
(1878) Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (1880) Dialectics of Nature
Dialectics of Nature
(1883) The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State (1884) Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy
Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy
(1886) Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Germany
Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Germany
(1896, posthumous)

See also

Marx's notebooks on the history of technology Tendency of the rate

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