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The New Dialectics
The Dialectical Phenomenology of Michael Kosok

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February 1975

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By way of introduction, I am Dr. Michael Kosok, professor of physics for the past 16 years at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and I am 44 years of age. My training, however, has been in both physics and philosophy, having received a Ph.D. degree at Columbia University in 1964 in both areas: my thesis was “The Dialectics of Consciousness in Hegel’s Phenomenology of the Mind” with particular emphasis on both the mathematical structure of Hegel’s dialectic and its material physical relevance.

I have spent the past 25 years in actively pursuing one goal: the materialization of a true dialectic logic which could constitute itself as a dynamics of action and not a passive reflective logic dealing with abstractions or fixed givens within a closed universe. Dialectics must be the very movement of an open universe; furthermore in being this movement, it can then show itself to be a dynamic intersubjective reality that goes beyond the metaphysics of “subjectivity v objectivity”. For the very essence of dia‑lectic logic is that it is truly a dia‑logic — or a logic of dialogue — and not a mechanical or solipsistic monologic which issues dogmatic “truths” from a closed system void of interaction, transformation and revolution: genuine dialogue means direct confrontation and not simply a passive “exchange” void of qualitative change.

An open universe of energy or interaction reveals itself to be at once subjective and objective: objectivity is not a fixed external frame of reference, and subjectivity in turn is not a counter‑fixed internal perspective. Rather, the very “notions” of external and internal are but the two sides of a singular “transitive” relation in which the very nature of any being lies in its becoming and trans­formation… the very intrinsic nature of anything lies in its extrinsic manifestations as they are manifesting. Thus the so-called “internal subjective states of being” only have reality in their state of external existence as inter-subjective or “social” existence defining communal energy‑transformation fields. In such a dialectics, objectivity is intersubjectivity. There is neither blind objective matter or mass that is merely external and without subjectivity (i.e. there is no “matter” without “internal presence” in the form of being an open‑field of autonomous emergent activity); nor is their merely empty subjective mind that is only internal and without objectivity (i.e. there is no “mind” without “external manifestation” in the form of particular structures of communal interaction or coordination.)

During the past 8 years I have published various papers and presented many lectures on my investigations into dialectic reality. Now I am in the process of putting together an Institute for Dialectic Research in which I seek to make these dialectic investigations into social‑fact, thus inverting the process by which the intersubjective nature of dialectics crystallizes itself into the consciousness of one of its subjectivities. This crystallization process I have found to take place in many individuals, in many professions and walks of life, and in many countries. What I seek therefore is a co-operative effort to raise the social consciousness of dialectic reality by starting some kind of exchange‑program with whoever is also engaged in similar efforts.

I shall now enumerate 7 articles being sent to you; including their significance to the project I have been engaged in, and which is serving as the foundation for the Insitute for Dialectic Studies:


1: Towards a New Dialectics of Nature

This article has been republished as a separate book in Italy, and as one piece of a collection of articles in a book published in the U.S.A. It represents an extended outline of what I regard as a new dialectics of nature, transcending both Engel’s and Hegel’s presentations by basing it upon a dialectic account of reality which explicitly transcends setting objectivity against subjectivity…or matter against mind. It is not an attempt to reduce matter to thought, or change thought to matter: rather they are two sides of a singular “energy gestalt” in which no “information process” exists without energy, and no energy can be transmitted without “information” being transmitted and received: “awareness” simply means that anything within a dialectic universe exists as a field of transceiving energy information process, the degree of complexity consisting in the degree of feedback self-reflexivity capable of being established between any system and its co-determining environment. For one must remember that subjectivity or awareness as an “interactive energy gestalt” or as a “field of presence” is not the same as reflective ego-consciousness, which is a much more complex state making its appearance in social form only at certain stages of intersubjective development.

