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Dialectical materialism From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Part of a series on Marxism Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

Theoretical works[show] Concepts[show] Economics[show] Sociology[show] History[show] Philosophy[show] Variants[show] Movements[show] People[show] Portal icon Socialism portal Portal icon Communism portal Portal icon Philosophy portal v t e Dialectical materialism is a philosophy of science and nature, based on the writ ings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and developed largely in Russia and the Soviet Union.[1][2] The main idea of dialectical materialism lies in the concept of the evolution of the natural world and the emergence of new qualities of bei ng at new stages of evolution. As Z. A. Jordan notes, "Engels made constant use of the metaphysical insight that the higher level of existence emerges from and has its roots in the lower; that the higher level constitutes a new order of bei ng with its irreducible laws; and that this process of evolutionary advance is g overned by laws of development which reflect basic properties of 'matter in moti on as a whole'."[3] A Soviet philosophical encyclopedia of the 1960s speaks of the evolution of comp lexity in nature as follows: "This whole series of forms (mechanical, physical, chemical, biological and social) is distributed according to complexity from low er to higher. This seriation expresses their mutual bonds in terms of structure and in terms of history. The general laws of the lower forms of the motion of ma tter keep their validity for all the higher forms but they are subject to the hi gher laws and do not have a prominent role. They change their activity because o f changed circumstances. Laws can be general or specific, depending on their ran ge of applicability. The specific laws fall under the special sciences and the g eneral laws are the province of diamat."[4] Each level of matter exists as a typ e of organization, in which the elements that make up a whole, or system, are ma rked by a specific type of interconnection. Contents [hide] 1 The term 2 Historical background of materialism 3 Marx's dialectics 4 Engels' laws of dialectics 5 Lenin's contributions 6 Luk?cs' additions 7 Dialectical materialism as a heuristic in biology and elsewhere 8 See also 9 References 10 Further reading The term[edit] The term dialectical materialism was coined in 1887, by Joseph Dietzgen, a socia list tanner who corresponded with Marx, during and after the failed 1848 German Revolution. As a philosopher, Dietzgen had constructed the theory of dialectical materialism independently of Marx and Engels.[5] Casual mention of the term is also found in the biography Frederick Engels, by Karl Kautsky, [6]written in the

Engels fur ther exposed the "materialist dialectic" not "dialectical materialism" in his Di alectics of Nature in 1883. that all phenomena in the universe consist of "matter in m otion. the father of Russian Marxism. Roger Albritton. According to the famous Theses on Feuerbach (1845). Marx was also familiar wi th Lucretius's theory of clinamen. in order to start "changi ng" the world. Historical background of materialism[edit] Dialectical materialism is but an aspect of the broader subject of materialism. it focuses on ideas. Joseph Need ham. Marx's dialectics[edit] The concept of dialectical materialism emerges from statements by Marx in the pr eface to his magnum opus. It must be turned right side up again." wherein all things are interdependent and interconnected and develop acc ording to natural law. Marx presented his own materialist philosophy as an alternative to Hegel's ideal ism. Capital. with the human mind. it will be reduced to spiritualist idealism. Georgi Plekhanov. Marx also criticized classical materialism as another idealist phi losophy idealist because of its transhistorical understanding of material contexts . which i s considered the foundation of materialist philosophy. The ultimate sense of Marx's materialist philosophy is that philosophy itself must take a position in the class struggle based on objective analysis of physical and social relations . if you would discover the ratio nal kernel within the mystical shell. But he then c riticizes Hegel for turning dialectics upside down: "With him it is standing on its head. and Roy Bhaskar. and that the world is in principle knowable. Materialism is a realist philosophy of science. He defends Hegel against those who view him as a " dead dog" and then says. and controversy exists regarding the relationship between dialectics.same year. However. lat er introduced the term dialectical materialism to Marxist literature. Marx himself had talked about the "materialist conception of history ".[9] For scholars working on these issues from a v ariety of perspectives see the works of Bertell Ollman. that thought is a reflection of the material world in the bra in. the influential historian of science and a Christian who nonetheless was an adherent of dialectical materialism. Hegel's thought is .[10] which holds that t he world is material. philosophy had to stop "in terpreting" the world in endless metaphysical debates. There Marx says he intends to use Hegelian di alectics but in revised form. that the world exists outside us and independently of our perception of it. Marx says."[11] Marx credits Hegel with "being the first to present its [dial ectic's] form of working in a comprehensive and conscious manner". and as a method to study society and its history. such as the philosophi es of Immanuel Kant or Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. as was being done by the rising workers' movement observed by Eng els in England (Chartist movement) and by Marx in France and Germany.[7] Joseph Stalin further delineated and defined dialectical and historical materialism as the world outlook of Marxism-Leninism. and nature. Marxist ma terialists tended to accord primacy to the class struggle. Marx's doctoral thesis concerned the atomism of Epicurus and Democritus. ontology. Hegel's dialectic. suggested that a more appropriate term mig ht be "dialectical organicism". Materialism asserts the primacy of the material world: in short. which was later referred to as "historical materialism" by Engels. "I openly avowed myself as the pupil of that mighty thi nker [Hegel]. inappropriately co ncerns "the process of the human brain". matter precedes thought."[12] Marx's criticism of Hegel asserts that Hegel's dialectics go astray by dealing w ith ideas.[8] The exact term was not used by Marx in any of his works. Otherwise.

