Hegel's philosophy, revolutionary in character

    Dialectical Materialism - from Hegel to Marx
    by TED TRIPP

    HEGEL (1770-1831)

    Hegel's philosophy, revolutionary in character, delivered the death-blow to metaphysics. That is to the reasoning of things and their mental images, ideas in isolation, to be considered apart from each other; rigid, fixed objects of investigation given once for all. Not that this method of reasoning was not necessary for its time but for Hegel everything was in continual motion and change form its lowest to its highest form. Consequently truth - the business of philosophy - in Hegels hands was no longer an aggregate of finished dogmatic statements, but lay in the process of apprehending the long historical development of the universe as a whole. Not only knowledge of philosophy but every kind of knowledge inclusive also of practical affairs. Thus, the highest and most complex existences can be traced back to the lowest and simplest. The highest form of religion, for example, is nothing more than the refined reproductions of the crude superstitions of the savages. As also with the history of man as they first emerged from the animal world to make their entry into history: still half animal, brutal, helpless to the forces of nature and consequently as poor as the animals and hardly more productive - a situation whereby a certain equality in the conditions of existence prevailed. With the process of time the natural division of labor within the family developed the process of production so that the power of man could now produce more than was necessary for its mere maintenance. As surplus production grew the first division of labor - slavery - was made possible. Brutal and savage as it may seem, due no doubt to the fact that man sprang from the beasts, none the less progressive in that without slavery, no Greek state, no Greek art and science: without slavery no Roman Empire and without these as a basis, no modern Europe. "We should never forget," writes Engels (Anti-Duhring), 'that our whole economic, political and intellectual development has as its presupposition a state of things in which slavery was as necessary as it was universally recognized. In this sense we are entitled to say: without the slavery of antiquity, no modern socialism." So we see that for Hegel all historical systems are transitory stages in an endless course of development of human society from the lowest to the highest. Each stage necessary and therefore justified for the time as well as conditions to which it owes its origin. However, in the face of higher conditions developing gradually within the womb of the old society it loses its validity and justification, giving way to a higher stage which will also in its turn decay and perish.

    This, dialectical philosophy, by virtue of viewing everything in motion and change, dissolves all conceptions of final and absolute truths, as also of absolute states of humanity corresponding to it. For dialectics nothing is final, absolute or sacred. Everything has its transitory character in an uninterrupted process of becoming and passing away of endless ascendancy from the lower to the higher. And dialectical philosophy itself is nothing more than the reflection of this process in the thinking brain. Not as though the special sciences were not correct in keeping to their own special principles; but, in the last resort when we attempt - as is the business of philosophy to attempt - to see all these spheres of existence in their relation to one another, we must regard nature as revealing its secret meaning only to and in man. We must find the "key to the secret of man's nature in the highest energies of his moral and intellectual life." In this latter statement Hegel reveals his philosophy as idealist. That is, on the basic question of all philosophy, the relation of thinking to being Hegel placed thought as primary and being secondary. Consequently for Hegel the real world is its thought-content which makes the world a gradual realization of the absolute idea: which absolute idea has existed somewhere from eternity independent of the world and before the world's existence. Thus the Hegelian system through its idealist standpoint contains the dogmatic content of absolute truth which places it in contradiction to its dialectical process which dissolves all conceptions of final absolute truths! "However much Hegel, especially in his Logic emphasized that this eternal truth is nothing but the logical, that is, the historical process itself", writes Engels, "he nevertheless finds himself compelled to supply the process with an end, just because he has to bring his system to a termination at some point or other. In his Logic he can make this end a beginning again, since here, the point of conclusion, the absolute ideal - which is only absolute in so far as he has absolutely nothing to say about it - 'alienates', that is transforms itself into nature and comes to it again later in the mind, that is in thought and history." (Ludwig Feuerbach). And so we find the revolutionary side of Hegel's philosophy smothered by his absolute idea. This did not detract, however, from developing out of the system a wealth of thought which astounds to this present day.

