From New International, Vol.2 No.5, August 1935, pp.159-163.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
THE FIRST STEP towards understanding Marxism is to realize that Marx himself did not wish to be a philosopher. There were hints of this in the writings of Engels, but also evidences to the contrary. The full extent and passion of Marx’s revulsion against philosophy became known only a few years ago when an old manuscript, Die deutsche Ideologie, in which he and Engels first formulated their views, was deciphered and published by the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow. This manuscript reveals an arrant rejection of the very conception of philosophic knowledge – a veritable holding of the word philosopher in contempt – lying at the basis of the whole edifice of Marx’s intellectual life.
In The Holy Family, written three years before, Marx had rejected Hegel’s metaphysics arrantly enough, describing it as “drunken speculation”, and Hegel himself as the “master wizard”. He had eulogized the materialist, Ludwig Feuerbach, for having “unveiled the mystery” of Hegel’s system and “annihilated the dialectic of ideas”, and he had endorsed the viewpoint of British materialism and of the French enlightenment, calling it “the philosophy of good sense”. “It opposes philosophy to metaphysics,” he cried, “just as Feuerbach opposed reasonable philosophy to er-aggerated speculation on the day when he first took a clear stand against Hegel.”
So Marx wrote in 1843. But in 1846 – as this old and new manuscript informs us – he did not want even a reasonable philosophy or a philosophy of good sense. He did not want any philosophy at all. He was ready to pitch Feuerbach out of the window after Hegel. Feuerbach himself had coined the aphorism, “My philosophy is no philosophy,” but nevertheless Marx now rejected him as a man who never learned to see “without the eyes – which is to say the eye-glasses – of the philosopher.”
But let us read some solid excerpts from this new and yet basic document of Marxism. (The italics are mine.)
“German criticism right up to its very latest achievements has not abandoned the field of philosophy; not only has it not examined its own general philosophical presuppositions, but on the contrary all the questions with which it is occupied have grown up out of the soil of one definite philosophical system, the Hegelian. There is mystification not only in its answers, but in the very questions it asks ...
“We therefore shall precede our special criticism of certain individual representatives of this movement with some general remarks (about German philosophy and about all philosophy in general). These remarks will be sufficient to make clear the standpoint of our criticism ...
“We recognize only one single science, the science of history. You can view it from two sides, and divide it into the history of nature and the history of people ... In direct opposition to German philosophy which came down from heaven to earth, we here intend to rise from earth to heaven – that is we will not start from what people say, imagine, represent to themselves, nor from thought-of, represented or imagined people, in order to arrive afterward at bodily people; we will start from really acting people, and try to deduce from their actual life-process the development of these ideological images and reflections of that life-process. For these misty formations in the brains of people are necessary sublimations of their material, empirically ascertained life-process, which is bound up with material conditions. In this way morals, religion, metaphysics, and other forms of ideology, lose their apparent independence. They have no history, they have no development; only people, developing their material production and their material relations, change also in the course of this activity their thinking and the products of their thinking ...
“Thus where speculation stops, that is, at the threshold of real life, a real positive science begins, a representation of the activity, the practical process of the development of people. Phrases about consciousness disappear, their place to be occupied by real knowledge. When you begin to describe reality, then an independent philosophy loses its reason for being. In its place may be found, at the most, a summary of the general results abstracted from an investigation of the historical development of man ...
“We fully realise that Feuerbach ... went as far as a theorizer could go without simply ceasing to be a theorizer and a philosopher ...
“Feuerbach’s mistake lies in the fact that he could not approach the world of sensation without the eyes – which is to say, the eyeglasses – of a philosopher ...
“And by the way, with this view of things, which takes them as they are in reality, all deep-thinking philosophical problems reduce themselves to some simple question of empirical fact ...
“For a practical materialist, that is for a communist, the thing is to revolutionize the existing world – that is, practically turn against things as he finds them, and change them.”
A more radical empiricism – a more “vulgar and profane” empiricism, to quote Marx’s own earlier description of his stand – is not to be found in the whole of philosophic literature, nor a more wholesale rejection of the idea that philosophy can be a guide or dictator of forms to science. 
