Georges Politzer; Philosophy and MythsJune 27, 2021
This article was published in the magazine ‘La Pensée’, which started to be published in France in 1939, but was interrupted after the first two issues by the Nazi occupation and fascist repression, and was only able to return to publication in late 1944. The author of the article and a militant of the French Communist Party, Georges Politzer, was the founder and member of the editorial board of the magazine ‘La Pensée’. Like many other eminent thinkers, he was shot by the invading Nazis in the early years of World War II. Politzer left behind a valuable work as an exemplary intellectual with his life as well as his ideas. An excerpt from his article:
This inconsistent attitude of Mr. Brunschvieg stems from his idealism. The limit it sets as rationalism is the idealistic orientation of rationalism.
But despite all this, doesn’t the new physics as the newest of sciences confirm idealism?
Philosophical idealism claims to be both new and in harmony with physics. Regarding the novelty of contemporary idealism, Lenin set forth in Materialism and Empiriocriticism how ‘modern’ philosophers imitated Berkeley.
Moreover, in the preface he wrote to the first translation of the Principles, Renouvier claimed that this work should be the reference book of all philosophers, and his return to Berkeley was approved by M. Jeans.
The claim of the Lachelier school that consciousness means an inextricable prison in terms of science is also based on Berkeley. The thesis that philosophical idealism is the most modern, the most rational, the most scientific and the most advanced representative of knowledge is taken from Berkeley.
Berkeley presented belief as a bias in the existence of matter. Regarding the matter, he said: ‘It is an extraordinarily regrettable example of prejudice that human beings turn away from God’s commandments for such a foolish thing and try to keep him as far away from worldly affairs as possible.
According to Brunschvieg, the view that the world does not need thought to exist is based on a prejudice. According to the author of the Information Age, what is at issue here is ‘the habit of mind that constitutes the social and biological infrastructure of the soul’. What Brunschvieg opposes to idealism is realism. And the social and biological infrastructure of our soul is constituted by realism, which, according to him, means the proclamation of reality independent of thought.
According to Berkeley, it is necessary to change from the concept of a materially based incident to an unsubstantiated one. Brunschvieg, on the other hand, uses the concept of relationship instead of the contingency and proposes a transition from a grounded to an unsubstantiated relationship. Likewise, Berkeley tried to prove that idealism was compatible with science. But this is even more impossible and unreal today than it was in the Berkeley era. Here we are once again faced with an artifact, albeit intricate and complex. The fact that it is tough and complex is not enough to remove its artificial character.
The basis of this artificiality is the arbitrary definition of two different things: the proclamation of the thought-free truth and the knowledge of the truth at a certain stage of scientific development. Idealist interpreters of physics try to present the abandonment of a particular conception of reality as the abandonment of reality itself.
Contemporary physics has surpassed some of the mechanisms and concepts attached to it. Brunschvieg concludes that ‘a new physics has been patched on top of the quantum theory, this time dematerialiser, as was the case with the theory of relativity, which previously ignored the ether, and will depersonalize them all by clouding them with probability waves.’*
So why is the atom dematerialized? Physics discovered things in it that the old mechanistic understanding could not detect. To claim that this is a dematerialization is to confirm the ‘atom is mechanistic or not’ dilemma. But by what right can it be claimed that the real atom can only be mechanistic? In more general words, by what right the real universe, or the XIX. It could be argued that it would conform to the image given to it by the physics of the 19th century, or would it be purely fictitious?
As proof of imaginaryness, the following postulate, which means the denial of mechanism, is always presented: The Universe or the XIX. It’s either true to century physics, or it’s not real.
For example, we start with the mechanistic definition of matter. Then, the new approach to matter is judged and filtered according to this old one. And then finally it is declared that physics destroys matter (dematerialisé). But in fact, ‘dematerialization’ is only in question for those who cannot or do not want to abandon the mechanistic understanding. And the person who behaves in this way does not act in accordance with science and goes against it. This is what the idealist does. At the very moment when science succeeds in separating it, it splits mechanics and reality, and when science leaves it, it clings to the mechanistic definition of matter. Physics invites us to correct and even renew our old views of the real. The idealist philosopher, on the other hand, leads us to the old view of the real.