Plekhanov on Engels’ Book
Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy

[Notes to Engels’ Book
Ludwig Feuerbach ...

(Part 2)

(7) [36*] What is the meaning of “to deny the possibility of knowing the world” or “not to consider complete knowledge of it possible”? We shall see this presently.

I cannot doubt my own existence for a minute; it is vouched for by my own internal conviction which nothing can refute. “Judging according to common sense,” the reader may add, “it seems that it may be conceded that there are no grounds for doubting the existence of the paper on which you are writing those lines.” At another time I would not doubt of it, but now I have been seized with a desire to philosophise and for the philosopher the current “judgements of common sense” are not always convincing. I ask the reader: of which existence of the paper are you talking? If you assume that it exists outside of me, that it is one of the objects that make up what is called the external world, I will ask you another question: How do you know of the existence of those objects? [What vouches to you for the existence of the external world?] Your external senses tell you of it, it is testified to you by your sensations: you see this paper and feel this desk. That is undeniable. But that means that you are dealing, properly speaking, not with objects but with sensations and with conceptions arising from them. You only conclude as to the existence of these objects on the basis of your sensations. But by what will you prove the correctness of such a conclusion? You think that the objects cause the sensations. But leaving aside the question of how consistent your conception of cause in general is, I would ask you to explain to me why you are so sure that the cause of your sensations lies outside you and not in yourself. It is true that you are in the habit of dividing your sensations into two categories: 1) those whose cause lies within you; 2) those which are caused by objects outside you. But that is only a habit. How do you know that this habitual classification of sensations is not a consequence of the properties of your “ego”, which is conscious of itself only insofar as, by an unconscious act of creation, it creates and counterposes to itself, in its very self, the outer world, what is “not your ego”. It seems more probable to me that this is exactly what takes place in reality, and that there is no external world at all, no world existing outside my “ego”.

While giving vent to your indignation at my “sophism” I shall continue philosophising. But now I shall abandon the standpoint of subjective idealism, whose most prominent representative was Fichte, and change into a sceptic.

I open Hume’s book Investigation of Human Reason and read you the following passage from Chapter XII.

“It seems evident that men are carried, but by natural instinct or prepossession, to repose faith in their senses ... It seems also evident that, when men follow this blind and powerful instinct of nature, they always suppose the very images, presented by the senses, to be the external objects, and never entertain any suspicion, that the ones are nothing but representations of the others....”

But if philosophy wanted to prove that instinct does not deceive man, it would have extreme difficulty. The decisive argument can be taken only from experience; but “here experience is silent and must be silent”; we are dealing only with images and shall never be able to check their connection with objects. That is why reason gives no grounds whatsoever for admitting any such connection. Of course this need not embarrass us. All such arguments are only fruitless play of the mind. The sceptic himself would be embarrassed if he were asked what he really wants, what he is aiming at with his clever arguments. “Man must act, reason and believe”, although, in spite of all his efforts, he cannot be completely sure of the ultimate basis of his actions and his reasoning. But, all the same, in philosophy one must not lose sight of this impossibility. It must be remembered that the field of knowledge of the world accessible to us is limited by fairly narrow bounds. We are not even in a position to understand the true nature of the causal connection between one phenomenon and another. Thousands of times we have seen a stone falling to the ground. Therefore we believe that it will always fall unless some support prevents it. But our belief is founded only on habit. Reason does not make it obligatory, and cannot do so. It does not vouch to us that what we call a law of nature is immutable.

Let us go further. Let us remember the basic proposition in the philosophy of Kant, who was influenced by Hume’s scepticism. Outside us there exist objects of some kind. But exactly what kind, we do not know. Actually we are dealing only with our own sensations and with images of those objects which are formed in us on the basis of the sensations. But sensation, and consequently the image of the object, is the resultant of two forces: the properties of the objects which produce a certain impression on us and those of the receiver which receives the impressions, the properties of our “ego”, which groups them in a certain manner, disposes them and connects them in a manner conforming to its own nature. It is already obvious from this that our ideas of objects cannot be similar to the objects which give rise to them, that our images are one thing and things as they exist in themselves are another. Nor is that all. We said that our “ego” groups the impressions it receives from external things (things in themselves which are inaccessible to us) in a manner conforming to its own nature. But how does it group them, how does it dispose and connect them? We see things in space. The question is: does space exist in itself? Experience cannot give a direct answer to this question. As for reason, the presumption that space exists outside us and independently of us leads it to contradictory conclusions: it remains to presume that space (just as time) is nothing but a form of our contemplation (or outlook, as some Russian writers express it), and that consequently it has absolutely no relation to things in themselves (to noumena). From images let us go on to concepts and take, for example, the concept of cause. It is quite possible that we are mistaken when we say that phenomenon A is the cause of phenomenon B. But we are not mistaken when we say in general that there exists a causal connection between phenomena. Abolish the concept of cause and you will have nothing left but a chaos of phenomena which you will understand nothing at all about. But the point is precisely that it is impossibl. to abolish this concept. It is obligatory for us, it is one of the forms of our thinking. We shall not enumerate the other forms, but shall merely say that as forms of our thinking they lose all significance as soon as we talk of things as they exist in themselves, independently of our thinking. In other words, what we call laws of nature extend only to the world of phenomena which exists in our consciousness, and the noumena (things in themselves) are not at all subject to those laws.

Thus Kant’s doctrine on the world of phenomena contains two elements: 1) a subjective idealist element: the form of our contemplation or thought, of knowledge in general; 2) a realistic element: the indeterminate material which the noumena give us and which is processed by our consciousness. Kant calls his philosophy transcendental idealism. As our concept of natural necessity is not applicable to the world of noumena, it can be considered – by anybody who wishes – as a kingdom of complete freedom. In this world all those spectres – God, the immortality of the soul, freedom of will – which do not fit in with the concept of conformity to law – can find their place. Kant, who fought these spectres in his Critique of Pure Reason, lays down his arms before them in his Critique of Practical Reason, i.e., when it is a question of action, not of abstract speculation.

This dualism is the Achilles’ heel of Kant’s idealism. By the way, its inconsistency is apparent even from the standpoint of Kant’s premises.

[For example, what is a phenomenon in the sense of Kant’s philosophy? It is the resultant of two forces:

  1. Action on our ego by those objects (noumena) which exist outside us [12] and are known to us not in themselves, but only through the intermediary of the impressions they produce upon us;
  2. the properties of our ego, which processes according to these properties the impressions which it receives from the thing in itself.

