MARXISM - PLASTICITY, MATHS AND HISTORY
maths and history – an intervention in materialist dialectics
hear experts repeat that our brains are ‘hard-wired for plasticity’
should lead us to ask whether they listen to what they say. Their
oxymoron is one sign of the muddle-headedness that pervades thinking
about thinking. Because thoughts are intangible they lend themselves to
all manner of Philosophical Idealism, from mind-over-matter cures for
cancer to beliefs that only numbers are real. Fear of dementia needs to
be matched by alarm at the pandemics of mumbo-jumbo.
the mischief of metaphor
addition, ‘hard-wired’ is detritus from the attempts to install
artificial intelligence (AI) in a computer so that it will replicate
human thought. Even as a metaphor, ‘hard-wired’ is old technology.
The Mac on which I am composing this sentence has none of the cables,
valves or punch cards of the first commercial IBMs, UNIVAC, in 1952;
those elements have been replaced by a circuitry of transistors and
AI experimenters failed for the reason that keeps the brain plastic.
Computers do not have bodies to interact with the rest of the world.
Hubert Dreyfus gave the example of how we respond to hearing that
‘George Washington was in the Capitol’. We know without being told
that ‘so was his left foot’. Because we have a body like
Washington’s, we do not need to be told that his left foot was also in
the Capitol. The computer cannot know that fact without being told.
The result is that engineers have to supply all the minutiae that we
absorb from our experience as beings in the world.
decades of chasing AI, Douglas Lenat had fed in millions of items but
still had not built a machine indistinguishable from a human respondent,
and thus pass what is known as the Turing Test. Current researchers
propose a different test that computers are unable to pass:
computers cannot pick out one thread of speech when two or more people
are talking. We manage ‘the cocktail-party problem’ because we
acquire our first language while over-hearing conversations.
an emetic for the mechanistic materialism of AI and the waffle of
mind-over- matter, this discussion is grounded in materialist dialectics
with a focus on the ideas and experiences of Marx and Engels. The paper
proceeds through three stages:
aim is to stimulate discussion around the pertinence of materialist
dialectics to the accumulation of greater relative knowledge in every
domain of human endeavour.
as the norm
approaches arose regarding the extent of mutability. Some conceded
penetrability of the orders of nature but within a static whole; others
glimpsed how those orders could transmute in a dynamic system. The
following sketch does no more than underline the twists and turns in the
acceptance of qualitative change as a universal possibility. This survey
will place the recent recognition of the plasticity of the adult brain
in the protracted struggle to establish evolution as orthodoxy. Three
layers of nature are involved: one, the inorganic world of geology and
cosmology; two, the organic in plants and animals; three, whether we are
part of the animal kingdom. Telescopes and microscopes were the tools
that helped to initiate multiple revolutions in science from the solar
to the cellular. Beyond this trio is the transforming of modes of
production, also touched on.
Copernicus had dislodged the earth from the centre of the universe,
Kant’s cosmology was more alarming because he speculated on the death
of the sun. In geology, nineteenth-century materialists began by
upholding uniformitarianism against the catastrophism associated with a
Biblical Deluge. Before the 1960s, this mentality delayed the acceptance
of continental drift until plate tectonics was identified as the
derived from the Pagan depiction of the inter-twinings of the vegetable
and the animal, the human and the non-human discovered in Roman Grottoes
during the fifteenth century. This blurring was important for
Renaissance art but suppressed by the Counter-Reformation.
‘The Great Chain of Being’ in most of its expressions did not allow
mutations between the orders of nature though its proponents disputed
over how to rank us within a pre-ordained hierarchy.
Linnaeus strengthened the classificatory boundaries, despite his
emphasis on the sex life of plants, which underpinned discoveries
regarding their mutability by Darwin, Hooker and Mendel.
Kant’s views on solar extinction, he clung to Christian doctrine for
botany in ‘The Critique of Teleological Judgement’, asserting that
eighty years, Kant’s teleology was being declared ‘presumptuous’.