Indeed my dialectics of nature actually elaborates Marx’s account of reality in his famous theses on Feuerbach. Furthermore it is specifically framed in terms of modern problematics in the sciences and offers a concrete model of dialectics as a “meta-science” about science — being neither a particular science nor an abstract philosophy. That which makes dialectics into a concrete meta‑science is precisely the revolutionary perspective with which it views the emergence of consciousness within the cosmos as a dialectics of inter‑subjectivity on all levels of reality and hence becomes a criteria for judging which emerging theories within the various sciences — all of which express given facts adequately — have the better potentiality of being significant in an intersubjective reality: it can in fact direct or focus attention upon which kinds of formulations should appear in some form, and which should not without, naturally, being able to predict the particular forms they will take — something only a concrete situation can do (e.g. in DNA analysis of evolution, there must be a dialogical relation between any given DNA structure and its specific protein-­oriented context, so that evolutionary changes are neither mechanically determined from without by “chance” or rigidly enforced from within by “predeterminism”…or a mechanical combination of both forms in some compromise…which is the prevailing current tendency. This merely regards evolution as the outcome of two separately connected “monologues” — rather than from an organic dialogical transformation process.)

Finally, it is shown that a true realization of such a dialectic meta‑science can only come about within the prior realization (or simultaneous realization) of a more advanced form of social inter­subjective reality: any revolution of the sciences must come within the context of a revolution of the whole society itself, including the very consciousness of the individual subjectivities constituting such a radicalized society.


2: Revolution vs. the myth of consistancy in contemporary society

This is a paper presented at a recent meeting in New York. It represents the main perspective of the entire project I am involved with, of which the dialectics of nature (or any local Institute) is but one member‑concern. In this article I attempt to undermine the whole problem of fixed‑identity upon which all conservative, anti‑life orientations place themselves — even if their so-called first principle appears to be revolutionary. Indeed the very notion of what a “first principle” means is taken up, showing that only a dialectic “identity” which is dynamically its own self‑negation can serve as a principle which does not in turn reproduce a repressive society or a repressed individual. The myth of identity or consistency — namely that there is indeed an ultimate unchanging “Ding-an‑sich” or principle that is separate from its changing manifestations is attached directly, and in its various obscure or indirect ways in which such a principle manages to hide itself from view.

This reveals the heart of dialectics to be a dynamics of paradox — i.e. a dynamics in which no being or identity (including any fixed notion of dialectics) has existence except as a being or principle emerging out of a radical process of intrinsic change or becoming: all being is the very process of becoming… or it is nothing to begin with (which is a radical re‑interpretation of Hegel’s being, nothing, becoming triad). Furthermore, as an extension of this, one must also say that “no reflection about existence is possible without it at the same time being a reflection within the process of existence” — a root paradox that cannot be intellectually disentangled into terms which oppose reflection to existence.

Thus any attempt to hold on to, or “completely capture” this fluid paradoxical process of reality must lead to a contradiction that is at once a self‑contradiction, and one that will eventually force any external reflection or possession of reality in the form of a so called “final” statement of theory or a “final” strategy of action to collapse back into paradox…i.e. back into the vital movement of on‑going reality within which only transition states appear; where temporary (time‑dependent) identities appear and disappear.


3: The Dynamics of Paradox    

This is a short presentation of the nature of paradox, detailing its relevance to the nature of three interrelated sciences — the science of mathematical logic, physics and psycho‑sociology. In effect, it is both a condensation of some of the material presented in article #1, and an elaboration of this material in the context presented in article #2.


4: A Dialectic Presentation of relativity and quantum mechanics as a non‑linear particle‑field theory.

It is shown that “nonlinearity” in the sciences is a good translation of what “dialectics” in radical philosophy is, and this is utilized in a brief elaboration of the dynamics of the “electronic level” of matter in motion presented in article #1. However I think it is a very important “application” of dialectic logic to a very difficult problem in physics, namely the presentation of a unified field theory that integrates the determinacy of relativity with the indeterminacy of quantum mechanics in such a way that both theories can be seen as two inseparable sides of a singular self‑determinate or self‑acting process and not, as presently done, merge them into one composite perspective that is a compromise lacking a unifying theme. In this presentation of a dialectic or non‑linear physics, one literally comes up with a set of non‑linear equations which give rise to both relativity and quantum mechanics once light is specifically regarded as an electro‑magnetic physical process (quanta being light‑energy absorbed and emitted by charged systems, and all space‑time measurement being dependent upon such charge‑light interaction, even if systems with an overall charge balance can appear that are macroscopically neutral…the case of “neutrinos” also co‑relating to electro‑magnetic energy, but in an indirect way, indicating, as we shall see, a limitation to the specific formulation of present day relativistic quantum mechanics).

The main point here is that light as an electro-magnetic phenomenon cannot be regarded as a universal or abstract process — which in turn makes relativistic quantum mechanics into a specific theory of electro-magnetically conditioned space time (wave lengths and frequencies): it is maintained that space time changes “in general” are abstract and have no meaning. Space and time, are qualities of energy interaction and when made dependent upon a specific quantity (the velocity of light) which comes only from one quality (electro-magnetic light energy on the electronic level of relations) this must leave room for other kinds of possible space and time transformations — i.e. other kinds of relativity and quantum mechanics. Thus one can enlarge the syntactical structure of quantum mechanics and relativity by showing that its specific semantical localizations can produce an indefinite number of different kinds of relativity and quantum mechanics, each dependent upon the type of energy-exchange units present: one could have chemical, biological, psycho-social relativities based on higher order types of energy-exchanges other than that of the electro-magnetic photon, and also sub-electronic relativities and quantum mechanics based upon sub-photonic speeds of energy moving faster than the speed of light. Also there would be transitional cases between these relativities, and the mysterious neutrino might be such a case. Work is being done, currently, on this topic and the brief presentation given is shown in its simplest terms so that it can be appreciated in the largest context possible. Thus a basically physical model is constructed, formulated in terms of Maxwell’s equations, and then these equations are re-interpreted in light of this physical model in as direct a manner as possible, leaving complex mathematical expositions out of the text. Reactions to both the physics and dialectics of this particular problem would indeed be welcomed.


 5: The Dialectic Matrix

This is a presentation of the philosophical basis of dialectic logic, presented as the logic of emergent subjectivity as inter subjectivity. Dialectic logic is seen to have a very definite non linear structure that can be mapped out topologically in the form of matrices despite (and actually because of its para-doxical, dia-lectical nature in which any one immediate element instantly becomes a polarity of relation between itself and its context, the whole            relation of mediation in turn being a self-mediated immediacy capable of starting a whole new cycle of immediacy, now with the previous cycle implicitly present as an internal dimension within an expanded dimension of a newly forming self-mediated immediacy…giving rise to dimensional matrices. Instead of dialectic logic being merely a poetic subjective perspective, or a highly rational set of complex rules, it is rather a self-evolving reflection of a self reflexive process that reveals a complex 1evel-within-level structure of simultaneous oppositions moving in multidimensional “space”… indeed creating its own space-time as the property of its own patterns and rhythms. An important aspect of this matrix is that it liberates dialectics from the usual mechanical arrangements of triads or cycles linearly attached to each other. Thus the very emergence of the first triad or cycle of self mediation or self negation sets up the condition for a second triad of triads, or a cycle of cycles, producing a three by three matrix running simultaneously in two dimensions, and producing a qualitative matrix of nine non-linear terms or phases of self movement. Thus a second order cycle is nothing but the original simultaneous cycle, self-expanded into a higher-order expression of its own dynamics — and it is not a mere linear expansion in which new cycles are just added.

Indeed, a two dimensional matrix could produce its self-negation into a cycle of cycles of cycles (all an expression of the cycling of any original‑immediate state of cycling): this would produce a three-dimensional matrix of 3 by 3 by 3 or 27 terms, and a set of oppositions running simultaneously in three interdependent dimensions: matrix‑dialectics reveals the unfolding of reality — the emergence of the implicit into the explicit as a singular transplicit movement whose very being is to become in a state of self‑becoming. Finally, the so called original zero‑state condition of “one-term” — the original state of non‑reflected immediacy or reality out of which the self‑mediated immediacy, or cycle which is generating these cycles turns out to be nothing other than the very condition of transitive self‑activity itself.

This “ever-present” state of self‑movement or transition is reality — reality which has an indefinite number of possible levels of transitivity precisely because this condition of self‑movement, once explicated or “fixed” in any particular form automatically demands that this particular form itself becomes or appears as an integral member of a higher order self‑movement not yet completely revealed or fixed in order that the dynamics of self-­reflexivity and transitivity not become arrested. And furthermore, this self‑reflexive dynamics of immediacy is reality: it is neither a blind material phenomenon nor an empty mental exercise, but an inter‑subjective state of self‑moving immediacy. Put in other terms, once any energy‑complex is focally aware (“reflexively” aware by virtue of localizing a previous non‑localized field)… once any field is aware of any state of non‑fixed reality or immediacy in reflected form, this very reflection of immediacy as a state must in turn reveal a higher order non‑reflective immediacy which at the same time is nothing but the original immediacy perceived as a transitive immediacy that is never simply negated into a fixed and mediated state by reflection, but instead reveals all reflection, mediations and negations as self-mediations, self‑negations and self‑reflections within an ever-present non‑definable state of non‑negatable immediacy or reality; reality cannot be defined or fixed out of existence… it must be lived an experienced.