But if the phenomenon is caused by the action upon us of the thing in itself, the action of this thing is the cause of the phenomenon. And yet, according to Kant’s doctrine, the category of causality is applicable only within the limits of the world of phenomena but is inapplicable to the thing in itself. There are only two ways out of this obvious contradiction which has already been pointed out in German philosophy of the end of the eighteenth century: either we continue to maintain that the category of causality is inapplicable to things in themselves and consequently reject the thought that the phenomenon is brought forth by the action upon us of the thing in itself; or we continue to consider this thought as correct and then admit that the category of causality is applicable to things in themselves. In the first case we are taking the direct road to subjective idealism, because, if the thing in itself does no. act upon us, we know nothing of its existence and the very idea of it must be declared unnecessary, that is, superfluous in our philosophy; in the second case we enter upon the path of materialism , for the materialists never affirmed that we know what things are in themselves, i.e., independently of their action upon us, but only maintained that these things are known to us precisely because they act upon the organs of our senses and in the very measure in which they act upon them. “We do not know either the essence or the true nature of matter,” says Holbach, “although by its action upon us we can judge of some of its properties. For us, matter is what acts in one way or another upon our senses.” [13] [37*] If Lange wrote in his History of Materialism (Vol.I, p.349 of the Russian translation, where he deals precisely with Holbach) that “...materialism obstinately considers the world of sensuous appearance as the world of real things” [38*], this is explained only by the fact that he “obstinately” refused to understand materialism. But however this may be, the question of the unknowableness of the external world in both the cases I have mentioned is settled positively. Indeed, if we go on to the standpoint of subjective idealism it will be clear to us that our ego is capable of knowing the non-ego which it itself creates. And if we prefer to be materialists, with a little reflection we must come to the conviction that if we, thanks to the action upon us of things in themselves, know some properties of these things, then, contrary to Holbach’s opinion, their nature is also known to us to a certain extent for the nature of a thing is manifest in its properties. The current counterposition of nature to properties is completely unfounded and it is precisely this counterposition that has led the theory of knowledge into the scholastic labyrinth in which Kant got lost and in which the present opponents of materialism continue to wander helplessly. Goethe, with his feeling of a poet and thinker of genius, understood better than Kant, the “transcendental idealist”, and even better than Holbach, the materialist, where truth lies. He said:

Nichts ist innen, Nichts ist draussen,
Denn was innen, das ist aussen.
So ergreifet ohne Säumniss
Heilig öffentlich Geheimniss
... [39*]

Those few words may be said to contain the whole “gnosiology” of materialism: but neither these words nor the materialist theory of knowledge can yet be understood by the scholastics who speak of nothing but the unknowableness of the external world.

Hegel revealed with extraordinary clarity the logical, or, if you prefer, the gnosiological, error which underlies all arguments that things in themselves are inaccessible to our knowledge. It is, indeed, impossible for us to answer the question what a thing in itself is. And the reason for this is very simple: the question “what is?” presupposes that the thing in question has properties which must be pointed out; this question has any sense only with this presumption. But “philosophical people” who indulge in talk about the unknowableness of things in themselves preliminarily make abstraction of all properties of the thing and by this abstraction make the question absurd and therefore the answer impossible. Kant’s transcendental idealism, Hegel says, “transports into consciousness all the properties of things, in relation to both form and content. It is understandable that from this standpoint it depends only on me, on the subject, that the leaf of the tree appears to me green, not black; that sugar sweet, not bitter, and that when the clock strikes two, I perceive its strokes successively, not simultaneously and that I do not consider the first stroke as either the cause or the effect of the second”, etc. (Wissenschaft der Logik, I. Band, I. Abth., S.55; II Abth., S.150. Priestley in his Disquisitions and also in his polemic with Price [40*] made, before Hegel, many most apt remarks about what, properly, must be understood by the word knowledge.)

But pardon, the reader may object, is not light or sound something quite subjective? Is the perception of sound or colour similar to that kind of movement by which it is caused, according to the teaching of modern natural science? Of course, it is not. But if iron at different temperature has different colours, there is an objective cause of this which does not depend on the qualities of my “spiritual” organisation. Our famous physiologist Sechenov was perfectly right when he wrote that “every vibration or change of sound according to intensity, pitch or duration that we feel, corresponds to a perfectly definite change in the sound movement in reality. Sound and light as sensations are products of the organisation of man; but roots of the forms and movements which we see, just as the modulations of sound which we hear, lie outside us in reality” (Objective Thought and Reality in the collection Help for the Hungry published by Russkiye Vedomosti, p.188). Sechenov adds: “Whatever the external objects may be in themselves, independently of our consciousness – even if it be granted that our impressions of them are only conventional signs – the fact remains that the similarity or difference of the signs we perceive corresponds with a real similarity or difference. “ In other words, “the similarities or differences man finds in the objects he perceives are real similarities or differences” (ibid., p.207). [41*] This again is true. Only we must note that Mr. Sechenov does not express himself quite precisely. When he admits that our impressions may be only conventional signs of things in themselves he seems to acknowledge that things in themselves have some kind of “ appearance” that we do not know of and which is inaccessible to our consciousness. But “appearance” is precisely only the result of the action upon us of the things in themselves: outside this action they have no “appearance” whatsoever. Hence, to oppose their “appearance” as it exists in our consciousness to that “ appearance” of theirs which they supposedly have in reality means not to realise which concept is connected with the word appearance. Such an imprecision of expression underlies, as we said above, all the “gnosiology” of the scholasticism of Kantianism. I know that Mr. Sechenov is not inclined to such scholasticism; I have already said that hi. theory of knowledge is perfectly correct, but we must not make to our opponents in philosophy concessions in terminology which prevent us from expressing our own thoughts with complete precision. Another reason why I make this reservation is because in the notes to the first edition of my translation of this pamphlet by Engels I also failed to express myself quite exactly and only subsequently felt all the awkwardness of that inexactness.

And so, things in themselves have no “appearance” at all. Their “appearance” exists only in the consciousness of those subjects on whom they act. The question is now, who are those subjects? People? No, not only people, but all organisms which, thanks to certain peculiarities of their structure, have the possibility to “see’. the external world in one way or another. But the structure of these organisms is not identical; for that reason the external world has not for them an identical “appearance”; I do not know how the snail “sees” things, but I am sure that it does not “see” things the same as people do. From this, however, it does not follow that the properties of the external world have only subjective significance. By no means! If a man and a snail move from point A to point B, the straight line will be the shortest distance between those two points for both the man and the snail; if both these organisms went along a broken line they would have to expend a greater amount of labour for their advance. Consequently, the properties of space have also objective significance, although they are “seen” differently by different organisms at different stages of development.

