Lenin: Empirio-criticism and historical materialism – part five

Francisco de Zurbarán, Saint Francis in Meditation, 1635-1639, oil on canvas, National Gallery, London

Francisco de Zurbarán, Saint Francis in Meditation, 1635-1639, oil on canvas, National Gallery, London

Parties in Philosophy and Philosophical Blockheads (continued)

J. Dietzgen had not the slightest doubt that the “scientific priestcraft” of idealist philosophy is simply the antechamber to open priestcraft. “Scientific priestcraft”, he wrote, “is seriously endeavouring to assist religious priestcraft” (op. cit., 51). “In particular, the sphere of epistemology, the misunderstanding of the human mind, is such a louse-hole” (Lausgrube) in which both kinds of priests “lay their eggs”. “Graduated flunkeys”, who with their talk of “ideal blessings” stultify the people by their tortuous (geschraubte) “idealism” (53) – that is J. Dietzgen’s opinion of the professors of philosophy. “Just as the antipode of the good God is the devil, so the professorial priest (Kathederpfaffen) has his opposite pole in the materialist.” The materialist theory of knowledge is “a universal weapon against religious belief” (55), and not only against the “notorious, formal and common religion of the priests, but also against the most refined, elevated professorial religion of muddled (benebelter) idealists” (58).

Dietzgen was ready to prefer “religious honesty” to the “half-heartedness” of free-thinking professors (60), for “there a system prevails”, there we find integral people, people who do not separate theory from practice. For the Herr professors “philosophy is not a science, but a means of defence against Social-Democracy” (107). “Those who call themselves philosophers – professors and university lecturers – are, despite their apparent free-thinking, more or less immersed in superstition and mysticism…and in relation to Social-Democracy constitute a single…reactionary mass” (108). “Now, in order to follow the true path, without being led astray by all the religious and philosophical gibberish (Welsch), it is necessary to study the falsest of all false paths (der Holzweg der Holzwege), philosophy” (103).

V.I.Lenin, Materialism and Empirio-criticism: Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975, 319-320





Some concealed priests and mystics

Part five/to be continued…


Full text at Marxists Internet Archive

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