1856, William Perkin extracted dyes from coal tars instead of from root
Perkin went beyond the artificial selection by pigeon fanciers, with
whose achievements Darwin introduced his argument for natural selection
in On the Origin of Species, three
years later. Over millennia, plants had turned into coal but now human
ingenuity yielded ‘mauve’, adding a new dimension to mutability.
Darwin dyed pigeons magenta to see what effect it had on their mating
success, which was nil.
it is never possible to isolate scientific discoveries from social
attitudes, cultural consequences tell us nothing about natural or
industrial processes. In this case, mass production changed attitudes
towards purple as a dress colour. The cost of natural dye had been so
great as to confine purple to emperors and the like, voiced in the
expression ‘born to the purple’.
Perkin put purple within reach of most consumers so that it became
associated with colonials, the indigenous, the nouveau
riche and women of ill-repute.
Engels grasped the significance for all the sciences from what Perkin
had wrought through ‘experiment and industry’ in chemistry:
even as Kant wrote about the impossibility of a botanical Newton, the
agricultural revolutions of crop rotation, deep ploughing and
fertilisers had been undermining of his thing-in-itself. Justus von
Liebig’s Chemistry and Its
Application to Agriculture and Physiology in 1840 argued for the
restoration of minerals to the soil to repair its plunder by
capitalists, an authority whom Marx and Engels had read before they met
and quoted throughout their lives.
Farmers improved seed cultivation, artificially selected their livestock
and grafted fruit-trees before the controversies around Mendelian
genetics versus natural selection led to the neo-Darwinian synthesis
from the late 1920s.
a dialectical approach to the universe, Engels in 1875-6 drew on his
profound knowledge of scientific discoveries since the Renaissance to
attack the notions of ‘the
absolute immutability of nature’ that had ‘dominated the entire
first half of the nineteenth century, and in substance is even now still
taught in all schools’.
A decade later, he rejoiced at the obliteration of teleology along with
its concomitant ‘rigidity and absoluteness’:
was thinking of the platypus, long known as the ‘Australian
Paradox’. An 1884 report confirmed that the creature was neither
wholly reptile nor entirely mammal, a glimpse of the transmutation of
species in action.
the start of the twentieth century, species evolution had been widely
accepted by scientists. The realm for resistance was the human brain.
Where Descartes had proposed dualism to escape the strictures of
Christian doctrines, its revival snuck the teleological back into
science during the eclipse of Darwinism.
For example, a 1914 Introduction to Lyell’s 1863 The Geological Evidence of the Antiquity of Man rejoiced that
Creative Evolution (1907),
Bergson rejected Darwinism in favour of an elan
vital, as part of a Catholic revival in France.
The retreat of ‘shame-faced materialists’ before the discoveries of
sub-atomic physics and a consequent resurgence of fideism provoked Lenin
to hit back with Materialism and
Empirio-Criticism in 1908.
and learning are complementary, the first making new stem cells, the
second prolonging their survival.
Sodoku needs physical exercise to stimulate the production of Serotonin
the brain does not change itself as Norman Doidge pretends in the title
of his best-seller, a fancy he refutes in an Appendix on ‘The
Culturally Modified Brain’.
The brain is not changed by acting on itself any more than Yuri
Geller’s brain, by itself, can bend a spoon. All that that organ will
do if left to itself is to rot. A living brain is changed through its
engagements with the rest of its body and with the outside world. As
Marxist bio-chemist, Steven Rose puts it:
is why ‘procedural memory (remembering how to do something) is the
2002, Gage introduced a series of papers surveying the demolition of the
dogma that the adult nervous system could not generate new neurons:
dominant metaphor of brain function as a computer with fixed circuits
had blocked research into how new cells could ‘functionally integrate
into the brain without disrupting existing circuits’. Gage realises
that any extension of his team’s discoveries to more sections of the
brain will require ‘a reconceptualisation of neural plasticity that
incorporates structural plasticity’.
of this research would have surprised Engels who had championed
mutability all along the line. Nor would he have been surprised at how
long it had taken to add the adult brain to the catalogue of natural
objects accepted as mutable. The privileging of the human brain was the
last gasp of a special creation for our kind, with Darwinism admissible
for every species but our own.
