Anti-Dühring by Frederick Engels 1877
Part I: Philosophy

XIV. Conclusion

We have now finished with philosophy; such other fantasies of the future as the Cursus contains will de dealt with when we come to Herr Dühring’s revolution in socialism. What did Herr Dühring promise us? Everything. And what promises has he kept? None. “The elements of a philosophy which is real and accordingly directed to the reality of nature and of life” {D. Ph. 430}, the “strictly scientific {387} conception of the world”, the “system-creating ideas” {525}, and all Herr Dühring's other achievements, trumpeted forth to the world by Herr Dühring in high-sounding phrases, turned out, wherever we laid hold of them, to be pure charlatanism. The world schematism which, “without the slightest detraction from the profundity of thought, securely established the basic forms of being” {556-57}, proved to be an infinitely vulgarised duplicate of Hegelian logic, and in common with the latter shares the superstition that these “basic forms” {9} or logical categories have led a mysterious existence somewhere before and outside of the world, to which they are “to be applied” {15}. The philosophy of nature offered us a cosmogony whose starting-point is a “self-equal state of matter” {87} — a state which can only be conceived by means of the most hopeless confusion as to the relation between matter and motion; a state which can, besides, only be conceived on the assumption of an extramundane personal God who alone can induce motion in this state of matter. In its treatment of organic nature, the philosophy of reality first rejected the Darwinian struggle for existence and natural selection as “a piece of brutality directed against humanity” {117}, and then had to readmit both by the back-door as factors operative in nature, though of second rank. Moreover, the philosophy of reality found occasion to exhibit, in the biological domain, ignorance such as nowadays, when popular science lectures are no longer to be escaped, could hardly be found even among the daughters of the “educated classes”. In the domain of morality and law, the philosophy of reality was no more successful in its vulgarisation of Rousseau than it had been in its previous shallow version of Hegel; and, so far as jurisprudence is concerned, in spite of all its assurances to the contrary, it likewise displayed a lack of knowledge such as is rarely found even among the most ordinary jurists of old Prussia. The philosophy “which cannot allow the validity of any merely apparent horizon” is content, in juridical matters, with a real horizon which is coextensive with the territory in which Prussian law exercises jurisdiction. We are still waiting for the “earths and heavens of outer and inner nature” {D. Ph. 430} which this philosophy promised to reveal to us in its mighty revolutionising sweep; just as we are still waiting for the “final and ultimate truths” {2} and the “absolutely fundamental” {150} basis. The philosopher whose mode of thought “excludes” any tendency to a “subjectively limited conception of the world” {13} proves to be subjectively limited not only by what has been shown to be his extremely defective knowledge, his narrowly construed metaphysical mode of thought and his grotesque conceit, but even by his childish personal crotchets. He cannot produce his philosophy of reality without dragging in his repugnance to tobacco, cats and Jews as a general law valid for all the rest of humanity, including the Jews. His “really critical standpoint” {404} in relation to other people shows itself by his insistently imputing to them things which they never said and which are of Herr Dühring’s very own fabrication. His verbose lucubrations on themes worthy of philistines, such as the value of life and the best way to enjoy life, are themselves so steeped in philistinism that they explain his anger at Goethe's Faust {112-13, 423}. It was really unpardonable of Goethe to make the unmoral Faust and not the serious philosopher of reality, Wagner, his hero. — In short, the philosophy of reality proves to be on the whole what Hegel would call “the weakest residue of the German would-be Enlightenment” — a residue whose tenuity and transparent commonplace character are made more substantial and opaque only by the mixing in of crumbs of oracular rhetoric. And now that we have finished the book we are just as wise as we were at the start; and we are forced to admit that the “new mode of thought” {543}, the "from the ground up original conclusions and views" and the “system-creating ideas” {525}, though they have certainly shown us a great variety of original nonsense, have not provided us with a single line from which we might have been able to learn something. And this man who praises his talents and his wares to the noisy accompaniment of cymbals and trumpets as loudly as any market quack, and behind whose great words there is nothing, absolutely nothing whatsoever — this man has the temerity to say of people like Fichte, Schelling and Hegel, the least of whom is a giant compared with him, that they are charlatans. Charlatan, indeed! But to whom had it best be applied?