Is it not surprising, then, and puzzling, that Marx should have become the founder of a new philosophy in the full sense of the term – a new theory of being – and that this philosophy should have become the equivalent of a state religion in the first proletarian republic, its teaching in the schools enforced by law, and its principles propagated throughout the world with rigid dogmatism by the supporters of that republic? It is still more surprising when you learn that he founded this philosophy, or drew the outlines of it, in the same year in which he completed this arrant attack upon the very idea of philosophy. Engels allots the old manuscript to the year 1845-6. And it was in 1845 that Marx “hastily scribbled down” – as a notation for further work along the same line – those famous Theses on Feuerbach in which, as Engels also tells us, he “planted the genial seed of the new philosophy”.
Obviously the next step towards understanding Marxism is to find out why Marx planted the seed of a new philosophy in the very labor of rooting up all philosophy forever. To this end we must recall the outlines of that Hegelian metaphysics in which he believed until Feuerbach liberated him, and then the exact nature of this liberation. After that we shall see in the Theses on Feuerbach themselves the reason why Marx did not succeed in getting rid of philosophy.
Hegel believed that the whole world is contained in, or made out of, Mind. And this Mind, when properly understood and arrived at in its totality by evolution, or by the thought of the philosopher, is the same thing as God. Hegel’s God differs from the old gods, however, in being active and changeful. He has his very being in a process of development. You can see this process in nature and world history, or you can see it in the way the logical categories work out their relations, the one merging into the other in a peculiar manner to which Hegel, following his predecessors, gave the name of “dialectics”. It consists of an affirmative assertion, and then a passing of that over into its opposite, a negation of it by its own self-active propulsion, and then a “negation of the negation”, or reconciliation of these two opposites in a higher unity which includes them both. It is astonishing how much of the change and motion in the world, as well as the relations among abstract ideas – if you examine them with a sufficiently casuistical determination to believe so, and particularly if you refrain from defining the word opposite – can be made to fit into this mould. For that reason when all the emotions attending the idea of divinity and of absolute or universal being are mixed up in a description of life and the world in these terms, you have – if you can stand the hard work involved – a great philosophical poem, a great experience for the feelings and the mind. And since we really know little or nothing about the nature of life and the world as a whole, it is easy for credulous people, or people brought up in such ideas, to lend to it the added glamor of belief.
The important thing about it for us, however, is that it enabled Hegel, without ceasing to be religious, to be very matter-of-fact and hard-headed, indeed brutally realistic, about the “phases” that a divine spirit has to pass through on its dialectic pilgrimage. It enabled him to accept in the name of God the hard and bloody world of universal change and evolution that scientists were then already coming to behold, to accept and even slightly to extend the downright understanding of it. In particular it enabled him to bridge in a new way the gap between what we know and what we want, between the “pure” and the “practical” reason as they had been separated by Kant. Kant had given a different and a firmer root in “reality” to the active side of our nature, our wilful self, than to what our minds know. And Hegel, with his doctrine that reality is a process, and moreover a mental process, had united the two. The very essence of being, he said, and therefore the highest condition of the human mind, is one in which knowledge of the real and action toward the ideal are the same thing.
“Being is Thought,” Hegel said, but thought is a “process of becoming.” ... “The truth is the whole. The whole, however, is merely the essential nature [thought] reaching its completion through the process of its own development ... What has been said may be also expressed by saying that reason is purposive activity.”
Such was the flavor, and such for our purpose the essential drift, of Hegel’s philosophy. The development of what he called a “scientific” consciousness was a development away from the simple condition of sense-certainty, the sensing of an object by a subject, towards a condition of pure meditation in which subject and object are both known to be thought or spirit, a condition of “Absolute Knowledge, or spirit knowing itself as spirit.” This Absolute Knowledge is “the consummation and the final cause of the whole process of experience”; but then also this Absolute is not a mere goal or consummation, it is not static, but is “the process of its own becoming”. Josiah Royce, who greatly loved this Absolute
Being, or philosophic state-of-being, described it thus:
“The Absolute whose expression is the world and, in particular, the world of human life, is a being characterized by a complete unity or harmony of what one might call a theoretical and practical consciousness. The theoretical consciousness is a consciousness which views facts and endeavors to apprehend them. The practical consciousness is a consciousness which constructs facts in accordance with its ideals. The absolute consciousness is both theoretical and practical.”
For Marx, too, that must have been the great thing in the Hegelian philosophy. We may imagine that even in youth he accepted somewhat perfunctorily Hegel’s conception of thought, or “the Idea”, as “demi-ourgos of the world”. But Hegel’s conception of “science”, of the highest wisdom to which a human being can attain, as a state of mind in which he is cooperating with, or rather participating in, the forward and upward going of the world towards high ends, must have meant much to him.
