Philosophical Essays on Materialism and Marxism
Prof. Dr. Franz J. T. Lee,
Department of Post-Graduate Studies,
Faculty of Juridical & Political Sciences,
University of the Andes,
PUBLISHED APRIL 5, 2001.
Pandemonium Electronic Publications
The following lectures, compiled into a booklet, were originally given to my students at the University of the Andes, Venezuela, during the First Semester 1982. I have translated them from Spanish into English, to be used by my students of the Department of Political and Administrative Studies, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, Primarily as background material for final year studies, which concern Political and Philosophical Thought, and more specifically Scientific Socialism.
Port Harcourt, February, 1983.
About 6,000 B.C. homo sapiens said farewell to primitive communism in the Mediterranean Region; after having experienced the neolithic revolution, the great international agricultural revolution, it stepped forward into „civilisation“, forming various cultures along rivers and on islands. Agriculture and ancient city life enabled a higher form of specialisation of labour, division of labour, development of technology, and the emergence of specific classes, and therewith class struggles.
The island culture of Crete, which had been divided by its „discoverer“ Sir Arthur Evans into two „Minoan“ periods, i.e., approximately flourishing between 2600 and 1150 B.C., had reached its acme around 1570-1425 B.C. It ended with the destruction of the Palace of Knossus, the result of class struggle of the common people against their new Achaean rulers. A great fire razed the city to the ground. This Cretan civilisation had intensive cultural relations with the various ancient Oriental civilisations - Mesopotamia, Babylonia and Egypt - especially with Mykanean Hellas.
Around 2000 B.C., Indo-European peoples from the north had invaded Hellas, these Ionians and Aiolians had subjugated the native peoples. By 1500 B.C., Hellas had become a strong warrior state, led by the Achaeans. They invaded Crete, and ruled the region from Mykenai. Until the famous Cretan revolt against these Achaean rulers, the Cretan culture had a fundamental influence on the Greek mainland. Towards the middle of the 12th century B.C., great population migrations took place in the eastern Mediterranean region; the Illyrians invaded Mykanean Hellas from the north, this so-called „Dorian invasion“, destroyed the Cretan-Mykanean culture. The native Greek peoples, as far as they were not destroyed, subjugated or assimilated, could only survive in Arcadia, i.e., in the interior of the Peloponnes, and in Attica. Other authocthonous groups migrated to Asia Minor and the neighbouring islands, this is known as the „first colonisation“.
The Dorian invaders acculturated themselves only sporadically with the destroyed Cretan-Mykenaen civilisation. In fact, a cultural degeneration set in, the language was destroyed, even iron replaced bronze as means of production. Until 1200 B.C. various Dorian kingdoms existed in ancient Greece, basically, Hellas was a slave-owning society. The kings were not absolute rulers, like in Egypt or Babylonia. They were advised by a Council of Elders. From 1200 B.C. onward, there was a general development from monarchy to aristocracy, then to an alteration of tyranny and democracy. At first, a mighty aristocratic slave-owning class conquered power in various city-states, only in Sparta, Cyprus, Macedonia and Epirus, kingdoms remained.
In the various poleis, Phoenician writing was introduced, thus until today the epic works of Homer and Hesiod are preserved for us to study. Although fragmentary, they throw light on Hellas of around 1000 B.C. The Greeks changed the Phoenician alphabet to suit their language, and added vowels, instead of only consonants. A notable product of this new Hellenic civilisation was the „Homeric poems“. It is not clear whether Homer as an individual ever lived, however, experts place these epic poems between 750 and 550 D.C., thus the Iliad and Odyssey were probably written by a series of Greek poets.
The Homeric poems express the ruling ideas of the ruling slave-owning aristocracy. Religion in Homer is not religious, in our modern sense. The gods were the gods of a conquering class, and not, for example, fertility gods. The Olympic gods differed from ordinary human beings only in the sense that they possessed supernatural powers and that they were immortal. Morally they were human indeed, and were surely not awe-inspiring.
Of great relevance is that Homer is a product of Ionia, i.e., of Asia Minor and the neighbouring Greek islands. The most important commercial city in Ionia was Miletus, the birthplace of Greek philosophy, but also of materialism. Hellas as „cradle of European culture and civilisation” was enabled through the „second colonisation“ (750 - 550 B.C.), that is, the further extension of Hellas, especially to Asia Minor and to the various Mediterranean regions and islands.
Work created thinking. By 750 B.C., due to division of labour, this dialectical relation was already lost. In all slave-owning and feudalist societies, the ruling classes, the creators of ruling ideas, had scorned labour, especially manual labour. The development of commerce and trade enabled Greek society, that is, Greek thinking, the jump into another floor of the superstructure skyscraper, into political and juridical relations. No knights and no clergy had emigrated to the Greek colonies, to Asia Minor and the islands. Not in the metropolitan homeland, in Athens, but in the colonies Philosophy and Materialism came into existence. There were mainly merchants, artisans and slaves; monarchies and feudal times were already long forgotten in this region. Philosophy came into being in a highly developed slave-owning commercial society. Also, in Greater Hellas, there was not a clerical-priestly caste to spread extravagant religious ideas - the region was basically „heathen“. By then, the number 7 (seven) was already a „miraculous“, „holy“ or, at least, a mysterious number. Homer had seven birthplaces: the hexameter: Smyrna, Chios, Colophon, Ithaca, Pylos, Argos and Athenai. Already before we had seven „world wonders“; then Aeschylos’ drama „Seven Against Thebes“, the Seven Kings of Rome, or even, the Seven Hills of Rome; in the late Middle Ages, we find the seven liberal arts, septem artes liberales, grammar, rhetorics, dialectics, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music. When Jerusalem was captured, in 70 A.D., one of the precious things robbed was the famous „sacred“ seven-armed candlestick, in 455 it landed in Carthogo, then in 534 it was brought to Constantinople, around 565 it was back in Jerusalem, since then it is lost.
The „Seven Wise Men“ of ancient Greece were earthly, practical men, most of them organised in matters of the State. Each one of them had an opinion, a gnome (Latin: sententia), that is a wise expression (or more) of a very precise form, easily applicable to practical life. Some famous ones were; Bias of Priene, Solon, Thales, Pittakos of Mytilene, Periandros, Epimenides, the Schyte, Anacharsis, and Cheilon. Although they were more than seven, yet the first three were always mentioned in this sonorous group.
Cicero cited one of Bias’ gnomic expressions in his Paradoxa: omnia mecum porto mea, everything that I possess, I carry with me. This he is supposed to have said, when he was forced to leave his home-city and flee. Diogenes Laertius quoted Cheilon in his work, Cheilon, I, 3, 70, as having said, de mortius nil nisi bene, in free translation this means: concerning the dead, one should speak in a good and friendly way, because they cannot defend themselves. During the bitter class struggle between the nobility and common people, around 620 B.C., Pittakos was elected as referee in the social conflict; he was an excellent protagonist of the tyrants, and forced many noblemen to leave Lesbos, he is recorded as having been a great statesman. Another famous statesman was Solon, an Athenian aristocrat (born around 640 B.C.). In his famous constitution of Athens, all Athenians became equal before the law, but the laws concerning „rich and poor” remained valid. The interests of the rich were called a timocracy, that of the poor seisachtheia. Each party received something, but none of them was satisfied. His constitution remained under the reign of Peisistratos, and was only changed, in a radical democratic sense, by Kleisthenes in 508 B.C. Periandros was a tyrant, ruling 627 - 587 B.C., in Corinth; he was one of the mightiest rulers of that epoch; like most tyrants, he favoured art and science. About Epimenides, whose life is very little known, some place his acme around 500 B.C., others even around 600 B.C., miraculous theological things are told. He is supposed to have fallen into a deep sleep as a child, which had lasted 57 years, he became 299 years old, other sources give a modest age, 154 years. Anacharsis was a friend and adviser of Solon. Thales of Miletus (6213 - 5476 B.C.), philosopher and political adviser, probably of Phoenician parentage, is the most well-known and famous of the „Seven Wise Men’°. However, we have no knowledge of any writing of Thales; some uncertain fragments of his gnomic statements are preserved in quotations of later authors. How exactly he had formulated his famous philosophic statement we do not know, whether it was; „water is best“, „water is the arche“ or „water is everything“.
Omnia mecum porto mea: the philosophic drama commences, the epilogue begins. Bias steps on the stage, backwards to the „I“, who had entered before. That is, how he carries everything that belongs to him, with him. Nothing else is near or dear to him, his interest is inward. And yet, Bias is a „wise man“, a practical man. This gnome, wise attitude, is a message to his society, although it sounds at first private, to free oneself from the social burden, yet, Bias is carrying something, something social with him - without social human beings nothing can be thought or even carried.
Gnomes, wise statements alone do not change the world. Thales, as first „wise man“, stepped out of this tradition, into praxis, into philosophy. In a modern sense, he established the relationship between revolutionary theory and revolutionary praxis in a dialectical manner. He did not speak about the origin of things in a half mythical sense, for example, still as Pherekydes did. Thales focussed his attention away from the „I“ of human beings, turned, in contradiction to Bias, to the outer reality, which had to be demythologised. He is primarily concerned about the origin and essence of things. For him, this essence is not the titan, the god of time, Chronos, the father of Zeus and Hera, it is also not a kind of world-egg. What is ruling in the world is neither Zeus nor Hera, it is something very material and cool: water is the primordial element, from which everything comes into being, and into which everything passes away. Water is origin, beginning and essence at the same time. Nevertheless, every beginning is very hard. Thales thought that the magnet possesses a psyche, but not a soul in a religious or Christian sense. Thus the „ghost“ is still in everything. But the general essence of things was clear, it stood in water. Thales, at home in the commercial city of Miletus, was very much acquainted with commodity exchange relations. Water became the exchange element, comparable to money in commercial life. The differences and changes of things, Thales explained, as first philosopher, by the technique of condensation and-evaporation of water. Water is the One, the uniform primordial element, otherwise nothing else exists.
Anaximander is considered as both pupil and friend of Thales. His famous writing, Concerning the Phýsis (Nature), is lost, only a very important fragment is preserved. Later many philosophers will write works with the title, „Concerning Nature“. However, the word, „ph/sis“, at that early stage, cannot be translated as „nature“, in a modern sense. It had the connotation of something which gives birth, which brings into existence, like a womb, or even a mother mater (Greek: hyle).
From the preserved fragment of Anaximander, we learn the following: He did not consider water as the origin and essence of everything, also not like later Greek natural philosophers, air, fire or earth, or even all four together, but it is the apeiron, the Infinite. The apeiron is timeless, has no limits and no shape, but it is material. It is not composed of any of the known elements, it is chaos, a mixture of all of them, even the unknown ones, but not in their pure known form. „Chaos“ is a mythical concept, but it is immediately conceptualised as a material term, a substantial condition, a material essence, without characteristics, that is, without limitations or specific conditions. Apeiron is that which is common to all things, out of which all of them come into existence.
This Infinite did not come into existence, also cannot pass away - it is eternal self-moving matter. This hýle is hylozoistic, and this apeiron is later quoted by Aristotle in his book concerning „Metaphysics“, where he develops the concept „matter“, as „in-possibility-being“, as dynámei on. It can take on all kinds of forms. Things emerge out of the apeiron, depending on their weight. Due to the contradiction of coldness and warmth, water first emerges. And in this Anaximander is very dialectical, water is the synthesis of this contradiction. From the contradictions in water, new substances, with new contradictions emerge, thus the earth, the stars, the human beings came into existence.
The famous sentence of Anaximander, which is preserved, is very difficult to translate, not only because of the fact that the meaning of the concepts used are different today, but also because in the original practically every word has a specific meaning, which is lost in modern translation. The following is a free translation of Ernst Bloch’s German translation, and also, in my words, his explanation of this sentence.
Firstly, the original in German:
Bloch: „Woraus aber die Dinge ihr Entstehen haben, dahin geht auch ihr Vergehen nach der Notwendigkeit, denn sie zahlen einander Strafe and Busse für ihre Rücklosigkeit nach der festgesetzten Zeit.“
I just give Hermann Diels’ translation of this text, who is an authority on the pre-Socratic fragments, to indicate the difficulty: „Woraus aber das Werden ist den seienden Dingen, in das hinein geschieht auch ihr Vergehen nach der Schuldigkeit; denn sie zahlen einander gerechte Strafe and Busse für ihre Ungerechtigkeit nach der Zeitordnung.“ Bertrand Russell, the great English philosopher, translated this sentence as follows:
„Into that from which things take their rise they pass away once more, as is ordained, for they make reparation and satisfaction to one another for their injustice according to the ordering of time.“ Now, my attempt to translate Bloch’s translation:
„Into that from which things come into existence, due to necessity, they pass away, for they make reparation and satisfaction to one another for their injustice, according to the given time.“
„Due to necessity“ at that time had the meaning „according to habit“, it means a firm, generally accepted habit. „To one another“ does not appear in all the texts or quotations preserved; if it is absent in the sentence, then it means that the things do not pay reparation or make satisfaction to one another for their individual coming-into-being, but to the apeiron, to the divine one, as a kind of sacrifice. However, in all probability this „to one another“ is very important in Anaximander’s philosophy, contrary to Bias, thus, it must have been included in the original statement. We live with this „to one another“ in the real world, it is of vital importance.
In the process of their coming-into-existence, the things, in their individual strife, file themselves away. „The given time“ is simply history, understood in our sense. This phrase has a tone of the „Oracle of Delphi“, of the place where the Divine, Chronos, speaks, thus it is not easily to be understood. It not only necessitates deep reflection, but also precise interpretation, especially for us, who do not know the living meaning of this Greek word anymore. Thus this sentence of Anaximander can be interpreted in manifold ways, everything possible is contained in it. So far, the comments of Bloch, concerning Anaximander’s mysterious apeiron gnome.
As mentioned before, Anaximander stated that out of the apeiron, out of the indefinite, firstly the contradiction, cold - warm, comes, dialectically water is produced. Next to water, other contradictions are created, hardly building the earth. These again divide and mix, forming the many, a contradiction, then again, the individual or special in the many things. Things are in permanent strife with one another, battling for and against the place where they are, in the process of coming-into-existence. This „special existence form“ of the things, in the process of becoming, forms a contradiction to their original form, in the womb of the apeiron, this is „injustice“ or „inconsideration“ to the mater. The indefinite, infinite, timeless existence of the apeiron is justice. The injustice of the things, coming-into-being, forms a contradiction. The penalty of justice, according to time, to history, for this „becoming“ is „passing away”, necessarily things have to pass away. By „passing away“ they make reparation for their „injustice“.
Similar pre- or crypto-philosophic ideas can be found in Oriental and Near Eastern thinking of ??? especially in theology and religion. Just like, in Judaism and Christianity, God created everything, and everything returns finally to God, so for Anaximander, all things, according to the end of given time, return to the womb of mother apeiron. Anaximander is the first materialist philosopher who had introduced dialectic, the production of contradictions, and then again contradictions of contradictions. The next two philosophers, who had developed and understood dialectics to this fundamental intensity, are Hegel and Marx.
Finally, important is that Anaximander’s apeiron is a primal substance, „encompassing all the worlds“, which is alive and permanently fermenting. Aristotle gave us an excellent reason why Anaximander took the apeiron as arché: „in order that becoming must not end“ (Physics, III, 8, 208 a 8). Also for the first time matter is explained, not as something only to be perceived by our senses, but in an abstract, logical and cognitive manner. Also, not only is the apeiron eternal, but dialectical change, qualitative change, is eternal - motion is permanent.
We are not going to treat all the materialist philosophers of ancient Greece, but only those who have directly contributed to the forward development of our philosophical knowledge of matter, its contents and laws. The next model, the two contradictory poles, Heracleitus and Parmenides, is of great significance. In a certain sense, they are contradictions of Anaximander$ and thus became contradictions in relation to each other.
Heracleitus of Ephesus (535-475 B.C)
Numerous fragments of Heracleitus have survived, I will cite some of the famous ones below. „This world, which is the same for all, no one of gods or men has made; but it was ever, is now, and ever shall be an ever-living Fire, with measures kindling ‘and measures going out.“ „Men do not know how what is at variance agrees with itself. It is an attune- …(3 pages missing in the Original, p. 7, 8, 9)
The first Greek philosopher who had used the concept „arché“ (the principium, origin) was Anaximander (or Anaximandros), and for all the so-called „pre-Socratic“ philosophers, this arché was a hýle (substance, matter), this applied also to the apeiron of Anaximander. All of them had tried to demythologise the world, to explain the world out of itself. The hýle was alive, that is why historians of philosophy have also called them hylozoists and their materialism „hylozoism“ (hýle - substance; zoe - life).
In Egyptian, Indian, Chinese or African mythology, there are innumerous examples about the search for the essence of being; Zeus, Jehovah, Osiris, Waqlimi, Unkulunkulu, Tixo, the Olympus, the Oracle of Delphi, or the Nirwana, are all such mythical creations. However, declaring the arché as a simple hýle, as water, air, earth or fire, was a specific Greek innovation - although crypto-traces of such a chthonic (chthon - earth) explanation of the essence of being we already find in early pre-Thalian times in Egypt and India. Thales made the step from crypto-materialism and pre-scientific investigation to philosophía, as the first sophós, wise man. Anaximander, Anaximenes, Heracleitus, Anaxagoras, Empedocles, Democritus, etc. all continued this philosophic tradition to demythologise the world of angels, devils, ghosts, and above all, from supreme gods.
Surely, it was a wry small step, made around 600 B.C.; and it seems unimportant, not guided by great intellectual superiority and scientific precision nonetheless, it was the first non-mechanical, dialectical, hylozoistic materialist explanation of nature, of the universe, far more advanced than the ideas of Berkeley or Heidegger of very recent times, or the ruling ideas of our bourgeois epoch, and their reflections in theological and religious beliefs in Africa, Asia and South America.
Greek materialism was not mechanical (in the strictest sense, not even by Democritus) and its explanation of the origin, the mater (mother, womb), was very simple and sober; the principium was not „holy water“, but simply chthonic (not tonic), that is, earthly water. Hýle, in ancient Greek, simply meant an earthly substance „wood“; imagine the process to search for wood, a substance, and then to find water: hýle, in Greek, is equivalent to materia, in Latin. Thus, etymologically „matter“ (English), „Materie“ (German) and „materia“ (Spanish) all developed from mater (Latin) - the mother, the womb of being. Also the hýle, the materia, the substance, is a zoon, is a living being, is alive, gives birth to life, like a mother.
In a strict scientific and philosophic sense, when matter is alive, and can produce life, then potentially, in the sense of Aristotle’s dynámei on, in its dialectical essence, it contains subjectivity, the ability to be a subject, or to produce a subject or subjects. All this was already implicit in the hylozoism of ancient Greek materialist philosophy. Only because of this, Marx could later speak about the dialectical process of humanisation of Nature and naturalisation of Man, the dialectical contradiction and unity of Subject-Object in the Universe.
Water (Thales), air (Anaximenes), fire (Heracleitus), the three together plus earth (Empedocles), all four substances plus the nous (the quintessence or spirit, Anaxagoras) all these were primordial substances, mixed with nothing else. The same applied to Anaximander’s apeiron (the Infinite and Indivisible) or Parmenides’ hen (one, World Sphere), even Pythagoras’ number; and definitively, Leucippus, Democritus and Epicurus understood their Átomon as material, indivisible and eternal, not to be mistaken with the modern conception of an atom in physics. Anaxagoras also did not Understand his fifth element, the nous, in a mythological, religious or theological sense as a soul or spirit, butt as a material substance. as „Vernunft“ (German: meaning reason). Anaximander even went so far, as to give the gods an earthly material character, he declared his material apeiron as divine.
The ancient Greek philosophers were empirically and practically searching for and investigating sophía, which simply meant wisdom, with a direct relation to knowledge and science. The German equivalent of sophía, that is, „Weisheit“, derived from Middle High German, Wisheit or Wistoum, contains „Wissen“ (knowledge, understanding, comprehension) and even „Wissenschaft“ (science) already in it. Thales, as first philósophos (philos - friend, comrade, lover; sophía - wisdom) was a lover of sophía, that is, a sophós, a wise man. In this, like Socrates, who had called himself for the first time a philósophos, he differed from the Sophists, the sophistaí, who were only teachers, lecturers or professors of sophía. We have the same problem in contemporary universities, where students should be taught about the processes of the universe, universals, universality, etc., but unfortunately, there is a chronic lack of wise men and philosophers, teaching theoría-praxis in the various disciplines of universal knowledge. For the time being, due to our ruling class educational systems, we have to be satisfied with a majority of sophistaí, to whom could be said in the words of Boethius: si tacuisses philosophus mansisses, if you had remained silent, you would have remained a philosopher.
In ancient Greece, to study philosophy, and to qualify as a philosopher, one had to acquire wisdom and knowledge in a universal and praxical sense. A quick glance at the various disciplines, which were originally contained within philosophy, studied by some of the great Greek philosophers, gives us a concrete idea about the difference between a sophistes (a teacher of wisdom) and a philósophos (a lover of wisdom).
Thales was a statesman, a military engineer, an astronomer, a geographer, a viticulturer, a meteorologist, a merchant, a mathematician, a panpsychologist, etc. Anaximander was historian, cosmologist, physicist, astronomist, astrologist, geologist, cosmogonist, meteorologist, geographer, biologist, anthropologist, and probably even a seismologist. What Heracleitus, Plato, Aristotle or Democritus all were, measured by contemporary individual sciences and their sub-disciplines, would fill many pages. However, let us continue with Socrates, of whom we are not sure, whether he ever had lived, or if he was just a creation of the genius of Plato. However, he is supposed to have been declared as the wisest man by the Oracle of Delphi, and was the first person to have called himself a philósophos.
Anaxagoras, born in 500 B.C. in Klazomenai, Asia Minor, who became a friend of Pericles, brought philosophy to Athens, At the same time, the Sophist movement spread, gradually developing book printing. Anaxagoras’ book „Concerning the physis“ was heavily criticised, and due to asebeia, impietu, godlessness, blasphemy of the gods, he was banished to Lampsakos. In this intellectual atmosphere, Socrates began his occupation as philosopher, attacking the sophistaí, and introducing the art of interrogation, the dialektiké. We mainly know about him from Xenophon, Plato or Aristotle, and we either know a lot about him, or very little - in any case, this problem cannot be solved anymore.