Darwin had accommodated this prejudice by delaying his endorsement of
the transmutation of species through natural selection to humankind
until The Descent of Man in
was not the end of it. Evolution was acceptable for the human body and
even the brain but not for the mind, also known as the soul. Many of
those who abandoned faith in an afterlife with the Almighty clung to the
power of their own intellects, as Engels noted in ‘The Part Played by
Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man’:
‘labour’, Engels intends all human activities, physical and mental,
which he understands to be inseparable.
this privileging of the brain lurks an ache to reinsert the soul by
making the mind distinct from and superior to the brain. The modern
version of this argument began in the 1640s when Descartes got out from
under the repression of the Church by proposing a line between using
mathematics to investigate extensions in space (bodies) but not
thoughts, which were unquantifiable.
He gave the body, including the brain and
the pineal gland, to scientists and left the ‘soul’ to the
Several commentators suspect
that this ‘dualism’ was a maneouvre to avoid his being sent to the
stake as a libertine as much as it was an ontological or epistemological
physiology, the anatomist Thomas Willis (1621-75) led the way in
recognising the brain as the site of the intellect. He thought of the
human being as a ‘double-soul’d animal’, with a material mortal
soul for sensations and an immortal soul for intellect and morality.
Like many contemporary commentators, Willis misunderstood Descartes’
claim that other animals did not possess rational souls into a belief
that they therefore also lacked sensitive souls.
Descartes’ description of other animals as automata is now
misinterpreted because of the modern sense of an automata as an
unthinking machine when in the 1640s the term meant any process that did
not require outside drivers.
on other animals contributed to the advances made by Willis and
Descartes but it was not then possible to practice vivisection on fellow
human beings. A soldier with a head wound from the American Civil War
allowed surgeons to observe something of his brain’s functioning. By
the 1890s, Santiago Ramon y Cajal and Camillo Golgi independently
identified the synapse, but concluded that cellular regeneration was
Much of what we know about brain function has come in the past twenty
years from non-invasive procedures. A rush to extrapolate from that
ill-digested data to the mind and to consciousness is a fount of
recalled the fear that ‘if the brain were changing too much all the
time we may lose that sense of identity or may not be able to retain
In studying the links between identity and memory, Steven Rose tracked
processes of interaction among billions of cells and their trillions of
connections to confirm that memories are retained only by being remade,
and thus altered ever so slightly each time they are recalled. He
rejected a notion that each memory had a neuron of its own: one
molecule, one memory. Rose endorsed a variant of plasticity when he
preferred ‘patterns’ to ‘pathways’, In addition, he challenged
eh fixedness of memory:
Rose insists that all explanations remain provisional because, despite
an avalanche of information about the operation of the brain,
researchers still know less than 5 percent of what there is to be known
notion of personality as a fixture contrasts with Marx’s insight when
he criticises Feuerbach for resolving ‘the essence of religion into
the essence of man’. Not so,
says Marx: ‘But the essence of man is no abstraction indwelling in
each separate individual. In its reality it is the ensemble of social
In opposition to bourgeois apologists who treat the individual, isolated
outside history, as a concrete instance of humanness, Marx considers
that ‘idiot’ to be the true abstraction.
the extent that our species now has ‘a’ nature, it derives from
interactions of the physiological with the socio-cultural. We become
what we do, as Marx illustrated with the instance of first-language
account of labour as a collective and natural practice demolished a
related prop to individualism – the Robinsonade.
To avoid the transitory nature of capitalism, its apologists explained
its development by extrapolating the global expansion of capital from an
isolated individual like the fictional Robinson Crusoe.
However, Marx was naïve to think that ‘this inanity’ of a
self-forming individual had been disposed of. It persists for reasons
that he indicated in his critique of political economy.
is social in the sense of being shared but it is not confined to human
society, for, as he reiterated, ‘labour … is only the manifestation
of a force of nature’.