    Hegel's philosophy influenced the minds of leading thinkers of the 19th century including those of Marx and Engels. During his lifetime he enjoyed immense fame and for almost thirty years after his death his philosophy received universal acknowledgement. Bertrand Russell noted that at 'the end of the 19th century leading philosophers in America and Britain were Hegelian". Then came a quick reaction which is noted by Karl Marx in the Afterword to the Second German edition of his work Capital:

    "The mystifying side of the Hegelian dialectic I criticized thirty years ago, at a time when it was still the fashion. But just as I was working at the first volume of 'Das Kapital', it was the good pleasure of the peevish, arrogant, mediocre, who now talk large in cultured Germany, to treat Hegel in the same way as the brave Moses Mendelssohn in Lessing's time treated Spinoza, i.e. as a dead dog'. I therefore openly avowed myself the pupil of that mighty thinker, and even here and there, in the chapter on the theory of value, coquetted with the modes of expression peculiar to him. The mystification which dialectics suffers in Hegel's hand, by no means prevents him from being the first to present its general form of working in a comprehensive and conscious manner. With him it is standing on its head. It must be turned right side up again, if you would discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell".

    The explanation for this boycott attitude to Hegel can be sought in the revolutionary struggles of the working in France and central Europe commencing in 1848 and culminating in the first working class quest for power in the Paris Commune (1871). Since then the development of the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the working class - its successes as well as defeats - is developing within the womb of capitalism the challenging force of socialism, forcing society to lose its validity and justification and so make way for this higher stage. This will undoubtedly revive interest in Hegel's philosophy among workers' leaders as also among the educated. But as regards the latter, their interests will be as Hegel explains in the process of change, turned to its opposite, from that of keen interest to that of blasting it for their own protection.

    [to be continued]
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Hegel [part 2]



    Hegel's philosophy is by no means simple yet on the face of it there is much that is obvious and should be readily grasped. His great importance to the social sciences is in what has already been stated, his consideration of their phenomena as being in constant motion and change. That is in their appearance and disappearance, their coming into being and passing away: their birth as well as death. All this appears perfectly obvious and hardly deserving of any importance. After all how is it possible to observe such phenomena in any other light? Yet the importance of this standpoint even at the height of Hegel's popularity was far from realization by those interested in sociology; economists and socialists alike. Socialists considered the bourgeois system as very harmful to mankind, they described it as an accidental product of human error, nevertheless one that could be corrected and made to function through appeals to human nature against the excesses of exploitation; or made to serve man per medium of social experiments of utopian socialists. Thus they were in no way removed from their metaphysical method of reasoning despite the popular interest Hegel had made with the dialectic. As for the economists, they had nothing but praise for the bourgeois system. One, J.B. Say, a firm admirer of Adam Smith considered it unnecessary to study economics before Smith because of the erroneous nature of the theories expounded.

    It will be seen then that not a single thought among the educated - the scientific socialists excepted - grasped the significant importance of Hegel's analysis of social phenomena. Or if they did their class position dictated their silence. The utopians who would be expected to know better were as much in the dark regarding its importance as are the labor leaders of today. But the ignorance of economist Say's remark on the needlessness to study the errors of the past showed that here too, Hegel's remark that the most recent philosophy is the result of preceding philosophies and therefore must contain the principles of them all, went unheeded. True, Hegel's reasoning was to show progressive development toward the "absolute area"; still the most consistent materialist could hardly disagree that each philosophical system is no more than the intellectual expression of its time. And if it was a choice in political economy between Say and Hegel, materialists would find themselves nearer to Hegel than to Say.