Nor is that all. What is a snail for me? A part of the external world which acts upon me in a definite manner determine d by my organism. So that if I admit that the snail “sees” the external world in one way or another, I am obliged to acknowledge that the “appearance” in which the external world presents itself to the snail is itself determined by the properties of this really existing external world. Thus, the relation of object to subject, of being to thought, this, Engels says, basic question of modern philosophy, presents itself to us in a completely new light. The counterposition of the subject to the object disappears: the subject becomes object too; matter (remember Holbach’s definition: “for us matter is what acts in one way or another upon our senses”) turns out under definite conditions to be endowed with consciousness. This is the purest materialism; but it is the only at all satisfactory answer not contradicting science to the question of the relation of subject to object.

Further. Kant places his theory of knowledge outside all connection with the doctrine of development which dominates science today and to the substantiation of which he himself contributed so much by his work Allgemeine Theorie und Geschichte des Himmels. This is a great shortcoming, which is naturally explained by the state of biology contemporaneous to Kant but is clearly felt now by certain biologists who place Kant’s philosophy very high. As an example I shall point out an interesting article by Professor Reinke, Kant’s Erkenntnisslehre und die moderne Biologie in Deutsche Rundschau, issue of July 1904.

Reinke finds that modern natural science, especially biology, does not fit in with Kant’s teaching “on the a priori properties of human reason”.

Kant, as we know, says that the category of causality is inapplicable to things in themselves and applicable only to phenomena , and this because causality is introduced into phenomena by our reason, is an a prior. law of nature. Generally, according to Kant, reason serves as the source of all order in nature, since it dictates its laws to nature. This is what embarrasses Reinke. “Does such an a priori exist? “ he asks. And he answers as follows, “Man from his very birth, and consequently prior to any experience whatsoever, is compelled by the properties of his reason to think according to the category of causality and to imagine phenomena in time and in space (Reinke also calls time and space categories; that in not a misprint, but a peculiar way of understanding the doctrine of the categories, on which I shall not dwell here); but in just the same way he is compelled by the properties of his organism to breathe, to move, to take food, etc. As man is part of nature he is subject to its great law – the law of adaptation to the conditions of existence. And it would be perfectly ridiculous to think that this law of adaptation is prescribed to nature by our reason. But the spiritual properties of organism too are subject to this law, for they are also part of nature; they also develop with the development of the organism. All forms of adaptation of the organism to the medium around it – lungs, branchiae, etc., are given to the organism just as a priori as the forms of thought. Both these groups of properties of the organism are acquired by it through heredity and develop proportionally to its growth from the cell, in which such properties are quite unnoticeable. If we ask ourselves how they were acquired by a given species of animal we will have to turn to the history of the development of the earth, but if we take a separate individual – man or some other animal – all its properties, physical as well as spiritual, are given to it a priori.”

Such is Reinke’s reasoning. His arguments are interesting and correct, but Kant’s a priori acquires a completely new meaning thanks to him. And Reinke would hardly be approved by Kant. It is sufficient to say that Reinke refuses to attribute an exclusively subjective character to time, space and causality. On the contrary. “Analogy with the adaptation of bodily forms leads me to the conclusion,” he says, “that a priori laws of thought would not exist at all if they ... did not correspond to realities outside us.” This already sounds quite materialistic, although Reinke, being one of the pillars of contemporary neovitalism, is naturally not a materialist. And it goes without saying that the present neo-Kantians like Cohen, Lasswitz or even Riehl would not at any price agree with what Reinke says about a priori. But modern biology leaves them no rest.

“I do not know,” says one German author, “how philosophers who adhere to Kant’s theory of knowledge deal with the doctrine of development. For Kant, man’s soul was a datum invariable in its elements. For him it was only a question of determining its a priori property and deducing all the rest from it, not of proving the origin of that property. But if we proceed from the axiom that man developed gradually out of a tiny piece of protoplasm, we shall have to deduce from the elementary vital manifestations of the cell the very thing which for Kant was the basis ... of the whole world of phenomena” (P. Beck, Die Nachahmung und ihre Bedeutung fur Psychologie und Völkerkunde, Leipzig 1904, S.33).

The point is, however, that up to now the Kantians have given no thought to whether their theory of knowledge fits in with the teaching on development and were even very surprised when anybody suggested that they should think of this. I remember how my Kantian friends shrugged their shoulders in scorn when arguing with Konr. Schmidt I brought forward against Kant the arguments that P. Beck advances in the passage I have just cited. But truth is coming into its own and today even such an incorrigible, we may say, Kantian as Windelband has found himself forced to ask whether “phenomenality” of time (die Phaenomenalität der Zeit) can be acknowledged by one who adheres to the theory of development (cf. his article Nach hundert Jahren in the collection Zu Kant’s Gedächtniss, Berlin 1904, S.17-18).

Windelband finds that here science sets Kantianism a “difficult problem”. But the “problem” in the present case is not “difficult”, it is simply unsolvable.

Development takes place in time and yet, according to Kant, time is only a subjective form of contemplation. If I hold the philosophy of Kant, I contradict myself when I speak of what was before me, i.e., when I did not exist and consequently neither did the forms of my contemplation: space and time. It is true that Kant’s disciples tried to get out of this difficulty by the reference that with Kant it is a matter of the forms of contemplation and thought, not of the individual man, but of the whole of humanity. But such a reference is of no help, it only creates new difficulties.

Firstly, I must admit either one or the other: either other people exist only in my imagination and in that case they did not exist before me and will not exist after my death; or they exist outside me and independently of my consciousness, in which case the idea of their existence before and after me naturally does not contain any contradiction; but now is the time when new and insuperable difficulties arise for Kant’s philosophy. If people exist outside me, that “outside me” is apparently what thanks to the structure of my brain appears to me as space. So that space is not only a subjective form of contemplation; to it corresponds also a certain objective “an sich” (“in itself”). If people lived before me and will live after me, then again to this “before me” and to this “after me” apparently corresponds some “an sich” which does not depend on my consciousness and is only reflected in that consciousness in the form of time. So that time is not only subjective either. Finally, if people exist outside me they are among those things in themselves on the possibility of knowing which we materialists are arguing with the Kantians. And if their actions are in any way capable of determining my actions, and mine are capable of influencing theirs, which he must necessarily admit, who acknowledges that human society and the development of its culture do not exist only in his consciousness then it is clear that the category of causality is applicable to the really existing external world, i.e., to the world of noumena, to things in themselves. In a word, there is no other way out: either subjective idealism, leading logically to solipsism (i.e., the acknowledgement that other people exist only in my imagination) or the renunciation of Kant’s premises, a renunciation whose logical consummation must be the transition to the standpoint of materialism as I already proved in my argument with Konrad Schmidt. [42*]

Let us go further. Let us transport ourselves in thought to the time when only very remote ancestors of man existed upon the earth, for example in the Secondary Period. The question is: how did the matter of space, time and causality stand then? Whose subjective forms were they then? Subjective forms of the ichthyosaurus? And whose reason dictated its laws to nature then. The reason of the archaeopteryx? Kant’s philosophy cannot give any answer to this question. And it must be rejected as disagreeing with modern science.

