Dialectical Materialism (A. Spirkin)
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Philosophy as a World-View

The meaning of the term "world-view" and its significance in life. At first glance the term "world-view" suggests a general view of the world—and no more. But the appearance of the word does not reveal the full meaning of this complex intellectual phenomenon. A world-view, as we understand it, is a system of generalised views of the surrounding world and man's place in it, of man's relationship to the world and himself, and also the basic positions that people derive from this general picture of the world, their beliefs, socio-political, moral and aesthetic ideals, the principles by which they know and appraise material and spiritual events.

While it possesses a relatively independent existence in the sphere of social consciousness, the world-view also functions as something individual. A person becomes an individual when he forms a definite world-view. This process of formation indicates the maturity not only of an individual but also of any given social group, social class or its party. The concept of world-view, which was first encountered among the Greek sceptics, is substantially broader in meaning than the concept of philosophy, moreover it has several different meanings.

We speak of the philosophical, the socio-political, the natural-scientific, the artistic, the religious, and even the ordinary man's world-view. And this is quite natural. If we picture the various types of world-view in the geometrical form of circles, the central position should be given to the circle of the philosophical world-view. And this circle will intersect with all the others and form their nucleus. In this way we find that the meaning people and social groups attach to the term "world-view" is extremely diverse. But despite this diversity, every world-view reveals a certain unity in the sense that it embraces a certain range of questions. For example, what is the world that exists outside us? What is the relationship between spirit and matter? What is man? What is his place in the universal interconnection of phenomena? How does man come to know reality? What are good and evil? What is beautiful in life and in art? What laws guide the development of society? The totality of the natural sciences forms a natural-scientific picture of the world, and that of the social sciences yields a socio-historical picture of reality. What is a picture of the world? It is a picture of how matter moves and how in the shape of the human being it feels, thinks and poses goals. The creation of a general picture of the world is the task of all fields of knowledge, including philosophy. In compressed form, general pictures of the world are presented in universal encyclopaedias compiled at various historical stages to reflect the intellectual achievements of mankind.

The world-view is by no means all the views and notions of the surrounding world, that is to say, it is not simply a picture of the world taken in its integral form. Not a single specific science can be identified with a world-view, although each science does contain a world-view principle. For example, Darwin discovered the laws of the origin of species. This caused a revolution in biology and evoked universal interest. Did these laws evoke such interest because they were merely biological laws? Of course, not. They awakened such interest because they helped us to understand various philosophical questions, the question of purpose in living nature, the origin of man, and so on. The name of Einstein was made immortal by his discovery. But was this discovery purely physical, a solution to some particular scientific problem? No, Einstein's theory provided a key to the philosophical problem of the essence of space and time, their unity with matter. Why did the ideas of Sechenov on cerebral reflexes create such a furore among intellectuals? Not because they were merely physiological ideas, but because they solved certain philosophical problems of the relationship between consciousness and the brain. We know what a broad impact the principles of cybernetics have had. But cybernetics is not just a specific scientific theory. Cybernetics, and also genetics, raise profound philosophical problems.

The world-view contains something more than scientific information. It is a crucial regulative principle of all the vital relationships between man and social groups in their historical development. With its roots in the whole system of the individual and society's spiritual needs and interests, deter mined by human practice, by all man's accumulated experience, the world-view in its turn exerts a tremendous influence on the life of society and the individual.

The world-view is usually compared with ideology and these two concepts are sometimes treated as synonyms. But they intersect rather than coincide. Ideology embraces that part of the world-view that is oriented on social, class relationships, on the interests of certain social groups and, above all, on the phenomena of political power. The world-view, on the other hand, is oriented on the world as a whole, on the "man-universe" system.

The world-view may exist on the ordinary, everyday level generated by the empirical conditions of life and experience handed down from generation to generation. It may also be scientific, integrating the achievements of modern science concerning nature, society and humanity itself.

