MEANING OF A WORD
The meaning of a word is determined by the implications of the various contexts in which it is used. Once we learn how to read and use dictionaries, we often determine the meaning of a new or problematic word by looking it up in a dictionary. But how did we ever discover the meanings of the thousands of words we learned before we could read? In a few cases it was by asking somebody else, but in most cases it was simply through our own deductions from the contexts in which those words were used, both the real life contexts and the linguistic contexts (the other words around it). Dictionary makers use the same methods, though usually more carefully and systematically. There are, however, some technical words which are simply defined by fiat when they are first introduced by someone.
[For a more extensive discussion of this topic see chapter 2, section 5 (“Determining What a Word Means”), of my work in progress, The Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Class Interest Theory of Ethics at http://www.massline.org/Philosophy/ScottH/MLM-Ethics-Ch1-2.pdf. —S.H.]
MEANS OF PRODUCTION
The totality of the material elements of economic production, including the factories, mines, machinery, tools, raw materials, land, buildings, means of transport, etc. (Human labor is not included in this category; the means of production together with the application of the human work force to these material elements are collectively known as the productive forces.)
See also: INSTRUMENTS OF PRODUCTION
A crude and simplistic form of materialism which views all nature as being constructed on basic mechanical principles such as those which govern old-fashioned clocks. This is the most common sort of naïve materialism.
See: BOURGEOIS MEDIA, NEWSPAPERS
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME
See: HOUSEHOLD INCOME
The human memory system is the ability of the brain to reproduce or recall what has previously been learned and retained, especially through complex associative mechanisms. While we do all remember a great many things, and often quite accurately, our memory system is by no means as infallible as is generally assumed. Some things we believe we remember did not in fact happen or at least did not happen in the way we later think they did. This is something which, ironically, it is important for all of us to remember!
See also: CONFABULATION
“• Our memory is an accurate, objective record of the past.
“Our memories are anything but objective. The truth is that every time you pull out the ‘file’ that contains a memory, you have to ‘rewrite’ the whole story. And your current beliefs and emotional state affect how that memory gets rewritten and stored once again.”
—Indre Viskontas, Professor of Psychology at the University of San Francisco, summarizing one of many points covered in her course Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience (c. 2016).
[To be added...]
[To be added...]
See: SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE, OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCES
Mesons are one of the two families of hadrons (particles composed of quarks) in particle physics. Mesons are made up of one quark and one antiquark. The pion is one example. All mesons are unstable and decay into other particles and energy.
[To be added...]
1. [In Marxist usage:] Views which are opposed to dialectics, such as views which deny the unity and connections which exist among things in the world, or which deny the struggle of opposites that exist within things, or which take a static view of the world or parts of it and deny the possibility of any development.
2. [In non-Marxist usage:] The branch of philosophy, or philosophical views, which are concerned with the ultimate nature of reality, which sorts of things truly exist, which things depend on the existence of other things, etc. The primary sphere here is also called ontology.
See also: Philosophical doggerel about metaphysics.
“To the metaphysician, things and their mental reflexes, ideas, are
isolated, are to be considered one after the other and apart from each other, are
objects of investigation fixed, rigid, given once for all. He things in absolutely
irreconcilable antitheses.... For him a thing either exists or does not exist; a
thing cannot at the same time be itself and something else. Positive and negative
absolutely exclude one another; cause and effect stand in a rigid antithesis one to
“At first sight this mode of thinking seems to us very luminous, because it is that of so-called sound common sense. Only sound common sense, respectable fellow that he is, in the homely realm of his own four walls, has very wonderful adventures directly he ventures out into the wide world of research. And the metaphysical mode of thought, justifiable and and even necessary as it is in a number of domains whose extent varies according to the nature of the pariticular object of investigation, sooner or later reaches a limit, beyond which it becomes one-sided, restricted, abstract, lost in insoluable contradictions. In the contemplation of individual things, it forgets the connection between them; in the contemplation of their existence, it forgets the beginning and end of that existence; of their repose, it forgets their motion. It cannot see the wood for the trees.” —Engels, Anti-Dühring, MECW 25:22-23.
“The metaphysical or vulgar evolutionist world outlook sees things
as isolated, static and one-sided. It regards all things in the universe, their forms
and their species, as eternally isolated from one another and immutable. Such change
as there is can only be an increase or decrease in quantity or a change of place.
Moreover, the cause of such an increase or decrease or change of place is not inside
things but outside them, that is, the motive force is external. Metaphysicians hold
that all the different kinds of things in the universe and all their characteristics
have been the same ever since they first came into being. All subsequent changes have
simply been increases or decreases in quantity. They contend that a thing can only
keep on repeating itself as the same kind of thing and cannot change into anything
different. In their opinion, capitalist exploitation, capitalist competition, the
individualist ideology of capitalist society, and so on, can all be found in ancient
slave socity, or even in primitive society, and will exist for ever unchanged. They
ascribe the causes of social development to factors external to society, such as
geography and climate. They search in an over-simplified way outside a thing for the
causes of its development, and they deny the theory of materialist dialectics which
holds that development arises from the contradictions inside a thing. Consequently
they can explain neither the qualitative diversity of things, nor the phenomenon of
one quality chaging into another. In Europe, this mode of thinking existed as
mechanical materialism in the 17th and 18th centuries and as vulgar evolutionism at
the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. In China, there was the
metaphysical thinking exemplified in the saying ‘Heaven changeth not, likewise the
Tao changeth not’, and it was supported by the decadent feudal ruling classes for a
long time. Mechanical materialism and vulgar evolutionism, which were imported from
Europe in the last hundred years, are supported by the bourgeoisie.”
—Mao, “On Contradiction” (August 1937), SW 1:312-313.
METHOD OF EXHAUSTION [Mathematics]
A complicated and rather tedious method for finding the areas or volumes of geometrical figures by dividing the original figure into a great many subareas (or subvolumes) whose size can be easily determined. These methods were further elaborated during the early modern era just before the invention of the calculus.
See also: INTEGRAL CALCULUS [Gellert quote]
METHODS OF WORK
“...we are faced with the serious problem of methods of work. It is not enough to set tasks, we must also solve the problem of the methods for carrying them out. If our task is to cross a river, we cannot cross it without a bridge or a boat. Unless the bridge or boat problem is solved, it is idle to speak of crossing the river. Unless the problem of method is solved, talk about the task is useless.” —Mao, “Be Concerned with the Well-Being of the Masses, Pay Attention to Methods of Work” (Jan. 27, 1934), SW1:150.
METHODS OF PRESENTATION
See: PRESENTATION—Methods Of
Dictionary Home Page and Letter Index
MASSLINE.ORG Home Page