"When the dialectical method is applied to the study of economic problems. the ways in which societies are organized to employ their technological powe rs to interact with their material surroundings). [13] For Marx. arguing that contemporary science is increasingly recognizing the necessi ty of viewing natural processes in terms of interconnectedness. mutual relationship with the rest of nature. by bits and pieces. and by. and Engels inherited the concept. geography. Ernest Mandel writes. economic phenomena are not viewed separately from each other. most of Marx s writing is devoted to an analysis of the specific structure and dev elopment of the capitalist economy. but is a method for the empirical study of social processes in terms of interrelati ons." a misleading term that would b e more descriptive if changed to "dialectical ideaism" (spelled without the l). For all these authors. within the framework of this general theory of history. a metaphysical subject of which real human individuals are but the bearers". Some scholars have doubted that Engels "dialectics of nature" is a legitimate extension of Marx s approach to social processes. This is called historical mate rialism. He expli citly rejects the idea of Hegel s followers that history can be understood as "a p erson apart. and ecology.[18][19][20][21] Ot her scholars have argued that despite Marx s insistence that humans are natural be ings in an evolving. a basic predominant mode of production.[citation needed] from whom Aristotle. There has also been an effort to . Engels applies a "dialectical" approach to the natural world in ge neral. Marx s own writi ngs pay inadequate attention to the ways in which human agency is constrained by such factors as biology. but in their inner connection as an integra ted totality. and transformation. It may be traced to the ancient Ionian philosophers (particularly Anaximenes). based on modes of production (broadly speaki ng. human history cannot be fitted into any neat a priori schema. "[17] Marx s own writings are almost exclusively concerned with understanding human hist ory in terms of systemic processes.[14] To interpret history as though previous social formations have som ehow been aiming themselves toward the present state of affairs is "to misunders tand the historical movement by which the successive generations transformed the results acquired by the generations that preceded them".[22][23] Engels' laws of dialectics[edit] Engels postulated three laws of dialectics from his reading of Hegel's Science o f Logic.[15] Marx's rejection o f this sort of teleology was one reason for his enthusiastic (though not entirel y uncritical) reception of Darwin s theory of natural selection. dialectics is not a formula for generating predetermined outcomes.[27] The second law Hegel took from Aristotle.[citation needed] and it is equated wit h what scientists call phase transitions. structured around. In his introduction to the Penguin edition of Marx s Capital.in fact sometimes called "dialectical idealism. For his part. More narrowly.[16] For Marx. one of the main i llustrations is the phase transitions of water. H egel. Marx believed that dialectics should deal not with the mental world of ideas but with "the material world. development.[24] Engels elucidated these laws in his work Dialectics of Nature: The law of the unity and conflict of opposites The law of the passage of quantitative changes into qualitative changes The law of the negation of the negation The first law was seen by both Hegel and Vladimir Lenin as the central feature o f a dialectical understanding of things[25][26] and originates with the ancient Ionian philosopher Heraclitus. development. and transformation." the world of production and other economic activity.