Dialektiké was for Socrates an epistemology of moral, wise action. According, to Plato, he had argues that from the trees, mountains or other things outside in nature he could learn very little, but mainly from people in the polis, in the city. Furthermore, he could learn from his daimonion, an inner voice, an inner Oracle of Delphi. But this private daimonion, which Socrates always has with him, does not teach him about the Good, the summum bonum, it only warns him under specific circumstances. It does not really mediate knowledge to Socrates about what interested him most, the essence (ousía or to tí en eínai) of virtue (arete). The Good is for him the general and useful, everything r which serves practical, public and communal life, but the content of this virtues, which is valid for everyone, and which everyone is acting according to, once it has been recognised, is firstly defined negatively. While strolling through the market of Athens, Socrates exclaimed that there are many things which he does not need at all. Already here is noticeable the Cynic needlessness or even stoicism. The positive aspects of Socratic morality are even more difficult to define. The aim of his ethics is righteous action for the sake of happiness, but this conception is very vague, it could be interpreted in a hedonistic, Cynical or even Kantian sense. Nevertheless, for Socrates arete, virtue, is true human being, we just need to recognise, to become conscious of it.
The so-called „pre-Socratic“ philosophers did not deny the existence of a psyché or soul, only it was material: for Thales it was the „ghostly“ force which moves the magnet; by Anaximander it was breath, air; for Heracleitus it was special warm and dry fire; for Anaxagoras it was the nous, the fifth element; for Democritus it was an extra number of fire átomos. The great philosophers after Democritus, Socrates himself, Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus, were everything else than materialists - a lonely exception was Epicurus.
As we have seen with Socrates already, thinking about the arché or cause (aitía) of everything became of a secondary nature, the doctrine of ethics, concerning arete, gained relevance. With Socrates’ famous maxim: Know Thyself, Greek materialism was cooling down, but its light was not completely extinguished - low flames continued to flicker in Aristippus, much higher in Epicurus, lower in the Stoics and the poet with fire, Lucretius - only Epicurus, with his specific theory of the „fall of the atoms“, furthering Democritus’ ideas, made an essential contribution.
Until now, we have dealt with the philosophic model, concerning a Subject Object relation, of Heracleitus Parmenides. We will continue to analyse other models in the history of philosophy.
Now, let us move from Socrates to Plato, or perhaps more correct, from the Socratic Plato to the Platonic Plato. However, according to ancient Greek reports and writings, Plato was the most devoted pupil of Socrates. Of relevance are the various voyages of Plato, which had brought him into contact with the Pythagoreans, with the ideas of the Egyptian priestly caste, but also with philosophic thinking in Lower Italy and Syracuse. Around 387 B.C. he founded a school of philosophy in Athens, the Academy. Thereafter he interrupted his lecturing activities, and made two further journeys to Syracuse, like Zenon (ox Zeno) before, who found a tragic end, he tried to advise the tyrant to establish an ideal state, an utopia. Changing praxis entered Greek thought, but Plato’s social utopia still had a hierarchical social structure. This venture nearly ended with his tragic death, but he was more lucky than Zenon - he escaped and returned to Athens, where he taught until he died in 347 B.C.
All Plato’s works of prose are extant, including some false ones. All of them are written in dialogue form; except the Laws, in all of them Socrates is the main figure. In the so-called Socratic-period, Plato wrote: The Apology, Kriton, Euthyphron, Laches, Charmides, Protagoras and Georgias. In these writings, Plato narrated about Socrates’ defence speech, his time in jail, obedience to law; concerning piety (Euthyphron), bravery (Laches) and friendship (Charmides); with Protagoras began the doctrine concerning the arete, and the struggle against the sophistaí especially in Georgian, rhetoric, that is, the dialektiké is developed. Then, we find a transition period of the mature Plato, but still under the influence of Socratic philosophy: at that time, Menon (the doctrine of anamnesis, recollection, re-remembrance), the Symposion (concerning éros), Phaidon (concerning immortality and the report of Socrates’ death), the Politeia (the ideal state) and Phaidros (the strive towards the world of ideas - éros) were written. In his more mature late period, many dialogues appeared, which extended his doctrines, criticised them, and partially arrived at completely different conclusions - it is very difficult to ascertain whether this late mature Plato was the real Plato, transcending Socrates. In fact, it is very difficult to find a logical thread through his works, to determine what exactly was the essence of his doctrines.
However, for our model construction of philosophy, relevant is his doctrine concerning éros and logos (reason) as central theme of his world and supra-world model of philosophy. In Greek mythology Eros was the God of Love, the son of Aphrodite, in Latino Venus. For Plato he is neither her son, nor a god, only a half-god, existing between mortality and immortality. In the Symposion, Diotima told Socrates that Eros is the son of Poros (wealth) and Penia (poverty). In Eros an inexorable dialectic between wealth and poverty, between have and have-not takes place; he is in the middle of knowledge (gnosis) and ignorance (agnosis). Plato applied the Socratic dialectic between pure concepts and categories; these he elevated to independent beings, to the original images of pictures of all things, to ideas.
With the being of idea, Plato made Parmenides’ hen kai pan, the One, together with the dialectics of Zenon, who defended this unomnia, victorious over Heracleitus’ panta rhei, over becoming. The ideas can only be comprehended via the soul (psyche), which has gyros, a drive inwards, this can only be realised in pure contemplation, in theoría. Thus éros is valid for the supra-world of ideas - our concrete material world is for Plato pure illusion; all worldly, earthly things are just shadows of images of this real supra-world of the ideas. Not-Being is for Plato matter, something of great insignificance. It is responsible that some appearances cannot participate in the ideas. In Phaidros, Eros is related to beauty, to the psyché, to the divine, but later the same Plato reduced the arts to the level of reflection of the reflection of the ideas, even stating that poetry portrays lies.
The concept hýle, the equivalent of matter, as a philosophic concept only appeared by Aristotle for the first time. As we have seen, for Plato matter, (or its equivalent) is the indefinite, the opposite of that which is, or is formed; for him it is to kenón, empty space, the vacuum or void. Of course, this Nothing (matter) was mixed with all being things, at the first stage, in a mathematical or geometric manner, so to say, with the forms at the doorstep towards the, world of ideas. For Plato, matter is indeterminate; it has nothing in common with our current matter concept, it has no form, cannot be perceived. For Plato, philosophía is the „vision of the truth“, the shining of the Alétheia (truth), the veritas in us; it has much in common with Spinoza’s „intellectual love of God“ as „wisdom“, the crown of philosophy. Only, for Plato, philosophy is still the „love of wisdom“. This vision of Plato’s world of ideas is very important; we will encounter it later again by Plotinus, the neo-Platonist, as Original Light. The Beautiful (kalos; Latin: pulcher) became by Plotinus the shining of the idea, the original light, whose shine still continued in the appearances of things. Eros, amor, is the force, the drive towards philosophía, episteme and gnosis (scientific knowledge), the lifting force to take off from the field of sense perception, flying towards the supra-world of ideas. In this Platonic Eros, Ernst Bloch sees traces of not-yet-determined matter, „an investigation of tendency and latency with the éros to the not-yet-becoming, the not-yet-achieved.“
At the age of 18, Aristotle, the son of a Greek medical doctor of Stageiros, left for Athens and became a pupil of Plato in his Academy. In 342 B.C. he went to Asia Minor and became the teacher of Alexander the Great; in 335 B.C. he founded an independent school, the Lykeion, in which he taught his pupils; the peripatos was the curriculum which his students had to absolve. After Alexander’s death, he was accused of impiety, asebeia (just like Zenon, Anaxagoras, Socrates and Plato), and he had to flee; he died in Chalkis in 322 B.C. Aristotle did extensive writing in dialogue form, however, only his esoteric works, used for teaching purposes, are extant; the exoteric ones, meant for a larger reading public, are all lost. Among the extent works, the most famous are the Politics, Nicomachean Ethics, Eudemian Ethics, Metaphysics, Physic and Historia Animalium.
Aristotle reversed the whole process of the ideas, from the abstract supraworld to the real concrete world. The ideas are brought down, back into their process of becoming. A development, a relationship between ideas and appearances (or phenomena), in fact, a dialectical development between them now takes place. From an indefinite substance to a definite one, to a specific form in it. In the Logic of Aristotle there is a development of concept and judgement towards a definite end. The world is now a process, development, a development of forms. These forms build matter, to achieve higher forms of telos (aim, task, endeavour). Like later in the philosophic thoughts of Avicenna and Avicebron, development is also eductio formarum ex materia, the extraction, in a dialectical sense, of the form from matter.
Aristotle changed the Platonic Eros - the drive in philosophic man - in a cosmopolitical drive towards a lively and inorganic world, into entelecheía (derived from en - in; telos (aim); and échein: to have), to that which has its aim in itself. The idea is now contained in the phainómenon, and the dialectical action of permanently taking out forms of matter, and matter out of forms, this huge universal process was exactly reflecting the social move away from the Greek polis towards the Great Hellenic Empire of Alexander the Great. Aristotle was transcending Socrates and Plato, moving from the polis to Great Hellas.
In the thing, in Being, is at the same time the telos (aim), which it wants to bring into existence, the entelecheia. Form (morphe) and matter (hýle) are central categories for Aristotle; although morphé as essence (ousía, to ti en einai), cause (aitia) and aim (telos) of a thing (Greek: chrema or pragma; Latin: res or ens; German: das Ding or die Sache; Spanish: cosa) is different than substance, matter or hýle, nevertheless, in the last analysis, by Aristotle, there is no division between form and matter. It is a subject-object relation which cannot be separated, due to its dialectical relation and inter-connection. Form as the active, subjective element, the energeia, is dependent on matter as possibility (dýnamis), similarly, matter as the passive, objective element is dependent on the form for its full realisation. Thus Aristotle had interconnected the hýle concept of the „pre-Socratic“ philosophers with the Pythagorean-Platonic idea. Matter Aristotle determined three-fold:
Firstly, as Could-Being in matter, in the sense of what is still without concept, is accidental, as to symbebekóta (chance, accident). In the sense of Bloch, this is still not yet formed, negative utopia; that which blocks the road, which could end in Nothing.
Secondly, matter as Kata to dynatón, according-to-possibility-being. As kata to dynatón, matter puts limits to the development of the entelecheía, not enabling all kinds of developments at all possible times.
Thirdly, matter as dynámei on, in-possibility-being. It is the still indefinite, undetermined, formless possibilities in the world, having in latency and tendency the dynamics and probabilities to be realised. Prom Plato’s Not-Being (to kenón) as matter, his entrance towards the world of ideas, Aristotle made dynámei on, matter as womb, as mater of all forms and things.
However, matter in its pure passive form, as potentia, pure theoría without the active form of entelecheía, energy, praxis, cannot bloom, blossom or be realised. The relation between matter and form, between dýnamis and energeía, although not explicitly expressed by Aristotle, should be thought as motion, movement. Thus, that matter brings form out of itself does exist in embryonic form in the philosophy of Aristotle. Later Avicenna and Avicebron will state this more clearly.
Thus there is an utopian function, a concrete substantial utopian function in matter, a yearning to take higher forms, a pregnancy, in which the very forms assist to give birth to becoming-being in future. And also in the concept of matter of Aristotle, we find the dialectical subject-object relation between dýnamis and energeía, the passive and active elements of existence - in short, a praxis-theoría relation in a historical and universal sense.
Wise things may have been thought seven times already, but when they are thought again, at another time, at another place, then they are not the same anymore. Not only the Wise Man has changed in the meantime, but also that which is to be thought about.
Concerning the origin of all existence, the basic principle of Everything, surely thinkers have thought about since two million years, long before the birth of the Seven Wise Men of ancient Greece. At some time or the other every human being asks itself, Who am I?, Where do I come from?, Where do I go?, Who are we?, etc. The answers given to such questions, as far as our records go back historically, and we know almost nothing about philosophic thought of Africa and Latin America before 500 B.C., were primarily of a mystical, mythical, superstitious or magical nature. Ever: the questions were asked in a superstitious or pre-religious fashion.
Nevertheless, on the continent of Africa, as early as 2000 B.C. in the old Egyptian slave-owning society already crypto-materialistic, atheistic conceptions of the world, nature, the cosmos developed. These ideas and thoughts then already conflicted with the Pharaon slave-owner ruling class religious ideology. It seems from the origin, from the arché, that those who were oppressed, exploited and discriminated were the ones who tried to explain the world, nature, the cosmos out of itself, in a modern sense, they were searching for substance, matter, as the basic explanation of everything. According to a preserved papyrus manuscript of that ages „Man disintegrates and his body changes itself into earth“. Man who intends to eternalise his name should not focus his thoughts on the „here-after“, bat should rather concentrate on his chthonic (earthly) action. A „white book“ is worth more than „palaces and sepulchres in the City of Death“.
A thousand years later, in ancient Indian philosophy, for example, in the Upanishads, ancient doctrines are mentioned which regarded the elements, water, air, fire, time and space as the original principle (arché) of all things. Hence the ancient Greeks, like Thales, Anaximenes or Heracleitus were not even original as far as this was concerned. a. Radhakrishnan, in his book, The Principal Upanishads, translated the „Chandogya-Upanishad“. It contains the following passage: „When water evaporates, then it becomes air, truly, air consumes everything.“
Around 700 B.C. the Samkhya School taught that everything originates from the prakrti, an infinite matter. Also in Ancient China the Dschou Jan School regarded matter to consist of five original elements: water, earth, fire, wood and metal.
Originally Man Was Not Teleologically Searching for Immortality in „Hereafter”
Even as late as the 3rd Century B.C., the Jewish religion did not preach personal immortality of the human soul, In the Holy Bible, in the book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, Verses 19 - 29 we find these remarkable sentences: „For men and animals both breath the same air, and both die. So mankind has no real advantage over the beasts; what an absurdity: All go to one place the dust from which they came and to which they must return. For who can prove that the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of animals goes downward into dust. So I saw that there is nothing better for men that they should be happy in their work, for that is what they are here for, and no one can bring them back to life to enjoy what will be in the future, so let them enjoy it now“. The author, Solomon, not King Solomon, seems to have been influenced by ancient Greek naturalists and sceptics. Only much later, individual immortality entered Catholic Philosophy, ideologically to be used as a power instrument by the Papal Church, which held the keys to Heaven and Hell, making sinners fear the Second Death more than the first one.
Philosophy - Not Created by the Ancient Greeks, but Discovered by them
In the same way, as in the middle of the 19th century, scientific socialism was born as a dialectical synthesis of European scientific endeavours, Greek philosophy was rooted historically in the scientific achievements of all the Mediterranean, North African and Oriental peoples. The intellectual and practical achievements of the Cretans, Mycenaeans, Phoenicians, Hittites, Sumerians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Nubians, Indians, Chinese, etc., all contributed to that specific Greek weltanschauung, which we classify as philosophy, the love for wisdom. The Greek philósophos not only loved sophía wisdom, but primarily knowledge - gnosis.
The basic knowledge of mathematics and astronomy the Greeks received from the Egyptians and Babylonians, of medicine from the Egyptians and Mesopotamians, of writing from the Phoenicians. All these the Greeks transformed with their specific genius into a knowledge which was more logical, uniform and abstract, into scientific knowledge. They added their own achievements which were then philosophically reflected as the works of the original natural scientists (natural philosophers), cosmologists or Hylozoists, Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Heracleitus, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, etc. These hylozoists considered the cosmos, the universe, to a composed of an original substance (hyle - substance) and that it was alive (zoé - life). They searched for the origin (Ur-grund, Ur-sache, Ur-quell - German, that is, the original (Ur-) basis, thing, source) - the arché.
Thales, the first philosopher, a contemporary of Solon and Kroisos, the symbol of wisdom, the label of a mathematical theorem, was already not known anymore to Herodotus (484-425 B.C.), the „father of history“ (Cicero). Independent of the fact whether the man Thales had ever lived, he is for humanity the symbol of all human beings who had before 500 B.C. tried to explain the world out of itself, that is, to reduce all Being, man and its surrounding, all existing things, to a uniform principle, of having natural origin. According to philosophic tradition, Thales regarded water as the arché (Urstoff); this principium is solid and fluid at the same time.
About Anaximander’s life is as little known as that of Thales. According to tradition, he regarded the to apeiron, the infinite, eternal and ageless, as the single primal substance. He argued against Thales that the arché could not be a known substance like water, if water is primal, it would conquer all the others. The to apeiron is transformed into substances with which we are familiar, and these are again transformed into each other. In a preserved fragment, he stated: „Into that from which things take their rise they pass away once more, as is ordained, for they make reparation and satisfaction to one another for their injustice according to the ordering of time.“ Important is that Anaximander’s to apeiron is a primal substance „encompassing all the worlds“, which is alive and fermenting.
Aristotle gave an important reason why Anaximander took the to apeiron as arché: „In order that Becoming must not end“. (Physics, III, 8, 208 a 8). The primal substance must be infinite, in order to create everything infinitely. Also for the first time, he explained matter not as being perceived with our senses, bat in a cognitive, abstract, logical manner. Thus Anaximander is also the first natural scientist. Hippolytos, 1, 61, even tells us that not only is the to apeiron eternal, but also „motion is eternal“, and because of this eternal motion of the arché things come into existence „due to neutralisation of opposites“, but not as qualitative change of the to apeiron. Thus for Anaximander, motion or change is mechanical, qualitative. The opposites are qualities like cold and warm, wet and dry, etc. From one state to the other, things permanently change.
For Anaximenes, air is the fundamental substance. Fire is rarefied air, when condensed, air becomes first water, then earth, and eventually stone. Thus the difference between substances is quantitative, depending on degree of rarefaction or condensation. The world, nature is alive, it breathes. Air or breath holds us, in fact, the whole cosmos together. Thus Thales put eternal Being, the primal substance, as being fluid, flowing; Anaximenes as breath, life-giving air; Anaximander as eternal fermentation; the permanent and, at the same time, the solid thing appears the all-flowing: nobody took the stone as arché. It was self-understood for them that matter was eternal and alive, and in permanent motion.
Heracleitus lived at the end of the 6th Century B.C* H2 preferred fire to be the primordial element. Later Empedocles would suggest a gentlemanlike agreement: all four, water, air, fire and earth, the only elements of ancient Greek philosophy-chemistry. Centuries later, the Arab alchemists will search for the philosopher’s stone, the elixir of life, which would change metals into gold.
Heracleitus plainly stated: „This world, which is the same for all, no one of gods or men has made; but it was ever, is now, and ever shall be an ever living Fire, with measures kindling and measures going out.“
About the unity and contradiction of opposites, he wrote: „Men do not know how what is at variance agrees with itself. It is an attunement of opposite tensions, like that of the bow and the lyre.“ „Couples are things whole and things not whole, what is drawn together and what is drawn asunder, the harmonious and the discordant. The one is made up of all things, and all things issue from the one.“ „Good and all are one.“ „The way up, and the way down is one and the same.“ „It is the opposite which is good for us.“ „We must know that war is common to all, and strife is justice.“ And his famous „Santa rhei“ doctrine: „You cannot step twice into the same river; for fresh waters are ever flowing in upon you“. Another version, „We step and do not step into tree same rivers: we are, and are not.“ And: „The sun is new everyday.“
Xenophanes (dates uncertain), a rhapsodist and satirist, but also philosopher, must have been a contemporary of Heracleitus and Pythagoras. He took earth and water as the primordial substances, hence for the first time two. However, he already had an agnostic attitude: „The certain truth there is no man ..who knows, nor ever shall be, about the gods and all the things whereof I speak. Yea, even if a man should chance to say something utterly right, still he himself knows if not - there is nowhere anything but guessing.“ Parmenides (first half of the 5th century), stated that Being is the One, infinite and indivisible, it is material, a sphere, which is everywhere.
Our sense perception, also that of the Ancient Greeks, sometimes shows movement, sometimes immobility. Parmenides takes the one pole, Heracleitus the other. But since then, the Greeks became conscious that the world is not necessarily that or such as portrayed by our senses.
Sense Deception and the Paradox of Truth
Slowly the consciousness emerged that the world, reality, is not necessarily identical with our sense - „knowledge°“, our opinion, the common sense of mortals. Thus according to Parmenides: „Thought and (immobile) Being is the same, ... hence it is only names when mortal beings call Being Becoming and Pass Away, when they speak about change of place or change of a glittering colour.“ The essence of this argument is; when a human being thinks, he must be thinking of something; when he uses a certain name, it must be the name of a certain thing. Whatever can be thought of or spoken about in language must therefore exist at all times, and must not change. Thus for Parmenides matter, the Indivisible One, is static. The whole universe is one single solid sphere - like later, only one of Democritus’ atoms. Parmenides did not care much about sense perception, and knowledge derived from it. For him the „way of truth“ is knowing the One, in which there is no becoming or pass away, no past and future, only present. His concept of matter is all-encompassing, but in reality empty. The ‘Way of opinion’, our senses only give us an illusionary world.
Heracleitus argued from the opposite pole: „What one can see, hear and experience, I give preference.“ In other words, he did not leave so radically the world of senses, as Xenophanes of Parmenides, he taught Becoming, Change, permanent flux, but he never denied Being. Fire as archer as world substance, he stressed with a pathos that is unique in Ancient Greek philosophy. The opposite of Being is not becoming, as so many people have misunderstood Parmenides and Heracleitus, on the contrary, it is Nothing. Heracleitus is not the ,antagonist of Parmenides, it is the Sophist, Gorgias, who denied Being three times: Being can neither be, nor known, nor being mediated. He. is the ancient Greek absurd nihilist. For Heracleitus Becoming is Become-Being, and not even this is absolute. The appearance of rest is just temporary, a temporary unity of opposites, this is the reason, why he allows one to step into the river at least once. It was Cratylos, his pupil, who sharpened his statement, saying that one cannot even step once, because while stepping, new waters flow in and pass.
Heracleitus could explain appearance, but in Parmenides’ Granite-One, which knows no Note-Being, no Void, or empty space, there is no place for motion, also not for single things and many things. It is an eternally, infinitely equal, immovable, indivisible, material Being. This Hen kai Pan, the One, has no other number. Philolaus and specifically, later, Pythagoras and his school, expressed the thought „immobility or rest“, by differentiating the continuum in numbers, now regarding the arché as number.
Pythagoras flourished about 532 B.C., and is known to have stated „all things are numbers“. Now the arché, like with Anaximander, is again an unknown, an abstract thing, number. But he thought about numbers much more concrete, like those on dice, or on playing-cards. Now One is at the beginning of Being, but it is not One and All, unomnia, and also not the highest of Being. Number 2 or 3, could be higher developed and more perfect. Philolaos said: „The One is the beginning of everything. What first adds itself together, the One, lies in the middle of the Sphere and is called the hearth.“ And: ‘Number Seven is equal to the motherless virgin, Athena, ... she (the 7) is the ruler and loader of everything, an eternal, permanent, immovable God, equal to itself, and different to anything else.“
Essential is that the One has the Odd and Regular in it. Only through the separation of these, and placing regular and odd numbers in relation to each other, e.g., the octave (1:2), quintet (2:3), quartet (3:4), etc. can rest and unrest exist together as Harmony. Unrest, the irregular number, for example, 3, concerns sensuous, bodily things of the world; the regular number, for example, 4, denotes rest, it concerns the godly in the world, logically deduced. Less in the number of Pythagoras, but more in his number-harmony, we find for the first time the concept order, higher order, higher Rest, which means the relationship between rest and unrest. Here we see, that change is put to a lower order, it concerns things „under the moon“, whereas rest, immobility belongs to the heavens, to the universe:, the harmonic relation is with the heavenly, with the godly already.