At any rate, Marx believed fervently throughout his young manhood in this philosophy – or in some such philosophy as I have described, for there is no use pretending that Hegel’s emotional imagination confined itself to saying things with a clear meaning. And he was awakened out of this mystical condition by Ludwig Feuerbach, who, having been a Hegelian, became a man of simple good sense, and said that the world is not really composed of a process of thought, but it is composed of objects as they appear in sense-experience. Engels describes the “rapture” with which Marx and he greeted Feuerbach. He says that no one who had not lived through it, could possibly imagine the “liberating effect” that his writings had upon them. And from that you can imagine their previous state of hypnosis, the degree of their captivity to the thought-conjurings of the “master wizard”.
Feuerbach’s revolt against Hegel must have seemed very drastic. He seems even now at a first glance to have grasped the animistic personification of a material world involved in regarding ideas as more completely real than the objects of sense. He declared Hegelism, and indeed speculative philosophy in general, to be nothing but “theology rationalized, realized and brought home to the mind”. And he seemed to strike at the heart of this whole way of thinking when he renounced Hegel’s thesis that “being is thought” and that truth is arrived at by a development of consciousness away from the obvious testimony of the senses. On the contrary, he cried:
“Truth, reality, sensibility are identical. Only a sensible being is a true, a real being; only sensibility is truth and reality. Only through the senses is an object in the true sense given – not through thought in itself.”
As a revolt against Hegel’s idealism this is indeed exciting. But nevertheless it was not a hearty and thorough-going materialism like that of the British and French philosophers who grew up in a native atmosphere of sceptical common sense. For them not only were sense-objects the downright reality, but man himself with his gift of perceiving them was something of an incident in a vast world of these objects. For Feuerbach “sense” was the main thing in these “objects-of-sense”, and man himself continued to be, as with idealists, the chief concern and substance of the world. “The new philosophy,” he said, “makes man, including nature as the basis of man, the unique, universal and highest object of philosophy.” Indeed Feuerbach proposed to replace that speculative philosophy which he had rejected, not with the general body of the sciences, as Compte at the same time was proposing, and not with a “philosophy of good sense” as other materialists had, but with “anthropology” regarded as a “universal science”.
“In this undue prominence given to man,” says Lange in his History of Materialism, “lies a trait which is due to the Hegelian philosophy, and which separates Feuerbach from strict materialists. That is to say, it is only the philosophy of spirit over again that meets us here in the shape of a philosophy of sensibility. The genuine materialist will always incline to turn his gaze upon the great whole of external nature, and to regard man as a wave in the ocean of the eternal movement of matter. The nature of man is to the materialist only a special case of universal physiology, as thought is only a special case in the chain of the physical processes of life.” 
And this is true, we may add, not only to the materialist, but to the modern courageous mind in general. “Lyric experience and literary psychology, as I have learned to conceive them,” says George Santayana, for instance, “are chapters in the life of one race of animals in one corner of the natural world.” How far removed was Feuerbach’s philosophy from this natural assumption of the mind nurtured in modern science, may be seen in his statement that “The truth is only the totality of human life and being”. I do not mean to say that Feuerbach, by and large, denied to nature an existence independent of man. He spoke expressly in other places of nature’s independence. He was a disjointed, emotional, aphoristic thinker; he was moreover not trying to understand the world presented to him by science, but wholly absorbed in the effort to find in it a place for the religious emotion. To isolate a sentence like the one just quoted and impute to him all that it implies logically would be unfair and uncomprehending. Nevertheless it is obvious that the author of that sentence had only partially emerged from the idealistic philosophy. The “undue prominence given to man” in his system was a relic of that personification of the external world – or absorbing of it up into the mind – which is the essential heart of the romantic philosophies preceding him in Germany. He was in this respect – as was German intellectual culture at large – behind the contemporary march of the scientific point of view.