Because we are discussing natural sciences, it is important to be clear
about what Marx and Engels meant when they called their analysis
scientific. They were in no doubt that absolute truths existed for
natural phenomena despite the inevitably of our relative knowledge of
them. Those absolute truths included the qualitative changes in the
geo-physical universe and life forms discussed above. Nothing that human
beings thought could alter those actualities.
criteria apply to human society and to our understanding of it. Marx’s
critique of political economy demonstrated that both the capitalist mode
of production and ideas about it were historical, that is, transitory:
lambasted the ideology that capital was natural and eternal, a fallacy
by which ‘the whole of history can be brought under a single great
natural law’, though he had to admit that here was a ‘very
impressive method – for swaggering, sham-scientific, bombastic
ignorance and intellectual laziness’.
Hence, the mass of writing against Marxism as a science has missed the
point of what Marx and Engels understood by science in regard to human
Their approach opened the way to a science of history and political
economy because they recognised the gulf between the laws of nature and
those of social relationships.
the nineteenth century, two strands of anthropology challenged the
ideology of eternal social categories. The first step was to look from
gods to men, as Feuerbach had done when he saw that we make gods in our
own image and likeness.
The second step came with the systematic reporting of pre-class
societies, as in the work of Lewis Henry Morgan and on Australian
Marx and Engels welcomed these developments, with the latter writing Origins
of the family, property and the state to sketch qualitative changes
in human affairs. Marvin Harris contends that this materialist outlook
was not in Morgan but resulted from ‘skillful editing’ by Engels who
supplied Marx with
matters is the acceptance of the transitory nature of social
organisations - not who said what first.
larger controversy than the transitory nature of modes of production is
whether hominisation has altered the relations between our species and
the rest of nature. The need for materialists to refute faith in a
special creation distracted many of them from the unique position that
humankind had reached through evolution. The fact that our species
articulates an explanation of its origins proves that a factor had been
added to how Homo sapiens
interacts with nature. The co-discoverer of natural selection, Alfred
Russell Wallace, advocated investigating this uniqueness. His hypothesis
was dismissed by equating it with the discredited notion of acquired
and because of his attachment to Spiritualism following the death of his
eight-year old daughter.
break-out to which Wallace drew attention had been attained through
natural selection, even if he suspected otherwise. The flowerings that
this peculiarity made possible no longer depend on that mechanism. By
1963, Julian Huxley accepted that human culture had so altered our
relations with our environment that biologists should consider natural
selection to be inadequate:
highlighting the importance of culture is not a claim for an alternative
physical device for the transmutation of species. He had denounced any
notion of inheriting acquired characteristics associated with Soviet
Mincurism and Lysenko.
brains allow us to circumvent or short-circuit some of the barriers that
biology and physics place on our evolution. We can, as Engels cautioned,
instance, the huge size of our brains relative to body mass (Dubois’s
encephalisation quotient) imposes limits on the speed of connections.
Through evolution, specialisation of zones in the brain has helped to
get around some of those difficulties. Even if we waited for natural
selection to bring about further improvements, how much more
connectivity can fit into a cranium small enough to pass through a birth
canal? To get around the physics of brain size and functions, we have
the Internet as a qualitative leap -like writing and printing - for the
storage of information and for its retrieval. Instead of computers
replacing human intelligence they are prosthetic devices. One
alternative is for all babies to be grown out the womb. For nearly a
millennium, spectacles have been helping individuals to see better.
Science and technologies spur on the artificial selection upon which
Darwin relied to persuade his readers about natural selection.
York Museum of Natural History curator Niles Eldredge in his aptly
titled Dominion presented a
variation on Huxley’s outlook:
grew on the trade in spices, sugar, tobacco, coffee, tea – and slaves.
From the late nineteenth century, our daily bread ceased to be sourced
locally, undermining the rhetoric of ‘blood and soil’ as wheat
crossed the Atlantic and arrived from Australia.