    As we have already noted in earlier lessons, dialectics was known and expressed before Hegel, but he succeeded in making use of it as none of his predecessors had. In the hands of this idealist, dialectics became a most powerful weapon for the cognizance of everything which exists. "Therefore," writes Hegel, "The dialectical constitutes ... the motive soul of the scientific process and is the principle by which alone the content of science acquires immanent connection and necessity... Diversion from abstract rational definitions seems to our ordinary consciousness a profession of simple prudence according to the rule: live and let live, whereby everything seems equally good. But the essence of the matter is that what is definite is not only limited from without, but is bound to be destroyed and to pass over into its opposite by virtue of its own inherent nature." "We say all things (i.e. all that is finite as such) must be submitted to the judgement of dialectics and by this very fact we define it as a universal invincible force which must destroy everything no matter how lasting it may seem." As long as Hegel remains true to the dialectical method he is a highly progressive thinker. He called metaphysical, the point of view which considered things static and in isolation whether from the standpoint of idealism or materialism. To metaphysics he opposed with the dialectic, the method in which phenomena is studied in their development and consequently, in their interconnection also. To Hegel dialectics is the principle of all life.

    We say, "Man is mortal" as though death is quite alien to the nature of living man. Thus, for us it follows that man has two qualities: first of life and second of being mortal. But on closer investigation it turns out that life bears within itself the germ of death, so that in general phenomena is contradictory in the sense that it develops out of itself elements which, sooner or later, will put an end to its existence and transform it into its own opposite. Everything flows, everything changes. There is no force capable of holding back this constant flux or arresting this eternal movement. No force capable of resisting the dialectics of phenomena.
    At a particular moment a moving body is at a particular spot, but at the same time it is outside it as well, because, if it were only in that spot it would, at least for that moment become motionless. Every motion is a dialectical process, a living contradiction. It is inconceivable that there be matter without motion consequently we have to agree with Hegel when he states: dialectics is the soul of any scientific cognition. And this not only for nature but all phases of existence. Take for instance political economy. It is improbable that Hegel busied himself with this phenomena; yet, here too his genius enabled him to grasp its most essential characteristics, displaying and understanding clearer than the economists of his lime, even. that of Ricado. He indicates this clearly, says Plekhanov, in his Philosophie der Geschichte and also particularly in Philosophie des Rechts. "To use his words, this dialectics, meaning a lowering of the living standard of the majority of the population as a result of which they can no longer satisfy their requirements correctly, and which concentrates wealth in comparatively few hands, must necessarily lead to a situation in which civil society, despite the surplus of wealth, is not rich enough, i.e., has no sufficient means to do away with the excess of poverty and the dregs of the population."
    Dialectical reasoning is not simple and requires constant practice. Let us again look at political economy and ask ourselves what is the logical conclusion in economics of "free competition?". Every capitalist strives to beat his competitors and to remain master of the market. There are frequent cases where this actually is the result. But this indicates that 'free competition" leads to monopoly, that is to the negation of free competition: in other words to the transformation to the Hegelian opposite. Say I use money to hire a laborer; that is I buy somebody's labor power. By this I turn out to be the owner of value considerably greater than the value I spent on the purchase. On the one hand, this is very just because it has already been recognized that the law gives me the right to use what I have secured by exchange as best advantage to myself. On the other hand it is most unjust, because I am exploiting the labor of another and thereby negating the principle which lies at the foundation my conception of justice. So every phenomenon by the action of those same forces which condition its existence, sooner or later, but The inevitably, is transformed into its opposite.

    [to be continued]
  4. Hegel [part 3]



    Metaphysics asserts that neither in nature nor history are there any leaps. Speaking of the origin of some phenomenon or social institution, they represent it as tiny, almost unnoticeable in its early stage and then through a gradual process, growing up. To the question of its destruction, they view its gradual diminution continuing to the point when it becomes invisible on account of its microscopic dimensions. Evolution conceived of in this way explains absolutely nothing. It presupposes the existence of the phenomena which it has to explain and reckons only with the qualitative changes taking place within them. Hegel ridiculed this metaphysical approach by demonstrating irrefutably that both in nature and human society leaps constituted just as essential stages of evolution as gradual qualitative changes. "Changes in being" he says, "consist not only in the fact that one quantity passes into another quantity, but also that quality passes into quantity and vice versa. Each transition of the latter kind represents an interruption in gradualness from the previous one. Thus water when it is cooled grows hard, not gradually ... but all at once. Having been cooled to freezing point it remains a liquid only if it preserves a tranquil condition and then the slightest shock is sufficient for it suddenly to become hard... In the world of moral phenomena ... there takes place the same changes of quantitative differences. Thus a little less, a little more constitutes that limit beyond which frivolity ceases and there appears something quite different, crime ... Thus also, states - other conditions being equal - acquire a different qualitative character merely in consequence of differences in their size. Particular laws and a particular constitution acquire quite a different significance with the extension of the territory of a state and of the number of its' citizens". (Wissenschaft der Logik).
    Modern naturalists know how frequently changes of quantity lead to changes in quality. In chemistry also numerous examples of this process are observed. The student would be well advised in this connection to read Engels, Dialectics of Nature.