This becomes still more obvious as you read further in his Foundations of the New Philosophy, from which I have quoted. You learn that not only is “reality” identical with “sensibility”, and “truth” with “the totality of human life and being”, but that since nothing enters human life and being or becomes an object of sensibility unless it engages a man’s interest – unless it makes some appeal to his affective nature – “reality” and “truth” are, at bottom, inseparable from human feeling. “Only that is ...,” exclaims Feuerbach at the height of this argument, “which is an object of passion,”
By reasonings of this kind, Feuerbach managed to convert his “universal science” of anthropology into a religion of love. And although that religion seemed very large about accepting matters of fact, and Feuerbach’s love was not afraid of physiology, nevertheless it retained the essence of all religion, and of all theology too, and of that speculative philosophy which is but “theology rationalized” – namely, the personification of an objective reality or the universal reality of the world. His crowning aphorism, “not to love and not to be are identical”, is for the emotions substantially equivalent to the older aphorism, “God is love”. One need only approach Feuerbach with his own formula – the speculative philosopher is “a priest in disguise” – in order to perceive that he has merely once more altered the disguise.
And now let us see what was the nature of Marx’s revolt against Feuerbach. Did he point out the essential relic of Hegel’s idealism in Feuerbach’s philosophy, the making of “man, including nature as the basis of man, the one universal and highest object of philosophy”? Did he say that it was not really very materialistic to talk about “sensibility”, which is a mere function of the human body, as though it were identical with “reality”, which to the genuine materialist lies in the larger part outside of man? This was the course he must have taken in order to fulfill his wish to abandon philosophy altogether and adopt the method and the point-of-view of empirical science. He never dreamed of it. He was not himself liberated from the “master wizard”. He too did not, at least in his mature reflections, identify “sensibility” with the objective reality of the world, but he followed Feuerbach in talking about them as identical. He based his philosophy of action, just as Feuerbach had based his philosophy of love, upon a verbal assumption of their identity, repeating it in the very words of Feuerbach. His single objection to Feuerbach was that he had left out of this “reality”, this “object”, this all-too-human “sensibility”, the active element, the element of “practical human action”. He had left out of it, that is, the very essence of Hegelian metaphysics as Marx loved it – as Royce loved it – the conception that reality itself is a purposive process, and that the highest state of mind a human being can attain is one in which he conceives himself as cooperating with, or participating in, the forward and upward going of that reality towards high ends.
“The chief fault of all materialism heretofore (including Feuerbach’s)” – so Marx begins – “is that the object, the reality, sensibility, is conceived only under the form of object or of contemplation; not as sensory-human activity, practise, not subjectively. Hence the active side developed abstractly in opposition to materialism from idealism – [abstractly], since idealism naturally does not recognize real sensory activity as such. Feuerbach wants sensible objects genuinely distinguished from objects of thought; but he conceives human activity itself not as objective activity. In his Essence of Christianity he regards only the theoretical attitude as the genuinely human, while practise is conceived and fixed in its dirty-Jew phenomenal form. Hence he does not grasp the significance of the revolutionary, of practical-critical action.”
These Theses on Feuerbach have always presented something of a puzzle to the student of Marx, but their meaning becomes utterly clear when you realize that Marx was trying to be scientific in our sense, but having grown up in the habits of the German idealist philosophy, he did not know how.  He is, therefore, saying two different kinds of things. On the one hand he is saying things with which every modern realistic mind can agree. He objects, for instance, to Feuerbach’s retaining an exaggerated esteem for purely theoretical thinking after he has abandoned the myth of the reality of thought’s object. But on the other hand he is preserving the essence of metaphysics, and indeed religion – the conception of the objective world and the human mind as cooperating together in the tasks that are worth while. He is insisting that, although the world is made out of material objects as given in sensation, these objects or sensations are nevertheless to be “conceived subjectively” and regarded just as Hegel regarded ideas or “reason”, as purposive activities. With Hegel, he says, reality is to be regarded as active; with Feuerbach it is to be regarded as human-sensory. And so we arrive at “the seed of the new philosophy” – the conception that all the seemingly solid and external things in this world really are, and consist of, practical “human-sensory action”. Instead of Feuerbach’s religious philosophy, which teaches love and brotherhood by identifying it with the very substance of being, we have a revolutionary philosophy which teaches “practical-critical action” by identifying that with the substance of being. But we still have “philosophy” – and philosophy in the bad sense. We have not taken one step away from it.
In his second thesis Marx takes up the problem what to do with the idea or “object of thought” now that its superior reality has been abandoned for that of the “object of sense”. And here he speaks again like an experimental scientist. Where thought adds something to the reality directly given in sense-experience, the validity of this indirect kind of reality – indeed a mere reflected image of reality – is to be tried out in action. The test of its truth, in other words, is experimental.
“The question whether objective truth reaches human thought,” he says, “is no question of theory, but a practical question. In practise man must prove the truth, that is the reality and power, the this-sidedness, of his thought. The dispute about the reality or unreality of thought – which is isolated from practise – is a purely scholastic question.”
In his third thesis, however, Marx again speaks the language of the metaphysician who has read his own ideal program of action into a world conceived as inherently purposive. He is now objecting not to Feuerbach, but to the materialists of the eighteenth century whom three years before he had been praising for their “profane” and “vulgar” materialism, and their insistence that men are a mere product of the environment. “It takes no extraordinary sagacity to discover,” he then said, “what inevitably brings them to communism and socialism ... If man is formed by the environment, then we must form a humane environment.” He now objects to these same profane materialists because they have not the Hegelian wisdom to merge their own program into a conception of the environment as, by its own inherent nature, forming itself humanely.
“The materialistic teaching,” he says, “about the changing of the environment and education forgets that the environment must be changed by men and the educator himself educated. It is therefore compelled to divide society into two parts, of which the one is elevated above the other.
“The coincidence of a change of environment and human activity or self-change can only be conceived and rationally understood as revolutionary practise.”
In other words, you can not understand why you should want to improve the world unless you conceive the world which produced you as in a process of self-improvement. Here a scientific mind would ask: But when you have so conceived the world, how do you explain those who don’t want to improve it, but are steady on the job of making it worse ? Marx had lived too long in Hegel’s dialectics to be troubled by that question, or even to have it rise in his mind. Those ignorant miscreants are a negative and disappearing “phase”, an essential part of the very “contradiction” which is being “resolved” by your own “revolutionary practise”. The whole process is real, and it is all truth, but your part of it is more real and more true because closer to the consummation of the whole.
There is a real problem of knowledge here – the problem how there can be an objective science of social evolution when scientific ideas are themselves so potent a force in determining its course. You might call it the sociologist’s fallacy to ignore this problem. But the problem certainly is not solved for any scientific mind by this partisan personification of the whole body of the facts. We know quite well – whatever the problems involved – that no man can give a scientific account of any society without standing above it. Nor can such an account of a society be applied in an effort to guide its evolution without the problem arising how to relate those who have this scientific viewpoint to the blinder forces operating below – how to relate the socialists, if you will, to the trade unions. Marx is here merely insisting that sociology shall not become a science.
And in a subsequent thesis, numbered 6, he insists that psychology shall not become a science. Feuerbach, he says, talks about “the essence of man ...” “But the essence of man is not an abstraction dwelling in the separate individual.” Which sounds promising, and reminds us of his announcement in Die deutsche Ideologie that he is going to abandon all philosophical abstractions whatsoever and study concrete actual men in their process of development. But then he straightway adds: The essence of man “in its reality is the ensemble of social relations”, which is pure Hegelian metaphysics. For in this saying, and others like it, Marx is not merely insisting – as his modern champions like to pretend – upon the social nature of the mind and nervous system. He is not foretelling “social psychology”. Far from it. He is eliminating psychology altogether, eliminating “man” as a problem of study, in order to make room for a sufficiently hard-and-fast conception of “society” as a single thing – an “object”, “reality”, “sensibility” – the history of whose “practical activity” will constitute the whole essential history of man. He is making ready, in short, for the eighth thesis which reads as follows:
“All social life is essentially practical. All the mysteries which lead theory astray into mysticism find their rational solution in human practise and in the idea of this practise.”
Marx will devote his life to proving that this essentially practical object, social life, is destined by the inner law of its being to contradict itself (the class struggle) and resolve the contradiction in a higher unity (the cooperative commonwealth). True wisdom and the way out of all mysticism for man, who is but “the ensemble of social relations,” will be to abandon “theory” and join in the practical procedure of this essential reality, social life, toward its dialectically inevitable goal.
Only when you have mastered this, can you make intelligible Marx’s ninth and tenth theses, which read as follows:
“9. The highest point reached by contemplative materialism, that is the materialism which does not conceive sensibility as practical activity, is the contemplation of separate individuals and bourgeois society.
“10. The standpoint of the old materialism is bourgeois society. The standpoint of the new, human society or social humanity.”
What Marx is saying here is that a materialism which merely contemplates the world, and does not conceive the world and the perceiver of it to be in a state of practical and dialectic action toward something better, can not be a social revolutionist. He must not only conceive of sensible objects in general as consisting of a practical process, but he must conceive of “society” as such an object, consisting of such a process. In short, these two theses merely state succinctly that unless you read your ideal program into the movement of the objective facts you can not believe in or adhere to it. What other connection can exist between conceiving sensation as a practical activity and believing in a new human society, a social humanity ? Is it not a fact that millions of materialists have believed in a new human society, and in social humanity, and have adopted its standpoint, who have not had the glimmer of an idea – if indeed sixty people have up to this date – what Marx meant by “conceiving sensibility as practical activity”?
Marx concludes his theses with a brilliant epigram:
“Philosophers have interpreted the world in various ways; the thing is to change it.”
In Soviet Russia this has become almost the most popular slogan in the whole literature of the state philosophy. And no wonder, for in its elusive ambiguity it epitomizes the essence of the Marxian position, the delicate equilibrium of one who abandons philosophy for practical scientific effort, and yet preserves in that very act the essence of philosophy. On its face it seems merely to repeat what Marx had said in Die deutsche Ideologie:
“For a practical materialist, a communist, the thing is to revolutionize the existing world – that is, practically turn against things as he finds them and change them.”
But if that is all it means, why mention the philosophers? Why not say “Poets have sung the world ... painters have painted the world; the thing is to change it.” Marx in this aphorism is not only saying that we should quit philosophizing and change the world; he is saying that a true philosophy of the world and a resolute program for changing the world will be one and the same thing. And that, as we have seen, is the very soul of Hegel’s metaphysics.
Marx, then, was very accurate when he said in the preface to Capital that he had merely turned Hegel’s philosophy other side up. Hegel had been conceiving thought, or the idea, as the real thing, and the reality of the sense-object as illusory. Marx declared the sense-object to be real, and the idea a mere reflection of it. But he retained in his conception of that sense-object the essential virtue that Hegel had attributed to his idea, the property of purposive dialectic movement toward high ends. The only radical change was that, whereas Hegel’s ideal reality was travelling toward an ideal goal in the being of God, Marx’s sensible reality is travelling toward a sensible goal in the organization of the communist society. Marx thought that he had thus saved the “rational kernel” and got rid of the “mystical shell” in the Hegelian philosophy. He even thought, and tried to keep on thinking, that he had achieved his aim to get rid of “philosophy” altogether. But one does not get rid of “philosophy” by the simple device of turning a certain philosophy other side up. One does not get rid of “philosophy” without clearly understanding what one means by “philosophy”, and how it differs from the scientific point of view.
1. Riazanov himself, the Russian editor of this manuscript, a sufficiently orthodox Marxian and one sufficiently involved in the meshes of the state philosophy, feels compelled to acknowledge that this is the main revelation contained in it. “The manuscript permits us,” he says, “to establish one fact important to any scientific investigation of the development of Marxism. The conclusion familiar to us in the Anti-Dühring was already formulated in the manuscript on Feuerbach. Philosophy as a special science of the general connection of things and of knowledges, a summa summarum of all human knowledge, becomes superfluous. Of all previous philosophy there remains only the science of the laws of thought: formal logic and the dialectic.” This statement is inaccurate in two respects. Philosophy as a “summary” of knowledge is just what Marx in this manuscript still sanctions; anyone who seriously attacks philosophy must make allowance for a generalization and interrelating of the sciences. And moreover Marx makes no other exception; there is not a word about “logic and the dialectic” in these passages.
2. The Russian Marxist, Plekhanov, not interested in Feuerbach’s mind, but concerned only to establish the perfect truth of dialectic materialism, exclaims against this judgment of Lange’s. Plekhanov insists, even against Feuerbach himself, who expressly disclaimed the title of materialist, that his philosophy was perfectly materialistic. “Feuerbach never denied,” he cries, “that the nature of man ‘is only a special case in the chain of the physical processes of life’.” And that is true – he never denied it. He merely permitted his feelings to forget it – or, as Lange so carefully suggests, “inclined to turn his gaze” in a different direction. To assert, as Plekhanov does, that this proposition about the nature of man “lies at the basis of his whole philosophy” – in the face of such statements as that “Truth is the totality of human life and being”, “Only that is which is an object of passion”, “Not to love and not to be are identical”, “Where there is no sense there is no being, no real object” – to make that assertion and leave these statements unexplained and unalluded to, is to confess, it seems to me, that you are not engaged in a study of the man’s mind, but in a piece of special pleading.
3. In book form this essay is to be preceded by a discussion of the term science, especially the significance of its relation to the German Wissenschaft. The present reader will have to assume that I am not ignoring that problem.
Last updated: 22.6.2005