Railways and steamships helped to market tinned and frozen meats over
continents and oceans.
extraction of our species from locality as the source of our food has
consequences for the rest of life-forms on the planet by altering their
environments, and by depriving many of them of the isolation required
for speciation through natural selection. Commerce transported creatures
great and small out of their habitats, whether rats escaping trading
vessels or goats being put ashore to feed shipwrecked survivors. Ferals
are ubiquitous but no more so than sheep and cattle. These changes
amount to a third nature, encouraging some earth scientists to speak of
the present era as the anthropocene.
more we understand about how human actions affect the rest of nature,
decline of religion among the intelligentsia saw mathematics take its
place as the human activity most severed from worldly needs.
all fingers and thumbs
hypothesis must remain speculative since no observations survive from
that era. The strongest support for his suggestion is how our species
has developed. Something like his depiction must have happened. We
become what we do, as a species and as individuals, which is the
shortest statement of materialist dialectics. The opposable thumb is the
greatest of all ‘inventions’ because it increased the ways in which
we can apprehend objects through fashioning them to our needs.
mathematician-philosopher Henri Poincare (1854-1912) made a parallel
point on how we acquired our capacities for one area of mathematics:‘if
there were no solid bodies in nature, there would be no geometry’.
That rare bird, a materialist mathematician, Charles Davis, glossed
Poincare’s precept by saying that ‘that the daily needs of humans to
handle rigid bodies is related to our great insight into Euclidean
geometry of two or three dimensions’.
Poincare himself had proposed that although
way of apprehending reality resulted from protracted interactions
between natural selection and cultural transmissions. Our capacity for
geometry, Poincare observed, ‘is, like all associations of ideas, the
result of a habit; this habit
itself results from very numerous experiences’.
Or, in the words of A N Whitehead: ‘Civilisation advances by extending
the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking
habituation to produce a propensity for Euclidian geometry, the
environment needs to be stable. Poincare underlined this conclusion by
raising the prospect of an alternate planet:
would have agreed with this point about the impress of external
realities on patterns of perception:
it is not at all true that in pure mathematics the mind deals only with
its own creations and imaginations. The concepts of number and figure
have not been derived from any source other than the world of reality.
The ten fingers on which men learnt to count, that is, to perform the
first arithmetical operation, are anything but a free creation of the
we had evolved with twelve fingers, and not ten, the majority of
humankind would compute from base twelve, not base ten.
is not saying that the concepts of number and form are limited to
counting or to touching. Indeed, he is clear that
the otherwise judicious Carl B Boyer is wrong to allege that Engels and
other ‘Marxist materialists will not grant mathematics the
independence of [from] experience necessary for its proper
Over and again, Engels discussed how that independence operates, for
good and ill. To write that an ‘ability’ is ‘based on
experience’ is not to say that it is limited to those experiences.
Indeed, Engels is clear that he is concerned with the ability to
abstract from experience. Moreover, he knows that a different order of
experience was essential to the development of calculus. Every advance
required the experience of making calculations. As Mao Zedong put it:
ideas neither fall out of the sky, nor are they innate in the mind.
knew full well that the sources of mathematical axioms were more likely
to have been exogenous than were their developments since Descartes.
What he rejects is that the initial notions derived ‘from the free
imagination of the mind’ and not from ‘sturdy reality’. Even more,
he dismisses those Platonists who claim that
is right to claim that the ‘denial of independence’ for mathematics
would make ‘impossible the concept of the derivative and the
scientific description of motion in terms thereof’. This is not a
happy choice for Boyer given that Marx and Engels - as dialecticians -
championed motion in every domain of existence and became addicted to
derivatives. On receipt of some of Marx’s writings about calculus
Engels replied: ‘The thing has taken such a hold of me that it not
only goes round my head all day, but last week in a dream I gave a chap
my shirt-buttons to differentiate, and he ran off with them’.
next attributes to Engels the prejudice that ‘The mathematical
infinity is, in accord with this view, a contradiction of the
‘tautology’ than the whole is greater than any of its parts’.
Here, Boyer has failed to distinguish Engels’s paraphrasing of Herr
Duhring from the mockery with which he assails those ‘most ridiculous
course, Engels did not get everything right even according to the most
advanced understandings of his time, still less for the discoveries made
since. A sympathetic critic, Robin Hirsch, shows that Engels’
commentary on the infinite ‘is only marginally less confused than that
of Duhring’ while his treatment of infinitisimals ‘cause much
To suppose otherwise is to be anti-materialist.
millennia, our species has gone beyond sensate experiences of the world
and also beyond the reflecting on them that enabled us to reach
generalisations. Scientists needed a way past induction which can never
provide enough instances to exclude the possible discovery of the single
‘black swan’ that refutes the conclusion drawn from all observed
swans having been white.