All this is but another way — a logical way — of stating that reality, as a dynamic process can never produce a product which completely eclipses that process into a static state. In social terms, alienation and exploitation occur to the degree to which the product of any process of creation (e.g. economic production) tends to become organized into forms of contradiction that hide the process of creation or production behind or within the products, producing commodity production, together with the accumulation of capital and repressive ideology. In this condition the products of labor become divorced from the living‑fabric of the laborers themselves — i.e. from the communal living process of creation and self‑creation. A repressive society continues to function as long as such a separation between the state of immediate creation‑and‑production and its products is contained within a hierarchical structure of technology based upon the accumulation of products, technique, efficiency‑for‑efficiency‑sake, and systems‑ideology based on fixed units of identity. Only when the self‑contradiction of such a state is made conscious within its member subjectivities, will movements be made to restore the qualitative dynamics of creation as being the source of any one of its quantitative products of creation. Mere contradiction seen as externally imposed will not produce revolution — only conformity due to fear, or rebellion and a restoration of an alternative state of contradiction due to revenge. One must feel self‑conscious and responsible for the entire fabric of one’s texture of reality, thus experiencing contradiction as self‑contradiction before the impetus or will can emerge for radical change; it is too easy to adjust to a reality one conceives in which opposition and movement is merely seen as a play of external forces. “Identity, form and function” arising out of reflective activity which fixes quality into external quantity must always be the means while human beings or intersubjectivity in general as the qualitative activity, transformation and immediate dynamics of creation is the end or telos of dialectic reality…on any level. (Thus one can note that chemical‑biological evolution — and cosmic evolution on the electro‑magnetic plane, likewise create both rigid forms unable to express the fluidity of function‑producing hyper‑excited states or “diseases”, as well as the more fluid and flexible states that then become the more dynamic basis for a deeper evolution to proceed; evolution out of a given state of existence, and revolution back to the roots of existence transforming that state are, in effect, the “yang” and “yin” of the “Tao” of reality on all levels; on the human social level, all this movement becomes part of a socially self‑reflect­ive process which can feedback not only upon its own past, but upon the entire cosmic context out of which it is a development, hence giving rise to possibly higher forms of social consciousness once an integrated society has appeared which transcends any contradiction between the autonomy of subjectivity and the communality of objectivity seen as intersubjectivity. There is no reason to posit either an ultimate sub‑atomic microcosm or an ultimate supra‑social macrocosm; the integrated Tao of evolution‑revolution has the power to create an unlimited modality of intersubjectivity in which our present forms of technology and thought will be by‑passed — e.g. forms in which the reality of thought can be harnessed to produce psycho‑technology, and the subjectivity of technology and its energy‑transformation can be perceived to directly understand nature by internal interaction and not simply external manipulation).


6: The Formalization of Hegel’s Dialectic Logic          

This is a condensation of the dialectic logic I formulated in my Ph.D thesis and it is a mathematical‑formal presentation of the dialectic matrix discussed in the previous article #5. In this article I give a careful presentation of dialectic logic in a form that lends itself to “technical manipulation”, for technique, once realised as the means within an intersubjective end, must likewise take on dialectic form. Thus classical logic and identity systems, together with Goedel’s theorems on incompleteness and inconsistency must be taken up, so that when one works within the limitations of formal structure one will not unconsciously be undermining the dialectic reality within which such limitations have their tentative existence. In a sense what I show is not so much the formalization of dialectics, but really the dialectics of formalization.


I have thus introduced myself, my project, and 6 of my articles that detail this project in several of its phases. I would appreciate very much if this work could be reviewed in part or whole and if your comments to this work would be sent to me at my university. In turn, I would like to hear what kind of work is being done in your country and by those likewise engaged in dialectic‑research as I am. Finally I would like to set up a basis for exchange of ideas and method between us, and hope to also set up some kind of cornmunication that could be of use to both sides — and indeed to all those dedicated to the realization of the dialectic nature of reality.


Michael Kosok, February 27, 1975.

Institute for Dialectic Research, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Rutherford, New Jersey 07070, USA.