Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Fr. Paulsen. Introduction to Philosophy

Written: 1903
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th Edition, Moscow, 1976, Volume 38, pp. 53 - 55
Publisher: Progress Publishers
First Published: 1930 in Lenin Miscellany XII
Translated: Clemence Dutt
Edited: Stewart Smith
Original Transcription & Markup: R. Cymbala & Marc Szewczyk
Re-Marked up & Proofread by: Kevin Goins (2007)
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2003). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

Remarks on Fr. Paulsen’s book “Einleitung in die Philosophie,” 1899 (Fr. Paulsen, Introduction to Philosophy, 1899) are contained in the same notebook in which the note on the book by Ɯberweg is recorded (entries made in Geneva in 1903). After the remarks in the notebook on Paulsen’s book, there follows: “Note on the Position of the New Iskra.” (See Lenin, pres. ed., Vol. 7.)

Note that this document has undergone special formating to ensure that Lenin’s sidenotes fit on the page, marking as best as possible where they were located in the original manuscript.



Highly characteristic is the frank formulation of the
question in the introduction: the task of modern philos-
ophy is “to reconcile the religious world outlook and the
scientific explanation of nature” (p. IV[1]). Sic! And this
idea is developed most circumstantially: there is said to
be a struggle on two fronts—against materialism and “Je-
suitism” (both Catholic and Protestant). Materialism, of
course, is understood (described?) as rein mechanisch,
physikalisch u.s.w.[2]

The author also says directly that modern philosophy
rests on Kant and is the representative of “idealistic mon-

Up to p. 10 ...“Peace between science and faith...”

And p. 11: “The real corner-stone of Kant’s philoso-
phy” (to create this peace) ...“is to give to both their due:
to knowledge against the scepticism of Hume, to faith a-
gainst its dogmatic negation in materialism—that is the
sum-total of his undertaking.” (12)

“What is capable of disappointing this hopeful” (the hope
of this peace) “expectation is the absolutely anti-religious

radicalism that is at present becoming widespread in the
broad mass of the population.... Thus atheism now ap-
pears” (as formerly among the bourgeoisie) “as an article
of faith of Social-Democracy” (pp. 14-15). “It is the cat-

echism turned inside out. And like the old dogmatism,
this new, negative dogmatism, too, is hostile to science,


insofar as by its dogmas it puts fetters on the spirit of
criticism and doubt.” (He recalls the term Antipfaffen[3]
and assures us that Christianity has no predilection for
the rich, that it (Christianity) will go through the same
struggle towards which Europe is advancing.)

Refuting materialism and defending the theory of All-
beseelung[4] (which he interprets in an idealist sense),
Paulsen ignores: 1) that he is not refuting materialism, but
merely some arguments of some materialists; 2) that he
contradicts himself in interpreting modern psychology in
an idealist sense.

Cf. p. 126. “A force ... is nothing but a tendency to
a certain action, and hence in its general essence coincides
with an unconscious will.”

(Ergo—Seelenvorgänge und Kraft[5] are by no means
so unüberbrückbar[6] as it previously seemed to the author,
p. 90 u. ff.[7])

Pp. 112-116: Why could not the Weltall[8] be the
bearer of des Weltgeistes?[9] (because man and his
brain are the highest development of mind, as the author
himself admits.

When Paulsen criticises materialists—he counterposes
the highest forms of mind to matter. When he defends
idealism and interprets modern psychology idealistically—
he approximates the lowest forms of mind to Kräfte,[10]
etc. That is the Achilles heel of his philosophy).


Cf. especially pp. 106-107, where Paulsen opposes
the view that matter is something dead.

The author seems to dispose too lightly of the con-
cept that Gedanke ist Bewegung.[11] His arguments a-
mount only to “ordinary common sense: senseless,”
“thought is not motion, but thought” (87). Perhaps heat,
too, is not motion, but heat??

Quite stupid are the author’s arguments that a physiol-
ogist will not cease to speak about thoughts, instead of
movements equivalent to these thoughts? And no one will
ever cease to speak about heat.

One who has fallen in love does not speak to “his lady-
love about the corresponding vascular-motor process....
That is obviously nonsense” (86-87). Precisely what is done
by Herr Paulsen! And if we experience a lack of heat, we
do not speak about heat being a form of motion, but of
how to get some coal.

Paulsen considers that the statement that thought is Be-
wegung[12], is sinnlos.[13] But he himself is against dualism,
and speaks about the “equivalent” (140 and 143)—“the
physical equivalent of the psychical” (or Begleiterschein-
ung[14]). Is not that the same begriffliche Konfusion[15] for
which he contemptuously abuses Büchner?

When Paulsen declares that his parallelism is “not local”
but “ideal” (p. 146), his dualist character shows still more
clearly. That is no explanation of the matter, nor a theory,
but a simple verbal trick.



[1] Paulsen, Fr., Einleitung in die Philosophie, Berlin, 1899.—Ed.

[2] purely mechanical, physical, etc.—Ed.

[3] anti-clericalismEd.

[4] universal soul embodiment—Ed.

[5] soul processes and force—Ed.

[6] incompatible—Ed.

[7] und folgende—et seq.—Ed.

[8] universe—Ed.

[9] universal spirit—Ed.

[10] forces—Ed.

[11] thought is motion—Ed.

[12] motion—Ed.

[13] senseless—Ed.

[14] accompanying phenomenon—Ed.

[15] conceptual confusion—Ed.

Contra p. 86: “Motion has absolutely nothing of thought in it....”


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