Idealism says: without a subject there is no object. The history of the earth shows that the object existed long before the subject appeared, i.e., long before any organism appeared which had any perceptible degree of consciousness. The idealist says: reason dictates its laws to nature. The history of the organic world shows that “reason” appears only on a high rung of the ladder of development. And as this development can be explained only by the laws of nature, it follows that nature dictated its laws to reason. The theory of development reveals the truth of materialism.

The history of mankind is a particular case of development in general. That is why what has been said includes the answer to the question whether Kant’s teaching can be united with the materialist explanation of history. Of course, the eclectic can unite everything in his mind. With the help of eclectic thinking one can unite Marx not only with Kant, but even with the “realists” of the Middle Ages. But for people who think consistently the illegal cohabitation of Marx with the philosophy of Kant must appear as something monstrous in the fullest sense of the word.

Kant says in his Critique of Practical Reason that the greatest obligation of the philosopher is to be consistent, but that this is precisely what we most seldom meet with. One cannot help recalling this remark of his in connection with Kant himself and with the journeymen and novices of philosophy who want to unite him with Marx.

The “critics of Marx”, including the above-mentioned armer Konrad, have shouted much and loud that Engels showed utter misunderstanding of Kant when he said that the teaching of the unknowableness of the external world was refuted best of all by experiment and industry. In actual fact Engels was absolutely right. Every experiment and every productive activity of man represents an active relation on his part to the external world, a deliberate calling forth of definite phenomena. And as a phenomenon is the fruit of the action of a thing in itself upon me (Kant says: the affecting of me by that thing), in carrying out an experiment or engaging in production of this or that product, I force the thing in itself to “affect” my “ego” in a definite manner determined beforehand by me. Consequently, I know at least some of its properties, namely those through whose intermediary I force it to act. But that is not all. By forcing this thing to act upon me in a certain way, I enter into a relation of cause towards it. But Kant says that the category of cause has no relation whatsoever to “things in themselves”; consequently, experience here refutes him better than he refuted himself when he said that the category of cause is related only to phenomena (not to things in themselves) and at the same time maintained that the thing “in itself” acts upon our “ego”, in other words, that it is the cause of phenomena. From this again it follows that Kant was seriously mistaken when he said that the “forms of our thought” ( categories, or “basic concepts of reason”, e.g., causality, interaction, existence, necessity) are only “a priori forms”, i.e., that things in themselves are not subjected to causal relations, interaction, etc. In reality the basic forms of our thought not only correspond completely to the relations existing between things in themselves, they cannot fail to correspond to them, because otherwise our existence in general, and consequently the existence of our “forms of thought” would be made impossible. It is true that we are quite capable of error in investigating these basic forms: we may take for a category what is not a category at all. But that is another question, not directly related to the present one. In connection with it we shall merely make one remark: when we speak of the knowableness of the external world, we do not at all mean thereby that any philosopher you come across has the correct conception of it.

Well, granted that Kant is wrong, granted that his dualism cannot withstand criticism. But the very existence of external objects is all the same still not proved. How will you prove that Hume is not right, that the subjective idealists, for example Berkeley, whose views you set forth at the beginning of this note, are not right?

I do not even consider it necessary to give an answer concerning subjective idealism. It is useless to argue with one whose mind can be satisfied with this philosophy which logically leads, as we have said above, to solipsism; but we can and must request him to be consistent. And consistency for a man like him means, for example, to deny even the act of his own birth; the solipsist who does not recognise anything but his own “ego” would, of course, commit a great error in logic, a real salto mortale of the mind, if he admitted that his mother exists or existed otherwise than in his imagination. And yet nobody “perceived” himself during the process of his birth; hence the solipsist has absolutely no grounds for saying that he was “born of woman”. But only the mind of an unfortunate PoprishchIn [43*] can be satisfied with such idealism. This idealism is nothing but a reductio ad absurdum of criticism which doubts the knowableness of the external world. Man must act, reason and believe in the existence of the external world, said Hume. It remains for us materialists to add that such “belief” is the necessary preliminary condition for critical thought in the best sense of the word, that it is the inevitable salto vitale of philosophy. [44*] The basic question in philosophy is not solved by opposing “ego” to “non-ego”, i.e., to the external world; such a counterposition can only lead us into the blind alley of the absurd. The solution of this particular question requires one to go beyond the limits of the “ego” and consider how “it” (an organism endowed with consciousness) stands in regard to the external world surrounding it. But as soon as the question assumes this – the only rational – form, it becomes obvious that the “subject” in general, and consequently my “ego” too, far from dictating laws to the objective world, represents only a component part of that world, considered from another aspect, from that of thought, not of extent, as Spinoza would say, he an indisputable materialist, although historians of philosophy refuse to recognise him as such. [14]

This decisive step of thought cuts the Gordian knot of Hume’s scepticism. It goes without saying that as long as I doubt the existence of external objects, the question of the causal connection between them necessarily remains before me in the same form that it assumed with Hume: I am entitled to talk only of the consistency of my own impressions, the source of which is unknown. But when the work of my thought convinces me that doubt in the existence of the external world leads my mind to absurdity, and when I, no longerdogmatically”, butcritically”, declare the existence of the external world indubitable, I then, by the very fact, admit that my impressions are the result of the action upon me of external objects, i.e., I attribute an objective significance to causality.

Of course to a thinker in a certain state of mind the salto vitale of thought that I alluded to may appear unjustified and he will feel inclined to return to Hume. But Hume’s standpoint condemns thought to complete immobility: Hume himself abandoned it every time he, in a desire to think, began to “believe” in the existence of the external world. That is why a return to Hume is, as Engels justly remarks, a step back compared with materialism. Such a step back, by the way, is made in the present time by the empiriomonists, whose philosophy Riehl quite correctly calls a renewal of Hume’s philosophy (Zur Einleitung in die Philosophie der Gegenwart, Leipzig 1903, S.101).]

