Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Conspectus of Hegel’s Book
Lectures On the History
of Philosophy

Volume XIV.
Volume II Of the History Of Philosophy

Written: 1915
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th Edition, Moscow, 1976, Volume 38, pp. 269-300
Publisher: Progress Publishers
First Published: 1930 in Lenin Miscellany XII
Translated: Clemence Dutt
Edited: Stewart Smith
Transcription & Markup: Kevin Goins
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2008).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.

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.




Speaking of the Sophists, Hegel in ex-
treme detail chews over the thought that
sophistry contains an element common to
all culture (Bildung) in general, our own
included, namely, the adducing of proofs
(Gründe) and Gegengründe[2] —“reflecting
reasoning”;—the finding of the most di-
verse points of view in everything; ((sub-
jectivity—lack of objectivity)). In discuss-
ing Protagoras and his famous thesis (man
is the measure of all things) Hegel places
Kant close to him:

...“Man is the measure of everything,—
man, therefore, is the subject in general;
the existent, consequently, is not in iso-
lation, but is for my knowledge—conscious-
ness is essentially the producer of the con-
tent in what is objective, and subjective
thinking is thereby essentially active. And
this view extends even to the most modern
Philosophy, as when, for instance, Kant
says that we only know phenomena, i.e.,
that what seems to us to be objective, to
be reality, is only to be considered in its
relation to consciousness, and does not
exist without this relation....” (31)[3]


The second “moment” is objectivity
(das Allgemeine[4]), “it is posited by
me, but is likewise in itself objec-
tively universal, not posited by me....” (32)

Diese “Relativität”[5] (32) “Every-
thing has a relative truth only” (33),
according to Protagoras.

the relativ-
ism of the

...“Kant’s phenomenon is no more than
an external impulse, an x, an unknown,
which first receives these determinations
through our feeling, through us. Even if
there were an objective ground for our
calling one thing cold and another warm,
we could indeed say that they must have
diversity in themselves, but warmth and
cold first become what they are in our
feeling. Similarly ... things are, etc. ...
thus experience was called a phenome-
non....“ (34)

and the
Sophists and
ogism[6] à la

“The world is consequently not only
phenomenal in that it is for consciousness,
and thus that its Being is only one rela-
tive to consciousness, but it is likewise
phenomenal in itself.” (35)

not only

...“This scepticism reached a much deep-
er point in Gorgias....” (35)


...“His dialectic” ... that of Gor-
gias, the Sophist [many times: p. 36, idem
p. 37].


Tiedemann said that Gorgias went fur-
ther than the “common sense” of man. And
Hegel makes fun of this: every philosophy
goes further than “common sense” for
common sense is not philosophy. Prior to
Copernicus it was contrary to common
sense to say that the earth goes round the
sun. (36)


“It” (der gesunde Menschenverstand[7])
“is the mode of thought of its time, con-

sense = the
prejudices of
its time
Gorgias (p. 37): 1)
Nothing exists. Nothing
Assuming that Being
is, it cannot be known.
Even if it is knowable,
no communication of
what is known is pos-

...“Gorgias is conscious that they” (Be-
ing and not-Being, their mutual sublation)
“are vanishing moments; the unconscious
conception has this truth also, but knows
nothing about it....” (40)


“Vanishing moments” = Being
and not-Being. That is a magnifi-
cent definition of dialectics!!


...“Gorgias α) justly argues against abso-
lute realism, which, because it has a no-
tion, thinks it possesses the very thing
itself, when actually it possesses only some-
thing relative; β) falls into the bad ideal-
ism of modern times: ‘what is thought
is always subjective, and thus not the
existent, since through thought an existent
is transformed into what is thought....’” (41)

(and Kant)

(and further below (p. 41 i.f.) Kant
is again mentioned).

To be added on Gorgias[8]: He puts “either—

or” to the fundamental questions. “But
that is not true dialectics; it would be
necessary to prove that the object must
be necessarily in one or another determi-
nation, not in and for itself. The object
resolves itself only into those determi-
nations; but from that nothing follows
regarding the nature of the object it-
self.” (39)

dialectics in
the object

To be added further on Gorgias[9]:

In the exposition of his view that the
existent cannot be imparted, communi-


“Speech, by which the existent has to
be expressed, is not the existent, what is
imparted is thus not the existent, but only


words.” (Sextus Empiricus, Adversus
. VII. § 83-84)—p. 41
Hegel writes: “The existent is also compre-
hended as non-existent, but the comprehen-
sion of it is to make it universal.” (42)


This individual cannot be ex-
pressed....” (42)

Every word    
(speech) already
universalises cf.
The senses show
  reality; thought
and word — the


Final words of the section on the Soph-
ists: “The Sophists thus also made dia-
lectic, universal Philosophy, their object,
and they were profound thinkers....” (42)



Socrates is a “world-famed personage”
(42), the “most interesting” (ibid.) in the
philosophy of antiquity—“subjectivity of
thought”(42) [“freedom of self-conscious-
ness” (44)].

“Herein lies the ambiguity of dia-
lectics and sophistry; the objective
disappears”: is the subjective contin-
gent or is there in it (“an ihm selbst”[12])
the objective and universal? (43)[13]

“True thought thinks in such a way that
its content is as truly objective as subjec-
tive” (44)—and in Socrates and Plato we
see, Hegel says, not only subjectivity (“the
reference of any judgment to conscious-
ness is held by him”—Socrates—”in common
with the Sophists”)—but also objectivity.


“Objectivity has here” (in Socrates) “the
sense of the universal, existent in and for
itself, and not external objectivity” (45)—

idem 46: “not external objectivity but the
spiritual universal.”


And two lines further down:

“Kant’s ideal is the phenomenon, not
objective in itself....” (46)
    Socrates called his method Hebammen-
[14]—(p. 64) (derived from his mother,
he said) ((Socrates’ mother = midwife))—
to help in bringing thoughts to birth.