The world-view is not only the content, but also the mode of thinking about reality, and also the principles of life itself. An important component of the world-view is the ideals, the cherished and decisive aims of life. The character of a person's notion of the world, his world-view, facilitates the posing of certain goals which, when generalised, form a broad plan of life, ideals, notions of wellbeing, good and evil, beauty, and progress, which give the world-view tremendous power to inspire action. Knowledge becomes a world-view when it acquires the character of conviction, of complete and unshakable confidence in the rightness of certain ideas, views, principles, ideals, which take command of a person's soul, subordinate his actions, and rule his conscience or, in other words, form bonds that cannot be escaped without betraying oneself, set free "demons" that a person can conquer only by submitting to them and acting in accordance with their overwhelming power. The world-view influences standards of behaviour, a person's attitude to his work, to other people, the character of his aspirations in life, his everyday existence, tastes and interests. It is a kind of spiritual prism through which everything around us is perceived, felt and transformed.

As most people would agree, it is ideological conviction, that is to say, a certain view of the world, that enables a person at a moment of mortal danger to overcome the instinct of self-preservation, to sacrifice his own life, to perform feats of daring in the name of freedom from oppression, in the name of scientific, moral, socio-political and other principles and ideals. The world-view does not exist by itself, apart from specific historical individuals, social groups, classes and parties. In one way or another, by reflecting certain phenomena of reality it expresses their value orientations, their relationship to events of social life. Philosophy, too, as the theoretical nucleus of the world-view, basically defends the interests of certain social groups and thus has a class and, in this sense, a party character. Depending on whether the socio-political interests of a given class coincide with the objective trend of history, its philosophical positions are either progressive or reactionary. They may be optimistic or pessimistic, religious or atheistic, idealist or materialist, humane or misanthropic. The whole history of philosophical thought is, in fact, a struggle between various world-views, a struggle which has often raged so fiercely that people preferred to be burnt at the stake, thrown into prison or condemned to penal servitude rather than betray their chosen cause. So it is fundamentally wrong to imagine that philosophers have always stood above earthly matters, above people's practical and political interests, the interests of classes and parties, and accumulated knowledge merely for the sake of knowledge, isolated themselves, like Diogenes in his tub, in the seclusion of their studies from the stormy events of real life. Philosophy has by no means set itself apart, hovering somewhere in the blue expanses of the heavens; it has performed a definite socio-political function and constantly been at the centre of political events. Genuine philosophy is full of civic courage and least of all can be accused of social indifference. Philosophy is political in its very essence, in its social mission. Politics, as we know, is the core of all associations and dissociations, integrations and disintegrations, alliances and conflicts. Science, art, philosophy, and religion are all drawn into the vortex of political struggle. It is a political question whether scientific discoveries or technical inventions aid the cause of peace or war. It is also a political question what aims and actions are inspired by certain works of art, what feelings and urges they awaken. And it is also a political question whether philosophy gives the people a scientific world-view, whether or not it orientates them on high ideals and a rational and just order of society.

Hegel ironically remarked that philosophy claims to teach the world but always arrives too late to do so. Its very appearance on the historical scene with the required message indicates that the sun has already set. "When philosophy begins to paint in grey upon grey, it shows that a certain form of life has grown old and with grey upon grey philosophy cannot rejuvenate but only understand it; the owl of Minerva begins its flight only in the gathering dusk."[1]

This is a splendid metaphor. But though it impresses, it does not convince. If we look back into the past, we see that philosophy has emerged not only as an owl flying amid the twilight of obsolete forms of life, but also as a lark, joyously heralding the spring floods that will sweep away the very foundations of an obsolete way of life, the swelling buds and forms and colours to be born anew. According to the ancient myth, Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, sprang from the head of Zeus, fully armed, carrying a shield and spear. This mythological image is profoundly symbolic: wisdom comes into the world not to rest on its laurels and passively contemplate existence, indifferently perceiving good and evil, but to fight for the truth, for justice, for the triumph of reason in life and to shield us from the onslaughts of the dark forces of evil, untruth and error. Only reactionary philosophy, steeped in dogmatism, is doomed to trail behind swiftly moving life. Progressive philosophical thought is always in the vanguard, theoretically substantiating the people's right to overthrow their oppressors, to create higher forms of life. It usually emerges as the stormy petrel of the approaching revolutionary struggle in all spheres of human existence.