(8) [45*] In this connection it may perhaps be remarked that both chemistry and biology will finally be reduced, in all probability to molecular mechanics. [46*] But the reader sees that Engels is not talking of the mechanics which the French materialists had not and could not have in mind, any more than Descartes, their teacher, had when he spoke of building an “animal machine”. We can see already from the first part of Descartes’ work On the Passions (Des passions en general, etc.) what mechanical causes he resorted to in explaining phenomena accomplished in the animal organism. But how little the mechanical outlook of the French materialist tallies with the historical view of nature is shown best of all by the famous book Système de la Nature (The System of Nature). [47*] In the sixth chapter of the first part of this book its authors come up against the question of the origin of man. Although the thought of his gradual (zoological) development does not seem to them “contradictory” , it is clear from everything that in their eyes it is a very improbable “surmise”. If anybody had objected against such a surmise, if anybody had told them that “ nature acts with the help of a definite aggregate of universal and immutable laws” (as though universal and immutable laws are contradictory to development!!); if to this they had added that “man, the quadruped, the fish, the insect, the plant, and so on, have existed for ever and remain for ever immutable”, the authors “would not have opposed this either”; they would merely have remarked that neither was this view contradictory to the truths (of mechanical materialism) which they were expounding. In the end they get out of the difficulty with these considerations:

“It is not given to man to know everything; it is not given to him to know his origin; it is not given to him to penetrate into the essence of things down to the primary causes; but he is capable of having reason and good intentions, he is capable of admitting sincerely that he does not know what he cannot know and of not putting incomprehensible words and absurd propositions in the place of his ignorance.” (Syst. de la Nat., London edition, 1781, Part I, p.75)

A warning for those who like to philosophise on “the limits to knowledge of nature”.

The authors of The System of Nature explain all the historical evils of mankind by lack of “reason”. “The peoples did not know the true foundations of authority, they did not dare to demand happiness of their rulers, who were obliged to give it to them ... The inevitable consequence of such opinions was the degeneration of politics into the fatal art of sacrificing the happiness of all to the caprice of a single one or of a few privileged ones”, etc. (Ibid., p.291). With such views one could fight with success against existing “privileges”, but one could not even think of a scientific conception of history. [For more details on this see Beltov, The Development of the Monistic View of History, and my book Beiträge zur Geschichte des Materialismus.]

(9) [48*] What is a categorical imperative? Why does Engels speak of it with such scorn? Is it only because it suggests too high ideals? [No, it is not.]

What is an ideal? “An ideal,” the philistine answers, “is a goal towards which we are morally obliged to strive but which is so high that we will never reach it.” From this the philistine draws the conclusion – an extremely pleasant one for him – that “faith in an ideal” is compatible with actions which, to say the least, have nothing in common with the “ideal”. In the seventies there were such “ideal” gendarme officers in Russia who when arresting a “nihilist” assured him that socialism was indeed a very good thing, that nothing better could be imagined, but that at the same time the ideal was unattainable and that, living on earth, one must think of what was earthly, and that what was “earthly” demanded that he, the ideal gendarme officer, “having tracked down” the no less ideal nihilist, “should bring him to judgement” and so he was “tracking down and bringing to judgement”. In all probability the gendarmes w ere lying when they spoke of their striving towards an “ideal”. But let us take another example. Our “legal” Narodniks strived with complete sincerity towards their “ideals”. But see what came of their sincere attitude to those ideals. Their social ideal was a free “people”, developing independently, without any hindrances from the government and the higher estates. Both the government and the higher estates were completely deleted, if not completely annihilated in the Narodnik ideal. But what did the Narodniks do to fulfil their ideals? Sometimes they simply moaned over the disintegration of the “foundations” “(they wept over figures”, as G.I. Uspensky [49*] put it). Sometimes they advised the government to increase the peasants’ allotments and to lighten the burden of taxation. Sometimes – these were the most consistent and irreconcilable – they “settled on the land”. But all this did not bring Russian reality any closer to the Narodnik ideal. That is why the Narodniks wept not only over figures, but over themselves too. They were conscious of the complete impotence of their ideals. But what was the cause of this impotence? It is clear: they had no organic connection between their ideals and reality. Reality went in one direction and their ideals in another, or, to put it better, they remained stationary, continuing to be “settled on the land” with Messrs, the liberal Narodniks, so that the distance between ideals and reality kept increasing, as a result of which their ideals became more and more powerless day by day. Engels would have laughed at such ideals, of course, as Hegel indeed did. However, the mockery would be directed not against the loftiness of the ideals, but against their very impotence, their severance form the general course of the Russian movement. Engels dedicated his entire life to an extremely lofty aim: the emancipation of the proletariat. He also had his “ideal”, but he was not severed for ever from reality. His ideal was reality itself, but the reality of tomorrow, a reality which will be fulfilled, not because Engels was a man of an ideal, but because the properties of the present reality are such that out of it, by its own inner laws, there must develop that reality of tomorrow which we may call Engels’ ideal. Uneducated people may ask us: if the whole point consists in the properties of the reality, then what has Engels to do with it, why does he intervene with his ideals in the inevitable historical process? Cannot the matter do without him? From the objective standpoint the position of Engels appears as follows: in the process of the transition from one form to another, reality seized on him as on one of the necessary instruments of the impending revolution. From the subjective standpoint it turns out that it was pleasant for Engels to partake in that historical movement, that he considered it his duty and the great task of his life. The laws of social development can no more be fulfilled without the intermediary of people than the laws of nature without the intermediary of matter. But this does not in any sense mean that the “personality” can ignore the laws of social development. In the best of cases he will be punished for this by being reduced to the position of a ridiculous Don Quixote.

[In his well-known work Wirtschaft und Recht Stammler expressed amazement at the Social-Democrats considering, on the one hand, that the revolution of the proletariat is inevitable, and, on the other, finding it necessary to promote the advent of that revolution. In his opinion this was just as strange as creating a party to promote astronomically inevitable eclipses of the moon. But his making such a remark shows – as does, by the way, the whole of his book – that he did not understand the materialist philosophy underlying modern socialism. Even D. Priestley says, and quite rightly: “Though the chain of events is necessary, our own determinations and actions are necessary links of that chain” (Disquisitions, Vol.I, p.110). Kant considered Priestley a fatalist. But where is the fatalism in this? There is no trace of it, as Priestley pointed out in his argument with Price.

Let us now speak of the categorical imperative. What is it? Kant calls imperatives rules which have the “mark of obligation”. An imperative can be conditional or categorical. A conditional imperative determines the will only in relation to a given desirable action. A categorical imperative determines the will independently of this or that end in view; it determines the will as such, “even before I ask myself whether I have sufficient ability to produce the action I have in view or what I must do to produce it”. Besides the mark of obligation, the categorical imperative has, therefore, the mark of unconditional necessity. If somebody is told that he must work and put money aside for a rainy day, this is a conditional imperative; he must put money aside only if he does not want to be in need when he is old and has no other means of protecting himself against poverty. But the rule not to make false promises applies only to man’s will as such and does not depend on the aims pursued by that man. By this rule the act of will is determined a priori. This is a categorical imperative. “Consequently,” Kant says, “practical laws apply only to the will, independently of what is created by its causality, and one can renounce the latter in order to have these laws pure.” (Critique of Practical Reason, Russian translation by N.M. Sokolov, St. Petersburg 1897, p.21.)