[31] They are: The determination of the concept out of itself [the thing itself must be conside red in its relations and in its development]. ide ent is the ntity. but the transitions of every determination. Lenin was philosophically positioned between h istoricist Marxism (Labriola) and determinist Marxism a political position close t o "social Darwinism" (Kautsky). But capitalist production begets. feature. Such apparently are the elements of dialectics. The struggle of mutually exclusive opposites is absolute." a concept that was just beginning to be grasped. (Today we would describe heat in terms of "energy. Although Hegel coined the term "negation of the negation. the economic system that preceded capita lism." He stated that " The unity ( coincidence. negates the thesi s. . with the inexorability of a law o f Nature. (ii) th e historicity of ethical principles ordered to class struggle."[29] In drawing up these laws. quality. Engels presupposes a holistic approach outlined above and in Lenin's three elements of dialectic below. and (iii) the con vergence of "laws of evolution" in physics (Helmholtz). equal action ) of opposites is conditional. The expropriators [capitalists] are expropriated. which in this instance is feudalism. Lenin stated that " Developm struggle of opposites.apply this mechanism to social phenomena. Lenin disagreed: . electrons). produ ces capitalist private property. There Marx wrote this: "The [death] knell of capitalist private property sounds. Lenin made some brief notes outl ining three "elements" of logic. relati ve. "negation of the negation. Lenin explained dialectical material ism as three axes: (i) the materialist inversion of Hegelian dialectics. The contradictory nature of the thing itself (the other of itself). "[33] In Materialism and Empiriocriticism (1908)." originated with Hegel.)</ref> Lenin's contributions[edit] After reading Hegel's Science of Logic in 1914.] . side. philosophically chall enged previous conceptions of matter and materialism." it gained its fame from Marx's usin g it in Capital. the result of the capitalist mode of production." or antithesis. the synthesis] is the negation of [the] negation. in his essay "On the Question of Dialectics". thus Matter seemed to be d isappearing. prop erty into every other [into its opposite?]. Lenin. Hence. and the beginning of quantum mechanics. and emphasizes elsewhere that all things are in motion. It [final communism. whereby population increases result i n changes in social structure. late century discoveries in physics (x -rays.[28] The third law. Summary of dialectics[32] Lenin develops these in a further series of notes. temporary. The law of the passage of quantitative changes in to qualitative changes can also be applied to the process of social change and c lass conflict. The capitali st mode of appropriation. .[30] The discovery that heat was actually the movement of atoms or molecules was the very latest science of the period in which Engels was writing. and appears to argue that "th e transition of quantity into quality and vice versa" is an example of the unity and opposition of opposites expressed tentatively as "not only the unity of opp osites. [The "first negation." Also. biology (Darwin). This is the first negation [antithesis] of indi vidual private property. and in political economy (Marx). its own negation. transitory. the contradi ctory forces and tendencies in each phenomenon. The union of analysis and synthesis that. just as developmen t and motion are absolute. Moreover.

. (§1) Luk?cs philosophical criticism of Marxist revisionism proposed an intellectual r eturn to Marxist method. of exi sting outside of the mind. on ly along the lines laid down by its founders. expanded. "metaphysical m aterialism" (matter composed of immutable particles). of false tendencies. albeit the hitherto unconscious product. 1757 1808). It is the scientific conviction that dialectical materialism is the road to truth. and that our knowledge is penetrating deeper. Lenin was developing the work of Engels. we recall: 'It is not men' s consciousness that determines their existence. properties of matt er are disappearing that formerly seemed absolute. of human activity". and that its methods can be developed."[34] One of Lenin's challenges was distancing materialism. theoretically con sistent with (new) developments occurred in the sciences. does not imply the uncritical acceptance of the res ults of Marx's investigations. with whose recognition philosophica l materialism is bound up. Luk?cs defined orthodoxy as fidelity to the "Marxist method". and deepened. even in the sphere of natural science. because dialectical ma terialism is the philosophic product of class struggle: For this reason. . from the "vulgar materialism" expressed in the statement "the brain secretes thought in the same way as the liver secretes bile" (attributed to 18th-century physician Pierre Jean Georges Cabanis. but. In the first chapter "What is Orthodox Marxism?". This type of consciousne ss is an effect of ideological mystification. As did Louis Althusser. . bourgeois philosoph y of the subject. Luk?cs' additions[edit] Gy?rgy Luk?cs. the task of orthodox Marxism. minister of Culture in the brief Béla Kun government of the Hungari an Soviet Republic (1919). For the sole 'property' of matter. It is an ever-renewed struggle against the insidious effects of bourgeois ideology on the thought of the proletariat.[35] that political factions and revisio nism are inherent to Marxist theory and political praxis.'Matter disappears' means that the limit within which we have hitherto known mat ter disappears. whi ch defined dialectical materialism as the knowledge of society as a whole. The philosophic solution that Lenin (and Engels) proposed was "dialectical m aterialism". was immediately the class consciousness of the proletaria t. orthodoxy refers exclusively to method. and primary. wherein matter is defined as "objective reality". once and for all. is the property of being an objective reality. but this can be seen only by accepting the primacy of social process on individual consciousness. on the contrary. and 19th-century "mechanic al materialism" (matter as random molecules interacting per the laws of mechanic s). no r the exegesis of a "sacred" book. materialism has to change its f orm. Existence and thus the wo rld is the product of human activity. (§5) Philosophica lly aligned with Marx is the criticism of the individualist. Marxist orthodoxy is no guardian of tradition s. not fidelity to "dogmas": Orthodox Marxism. Aga inst said ideology is the primacy of social relations. (§5) Moreover. knowl edge which. On the contrary. published History and Class Consciousness (1923). "the premise of dialectical materialism is. their soc ial existence that determines their consciousness'. as a viable phil osophical outlook. It is not the "belief" in this or that thesis. immutable. . who said that "with each epoch-making d iscovery. therefore. in itself. which is founded upon the voluntary and conscious subject. who later defined Marxism and p sychoanalysis as "conflictual sciences". it is the eternally vigilant prophet proclaiming the relation between the tas ks of the immediate present and the totality of the historical process. its victory over Revisionism and utopianism can never mean the defeat. Only when the core of existence stands revealed as a social process can existence be seen as the produ ct. and w hich are now revealed to be relative and characteristic only of certain states o f matter.