All socio-political movements in the history of mankind, from the smallest to the great transitions from previous forms of social life to new societies, have been heralded and accompanied by certain forms of philosophical proof, whether in the form of new moral or religious principles, a historical regularity or in the form of such principles as liberty, equality and justice.

Socrates was condemned to death for holding philosophical beliefs that threatened the political principles of the society in which he lived. Plato's numerous attempts to give practical expression to his ideals of state nearly cost him his life. In the age of the Renaissance feudalism was dying and capitalism was born. The death of one social system and the birth of the other were prolonged. This complex process took a zigzag course, it was accompanied by wars and revolutionary explosions that shook the whole social edifice until the old system was destroyed to its foundations. All these processes were vividly expressed in the intense struggle between different philosophical world-views. Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot and others awakened and stirred the somnolent socio political consciousness with their rousing works. They in flamed people's hearts and minds and directed the people's anger against the decayed social system. They struck revolutionary sparks from men's hearts, prepared people's minds for revolution and brought about the situation that Karl Marx was later to describe as follows: "The people must be taught to be terrified at itself in order to give it courage."[2] Before Bismarck began to unite Germany with an iron hand, there appeared German classical philosophy, which declared the constitutional monarchy to be the highest embodiment of the world spirit in its progressive motion.

Throughout their conscious life Marx, Engels, Lenin and their associates prepared and trained the masses for a socialist revolution organisationally, theoretically, and also philosophically.

Philosophy therefore cannot be indifferent to the contest between the old and new in social life, in politics, science and art. "Recent philosophy is as partisan as was philosophy two thousand years ago."[3]

Some bourgeois philosophers maintain that they represent "pure science", that they are unaffected by earthly passions and class struggles. This is either deception or self-deception, or simply a deliberate call for desertion from the field of ideological battle. The so-called deideologising of philosophy actually seeks to popularise the worst ideology, an ideology born of the fact that in a class-divided society the ruling classes, parties, various groups and sometimes gangs of impostors present their selfish interests as the interests of the whole of society, of the people, and portray them as the only reasonable and generally significant interests in existence.

Some bourgeois ideologists maintain that partisanship of a world-view is incompatible with objectivity, with science. It is true that partisanship does not always coincide with science. When a world-view expresses and defends the position and interests of decaying social groups that are departing from the historical scene, it diverges from the truth of life, from its scientific assessment for the sake of narrow partisan interests. On the other hand, a world-view is scientific if it truly reflects and anticipates life in its dynamic development, expresses the position and interests of the advanced forces of society, teaches people to strive honestly and directly for the truth, for all that is truly reasonable.

The unity between the partisanship and scientificality of Marxist philosophy rests on the coincidence of the working people's interests with the objective course of history. Only an unbiased study of reality furthers the interests of working people, enables them to place their practical and political activity on a sound scientific basis. The concern that the Communist Party of the Soviet Union shows for the observance and practical application of the principle of partisanship is in fact concern for the preservation and development of a truthful attitude to life. Truth always has been and will be revolutionary. It is the reflection of life in its forward development.