There is, properly, only one categorical imperative which says: act only in accordance with such a rule as you could desire to elevate to a universal law (Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten, Leipzig 1897, S.44).

To explain his thought Kant cites several examples. A particular person is so unhappy that life has become a burden for him and he asks whether it is permissible to kill himself. Where must the answer to this question be sought? In the categorical imperative. What would happen if suicide were made a universal law? What would happen is that life would cease. Therefore, suicide does not conform to morality. Another example. Somebody has trusted his chattels to the safe keeping of another man. Is it permissible for the other man to keep it for himself? To Kant this question too seems just as easy to solve with the help of the categorical imperative: if all people appropriated what they had been entrusted with to them nobody would give property for safe keeping. A third example. A well-to-do man could help a poor man but refuses to do so. Is this not contrary to moral duty? It is: nobody can desire that such conduct should be the general rule, since each may find himself in difficulty.

These examples provide a good explanation of Kant’s thought, but they also reveal its groundlessness. Hegel has already noted [50*] that the example of giving chattels for safe keeping is not convincing, for one can ask: where is the harm if things are not entrusted for safe keeping? And if anyone replied that it would then be more difficult to guard chattels and that property itself would be impossible in the end, it could also be objected, what is property needed for? Kant’s teaching, as Hegel says, does not contain a single law of morality clear in itself, without any further arguments and without contradictions, independently of other qualifications. This is correct and it is especially noticeable in the example of suicide. Indeed, in this example it is a question of the suicide not of all people generally, but only of such as are broken by the difficult struggle of life, and the suicide of such people would not put an end to life.

Besides, Hegel says that with Kant each definite law of morality is an empty statement, a meaningless tautology like the formula A=A, chattels entrusted for safe keeping are chattels entrusted for safe keeping, property is property. That is also correct and quite comprehensible. For Kant there simply existed no such questions as those which Hegel counterposes to his “empty statements”: Where is the harm if things are not entrusted for safe keeping? Why is property needed? etc. Kant’s ideal, his “kingdom of aims” (Reich der Zwecke, cf. Grundlegung, p.58) was an abstract ideal of bourgeois society, whose standards seemed to Kant to be unquestionable orders of “practical reason”. Kant’s morality is bourgeois morality, translated into the language of his philosophy, whose main defect, as we have seen, was the complete inability to cope with the questions of development. To support this I shall dwell on the third example cited above and borrowed from Kant himself. But first I ask the reader to note that Kant was a resolute opponent of utilitarian morality. In his opinion, the principle of happiness contains no other bases to determine the will than those which are inherent in the ability to desire; but reason, determining the will, cannot take this lower ability into account. Reason is so different from this ability that even the slightest admixture of the impulses deriving from the latter “deprives it of force and superiority, just as the slightest empirical admixture, as a condition in a mathematical proof, debases and destroys the whole action of the demonstration” (Critique of Practical Reason, p.27). The principle of morality consists in being independent of the desired object.

This being independent of the desired object has long provided occasion for jokes and epigrams (cf. for example 388–389 Xenien of Schiller and Goethe). I cannot give them here. [15] All I wish to say is that the third example cited above from Kant can be considered as convincing only in the event of our adopting the standpoint of utilitarian morality and compelling ourpractical reasonto take into account ourability to desire”: for according to Kant I must help others because I also may be in need of their help. What could be more utilitarian? Besides, I wish to draw the reader’s attention to the circumstance that while objecting to utilitarianists, Kant always has in mind the principle of “personal happiness” which he correctly calls the principle of self-love. And that is precisely why he cannot cope with the basic questions of morality. Indeed, morality is founded on the striving not for personal happiness , but for the happiness of the whole: the clan, the people, the class, humanity. This striving has nothing in common with egoism. On the contrary, it always presupposes a greater or lesser degree of self-sacrifice. And as social feelings can be transmitted from generation to generation and strengthened by natural selection (cf. Darwin’s most apt remarks on this point in his book on the origin of man) [52*] self-sacrifice can take a form as if it were a matter of “autonomous will”, without any admixture of “the ability to desire”. But this indisputable circumstance does not in the least preclude the utilitarian principle of this lofty ability. If self-sacrifice were not useful for the particular society, class, or, finally, the particular animal species in its struggle for existence (remember that social feelings are not characteristic of man alone), then it would be alien to the individuals belonging to this society, class or species. That is all. A particular individual is born with an a priori “ability for selfs.acrifice” just as it is born – according to the remark by Reinke quoted above (in Note 7) – with an “a priori” ability to breathe and digest; but there is nothing mysterious in this “a priori-ness”: it was formed gradually in the long, long process of development.

From the standpoint of development and social usefulness it is easy to solve those questions by means of which Hegel refuted Kant’s moral laws: what is the safe keeping of chattels needed for? Why is property needed? etc. But – I repeat – still more clearly in his teaching on morality than in his theory of knowledge is his inability and that of his followers to adopt the standpoint of development displayed. And here, just as often as in connection with Kant’s theory of knowledge, we have to remember Kant’s own words: “The greatest obligation of the philosopher is to be consistent, but this is precisely what we most seldom meet with”.

Jacobi, a contemporary of Kant, revolted against his teaching on morality and said in a letter to Fichte:

“Yes, I am an atheist and a godless man, who desires, contrary to a will which desires nothing, to lie like Desdemona when she was dying; I want to lie and deceive like Pylades when he tried to pass as Orestes; to kill like Timoleon, to break laws and oaths like Epaminondas and Jan de Witt; to commit suicide like Otto; to plunder the temple like David and even to pluck ears of corn on the Sabbath just because I am hungry and because the law is made for man and not man for the law.”

That is very good, and Hegel was perfectly right in his opinion that these thoughts of Jacobi’s were “perfectly pure, since their expression in the first person, ‘I am’, ‘I desire’, cannot hinder their objectivity”. [53*] But the absolutely correct thought that the law is made for man and not man for the law provides an unshakable foundation for utilitarian morality understood in its true, i.e., objective significance.]

