"LYSENKO, VIEWS OF
NATURE AND SOCIETY -
REDUCTIONIST BIOLOGY AS A KHRUSCHEVITE
First published in pamphlet format in Toronto; September 1993.
APPENDIX 2: THE DEVELOPMENT
OF DIALECTICS IN GREECE
REFLECTED THE SOCIAL STATE
"Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes, all of MILETOS,
are the acknowledged founders of European philosophy.
In calling them philosophers however, we are not using the term in its
current sense. They were mainly concerned with what we call
problems of natural science, and not all with the
laws of thought .. their field of enquiry was the whole realm of nature..
They recognised no distinction
between the natural and the supernatural. For this reason they have
sometimes been regarded as the first scientists, and undoubtedly
their work was a step towards the development of natural
science; but it rests on simple observation, not experiment.. "
Many bourgeois commentators on philosophical
history basically are in agreement with this assessment, such
as for instance Bertrand Russell:
Thomson Ibid, p.156.
"Philosophy begins with Thales.. who can be dated by
the fact that he predicted an eclipse which according
to the astronomers, occurred in the year 585 B.C."
In fact, it was Thales and the philosophical
school of Milesia who distinguished, in the history of intellectual
thought, an external reality distinct from man's own existence:
p.25 Russell B. " A History of Western Philosophy "
"Succeeded in separating nature from society and presenting
it as an external reality existing independently of
The period in which the Milesian School
worked out their philosophy was very close in time to the origins
of the separation of the tribal identity from the state of
primitive communism towards the evolving City State
era. This temporal closeness allowed the Milesians to recognise some essential
truths despite the
Thomson G. Ibid. p.228.
changes in society that had taken place.
"The greatness of the Milesians lies precisely in this,
that they expressed in a new form, abstract and objective,
the fundamental truths which had forced themselves on the consciousness
of primitive man, but had previously found expression only in the concrete,
subjective form of myths.. It is from this point of view
that we must assess the value of the Three postulates
which Anaximander took over from primitive thought and made the basis of
The Three postulates that had their origin in man's close
link to nature were :
Thomson, Ibid. p.160.
1. ALL THINGS ARE OF COMMON
"That is to say , the universe has evolved out of a single
undifferentiated mass. This truth was denied by later
Greek philosophers ( Parmenides-ed) , and only reasserted itself in the
epoch of modern capitalism , when it was placed on
a scientific basis ......by Kant."
Engels had already pointed out
the role of Kant in asserting the same implicatiosn of universal eveolution.
Thomson; Ibid; p.161.
Kant had pointed to the likely changeability of the world,
as Engesl said in Anti-Duhring :
"Kant began his career by resolving the stable solar
systems of Newton and its eternal permanence - after
the famous initial impulse had once been given - into a historical process
2. " ALL THINGS ARE IN CONTINUAL
the formation of the sun and of all the planets out of
rotating nebulous masses. With this he already drew
the conclusion that, given this origin of the solar system, its ultimate
dissolution was also inevitable ...'
Anti-Duhring p. 29, Cited by Thomson , p.161.
Said the Milesians, as shown by Thomson , p.161.
Once more Engels affirms that this
position is the one that science (as we currently understand it) later
itself arrived at also :
" Motion is the mode of existence of matter. Never has
there been matter without motion, nor can there be.
Motion in cosmic space,mechanical motion of small masses on the various
celestial bodies, the motion of molecule as heat or as electrical
or magnetic currents, chemical decomposition and combination,
organic life - at each given moment each individual atom of
the world is in one or another proof these formers of motion, or in several
forms of them at once. All rest, all are only relative
and only has meaning in relation to one or other definite form
of motion ."
3. " DEVELOPMENT CONSISTS
IN A CONFLICT OF OPPOSITES "
Anti-Duhring p.70. Cited By Thomson p.161.
Was a third feature of the Miletian school, says Thomson,
This is perhaps the most difficult of concepts for many
people to accept because of its apparent paradox. However
it also has been incorporated into much of 19th and 20 the century thinking.
The system of world thinking that the Milesians developed
was summarised by Engels in the passage below. With Marx, Engels
developed the residual fragments of dialectics, into the system now understood
These philosophers were followed by
different schools that were naturally further in time away from the
break up of Primitive Communism. Indeed so far that they
were formed in the crucible of the money states, which
relied on slavery for their prosperity. So much did money enter now into
the relations of men and women that it dissolved the
links between them. This entered into mythology as the tale of Midas
whose touch turned all into gold. However its' curse ensured that he would
starve for this very same ability :
"Hence money came to be recognised as a universal, incalculable,
and subversive force:
Money wins friendship, honour, place and power,
And sets man next to the proud tyrant's throne.