The Relation of Movement to Immobile Arché, Primal Substance
From now onward, the thesis of Fire or Solid Sphere could not be kept up anymore. Motion was attacking Rest, the substance of Rest split into many parts. Empedocles chose air, water, fire and earth. Each one of these elements-were everlasting; but they could be mixed in things in different proportions. They, were combined by Love, and separated by Strife. But even Love and Strife were for Empedocles primitive material elements, on a level with the others. No purpose, or higher purpose, governs changes in the world, things change by Chance and Necessity. Every compound substance is temporary, only Love-, Strife and the elements are everlasting. It is not only Strife (War), like by Heracleitus, but now also Love, both together produce Change.
Anaxagoras (born around 500 B.C.) took the same four elements, but added nous (mind, reason) as fifth element. low out of motion itself, Anaxagoras made the motion-spirit, the nous, the power substance, the quintessence. But like Empedocles, and all his forerunners, he still denied that the void, the vacuum, empty space, exists. These elements are mixed in infinitely minute spermata (thing-seeds), also called „homoioméreiai“, in which all the qualities of the elements are retained. This is in contradiction later to Democritus’ „átomos“, which are quality-less, and are quantitatively different from each other, by weight, size, forms position, etc.
Democritus (flourishing around 420 B.C.) and Leucippus (round 400 B.C.) are known as the Ancient Greek Atomists. Democritus added a coolness into the fierce battle for the arché. He smashed the Eleatic Sphere, the One, into an infinite number of indivisible endless Átomos, which exist in infinite empty space, being a part of matter itself. The spermata of Anaxagoras still had qualities, however, the atoms differ quantitatively from each other.
Traces of the anánke (necessity, divine fate, force) we already can find in the matter-concept of the predecessors of Democritus, e.g. the play of hue, when referring to the movement of the celestial bodies, by Pythagoras. Democritus added Motion to the Atoms, and necessity (anánke) to Motion. Anánke - Necessity is now understood mechanical necessity, the „rest“ of law (nómos) in Nature; as Fate she does riot hang above the world anymore, necessity is now an essential part of existence. Anánke regulates the pressure, banging or jumping around of the atoms. Even the nous (mind, reason, Latin: intellectus), which a s we can remember was material, already had this regulating, guiding power. But even Anaximander’s to apeiron, again material, generates regulating, guiding necessary movement or motion. All these were attempts to explain the world, reality, out of itself. All these concepts were later interpreted idealistically, especially by the Catholic philosophers of the Middle Ages. The truth is that the original gods were heathen gods, and the Greek hylozoists were heathens.
In the second half of the 5th Century B.C. a group of Greek philosophers came into existence, known as the Sophists (sophistes, means „to make wise“). Important Sophists were: Protagoras, Gorgias, Prodikos and Hippias. They moved away from the explanation of the world out of itself, and began to concentrate on thought (thinking) itself. Protagoras formulated the famous homo-mensura-sentence: „Man is the measure of all things, of things that are that they are and of things that are not that they are not”. Latin: „omnium rerum homo mensura est” - man is the measure of all things. He also clearly stated: „whether there are gods, and what they are, I cannot say.“ The above homo-mensura-sentence plainly states that there is no Absolute Truth; this is the reason, why the essentially idealist philosophers, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, will heavily attack it. Also, as we have seen before, it was Gorgias, the Sophist, who denied Being three times.
Body and Thought
The ancient Greek philosopher; not only asked questions concerning the origin, but also the essence (ousía, to tí en eínai) of everything and our relation to these. The first cautious steps towards explaining essence (Lat. essentia) all had a material, substantial character.
Water, air, to apeiron, fire, earth, nous, Love, Strife, homoioméreiai, átomos etc., all are material and hylozoistic, yet prior to Socrates, there is nothing in common with these to the later concepts, under-stood in a religious-idealist manner as soul, spirit, devil or god. Even the number of Pythagoras is still connected with material things, also by Empedocles, the moving force (Love and Strife) separates itself from the carrying elements, but still it is only active within them; Anaxagoras nous is really thinking-substance, it is related to Anaximenes air, life-breath.
Concerning thinking and knowledge Democritus stated: „There exists two types of knowledge, a genuine and a false one“. To the false one belongs „total sense perception“. Only in „opinion“ exist sweetness, bitterness, warmth, coldness, colours, etc. True knowledge is that in reality there exist only atoms and empty space. The differentiation between quantitative - primary, and qualitative secondary characteristic was thus born. Hence „no occurrence happens by accident, but everything due to a cause (aitía or arché) and out of necessity (anánke)“, in spite of the fact that Anánke was a type of Greek Mother-goddess, deciding Fate. Quantitative Thinking, thinking in a quantitative manner, is the thinking of atomistic-mechanical lawfulness.
The Pre-Socratic philosophers, from Thales to Democritus, did not deny the soul, in its real existence. For Thales it was the „ghostly“ behaviour of a magnet, by Anaximenes it is breath, special warm and dry fire for Heracleitus, an extra number of Fire-storms for Democritus. All of them were oriented outwards. to the outside.
The great philosophers, after Democritus, that is, Plato, Aristotle and Plotin, were everything else, except being materialists. Thinking about the arché received second order. Socrates is the turning point for the new view.
Socrates (life and dates uncertain) is supposed to have been executed 399 B.C., at the age of 70. About him we mainly know from Xenophon and Plato, either we know a lot, or extremely little - this problem cannot be solved anymore. According to Plato’s Socrates, we learn that Socrates wanted to know nothing about the trees, mountains and things outside, but mainly from the people in the city. He demanded: Know Thyself: Slowly Greek materialism cooled down, but its light did not completely extinguish. In the next centuries, there were still Aristipp, Epicurus, partially the Stoics, also Lucretius, but he is a poet with fire, and not a great thinker. Except Epicurus, making an important addenda to Democritus’ „fall of the atoms“, nothing essential was developed anymore. However, the modern materialism of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries in Europe had a political character, a class struggle social task, revolutionary activity, revelation of the ideological character of feudalism, even traces of theory-praxis relationships. Greek ancient materialism had none of these, none of the hylozoists or natural scientists contradicted the teachings of their ruling classes with their materialist doctrines. The atomist, Leucippus, lived such a retired life, in privacy, that two centuries later, his own society doubted if he ever lived. Epicurus and his pupils led a quiet garden life, with social, but not political interests. Diogenes Laertius, (275 A.D.), is not a historian like Guizot, Diogenes, the contemporary of Alexander the Great, founder of the Cynic School, is not Rousseau; Democritus is not La Mettrie or Holbach.
Plato travelled a few times to Sicily, to try and realize his social utopia, the „Politeia“, but ho was not a materialists even the struggle against religion (Democritus stated that the belief in gods comes from fear of lightning and thunder) was not really revolutionary, because Ancient Greece had no ruling priestly caste anymore, and religious symbols were of greater importance the religious contents or ideology. Ant concerning „Godlessness“, „atheism“, Democritus and Epicurus lived in peace, while the idealists Socrates and Aristotle had to drink the „Sdierlingsbecher“ and to flee, respectively, for having committed the crime of asebeia, despising the Gods.
The ancient Greek materialism enjoyed the peace to study things and their necessary existence. Yet theoretically, Democritus was the real founder of mechanical materialism, which flourished under Diderot and Descartes, La Mettrie and Holbach. Bourgeois mechanical materialism, in spite of having discarded hylozoism, remained essentially Democritism. Even the application of mathematics and mechanics is philosophically already contained in Democritus principle of quantity. Pythagoras and Democritus are the founders of mathematical mechanics.
However, until materialism was flowering again, as historical dialectical materialism in the mid-19th century, within the stream of idealist philosophy, valuable crypto-materialist elements can be found, for example, the dynámei on of Aristotle, the in-possibility-being, his main category, concerning his doctrine of matter. Thus as Lenin had stated in his philosophical notebooks: „the clever idealism stands nearer to the clever materialism, than the stupid materialism. „And we thus only have the universal concept of matter as guide, through the history of philosophy.
Sokrates was trying to sublimate the specific, the individual, under the general, the universal. Thus the concept (logos or énnoia) is for Socrates the common thing, which includes the diverse opinions and perceptions. Because the Sophists had denied knowledge, it became a problem. Plato extended and elevated the concept, even to the idea, encompassing individual reality, of which the highest idea is the Good. But concepts like „same“, „different“, „rest“, „motion“, are more conceptual for Plato, than ideal. Ideas are not logically ordered under the Universal Idea, but teleological, according to their ends, to their cause and effects. The highest idea is not the most far one, but the most precious one. Aristotle began with ordering the … to … with his doctrine of categories.
Categories (universals) concern the meaning of words like „cat”, „dog“, „man“, etc. and of adjectives, such as „white“, „heavy“, „round“, etc. The specific is France, Fidel Castro, etc. What is signified by a proper name is a substance, what is meant by an adjective or class-name is called a „universal“ or category by Aristotle. A substance is a this, but a universal is a such, the sort of thing, not the actual thing. Aristotle’s kategoreín - declarations predicates about things.
The ten categories:
substance (or essence) - that is a horse;
quantity (or size) - that is three feet long;
quality (or structure) - it is white, he is educated;
relation - it is double the size of a man;
place (where it is - it is sold on the market;
time (when the thing existed) - yesterday, last year;
activity (doing)- it cuts, it burns;
passion (suffering) - it burnt, he cut himself;
situation - it lies, stands, sits;
apparel (having on or in) - he is armed, is infected.
The predicates (categories, universals) describe in the subject (the individual thing) the types of its essential real substance, that is, among those ten mentioned above.
For Plato matter is the Indefinite (hence a negative conception of hýle; a concept first used by Aristotle), the empty space, the void. This Nothing was again mixed to the things by Plato. However, the Platonic concept of matter had generally nothing in common with the modern usuage of this concept, especially in Marxism. Matter is shapeless, for Plato, hence it cannot even be perceived. Matter equivalent to Void, meant that we cannot perceive, think or even ... matter. Matter is Not-Being; Aristotle changed this positively: Matter ... dynamei on, In-Possibility-Being. Motion is the transformation of possible to real.
Motion – The Fulfillment or What Exists Potentially
The doctrine of matter and form is linked with the distinction potentiality and actuality. Bare or Pure Matter is conceived as a potentiality of any form, like Michael Angelo would see a block of marble as potentially holding the sculpture of a future Mona Lisa. Matter has a desire to become form, it has ... towards actualisation to realisation. Later the Arab materialist philosophers, Avicenna and Averroes, are going to stress this dynamei on part of matter, and develop it further. This „left-wing“ of the Idealist-Materialist Aristotle shows how fundamentally he had contributed to the development of the concept „dialectical matter“, much more than Democritus: a real paradox of idealism.
After Socrates, also came materialists of a lesser order. Aristippos stressed hedone (lust, desire) here on earth, which led to Epicurus (342–271 B.C.) and Eudaemonism, happiness and full joy on earth. The opposite trend leads from Antisthenes, the Cynic, who placed man in unison with original pure nature, leading to the Stoics, 300 B.C., led by Zenon, later by Panaitios, and later Seneca and Marc Aurel. In virtue true happiness has to be sought, and one could learn virtue.
More important is that Epicurus revived Democritus. He was a materialist but not a mechanical determinist. He accepted Democritus’ atoms, also the void, but he claimed that atoms were not always controlled by laws of nature. Epicurus’ atoms have weight, and they were continually falling, not towards the centre of the earth, but downwards. Now and then, the atom actuated by an inner force would swerve and come into collision with other atoms, developing vortices, etc.
The soul is material and is composed of particles. Soul-atoms are distributed throughout our body. At death the soul atoms are dispersed and they are no more capable of sensations, being no longer connected with a specific body. Hence Epicurus says: „Death is nothing to us, for that which is dissolved, is without sensation, and that which lacks sensation is nothing to us.“ Gods exist for him, but they have nothing to do with us, with our human world. Hence we need not fear the anger of the gods, an that we may suffer Hell after Death. We cannot escape Death, but Death is no evil.
Epicurus added Chance into the atom theory, but it is not guided by miracles or gods; in the works of Lucretius, these ideas are continued poetically, giving materialism artistic and poetic dimension.
For the Stoics there is pure necessity, determinism, that is why a person has to live in complete unison with Nature. Stoic physics was very curious indeed, in spite of its hylozoism, it was „matter-theology“. The Stoic Nature-Zeus is the beginning of materialistic pantheism, as power, Zeus, the god, is at least Fire; as matter Zeus is water and earth. Thus Fire is the soul of Zeus, and water and earth the body of the god.
For Plotinus, matter is not only the void, the „not-Being“, but it is the complete darkness, without any Light whatsoever, the infernal, the devilish, the Evil. In other words, the anti-God, the Devil itself. Matter is without body, but it is not immaterial. It gives the Platonic ideas spiritual-theological character. Now ideas are the original thoughts of God. Plotinus also speaks about „an intelligible matter“, a substance-Satan, which is everything at the same time, it cannot change into anything, because it has already everything in itself. From now on, materialism came in direct conflict with the state and Catholic religious doctrines. But the „intelligible matter“, via Jewish Arab philosophy, again drove substance into the sphere of the godly, later the Renaissance philosophy will base itself on Neo-Platonism, but especially on Plotinus’ original light, contrasting the Satanic, Evil Darkness, Matter. Renaissance, Enlightment - Plotin’s original Light shining into the „Dark Ages.
Rebirth and New Birth
After the Epicureans and Stoics, but especially after Plotinus (204 - 270 A.D.), the founder of Neoplatonism, and the last of the great philosophers of Greek and Roman antiquity, Europe entered an age of philosophic darkness, as far as materialism is concerned. Roman Catholicism had elevated the monotheistic God to the primordial Being and banished Matter to eternal Hell Fire. The Age of a „Thousand Years of Spirit“, feudalism, where Church and State, in union, reigned supreme, with its Orwellian „Inquisition“, suppressed all free thought, and banned rebels contra established authority to the burning stake, and thereafter, straight to the Second Death, Eternal Hell Fire, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth forever.
The basic theology or ideology was developed by the „Three Doctors of the Church“, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome and St. Augustine who together with Pope Gregory the Great are called the „fathers“ of the Church. St. Ambrose later determined the ecclesiastical conception of the relation of Church and State; St. Jerome gave Roman Catholicism its Latin Bible and monasticism; St. Augustine, in fact, fixed the whole theology of Roman Catholicism, and ideology of feudalism, until the Reformation, when Protestants and Jansenists were for him, and „orthodox“ Catholics were against him.
The philosophic beliefs of these „fathers“ were derived mainly from Plato, and Neoplatonism, especially Plotinus, but also partially from Stoicism. The Dominican Order, the order of St. Thomas Aquinas, which was the main order of the Inquisition, later from the 13th century onward, based itself philosophically on Aristotle, but surely the idealist one, and not on his dynamei on.
Materialist philosophy in Europe developed only again after the birth of capitalism in North Italy. Already since the beginning of the 15th century it was faintly reflected in the feudalist superstructure by the works of Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494), Telesio (1508-1588), Patrizzi (1529-1597) and Pomponazzi (1462-1525). Much stronger materialism can be registered by Giordano Bruno (1548-1600)9 Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639), Theophrast Paracelsus (1493-1541), Jakob Böhme (1575-1624) and Francis Bacon (1561-1626). It reached full scientific bloom in the works of the natural scientists, Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) and Isaac Newton (1643-1727).
In spite of Rome, and the Inquisition, Italy was the European country, in which not all traces of the heathen ancient Greek culture were eradicated, much of the Greek heathen past could still be seen around, signs of the only „this-sided“ existence of Man.
In 1453, when Constantinople was captured by the Turks, many Byzantinian scholars, like Plethon, Bessarion, etc, fled to Italy, and hence introduced Greek to the Palace or Court of the „Cosimo di Medici“ in Florence, and eventually led to the re-opening of the Academy of Plato. As is known, in 529 A.D., Emperor Justinian had closed down the ancient Greek Academy, founded by Plato. Now again, after 900 years, Neo Platonism was reborn in Italy, but also had a completely new birth.
At that time, philosophers like Plato or Aristotle were mainly known from Arab sources - Avicenna (Ibn Sina) (980-1037 A.D.) or Averroes (ibn Rushd) (1126-1198).
Some remarks about these great Arab philosophers; Avicenna, a medical doctor and philosopher, author of an encyclopaedia, occupied himself again with Aristotle’s universals or categories. He was especially interested in the „form“ and „substance” problem, the dynamei on problem. Thus there is a Aristotelian „left“ materialist wing that passed across Straton, Alexander of Aphrodisias, Avicenna, Averroes, Avicebron, Giordano Bruno, Spinoza; and a „right“ idealist wing that passed across to Thomas Aquinas. Averroes, also medical doctor, philosopher, lawyer and mathematician, maintained that the human soul is not immortal, but nous (the rational soul) is. In the first half of the thirteenth century his works were translated into Latin, and he greatly influenced Scholasticism. Influential was also the Spanish-Jewish philosopher of the 11th century, Avicebron, who together with the others had activated Aristotle’s concept of matter.
For the first time, Ficino translated Plato and Plotinus into Latin, and partially into Italian, thus giving Neo-Platonism in Italy further impetus. Of great importance, became the Plotinian Neo-Platonism, especially the concept concerning the origin of reality. The metaphysics of Plotinus begins with a Trinity: a Supreme One (a God), then follows the nous (now already logos or spirit), and the lowest is the soul. The nous is the image of the One, of God. It is the seeing of the One, therefore it is the light by which the One sees, and sees itself. This Urlicht, original light of Plotinus specifically interested the first Renaissance philosophers, in particular, Ficino. In the Plotinian philosophy, this original light is thought to have created the world, nature.
The original light, the image of God set the world free, and shines through everything material, like a lamp, whose central light is completely covered by a lamp-shade, having various colours and figures. The light shines through the lamp-shade, revealing all the things, but the light itself we do not see, we cannot see. The Urlicht, the original light, was the most important for Plotinus, Ficino now reversed the priority, for him the „lit-lamp-shade“ is more important, not so much the central light itself; the this-sideness, the worldliness of the Urlicht, he found more interesting. Ficino was of the opinion that we do not need the invisible light in things, we cannot perceive it, hence we need not yearn for it. The reflection, the beautiful lamp-shade, is more precious than the light itself. This world, the shine is the beautiful thing. Thus Ficino reversed the priorities, the shine of the Urlicht is none important than itself. All that religion consecrates as divine, holy, secret and mysterious or miraculous, Ficino now stresses that this „other-sideness“ actually shines as Beauty in this world, in the this-sidedness, in nature. The Rennaissance Man began to concentrate on this world, on Nature, on the light in Nature, in himself, and the powers in Nature and himself.
Like Ficino, Mirandola was teaching at the Academy of Plato in Florence. The philosophic motif, mentioned before, is stressed more by him. He focusses Man. According to him, Man must be placed in the centre of the world, of the universe, so that he can look around himself much easier, and see what is happening around him. Not the Sun, but Man is the centre, having the world, nature, the cosmos, as his background, feeling at home within it. Thus the world is not created for man, but is part of him, his own flesh, blood and nerves. Thus there is no mystery, no fear, no alienation, concerning Nature. The demons, which ran of the Dark Ages, feared, will flee into the abyss of ignorance, and with them the cross, which was so ineffectively used against them. Slowly the European world was turning heathen again; man is returning to his upright gait, instead of permanent kneeling, begging, and kissing masters’ feet.
Telesio founded the first research centre for natural science: the starting point for research on Nature should be sense experiences. This view does not remind of Plato, but of Heracleitus and Empedocles. We will remember that Empedocles took the flour elements as the arche, and explained Becoming introducing other two abstract material substance, Love and Strife, which ... and attract each other; Heracleitus only had introduced Strife. For Telesio the two original moving forces in Nature are: light and warmth, both being material powers. Telesio stressed that he wants natural explanations for cause and effect relations in the world, and for the specific phenomena. For him, there is in Nature a permanent struggle between dry-warm and wet-cold things; the warm area in Nature is the battlefield of two active major powers: an ever extending hot sun-power: AND, a permanently retracting cold earth-power.
Between the earth-like and the sun-like qualities of a thing, there is always a dialectical relation, and always due to the victory of the sunny side of life, of nature, light results. This same concept of light we later find in the very concept „Age of Enlightment“, during which the rays of knowledge, of light, struggle to pass through the dark clouds of religious ignorance to reach a clear scientific sky, since centuries there has not been such a great adoration for light as in the natural philosophy of Telesio.
Patrizzi called his main work: New Philosophy Concerning the Universe. He continued the Renaissance tradition to place the creation above the creator, also the original source of original light and original warmth he included in his philosophy, but like Parmenides, he called his primordial substance the One and Everything, the Hen Kai Pan, Nothing else exists except this One and Everything, which he called in Latin - Unomnia - in one single word. The Unomnia is the original light which fills the whole universe. Also from the Greeks he took over their hylozoism: for him dead matter does not exist, everything is filled with an eternal lantheistic breath of life - the air of Anaximenes. There is no place for miracles in the universe, everything is guided by natural causes, by necessity.
It becomes clear that slowly theological qualities, like omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, omniexistent, etc. which were attributed to the Christian God, by Catholic Philosophy, began to become feautures of ever-living matter.
At the Court of Cosimo, at the Academy of Plato, eventually no philosophic distinction was made anymore between Plato and Plotinus, that is if the difference ever became known. The radiation, the shining of Plotinus’ Urlicht was attributed to Plato, who did not conceive such a concept. Plato’s God, in contradistinction to the Jewish and Christian God, did not create the world out of nothing, but rearranged pre-existing material. The Itslish Renaissance philosophers had great trouble to move towards a consequent „this-sidedness”, especially due to the threat of the Inquisition; often they were … „that-sidedness“ again.
Pomponazzi paved the way from Plato to Aristotle; he rebelled against the great Church Fathers, and returned to the Greek heathen philosopher - Aristotle. Of course, the Church also used Aristotle, especially his „right wing“, the one that led to Thomas Aquinas and the Dominican Order, the supreme order of the Inquisition. But Pomponazzi claimed that he had discovered the real Aristotle.