Hegel’s example: everyone knows, he
says, what Werden is, but it surprises us
if we analyse (reflektierend) and find that it
is “the identity of Being and not-Being”—
“so great a distinction.” (67)

Werden =

Meno (Plato’s “Meno”)[16] compared Socra-
tes to an electric eel (Zitteraal), which makes
anyone who touches it “narkotisch”[17]
(69): and I, too, am “narkotisch” and I
cannot answer you.[18]


...“That which is held by me as truth
and right is spirit of my spirit. But what
the spirit derives thus from itself, what
it so holds, must come from it as the uni-
versal, as from the spirit which acts in
a universal manner, and not from its pas-
sions, interests, likings, whims, aims, in-
clinations, etc. These, too, certainly come
from something inward which is ‘implanted
in us by nature,’ but they are only in
a natural way our own....” (74-75)

très bien

Intelligent idealism is closer to intelligent ma-
terialism than stupid materialism.
      Dialectical idealism instead of intelligent;
      metaphysical, undeveloped, dead, crude,
      rigid instead of stupid.

To be elaborated:
    Plekhanov wrote on philosophy (dialec-
tics) probably about 1,000 pages (Beltov +
against Bogdanov + against the Kantians +


fundamental questions, etc., etc.).[20] Among
them, about the large Logic, in con-
nection with
it, its thought (i.e.,
dialectics proper, as philosophical sci-
ence) nil!!


Protagoras: “man is the measure of all
things.” Socrates: “man, as thinking, is the
measure of all things.” (75)


Xenophon in his Memorabilien described
Socrates better, more accurately and more
faithfully than Plato. (Pp. 80-81)



In connection with the sophisms about
the “heap” and “bald,” Hegel repeats the
transition of quantity into quality and vice
versa: dialectics. (Pp. 139-140)
143-144: At length about the fact that

“language in essence expresses only
the universal; what is meant, however,
is the special, the particular. Hence
what is meant cannot be said in speech.”
(“It”? The most universal word of all.)

in language
there is only
the universal

Who is it? I. Every person is an I.
Das Sinnliche?[21] It is a univer-
, etc., etc. “This”?? Everyone
is “this.”


Why can the particular not be
named? One of the objects of a given
kind (tables) is distinguished by some-
thing from the rest.


“That the universal should in philosophy
be given a place of such importance that
only the universal can be expressed, and
the ‘it’ which is meant, cannot, indicates
a state of consciousness and thought which
the philosophical culture of our time has
not yet reached.”

Hegel includes here “the scepticism of
our times” (143)— [Kant’s?] and those who
assert that “sensuous certainty is the truth.”

For das Sinnliche “is a universal.” (143)


Thereby Hegel hits every materialism
except dialectical materialism.         NB


To call by name?—but the name is a
contingent symbol and does not express
Sache selbst[22] (how can the partic-
ular be expressed?) (144)


Hegel seriously “believed,” thought,
that materialism as a philosophy was
impossible, for philosophy is the science
of thinking, of the universal, but the
universal is a thought. Here he repeated
the error of the same subjective ideal-
ism that he always called “bad” ideal-
ism. Objective (and still more, abso-
lute) idealism came very close to ma-
terialism by a zig-zag (and a somersault),
even partially became transformed into it.


The Cyrenaics[23] held sensation for the
truth, “the truth is not what is in sensation,
the content, but is itself sensation.” (151)

in the theory
of knowledge
of the

“The main principle of the Cyrenaic
school, therefore, is sensation, which
should form the real criterion of the true
and the good....” (153)

“Sensation is the indeterminate unit”
(154), but if thinking is added, then the
universal appears and “simple subjectivity”


(Phenomenologists à la Mach & Co.
inevitably become idealists on the
question of the universal, “law,” “ne-
cessity,” etc.)

the Cyrenaics
and Mach
and Co.

Another Cyrenaic, Hegesias, “recognised”
“this incongruity between sensation and
universality....” (155)


They confuse sensation as a principle
of the theory of knowledge and a prin-
ciple of ethics. This NB. But Hegel
separated the theory of knowledge.



In regard to Plato’s plan by which
philosophers ought to rule the state:

...“The territory of history is different
from that of philosophy....”

...“We must recognise that action repre-
sents at the same time the endeavours of
the subject as such for particular ends....All
those particular ends are really only means
for bringing forth the Idea, because it
is the absolute power.” (193)

ends in
history create
the “Idea”
(the law of

Concerning Plato’s doctrine on ideas:

...“because sensuous perception shows
nothing purely, or as it is in itself” (Pha-
)—p. 213—therefore the body is a
hindrance to the soul.

(= lifeless-
ness?) of

The significance of the universal is
contradictory: it is dead, impure, in-
complete, etc., etc., but it alone is
a stage towards knowledge of the
concrete, for we can never know
the concrete completely. The infinite
sum of general conceptions, laws, etc.,
gives the concrete in its completeness.

the dialec-
tics of

The movement of cognition to the
object can always only proceed dia-
lectically: to retreat in order to hit

more surely—reculer pour mieux sauter
(savoir?).[25] Converging and diverging
lines: circles which touch one another.
Knotenpunkt[26] = the practice of man-
kind and of human history.

(Practice = the criterion of the coin-
cidence of one of the infinite aspects
of the real.)