(10) [54*] Hegel had already noted that it is absurd to consider historical events from the moral point of view (cf. his Lectures on the Philosophy of History, p.67 of the first edition, Vol.IX of the complete collection of his works). But our “progressive writers” still do not understand the correctness of this remark (which, I admit, they have yet hardly heard of). They lament with the utmost sincerity over the deterioration of morals which accompanies the disintegration of the ancient “foundations” of the people’s life, foundations on which whole forests of birchrods and mountains of blows have grown. The factory proletariat is in their eyes a vessel of all kinds of vices. Scientific socialism takes a different view of the matter. The representatives of scientific socialism knew long before “progressive” Russian writers noticed it, that the development of capitalism inevitably leads to what may be called the demoralisation of the workers, i.e., first and foremost a break with traditionally established morality (cf. for example Engels’ Die Lage der arbeitenden Klasse in England, Leipzig 1845, pp.120 et seq.). But Engels did not dream of a resumption of patriarchal relationships, and, what is most important, he understood that out of the “immorality” of the factory proletariat there grows a new “morality”, the morality of revolutionary struggle against the existing order of things, which in the end will create a new social system in which the workers will not be “perverted”, because the source. of their “perversion” will disappear (pp.256 et seq.). The contemporary condition of Russian “progressive” thought can be expressed as follows: we have not even an idea of what really progressive thought in the West already knew half a century ago. Really, there is enough to drive us to despair!

[These lines were written in 1892 when our arguments with illegal Narodism (still in existence as remnants of the Narodnaya Volya trend) were still going on and our polemic with the legal Narodniks, which became particularly sharp in the second half of the nineties, was as yet only in preparation. Now our “progressive” writers have no time to mourn over the disintegration of the “ancient foundations” and they no longer regret the appearance of the proletariat in our country: life itself has now shown them how great the revolutionary significance of this class is; and the “progressive” press is now lavish in praise of it. Better late than never, as the saying goes. But I say: better early than late. If our “progressive” people had abandoned their absurd view of the proletariat as of a mere “ulcer” earlier; if, renouncing this view, they had promoted with all their might the development of consciousness in this class, the infamous Black Hundred would not now be playing its dangerous role in politics. Stubborn and persistent defence by the “progressive” intelligentsia of the prejudices of Narodism truly constitutes their political crime for which implacable history is now severely punishing them.]

(11) [55*] As for primitive society, Marx’s historical views are brilliantly corroborated by the studies of Morgan (cf. his Ancient Society [56*] which was first published in English; now there is a German, [Russian] and, if we are not mistaken, a Polish translation). Some dishonest critics maintain that Morgan’s conclusions regarding tribal life are founded only on the study of the social life of the Red Indians in North America. It is sufficient to read his book to be convinced that such “critical” remarks are completely unfounded. In the same way it is sufficient to become acquainted in detail, i.e., from first sources, with the history of the antique world to see how indisputable is all that Morgan and Engels say about it (cf. the latter’s Der Ursprung der Familie, des Privateigenthums und des Staats, i.e., The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State). [But notwithstanding many scientists’ malevolent attitude towards Morgan’s work, this man’s thoughts of genius have not been lost for modern ethnology. Under his influence there has arisen in North America a whole school of ethnologists whose works are published in the annual – and extremely noteworthy – reports of the Smithsonian Institution and provide much most valuable data for the materialist explanation of the history of primitive society. Among the works in Europe based on the studies of Morgan we must include first of all the valuable works of our German comrade H. Cunow on the systems of relations among the Australian Negroes, the social structure in Mexico and the state of the Incas, and finally on matriarchy in connection with the development of the productive forces in the “savage” tribes. [57*] However, one must admit when speaking of Europe, that the influence of Morgan’s ideas, properly speaking, is still relatively weak. But there is no doubt that here too “ethnology” resorts with increasing frequence to purely materialist explanations of social phenomena. I do not think that an investigator such as Karl von den Steinen would take any interest in historical materialism; in his works at least there is not so much as a hint that he is even a little acquainted with this theory. But in his instructive book Unter den Naturvölkern Zentral-Brasiliens, Berlin 1894, this method, recommended by the “economic” materialists, is applied invariably from beginning to end, and in the majority of cases successfully. Even Ratzel, who considers it necessary to defend himself against the reproach of materialism (cf. his Völkerkunde, II, S.631), places the development of “spiritual” culture in causal dependence on the development of “material” culture. He says: “The sum of cultural acquisitions in each people in each stage of their development is made up of material and spiritual acquisitions. These acquisitions are achieved by various means, with differing ease and at different times.... Underlying spiritual cultural acquisitions are the material ones” (ibid., Vol.I, p.17). This is the same historical materialism but not thought out to the end and therefore partly inconsistent, partly naive. And we come across the same, so to speak, naturally grown and therefore naïve and more or less inconsistent materialism in a large number of works on the development of different special fields of primitive “culture”, or, to use Marx’s expression, different ideologies. Thus, the investigation of primitive art has taken a firm stand on materialist ground; this could be confirmed by quoting a long list of works published in Europe and in the United States of North America, but I will confine myself to indicating the works of Grosse, Die Anfänge der Kunst, and of Bücher, Arbeit und Rhythmus, of which there are Russian translations. It is interesting that this latter work was written by a man whose view of the basic causes of social development is directly opposed to the materialist view (as can be seen from what Bücher wrote about the mutual relations of play and labour). But it is obvious that now even the bourgeois scientist cannot always avoid the influence of truth, although he finds it unpleasant to acknowledge it because of some or other prejudices. Everything shows that we are now rapidly approaching the time when what we can now observe in natural science will be repeated in social sciences: all phenomena will be given a materialist explanation but the basic thought of the materialists will be rejected as being groundless. It is not difficult to understand what explains this dual attitude to materialism: the consistent materialist outlook is mainly a revolutionary view of the world, and the “educated classes” in the Western countries are by no means inclined towards revolution at present. It can be seen from an interesting book written by an American, Edwin R.A. Seligman, The Economic Interpretation of History, New York 1902, that I am not calumniating the “educated classes”. Professor Seligman says expressly that historical materialism is doing itself a lot of harm in the eyes of scientists by its close connection with socialism (cf. p.90 of his book) and its alleged “absurd exaggerations”, including its negative attitude to religion in general and to Christianity in particular (see the whole of Chapter IV of the book quoted). As Seligman considers the materialist explanation of history to be correct and as he wishes to have its correctness recognised by other scientists, he tries to prove that one can adhere to the materialist explanation of history and not share the atheist and socialist conclusions at which the enormous majority of its supporters have arrived so far. It must be admitted that Seligman is right in his way: with a certain inconsistency the logical operation which he suggests is obviously possible. And it would be useful for social sciences if bourgeois scientists listened to the advice that Seligman gives them: by renouncing the “exaggerations” of modern Marxism they would, of course, be making a big mistake. But by rejecting historical materialism outright they are making not one, but a large number of mistakes; of the two evils the former would therefore all the same be the lesser ...