    Again, if we turn once more to economics and Marx' analysis of value in his work Capital, vol. 1, we find the qualitative aspect "use value" having to be changed into its quantitative aspect "exchange value" before it becomes serviceable for the bourgeois economy.


    We have seen how Hegel viewed philosophy, religion, art, technology etc. as being natural products of their time: "Only with a particular religion can a particular form of state exist, as also in that particular state a particular philosophy and a particular art", he states. This interrelationship of phenomena, exceedingly important in any dialectic analysis, is completely misunderstood by the educated. Unable to grasp the common source from which this interrelationship arises, they treat it as something trivial and so deprive it of any foundation. To the question: What determines the historical development of religion, philosophy, right, art etc.? They reply, the flow of philosophy from Kant to Hegel. And in the same manner explain away the successions of schools of art, etc. All of which, while containing a measure of truth explains nothing at all. However, for want of any basic understanding this "profoundness" in thought is satisfactory to the educated. Hegel, however, was far from such profoundness: 'The defect of the method which consists in considering phenomena from the standpoint of interaction lies in the fact that the relation of interaction, instead of serving as an equivalent of the concept must itself be understood; this is achieved by both interacting aspects being acknowledged as moments in some third, higher one, and not taken as immediately given". (Enzyklopadie). This means that the interpenetration of phenomena cannot be satisfied with the bare statement but finds its interaction process in "some third, higher force". This "higher" was for Hegel found in the developing qualities of the people's spirit. But for the materialist, however, in economic development, the foundation of the materialist conception of history

    We now know that world history is not the embodiment of the universal spirit. This does not however, find us in disagreement with the theme that the political structure of every given society influences their morals and their morals the constitution etc. We must agree with Hegel that both morals and political constitution proceed from a common source. That source being the modern materialist explanation of history through its economic development. Just so long as history does not contradict the laws of development of Hegel's universal spirit, Hegel remains on historical empirical ground. When, however, history departs from the track of that supposed development of the spirit, it becomes something unforeseen in Hegel's logic and receives no attention. This does not prevent him from being contradictory in some aspects of his excursions into history.

    [to be continued]
  5. Hegel [part 4]



    Hegel's views on world history are of course expressed in pure idealist terms. This has led to those incapable of any consistent thinking to scornfully shrug their shoulders and ignore this aspect of his investigation. However, it is because of this idealist nature - a circumstance which places narrow limits in movement to his genius - that one should pay special attention to Hegel's thoughts on this subject, for it is precisely here that his philosophy is most instructive. For it is here that Hegel's references to history provides us with the most irrefutable proof of the inconsistency of the idealist approach.

    His contradictory approach to history is seen in his characterization of the animal worship of the people of India as a consequence of the low stage of these people in advance to the universal spirit. Of the Persians who diefied light and also the sun, the moon and five other heavenly bodies, Hegel places them higher to the universal spirit than India. But of animal worship among the Egyptians Hegel states: 'The cult consists mainly of animal worship ... Zoolatry is repulsive to us; we can accustom ourselves to praying to heaven, but to worship the sun and other heavenly bodies are in no way higher than those who worship animals; on the contrary, for in the animal world the Egyptians saw the Interior and incomprehensible (Philosophie de Geschichte).