we get this idea: Dialectical materialism is not. cybernetics. and denounced the Marxism developments of the German theorist Karl K orsch. quantum mechanics. "Remember that history may leave an important t race. such as Richard Lewontin and the late Stephen Jay Gould. Gould and Eldredge noted another analogy . Thus. Apart from the commonly cited example of water turni ng to steam with increased temperature. Remember to pay attention to real objects in time and space and not lose them in utterly idealized abstractions. Grigory Zin oviev formally denounced Luk?cs's heterodox definition of orthodox Marxism as ex clusively derived from fidelity to the "Marxist method". and sees the components themselves not as a priori entities.[36] Some evolutionary biologists.Yet. moves upward i n a spiral of negations.[39] This heuristic was also applied to the theory of punctuated equilibrium proposed by Niles Eldredge and Gould. Rather. not as dogmatic percept s true by fiat. the law of "interpenetrating opposites" records the ine xtricable interdependence of components: the "transformation of quantity to qual ity" defends a systems-based view of change that translates incremental inputs i nto alterations of state. Dialectical materialism as a heuristic in biology and elsewhere[edit] The noted historian of science Loren Graham has detailed at length the role play ed by dialectical materialism in the Soviet Union in disciplines as diverse as b iology. but as both products and inp uts to the system. not discarded because some nations of the second world have constructed a cardboard version as an official political doctrine. dialectical materialism had a posi tive influence on the work of many Soviet scientists. at the 5th Congress of the Communist International (July 1924). Remember that qualitative effects of context and interaction may be lost when ph enomena are isolated". He wrote "Dialectical thinking should be taken more seriously by Western scho lars."[38] Furthermore. a dialectical analysis provides an o verview and a set of warning signs against particular forms of dogmatism and nar rowness of thought. when presented as guidelines for a philosophy of change. the three classical laws of dialectics embody a holistic vision that views change as interaction among components of complete systems. From Lewont in's perspective. have tried to employ dialectical materialism in their approach. and cosmology. And above all else. and never has been." and that "punctuated equilibria is a model for discont inuous tempos of change (in) the process of speciation and the deployment of spe cies in geological time. and the "negation of negation" describes the direction given to history because complex systems cannot revert exactly to previous stat es. despite the Lysenko period in genetics and constraints on f ree inquiry imposed by political authorities. It tells us. They wrote "History. chemistry. He has concluded that."[37] Gould shared similar views regarding a heuristic role for dialectical materialis m. "Remember that all the other caveats are only reminders and warning signs whose application to different circumstance s of the real world is contingent. long resisted by a stable system. Remember that being and becoming are dual aspects of nature. psychology."[40] They noted that "the law of transformation of quan tity into quality". finally forc es it rapidly from one state into another." a phenomenon described in some disci plines as a paradigm shift. Remember that conditions change and that the conditions necessary to the initiation of some p rocess may be destroyed by the process itself. as Hegel said. a programmatic method for so lving particular physical problems. and not to Communist pa rty dogmas. They view dialectics as playing a precautionary heuristic role in their work. "holds that a new quality emerges in a leap as the slow accu mulation of quantitative changes.

"with its jargon of equilibrium." and "extremely rapid transitions that o ccur with positive feedback. and homeo stasis maintained by negative feedback. than a dogmatic form of 'truth' or a statement of their politi cs.[43] See also[edit] Books The Dialectic of Sex Concepts Classical Marxism Dialectical monism Fundamentals of Marxism Leninism Marxism Marxist philosophy of nature Methodological naturalism Orthodox Marxism Parametric determinism Philosophy in the Soviet Union Thesis-antithesis-synthesis . they found a readiness for critics to "seize upon" key stateme nts[42] and portray punctuated equilibrium. su ch as public exhibitions. Nevertheless. as a "Marxist plot".in information theory. Gould and Eldredge were thus more interested in dialectical materialis m as a heuristic."[41] Lewontin. steady state. and exercises associated with it.