Pomponazzi began by denying personal or individual immortality. This was a blow against the Church, because it also meant denying the fate of the human soul in Purgatory, Hell or Heaven. For centuries the Church, headed by the Pope, the successor of St. Peter, and who held the key to Heaven, had been supreme in the decision of who is going to Heaven, and who to Hell. The central executive power of judging souls after death layed in the hands of the Church, hence sinners feared the Second Death, much more than the first one.
According to Aristotle, the human soul is the form of the body, the entelechy of the body - here form does not mean shape. Spatial shape is only one kind of form. This Aristotelian soul has a rational and an irrational part; individuality, which distinguished one person from another, is the body plus the irrational soul (consisting mainly of vegetative and appetitive parts); the rational soul or mind is godly, divine and impersonal - hence immortal. Thus immortality of mind or reason is not a personal or individual immortality but a share in God’s immortality. Hence Aristotle denied the existence of personal or individual life after death, this is why he is a heathen.
Aristotle even went further: It must be of itself that God, the Divine Thought thinks, since it is the most perfect and excellent of things, and its thinking is a thinking on thinking. Thus one can infer that God knows absolutely nothing about the existence of Nature, of our world, about us. Like Spinoza later, Aristotle held that while Man must love God, it is impossible that God should love Man. Thus the soul is the entelechy (en = in; telos = aim, goal; échein = to have), that is, that which has its goal in itself; the form which realises itself in substance, in matter.
Pomponazzi continues to explain that that part of us which is immortal, which is part of God, the divine rational soul, in any case, we individually and personally can never experience, least of all, after our physical death, when personal individuality and memories cease to exist. Now if this is true, then we cannot be punished after Death, for things which we have committed on earth, also there will be no special First Prize for us in Heaven, in the so-called „hereafter“, or the „that - or other-sidedness“.
Apart from Aristotle, there is, in any case, very little evidende concerning individual immortality in ancient Greek philosophy. Epicurus, for example, had stated: One needs not fear death; where one is, there is no death, where death is, one is not - the two can never meet each other. In 1516, Pomponazzi published his book, De immortalitate anamae, which totally denied personal immortality, even the reduced Aristotelian version of the rational soul, which had also figured in the philosophy of Avicenna and Averroes. For him, Man totally returns to Nature, to Matter.
Two intellectual trends clashed heavily in academic Italy of that era: the followers of Pomponazzi (the Alexandrians) and those of Averroes (called the Averroians). The latter group maintained that man continues to live as part of the species homo sapiens the totality of humanity. Thus in Padua, Italy, where both Pomponazzi and Patrizzi lectured, a severe ideological battle ensured, between the two above schools, but also against official theology.
In Padua, the science of anatomy came into existence. In the teatro anatomico, having an operational hall below, and a pulpit above, the medical professor was operating, while a monk was reading Holy Mass for the soul of the patient; otherwise the operation was not allowed. Under such severe religious restrictions, natural science research was born.
Not to land on the burning stake, like later Giordano Bruno, Pomponazzi was forced to make cunny compromises, in order to try and fool the executors of the inquisition. He stated, that just as it is impossible for a shark in the ocean and a lion in the desert to meet each other, similarly, theology and philosophy cannot meet each other; what is true for the one, might be false for the other, especially concerning the here and now, and the „hereafter“. But the Church could not be fooled for too long, else many of the victims of the stake would have been saved. The next historically well-known victim was Giordano Bruno. Thus, finally, we see how the „Darkest Ages“ tried to extinguish Heracleitus’ Fire and Plotinus’ „Original Light“ even with the glowing fire and light of the burning stake, with the Inquisition, but as Matter dialectically forever changes, every time a new Philosophical Man lives his materialist Renaissance.
Karl Heinrich Marx was born in Trier (Treves) on May 5, 1818, in a small two-storey house at 664 Brückengasse, at present, 10 Brückenstrasse. In 1820 his father, Heinrich Marx and his mother, Henriette (nee Pressburg), moved to a house in Simeonstrasse, where Marx lived until he left Trier in 1835. In 1830 Marx entered the Trier Gymnasium, where he was a good pupil, but not among the top best ones. His certificate of maturity, issued on September 24, 1835, showed that Marx, at the age of 17, in his essays showed a wealth of thought: „He has good aptitudes, and in ancient languages, German, and history showed a very satisfactory diligence, in mathematics satisfactory, and in French only slight diligence.“
He studied Latin, Greek and French. lid in the „Sciences“, „His knowledge of the Christian faith and morals is fairly clear and well grounded; he also knows to some extent the history of the Christian Church.“ He had a „good knowledge” of mathematics, and was „in general fairly proficient“ in History and Geography, but „moderate“ in physics.
At the Trier Gymnasium, between August 10 and 16, 1835, Marx wrote an examination essay on „Reflections of a Young Man on the Choice of a Profession“. He wrote:
„... man’s nature is so constituted that he can attain his own perfection only by working for the perfection, for the good, of his fellow men. If he works for himself, he may perhaps become a famous man of learning, a great sage, an excellent poet, but he can never be a perfect, truly great man ... If we have chosen the position in life in which we can most of all work for mankind, no burdens can bow us down, because they axe sacrifices for the benefit of all; then we shall experience no petty, limited, selfish joy, but our happiness will belong to millions, our deeds will live on quietly but perpetually at work, and over our ashes will be shed the hot tears of noble people.“
What a beautiful starting-point of Marx’s future profession, and what an accurate prediction of his „deeds“ which today and in future „will live on quietly but perpetually at work“, especially when we remember Che Guevara’s words, whereever we fail, the next one will pick up our gun of freedom, and continue the historic emancipatory task.
Marx was aware that the choice of a profession was not an easy task: „our relations in society have to some extent already begun to be established before we are in a position to determine them.“ At that time, Marx’s humanistic feelings were still vague, but definitely the influence of the 18th-century Enlightenment can be noticed in this essay, the idea that man must work for the common good, and that man depends on his social and natural environment.
Heinrich Marx, who had a beautiful fatherly and friendly relation with his son, cherished great hopes for his future. And Marx knew how to appreciate this. Already in the essay cited above, he wrote to whom a young person must turn his eyes „where our reason forsakes us“, „Our parents, who have already travelled life’s road and experienced the severity of fate - our heart tells us.” On November 9, 1836, when Marx was already studying in Berlin, his father wrote to him: „You have been attending many and important courses - naturally, you have every reason to work a great deal, but do not exhaust yourself. You have still a long time to live, God willing, to the benefit of yourself and your family and, if my surmise is not mistaken, for the good of mankind.” Surely, Heinrich Marx’s surmise was not mistaken.
In October 1835, Marx enrolled at Bonn University to study jurisprudence. While studying there, Marx joined the student association, and indulged in serious discussions, also concerning religion, and whether it could serve as basis for morality. Such issues he discussad with his father in letters. On November 18, 1835, his father wrote: „That you will continue to be good morally I really do not doubt. But a great support for morality is pure faith in God. You know that I am anything but a fanatic. But this faith is a real requirement of man sooner or later, and there are moments in life when even the atheist is involuntarily drawn to worship the Almighty.“ To prove his point, Heinrich Marx even cited the examples of Newton, Locke and Leibniz. But the appeal to such great authorities could not sway Marx’s critical mind, already attacking the eminent living authorities. Marx spent only two terms in Bonn, and before leaving for Berlin, he spent the summer holidays at home, when he got engaged to his childhood friend, Jenny von Westphalen.
Jenny, the daughter of Privy Councillor Ludwig von Westphalen, was born in 1814. Her father was on friendly terms with the „plebeian“ Heinrich Marx, who was a baptised Jew. It was Jenny’s father who first had introduced Marx to the ideas of Saint-Simon.
„Jenny had brains, education and good looks. She had the reputation of being Trier’s most beautiful woman and the belle of its balls.“ Many years later, Marx wrote to her: „It’s devilish pleasant for a man to realise that the whole town continues to think of his wife as a ‘fairy princess’“.
Jenny’s mother, Caroline von Westphalen, was the daughter of an official, she was warm-hearted and taught her children to be free of the prejudices of their class. From childhood friends, the feelings of Marx and Jenny developed into a deep love, which lasted till the end of their lives.
In November 1836, at the time of his engagement with Jenny, Marx wrote a poem „To Jenny“, we will just cite the second part to demonstrate his deep young love:
„See! I could a thousand volumes fill,
Writing only ‘Jenny’ in each line,
Still they would a world of thought conceal,
Deed eternal and unchanging Will,
Verses sweet that yearning gently still,
All the glow and all the Aether’s shine,
Anguished sorrow’s pain and joy divine,
All of Life and Knowledge that is mine.
I can read it in the stars up yonder,
From the Zephyr it comes back to me,
From the being of the wild waves’ thunder,
Truly, I would write it down as a refrain,
For the coming centuries to see
LOVE IS JENNY, JENNY IS LOVE’S NAME.“
But this was not a one-sided matter at all. Later, when Marx was studying in Berlin, in 1839 or 1840, Jenny wrote: „Oh, Karl, if only I could rest safe in your love, my head would not burn so, my heart would not hurt and bleed so. If only I could rest safe forever in your heart ... . You see, Karl, I could chat and converse with anyone, but as soon as you merely look at me, I cannot say a word for nervousness, the blood stops flowing in my veins and my soul trembles ... . I sometimes think to myself, too, how nice it will be when at last I am with you always and you call me your little wife.“
Marx wrote many poems to Jenny, books of songs, and books of love, some of his poems showed beautiful lyricism, we cite two examples:
„Then was I captive bound,
Then was my vision clear,
For I had truly found
What my dark strivings were.
I left the waves that rush,
The floods that change and flow,
On the high cliff to crash,
But saved the inner glow.
And what my soul, Fate-driven,
Never in flight o’ertook,
That to my heart was given,
Was granted by your look.“
„I am caught in endless strife
Endless ferment, endless dream;
I cannot conform to Life,
Will not travel with the stream.
So it rolls from year to year,
From the Nothing to the All,
From the Cradle to the Bier,
Endless Rise and endless Fall.“
In such a way, Marx had expressed his „Feelings“ and „Transformation“ at the end of the 1830s. However, at first, Marx and Jenny had to keep their engagement secret, out of fear that her aristocratic family might object. Only seven years later, when many things had changed, Marx could marry his „little wife“. In 1838, Heinrich Marx had died, and since 1842, Ludwig von Westphalen had treated Marx as his own son.
In 1836, Marx enrolled as a law student at the university of Berlin. His certificate of release from the University of Bonn, dated August 22, 1836, included some interesting information. Nearly all his courses attended were passed with „excellent diligence and with constant attention“. But the authorities had something to say about his student behaviour: „... It has to be noted that he has incurred a punishment of one day’s detention for disturbing the peace by rowdiness and drunkenness at night; nothing else is known to his disadvantage in a moral or economic respect. Subsequently, he was accused of having carried prohibited weapons in Cologne. The investigation is still pending. He has not been suspected for participation in any forbidden association among the students.
While attending the University of Berlin, Marx and his father continued a fervent correspondence, not only concerning jurisprudence or poetry, but also concerning „the bewitching girl (who) has turned my old head too, and I wish above all to see her calm and happy.“ Marx’s mother often wrote postscripts to the letters, and she was more concerned with the hygienic and health aspects of Marx’s education. The following is a typical example: „Here allow me to note, dear Karl, that you must never regard cleanliness and order as something secondary, for health and cheerfulness depend on them. Insist strictly that your rooms are scrubbed frequently and fix a definite time for it - and you, my dear Karl, have a weekly scrub with sponge and soap.“
At first Marx lived in solitude and worked harder than he did in Bonn. On November 10/11, 1837, Marx wrote a famous letter to his father, concerning his studies, his weltanschauung, and his future plans.
In 1951, the Marxist philosopher, Ernst Bloch, wrote an excellent article in „Sinn and Form“, concerning „Der Student Marx“ (The Student Marx), making special reference to the above letter. We will summarise below his comments and elaborations.
Bloch called Marx the „geistig wohl glühendsten aller Studenten“ intellectually most brilliant of all students. The letter which the 19-year old student wrote to his father was at the same time addressed to „all studying youths“, is the product of the genius of youth, as can be seen of letters written by great poets like Geothe, Byron or Georg Büchner.
Whatever the young student was feeling, he drove it across the limits of the present: „for the rocks which I saw were not more rugged, more indomitable, than the emotions of my soul, the big towns not more lively than my blood, the inn meals not more extravagant, more indigestable, than the store of fantasies I carried with me, and, finally, no work of art was as beautiful as Jenny.“
The student full of future wrote: „At such moments, however, a person becomes lyrical, for every metamorphosis is partly a swan song, partly the overture to a great new poem, which endeavours to achieve a stable form in brilliant colours that still merge into one another. Nevertheless, we should like to erect a memorial to what we have once lived through in order that this experience may regain in our emotions the place it has lost in our actions.”
Marx felt a world in becoming, a calling, a revolutionary melody, which began to form itself, but disappears at the same time. Marx is the Dr, Faustus, the Prometheus of his time, not the artistic, but the real one.
Marx’s letter foams over of reason and science, and the world must take note of him, whether it likes it or not. Bloch elaborates: „The obstacle still lies in the fog of a false consciousness and in abstraction; thus both are being negated, with Hegel, and already against him“. But Marx already began to fight against idealism.
He wrote: „... in the concrete expression of a living world of ideas, as exemplified by law, the state, nature and philosophy as a whole, the object itself must be studied in its development; arbitrary divisions must not be introduced, the rational character of the object itself must develop as something imbued with contradictions in itself and find its unity in itself.“
In the above, the actor is still the Spirit, but as the reason of things, it is already placed materially, objectively on its feet. Nothing is still clear to Marx, he is searching, ends up in deviations, in one-way and dead-end streets, but always finds the straight road again. He writes about many manuscripts which he wrote, which either ended in destruction or intellectual pain: „From the idealism, which, by the way, I had compared and nourished with the idealism of Kant and Fichte, I arrived at the point of seeking the idea in reality itself. If previously the gods had dwelt above the earth, now they bedame its centre... For some days my vexation made me quite incapable of thinking; I ran about madly in the garden by the dirty water of the Spree, which ‘washes shouls and dilutes the tea’. I even joined me landlord in a hunting excursion, rushed off to Berlin and wanted to embrace every street-corner loafer... . When I got better I burnt all the poems and outlines of stories, etc., imagining that I could give them up completely, of which so far at any rate I have not given any proofs to the contrary.“
But, in the post-Hegelian atmosphere of Berlin, filled with epigones of every calibre, Marx was an optimistic exception, treading on no-man’s land, making discoveries in the globas intellectualis, touching virgin lands on the horizons of human endeavour. Bloch describes his atmosphere as follows: „There was autumn feeling, as if after Hegel nothing great could be created anymore, and that the world was thought to its end.“
It was if Hegel’s Absolute Idea had finally come to itself, to rest, and had nothing to do anymore, than to lie itself to rest in the „Berliner Schloss” (Berlin Castle), waiting for the youth to change him from one bed to the other, placing him on his left side, „on the subjective ‘critical’ side of ‘selfconscicusness’“ (Bloch).
The letter of Marx of 1837 (and later his doctoral thesis of 1841) proves that he, at least, kept off the idealist lethargy of the time, and he did not need the knowledge of Feuerbach to understand his epoch not as autumn but as a historic turning-point. This transformation, Marx felt within himself, thus he began his letter as follows: „There are moments in one’s life which are like frontier posts marking the completion of a period but at the same time clearly indicating a new direction. A such a moment of transition we feel compelled to view the past and the present with the eagle eye of thought in order to become conscious of our real position.“
When the student Marx arrived in Berlin, as we have seen, Hegel was already dead for five years, but his spirit was still reigning everywhere; even its enemies it dictated the road. Thus at the beginning of his studies, also Marx still wrote to his father, how he was fascinated about the Hegelian philosophy, in spite of „the grotesque carggy melody of which did not appeal to me“. But Marx was developing rapidly from the „spirit“ to real „man“.
At that time, Marx’s poetic description of Hegel, in his poem „On Hegel“, had very much applied to himself:
„Kant and Fichte soar to heavens blue
Seeking for some distant land,
I but seek to grasp profound and true
That which - in the street I find.“
As can be derived from his letter to his father of 1837, Marx was pursuing science: he studied law, history, the theory of art, foreign languages and philosophy.
A split took place in the Hegelian School, The Right-Wing Hegelians, like Hinrichs, Göschel and Gabler, read Christian orthodoxy into Hegel’s philosophy and militantly defended religion. The Left Young Hegelians, like David Strauss, Bruno and Edgar Bauer, Arnold Ruge, Ludwig Feuerbach (and later Marx), strove to draw radical political conclusions from Hegel, they criticised the dogmas of Christianity and religion in general.
David Strauss published a two-volumed book in 1835-36, „Life of Jesus“, in which he described the four gospels as a „collection of spontaneous myths expressing the hopes and aspirations of the early Christian communities”. Bruno Bauer, on the other hand, claimed that the gospels were „the product of a deliberate mythogenesis, reflecting a stage in the development of man’s selfconsciousness, a stage that mankind was bound to overcome in the subsequent development and perfection of its consciousness.“
Thus Bauer went further than Strauss, he even denied the divine origin of Jesus Christ and explained the origins of Christianity within the intellectual life and philosophic trends of antiquity. Marx regularly attended the „Doktor Klub“, of which Bruno Bauer, a University of Berlin lecturer in theology, was the leader. Later he became one of the leaders, and soon the rest conceded his intellectual superiority. This can be seen in a letter written later by Moses Hess, another Young Hegelian, to his friend, Berthold Auerbach in 1841: „Be ready to meet the greatest and perhaps the only living real philosopher ... Dr. Marx, as my idol is called, is still a very young man (he can be no more than 24), who will deal the final blow at medieval religion and politics; he combines the most profound philosophical earnestness with the keenest wit; imagine to yourself Rousseau, Voltaire, Holbach, Lessing, Heine and Hegel combined into one personality; and I mean combined, not mechanically mixed - and this will give you an idea of Dr. Marx.“
At the beginning of 1839 Marx began to make a thorough study of ancient Greek philosophy, especially that of Democritus and Epicurus, but also Stoicism and Scepticism. This was dictated by the interest of the Hegelian school in such philosophic trends, and Marx’s own specific interests in matters concerning atheism, materialism and ethics. He prepared seven notebooks of preparatory material, which were published nearly ninety years later as „Notebooks on Epicurean Philosophy“. In these Marx was already indicating the incompatibility of religion and philosophy.
„That is the carnival of philosophy, whether it disguises itself as a dog like the Cynic, in priestly vestments like the Alexandrian, or in fragrant spring array like the Epicurean. It is essential that philosophy should then wear character masks. As Deucalion, according to the legend, cast stones behind him in creating human beings, so philosophy casts its regard behind it (the bones of its mother are luminous eyes) when its heart is set on creating a world; but as Prometheus, having stolen fire from heaven, begins to build houses and to settle upon the earth, so philosophy, expanded to the whole world, turns against the world of appearance. The same now with the philosophy of Hegel.“
Honouring the 70th birthday of Karl Löwith, in 1967, in „Natur und Geschichte“, Ernst Bloch had published an essay on „Epikur and Karl Marx oder ein subjektiver Faktor im fall der Atome“ (Epicurus and Karl Marx, or a subjective factor in the fall of the atoms). Below we will elaborate some of his ideas concerning Marx’s doctoral thesis.
Marx was especially interested in Epicurus’ ideas concerning the problem of freedom, especially the freeacm and independence of the intellect on spirit, free from superstition and fear of punishment in hell. Marx also studied the famous Roman philosopher and poet, Lucretius, searching for similar ideas. In the controversy between Epicurus and Plutarch, who had accusod the former of atheism, Marx accepted Epicurus’ atheistic standpoint, agreeing that religious people project their own selves into outer reality, into a supreme God. At the beginning of 1841, Marx decided to write his doctoral thesis on „The Difference between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature”.
Bloch writes: „But in true love, in true friendship, the acquaintance is surely of a different type, essential for both partners. And what becomes friendly could be an opinion, a doctrine, a book, these independent of the fact whether its author is still alive, or already dead for a very long time ... The young Marx, still basically idealistic, but already germinating materialistic, struck on Epicurus.“ Hegel had no high philosophic opinion of either Democritus, Leucippus or Epicurus, he always treated them in his lectures with negative remarks like „arbitrary“, „monotonous“, „poorness“ (Democritus’ atomic theory) or not even „accidentally“ of interest (Epicures’ atomic theory). Marx regarded Epicurus as the most important philosopher of the Greek enlightenment.
Marx stressed the specific difference between the atomic theories of Democritus and Epicurus. In Part Two of his doctoral dissertation, Chapter One, Marx explaines this: „Epicurus assumes a threefold motion of the atoms in the void. One motion is the fall in a straight line, the second originates in the deviaticn of the atom from the straight line, and the third is established through the repulsion of the many atoms. Both Democritus and Epicurus accept the first and third motion. The declination of the atom from the straight line differentiates the one from the other.”
Let us quote Marx’s reflections on this „declination“ extensively, in order to get an idea of Marx’s application of Hegelian dialectics: „Just as the point is negated („aufgehoben“) in the line, so is every falling body negated in the straight line it describes. Its specific quality does not matter here at all. A falling apple describes a perpendicular line just as a piece of iron does. Every body, insofar as we are concerned with the motion of falling, is therefore nothing but a moving point, and indeed a point without independence, which in a certain mode of being - the straight line which it describes - surrenders its individuality („Einzelheit“) ... . the solidity of the atom does not even enter into the picture, insofar as it is only considered as something falling in a straight line. To begin with, if the void is imagined as spatial void, then the atom is the immediate negation of abstract space, hence a spatial point .... But the relative existence which confronts the atom, the mode of being which it has to negate, is the straight line. The immediate negation of this motion is another motion, which, therefore, spatially conceived, is the declination from the straight line ... . The declination of the atom from the straight line is, namely, not a particular determination which appears accidentally in Epicurean physics. On the contrary, the law which it expresses goes through the whole Epicurean philosophy, in such a way, however, that as goes without saying, the determination of its appearance depends an the domain in which it is applied.“
And what is the „law“ of the „greatest representative of Greek Enlightenment“?
Epicurus had made „atomistics” the „natural science of self-consciousness“, „its dessolution and conscious opposition to the universal“. For Democritus, the atom was only the „general objective expression of the empirical investigation of nature as a whole“, an abstract category, an hypothesis, derived from experience.
Epicurus fought against Democritus’ mechanistic, nearly fatalistic view-points, or against a determinism, having no subjectivity. Against Democritius he introduced the „energetic principle“ (Marx). Strange enough, until 1897, no scholar was concerned with this difference between Epicurus and Democritus. Important is that the „young Marx“ had already very early stressed the subjective factor in social and universal relations. In a nut-shell, but still in embryonic form, we find in his thesis, Marx’s future ideas of the dialectical inter-connection between theory and praxis. Marx’s militant atheism, expressed in this work, soon proved to be irreconcilable with idealism, and paved his road to scientific socialism, to historical dialectical materialism.