    Here we find the same animal worship given a completely different significance in Hegel's reasoning according as he deals with the Indians or the Egyptians. Why? Can the Indians have worshipped animals in a different way to the Egyptians? No, it is simply that the "spirit" of the Egyptian people is a transition to that of the Greeks, and because of his high regard for the Greek people Greece occupies a higher stage in Hegel's classification. Thus for the sake of an arbitrary logical construction Hegel is obliged to attribute a completely different significance to analogous phenomena of social life.

    For Hegel, Greece was a country of beauty and "splendid moral morality". Excellent people, profoundly devoted to the country and capable of all kinds of self-sacrifice. Only later with sophist introduction of principles did there appear subjective reflections, moral self-consciousness, the teaching that each must act according to his convictions. Then it was that the internal decay of "the splendid moral morality" of the Greeks began. "The self-liberation of the interior world" led to the decline of Greece. But the question of where this "self-liberation of the internal world came from remained open. Hegel answered it from the standpoint of the idealist, saying that "the spirit" could only for a short time remain on the stand of splendid moral reality". This, however, is not an answer, merely an expression of Hegel's idealism. Hegel himself acts as though he feels this for he hastily adds that "the principle of decay revealed itself first of all in external political development, both in the wars of the Greek states among themselves and in the struggles of the different factions within the cities. In other words, the struggle between the political parties in Hegel's own words was but the expression of the economic contradictions which had arisen in the Greek cities. If it is remembered that the Pelopennesian war (the war between the slave-holding democracy of Athens and the slave-holding oligarchy of Sparta) too, was, as seen by Thucydidos, nothing but a class struggle that spread to the whole of Greece, we shall conclude without difficulty that the cause for the decline of Greece is to be found in her economic history. Thus, Hegel puts us on the way to the materialist conception of history, although to him the class struggle in Greece appears only as a manifestation of the "principles of decay". And so the greatest idealist appears to have set himself the task of clearing the road for materialism.
    Writing of the Middle Ages Hegel pays tribute to idealism, but considers their history as the struggle of the burghers against the nobility and clergy as also a struggle between different sections of citizens, the "rich citizens and the common people." When he speaks about the Reformation, he again reveals to us the secrets of the "universal spirit" and then adds the following remark completely unexpected from the lips of an idealist:

    "In Austria, in Bohemia and in Bavaria, the Reformation had already achieved great success, and although it is said: When truth has once permeated minds it can never be torn away from them, it was nevertheless suppressed here by force of arms, by cunning or persuasion. The Slav nations were agrarian peoples (Hegel's emphasis). But this condition carries with it the relationship of master and slave. In agriculture the impulse of nature is overwhelming, human industry and subjective activity are less to be found in this work. That is why the Slavs were slower and had great difficulty in arriving at the basic feeling of the subjective ego, to consciousness of what is universal, ... and they were unable to take part in the rising freedom".

    By these words Hegel is outright that the explanation of the religious views and all the emancipation movements that arise among a particular society must be sought in that people's economic activity.


    Much has been written before and after Hegel about the significance of the geographical environment in man's historical development. But before and after him, scientists made the mistake of emphasizing the psychological or physiological influence of surrounding nature on many and so forgetting its influence conditioning the social productive forces AND THROUGH THEM ON all the social relations between people in general, along with their ideological superstructures. Hegel avoided falling into this error, if not in details at least in the general setting of the question. According to him there are three different varieties of geographical environment:

    1) a waterless high plateau, with great steppes and plains: 2) lowlands intersected by great rivers: 3) coastal lands having direct communication with the sea.

