Lenin: the philosophical idealists – part five

The Criticism of Kantianism from the Left and from the Right (conclusion)

And lastly, Karl Kautsky in his Ethics also criticises Kant from a standpoint diametrically opposed to that of Humism and Berkeleianism. “That I see green, red and white,” he writes, arguing against Kant’s epistemology, “is grounded in my faculty of sight. But that green is something different from red testifies to something that lies outside of me, to real differences between things…. The relations and differences between the things themselves revealed to me by the individual space and time concepts… are real relations and differences of the external world, not conditioned by the nature of my perceptive faculty…. If this were really so [if Kant’s doctrine of the ideality of time and space were true], we could know nothing about the world outside us, not even that it exists.” (Russian translation, pp. 33-34.)

Thus the entire school of Feuerbach, Marx and Engels turned from Kant to the left, to a complete rejection of all idealism and of all agnosticism. But our Machists followed the reactionary trend in philosophy, Mach and Avenarius, who criticised Kant from the standpoint of Hume and Berkeley. Of course, it is the sacred right of every citizen, and particularly of every intellectual, to follow any ideological reactionary he likes. But when people who have radically severed relations with the very foundations of Marxism in philosophy begin to dodge, confuse matters, hedge and assure us that they “too” are Marxists in philosophy, that they are “almost” in agreement with Marx, and have only slightly “supplemented” him – the spectacle is a far from pleasant one.

V.I.Lenin, Materialism and Empirio-criticism: Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975, 186

red-star

Part five/to be continued…

Full text at Marxists Internet Archive

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