Marx had dedicated his doctoral thesis to „his dear fatherly friend, LUDWIG VON WESTPHALEN“ as a „token of filial lave“. The Dean of the Faculty, Dr. Karl Friedrich Bachmann presented the dissertation for assessment on April 13, 1841, and in the same year Marx was awarded the degree of Dr. Phil. On August 10, 1841 from Trier, Jenny was writing to „My little wild boar“, who was „living in wall-papered rooms“, „drinking champagne in Cologne“, and attending „Hegel clubs”. However, Jenny herself was deeply interested in education and her intellectual development.“ . . .One thing I miss: you could have praised me a little for my Greek ... .This morning quite early I studied in the Augsburg newspaper three Hegelian articles and the announcement of Bruno’s book! ... This evening Haizinger is acting in Bonn. Will you go there? I have seen her as Donna Diana ... . Adieu, my dear little man. It is certain, isn’t it, that I can marry you? Adieu, adieu, my sweetheart.“ We quoted deliberately passages like the latter „extravagantly“, to show how Marx and Jenny treasured one of the highest dialectical social relationships, Love, a phenomenon, which seems to have received little attention in „Marxism“. Feuerbach had elevated Love to a universal principle. Let us now analyse the confrontation of Marx with Feuerbach, and how he transcended him.
In his doctoral thesis, Marx scientifically criticised religion, and stressed that all the socalled proffs of the existence of God are in reality „mere tautologies, but he realisod that, while the religious outlook was irrational, religion did constitute a real force.“ In his foreword he wrote: „Philosophy, as long as a drop of blood shall pulse in its world-subduing and absolutely free heart, will never grow tired of answering its adversaries with the cry of Epicurus: ‘Not the man who denies the gods worshipped by the multitude, but he who affirms of the gods what the multitude believes about them, is truly impious’. Philosophy makes no secret of it. The confession of Prometheus: ‘In simple words, I hate the pack of Gods (Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound),’ is its own confession, its own aphorism against all heavenly and earthly gods who do not acknowledge human self-consciousness as the highest divinity. It will have none other beside... . Prometheus is the most eminent saint end martyr in the philosophical calender.“
In the appendix, „Critique of Plutarch’s Polemic against the Theology of Epicurus“, concerning „The Relationship of Man to God“, Marx stressed: „The true proofs (of the existence of God) should have the opposite character. ‘Since nature has been badly constructed, God exists’, ‘Because the world is without reason, therefore God exists’, ‘Because there is no thought, there is God’. But what does that say, except that, for whom the world appears without reason, hence who is without reason himself, for him God exists? Or lack of reason is the existence of God“.
To defend one’s thesis was in those days a very expensive endeavour, thus Marx had submitted his thesis to the University of Jena, where he acquired the degree of Dr. Phil. on April 15, 1841. In the same year, Ludwig Feuerbach published his book, „Das Wesen des Christentums“ (The Essence of Christianity), a materialist critique of religion.
Ludwig Feuerbadh (1804-1872) was the son of the famous German criminologist, Paul-Anselme Feuerbach, and later became a lecturer at the University. At first, due to his radical atheistic views, the Young Hegelians, including Marx, were fascinated by him. Originally Marx intended to join Bruno Bauer in teaching philosophy at the University of Bonn, and to collaborate more closely with Feuerbach. He intended to publish a journal called „Archives of Atheism”, together with Feuerbach, also to write a book on Christian art. Feuerbach was the first German philosopher to overcome somehow the idealism of the Young Hegelians, thus he had a liberating effect on the Left Wing.
Essentially Feuerbach had proclaimed: „... that there was nothing outside nature and man, and that the supreme being created by man’s religious imagination were merely fantastic reflections of man’s own essence. Man’s concept of god embodied all the qualities which, while not characteristic of individuals, belonged to human beings as a whole, to mankind, to the human race, or two men as species being, as Feuerbach himself put it.“
Nonetheless the „Free“ group continued their subjectivism and individual anarchism. Thus a break with Marx was inevitable, which would later lead to a total break with the Young Hegelians.
When Marx published the article, „Justification of the Correspondent from the Mosel”, in the „Rheinische Zeitung”, from January 1 to 20, 1843, the government decided to ban the newspaper as from April 1, 1843. On February 12, 1843 the shareholders of the „Rheinische Zeitung” had a meeting, in which they had decided to send a petition to the king, „to order the unhindered continuance of the Rheinische Zeitung.“ But all in vain, the liberal Rhenish bourgeoisie did nothing to save the paper. Thus on March 18th, Marx resigned as editor, and the last issue appeared on March 31, 1843.
The best consolation Marx probably got from Jenny, who wrote to him at this critical moment, at the eve of his political activity, „If only I could level and make smooth all your paths, and sweep away everything that might be an obstacle to you. But then it does not fall to our lot that we also should be allowed to interfere actively in the workings of fate”.
Fate was indeed at work, but not the religious one, which Jenny meant. Marx, after discussions with Arnold Ruge and others, had decided to publish a revolutionary organ abroad. He was of the opinion that the social revolution was approaching in Western Europe. The Prussian state, a „ship of fools”, was sailing towards its doom, the „Impending revolution”. Now Marx was interested in social revolution, its essence, causes and motive forces.
In May 1843, Marx moved to the home town of his financée, Krauznach, and on June 19, 1843 Herr Dr. Karl Marx and Fräulein Johanna Bertha Julie Jenny von Westphalen were at last legally married.
Marx, who generally did not express his deepest personal emotions publicly, had shortly before to written this friend Arnold Ruge; in Dresden, that „I can assure you, without the slightest romanticism, that I am head over heels in love, and indeed in the most serious way ... For years, therefore, my fiancee and I have been engaged in more unnecessary and exhausting conflicts than many who are three times our age and continually talk of their ‘life experience’ (the favourite phrase of our Juste-Milieu).“ The latter was the nickname for Edgar Bauer. The time in Kreuznach, May to October 1843, included probably some of the happiest and most quiet moments of his long and arduous life. Jenny was a great assistant to him, also the first critic of any production.
During this period Marx was studying and criticising Hegel’s theory of the state and law - his unfinished manuscript was later published (in 1927) as „Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law“.
Early 1843 Feuerbach’s „Preliminary Theses for a Reformation of Philosophy” was published in Switzerland. It contained the essential thesis of his materialist views. This work and its critique had helped Marx to formulate his own conceptions more clearly.
Two quotations from this book will demonstrate at best the materialist standpoint of Feuerbach: „The real relation between thinking and being is this: Being is the Subject, Thinking 1s the Predicate. Thinking springs from being and not being from thinking.“ „... we only need to substitute the Predicate for the Subject, and the Subject for the Object and the Principle, that is, turn speculative philosophy upside down, to obtain the plain, naked, unadulterated truth.”
Marx liked this idea of „Turning upside down” - later he will use it against Hegel. In a letter to Arnold Ruge of March 13, 1843, where he spoke about being „Head over heels in love”, Marx already commented that „Feuerbach’s aphorism (his preliminary theses) seem to me incorrect only in one respect, that he refers to much to nature and too little to politics. That, however, is the ownly alliance by which present day philosophy can become truth.“
Instead of seeing man as being natural and instinctive (Feuerbach), Marx already saw man as a social being, rooted in historical relations. In his critique of Hegel, Marx analyzed the relation between the state and „Civil society” - the latter being a concept which was used to designate private, mainly material, interests, with their respective social relations. This was an important step towards a scientific materialist view of history.
Hegel claimed that the state was a higher stage of development than „civil society“. Marx contended the opposite, and stressed that private property plays a central role in the political system. Later he wrote: „The political constitution at its highest point is ... the constitution of private property.“ At this time, Marx also developed his idea of democracy, a social system, fit for men to live in, based on the people’s self-determination, their interests being the fundamental law. Only in democracy man will become master of the forces which he had created himself, it is the ultimate truth of every state, its ultimate goal of development. Only in this way the state could become a „particular form of existence of the people.“ He even went so far as to predict the idea of the „withering away of the state“: „in true democracy the political state is annihilated“. The later statement was under the influence of Saint Simon’s future society. Very early, his father-in-law, Ludwig von Westphalen; had already introduced Marx to the ideas of Saint Simon.
Parallel to his writing the manuscript of „Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law“, Marx wrote his „Kreuznach-Notebooks“, in which he studied the history of various countries, especeially reffering to theory and history of the state. He read about England, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden and the United States, but also studied the works of Machiavelli, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Chateaubriand and Justus Möser. Of special interest to him was the French Revolution, on the background of which he would develop the theory of class struggle, his revolutionary theory. However, in 1843, Marx still had in mind the realisation of an ideal state of democracy, a „true democracy“, not yet „socialism“ or communism.
Before we elaborate Marx’s (and earlier Engels) road to scientific socialism and communism, let us first summarise their road until now. Both these founders of scientific socialism arrived at it along different ways. Common was their philosophical starting-point: Hegel’s dialectics, Bauer’s self-consciousness and Feuerbach’s humanism. Both of them had learnt much from the English and French Revolutions, Engels having been interested more in the English and French Revolutions, Engels having been interested more in the English industry, Marx more in the French Revolution.
While Marx had developed the economic aspects of scientific socialism almost independently, yet it was Engels who had encouraged Marx to study political economy, especially as a result of Engel’s „Sketch”, written at the end of 1843. As we will note later, already at the age of 22, in 1842, Engels had completed his study concerning the Prussian monarch, and predicted the coming bourgeois revolution there, and also a coming social revolution in England.
As we will remember, at that time, in the „Rheinische Zeitung“ Marx was still speaking about „true democracy“, against the idea of communism.
But both of them had a common starting-point they developed from the criticism of Hegel’s conception of the state, to the discovery of the existence of definite social classes, to the analysis of private property and competition.
In other words, both of them developed from a criticism of religion to a criticism of philosophy, from a critique of philosophy to a critique of the state, from a critique of the state to a critique of society, that is, „from the critique of politics to the critique of political economy, which again led to the critique of private property.“
As late as the Kreuznach period (until 1844), this was by Marx still mainly in the sphere of theoretical criticism, as we will see later, by Engels it was already very practical, criticising concretely the English bourgeois society, as can be witnessed in „Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy“ and „The Position in England’’, puhlished in the „Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher“, edited by Marx and Ruge, and which appeared in 1844.
But let us return to Marx’s preparations to publish the „Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher“ (German-French Yearbooks) at the beginning of 1844. At that time he was still busy criticizing concepts, evoked by Feuerbach’s humanism, especially the ideas of „the bourgeois radical Arnold Ruge, the democrat Julius Fröbel, the revolutionary poet Georg Herwegh, the radical journalist Karl Ludwig Bernays, one of the future ideologists of ‘true socialism’, Moses Hess, and several other men.“ He also planned to invite contributions for the journal from French socialists, such as Lamennais, Cabet, Proudhon and Blanc - even an article of Feuerbach, criticising Schelling’s reactionary philosophy, was planned for publication.
Thus in late October, 1843, Marx and Jenny left for Paris, and settled at 38 Rue Vanneau. At the end of February 1844 the first double issue of the „Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher” appeared, carrying articles of Marx, Engels, Heine, Herwegh, Hess and Bernays. It also included letters from Ruge, Bakunin, Feuerbach and Marx. Two important articles of Marx appeared: „On the Jewish Question” (probably written in Kreuznach), and „Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law. Introduction“ (written in Paris, between December 1843 and January 1844). The first article was an attack on Bruno Bauer, showing that the Jewish emancipation is part of total human emancipation, but he drew a distinction between political and human emancipation. In the second article; Mary explained who was to carry out human emancipation; the class which cannot emancipate itself without emancipating the whole of society - the proletariat. In the same article Marx also stressed that the weapon of criticism cannot, of course, replace criticism by weapons, material force must be over-thrown by material force; but theory also becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses.”
At the same time he connected the proletariat with philosophy: „As philosophy finds its material weapons in the proletariat, so the proletariat finds its spiritual weapons in philosophy.“
Since the autumn of 1842, when Friedrich Engels went to Manchester, in England, due to this political activities and articles, Marx became acquainted with him. He sent articles to Marx’s „Rheininche Zeitung“, but it was only at the end of November, 1842 when he called at the editorial offices of the „Rheinische Zeitung“ on his was to England that Marx actually met his best friend for life. The meeting was very cool and rigid, mainly because of Marx’s conflict with „The Free“, who Engels still valued politically.
Nevertheless, Marx valued Engels as the English correspondent for the „Rheinische Zeitung“, and his articles for the „Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher“ indicated to Marx that their ideas were developing in the same direction, in fact, Engels was slightly ahead of Marx then.
Before we continue with the intellectual and practical development of the „Young Marx”, it is necessary to devote a chapter to the „Young Engels“, in order to understand better the development of scientific socialism between 1843 and 1848. In Chapter Three we will deal with their joint cooperation, whether they published their works separately or as co-editors. We will analyse the „Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844”, the articles in „Vorwärts” (from 1844 onwards),“The Holy Family, or Critique of Critical Criticism, Against Bruno Bauer & Co.“, „The Holy Family“, „The Condition of the Working Class in England”, „The German Ideology“ and „The Thesis on Feuerbach”.
Friedrich Engels was born on November 28, 1820, in Barmen, the Rhine Province of Germany, son of the merchant Friedrich Engels and his wife, Elizabeth Francisca Mauritzia, née van Haar. His father, a wealthy cotton-Spinner was „a strong-minded man of energy and enterprise, was fiercely religious and conservative in political outlook.” His mother came from an intellectual family, she „was sensitive, kind, vivacious, with a sense of humour and a liking for books and art“. It was she who had exercised a great influence on her first-born, and had great plans for his future, Engels reciprocated this with a deep love for her.
Another person who had great intellectual influence on Engels was his grandfather, Gerhard Bernhard van Haar, a once rector of the Hamm Gymnasium and a famous linguist. He introduced Engels to Greek culture, especially to the myths and folklore. From his Grandfather, Engels learned about the tales of Theseus and the hundred-eyed Argus, about Ariadne and the Minotaur, the omnipotent Heracles, the Argonauts, searching for the Golden Fleece, but also about German epics, for example, about the hero Siegfried of the „Nibelungenlied“.
Engels had eight brothers and sisters, but he developed a very close relationship with his sister, Marie. His early youth he spent in Barmen, then a textile centre, on the Wupper river. Barmen lies in the Wupper valley; together with the neighbouring town of Elberfeld it became part of the city of Wuppertal since 1930. He worked in his father’s textile factory, and his sisters married men of the industrial milieu. However, as Marx’s daughter, Eleanor, wrote later in 1890, Engels was the „ugly duckling” of the family, he developed along a quite different path, and nobody than knew that in reality he was becoming a socialist „swan”.
Growing up in one of the largest Rhenish industrial centres, Engels learned to know the misery of the workers at an early age. Also in Prussian Wuppertal, there was a severe religious pietism, one of the fanatical Lutheran trends. Thus all his youth, Engels was soaked with religious ideas.
„Wherever he looked - at home, in school, in the gymnasium and in ‘respectable society’ - Engels encountered obdurate religious bigotry, which aroused his sense of protest.“
Until the aqe of 14, Engels attended the town school in Barmen. In spite of the religious terror, Engels managed to get a profound education in physics and chemistry, and excellent knowledge about linguistics.
In October, 1834, Engels was transferred to the gymnasium in Elberfeld, then one of the best secondary schools in Prussia. It was run by a board of trustees, who were excellent bock-keepers, but did not have the foggiest notion ahout education. This board selected the teachers, and it knew nothing about mathematics, Latin or Greek, but a lot about religion, hence it was unconcerned about the real needs of the teachers and the students.
The director of the gymnasium asked Engels’s father to give him custody of the young boy, in order to help him to overcome „a disturbing thoughtlessness and lack of character”. In spite of this, Engels had excellent school results, standing out among his class mates. He was specifically interested in studying history, ancient languages and German classical literature.
On August 27, 1835 Friedrich Engels Sr. in Barmen, wrote a letter to his wife, who was then visiting her father in Hamm: „Friedrich had a pretty average report last week. As you know, he has become more polite, outwardly, but in spite of the severe chastisements he received earlier, not even the fear of punishment seems to teach him unconditional obedience. Thus today I was again distressed to find in his desk a greasy book which he had borrowed from the lending library, a story about knights in the 13th century. ....May God watch over his disposition, I am often fearful for this otherwise excellent boy“.
Engels’s school-leaving certificate of September 25, 1837 stated that he „has taken pains to be of a very good behaviour, ... has commenced himself to his teachers particularly by his modesty, frankness and good-natured disposition, and equally displayed commendable endeavour, supported by good talents, to acquire the most comprehensive scientific education possible“. In Latin, he „finds no difficulty in understanding the respective writers either of prose or poetry, namely Livius and Cicero, Virgil and Horace“, he has acquired „in particular good proficiency and skill in translating the easier Greek prose writers, as also Homer and Euripides, and could grasp and render the train of thought of a Platonic dialogue with skill.“ In German, „his written essays ... showed gratifying progress in general development“, he showed commendable interest in the history of German national literature and the reading of the German classics”. In French,“he translates the French classics with skill. He has a good knowledge of grammar”.
Also in the „Sciences”, Engels was endowed with great scientific talent: In Religion, „the basic doctrines of the Evangelical Church as well as the chief elements of the history of the Christian Church are well known to him. He is also not without experience in reading the New Testament (in the original).“ Apart from this, in history and geography he posseses sufficient lucid knowledge in mathematics and pysics, on the whole, „attained gratifying knowledge“. Finally he followed the lectures on empirical psychology „with interest and success”.
Thus Engels was discharged with „best blessings” as a „dear pupil“ from the Elberfeld gymnasium, commending especially his „purity of heart“, and „religious feeling“. The truth was that Engels had become to hate the despotism of his father and tutors and the autocracy and tyranny of the Prussian bureaucrats, this later developed to resentment of the Prussian alsolutism along the Rhine.
Engels had intended to study law and economy, but his despotic father forced him to enter the family business, by entering on an apprendiceship in his office in 1837.
His father’s business did not attract Engels at all, but it allowed him much leisure to read and study, especially languages and poetry. Engels wanted to become another Ferdinand Freiligrath, a famous Barmen poet and office-worker.
However, he knew enough of commerce by July 1838, thus his fatter sent him to Bremen, to serve in the large trading establishment of Heinrich Leupold. In Bremen, a sea-port, connected to the world, Engels became aquainted with many foreigners, especially foreign literature.
To his knowledge of German, Latin, Greek and French, he added Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and English. He wrote multilingual letters to his dear sister, Marie, and to his former classmates. Quotations from some of his letters will give us some ideas about the development of Engels between 1838 and 1840.
On September 1, 1838 he wrote to Friedrich and Wilhelm Graeber, in Elberfeld: „The other day I bought myself Jacob Grimm’s defence; it is extraordinarily good and is written with a rare power. I read no less than seven pamphlets about the Cologne affair in one bookshop.
N.B. I have read things here and come across expressions - I am getting good practice especially in literature - which one would never be allowed to print in our parts, quite liberal ideas, etc.”
On the 17/18th of September, 1838, he wrote to them again, beginning the letter with Latin: „My dearest ones, let this be an answer to your letters. As I haven’t written in Latin for a long time, I shall write you only a little, but in German-Italian-Latin. ...“ Then he continued to discuss his poem, „The Bedouin”. Later he added: „I doubt my ability and my productivity as a poet more and more every day since I read Goethe’s two essays ‘Für junge Dichter’ (For Young Poets) in which I find myself described as aptly as could be, and from which it has become clear to me that my rhyming achieves nothing for art.” However, Engels was convinced to continue „because my efforts will neither raise nor lower German literature”.
On October 9, 1838, he and his sister Marie, are discussing his Christmas present: „You want me to write what I want for Christmas? ...I don’t know what, but you can keep nagging Mother a little every two or three days to send me the Goethe for Christmas Day. I really need it very badly, for you can hardly read anything without there being some reference to Goethe.“
At this time, Engels was very much interested in literature, music and publicism. He was specifically interested in Beethoven’s dramatic compositions, the Sinfonia Eroica and Fifth Symphony, which he regarded as the crown of German music, Much later, on March 8, 1841, he wrote to Marie: „There is one thing in which you are less fortunate than I. You cannot hear Beethoven’s Symphony in C Minor today, Wednesday, March 10, while I can. This and the Eroica are my favourites. .... March 11. What a symphony it was last night! ...What despairing discord in the first movement, what elegiac melancholy, what a tender lover’s lament in the adagio, what a tremendous, youthful, jubilant celebration of freedom by the trombone in the third and fourth movements“.
Engels was a regular member of the local choral group and he often attended concert halls and theatres, to deepen his understanding of music. He even attempted to compose and write chorals. In the same letter to Marie of October 9, 1838, he continued to write: „Last Friday I went to the theatre. They were playing Nachtlager in Granada (an opera by Kreutzer), an opera which is very nice. Tonight they are giving Die Zauberflöte (Mozart’s The Magic Flute). I must go to it. ... October 10. I went to the theatre. I liked Die Zauberflöte very much.“
At the end of December, 1838, he wrote to Marie: „I should also like to tell you that I have now started composing and am working on chorals. But it is terribly difficult. ... I haven’t got very far yet but I am sending you a specimen. It’s the first two lines of Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott (The first line of a hymn by Martin Luther: A firm castle is our God)”.
On Januarv 7, 1839, he sent Marie another specimen of a choral, „it is obvious that most of it, except the fourth line, has been stolen from the Hymn Book.” On January 20, 1839, he sent Friedrich Graeber a poem, Florida. The first lines are of interest:
The spirit of Earth speaks
Three hundred years have rolled by since the hour
When the proud white folk came from far away
Across the sees, where their great cities tower.
The islands soon became the strong men’s prey;
I lifted up my clenched first from the ocean
To see how far their arrogant feet might stray.
Woods clothed the land and flowers grew in profusion;
Through the deep valleys wandered by the score
My faithful tribesmen of the brown-skinned nation.”
Also what the „white man“ says, when the „brown-skinned men“ began to defend their land:
„But can I not escape my destiny?
The savages surround me, bind my limbs.
They seek to gain revenge by killing me.
For me, new Freedom, so I hoped, begins.
But Freedom fighters seek my murder here.
So must I expiate my brothers’ sins.
But what comes floating to the beach down there?
A crucifix! In my Redeemer’s eye
Such tenderness! I miss his word so dear.
While I complain, God, with hell’s fury yying
Has now Himself become a corpse for me!”