These Knotenpunkte represent
a unity of contradictions, when Be-
ing and not-Being, as vanishing
moments, coincide for a moment,
in the given moments of the move-
ment (= of technique, of history,


In analysing Plato’s dialectics, Hegel
once again tries to show the difference
between subjective, sophistic dialectics and
objective dialectics:
    “That everything is one, we say of each
thing: ‘it is one and at the same time we
show also that it is many, its many parts

in Hegel

and properties’—but it is thereby said:

‘it is one in quite another respect from
that in which it is many’—we do not
bring these thoughts together. Thus the
conception and the words merely go back-


wards and forwards from the one to the

other. If this passing to and fro is performed
with consciousness, it is empty dialectics,
which does not unite the opposites and
does not come to unity.” (232)


P l a t o in the “Sophistes”:

“The point of difficulty, and what we
ought to aim at, is to show that what
is other is the same, and what is the same
is other, and indeed in the same regard
and from the same point of view.” (233)


“But we must be conscious of the fact
that the Notion is neither merely the im-
mediate in truth, although it is the sim
ple—but it is of spiritual simplicity,
essentially the thought which has re-
turned into itself (immediately is only
this red, etc.); nor that it is only that
which reflects itself in itself, the thing
of consciousness; but is also in itself, i.e.,
it is objective essence....” (245)


The concept is not something imme-
diate (although the concept is a “simple”
thing, but this simplicity is “spiritual,”
the simplicity of the Idea)—what is im-
mediate is only the sensation of “red”
(“this is red”), etc. The concept is not
“merely the thing of consciousness”; but
is the essence of the object (ge-
genständliches Wesen), it is something
an sich, “in itself.”


...“This conviction of the nature of the
Notion, Plato did not ixpress so defi-
nitely....” (245)


Hegel dilates at length on Plato’s
“Philosophy of Nature,” the ultra-non-
sensical mysticism of ideas, such as that
“triangles form the essence of sensuous
things” (265), and such mystical non-
sense. That is highly characteristic! The
mystic-idealist-spiritualist Hegel (like
all official, clerical-idealist philosophy
of our day) extols and expatiates on
mysticism, idealism in the history of
philosophy, while ignoring and slight-
ing materialism. Cf. Hegel on Democ-
ritus—nil!! On Plato a huge mass
of mystical slush.

idealism and
mysticism in
Hegel (and
in Plato)

Speaking of Plato’s republic and of the
current opinion that it is a chimera, Hegel
repeats his favourite saying:

...“What is real is rational. But one must
know, distinguish, exactly what is real;
in common life all is real, but there is
a difference between the phenomenal world
and reality....” (274)

what is real
is rational



Incorrect, says Hegel, is the generally
held opinion that the philosophy of Aristotle
is “realism” (299), (id. p. 311 “empiricism”)
in contrast to the idealism of Plato. ((Here
again, Hegel clearly squeezes in a great
deal under idealism.))


In presenting Aristotle’s polemic against
Plato’s doctrine on ideas, Hegel sup-
its materialistic features. (Cf.
322-323 and others.)


He has let the cat out of the bag: “The
elevation of Alexander” (Alexander of Mac-


edon, Aristotle’s pupil) “... into ... a god
is ... not matter for surprise ... God and

invert it))

man are not at all so very wide asunder....”

Hegel perceives the idealism of Aris-
totle in his idea of god. (326) ((Of
course, it is idealism, but more ob-
jective and further removed, more
than the idealism of Plato,
hence in the philosophy of nature more
frequently = materialism.))

Hegel has
made a com-
plete mess of
the critic-
ism of Plato’s
“ideas” in

Aristotle’s criticism of
Plato’s “ideas” is a criticism
of idealism as ideal-
ism in general:
whence concepts, abstrac-
tions, are derived, thence
come also “law” and “ne-
cessity,” etc. The idealist
Hegel in cowardly fashion
fought shy of the under-
mining of the foundations
of idealism by Aristotle
(in his criticism of Plato’s


When one idealist
criticises the founda-
tions of idealism of
another idealist, ma-
is always the
gainer thereby. Cf.
Aristotle versus Plato,
etc., Hegel versus
Kant, etc.


“Leucippus and Plato accordingly say
that motion has always existed, but they
give no reason for the assertion.” (Aristot-
le, Metaphysik, XII, 6 and 7.) p. 328


Aristotle thus pitifully brings
forward god against the material-
ist Leucippus and the idealist Plato.
There is eclecticism in Aristotle
here. But Hegel conceals the
weakness for the sake of


Hegel, the supporter of dialectics,
could not understand the dialec-
transition from matter to
motion, from matter to con-
sciousness—especially the second.
Marx corrected the error (or weak-
ness?) of the mystic.


Not only is
the transition
from matter
to conscious-
ness dialecti-
cal, but also
  that from
sensation to
thought, etc.


What distinguishes the dialectical tran-
sition from the undialectical transition?
The leap. The contradiction. The inter-
ruption of gradualness. The unity (iden-
tity) of Being and not-Being.


The following passage shows especially
clearly how Hegel conceals the weakness
of Aristotle’s idealism:
    “Aristotle makes objects into thoughts;
hence, in being thoughts, they exist in
truth; that is their ούσία.[27]

“The meaning of this is not, however,
that natural objects have themselves the
power of thinking, but as they are subjec-
tively thought by me, my thought is thus
also the Notion of the thing, which there-

fore constitutes its substance. But in na-
ture the Notion does not exist as thought
in this freedom, but has flesh and blood;
yet it has a soul, and this is its Notion.
Aristotle recognises what things in and


for themselves are; and that is their ούσία.
The Notion does not exist for itself, but it
is stunted by externality. The ordinary def
inition of truth is: ‘truth is the harmony
of the conception with the object.’ But
the conception itself is only a conception,
I am still not at all in harmony with my
conception (with its content); for when
I represent to myself a house, a beam, and
so on, I am by no means this content—
‘I’ is something other than the conception
of house. It is only in thought that there is
present a true harmony between objective
and subjective; that constitutes me (Hegel’s
italics). Aristotle therefore finds himself
at the most advanced standpoint; nothing
more profound can one desire to know.”