All trodden paths and paths untrod before
Are scaled by nimble riches, where the poor
Can never hope to win the heart's desire.
A man ill-formed by nature and ill- spoken,
Money shall make him fair to eye and ear;
Money shall earn him health and happiness,
And only money can cloak iniquity."
Cited by Thomson, Ibid pp.195-6, 244.
The tensions unleashed by the social
disruptions that had taken place lead some to outspoken imagery
evocative of change being a constant force :
"War is father of all and lord of all, and has made gods
and freemen, freeman and slaves.The world, which is
the same for all, has not been made by any god or man; it has ever been,
is now, and ever will ever-living fire, kindled by
measures quenched by measures."
This was a new and powerful voice, Heraclitus,
who recognised the new phenomenon of slavery, and the
ever present possibility of the poorest Attic peasant being turned from
freeman into slave. It is clear that in recognising
the central nature of change, Heraclitus agreed with the Milesian philosophers.
Heraclitus, Cited by Thomson, p.272-277.
However he differed in a signifcant
way, that he now saw a timeless and self regulating universe whose
only laws are of eternal change and interpenetration of opposites
" Fire lives the death of air, and air lives the death
of fire, water lives the death of earth, and earth
lives the death of water ..In the circumference of a circle the beginning
and the end are common."
He has also a more abstract and remote
reasoning reflecting the increasing separation of theory and practice,
and the increasing force which commodity production (ie production for
money instead of for direct barter exchange) is exerting
on society :
"All things are exchanged for fire and fire for all things
as goods are exchanged for gold and gold for goods.."
The influence of trade (and thus money)
meant a new vigorous social force arose. Under its' influence occurred
the dispossession of the hitherto communal lands of the peasant.
p.282, Thomson, Ibid.
In the dissolution of tribal bonds
and loyalties, many were sold into slavery ..The tribal solidarity was
replaced with individual loyalties and battles. This ferment
and change, dissolving links of family-neighbours-tribes
- forced an insight into the nature of atoms. But it also allowed the development
of the concepts of the soul. These were elaborated by the
cults around the mythical figure of Orpheus, -
the Orphic Cults - which were the :
"embodiment.. of the traditions and aspirations of the
Many of the doctrines of the Orphic doctrines
offered the prospect of a better life in a different world. Philosophy
itself as either a pastime or occupation, had only become possible by virtue
of the existence of a leisured class of individual.
Such a class meant the existence of surplus produce. This surplus was
produced by slaves, which had become the foundation of the
society. Slaves were extensively used in mines, plantations
and homes. Their misery was described by Diodoros, who in the First
century B.C witnessed their use in silver mines in
the Greek colonies.
p.235, Thomson, Ibid.
"The workers in these mines produce incredible profits
for the owners, but their own lives are spent underground
in the quarries wearing and wasting their bodies by day and night. Many
die, their sufferings are so great. There is no relief, no
respite from their labours. The hardships to which
the overseers lash compels them to submit are so severe that, except for
a few, whose strength of body and bravery of soul
enables them to hold out for a long time, they abandon
life, because death seems preferable."
This uncompromising, and brutal existence
lead to the elaboration of ever more complicated theologies.
These theologies dissolved in both form and content, all the previous nexus
between man and nature - that had existed.
Diodoros, Cited by Thomson, Ibid , p.243.
Now Plato was to explain all these
horrors, and to describe the new reality as a consequence
of Judgement. In his Platonic Cave :
"Those who were judged to have lived lives of exceptional
purity, are liberated and delivered from the subterranean
regions as from a prison, and are brought up to dwell on the surface of
the earth; while those who have purified themselves sufficiently
byu their pursuit of wisdom, enjoy eternal life, free
altogether from the body, in the fairest land of all which could be hard
to describe.. And so Simmias we must do all we can to attain righteousness
and wisdom while we live. It is a fine prize, and
the hope is great."
Plato was the culmination of the Orphic
strands of thought. And these stood in opposition to the materialist
school based on Milesia :
Plato, Cited By Thomson, Ibid , p.243.
"The Milesians presented nature as existing independently
of man, excluding the subject (society); the Orphics
presented man as existing independently of nature, excluding the object."
Plato praised Parmenides of the
Eleatic School, whose philosophical postulates attacked Heraklitus.
Thus, in contrast to the Miletians, Parmenides believed
in a world that was static.
Thomson, Ibid , p.243.
It was therefore essential for him
to attack the notion of interpenetration of opposites :
"Take heed: there are only two ways of enquiry to be
conceived of. The one, that it is, and that it cannot
not be, is the way of persuasion, for truth is it companion.. it shall
never be proved that the things which are not are."
Parmenides, quoted by Thompson, p.292.
Parmenides now counsels against the
evidence of the senses.
He called the world of the senses, the Way Of Seeming.
Opposed to this is the world of the Way of Truth. But the Way
of Truth can only found by the mind, reason (logos):
"One path only is left to tell of, that it is. There
are many signs that what is unborn and imperishable;
for it is uniform, motionless and endless. It was not, neither shall be,
for it is, all together, now one, continuous.."
In this statement is contained a clear
denial of any of the Three Postulates of the Milesian School.
Quoted by Thompson, Ibid, p.293.
By now it should not surprise us that
this "Parmenidean One" was vigorously challenged. As Russell says
"Philosophical theories if they are important can generally
be revived in a new form after being refuted as originally
stated. Refutations are seldom final."
Bertrand Russell Ibid, p. 69.
The challenge to the "Parmenidean One",
utilised a dialectical concept that counted on "many". This came
from the school of Atomists who started with Lukippos
of Miletos. He argued :
"That the universe is composed of an infinite number
of particles, each of which has the properties of
the Parmenidean One, and secondly that these particles are constantly combining
and separating in the course of their movements in empty
These notions were further elaborated
by Democritus who effectively anticipated the later Atomic
theories of particulate matter:
Thompson, Ibid, p.311.
"Postulated an infinite number of atoms, indivisible,
indestructible, without weight, falling through the
void, colliding and combining to form the world, including ourselves, he
elaborated on this basis a deterministic theory of
the universe in which every event is the product of necessity..
and finally Epicurus.. modified this system to the extent of attributing
to the atoms the property of weight, so that they
contained within themselves the cause of their own motion,
and he also postulated that they possessed, in addition to the vertical,
an oblique motion or swerve from the straight line."
But where did these ideas come from? either
they were prescient or they were acute observers of the world
around them. Since no one has yet proven cases of "future seers" - what
was in the world around them that could inspire such
views? It is no accident that at this time there was a major social
distintegration going on. They were led to this type of conclusion
by observation of:
From now on, it was possible to deny the
unity of man and nature. So also it became pssible to deny the unity of
Mind and Matter.
Thompson; p. 311.
"The Ionian philosophers had assumed that man is part
of nature, and therefore subject to her laws, Parmenides
maintained that nature, as perceived by the senses, is an illusion, because
it is contrary to reason.. this concept of reason
does not correspond to anything in the external world
of nature." p.314.
Plato now was able to develop this
separation of Parmenides, between the World of seeming, and
the World of being.
He called these two worlds:
"The World of Ideas, corresponding to the Parmenidean
world of being, and the Sensible World (corresponding
-ed) to the Parmenidean world of seeming in that it is not pure illusion
but exists as an imperfect copy of the ideal ...."
Thomson; Ibid; p.319.
Plato accepted that there could a unity
of opposites, but only in thought not in being. He therefore became
the first philosopher to take the step of proclaiming the
priority of the Mind Over Matter. This would become
and has remained, the cnetral debate in philosophy since:
" Thus the dialectical nature of being, which had been
recognised by Herakleitos in the material world, and
then denied by Parmenides was reasserted by Plato, but only in the realm
In this others, such as Russell concur:
"The first to assert the primacy of spirit to matter was
Plato, the founder of philosophical idealism,"
p.322 . Ibid.
" Plato.. influenced by Parmenides.. is the first example
in philosophy of an argument from theory and language
to the world at large ...."
Plato worked out his theory of ideas in
conscious opposition to materialism. In the Sophist he wrote :
" Why this dispute about reality is a sort of Battle
of Gods and Giants. One side drags everything down
to earth, literally laying hands on rocks and trees, arguing that only
what can be felt and touched is real, defining reality
as body, and if anyone says that something without body
is real they treat him with contempt and will not listen to another word..
So their opponents in the heights of the unseen defend
their position with great skill, maintaining
forcibly that true existence consists in certain intelligible, incorporeal
forms, describing the so-called truth of others as a mere flowing sort
of becoming, not reality at all, and smashing their so
called bodies to pieces. On this issue there is a terrific battle always
going on ."
As Thomson notes, by the "Gods" Plato
means the Idealists including himself, while the Giants are the materialists.
The direct relevance of any of
this to nature, politics and legislation is clearly revealed in the following
passage - posed as a rather one-sided dialogue-monologue:
"They say that the earth, air, fire and water all exist
by nature or chance, not by art, and that by means
of these wholly inanimate substances there have come into being the secondary
bodies - the earth, sun, moon, stars.. heaven has been created and everything
that is in it, together with all the animals and plants, and the seasons
too are of the same origin - not by means of mind, air, God or art, but
as I said, by nature and chance. Art arose after these and out of them,
mortal in origin, producing toys which do not really partake of truth,
but consists of related images, such as those produced by paintings, music
and the accompanying arts, while the arts which do have some serious purpose,
co-operate actively with nature, such as medicine, agriculture and gymnastics;
and so does politics too to some extent, but it is mostly art; and so with
legislation it is entirely art, and not nature, and its assumptions are
But a dilemma arose for Plato. that is
that his version of the Ideal and Just ly run society was at such
stark variance with the reality of most peoples lives, why would accept
his "truth"? Or better, How could they be made to "accept" his "Truth",
in his "Republic"?
-How do you mean?
-The Gods my friend, according to these people, have
no existence in nature but only in art, being product of laws;
and there is no such thing as natural justice...That is what our young
people hear from professional poets and private persons , who assert that
might is right; and the results is they fall into sin, believing that the
gods are not what the law bids them imagine to be, and into civil strife,
being induced to live according to nature, that is by exercising actual
dominion over others instead of living in legal subjection to them.
- What a dreadful story, and what an outrage to the public
and private morals of the young."" p.323.
Plato therefore recommended that the
young instead of being told unpalatable truths be fed "lies" as Thomson
calls them, or as we term it: "propaganda". Plato in fact, was the
inventor of Goebels speak:
To his young student who points out
"-The truth is a fine things and lasting; yet it is not
easy to make people believe it."
And what was the "Supreme
Lie" that Plato suggested, was key to the republic? So much
of a lie that even Plato was "ashamed" and paraded a reluctnace to tell
his pupil! The lie was that all education is and upbringing is "nothing
but a dream"... and that in reality all were somehow "beneath the earth
... being shaped and nursed... until the earth released them all complete
into the light of day". This allows there to be a totally and unchangeable
world where people can be fooled into believing in a Destiny such that
are some who are simply born to be slaves , some born to be rulers:
"Well, was it hard to make people believe the myth of
Kadmos and hundreds of others equally incredible?
- Which do you mean?
- The sowing of the dragon's teeth and the appearance
of the warriors. What an instructive example that is to the legislator
of his power to win the hearts of the young! It shows that all he needs
to do is to find out what belief is most beneficial to the state and then
use all the resources at his command to ensure that throughout their lives,
in speech, story and song, the people all sing to the same tune":
Cited Thomson Ibid.; p.324.
"All of you, we shall tell them are brothers; but when
God was fashioning those of you who are fit to rule, he mix in some gold,
so these are the most valuable; and he put silver in the Auxiliaries, and
iron and bronze in the farmers and other craftsmen. Since all of you are
akin, your children will mostly will be like their parents, but occasionally
a golden parent may have a silver child or a silver child a golden child,
and so on; and therefore, the first and foremost task that God has laid
upon the Rulers is, of all their functions as Guardians, to pay the most
careful attention to the mixture of metals in the souls of the children,
so that, if one of their children is born with an alloy of
iron or bronze they must not give way to pity but cast it out among the
craftsmen and farmers, thus assigning it to the station appropriate to
its nature..if ever the state should fall into the keeping of a bronze
or guardian, it will be ruined... Can you suggest any device by which we
can get them to believe it?
All this mendacious
explanation is given to the seeker of "truth" for "Laws" of the "Republic".
- Not the first generation, but perhaps their sons and
daughters and eventually their whole posterity".
Cited; Thomson Ibid; p. 326.
After this famous passage, Plato formally
became the god-head of all future reactionaries to this very day, proclaiming
that the Men of Iron were destined always to be so, and that their rulers
were the Men Of Gold - and all in perpetuity.
This rather extensive excursion into Greece, does have
a subsidiary role in Our overall history of Genetics. Understandably, Plato
and Neo-Platonism, became the undoubted Patron Saints of those following
the inviolable genome!
Long Live the Men And Women of Iron!
"LYSENKO, VIEWS OF NATURE
AND SOCIETY -
REDUCTIONIST BIOLOGY AS A KHRUSCHEVITE
FOR TABLE OF CONTENTS OF
THIS BOOKS GO TO: lysenkotable.html