The basic question of philosophy. Materialism and idealism. No matter from what direction the thinker is proceeding along the "philosophical road", he must cross the bridge known as "the basic question of philosophy". As he does so he must, whether he likes it or not, decide on which side of the river of philosophical thought he will remain—the materialist or the idealist side. But he may find himself in mid-stream, in the position of dualism, that is to say, recognition of two equal and independent substances in the universe—material and spiritual. The basic question of philosophy is that of the relationship of thinking to being. It presupposes acknowledgement of the existence of an objective, i.e., independent of human consciousness, reality and a subjective, spiritual reality—representations, thoughts, ideas—and a certain relationship between them. Which comes first—matter or consciousness? Which generates which? Does matter at a certain stage of development generate its finest flower—the reason? Or does the world spirit create the material world? Or perhaps they have coexisted eternally as equal substances in their own right and are in some way interacting?

Such is the first aspect of the basic question of philosophy. Its second aspect comes down to the following. Can man and mankind in general know the objective laws of the world by the power of their own consciousness? Or is the world unknowable? In examining the first aspect implied in the basic question of philosophy the thinker inevitably finds himself in one of two camps, materialism or idealism (or dualism), while in examining the second aspect of the question he takes a stand either in favour of the fundamental possibility of knowing the world or in favour of agnosticism, that is, denial of this possibility.

Why is the question of the relation of thinking to being—a seemingly very abstract question—considered to be the basic philosophical question? Because from the nature of the answer we give, as from the source of a great river, there flow not only directly contrasting interpretations of all other philosophical problems but also the general theoretical, world-view questions posed by any science, moral phenomena, standards of law and responsibility, phenomena of art, political events, problems of education, and so on.

We cannot consider any philosophical question unless we first solve the basic question of philosophy. To illustrate, let us take the example of the concept of causality. Materialism presumes that this concept reflects an objective, i.e., independent of human consciousness, process of generation of some phenomena by others. But Hume, for example, denied the existence of causality in nature. He believed that it was habit that taught people to see certain phenomena as the causes of others, for instance, the blow of an axe and the falling of a tree. We have indeed become accustomed to see the result follow the action that causes it. But this habit is based on the continuous consideration of the objective connection of phenomena and did not arise by itself. According to the materialist principle, all authentically proved concepts, categories, propositions, inferences, laws and theories have a substantially objective character and do not depend on the whim of man. Idealism, on the other hand, is inclined to regard them merely as mental constructions. For example, the materialist scholar of literature studying the work of Shakespeare begins by sorting out what objective social conditions predetermined the character and inspiration of the dramatist's work. The idealists, on the other hand, are inclined to attribute his work to the depth of the individual spirit of this genius and ignore the social conditions in which he lived and wrote. If one takes the moral sphere, it is immediately obvious how contrasting the solutions to the basic question of philosophy may be. Are man's moral qualities innate or given by God, or are they formed by life, by upbringing. As applied to history, the basic question of philosophy appears as a relationship between social being and social consciousness. On how this relationship is interpreted depends the answer to the question: what determines man's destiny, what guides history—ideas, the rational powers of historic individuals, or the material production carried on by the people of a given society and the economic relationships that arise from this process. Consequently, the basic question of philosophy is not simply the question of the relation between thinking and being in general, but more specifically, that of the relation between social consciousness and social being, that is to say, the objective relations between people formed on the basis of their production of material goods. The materialist under standing of the basic question of philosophy as applied to history is expressed fully and simply: social being ultimately determines social consciousness and social consciousness, derivatively, has an active influence on this being.

Consideration of the basic question shows that in approach ing any question of either theory or practice it is extremely important to distinguish the primary from the secondary, the objective from the subjective, the real processes of life from their interpretation in various theories, the material driving forces of society from the ideal motivations, the material interests of people, social groups from their reflections in the mind. Materialism teaches our thinking to see in our mental constructions, in our artistic, political and other ideas and images the objective content determined by the external world, by life. Idealism, on the other hand, hypertrophies the spiritual principle, treats it as absolute. In politics, for example, this attitude may have dangerous consequences for the people; idealism sometimes results in political adventurism. This happens when a politician ignores the objective laws of history, the will of the masses, the existing economic relations, and tries by the power of his own volition to impose his own ideas, which run counter to the real, law-governed current of events.

