Lenin: the philosophical idealists – part eleven

Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464), detail of relief ‘Cardinal Nicholas before St. Peter’ on his tomb by Andrea Bregno, church of St. Peter in Chains, Rome

Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464), detail of relief ‘Cardinal Nicholas before St. Peter’ on his tomb by Andrea Bregno, church of St. Peter in Chains, Rome

In this quotation Lenin again discusses the development of materialist philosophy by Marx and Engels.

Two Kinds of Criticism of Dühring (continued)

Marx and Engels, as well as J. Dietzgen, entered the philosophical arena at a time when materialism reigned among the advanced intellectuals in general, and in working-class circles in particular. It is therefore quite natural that they should have devoted their attention not to a repetition of old ideas but to a serious theoretical development of materialism, its application to history, in other words, to the completion of the edifice of materialist philosophy up to its summit. It is quite natural that in the sphere of epistemology they confined themselves to correcting Feuerbach’s errors, to ridiculing the banalities of the materialist Dühring, to criticising the errors of Büchner (see J. Dietzgen), to emphasising what these most widely known and popular writers among the workers particularly lacked, namely, dialectics. Marx, Engels and J. Dietzgen did not worry about the elementary truths of materialism, which had been cried by the hucksters in dozens of books, but devoted all their attention to ensuring that these elementary truths should not be vulgarised, should not be over-simplified, should not lead to stagnation of thought (“materialism below, idealism above”), to forgetfulness of the valuable fruit of the idealist systems, Hegelian dialectics – that pearl which those farmyard cocks, the Büchners, the Dührings and Co. (as well as Leclair, Mach, Avenarius and so forth), could not pick out from the dung-heap of absolute idealism.

V.I.Lenin, Materialism and Empirio-criticism: Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975, 224


Part eleven/to be continued…

Full text at Marxists Internet Archive

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