    Cattle rearing is the dominant feature in the first; agriculture in the second and trade and crafts in the third. The social relations of the inhabitants assume various characteristics according to their environment. The people inhabiting the high plateaus, the Mongols for instance, lead a patriarchal nomadic life and have no history in the proper sense of the word. Only occasionally, they assemble in great numbers, swoop like a storm on the civilized communities leaving desolation and destruction in their wake. Cultural life begins with the second, in the low lands which owe their fertility to the rivers. Such lowlands are to be found in China, India ... Babylon ... and Egypt. Great empires arise in these lands and great states are formed there. Agriculture which dominates here as the first source of substance for its individuals is bound by the regularity of the seasons, by the regular occupations corresponding to them: here, landed property and the relationships of right corresponding to them have their beginning. But these agricultural people in the low lands distinguish themselves by sluggishness, immobility and segregation. They are unable to use for their mutual relationships the means that nature places at their disposal. This defect does not exist in the third group, peoples in a coastal country. The sea does not separate peoples, it unites them. That is why precisely in the coastal countries culture, and with it the development of human consciousness reaches its highest development. There is no need to look for examples, it is sufficient to point to ancient Greece. (Philosophie der Geschichte).

    In this analysis there is very little that a materialist could disagree with. As an idealist, Hegel was unable to regard history otherwise. He made use of all the powers of his genius, all the gigantic resources of his dialectics to give at least some scientific character to the idealist conception of history. His attempt proved vain. He himself seemed dissatisfied with the results achieved and often he was obliged to come down from the misty heights of idealism to the concrete ground of economic relationships. According to Plekhanov - whose writings on Hegel constitute the basic points in this lesson - "Every time he (Hegel) turned to it, economics freed him from the shallows into which his idealism had led him. Economic development turned out to be the prius determining the whole course of history."

    [to be continued]
  6. Hegel [part 5]



    It is sometimes reasoned that dialectics is identical to evolution. That they have points of contact cannot be denied. Nonetheless, there is a profound and important difference which is far from favourable to evolution. Evolutionists desire to prove that there are no leaps either in nature or in history. Dialectics, on the other hand knows full well that both in nature and history as well as human thought leaps are inevitable. Dialectics makes clear to itself the series of conditions under which gradual change must of necessity lead to leaps.
    The statement of Hegel: "All that is rational is real, all that is real is rational", perplexed many of his supporters at the time as well as giving credence to reactionary regimes, but as Engels remarks if a state is reactionary and despite this continues to exist:

    "Then the evil character of the government is justified and explained by the corresponding character of its subjects. The Prussians of that day had the government they deserved." Likewise today, if idealists can take advantage of the dualism existing within our society: that is, the clash of spirit and matter, and build up ideals which completely destroy the existence of classes and the class struggle and at the time defend the class state in its reality, then that is how Hegel's proposition is completely misunderstood even today.

    Applied to history - particularly the first part of the proposition - it can mean nothing else than an unshakable conviction that everything rational must become reality. Without such conviction changes in development would lose all practical significance. As is already known, Hegel's dialectic was progress to the universal spirit, but how would this be possible without the continual superseding of social forms? How could it be possible without the law of opposites which would make reformism and idealism comply with development in which " reason becomes madness and blessing an evil"? True Hegel's idealism prevented him from completing historical analysis, but the importance of his proposition is that he took particular note of the aggregate of phenomena in the process of its development, thus creating out of its very self the forces leading to its negation. Thus, if one adopts a negative attitude to a particular system, that negation is rational so long as it coincides with the objective process of negation proceeding within that very system itself. That is, if the system is losing its historical meaning and entering into contradiction with the social needs to which it owes its
    appearance. "Socialists' who claim adherence to the dialectic may well take note of this when they ceremoniously provide a role for reformers and idealists with their slogans "Labor to power pledged to socialist ideals'. A situation which shows complete lack of understanding of the great importance to the dialectic Hegel's proposition on rationality and reality provides as well as ignoring his advice that, "One must not be ceremonious with reason which is well on the way to its opposite, madness".

    As a further example of the use of Hegel's proposition we have Engels saying: "The Roman Republic was real, but so was the Roman Empire which superseded it." the question arises: Why did the Empire supersede the Republic? That there was a cause cannot be denied, the problem is where to seek for the cause or causes underlying this historic event. Was it because of extra skill on the part of Caesar, or the military talent of Pompeii? Hegel would give a decisive negative to such reasoning. For Him the cause would lie in the change in social phenomena built up by all preceding events in Roman society.