The main trends in philosophical thought were and have remained materialism and idealism. Why? Because there are only two paths. Either we must take the material world as our starting point and deduce from it consciousness and connect everything spiritual with the material or, on the other hand, taking consciousness as the starting point, we must deduce from it the material world and separate the spiritual from the material and oppose spirit to matter. Philosophers are divided into two great camps according to how they have decided this basic question. Those who assume that spirit existed before nature, who believe ultimately in the creation of the world by the power of the spirit, make up the idealist camp. Those who recognise matter as the basic principle, that is to say, the substance of everything that exists, form the various schools of materialism. Materialism understands the world as it is in fact, without attributing to it any supernatural qualities and principles. Explanation of the world from the world itself is the methodological principle of materialism. It maintains that the connections between ideas in people's heads reflect and transform the connections between phenomena in the world. Matter at its highest level of organisation is the "mother" and consciousness is its spiritual "child". And just as children cannot come into the world and exist apart from or before their parents, so consciousness could not appear or exist before matter: consciousness is a function of matter and an image of what exists.

To the extent that people in living their lives cannot help considering the fact of the objective existence of the world, so they act as materialists: some spontaneously, others consciously, on a philosophical basis. Certain scientists sometimes dissociate themselves from materialism while spontaneously working on its principles. On the other hand, the supporters of philosophically conscious materialism not only consistently advocate such a solution of the basic question of philosophy but also substantiate and uphold it.

Idealism is in general related to the desire to elevate the spirit to the maximum degree. In speaking with such veneration of the spiritual, of the idea, Hegel assumed that even the criminal thought of the evil-doer was greater and more to be marvelled at than all the wonders of the world. In the ordinary sense idealism is associated with remoteness from earthly interests, constant immersion in pure thought, and dedication to unrealisable dreams. Such "practical idealism" is contrasted to "practical materialism", which its opponents, wishing to belittle it, present as a greedy desire for material goods, avarice, acquisitiveness, and so on.

Idealism is divided into two basic forms: objective and subjective. The objective idealists, beginning from the ancients and ending with those of the present day, recognise the existence of a real world outside man, but believe that the world is based on reason, that it is ruled by certain omnipotent ideas which guide everything. Consciousness is hypertrophied, separated from man, from matter, and converted into a supra-individual, all-embracing reality. Reality is considered to be rational and the reason is interpreted as the substance, the basis of the universe. All things and processes are thus spiritualised. Such a notion of the superhuman and supernatural spiritual essence, the world reason, the world will, the absolute idea, is essentially a religious notion. For example, in Hegel the "absolute idea" is quite often called simply god, an impersonal, objective, logical process, while nature and the history of society are its guided other-being. Reason is the soul of the world. It resides in the universe, it is its immanent essence.

This implies that reason exists by itself in the world, apart from rational beings. The universe knows what it is, and from where, to where and how it is moving.

The idealist answer to the basic question of philosophy need not essentially be that reason must be taken as primary. This is characteristic only of rationalist idealism. Irrationalist forms of idealism take as their starting-point the blind will, the unconscious "vital urge": everything in the world is wound up, programmed, as it were, striving towards some thing.

From the standpoint of subjective idealism it is only through inadequate knowledge that we take the world as we see it to be the actually existing world. According to this conception, the world does not exist apart from us, apart from our sense perceptions: to exist is to exist in perception! And what we consider to be different from our sensations and existing apart from them is composed of the diversity of our subjective sensuality: colour, sound, forms and other qualities are only sensations and sets of such sensations form things. This implies that the world is, so to speak, woven out of the same subjective material of which human dreams are composed.

To the subjective idealists it appears that our efforts to reach beyond consciousness are futile and it is therefore impossible to acknowledge the existence of any external world that is independent of consciousness. It is a fact that we know the world only as it is given to man, to the extent to which it is reflected in our consciousness through sensations. But this certainly does not mean that the world when reflected in consciousness somehow dissolves in it like sugar in water. All the experience of humanity, the history of science and practice show that the objects of perception continue to exist even when we do not perceive them, i.e., before perception, during perception and after perception. In short, their existence is not dependent on the act of their perception.

The reader may legitimately ask: have there really been any philosophers who maintain such a strange philosophy as subjective idealism, a philosophy that for so many centuries was subjected not merely to criticism but to sarcastic ridicule? On the ordinary empirical level, surely it is only madmen, and only a few of them, who can deny the independent existence of the world. In practice, the subjective idealists (Berkeley, Fichte, Mach) probably did not behave as if they believed there was no external world. These ideas were strictly reserved for the sphere of theoretical thought.

It must be stressed that materialism and idealism are two extreme, polarised trends. Between them there are infinite gradations. In the work of many idealists one finds certain materialist propositions and, conversely, all pre-Marxist materialists were idealists in the interpretation of the phenomena of social life. They believed that opinions rule history. One of the most convinced materialists, Democritus, did not deny the existence of gods and demons, but believed that they, too, were made out of atoms. In primitive idealism—mythology—even the gods are composed of matter. They are material and sensuously tangible. The history of philosophy has recorded many materialists who even believed that the world had been created by god. These were the so-called deists. There are philosophers who, like Aristotle, wavered between materialism and idealism to such an extent that it is often hard to decide which trend they should belong to. Idealism cannot be interpreted as a mere whim of erring philosophers, brilliant though some of them were. It has its ( epistemological and social roots. The point is that cognition of the world is a complex and extremely contradictory, by no means straightforward process, which usually takes a zigzag or circuitous course and moves in spirals. It involves bursts of imagination, cool common sense, cunning, power of logic, and various plausible and implausible assumptions. In this riotous flood of creative, investigatory thought, ranging first in one direction and then in another and sometimes running into blank walls, there is, as the whole experience of man's intellectual life testifies, an unavoidable risk of mistakes and misinterpretations. As Lenin aptly and laconically expressed it, only the person who does nothing makes no mistakes.

Consequently, we have to face the fact that the process of knowing contains the built-in possibility of thought becoming separated from reality and wandering into the sphere of fantasy, when purely abstract assumptions are accepted as a kind of reality. Take, for example, subjective idealism, what is its basic epistemological assumption? Things, their proper ties are directly given to us in the form of sensations and their subjective images are understood as existing where their objects are located. Is this true? Yes, it is. For example, the image of a green leaf relates to the leaf itself and we perceive this "greenness" as belonging to the leaf itself, just as we perceive the "blueness" of the sky as belonging to our own "firmament". But any biophysicist will tell us that "greenness" and "blueness" are merely sensations reflecting the visible spectrum of electromagnetic oscillations of certain frequencies and wavelengths and that in themselves the waves are "not green" and "not blue". The materialist separates the subjective form, in which the object is given to us,from its objective source, which exists by itself. The mistake of subjective idealism lies in the fact that it interprets this subjective form of the givenness of the object as the object itself, that is to say, reduces things to sensations and sensations to things.

The objective idealists elevate human thought and its products—concepts, ideas and culture in general—to the status of the absolute. The historically formed standards of morality, law, the rules of thinking and language, the whole spiritual life of society tower above the reason of the individual, as if they were something stable and relatively independent. People experience the continual influence of this supra-individual existence of spirit and submit to its commands often with no less obedience than, say, to the laws of gravity. Suffice it to recall the overwhelming impact of such feelings as shame, conscience, honour, and justice.