Like Engels, Poincare recognised that more than contact with solid
objects and subsequent induction were needed to develop the concepts
we nowadays associate those patterns with the work of one man, Euclid,
Poincare knew that ‘individual experience could not create geometry’
until ‘by natural selection our mind has adapted
itself to the conditions of the external world, that it has adopted the
geometry most advantageous to
Euclidian geometry serves the human needs that depend on certain aspects
of the way that the world is and how we experience it.
an overly instrumentalist account, Whitehead proposed that
‘land-surveys had produced geometry’ for the Ancients.
Truer to say that the need to determine property rights over land drew
on and contributed to advances in the practice of Euclidean geometry.
theorems, of course, were only a starting point for geometry. Descartes
added direction and time to his equations. These elements are not
immediately sensible in the way that handling a brick was in
Poincare’s claim about how the apprehension of space contributing to
the acceptance of Euclidian geometry. Nonetheless, Descartes’s
contributions to pure mathematics were not disassociated from physical
realities but took place in a world of increasing travel, as Lancelot
new ways of calculating spatial relations were still assisted by
handling objects. Now, they include tools and machines, not just shapes.
cautioned that Poincare’s appreciation of how our handling of solid
objects has contributed to our adoption of Euclidian geometry was not
the whole story. It
level of mathematical abilities throughout the Australian population is
a mix of inheritance through natural selection and 140 years of
compulsory schooling. New Zealand political scientist James Flynn
gathered ‘Data from fourteen nations to reveal IQ gains ranging from 5
to 25 points in a single generation’.
The results demonstrate our ability to adapt culturally, proving that
learning is not fixed in our genes, still less in our blood.
spotlight what is being said here about how learning by an individual
can affect brain function, we fall back on the experience of London
taxi-drivers. MRI scans reveal that one section of their brains operates
differently from that in the rest of us. The explanation for this
peculiarity is the accumulated experience of their labour. No one
suggests that this change is inheritable by their offspring. Indeed, for
that to happen, this learned capacity would have to provide some
survival advantage. The chances of that happening are nil. In the time
that it would require for natural selection to take its effect, taxis
will be a thing of the past – and perhaps London as well. However, in
the immediate future, some of the children of the drivers are likely to
have inherited their parents’ taxi licences and absorbed some of their
progenitors’ knowledge by travelling with them. Of course, it is also
possible that the drivers’ income and the system of compulsory
education will have allowed those children to become stockbrokers and
doctors – hence, passengers. Their parents’ brain-scans are but
snapshots within shifting socio-economic arrangements.
Dawkins, in one of his earliest marketing ploys, branded cultural
transmission as a ‘meme’ in the hope that this neologism would
absorb some of the authority of the gene as ‘the new replicator’.
Even as a metaphor for socialised learning, ‘meme’ risks being
understood as anti-Darwinian acquired characteristics, or the Jungian
collective unconscious. Either way, it has no basis in reality and is
pseudo-scientific like so many of the claims about genetic determinates
for socio-cultural behaviours.
What can be demonstrated without recourse to any self-publicising logo
is that collective human activities have multiplied our mathematical
or not the individual is born a blank slate becomes less significant
once access to culture opens a treasure house for the extension of human
That prospect will now be explored through the spread of mathematical
abilities across time. In identifying that expansion, the next part
distinguishes what is not possible through natural selection from the
cultural transmissions that are available to individuals because of
collective experience. The third section is a Prolegomenon to a
materialist history of mathematics.
 Steven Rose, The 21st Century Brain, Explaining, Mending and Manipulating the Mind, Jonathan Cape, London, 2005; Scientific American, July 2011, pp. 38-43. The human brain has 100 billion nerve cells and 100,000 billion interconnections.
 Martin Campbell-Kelly and William Aspray, Computer, A History of the Information Machine, Basic Books, New York, 1996; Michael Riordan and Lillian Hoddeson, Crystal Fire, The Invention of the Transitor and the Birth of the Information Age, W W Norton, New York, 1997.