    An additional force to Hegel's dialectic is realized in his remarks: "One believes that one is saying something great if one says that 'man is naturally good.' But one forgets that one says something far greater when one says 'man is naturally evil."" With Hegel evil is the motive force of historical development. It contains the twofold meaning that, on the one hand, each new advance necessarily appears as a sacrilege against things hallowed, as a rebellion against conditions, though old and outmoded yet are sanctified by custom; and that, on the other hand, through the wicked passions of man which since the emergence of class antagonisms, serve as levers of historical development. A fact of which the history of feudalism and of the bourgeoisie constitutes a single continual proof.
    We have seen how Hegel succeeded in making use of the dialectic as none of his predecessors had. In the hands of this idealist genius, dialectics became the most powerful weapon for the cognizance (understanding) of everything which exists. For Hegel:

    "The essence of the matter is that what is definite is not only limited from without, but is bound to be destroyed and to pass over into its opposite by virtue of its own inherent nature." As long as Hegel remains true to the dialectical method he is a highly progressive thinker. " We say that all things must be submitted to the judgement of dialectics and by the very fact we define it as a universal, invincible force, which must destroy everything, no matter how lasting it may seem." Thus, Hegel is perfectly correct when he says that serious mastery and clear comprehension of dialectics is a matter of extraordinary importance. But materialism in its explanation of history presupposes the dialectical method of thought and as a consequence could not make use of the dialectic in its idealist form.

    Karl Marx, the greatest of materialists, a man in no way inferior to Hegel in genius, the true successor of this great philosopher, rightly said of himself that his method is completely opposite of Hegel's method.

    "To Hegel, the life process of the human brain, i.e., the process of thinking, which, under the name of the 'idea', he even transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurgos (creator) of the real world, and the real world is only the external, the phenomenal form of 'the idea'. With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought". (Capital, Afterword to second German Edition P.19).

    In the hands of Marx, materialist philosophy has been elevated to an integrated, harmonious and consistent world outlook. Before him materialism remained idealist in the realm of history. It was Marx that drove idealism out of this its last refuge. Like Hegel he saw human history as a process conforming to laws and independent of man's arbitrariness; like Hegel, he considered all phenomena in the process of their appearance and their disappearance; like Hegel he was not satisfied with barren metaphysical explanation of historical phenomena, and, like Hegel, he endeavoured to trace to a universal and single source all the acting and interacting forces of social life. He found that source, not in the absolute spirit, but in the economic development to which we referred when discussing Hegel he was forced to have recourse to it when his idealism even in his powerful hands was a powerless and useless instrument.

    Modern dialectical materialism had made clear to itself the truth that people make history unconsciously: from its standpoint the course of history is determined in the final analysis not by man's will, but by the development of the productive forces. So long as the motive forces of historical development worked behind the backs of mankind, people had to make their history unconsciously. The service rendered by Marx consisted in having discovered these laws and through a rigorous study of their scientific workings make it possible for people to take them in their own hands and submit them to their own reason. Where Hegel saw the working class as a mob. For Marx the workers are a majestic force, the bearer of the future. Only the working class is capable of mastering the teaching of Marx, this is a fact becoming more and more recognized today.
  7. Thanks!

    All students of social theory owe you a big one for summarizing Hegel! But one of my professors gave us all one caveat: IF YOU THINK YOU UNDERSTAND HEGEL, YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND HEGEL

    take that as you will
  8. Re: Thanks!

    Sent compliments to Ted Tripp, not me.
  9. You are a gentleman and a scholar, old boy! Thanks for the snappy comeback to the compliment! The world is a better place with people like you, and Ted, of course, in it!
  10. Thanks a lot for this, heusdens. I don't currently have time to read it, but I'm copying it, and will read it when I find time.
  11. Tom Mattson

    Tom Mattson 5,539
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Found his source here.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share a link to this question via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook