Lenin: The Theory of Knowledge of Dialectical Materialism – Part Ten

The Criterion of Practice in the Theory of Knowledge (continued)

…Before we perceive, we breathe; we cannot exist without air, food and drink.

“Does this mean then that we must deal with questions of food and drink when examining the problem of the ideality or reality of the world? – exclaims the indignant idealist. How vile! What an offence against good manners soundly to trounce materialism in the scientific sense from the chair of philosophy and the pulpit of theology, only to practise materialism with all one’s heart and soul in the crudest form at the table d’hôte” (195). And Feuerbach exclaims that to identify subjective sensation with the objective world “is to identify pollution with procreation” (198).

A comment not of the politest order, but it hits the mark in the case of those philosophers who teach that sense-perception is the reality existing outside us.

The standpoint of life, of practice, should be first and fundamental in the theory of knowledge. And it inevitably leads to materialism, sweeping aside the endless fabrications of professorial scholasticism. Of course, we must not forget that the criterion of practice can never, in the nature of things, either confirm or refute any human idea completely. This criterion too is sufficiently “indefinite” not to allow human knowledge to become “absolute”, but at the same time it is sufficiently definite to wage a ruthless fight on all varieties of idealism and agnosticism. If what our practice confirms is the sole, ultimate and objective truth, then from this must follow the recognition that the only path to this truth is the path of science, which holds the materialist point of view.

V.I.Lenin, Materialism and Empirio-criticism: Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975, 126-127

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Part ten/to be continued…

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