And these words were written less than a decade away from the Communist Manifesto of 1848. However, as we will see, within three years, by 1842, Engels will have already developed towards scientific socialism, far away from composing chorals.
But in embryonic form, Engels’s rebelling spirit was present in his poems. The first poem, The Bedouin (written about February 24, 1839) was attacking August Kotzebue, the German reactionary dramatist. „An Evening“ (written in July, 1840), beginning with Shelley’s words: „Tomorrow comes!”, is filled with a love of freedom. We will just quote some lines to demonstrate this:
„The radiance in the West is almost gone.
Patience! A new day’s coming - Freedom’s day!
The sun shall mount his ever-shining throne
And Night’s black cares be banished far away.
New flowers shall grow, but not in nursery beds
We raked ourselves and sowed with chosen seeds:
All earth shall be their garden full of ligh;
All plants shall flourish in far alien lands.
The Palm of Peace shall grace the Northern strands,
The Rose of Love shall crown the frozen wight,
The sturdy Oak shall seek the Southern shore
To make the cub that strikes the despot down.”
Engels liked popular tales, legends and folklore. But the young man also had time for other things: he was an enthusiastic horseman, a swordsman, a skater, a swimmer and a marksman.
In 1839, at the age of 18, Engels published anonymously two articles in the „Telegraph für Deutschland“, entitled „Letters from Wuppertal”, in which he attacked „the pietistic bigotry reigning in his native city, the obscurantism, fanaticism and mysticism of „the pietists and especially the principal Wuppertal zealot, Friedrich Wilhelm Krummacher.”
These „Letters’ were published in various parts in the „Telegraph” from March to April, 1839, in its issues No. 49 to 59, we will quote some passages: About the craftsmen (excluding the manufacturers), he wrote: „There sits the master craftsman, on his right the Bible, on his left - very often at any rate - a bottle of schnapps. Not much is done in the way of work; the master almost always reads the bible, occassionally knocks back a glass and sometimes join the choir of journeymen singing a humn; but the chief occupation is always damning one’s neighbour. One sees that the tendency here is the same as everywhere else.“ „But the real centre of pietism and mysticism is the Reformed Community of Elberfeld. ... Krummacher is undeniably a man of excellent rhetorical, and also poetic, talent; his sermons are never boring, the train of thought is confident and natural; his strength lies primarily in painting gloomy pictures - his description of hell is always new and bold no matter how often it occurs - and in antitheses. ... Then he thrashes about in the pulpit, bends over allsides, bangs his fist on the edge, stamps like a cavalry horse, and shouts so that the windows resound and people in the street tremble. Then the congregation begins to sob; first the young girls weep, then the old women join in with a heartrending soprano and the cacophony is completed by the wailing of the enfeebled drunken pietists, who would be thrilled to the marrow by his words if they still had any marrow in their bones. ...“
He continued: „And what a doctrine this is! It is impossible to understand how anyone can believe in such things, which are in most direct contradiction to reason and the Bible... The Barmen preachers differ very little from one another; all are strictly orthodox, with a greater or lesser admixture of pietism. ...It goes without saying that in an area so full of pietist activities this spirit, spreading in all directions, pervades and corrupts every single aspect of life. It exerts its chief influence on the education system, above all on the elementary schools. ...Anyone who plays whist and billiards, who can talk a little about politics and pay a pretty compliment is regarded as an educated man in Barmen and Elberfeld. The life these people lead is berrible, yet they are so satisfied with it; ... The topics of conversation are pretty monotonous; Barmen people talk more about horses, Elberfeld people about dogs; and when things are at their height there may also be appraisals of fair ladies or chat about business matters, and that is all. Once every half a century they talk about literature, ... in politics they are all good Prussian. This whole region is sub-beautiful, flower-covered islands, but only dry, bare cliffs or long standbanks, among which Freiligrath (the poet) wanders like a seaman off course.“
Thus we can see that Engels’s critique of religion developed into a critique of society, The „Letters“ created a sensation in Wuppertal, especially because he had attacked the merciless exploitation of workers, even children, by the „god-fearing“ manufacturers, by tearing down their „holy veil“ and „mask of piety“. All the issues of the „Telegraph” were quickly sold out, and a storm of indignation arose among the outraged faithful citizens, who wanted to know the author of the articles. The „Elberfelder Zeitung“, the mouthpiece of the reactionary pietists, openly attacked the „Letters“. Anonymously, as author of the „Letters“, Engels replied to the editors Dr. Martin Runkel, with a letter dated May 6, 1839: „You have violently attacked me and my ‘Letters from Wuppertal’ in your newspaper and accused me of deliberate distortion, ignorance of the conditions, personal abuse and even untruths. ...Herr Runkel, I do not, as you accuse me of doing, make any claim to genius, but it would indeed require an extraordinarily dull intelligence not to acquire a knowledge of the conditions in such circumstances, especially if one makes the effort to do so. ...In conclusion I would ask you ... to quote Dante accurately or not at all; he does not say: ‘here is the gateway to eternal pain’, but ‘through me you pass into eternal pain’.“
Engels published further articles on problems of religion in the Telegraph until the end of 1839. These showed the final break of Engels with traditional religious ideas and his scientific attempts to liberate himself from the thrall of religion. He was especially impressed by David Strauss’ book „Das Leben Jesu“ (life of Jesus), published in 1835-36. On October 8, 1839, he wrote to Wilhelm Graeber; „O Wilhelm, Wilhelm, Wilhelm! So at last we are hearing you. Now, manikin, now you are going to hear something: I am now an enthusiastic Straussian. Just come here, I have now got arms, shield and helmut; now I am secure, just come here and I’ll give you such a drubbing, despite all your theologia, that you wont know where to run. Yes, Guillermo, jacta est alea (the die is cast). From now on Engels cast off the fetters of his industrial, pietist and family milieu, he severely criticised Christianity, religion and the Bible. He was moving, like Marx, towards atheism; from Strauss he turned to Hegelian Philosophy. Some of his valuable religious critical articles are: „Reports from Bremen”, „Schelling and Revelation“ and „Schelling, Philosopher in Christ”. But also his later writings, of his maturity period, contain valuable religious critique: „Natural Science in the Spirit World“, (written between 1873 and 1886), „Bruno Bauer and Early Christianity“ (1882), „The Book of Revelation (1883) and „On the History of Early Christianity“ (1894).
Engels commenced studying Hegel at the end of 1839; he was especially interested in Hegel’s Absolute Idea, which in his development dialectically embodied itself in nature, human consciousness and history. This led to Engels’ interest in Hegel’s „Philosophy of History”, containing the idea of man developing in stages to higher social forms. This is reflected in his correspondence and writings of 1840-42.
On the 22nd of February, 1841, he wrote to Friedrich Graeber.“In any case, Strauss has not compromised himself in the slightest for if he still believed a couple of years ago that his Leben Jesu would not harm the church’s teachings, he could, of course, without abandoning any of his principles, have read a ‘System of Orthodox Theology’ in the same way as many an Orthodox Christian reads a ‘System of Hegelian Philosophy’. But even if he really believed - as his Leben Jesu indicates - that dogmatism would not be harmed by his opinions, everyone knew in advance that he would soon abandon such ideas once he had begun to tackel dogmatism seriously.“
On the 26th July, 1842, having taker up contact with the „Rheinische Zeitung“, he wrote to Arnold Ruge; „I have decided to abandon all literary work for a while in order to devote more time in studying. The reasons for this are fairly plain. I am young and self-taught in philosophy ... I am a ‘travelling agent’ in philosophy and have not earned the right to philosophise by getting a doctor’s degree.“
In his article „Retrogade Signs of the Times“, published in the Telegraph“ No. 26 of February 1840, we find an excellent exposition of the process of history. He wrote: „There is nothing new under the sun: That is one of those happy pseudo-truths, which were destined to have a most brilliant career, which have passed from mouth to mouth in their triumphal procession round the globe, and after centuries are still often quoted as if they had only just made their appearance in the world. … Yet I prefer a free hand-drawn spiral, the turns of which are not too precisely executed. History begins its course slowly from an invisible point, languidly making its turns around it, but its circles become ever larger, the flight becomes ever swifter and more lively, until at last history shoots like a flaming comet from star to star, often skimming its old paths, often intersecting them, and with every turn it approaches closer to infinity. - Who can foresee what the end will be.“
The radical critical development of Engels caused ideological friction with his friends and previous class-mates. On November 20, 1840, he wrote to Wilhelm Graeber: „It is now at least six months since you wrote to me. What shall I say to such a friend? You don’t write, your brother (Friedrich) does not write, Wurm does not write, Grel does not write, Heuser does not write, not a line from W. Blank, I am still less aware of anything from Plumacher, sacre tonnerre (confound it), what am I to say?... You in particular should be ashamed to inveigh against my political truths, you political-sheep-head. If you are left to sit quietly in your rural parsonage, for you will hardly expect a higher position, and to go out for a walk every evening with Frau Pastor and eventually with the young little Pastor, and nobody fires off a cannonball under your nose, you are blissfully happy and don’t trouble yourself about the sinful F. Engels who argues against the established order. Oh you heroes! But you will yet be drawn into politics, the current of the times will came flooding over your idyllic household, and then you will stand like the oxen in front of the mountain.“
In spite of this bitter struggle with his friends, Engels was enjoying his free-time, enjoying fencing, and writing, beautiful letters to his sister, Marie. December 9, 1840 he wrote: „Last Saturday week, when I became 20, I celebrated my birthday with a toothache and a swollen cheek, ...You will also have heard that Napoleon’s body has arrived in France, hey, that is going to be a row! I wish I were in Paris now, what fun! ... We now have fencing lessons, I fence four times a week, today at midday too.“
Engels was doing what he had suggested to Wilhelm Graeber in his letter of November 20, 1840: „Activity, life, youthful spirit, that is the real thing“ At the end of March 1841, Engels returned to Barmen. He did not feel at home in his father’s house, and his friends did not impress him very much with their shallow discussions anymore. Soon he came into conflict with his father again, to be a merchant or a student of life. Thus he decided to leave for Berlin and volunteer to serve in the army for a term. As a son of a rich family, he could have evaded conscription, but he thought that the time in the army would enable him to continue with his studies in science, literature and philosophy, and that he could attend the Berlin University as external student. In September 1841, he did service in an artillery brigade, stationed near the university, and apart from attending university classes, especially Professor Benary’s seminar on the history of religion, he become an excellent bombardier, with a good military grounding.
Engels arrived in Berlin, at a time when the Young Hegelians developed into various splinter fractions, as already elaborated in the last chapter. Berlin came and ideological battleground for different schools of thought. Marx had left Berlin just shortly before Engels arrived.
From the autumn of 1841 Engels attended Friedrich Schelling’s lectures at the Berlin University. Schelling earlier was a friend of Hegel, but now he was criticising all the progressive elements of his philosophy. He was given the philosophic chair in Berlin to stop the growing popularity of the Young Hegelians. Very soon Engels was of the opinion that Schelling’s „philosophy of revelation“ was reactionary and aimed against science and reason. It was conceived „to serve the King of Prussia“, thus Engels wrote an article „Schelling on Hegel“ and two pamphlets „Schelling and Revelation“ and „Schelling, Philosopher in Christ” between the end of 1841 and the beginning of 1842, attacking his reactionary philosophy. „Schelling on Hegel“ was published in the „Telegraph“ No. 207 of December 1841; in it he defended Hegel against Schelling who claimed that the „rational was but possible and only potential: „Anybody… will „see in the declaration of Hegel’s death pronounced by Schelling’s appearance in Berlin the vengeance of the gods for the declaration of Schelling’s death which Hegel pronounced in his time.” In the following issue of „Telegraph“, Engels continued: „A wellknown saying is quoted, allegedly from Hegel’s mouth, but which, after the above utterances, doubtless stems from Schelling: ‘Only one of my pupils understood me, and even he unfortunately understood me wrongly.’” In „Schelling and Revelation“, he clearly stated:, „Up to now, all philosophy has made it its task to understand the world as reasonable. What is reasonable is, of course, also necessary, and what is necessary must be, or at least become real. This is the bridge to the great practical results of modern philosophy.“
Applying Hegel’s dialectics, Engels arrived at an important postulate: „Only that freedom is genuine which contains necessity, nay, which is only the truth, the reasonableness of necessity.” Concluding, Engels remarked: „So we have come to the end of Schelling’s philosophy and can only regret that such a man should have become so caught in the snares of faith and unfreedom. He was different when he was still young. ...Let us turn away from this waste of time. There are finer things for us to contemplate.“
And by the „finer things’ he meant the materialist views of Ludwig Feuerbach in his book „The Essence of Christianity”, published in 1841. Feuerbach had made it conscious to the Young Hegelians „that reason cannot possibly exist except as mind, and that mind can only exist in and with nature.”
It was the publication, „Schelling and Revelation“, that attracted the attention of the editors of the „Rheinische Zeitung“. Arnold Ruge wrote Engels a letter, addressing him as „Doctor of Philosophy”, and regretted that he had not presented the article for publication in their journal, Deutsche Jahrbücher. On June 15, 1842, the modest Engels replied: „Enclosed please find an article for the Jahrbücher. …Apart from all this, I am not a Doctor and cannot ever become one. I am only a merchant and a Royal Prussian artillerist, so kindly spare me that title. I hope to send you another manuscript very soon....
Meanwhile Marie went to Bonn and Engels was teasing her: „You seem to have an enormous talent for making acquaintances. The girl is in Bonn for four weeks and already knows the names of half the University and has found herself an interesting lame student whom she encounters six times a day. The interesting lame student with the spectacles and fair beard! He undoubtedly had his legs shot up in a duel. ... I’d like to know a great deal more about this interesting, lame, bearded, bespectacled, sharp-eyed student. ... who meets you on the beach six times a day?“ Nevertheless, he encouraged her to „try to learn the Flemish or Netherlandic dialect while you are in Ostende.“
Like his „Letters from Wuppertal“, „Schelling and Revelation“ caused consternation and attractive attention nationally and internationally. In January 1843, Otechestvenniye Zapiski (Fatherland Notes) of St. Petersburg, carried translated passages of this pamphlet; in October 1842, Przeglad naukowy, a Polish journal, praised the pamphlet, and in a subsequent article on „Philosophy“ in 1844, Engels was described as an outstanding contemporary philosopher, at the same time publishing an abridged translation of his pamphlet.
While still in Bremen, Engels had associated himself with the „Young Germany“ group of writers, who had followed a consistent liberal political line, incapable of any concrete revolutionary potential, thus Engels ruptured his ties with the group. He explained his views in an article „Alexander Jung, Lectures on Modern German Literature“, which was rublished in Ruge’s „Deutsche Jahrbücher“ (German Yearbooks) as from July 7, 1842. Engels wrote: „Herr Alexander Jung is also one of these people. It would be best if his abovementioned book were ignored; but since, in addition, he publishes a Königsberger Literatur-Blatt, in which he also brings his boring positivism before the public every week, the readers of the Jahrbücher will forgive me if I fix my sights on him and characterise him in rather more detail.
It is not necessary to explain further what Engels had to tell Herr Jung, he did it scientifically in the same style as he finished off Herr Krummacher, Schelling and later Dühring. The following quotation from the issue of July 8, 1842 will suffice: „At a time when the cry of battle resounds throughout Germany, when the new principles are being debated at his very feet, Herr Jung sits in his study, chews his pen and ruminated over the concept of the ‘modern’. He hears nothing, sees nothing, for he is up to his ears in a pile of books, the contents of which are now of no interest to anyone, and he labours to arrange the various items precisely and neatly into Hegelian categories.“
Engels criticised the ‘Young Germany’ writers for supporting Schelling, and in his „battle over principles“, he turned away from them; and nearly a decade later, he described them as „elements of political opposition“, which were „adulterated by ill-digested university recollections of German philosophy, and misinterpreted gleanings from French socialism, particularly Saint-Simonism.“
Thus since 1842, Engels took a firm stand against „golden mean` liberalism or ideology. The Bauer brother, belonging to the „Left Hegelians“, as seen in the previous chapter, took a similar line of critique as Engels, especially in their circle, „The Free“; however, their critique was more theoretical and abstract, concentrating on anti-religious atheistic propaganda.
Thus Engels joined „The free“ circle, and in 1842, with the assistance of Edgar Bauer he wrote a satirical poem, „The Insolently Threatened Yet Miraculously Rescued Bible“. This Christian Epic in four cantos, „The Triumph of Faith“, severely attacks the protagonists of religion and enemies of Hegelian philosophy. Bruno Bauer, Arnold Ruge and others are actors in this epic, the frenzied Hegel in agony screams: „Scared monster, did a mere Amen put you to flight? Too late we see you’re much too old to keep the pace; Women and children are the only ones you chase. Up, for swift action helps, not weeping and despair. Up, Danton, up, Voltaire, and you too, Robespierre!
Earth-creatures, you alone can end this infamy.
To heaven with the Devil! We shall devils be!
The mythic scum was never any use at all.
A thousand years of flame wont fire the craven soul.
Brother Marat, arise! At last we’ve learned our need.”
This poem ridicules certain members of the „Young Hegelians“ and „The Free“, who only use revolutionary phraseology, but fear to go into action:
„Oswald and Edgar cannot wait until he’s done.
They both jump on the table, then they shriek as one:
‘Ruge, we’ve had enough of all this talk from you!
What we want now is deeds, not words. We want some action!’
A frenzied bravo! is the ill-advised reaction;
Everyone keeps demanding: ‘Action, action, action!’
They with a mocking laugh shouts Arnold in reply:
‘Our actions are just words, and long they so shall be.
After Abstraction, Practice follows of itself.’”
Concerning Karl Friedrich Köppen (1808-1863), Engels wrote: the „furious Köppen, stems the flood, but most humanely takes good care to shed no blood“. Ludwig Buhl (1814-1882) and Köppen, he described as outwardly only resembling „a sans culotte“, but in essence they are „Girondists“. Max Stirner (real name, Johann Kaspar Schmidt, 1806-1859), the anarchist, who loved to parade his militant radicalism, in the decisive hour would take no risk. But Engels did not fail to describe himself, being „right on the very left“, a Montagnard, „dyed in the wool and hard“.
As already elaborated in the previous chapter, the „Rheinische Zeitung“ was founded as the mouthpiece of the bourgeois apposition in the spring of 1842; since October, 1842, when Marx became editor, in more and more became a herald of radical revolutionary democracy. Engels knew Marx from his writings, and in the poem above, Engels described him as follows:
„A swarthy chap of Trier, a marked monstrosity.
He neither hops, nor skips, but moves in leaps and bounds
Raving aloud. As if to seize and then pull down
To Earth the spacious tent of Heaven up on high.
He opens wide his arms and reaches for the sky.
He shakes his wicked fist, raves with a frantic air,
As if ten thousand devels had him by the hair.”
Engels’s military service ended on October 8, 1842. On his way home to Barmen, he stopped in Cologne, to visit the members of the „Rheinische Zeitung“, but Marx was not there. He had an interesting philosophico-political discussion with the editor, Moses Hess. In a letter (dated 19/6/43 to Auerbach), Hess later described him as a „Zealous Communist“.
Engels did not remain for long, in Barmen, in his despotic home. At the end of November 1842, he decided to go and work in Ermen & Engels, more about British industry and commerce. His father was too glad to get rid of his „communist“ son, to get him away from the „ideological battles“ in Germany.
On his way to England, Engels and Marx met for the first time. The encounter was determined by Marx’s negative attitude to the „Free“, and Fngels’s still positive views, hence the meeting was „rather frigid“, as Engels described it later in 1893.
At that time, Marx had already opposed the Bauer brothers, and wanted the „Rheinische Zeitung“ to change its policy mf being a paper concerned mainly with theological propaganda, that is, being atheistic and anti-religious. Marx wanted the paper to be a vehicle of „true democracy“.
During the two years’ stay in England, Engels became acquainted with the social contradictions of British capitalist society, with the workers’ movement, and with their radical leaders. During this period, Engels became a scientific socialist, especially due to his revolutionary practice in the Chartist movement.
As already stated before, Engels wrote four articles for the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher“, edited by Marx and Ruge. „Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy“ and „The Position of England“ (Part I) were published in February 1844, however, as only one issue of the planned „Jahrbücher“ could be published, the other two parts, „The position of England”, „The Eighteenth Century“ and „The Position of England”. „The British Constitution”, were published in August-October, 1844 in „Vorwärts“, a Paris newspaper with which Marx was associated, after the Jahrbücher had to stop publication.
Concerning the above works, it can be said that Engels was the first scientific socialist to use the dialectical method to analyse social relations of capitalist society. The „Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy” was the article which really opened Marx’s eyes towards scientific socialism; it stimulated his interest in political economy, and an extended and intensive correspondence with Engels. Marx made an extract of the „Outlines“ and very often referred to this precis.
With typical modesty, later in a letter to Wilhelm Liebknecht, of April 13, 1871, Engels remarked about his „Outlines“ that it was outdated, written with Hegelian ardour, and only of historic interest. In reality, as the first scientific socialist document, it was a transitory work, and not a serious analysis of the major economic theories of the time; in fact, it was still under the influence of Feuerbach’s humanism and utopian scientific notions.
But the above four articles mark the development of Engels from radical democratism to scientific socialism in 1842, and after a study of Marx of political economy in 1843, the latter’s development away from „true democracy“ in a similar direction in 1844.
In August 1844, on his way home, Engels travelled through Paris to see Marx, where he stayed ten days, discussing practical and theoretical problems with each other.
Later Engels recalled: „When I visited Marx in Paris in the summer of 1844 our complete agreement in all theoretical fields became evident and our joint work dates from that time.“
What Marx and Engels were discussing in Paris, inter alia was to get their position straight vis-a-vis the „Young Hegelians“, against Bruno Bauer and Co. Hence they prepared a joint attack. In early August 1845, Marx had already informed Feuerbach about his intention to attack Bauer.
Marx himself was already well-prepared, because during his-stay in Paris, he already made various scientific pursuits. The result of his research work he summarised in his Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. Unfortunately we only have three incompleted, somewhat fragmentary, manuscripts of this work. However, what has survived gives us an excellent idea of his economic views and philosophic reflections between April and August 1844.
The above manuscripts were really meant to be a rough draft of Marx’s economic investigations, criticising capitalist political economy and the bourgeois economic system in general. All three manuscripts lay stress on the „estrangement of labour“ or the „alienation of the labourer“ in capitalist class society. The category of „estrangement“ or „alienation“ is a prominent concept in Hegel’s philosophy and in Feuerbach’s critique of religion. Hegel used this concept as „alienation of self-consciousness“; Feuerbach as „alienation of the abstract, non-historical and non-class man“. By it, Marx meant in 1844: „the forced labour of the labourer for the capitalist, the appropriation by the capitalist of the product of a worker’s labour and the separation of the labourer from the means of production, which, being in the capitalist’s possession, confront the labourer as an alien, enslaving power“.
