A Clarification of Subjective and Objective Dialectics


I find that in many discussions and applications of dialectics the difference and connection of subjective and objective dialectics isn’t clearly defined or appreciated. This can lead to confusion about how to understand objective reality, consciousness, and what a sensible application of dialectics entails. It’s also responsible for an uninformed denigration of Marxist-Leninist dialectics in circles inclined to think of it as “dogmatic” or “rigid” or the like.

For a quick overview of the basic relationships: how matter acts (objective dialectics) becomes impressed on the brain and phenomenologically reproduced in the formation of an experience of consciousness, as well as becoming formative of unconscious activity. This consciousness is also made of material that acts dialectically. Subjective dialectics are, in one sense, this consciousness living and working towards an understanding of the world and, in another sense (if developed), the purposeful use of a dialectical method of logic. While conscious thought naturally acts in a dialectical fashion, as anything does, without the dialectical method this is not systematized and tends to fall into all sorts of confusion. When individuals interact to form social and class subjects, a qualitative change occurs, as the individuals reflect their place and struggle within the social subject rather than being primarily formative of it.

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