Quoted John C. Greene, The
Death of Adam, Evolution and its Impact on Western Thought, Iowa
State University Press, Ames, Iowa, 1959, pp. 5 and 10.
Arthur O Lovejoy, The Great
Chain of Being, A Study of the History of an Idea, Harvard
University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1936, pp. 189ff.
Simon Garfield, Mauve, W W
Norton, New York, 2001; John Buckingham, Chasing
the Molecules, Discovering the Building Blocks of Life, Sutton,
 The upper classes favoured mauve and other pastels, Alexandria Hasluck (ed.), Audrey Tennyson’s Vice-Regal Days, Australian National Library, Canberra, 1978, pp. 183 and 276; for Jewesses, Victorian Banner, 8 October 1881, Hiliary Rubenstein, Chosen, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1987, p. 76; for colonials, Alexandria Joel, Parade, History of Fashion in Australia, HarperCollins, Pymble, 1998, p. 27.
 Frederick Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1950, p. 33.
 William H Brock, Justus von Liebig, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1997; read by Marx and Engels before they met and referred to throughout their writings, e.g., Capital, I, Moscow, pp. 239, 328, 504-6, 573 and 622; Penguin, pp. 348-9, 446n., 638-9, 718 and 973.
Peter Thompson, Seeds, Sex and
Civilization, Thames and Hudson, London, 2011; Julian Huxley, Evolution:
The Modern Synthesis, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1963.
Ann Moyal, The Platypus,
Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2010, pp. 154-5, with evidence from its
genome since 2001.
Collected Works, volume
14, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972.
 Alvar Ellegard, Darwin and the General Reader, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1990, pp. 293-331; William Irvine, Apes Angels & Victorians, Readers Union, London, 1956; Dov Ospovat, The Development of Darwin’s Theory, Natural History, Natural Theology & Natural Selection, 1838-1859, Cambridge University Press, 1981; Keith Thompson, Before Darwin, Reconciling God and Nature, Yale University Press, Princeton, 2005.
 On the dualism associated with Descartes, Stephen Gaukroger, Descartes an intellectual biography, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1995, pp. 388-94; Thomas Fuchs, Mechanisation of the Heart, Harvey and Descartes, University of Rochester Press, Rochester, 2001, especially pp. 122-5; John Cottingham, ‘Cartesian Trialism’, Mind, 94, April 1985, pp. 218-230; Daniel Garber, Descartes Embodied, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2001, pp. 257-273.
Descartes needs to be read as if in dialogue with Aristotle and
Aquinas, F C Coppleston, Aquinas, Penguin, London, 1955, pp. 156-98; Anthony Kenny, Aquinas,
OUP, Oxford, 1980, pp. 46-9; Nicholas Jolley, ‘Malebranche on the
Soul’, Steven Nadler (ed.), The
Cambridge Companion to Malebranche, CUP, Cambridge, 2000, pp.
31-58. Because the notion of ‘soul’ has dropped out of fashion,
those philosophers who compile a Syllabus of Descartes’ Errors
rarely consider his views in relation to the theological discourse
of the seventeenth century with its doctrines of transubstantiation;
whether God had created the body and the soul out of utterly
distinct substances, as Descartes maintained in arguing for the
latter’s immortality; disputes over whether the resurrection of
the body and soul was coterminous or did one wait until the Last
Judgement, Marcia B Hall, ‘Michelangelo’s Last Judgement as Resurrection of the Body: The Hidden Clue’, Michelangelo’s
‘Last Judgement’, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,
2005, pp. 95-112.
Margaret Dauler Wilson, Descartes, Ego Cogito, Ergo Sum, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1978, where the index entry for ‘soul’ says ‘see mind’, which reads ‘mind/soul’ as if there were no distinction; Deborah J. Brown, Descartes and the Passionate Mind, CUP, Cambridge, 2006, recognises the differences and the three kinds of soul in her discussion but slips between soul, mind, brain and will without spelling out definitions of each, pp. 34-35.