However this may be, the late N. Mikhailovsky was cruelly mistaken when he maintained in his argument with the “Russian pupils of Marx” that historical materialism is incapable, because of its inherent groundlessness, to attract the attention of the scientific world. The attention of the scientific world is now being drawn to it from all sides and although bourgeois scientists, due to the causes pointed out above, still show little inclination to acknowledge its scientific worth in the majority of cases, now it is not rare even for experts in geography to speak about it in special works and, for example, certain members of the Berlin Geographical Society have spared no efforts to fight it. This is a gratifying sign of the times, and one that is of no little importance.]

Author’s Footnotes

12. In § 32 of Kant’s well-known work Prolegomena zu einer jeden künftigen Metaphysik, die als Wissenschaft wird auftreten können which appeared after his Critique of Pure Reason, we read: “In der That, wenn wir die Gegenstände der Sinne, wie billig, als blosse Erscheinungen ansehen, so gestehen wir hierdurch doch zugleich, dass ihnen ein Ding an sich selbst zu Grunde liege, ob wir dasselbe gleich nicht, wie es an sich beschaffen sei, sondern nur seine Erscheinung, d.i. die Art, wie unsere Sinne von diesem unbekannten Etwas affiziert werden, kennen.” (“In fact, if, as we should, we consider the objects of our external senses as simple phenomena, we thereby, however, acknowledge that there underlies them the thing in itself, although we do not know its properties, but only the way in which it affects our senses.”)

13. Still more decisive in this sense is the English materialist Joseph Priestley (cf. his Disquisitions Relating to Matter and Spirit, Vol.I, second edition, Birmingham MDCCLXXXII, p.134). True, according to the spirit of his variety of materialism, which is fairly close to Ostwald’s “energetics”, Priestley goes too far, but that is indifferent to us here.

14. Cf. Feuerbach’s: “Was für mich, oder subjectiv, ein reingeistiger, immaterieller, unsinnlicher Akt, ist an sich, oder objectiv, ein materieller, sinnlicher.” (What to me, or subjectively, is a purely spiritual, immaterial, non-sensuous act, is, in itself, or objectively, a material and sensuous one. Werke, II, 350.)

15. However, here is one from Xenien:


Gerne dien’ich den Freunden, doch thu’ich es leider mit Neigung
Und so wurmt es mir oft, dass ich nicht tugendhaft bin.


Da ist kein andrer Rat, du musst suchen sie zu verachten,
Und mit Abscheu alsdann thun, wie die Pflicht dir gebietet. [51*]

(i.e., Scruple: I willingly render services to friends, but unfortunately I do it with inclination and I often have misgivings that I am not virtuous. Decision: There is no other way out: you must try to despise them and do with repulsion what duty commands you.)


36*. Note 7 comes after Engels’ words: “...surreptitiously accepting materialism, while denying it before the world” (p.347).

37*. P. Holbach, The System of Nature or On the Laws of the Physical World and the Spiritual World. (Système de la nature ou Des Lois du Monde Physique et du Monde Moral, Par. M. Mirabeau, Premiere partie, Londres, 1781.)

38*. F.A. Lange, Geschichte des Materialismus und Kritik seiner Bedeutung in der Gegenwart, 1866.

39*. Goethes Werke, Berlin, Ausgabe Gustav Humpel, T.2, S.230.

40*. Priestley’s polemic with Price was recorded in a book published in London in 1778, D. Priestley, A Free Discussion on the Doctrines of Materialism and Philosophical Necessity.

41*. I.M. Sechenov, Selected Philosophical and Psychological Works, Gospolitizdat Publishing House, 1947, pp.350, 359.

42*. Plekhanov’s articles against Schmidt are published in the second volume of Plekhanov’s Selected Philosophical Works.

43*. Poprishchin – a character in Gogol’s tale A Madman’s Diary – a minor official with a mania for greatness. His name has become a symbol of a maniac obsessed by delirious ideas.

44*. In this case Plekhanov “discloses a confusion of terms”, Lenin point out. (Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, Moscow 1953, p.140.)

45*. Note 8 comes after Engels’ words: “... limitation of classical French materialism”. (p.373.)

46*. The dialectical-materialist solution of the question of the impermissibility of glossing over the specific character of qualitatively different forms of motion of matter, of the impermissibility of reducing these forms to one of them was given by Engels. (Dialectics of Nature, Moscow 1954, pp.328, 332-33.)

47*. The System of Nature or On the Laws of the Physical World and the Spiritual World, Holbach’s most important work, was published in Amsterdam in 1770 under the pseudonym of M. Mirabeau and with an imaginary place of publication in London. For a long time it was ascribed to a group of authors.

48*. Note 9 follows Engels’ words: “the complete idealist Hegel”. (p.356.)

49*. In Uspensky’s series of tales Living Figures we find the words: “There is the kind of complicated thing sometimes hidden in statistic fractions. You ponder and ponder these little ciphers, you do all sorts of calculations, and suddenly a tear drops and smudges it all!” (G.I. Uspensky, Collected Works, Vol.X, Book 2, edition of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, 1954, p.179.)

50*. Cf. Hegel, Werke, Bd. I, Berlin 1832, S.349-59.

51*. End of Schiller’s The Philosopher, 1796.

52*. Ch. Darwin, The Origin of Man and Sexual Selection, Chapter V. The attempt to transpose biological concepts to the domain of social science was criticised by Lenin in Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, Moscow 1952, pp.342–43.)

53*. Cf. Hegel, Werke, Bd.I, Berlin 1832, S.105-106. The passage quoted by Hegel is from Jacobi. Jacobi, Werke, Bd.3, S.37-38.)

54*. Note 10 follows Engels’ words: “a fact of which the history of feudalism and of the bourgeoisie, for example, constitutes a single continual proof.” (p. 357.)

55*. Note 11 follows Engels’ words: “But, of course, this cannot be gone into here.” (p.370.)

56*. L. Morgan, Ancient Society or Researches in the Lines of Human Progress from Savagery Through Barbarism to Civilisation, New York 1878.

57*. Cf. H. Cunow, Die soziale Verfassung des Inkareichs. Eine Untersuchung des altperuanischen Agrarkommunismus, Stuttgart, Dietz, 1896, and his article, Les bases économiques du matriarcat published in the journal Le devenir social, 1898, Nos.1, 2 and 4.

Last updated on 17.10.2006