Marx-Engels Correspondence 1868

Engels to Marx
In London


Written: November 6, 1868;
Source: Marx and Engels Correspondence;
Publisher: International Publishers (1968);
First Published: Gestamtausgabe;
Translated: Donna Torr;
Transcribed: Sally Ryan in 1999;
HTML Markup: Sally Ryan.

It is difficult to come to an absolutely definite judgment about the thing [Dietzgen's manuscript]. As a philosopher the man is no child of nature, and added to that is only half self-taught. Some of his sources (e.g., Feuerbach, your book, and various rubbishy popular works on natural science) can be immediately recognised from his terminology, but one cannot tell what else he has read. His terminology is of course still very confused--hence there is a lack of sharpness and frequent repetition in new terms. There is also some dialectic in it, but appearing more in flashes than as a connected whole. The account of the thing-in-itself as Gedankending [thing made of thought] would be very nice and even brilliant if one could be sure that he had discovered it for himself. There is a lot of wit and, despite the lack of grammar, a marked talent for style. On the whole, a remarkable instinct for arguing out so much correctly with such deficient preliminary training.

As I said, the repetitions are the result partly of the deficient terminology and partly of unfamiliarity with the discipline of logic. It will be very hard to get them all out. If the man absolutely insists on having his things printed I am not sure that to limit him to two printer's sheets would be the best for him — in any case it would give him the devil's own job as he is not conscious of his repetitions, and then I am not sure either whether two sheets would get any attention paid them at all. More likely six to eight. And he will never get it into a periodical.