“In nature” concepts do not exist “in
this freedom” (in the freedom of thought
and the fantasy of man!!). “In nature”
they (concepts) have “flesh and blood.”—
That is excellent! But it is materialism.
Human concepts are the soul of nature
—this is only a mystical way of saying
that in human concepts nature is reflect-
ed in a distinctive way (this NB: in
a distinctive and dialectical way!!).


Pp. 318-337 solely on the Meta-
physics of Aristotle!! Everything essen-
tial that he has to say against Plato’s
idealism is suppressed!! In particu-
lar, there is suppressed the question of
existence outside man and humani-
ty!!! = the question of materialism!


Aristotle is an empiricist, but a think-
one. (340) “The empirical, comprehend-
ed in its synthesis, is the speculative No-
....” (341) (Hegel’s italics.)

cf. Feuer-
: To
read the
gospel of
senses in
tion = to

The coincidence of concepts with
“synthesis,” with the sum, summing up
of empiricism, sensations, the senses,
is indubitable for the philosophers of
all trends. Whence this coincidence?
From God (I, the idea, thought, etc., etc.)
or from (out of) nature? Engels was right
in his formulation of the question.[29]


...“The subjective form constitutes the
essence of the Kantian philosophy....” (341)


On the teleology of Aristotle.
    ...“Nature has its means in itself and
these means are also end. This end in
nature is its λόγοζ,[30] the truly rational.”

“end” and
cause, law,


...“Understanding is not only thinking
with consciousness. There is contained in
it also the whole, true, profound Notion
of nature, of life....” (348)


Reason (understanding), thought,
consciousness, without nature, not
in correspondence with nature is
falsity = materialism!


It is repulsive to read how Hegel extols
Aristotle for his “true speculative notions”
(373 of the “soul,” and much more besides),
clearly spinning a tale of idealistic (= mys-
tical) nonsense.

Suppressed are all the points on which
Aristotle wavers between idealism and ma-


Regarding Aristotle’s views on the “soul,”
Hegel writes:

“All that is universal is in fact real,
as particular, individual, existing for anoth-
er” (375)—in other words, the soul.

lets the cat
out of the
bag in regard
to “realism”

Aristotle. De anima, II, 5:

“The difference” (between Empfinden and
Erkennen[31]) “is: that which causes the
sensation is external. The cause of this is
that perceptive activity is directed on the
particular, while knowledge has as its
object the universal; but the universal is,
to a certain extent, in the soul itself as
substance. Everyone can therefore think
if he wishes but sense-perception does not
depend on him, since the necessary con-
dition is that the object perceived be pres-
ent.” (377)

tion and
comes very
close to

The crux here—“außen ist”[32]
outside man, independent of him.
That is materialism. And this founda-
tion, basis, kernel of materialism,
Hegel begins wegschwatzen[33]:

“This is an entirely correct view of sense-
perception,” writes Hegel, and he goes on
to explain that there is undoubtedly “pas-

sivity” in sense—perception: “it is a matter
of indifference whether subjectively or
objectively; in both there is contained
the moment of passivity.... With this mo-
ment of passivity, Aristotle does not fall


short of idealism, sense-perception is al-

ways in one aspect passive. That is, how-
ever, a bad idealism which thinks that
the passivity and spontaneity of the mind
depend on whether the determination given
is from within or from without, as if there

the idealist
is caught!

were freedom in sense-perception; the lat-
ter is a sphere of limitation”!!... (377-378)


((The idealist stops up the gap leading
to materialism. No, it is not gleich- gültig[34] whether from without or
from within. This is precisely the
point! “From without”—that is mat-
terialism. “From within” = idealism.
And with the word “passivity,” while
keeping silent about the term (“from
) in Aristotle, Hegel descri-
bed in a different way the same
from without. Passivity means
precisely from without!! Hegel re-
places the idealism of sense-percep-
by the idealism of thought, but
equally by idealism.))


...“Subjective idealism declares that there
are no external things, they are a determi-
nation of our Self. This must be admitted
in respect to sense-perception. I am passive

in sense-perception, sense-perception is
subjective; it is existence, a state, a deter-
mination in me, not freedom. Whether
the sense-perception is external or in me,
is a matter of indifference, it exists....”(378)

an evasion
of  mate-

Then follows the famous analogy of the
soul with wax, causing Hegel to twist and
turn like the devil confronted with holy
water, and to cry out about it having “so
often occasioned misapprehension.” (378-

Aristotle says (De anima, II, 12):

"Sense-perception is the receiving of sen-
sible forms without matter” ... “as wax
receives only the impress of the golden
signet ring, not the gold itself, but merely
its form.”

Soul = Wax

Hegel writes: ...“In sense-perception

only the form reaches us, without matter.
It is otherwise in practical life—in eating
and drinking. In the practical sphere in
general we behave as single individuals,

in practice

and as single individuals in a determinate
Being, even a material determinate Being,
we behave towards matter in a material
way. Only insofar as we are of a material

a cowardly
evasion of

nature, are we able to behave in such a

way; the point is that our material exist-
ence comes into play:” (379)


((A close approach to materialism—and

Hegel gets angry and scolds on account
of the “wax,” saying: “everyone can under-
stand it” (380), “we do not get beyond the
crude aspect of the analogy,” (379) etc.


“The soul should by no means be pas-
sive wax or receive determinations from
without....” (380)


...“It” (die Seele[35]) “changes the form of
the external body into its own....” (381)

Aristotle, De anima, III, 2:

...“The effect of being perceived and of
sense-perception is exactly one and the
same; but their existence is not the same....”


And Hegel comments:

...“There is a body which sounds and a
subject which hears: their existence is
twofold....” (382)

Hegel con-
ceals the
of idealism

But he leaves aside the question of
Being outside man!!! A sophistical dodge
from materialism!


Speaking about thinking, and about rea-
son (νουζ), Aristotle (De anima, III, 4) says:
    ...“There is no sense-perception inde-

pendent of the body, but νουζ is separable
from it....” (385) “νουζ is like a book upon
whose pages nothing is actually written”

tabula rasa

(386)—and Hegel again becomes irate:

“another much-decried illustration” (386),
the very opposite of what he means is
ascribed to Aristotle, etc., etc. ((and the


question of Being independent of

mind and of man is suppressed!!))—all that
for the sake of proving “Aristotle is there-
fore not a realist.” (389)

ha-ha! he’s


“In this way he who perceives nothing

by his senses learns nothing and under-
stands nothing when he discerns anything
(ΰεωρή[36]) he must necessarily discern it
as a pictorial conception, for such con-
ceptions are like sense-perceptions, only


without matter....” (389)


...“Whether the understanding
thinks actual objects when it is abs-
tracted from all matter requires spe-
cial investigation....” (389) And Hegel

scrapes out of Aristotle that ostens-
ibly “νουζ[37] and νοητόν[38] are one
and the same” (390), etc. A model

example of the idealistic misrepresen-
tations of an idealist!! Distorting Aris-
totle into an idealist of the eighteenth-
nineteenth century!!




In regard to the “criterion of truth” of
the Stoics—“the conception that is laid
hold of” (444-446)—Hegel says that con-
sciousness only compares conception with
conception (not with the object—(446):
“truth ... is the harmony of object and
consciousness” = “the celebrated definition
of the truth”) and, consequently, the whole
question is one of the “objective logos, the
rationality of the world.” (446)


“Thought yields nothing but the form
of universality and identity with itself;
...hence everything may harmonise with
my thought.” (449)

Hegel against
the Stoics
and their

“Reasons, however, prove to be a hum-

bug; for there are good reasons for every-
thing....” (469) “Which reasons should be
esteemed as good thereby depends on the
end and interest....” (ibidem)

there are
“reasons” for



Speaking of Epicurus (342-271 B. C.),
Hegel immediately (before describ-
ing his views) adopts a hostile attitude
to materialism and declares:

“It is already (!!) self-evident (!!) that
if sense-perceived Being is regarded as
the truth, the necessity for the Notion is
altogether abrogated, in the absence of


speculative interest everything falls apart,

and, on the contrary, the vulgar view
of things prevails; in point of fact it does
not go beyond the view of ordinary human
understanding, or rather, everything is
lowered to the level of ordinary human
understanding”!! (473-474)


Slander against materialism!! “Ne-
cessity for the Notion” is not in the
slightest “abrogated” by the theory
of the source of cognition and
the concept!! Disagreement with
“common sense” is the foul quirk
of an idealist.


Epicurus gave the name of Canonic[40]
to the theory of knowledge and the crite-
rion of truth. After a brief exposition of
it, Hegel writes:

“It is so simple that nothing can well
be simpler—it is abstract, but also very
trivial; more or less on the level of ordi-
nary consciousness that begins to reflect.
It consists of ordinary psychological con-
ceptions; they are quite correct. Out of

sense-perceptions we make conceptions as
the universal; thanks to which it becomes
lasting. The conceptions themselves (bei


der δόξα, Meinung[41]) are tested by means

of sensations, as to whether they are last-
ing, whether they repeat themselves. That
is quite correct on the whole, but quite
superficial; it is the first beginning, the


mechanics of conception with respect to
the first sense-perceptions....” (483)


The “first beginning” is forgotten
and distorted by idealism. Dia-
materialism alone
linked the “beginning” with the
continuation and the end.


NB: p. 481—on the significance of
words according to Epicurus:

“Everything has its evidence, energy,
distinctness, in the name first conferred
on it” (Epicurus: Diogenes Laertius, X,

§ 33). And Hegel: “The name is something
universal, belongs to thinking, makes the
manifold simple.” (481)

“On the objective manner in general

in which the images of external things
enter into us, and on our relation to exter-
nal things, by which conceptions arise—

outside us

Epicurus has evolved the following met-
aphysical explanation:

“From the surfaces of things there passes
off a constant stream, which cannot be
detected by our senses ... and this be-
cause, by reason of the counteracting re-
plenishment, the thing itself in its solid-
ity long preserves the same arrangement
and disposition of the atoms; and the mo-
tion through the air of these surfaces which
detach themselves is of the utmost rapidity,
because it is not necessary that what is
detached should have any thickness.” “The
sensation does not contradict such an idea,
when we consider” (zusehe) “how images
produce their effects; they bring us a cor-
respondence, a sympathetic link with ex-
ternal things. Therefore something passes
out from them which within us is like
something external.” “And since the ema-
nation passes into us, we know of the def-
initeness of a sensation; the definite lies
in the object and thus flows into us”
(pp. 484-485, Diogenes Laertius, X,
§ 48-49).

theory of
knowledge of

The genius of Epicurus’ conjecture (300
B.C., i.e., more than 2,000 years before
Hegel), e.g., on light and its velocity.


Hegel completely concealed (NB)
the main thing: (NB) the existence
of things outside the consciousness
of man and independent of it


—all that Hegel suppresses and merely

...“This is a very trivial way of repre-
senting sense-perception. Epicurus elected
to take the easiest criterion of the truth—a
criterion still in use—inasmuch as it is not
apprehended by sight, namely: that it does
not contradict what we see or hear. For in
truth such matters of thought as atoms, the
detachment of surfaces, and so forth, are
beyond our powers of sight and hearing; [cer-
tainly we manage to see and to hear some-
thing different][42] but there is abundance of
room for what is seen and what is conceived
or imagined to exist alongside of one anoth-
er. If the two are allowed to fall apart, they
do not contradict each other; for it is not
until we relate them that the contradic-
tion becomes apparent....” (485-486)

A model of
and slander
by an ideal-

Hegel has avoided Epicurus’ theory
of cognition and begun to speak of some-
thing else
, which Epicurus does not
touch on here and which is com-
with materialism!!


P. (486):
    Error, according to Epicurus, proceeds
from an interruption in movement (in
the movement from the object to us, to
sense-perception or to conception?).

“It is impossible,” Hegel writes, “to have a
more meagre (theory of knowledge).” (486)


Everything becomes dürftig,[43]
if it is distorted and despoiled.


The soul, according to Epicurus, is a
“certain” arrangement of atoms. “This is
what Locke also (!!!) said.... These are
empty words ...“ (489) ((no, they are the
guess-work of genius and signposts for
, but not for clericalism)).

auch,[44] is
270 B.C.),
). Dif-
ferenz[45] = 2,000 years

NB. NB. (489), id. (490):

Epicurus ascribes to the atoms a
krummlinigte” Bewegung,[46]
this according to Hegel is “most arbitrary


and wearisome” (489) in Epicurus.—
((and the “God” of the idealists???)).


“Or else Epicurus altogether denies No-
tion and the Universal as the essential...”
(490) although his atoms “themselves have
this very nature of thought”... “the incon-
sistency ... which all empiricists are guil-
ty of....” (491)


This avoids the essence of
materialism and material-
ist dialectics.


“In Epicurus there is no ... final end in
the world, wisdom of a Creator; everything
consists of events, which are determined
by the chance (??) external (??) coming
together of configurations of atoms....” (491)

he pities
God!! the

And Hegel simply hurls abuse at
Epicurus: “His thoughts on particular as-
pects of Nature are, however, in them-
selves feeble....” (492)


And immediately afterwards is a polemic
against the “Naturwissenschaft” heute,[47]
which, like Epicurus, allegedly judges “by
analogy,” and “explains” (492)—e.g., light
as “vibrations of the ether....” “This is an
analogy quite in the manner of Epicu-
rus....” (493)

and the
“manner” of
and its

((Modern natural science ver-
sus Epicurus,—against (NB) Hegel.))


In Epicurus, “the kernel of the matter,
the principle, is nothing else than the
principle of our usual natural science....”
(495) ... “it is still the manner which lies
at the basis of our natural science....” (496)

Epicurus and
modern na-
tural science

Correct is only the reference to
the ignorance of dialectics in gen-
eral and of the dialectics of con-
cepts. But the criticism of ma-
is schwach.[48]


“Of this method (of Epicurean philosophy)
we may say in general that it likewise
has a side on which it possesses value.


Aristotle and the more ancient philosophers
took their start in natural philosophy from
universal thought a priori, and from this

developed the Notion. This is the one side.
The other side is the necessary one that
experience should be worked up into uni-
versality, that laws should be determined;
that is to say, that the result which fol-
lows from the abstract Idea should coin-
cide with the general conception to which
experience and observation have led. The


a priori is with Aristotle, for instance,
most excellent, but not sufficient, because
it lacks connection with and relation to
experience and observation. This develop-


ment of the particular to the general is
the discovery of laws, natural forces and

so on. It may be said that Epicurus is the
inventor of empirical natural science, of
empirical psychology. In contrast to the


Stoic ends, conceptions of the understand-
ing, is experience, the sensuous present.
There we have abstract, limited understand-

ing, without truth in itself, and therefore
without the presence and reality of nature;
here we have this sense of nature, which
is more true than these other hypotheses.”




The importance of Epicurus—the strug-
gle against Aberglauben[49] of the
Greeks and Romans (498)
modern priests??
    all this nonsense about whether a hare ran
across the path, etc. (and the good Lord?).

Hegel on
the pros of

“And from it” (the philosophy of Epi-
curus), “more than anything, those con-
ceptions which have altogether denied the
supersensuous have proceeded.” (498)


|| But this is good only for “end-
lichen”[50] .... “With superstition there
also passed away self-dependent Con-
nection and the world of the Ideal.”

for what did
they (the
classics) val-
ue idealism??



P. 499: Epicurus on the soul: the
finer (NB) atoms, their more rapid
(NB) motion, their connection (NB)
etc., etc., with the body (Diogenes
, X, § 66; 63-64)—very naïve
and good!—but Hegel becomes irate, he
hurls abuse: “meaningless talk,” “empty
words,” “no thoughts.” (500)

for Hegel
the “soul”
is also a

The Gods, according to Epicurus, are
“das Allgemeine”[51] (506) in general—“they
consist partly in number” as number,
i.e., abstraction from the sensuous....


“In part, they” (the gods) “are the perfect-
ed type of man,
which, owing to the simi-
larity of the images, arises from the con-
tinuous confluence of like images on one
and the same subject.” (507)

Gods = the
type of man,
cf. Feuer-



Speaking of Scepticism, Hegel points
to its apparent “invincibility” (Unbezwing-
lichkeit) (538):


“If anyone actually desires to be a Scep-
tic, he cannot be convinced, or be brought
to a positive philosophy, any more than he
who is paralysed can be made to stand.” (539)

Bien dit!!

“Positive philosophy in relation to it”
(den denkenden Skeptizismus[54]) “may
have this consciousness: it contains in itself
the negative of Scepticism; Scepticism is
not opposed to it, nor outside it, but is
a moment of it; but it contains the negative
in its truth, as it is not present in Scepti-
cism.” (539)

(The relation of philosophy to Scepti-
    “Philosophy is dialectical, this dialectic
is change; the Idea, as abstract Idea, is
the inert and existent, but it is only true
insofar as it grasps itself as living; this
is that it is dialectical in itself, in order
to transcend that quiescence and inertness.
Hence the philosophic idea is dialectical
in itself and not contingent; Scepticism,

on the contrary, exercises its dialectic
contingently—for just as the material, the
content comes before it, it shows that it
is negative in itself....” (540)

dialectics of
Scepticism is

The old (ancient) Sciepticism has to be
distinguished from the new (only Schulze
of Göttingen is named). (540)

Ataraxie (imperturbability?) as the ideal
of the Sceptics:

“Pyrrho once pointed out to his fellow-
passengers on board a ship, who were fright-
ened during a storm, a pig, which remained
quite indifferent and peaceably ate on,
saying to them: in such imperturbahility
the wise man must also abide” (Diogenes
Laertius, IX, 68)—pp. 551-552.

not a bad
about the

“Scepticism is not doubt. Doubt is just
the opposite of the tranquillity that is
the result of scepticism.” (552)

Scepticism is
not doubt

...“Scepticism, on the contrary, is indif-
ferent to the one as well as to the other....”


Schulze-Aenesidemus passes off for Scep-
ticism the statement that everything sen-
suous is truth (557), but the Sceptics did
not say so: one must sich danach richten,

orientate oneself by the sensuous, but that
is not the truth. The new Scepticism does
not doubt the reality of things. The old
Scepticism does doubt the reality of things.


Tropes (turns of speech, arguments, etc.)
of the Sceptics:

everything in
(second cen-
  tury A. D.)

a.   The diversity of animal organisation.
Differences in sensations: the jaun-
diced (dem Gelbsiichtigen) sees as
yellow what to others appears white,
b.   The diversity of mankind. “Idiosyn-
crasies.” (559)
Whom to believe? The majority? Fool-
ish, for all men cannot be interro-
gated. (560)
Diversity of philosophies: Stupid re-
ference, Hegel waxes indignant: ...
“such men see everything in a phi-
losophy excepting Philosophy itself,
and this is overlooked....” “However
different the philosophic systems may
be, they are not as different as white
and sweet, green and rough, for they
agree in the fact that they are philos-
ophies and this is what is overlooked.”
...“All tropes proceed against the
‘is,’ but the truth is all the same
not this dry ‘is,’ but essentially proc-
ess....” (562)
c.   The diversity in the constitution of
the organs of sense: the various sense
organs perceive differently (on a paint-
ed panel something appears erha-
ben[55] to the eye but not to the
d.   The diversity of circumstances in the
subject (rest, passion, etc.).
e.   The diversity of distances, etc.

the earth going round
the sun or vice versa, etc.

f.   Intermixture (scents in strong sun-
shine and without it, etc.).
g.   The composition of things (pounded
glass is not transparent, etc.).
h.   The “relativity of things.”
i.   The frequency, rarity of happenings,
etc.; habit.
k.   Customs, laws, etc., their diversity....
    |These (10) are all old tropes| and He-
gel: this is all “empirical”—“do not have
to do with the Notion....” (566) This is
“trivial”..., but ....
    “In fact, as against the dogmatism of
the common human understanding they
are quite valid....” (567)
    The five new tropes (are said by Hegel
to he much more advanced, they contain
dialectics, concern concepts)—also accord-
ing to Sextus:
The diversity of the opinions ...
of philosophers...
The falling into an infinite pro-
gression (one thing depends on an-
other and so on without end).
Relativity (of premises).
Presupposition. The dogmatists put
forward unprovable presupposi-
Reciprocity. Circle (vicious)...

“These sceptical tropes, in fact, concern
that which is called a dogmatic philosophy
(and in accordance with its nature such
a philosophy must display itself in all
these forms) not in the sense of its having
a positive content, but as asserting some-
thing determinate as the absolute.” (575)


Hegel  against the absolute!
Here we have the germ of dialectical mat-


“To the criticism which knows nothing
in itself, nothing (not nichts) (sic!!)[56] ab-
solute, all knowledge of Being-in-itself,
as such, is held to be dogmatism, while
it is the worst dogmatism of all, because
it maintains that the ‘I,’ the unity of self-
consciousness, opposed to Being, is in and
for itself, and that what is ‘in itself’ in
the outside world is likewise so, and there-
fore that the two absolutely cannot come
together.” (576)

“Criticism” is
the “worst

“These tropes hit dogmatic philosophy,
which has this manner of representing one
principle in a determinate proposition as
determinateness. Such a principle is always
conditioned; and consequently contains dia-
lectics, the destruction within it of itself.”
(577) “These tropes are a powerful weapon
against the philosophy of reason.” (ib.)


Dialectics =
of itself”

Sextus, for example, reveals the dialec-
tics of the concept of a point (der Punkt).
A point has no dimensions? That means
that it is outside space! It is the limit
of space in space, a negation of space, and

at the same time “it touches space”—“but
at the same time it is also in itself some-
thing dialectical.” (579)


“These tropes ... are powerless against
speculative ideas, because the latter contain
within themselves a dialectical moment
and the abrogation of the finite.” (580)


End of Volume XIV (p. 586).




[1] Sophists (from the Greek sophos—a wise man)—the designation (since the second half of the 5th century B.C.) for professional philosophers, teachers of philosophy and rhetoric. The Sophists did not constitute a single school. The most characteristic feature common to Sophists was their belief in the relativity of all human ideas, ethical standards and values, expressed by Protagoras in the following famous statement: “Man is the measure of all things, of what is, that it is, and of what is not, that it is not.” In the first half of the 4th century B.C., sophism disintegrated and degenerated into a barren play with logical conceptions.

[2] counterproofs—Ed.

[3] Hegel, Werke, Bd. XIV, Berlin, 1833.—Ed.

[4] the universalEd.

[5] this “relativity”—Ed.

[6] Phenomenologism—a branch of subjective idealism that considers phenomena to be only the totality of man’s sensations. The Machists were phenomenalists. An important role in the Marxist criticism of phenomenologism was played by Lenin’s book Materialism and Empirio-Criticism (Collected Works, Vol. 14).

[7] common sense—Ed.

[8] This excerpt was made by Lenin somewhat later in outlining the philosophy of Socrates (pp. 43-44 of Hegel; see p. 273 of this volume).—Ed.

[9] This excerpt was made by Lenin in outlining the philosophy of Socrates (p. 69 of Hegel; see p. 274 of this volume).—Ed.

[10] See § 27 of Feuerbach’s Principles of the Philosophy of the Future for his views on being and essence.

[11] The reference is to the following statement of Feuerbach: “At the beginning of phenomenology we immediately come across a contradiction between the word which represents the universal, and the thing, which is always a particular.” (See § 28 of Feuerbach’s Principles of the Philosophy of the Future.)

[12] “in it itself”—Ed.

[13] Following this paragraph in the MS. is an excerpt on Gorgias’ philosophy, beginning with the words: “To be added on Gorgias....” (See p. 271 of this volume.)—Ed.

[14] the art of midwiferyEd.

[15] Becoming = not-Being and Being.—Ed.

[16] MenoPlato’s dialogue directed against the Sophists. It is considered to be one of Plato’s early works.

[17] “drugged”—Ed.

[18] Following this paragraph in the MS. is an excerpt on Gorgias’ philosophy, beginning with the words: “To be added further on Gorgias....” (See p. 272 of this volume.)—Ed.

[19] very well put—Ed.

[20] Lenin is referring to the following philosophical works by Plekhanov: N. Beltov, The Development of the Monist View of History, published as a separate volume in 1895 in St. Petersburg (see Selected Philosophical Works, Vol. 1, Moscow, 1960, pp. 542-782); articles against Bogdanov appearing in Social-Democratic periodicals and published in the collection entitled “From Defence to Attack” (1910); articles against the Kantians E. Bernstein, C. Schmidt and others appearing in the journal Die Neue Zeit and published in the collection: N. Beltov, “Criticism of Our Critics,” St. Petersburg, 1906; and “Fundamental Questions of Marxism,” published as a separate volume in 1908 in St. Petersburg.

[21] the sensuous—Ed.

[22] the very essence of the thingEd.

[23] Cyrenaics-adherents, of an ancient Greek school of philosophy, founded in the 5th century B.C. by Aristippus of Cyrene (North Africa). In the theory of knowledge, the Cyrenaics adhered to sensualism. They asserted that objective truth does not exist and that, with certainty, one can only speak of subjective sensations. In Cyrenaicism, the sensualist theory of knowledge is supplemented by sensualist ethics—the doctrine of sensual satisfaction as the basis of morality. The Cyrenaic school produced a number of representatives of ancient atheism.

[24] Cf. Überweg-Heinze, § 88, p. 122 (10th edition)— and also about them in Plato’s Theaetetus.[24a] Their (the Cyrenaics’) scepticism and subjectivism.—Ed.

[24a] The reference is to § 38 “The Aristippian and Cyrenaic or Hedonistic School” in Überweg’s book: Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie des Altertums. 10. Auflage, Berlin, 1909. (F. Überweg, Outline of the History of Ancient Philosophy, 10th edition, Berlin, 1909). In the dialogue Theaetetus, Plato expounds his mystical theory of knowledge, calling cognition the rise of reason into the realm of ideas; this rise is like recollection since, according to Plato, reason, the soul, by their origin, belong to this supersensual world of ideas.

[25] to fall back, the better to leap (to know?)—Ed.

[26] nodal point—Ed.

[27] substance—Ed.

[28] See L. Feuerbach, Against Dualism of Body and Soul, Flesh and Spirit.

[29] See F. Engels, Anti-Dühring, Moscow, 1959, p. 54.

[30] logos—Ed.

[31] sense-perception (sensation) and cognition—Ed.

[32] “is external”—Ed.

[33] to talk out of existence—Ed.

[34] A matter of indifference—Ed.

[35] the soul—Ed.

[36] perceives—Ed.

[37] reason—Ed.

[38] what is apprehended by reason—Ed.

[39] Stoics—adherents of an ancient Greek school of philosophy arising about the 3rd century B.C. and existing until the 6th century A.D. The Stoics recognised two elements in the universe: an enduring element—matter without quality; and an active one—reason, logos, god. In logic, the Stoics proceeded from the assumption that the source of all cognition is sensuous perception and that a conception can be true only if it is a faithful and full impression of the object. The Stoics taught, however, that perceptual judgment arises only as a result of agreement between the mind and a true conception. This the Stoics called “catalepsy” (or “seizure”) and viewed it as a criterion for truth.

[40] In the manuscript the word “Canonic” is linked by an arrow with the word “It” at the beginning of the following paragraph.—Ed.

[41] in opinion—Ed.

[42] The words in brackets are missing in Lenin’s manuscript.—Ed.

[43] meagerEd.

[44] alsoEd.

[45] difference—Ed.

[46] “curvilinear” motion—Ed.

[47] “natural science” today—Ed.

[48] feeble—Ed.

[49] superstitionsEd.

[50] “finite” things—Ed.

[51] “the universal”—Ed.

[52] See L. Feuerbach, Lectures on the Essence of Religion: “the God of man is nothing but the deified being of man.” (L. Feuerbach, Werke, Bd. 6, Berlin, 1840, S. 21.)

[53] Sceptics—in this case, adherents of the ancient Greek philosophical school founded by Pyrrho (c. 365-275 B.C.). The best known of the ancient Sceptics were Aenesidemus and Sextus Empiricus (2nd century A.D.). [See also: “Scepticism and Dogmatism”]
     Tropes—the designation for the reasons for doubt advanced by the ancient Sceptics (ten tropes) and later supplemented (five tropes) by Agrippa. By means of these reasons the Sceptics tried to prove the impossibility of cognising things and the absolute relativity of all perceptions.

[54] thinking scepticism—Ed.

[55] raised—Ed.

[56] Lenin’s remark in parentheses was evoked by a misprint in the German text, which had nicht (not) instead of nichts (nothing) before the word “absolute.”—Ed.


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