John Cottingham argues that Descartes uses mind and soul interchangeably but provides only one debatable quotation, ‘ “l’esprit ou l’ame de l’homme (ce que je ne distingue point).” This assertion of the interchangeability of the terms ‘mind’ and ‘soul’ in Cartesian metaphysics appears in the 1647 French version of the Meditations. The original 1641 Latin text refers simply to the mind (mens). ‘Cartesian dualism: theology, metaphysics, and science’, John Cottingham (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Descartes, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1992, pp. 236 and 253n.
Carl Zimmer, Soul Made Flesh,
Free Press, New York, 2004, p. 217.
 Wal Sutching, ‘Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach: Notes Towards a Commentary (with a New Translation)’, John Mepham and David-Hillel Ruben (eds), Issues in Marxist Philosophy, volume II, Harvester Press, London, 1979, p. 18.
This aphorism is one of the so-called ‘Theses on Feuerbach’ which unfortunately survived the knawing criticism of mice. Their significance requires attending to the first ninety pages of The German Ideology (1845-7) which Peter Singer fails to supply in his scrappy and shallow A Darwinian Left, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2000, and his Marx, OUP, Oxford, 1980.
Karl Marx, A Contribution to
the Critique of Political Economy, Progress Publishers, Moscow,
1970, p. 189.
Karl Marx, ‘Marginal Notes to the Programme of the German
Workers’ Party’, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected
Works, volume three, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1970, p. 13.
 Marx to Kugelmann, 27 June 1870, Marx-Engels Selected Correspondence, Moscow, FLPH, n.d., p. 290.
Marx thought that this was not the worst: ‘The last form is the academic form, which proceeds historically and, with wise moderation, collects the ‘best’ from all courses, and in doing this contradictions do not matter; on the contrary, what matters is comprehensiveness. All systems are thus made insipid, their edge is taken off and they are gathered together peacefully in a miscellany. The heat of apologetics is moderated here by erudition, which looks down benignly on the exaggerations of economic thinkers, and merely allows them to float as oddities in its mediocre pap. Since such works appear only when political economy has reached the end of its scope as a science, they are at the same time the graveyard of this science’. Marx, TS-V, III, p. 502
For one survey of this supposed split between science and critique
see Alvin Gouldner, The Two
Marxisms, Contradictions and Anomalies in the Development of Theory,
Macmillan, London, 1980.
 Lewis Henry Morgan, Ancient Society, New York Labor News, Paolo Alto, 1978; John Mulvaney, ‘The Australian Aborigines, 1606-1929: Opinion and Fieldwork’, Historical Studies, Selected Articles, MUP, Carlton, 1964, pp. 1-56.
 Marvin Harris, The Rise of Anthropological Theory, A History of Theories of Culture, Thomas Y Crowell, New York, 1968, p. 248; for a different view of Morgan, Emmanuel Terray, Marxism and ‘Primitive Societies’, Two Studies, Monthly Review Press, New York, 1972, pp. 5-92.
 Lamarck’s reputation suffers because of his atheism and as a punching bag for Darwinists. Acquired characteristics was a tiny part of the contribution of the man who coined biology and invertebrate, L J Jordanova, Lamarck, OUP, Oxford, 1984, pp. 1 & 6.
 Julian Huxley, Soviet Genetics and World Science, Chatto and Windus, London, 1949; V N Stoletov, The Fundamentals of Michurin Biology, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953; Richard Levins and Richard Lewontin, ‘The Problem of Lysenkoism’, The Dialectical Biologist, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1985, pp. 163-96.
Engels, Dialectics of Nature,
Niles Eldredge, Dominion, Can
Nature and Culture Co-exist?, Henry Holt, New York, 1995. p.
V Gordon Childe, Man Makes
Himself, London, Watts, 1965 edition, p. 93; Childe’s approach
is established in the preceding pages. Despite the switch in gender
pronouns in this passage, we might be tempted to rephrase his title
to ‘Human Beings Remake Ourselves’.
Poincare, p. 69.
Mao Zedong, Four Essays on
Philosophy, Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1966, p. 134.
Davis, p. 54.
See my Temper Democratic,
Wakefield, Kent Town, 1998, pp. 158-68.