In ancient times people measured their actions according to the unwritten rules of their ancestors that had been retained in the memory and handed down from generation to generation. The individual consciousness grew accustomed to being dominated by certain supra-individual ideas, social standards retained in human memory and in the form of the "social memory", in language. This relative independence of the spiritual life of society was elevated by imagination into something absolutely independent, into Reason divorced not only from living and thinking people but also from society, from matter in general, so that thinking and its products were elevated to a special spiritual realm, the immanent essence of the universe. And this was objective idealism. Its epistemological roots go down deep into history, when the progress of cognitive activity and the penetration of reason into the essence of things triggered the process of formation of abstract concepts. The problem arose of relating the universal and the particular, the essence and its manifestations. It was not easy for man to understand how the universal reflected in, for example, the concept of beauty was related to the individual form of its existence in a given individual. A beautiful person lives and dies but the idea of beauty survives him and proves to be indestructible. A wise man departs this life but wisdom, as something universal, common to all wise men who ever lived, live or will live in the future, survives in the system of culture as something existing above the individual. This universal, reflected in the concepts (beauty, wisdom, reason, law and so on), came to be identified with the concept itself. The universal features in things and the concept of the universal became merged in the consciousness, forming an objective-idealist alloy, in which the universal was divorced from its individual existence, apart from which it could not exist at all, and acquired the status of an independent essence. Objective idealism begins when the idea of a thing is conceived not as a reflection of the thing but as something eternally existing before the thing, embodied in the thing and determining the thing in its structure, properties and relationships and continuing to exist after the destruction of the thing. Thus Pythagoras thought of numbers as independent essences ruling the world, and Plato regarded general concepts as a special realm of pure thought and beauty that had engendered the world of visible reality. The idea of a thing created by man precedes the existence of the thing itself. The thing in its given form is derived from the aim, the intention of its creator, let us say, a carpenter. The greater part of the things that surround us are the result of man's creative activity, they are something created by man. The idea of creation has become for man a kind of prism through which he regards the whole world. This idea is so deeply rooted that he does not find it easy to set it aside and think of the world as something not created by anybody and existing eternally. The idea of the eternity of existence contradicts all the facts of our life, in which nearly everything is created, one might say, before our very eyes. So the eternal, uncreated existence of the world simply did not fit into people's heads and still does not fit in with many people's thinking. The level of science was very low and this gave rise to the assumption that there must be some universal creator and lord of all things. This idea was strengthened also by the fact that so much in the world was strikingly harmonious and purposeful.

Application of the principle of rationality to everything is, in fact, idealism. Reason is regarded as the spiritual centre of the universe, and its influence as the thing that makes the world go round. Everything is illuminated by its all-pervasive rays. This is world-guiding reason. For the objective idealist Hegel, just as for Plato, the whole universe is a living, thinking creature whose parts bear the invisible traces of the whole.

Such are the epistemological and psychological roots of idealism. Its social roots lie in the separation of mental from physical labour and the counterposing of the first to the second and also in the appearance of exploitation. There arose a social elite, which conceived the notion that ideas, reason should have priority in the life of society while physical labour should be considered the lot of slaves. These tendencies towards overrating the intellectual principle in life were extended to the whole universe. Such an approach was reinforced by the class interests of the ruling elite. Idealist propositions interlock and sometimes even coincide with religion that urges people to submit.

Idealism is linked with religion and, directly or indirectly, provides its theoretical expression and substantiation. Over idealism there always hovers the idea of a god. Subjective idealism, compelled to be inconsistent in defending its principles, allows the objective existence of a god. The universal reason of the objective idealists is essentially a philosophical pseudonym for god: the supreme reason conceives itself in its creations. At the same time it would be a vulgarisation to identify idealism with religion. Philosophical idealism is not a religion but the road to religion through one of the forms of the complex process of human knowledge. They are different ways of being aware of the world and forming an attitude to it.



Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts von D. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Nicolaischen Buchhandlung, Berlin, 1821. S. XXIV.


Karl Marx, "Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Law. Introduction," in: K. Marx. F. Engels, Collected Works. Vol. 3, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975, p. 178.


V. I. Lenin, "Materialism and Empirio-Criticism", Collected Works, Vol. 14, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1977, p. 358.

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