However, similarly as Engels in his works of this time, Marx was still under the strong influence of Hegel’s philosophy and of Feuerbach’s humanism, as can be seen by his usage of concepts such as „man - the species being“, „naturalism“ or „humaneness“. But in these manuscripts Marx laid the foundation of his materialist view of history, which was developed, together with Engels, in „The Holy Family“ and „The German Ideology“.
The manuscripts include the „Critique of the Hegelian Dialectic and Philosophy as a Whole“ and „The Power of Money in Bourgeois Society“. In the first one, Marx mainly criticised Hegel’s „Phenomenology of Mind“, drawing a clear distinction between the revolutanary and conservative elements, concluding that „the absolute idea is nothing for itself“, and that „only nature is something“. In the second one, he analyses the negative effect which money has on social relations, changing … into money relations, exchange relations, thing relations. He wrote: „Money’s properties are my properties and essential powers - the properties and powers of its possessor. Thus, what I am and am capable of is by no means determined by my individuality. I am ugly, but I can buy for myself the most beautiful of women. Therefore I am not ugly, for the effect of ugliness - its deterrent power - is nullified by money. ....
„Money, then, appears as this overturning power both against the individual and against the bonds of society, etc., which claim to be essences in themselves. It transforms fidelity into infidelity, love into hate, hate into love, virtue into vice, vice into virtue, servant into master, master into servant, idiocy into intelligence and intelligence into idiocy. ...”
And then followed Marx’s beautiful theoretical dialectical exposition of „love“, as reflected practically in the letters between him and Jenny: „Assume man to be man and his relationship to the world to be a human one: Then you can exchange love only for love, trust for trust, etc. ... If you love without evoking love in return, that is, if your loving as loving does not produce reciprocal love; if through a living expression of yourself as a loving person you do not make yourself a loved person, then your love is impotent - a misfortune.“
After Marx and his friends were forced to stop publishing the „Deutsch Französische Jahrbücher“, mainly due to material resons, and continued to work in the „Vorwärts“, published as from early 1844 in Paris, and edited by an enterprising German businessman, Heinrich Bornstein, who turned out later to have been in reality a spy for the Prussian and Austrian secret police, he could extend his new ideas to a larger critical public. Regular contributors of the „Vorwärts“ were Marx, Engels, Heine, Herwegh, Ewerbeck, Bakunin, Burgers and Ruge. In May, 1844, Karl Bernays, a famous radical democrat, had succeeded Bornstein as editor, hence enabling Marx and Engels to make revolutionary contributions.
In October 1844, Wilhelm Weitling, the self-educated German proletarian revolutionary, took up contact with Marx from London, having read his articles in „Vorwärts“, by then, the ideological differences between Marx and Ruge had developed into an open political conflict. The controversy centred around the role of the proletariat in social revolution. Ruge adopted the attitude that the proletariat was incapable of independent action, having no „political soul“. Marx had already elaborated in his „Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844“ and in his „Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law. Introduction“ that a new society cannot be realised without the mass revolutionary action of the proletariat, without political struggle. He wrote: „Every revolution dissolves the old society and to that extent it is Social. Every revolution overthrows the old power and to that extent it is political.“ But he did not yet express definitely the need of the proletariat to win political power as a class, but he did stated the interdependency of social and political aspects of the revolution, which must overthrow bourgeois society. He stressed that poverty of the workers - a product of private property - could never be abolished through bourgeois reform, within the existing capitalist order.
Between 1843 and 1844, Bruno Bauer was publishing in Charlottenburg a newspaper, „Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung“ (General Literature Newspaper), and in its eight issue it carried an article of Bruno Bauer titled „The Year 1842”, in which he criticised the „radicalism of 1842” of the „Rheinische Zeitung”, clearly attacking Marx and Engels. In 1844, Marx and Engels began to criticise this „critical criticism“ of Bruno Bauer and the other Young Hegelians adhering to him, and by November 1844 they had the manuscript of „The Holy Family, or Critique of Critical Criticism. Against Bruno Bauer & Co.“ completed for publication. Originally they intended to publish the book in Zürich, in the publishing house of Julius Fröbel, but Rug, a friend of Fröbel, prevented it. Marx and Engels tried to find a publisher in Paris, but in vain, eventually it was published by J. Rütten, Frankfurt am Main, at the end of February 1845.
The work is mainly a philosophical book, criticising with its materialist interpretation, Bruno Bauer’s „Critical Criticism“ and idealist speculative philosophy in general. In the foreword Marx and Engels wrote; „Our exposition deals first and foremost with truno Bauer’s Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung - the first eight numbers are here before us - because in it Bauer’s criticism, and with it the nonsense of German speculation in general, has reached its peak. The more completely critical Criticism - the criticism of Literatur-Zeitung - distorts reality into an obvious comedy through philosophy, the more instructive it is.“
Before Marx wrote this book, he had made an intensive study of the English and French materialists, Francis Bacon, Locke, Hobbes, Helvetius and others. In Chapters V to IX, signed by Marx, we can see how thoroughly he has applied this acquired materialist knowledge. Engels wrote the first three chapters, and part of the fourth one; and he was mainly criticising Reichard, Faucher, Jungnitz and Bauer.
Engels criticised the Young Hegelians, following Hegel, in the following manner: „Critical Criticism creates nothing, the worker creats everything; and so much so that even his spiritual creations put the whole of criticism to shame; the English and French workers provide proof of this. The worker creates even man; the critic will never be anything but sub-human (ein Unmensch), but on the other hand he will have, the satisfaction of being a Critical critic, ... Criticism does nothing but ‘construct formulae out of the categories of what exists’, to be precise, out of the existing Hegelian philosophy and the existing social aspirations. Formulae, nothing but formulae. And in spite of all its invectives against dogmatism, it condemns itself to dogmatism and even to feminine dogmatism. It is and remains an old woman, faded, widowed Hegelian philosophy, which paints and adorns her wrinkled and repugnant abstraction of a body and ogles all over Germany in search of a wooer.”
But while criticising Hegel’s idealist philosophy, that is, its conservative side, defended by Bruno Bauer & Co., Marx and Engels defended its revolutionary side, the rational element in his dialectics, „everything rational in real“. Analysing the contradictions between bourgeoisie and proletariat, Marx wrote; „Private property as private property, as wealth, is compelled to maintain itself, and thereby its opposite, the proletariat, in existence. That is „the positive side of the contradiction, selfsatisfied private property.“
The historic aim of the proletariat he continued formulating thus: The proletariat, on the other hand, is compelled as proletariat to abolish itself and thereby its opposite, the conditions for its existence, what makes it the proletariat, i.e., private property. That is the negative side of the contradiction, its restlessness within its very self, dissolved and selfdissolving private property.” Later he continued: „Within this antithesis the private owner is therefore the conservative side, the proletarian, the destructive side. From the former arises, the action of preserving the antithesis, from the latter, that of annihilating it.”
And Marx concludes: „When the proletariat is victorious, it by no means becomes the absolute side of society, for it is victorious only by abolishing itself and its opposite. Then the proletariat disappears as well as the opposite which determines it, private property.“
This is an excellent application of the Hegelian dialectics to concrete social conditions; to social revolution. Also Marx was not concerned only about the subjective opinion of the proletariat of itself, of its specific level of consciousness at a given time, but more in its real objective historic task: „The question is not what this or that proletarian, or even the whole of the proletariat considers as its aim. The question is what the proletariat is, and what, consequent on that being, it will be compelled to do. Its aim and historical action is irrevocably and obviously demonstrated in its own life situation as well as in the whole organisation of bourgeois society today.“
Much later in the book, attacking „Absolute Criticism’s Second Campaign“, Marx stated what he understands by history, „human activity“: „History does nothing, it ‘possesses no immense wealth’, it ‘wages no battle’. It is man, real living man, that does all that, that possesses and fights; ‘history’ is not a person apart, using man as a means for its own particular aims; history is nothing but the activity of man pursuing his aims.“
This is the scientific socialist interpretation of history, and an accurate measurement how far Marx had developed within one year, thanks to the revolutionary comradeship of Engels. Thus Marx and Engels had formulated the genesis of the proletariat, it „executes the sentence that private property pronounces on itself by producing the proletariat“, thus at the same time, dialectically, the historic political role of the proletariat, and finally, when it is victorious, it „abolishes itself and thereby its opposite“, the bourgeoisie. Thus already here we have the idea that when the proletariat emancipates itself, it emancipates the whole of society, and eventually the whole of mankind.
Also in the above quotation, it becomes clear that the proletariat, in the last analysis, is the creator of all spiritual and material values. In the same year (1844), Marx had written in his „Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law“ that the proletariat finds its spiritual weapon in philosophy, and that philosophy finds its material weapon in the proletariat, concluding that „the head of this emancipation is philosophy, its heart is the proletariat. Philosophy cannot be made a reality without the abolition of the proletariat, the proletariat cannot be abolished without philosophy being made a reality.“
And even in this book, the first co-operation of the founders of scientific socialism Marx and Engels did not forget to comment about an important social relation, a high human value, which was desecrated by Edgar Bauer as a „dangerous passion“ for the „calm of knowledge“. Marx quotes Edgar as saying: „Love ... is a cruel goddess, and like every deity, it wishes to subjugate the whole of man; it is not satisfied until he has surrendered to it not only his soul, but his physical self. The worship of love is suffering, its peak is selfimmolation, suicide.“
Marx comments: „In order to change love into Moloch, a devil incarnate, Herr Edgar first changes it into a goddess. When love has become a goddess, i.e., a theological thing, it is naturally an object of theological criticism; moreover, we know that god and devil are not far from each other. Herr Edgar changes love into a ‘goddess’, a ‘cruel goddess’ at that, by changing man who loves, the love of man, into a man of love; by making ‘love’ a being apart, separate from man and as such endowed with independent being. By this simple process, by changing the predicate into the subject, all the attributes and manifestations of human nature can be critically transformed into their opposite (Unwesen) and estrangements.“
Marx concludes: „In the eyes of the calm of knowledge, love is an abstract passion according to the speculative terminology in which the concrete is called abstract and the abstract concrete. ... For abstraction, love is ‘the maid from abroad’ who has no dialectical passport and is therefore expelled from the country by the Critical police. ...Here Critical Criticism is not against love alone, but against everything living, everything which is immediate, every sensuous experience, any and every real experience….” „The Holy Family“ marks the „formative period“ of scientific socialism, it is not free of the birth marks of Hegelian philosophy and Feuerbachian humanism, many concepts are not yet clearly formulated; in the foreword, its first two words were still „real humanism“. In the „Theses on Feuerbach“ (probably April, 1845) and „The German Ideology“ (1845), Marx and Engels obtained (a higher level of co-operation and a more scientific precision of concepts concerning historical and diaalectical materialism.
Concerning „The Holy Family”, Lenin wrote that „Marx’s view already almost fully developed – concerning the revolutionary role of the proletariat was contained in this book, as early as 1844. This was reflected in the articles of „Vorwärts“ towards the end of that year. This emigrant paper became more and more popular, its subscribers being more than 800. The result was that bourgeois newspapers, like the „Paris Globe“ and the „Elberfelder Zeitung“ began to attack it vehemently. The conservative „Allgemeine Zeitung“, on April 8, 1845, wrote that „its every line preaches revolt... against the state, the church, the family, legality, religion and property ... In short, it contains clear evidence of the most radical and most open communism and this is all the more dangerous as Mr. Marx cannot be denied either extremely broad knowledge or the ability to make use of the polemical arsenal of Hegel’s logic, which is customarily called ‘iron logic’“.
The „Paris Globe“ denounced the „Vorwärts“ as being worse than any „handbill of the first revolution period“, and on September 19, 1844, the „Elberfelder Zeitung“ ferociously exclaimed: „Will the governments of the German states, will the French government tolerate the existence of the handbill?“ In February 1845, the Guizot government expelled Marx from Paris. On February 3, 1845 he and his family left for Brussels, in Belgium. Jenny, and their daughter barely had the fare to travel. At short notice they were forced „to sell their furniture for a trilling sum to obtain the price of her fare.“ Thus, in poverty, the Marx family arrived in Brussels, and it was only in May 1845 that they could find permanent lodgings at 5 Rue Alliance, where they lived till October 1846, later they moved to Place Ste. Gudule.
Although granted political asylum, the Belgium authorities forced Marx to sign a pledge not to publish anything in Belgium on current politics. Meanwhile the Prussian government tried to get him expelled from Belgium also. Thus in December 1845, Marx aban’oned Prussian citizenship, in order to work in peace. Marx’s only oncome in Belgium was the small royalties which he had received for his few publications. From all over Europe, emigrants, democrats and rerolutlonaries visited his home, and plans for future political work were organised. On September 26, 1845, the Marx family was increased by another daughter, Laura, and in December, 1846, a son, Edgar, was added to the family. A maid of Jenny’s mother, the 22-year old Helen Demuth, went to live with the family in 1845 to manage the household. „Every member of the family, Marx included, obeyed without murmur the dictates of the kindly and solicitous Lenchen, for whom Karl and Jenny felt deep respect and affection.“
In April, 1845, Engels arrived from Barmen in Brussels. For the first time he met Jenny, who received him open-heartedly into the family. Engels rented a house nearby; and they began to work to develop their new materialist conception of history.
In May 1845, in Leipzig, Engels’ book „The Condition of the Working Class in England“ was published. He had collected materials and made notes to write this book, while he was staying in England. The book is an excellent portrayal of the social conditions of the British proletarait in the midth of the 19th century, but it is also a reflection of the general European class exploitation system. He pointed out that Chartism should unite with the socialist movement, and that it should adopt the socialist revolutionary theory, and consequently perform the socialist revolution in England. Many years later, in the second preface to the book of 1892, the modest Engels stated that it was a youthful book, and that some of its prophecies did not materialise but „the wonder is, not that a good many of them proved wrong, but that so many of them have proved right“.
In Brussels, Marx praised this book because of „its depth of content, vigorous style, and realistic portrayal of the plight and struggles of the English proletariat“. At that time, a German bourgeois ideologist, Friedrich List had published a book, „The National System of Political Economy”, advocating „economic protectionism“. Marx and Engels criticised this work; their research work led to the discovery of the decisive role of the interaction between forces of production and relations of production, as later elaborated in the „German Ideology”.
At the same time, Marx was ousy studying materialist philosophy. In spite of his criticism of Feuerbach, he had a great respect for this materialist (and idealist) philosopher; he valued his contributions to further materialist philosophy, he later honoured him, when he died in September 1872, by the placing of a wreath on his grave, on behalf of the Marx family.
In a notebook, used by Marx in Paris and Brussels between 1844 and 1847, he wrote his famous eleven „Theses on Feuerbach“. Their probable date of formulation was in April, 1845. Although the notes were scribbled down hurriedly, nevertheless he had already formulated the basic principles of the new world outlook of scientific socialism. In the theses Marx elaborated with precision the materialist conception of „the essence of man“ As we have seen before, Feuerbach’s conception of man was abstract, isolated from social relations and from historic realities. In the above theses, Marx explained that real men are products of social relations.
These basic tenets of scientific socialism, Marx and Engels-developed more precisely in „The German Ideology“. The latter can be understood as the continuation of previous works, „The condition of the Working Class in England“, „Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1$44“ and „The Holy Family“. It was written between 1845 and 1847, and basically criticises the views of Ludwig Feuerbach, Bruno Bauer, Max Stirner and the „True Socialists“, like Grun, Hess, Kuhlmann, Schirges, Sass and Puttmann.
The „Theses“ were published for the first time by Engels in 1888, as appendix to his book „Ludwig Feuerbach“. In his foreword Engels wrote: „... in an old notebook of Marx’s I have found the eleven thesetheses on Feuerbach printed here as an appendix. These are notes hurriedly scribbled down for later elaboration, absolutely not intended for publication, but invaluable as the first document in which is deposited the brilliant germ of the new world outlook“
Engels had „edited“ the text for publication, but made some changes, especially in the famous 11th thesis, which formulates the foundamental difference of historical and dialectical materialism from all earlier philosophy, including pre-Marxist mechanical materialism which altered the original meaning of the formulation of Marx. I will quote below the two versions in German:
Original version: „Die Philosophen haben die Welt verschieden interpretiert; es kommt darauf an, sie zu verandern.“ (English: „The philosophers have interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.“) Engels’ edition: „Die Philosophen haben die Welt bisher nur interpretiert; aber es kommt darauf an, sie zu verandern.“ (English: „The philosophers have until now only interpreted the world; the point, however, is to change it.“) In Engels’ version „bisher nur“ (until now only) and „aber“ (but, however) have been added.
In an interview of 1970, the Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch, analysed the meaning of this change, and how Engels had turned the original meaning into its opposite. Marx having left out the „aber” (but), had not placed philosophy as being in contradiction to, or being the opposite of, change. If he did, he would have been an anarchist, in the non-intellectual sense of propaganda of action, where action is the main thing. This type of anarchism, in its most radical form, has no philosophy as its „head“. For Marx, economy is also theory, as can be proved by „Capital“, his other economy writings, and more so in his „Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844“, where in the German original „Economic“ and „Philosophical“ as a compound adjective is joined by a hyphen („ökonomisch-philosophisch“). The intention is that philosophy should be realised, not ended, before it is realised. If it is terminated, before realisation, then the above thesis becomes „an apology for ignorance“ (Bloch). Hence Marx could not, with this thesis, contradict his whole life and works. In the original version there is a direct dialectical relation between theory and praxis, between the „spiritual weapon“ of the proletariat (philosophy) and the „material weapon“ of philosophy (the proletariat).
However, the point is not that Engels deliberately had changed the original meaning of Marx, he tried to edit the text to express at best the fundamental essence of the philosophy of dialectical and historical materialism; other corrections have, in fact, just achieved this aim - a more precise formulation of Marx’s ideas of 1845.
At the same time, when the above theses were written; Marx and Erigels had planned to publish a „Library of the Best Foreign Socialist Writers“, to cover most of the then contemporary utopian socialist and communist authors. From Marx’s notebook, mentioned above, we know some of the socialist authors who were intended to contribute to this work, having the probable prospective editors: Marx, Engels and Hess. Among others, they were: Morelly, Mably, Saint Simon, Fourier, Owen, Considerant, Cabet, Proudnon, Babeuf, Buonarotti, Dezamy, Roux, Leclerc, Hebert and Godwin. Some like Babeuf were already dead, but their important works would have been included. The plan, however, fell through, due to financial and publication difficulties, but also because of the ideological attitude of the „true socialist“, Moses Hess.
In the summer of 1845, Marx and Engels left for England, visiting especially London and Manchester, where they took up contact with many British radicals and socialists, especially with those who led the Chartist movement. They studied the various foreign political writings, especially the development of capitalism, in the then highest industrialised bourgeois country, England. In mid-August 1845 they attended a congress of the Chartists, and discussed the possibility of organising an international revolutionary organisation in London. In fact, later in September, 1845, a nucleus of such an organisation was organised: the Fraternal Democrats, led by Harney, Jones, Schapper, Moll and Weitling. On August 21, 1845, they returned to Brussels, having a clearer view of capitalism in operation. They then began to study political economy and socialist literature with a critical and radical attitude.
Marx studied the works of James Mill and his son, John Stuart Mill, also the books of the utopian socialists, especially Robert Owen. He read Villeneuve-Bargemont’s „Christian Political Economy“, Thomas Garlyle’s „Chartism“ and Sismondi’s „Essays on Political Economy“. At that time, Marx planned to write a book on „Critique of Politics and Political Economy“.
However, not only Marx was interested in „good-natured“ women and „love poems“; while Engels was working in Manchester he had met in 1845 „Mary Burns, a lively, sharp-witted young woman, known for her good nature“. She was an Irish girl, who was employed in his father’s factory, where he was a clerk. Over the years, „their friendship grew into deep attachment and love”.
While Marx and Engels visited Manchester, Engels met Mary Burns again, and he took her with him to Brussels, later they married. Hence, back in Brussels, Engels could peacefully commence his research work to write „The German Ideology“ with Marx.
Between November 1845 and August 1846, Marx and Engels were busy writing „The German Ideology, Critique of Modern German Philosophy, according to its representatives Feuerbach, B. Bauer and Stirner, and of German Socialism, according to its various prophets“, to give its full title, with subtitle; between January and April 1847, Engels wrote „The true Socialists“, which could be regarded as the third volume of this major joint work.
In „The German Ideology“ the materialist conception of history, the philosophy of historical and dialectical materialism, was first formulated in a scientific and systematic form. In this book, Marx and Engels discovered the laws of social development, which thereafter had revolutionised social sciences. The social theory elaborated in this book played an important role to transform socialism from a simple utopia, into a concrete utopia, in other words, into science. In reality, this work was the methodological prerequisite for a new political economy, on which Marx was working then.
By nature, as can be seen from its subtitle, „The Holy Family“ is a polemical work, in which the ideas of the opponents are counterposed with the views of Marx and Engels. Chapter One of Volume 1, which serves as an introduction, is less polemical, and it is an excellent exposition of the materialst conception of history.
Firstly, the „premises“ of this new conception are formulated: „The prenrises from which we begin are not arbitrary ones, not dogmas, but real premises from which abstraction can only be made in the imagination. They are the real individuals, their activity and the material conditions of their life, both those which they find already existing and those produced by their activity. These premises can thus be verified in a purely empirical way“.
The first premise of all human history, they formulated as „the existence of living human individuals“, their physical organisation, their relation among each other, and to nature. They distinguish themselves from animals as soon as they begin to produce, that is, to produce the means of subsistence, necessary to further human life. They stated: „By producing their means of subsistence men are indirectly producing their material life“.
Thereafter, they explained the concept of „mode of production“. It is „a definite form of activity of these individuals, a definite form of expressing their life, a definite mode of life on their part. As individuals express their life, so they are. What they are, therefore, coincides with their production, both with what they produce and with how they produce. Hence what individuals are depends on the material conditions of their production.“
Here is underlined the historical character of the material conditions of life themselves and the effect of human production, that is, human activity on them. Thus production, that is, human production, is the active human relation to nature; and social intercourse is, the social relations of people to each other in their activities. Both human production and social intercourse, determine each other, but the decisive one in this dialectical action is human production. To distinguish the social relations taking place under social intercourse, Marx and Engels introduced the concept „relations of production“.
Thus Marx and Engels demonstrated the historic and class origins of „conscious being“, of social consciousness. They also showed that in each epoch, mode of production or society, that the various classes which are in power, at the same time, determine the „ruling ideas“, the „social consciousness“ of that specific period: „The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas: i.e., the class which is the ruling material force of society is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, consequently also controls the means of mental production, so that the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are on the whole subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relations, the dominant material relations grasped as ideas; hence of the relations which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance. The individuals composing the ruling class possess among other things consciousness, and therefore think. Insofar, therefore, as they rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an historical epoch, it is self-evident that they do this in its whole range, hence among other things rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and the distribution of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch.“
In the same first chapter, criticising Feuerbach, Marx and Engels summer’ up the materialist conception of history. We will quote at length -the relevant exposition: „This conception of history thus relies on expounding the real process of production - starting from the material production of life itself - and comprehending the form of intercourse connected with and created by this mode of production, i.e., civil society in its various stages, as the basis of all history; describing it in its action as the state, and also explaining how all the different theoretical products and forms of consciousness, religion, philosophy, morality, etc., etc., arise from it, and tracing the process of their formation from that basis; thus the whole thing can, of course be depicted in its totality (and therefore, too the reciprocal action of these various sides on one another). It has not, like the idealist view of history, to look for a category in every period, but remains constantly on the real ground of history; it does not explain practice from the idea but explains the formation of ideas from material practice, and accordingly it comes to the conclusion that all forms and products of consciousness cannot be dissolved by mental criticism, by resolution into ‘self-consciousness’ or transformation into ‘apparitions’, ‘spectres’, ‘whimsies’, etc., but only by the practical overthrow of the actual social relations which gave rise to this idealistic humbug; that not criticism but revolution is the driving force of history, also of religion, of philosophy and all other kinds of theory. It shows that history does not end by being resolved into ‘self-consciousness’ as ‘spirit of the spirit’, but that each stage contains a material result, a sum of productive forces, a historically created relation to nature and of individuals to one another, which is handed down to each generation from its-predecessor; a mass of productive forces, capital funds and circumstances, which on the one hand is indeed modified by the new generation, but on the other also prescribes for it its conditions of life and gives it a definite development, a special character. it shows that circumstances make men just as much as men make circumstance.“
In „The German Ideology“, Marx and Engels for the first time pointed out the necessity for the proletariat to conquer political power, the sine qua non to realise socialism, and eventually communism, on a world scale. Thus, as stated in the previous quotation, „not criticism“ but „revolution is the driving force of history“, and the social revolution between the modes of production of capitalism and socialism can only be successful when the proletariat conquers Political power internationally. However, in „The German Ideology“ this idea was not yet fully developed to this international dimension. Of interest is ‘Marx and Engels’ definition of „liberation“ or „freedom”, in view of all the „freedom struggles“ and „liberation movements“, especially all the „freedom fighters“, which will follow subsequently: „We shall, of course, not take the trouble to explain to our wise philosophers that the ‘liberation’ of ‘man’ is not advanced a single step by reducing philosophy, theology, substance and all the rubbish to ‘self-consciousness’ and by liberating ‘man’ from the domination of these phrases, which have never held him in thrall. Nor shall we explain to them that it is possible to achieve real liberation only in the real world and by real means, that slavery cannot be abolished without improved agriculture, and that, in general, people cannot be liberated as long as they are unable to obtain food and drink, housing and clothing in adequate quality and quantity.“
They explained liberation as a historical process, as follows: „‘Liberation’ is a historical and not a mental act, and it is brought about by historical conditions, and level of industry, commerce, agriculture, intercourse, ....“
Unfortunately, after „intercourse“, the preserved original manuscript is damaged, and a part of the sheet is torn off, hence some lines are missing. Thus we do not have the elaboration of the above definition, nonetheless, the above quotation already describes the essence.
The historic duty of a „freedom fighter“, a „practical materialist“, a „communist“, Marx and Engels formulated as follows: „...it is a question of revolutionising the existing world of practically coming to grips with and changing the things found in existence.“ The definition of „communism“ we also find here. It is important to note that Marx and Engels use the term „communism“, instead of „socialism“ in this book, in 1845 - 1847. „Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality will have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things.“
They spoke about realising communism on a „world-historical“ scale, but taking in consideration their „theory of revolution“, at first, it concerned „highly industrialised advanced nations“. Nevertheless in their theoretical formulation, applied to contemporary reality, the original statements surely have universal validity.
„... only with this universal development of productive forces is a universal intercourse between men established, which on the one side produces in all nations simultaneously the phenomenon of the ‘propertyless’ mass (universal competition), making each nation dependent on the revolutions of the others, and finally puts world-historical, empirically universal individuals in place of local ones.
The above-mentioned process is a, prerequisite for the internationalisation of „communism“, otherwise: „(1) communism could only exist as a local phenomenon; (2) the forces of intercourse themselves could not have developed as universal, hence unendurable powers: they would have remained home-bred ‘conditions’ surrounded by superstition; and (3) each extension of intercourse would abolish local communism.“
Thus it follows logically: „Empirically, communism is only possible as the act of the dominant peoples „all at once’ and simultaneously, which presupposes the universal development of Productive forces and the world intercourse bound up with them.“
The above quotation contains the idea of the highly developed „dominant peoples“ „all at once and simultaneously“ making the communist social revolution first, and then extend it to the rest of the, world, which would have included Russia of 1917, and the present „Third World“ of today. World history seems to have taken another path, however, the „communist revolution“ spoken about here in „The German Ideology“ surely have not yet taken place, perhaps, Marx and Engels knew what they meant, when they used the world „communism“, instead of „socialism“. They expected this „communist revolution“ to be realised possibly in their lifetime, but there is a big difference between personal revolutionary optimism and hope, and the essence of a revolutionary theory. Applied to present world realities, this revolutionary theory surely has practical validity.
Communism is not understood as a „utopia“, in a negative sense, but as „concrete utopia“ (Ernst Bloch), as a scientific utopia. Marx and Engels did not illustrate communism in the sense that Thomas Moore, Francis Bacon or Robert Owen had portrayed their future societies. The realisation of communism is the conscious revolutionary work of the proletariat itself; there is no recipes and time-tables for the proletarian revolution, nothing „classic“ about it, it has not even a „model“, because it is the result of a historical dialectical process. However, in „The German Ideology“, the basic features of communism, as the negation of capitalism, were expounded: the abolition of private property, of the class division of labour, of classes themselves, of commodity production, of the state, etc.
All the above elaborations, we find in the „Introduction“ of the first volume. The other two chapters in this volume are mainly criticising the philosophy of the Young Hegelians, as expounded mainly by Bruno Bauer and Max Stirner. They mainly criticised Max Stirner’s book, „The Unique and His Property“ (1844) and the articles of both authors, published in „Wigand’s Vierteljahrschrift“, Leipzig. In the second volume, they criticised the various „prophets“ of „true socialism“. It was perhaps because of this „petty-bourgeois socialism“ that Marx and Engels had to use their term „communism“, to distinguish very clearly the two doctrines. „True socialism“ was a mixture of Hegelian and Feuerbachian philosophy with the socialist ideas of the utopian authors like Saint-Simon, Fourier and Owen, being essentially an abstract „utopian socialism“, divorced from reality and practice. Chapter One of Volume 2 criticises the views of Friedrich Semmig and Rudolph Mattha; Chapters Two and Three of the extant manuscript are lost; Chapter Four criticises Georg Kuhlmann. Engels’ book, „The True Socialists“, written in 1847, is a direct continuation of Volume 2, or the beginning of a third volume. This work remained unfinished; it is a critique of the various „true socialist“ groups.
The next term which they explained was the „productive forces“ „The relations of different nations among themselves depend on the extent to which each has developed its productive forces, the division of labour and internal intercourse. This proposition is generally recognised. But not only the relation of one nation to others, but also the whole internal structure of the nation itself depends on the stage of development reached by its production and its internal and external intercourse. How far the productive forces of a nation are developed is shown most manifestly by the degree to which the division of labour has been carried.“
Here Marx and Engels speak about social „intercourse“ („Verkehr“), later they will use the more common term, „relations of production“. The various stages of development of the „division of labour“ reflect or express at the same time the different forms of property: tribal property (Stammeigentum), ancient communal and state property, feudal or estate property, capitalist private property. By analysing all this, Marx and Engels showed that definite individuals who are productively active have entered historically into definite social and political relations, into definite relations of production.
Thereafter they elaborated the „essence“ of the conceptions, social being end social consciousness (soziales Sein and soziales Bewusstsein). At first they explained the „connection of the social and political structure with production“: „The social structure and the state are continually evolving out of the life-process of definite individuals, however, of these individuals, not as they may appear in their own or other people’s imagination, but as they actually are, i.e., as they act, produce materially, and hence, as they work under definite material limits, presuppositions and conditions independent of, their will.“ Similar views we have already encountered before in „The Holy Family“.
We will cite extensively the famous scientific socialist definition of „social consciousness“ (gesellschaftliches Bewusstsein): „The production of ideas, of conceptions, of consciousness, is at first directly interwoven with the material activity and the material intercourse of men - the language of real life. Conceiving, thinking, the mental intercourse of men at this stage still appear as the direct efflux of their material behaviour. The same applies to mental production as expressed in the language of politics, laws, morality, religion, metaphysics, etc., of a people. Men are the producers of their conceptions, ideas etc., that is, real, active men, as they are conditioned by a definite development of their productive forces and of the intercourse, corresponding to these, up to its furthest forms. Consciousness (das Bewusstsein) can never be anything else than conscious being (das bewusste Sein), and the being of men is their actual life-process. If in all ideology men and their relations appear upside-down as in a camera obscura, this phenomenon arises just as much from their historical life process as the inversion of objects on the retina does from their historical life-process.“
They continued: „Morality, religion, metaphysics, and all the rest of ideology, as well as the forms of consciousness corresponding to these, thus no longer retain the semblance of independence. They have no history, no development, but men, developing their material production and their material intercourse, alter, along with this their actual world, also their thinking and the products of their thinking.“
Summing up, they stated very precisely: „It is not consciousness that determines life, but life that determines consciousness.“
Two historic works were published in Europe in 1859 Charles Robert Darwin’s (1809-1882) origin of the Species and Karl Heinrich Marx’s (1818-1883) Critique of Political Economy. Two decades later, in 1883, Friedrich Engels (1820 - 1895), the other father of Scientific Socialism, in his speech at the grave-side of his closest friend and comrade, Marx, stated the scientific relation between these two intellectual giants: just as Darwin had discovered the law of evolution in organic nature, so Marx had discovered the law of evolution in human history.
Marx’s gratitude to Darwin for having provoked a revolution in natural science by his doctrine of evolution had been expressed many times. In a letter to Engels on December 19th, 1860, Marx wrote that Darwin’s Origin of the Species „contains the natural-historical foundation of our outlook“. A month later, on January 16th, 1861, Marx with great enthusiasm wrote to Ferdinand Lasalle (1825-1860), emphasizing the „importance“ of this book for the development of scientific socialism, and how it „served me as a natural scientific basis for the class struggle in history“. Marx tried to establish contact with Darwin and presented him with a complimentary copy of Volume II of Capital. But Darwin had no specific interest in political economy or scientific socialism, thus Marx unsuccessfully tried to dedicate Volume II of Capital to him.
But why were Marx and Engels so fascinated with Darwin’s theory of evolution? They were convinced, on the basis of materialist dialectics, that an exact representation of the universe, of its evolution and that of human society, can only be built up in a scientific, rational and dialectical way, taking constantly into account matter as the primordial substance, general actions and reactions of becoming and ceasing to be, and of progressive and retrogressive changes. Apart from the two great discoveries by Mare, the materialist conception of history and the revelation of the secret of capitalist production by means of surplus value, Darwin, by proving that all organic beings are the products of a historical process of evolution over millions of years, had dealt a heavy blow to the metaphysical, idealist and religious conception of nature. Very clearly Darwin had demonstrated that it was not sufficient simply to discard the teleological fairy tale about creation and „divine purpose“ in the universe, it is necessary to replace it with a scientific explanation of the movement of reality. Over a century later, Ernst Bloch (1885-1977) with his famous main work Experimentum Mundi (1975) had given us the philosophic categories, at the basis of his principle of hope, to attempt to achieve this momentous human task. in his book ‘Origin of the Species,’ but also in The Descent of Man (1871), Darwin had explained empirically the rational meaning of teleology. He showed how the earliest sub-humans had arose out of the anthropoids and had posed the question of how the transformation to homo sapiens had come about. The famous archaeologist and prehistorian of our times, Dr. L.S.B. Leakey, with his discoveries in the Olduvai Gorge in East Africa, and other discoveries, had sufficiently proved Engels’ original thesis about the role which labour end tool-production had played in this dialectical qualitative change. He furthered Darwin’s ideas at the end of the Origin of the Species that „all beings are not special creations, but the lineal descendants of some few beings“.
However, in spite of these great achievement, both Marx and Darwin were human beings, members of the species man, social and historic products of Europe and their epoch. In certain aspects for them the much quoted, but erroneous exiom, „to err is human, to forgive is divine“, also seems valid. In this short appraisal we will just refer to their failure of having foreseen the tremendous problems of the 20th century, being caused by the conflicts of „men of colour`, the „race struggle“, having at its ideological base the doctrine of „racism“ - European supremacy and arrogance. William Edward Burghardt Du Fois (1868 - 1963), a „man of colour“ and father of the international Pan-Africanist movement, at the fin de siecle; as expressed in his famous book An ABC of Colour, had already prophesied that the 20th century will be the „struggle of colour“. For not having considered the implications of future „racism“, or the relation between „race“ and class struggle, neither Darwin or Marx could be „forgiven“ by the present so-called „Third World“. About five years before the Origin of the Species, and some five years after the publication of Communist Manifesto (1868), Arthur J. de Gobineau had published his own manifesto, paving the road for the doctrine of „racism“ - The Inequality of Races. None of them had scientifically challenged the validity of the concept of race, the basic category for European „racism“. In fact, Darwin even used the concept in the sub-title of his main work, and Marx spoke about „barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilised ones in his Communist Manifesto. This attitude had caused him to give Ferdinand Lasalle the nick-name of „Jewish nigger“, because it is „perfectly obvious, from the shape of his head and the way his hair grows, that he is descended from Negroes“. His own son-in-law, Paul Lafargue, because he had impure Cuban blood, Marx used to call the „bastard“ or „negrillo“.
It was a time in Europe when Rousseau or Voltaire’s philosophic works, Mendel’s discoveries in genetics and Darwin’s theory of evolution in organic nature, all new scientific knowledge, were harnessed in support of white hegemony and supremacy across the globe. „Racism“ was part of the ruling ideas or the ruling classes of the epoch - and Darwin and Marx could not escape their influence in everyday life.
The concept of „Aryanism“, thanks to Gobienau, became a houseward in Europe; Engels even went so far as to declare „race” an important economic factor in the evolution of human history. The whole Darwinian theory of the struggle for life, in spite of its revolutionary aspects, already stressed before, is essentially a generalised transference from society to organic nature of some of the „ruling ideas“ and theories which were dominant at that time; Hobbe’s theory of bellum omnium contra omnes, the bourgeois theory of economic competition, and the Malthusian theory of population. Thus, having lumped together unscientifically „natural selection“ and the „struggle for survival of the fittest“, Darwin gave carte blanche to his contemporaries and successors to develop doctrines of „social Darwinism“, fascism, and even apartheid - in total contradiction to the scientific revolutionary spirit of both Darwin and Marx.
However, Darwin is not „Darwinism“ or „Social Darwinism“, and Marx is not „Marxism“ - in fact, Marx himself stated: „I am not a Marxist”, indicating that he only made his special contribution to Scientific Socialism, which has roots in the past history of the human race, if there is anything like this, and which continually will verify, revise and enrich itself as long as homo sapiens will exist. Darwin and Marx, because they were true scientists, would have been the first to recognise all their theoretical errors on the basis of current scientific knowledge and to suggest future revolutionary scientific praxis for the emancipator, evolution of mankind. Already the „old“ Marx, suspecting that somewhere he had neglected something, had stated; „Labour with a white skin cannot emancipate itself where labour with a black skin is branded“.
Wisdom, which corresponds to sophía (Greek), sapientia (Latin) and Weisheit (German), belongs to those concepts that are very difficult to define. One finds oneself in a similar situation like St. Augustine who knew what ‘time’ is as long as nobody had asked him to explain it; when he had to explain the concept to somebody, he did not know it anymore. Thus the category „wisdom” is easier to state than to think deeply about; one can understand it immediately in a vague and comprehensive manner but it is not possible to define it precisely in a genetic-essential way. The German equivalent, Weisheit“, in form, has retained etymologically the relation of wisdom to knowledge. In Middle High German, wisheit or wistuom meant understanding or „knowledge“; in modern German, this simply means „Wissen”, the verb „wissen“ means to know. Also here we have the direct relation to science - to „Wissenschaft“. Thus, there seems to be a relationship between wisdom, knowledge and science.
As we know, a clever person is not necessarily a wise human being. A clever multinational director or a Mafia-boss could very well be a criminal or a scamp. One has to verify in-what and where-for a person is clever. Cui bono? A bright mind, an encyclopaedic head in itself does not say much as yet. We have numerous clever bank-bobbers in contemporary history, but there is not a single wise one among them. To be caught eventually, or to end up as poor as a church-mouse is surely not a wise end for such a dangerous endeavour.
On the contrary, a person who is called wise, is generally good, his ideas and actions are not directed to evil; he is not selfish and egoistic; he places his knowledge in the service of humanity. A wise man is an experienced man; who has a ripe and mature age. A mature age given bon sens, a good sense, to the wise man, instead of common sense, which has already lost its characteristics of sensus communis in an emancipatory way. Today common sense is simply ruling class ideology. To use one’s common sense is to „tow the line“, to act in accordance with the capitalist status quo. Bias or Solon was a „wise man“, a sophós; simply because they were understanding their social tasks as good hand-workers, as practical artisans. According to Ernst Bloch, „sophós, in its original meaning, meant nothing else than a good artisan.“ But there is a difference between Bias as a sophós, a „wise man“, and Protagoras or Gorgias as a sophistes (one who makes wise), in a modern sense, a teacher, lecturer of professor.
In the second half of the 5th century B.C., a Sophist movement came into existence in ancient Greece; famous ideological leaders of this movement were sophists like Protagoras, Georgias, Prodikos or Hippias. They appeared as teachers of the more mature Greek youth, wandering from one polis (city-state) to the other, lecturing in philosophy, literature, art, grammar, mathematics, ethics or astronomy. They charged heavy fees in payment for their educational endeavours. Originally, most of the known sciences were subordinated to the „queen of the sciences“, philosophy, but the Sophists stressed individual sciences and directed their educational efforts towards practical life, towards a virtuous personal and social engagement of the individual. They were especially influential among the aristocratic youth of the Greek slave-owning society. Their greatest opponent became Socrates, who, like Plato later, established even more a close connection between virtue and knowledge, a good life and science.
With Socrates, wisdom gained a new dimension: the wise man himself is filled with anxiety, with apprehension, he is concerned about the limitations of his knowledge, he himself begins to ask questions. And Socrates had this inquisitive, detective attitude, in spite of the fact that the Oracle of Delphi had declared him as the wisest man living at that time. Socrates was attacking the nonsophos, who was no more understanding his social task as a hand worker, but who has become a money-earner, selling knowledge to the youth of society. Nonetheless, Socrates remained a polis-man: the fields and the flowers could not teach him anything, only the people in the city, in the polis. In this sense, he was very near to the sophistes, moving away from the sophoi, towards an alienation of external reality. Democritus, a contemporary of Socrates, was father untouched by the Sophist movement, and he did not lose the broad dimension of wisdom, especially due to this great urge for enlightment, and his treatment of wisdom as a social ethical aim. He did not lose the connection with other important things which were happening outside the polis; even of greater importance, for the first time, he connected sophía with anánke (necessity). Democritus not only developed the atomic theory, but he was imaginative, vigorous, filled with the delight of adventure into the yet unknown, with the zeal and zest of an inquisitive child. This was a very important contribution to sophía, to knowledge, to science. Democritus was insatiable, Socrates wanted to realise the chresimon, the common good, which, for example, had excluded the good of the slaves and women of ancient Greece.
The schools of Pyrrhon and Epicurus, but especially the Stoics, were all concerned about sophía and how to acquire it. Zenon, the founder of the Stoic school, had compared philosophy to an orchard, of which logics formed the walls, physics the trees and ethics the fruits. Wisdom was the aim of philosophic thought: the reason of wisdom gained a sceptic stoicism in Pyrrhon, a phronesis (praxical application) or a hedonistic liberation from fear in Epicurus, an ataraxía (peacefulness of mind) in the Stoic movement. In fact, the concept of wisdom of the Stoics is rooted in Socrates, especially his famous death, filled with peacefulness of mind and soul, autaraxia, but more so, in Democritus’ anánke, the universal law.
The Greek concept of sophía we find later in the thoughts, ideas and philosophies of various post-Greco scholars, to mention some, Spinoza, Kant, and even Hegel. Now, what is the relation of Sophia and philosophía and also, episteme (Greek) or scientia (Latin)?
The Greek word „philos“ simply means „friend“ or „comrade“; in a broader sense, it can also by translated as „lover”. Thus a „philos-sophós“, in the Greek usage of the word, a philósophos (a friend or lover of wisdom; one who searches for wisdom) is different than a sophós (a wise man, like Thales) or a sophistes (a teacher of wisdom, where the teacher himself does not necessarily have to be a wise man or a lover of wisdom). The verb „philosophise“, more exactly its present participle, „philosophising“ (Greek: philosopheon) appeared for the first time in Herodotus I, 30, when Croesus told Solon, that he had heard, that he had wandered, philosophising for the sake of consideration (theoría), through many countries. In all probability, Heracleitus had used the word, philósophos, already. Thus, originally, in its genesis, there is a direct dialectical link between wisdom and philosophy, where wisdom even has the greater importance, because philosophy strives to find wisdom.
Thus, like philosophy, wisdom, „the owl of the Minerva“, is essentially a Greek scientific discovery, which does not mean that other ancient peoples had no knowledge of wisdom. Wisdom was present in the cultural heritage of China, India, Egypt, also in the ancient civilisations of Zimbabwe, of Crete, or of the Incas and Aztecs. The scientific connection to philosophy was a Greek innovation. Already in the „Li” of Confucius and the „Tao” of Laotse, we can trace the contradictions within the concept wisdom.
As we have seen before, prior to Socrates, Wissen (knowledge) had a sort of double existence: firstly, it was contained in sophía, secondly, in philosophía, that is, in wisdom and in the love or strife for wisdom. Since Socrates, with his concept of philósophos, a separation from the sophistes took place, but not from the sophós. Thus philosophy had the same area contents as wisdom; later, Spinoza would even declare wisdom as the crown of his philosophy.
Now, let us look closer at the concept Wissen (knowledge) in its relation to wisdom and philosophy. The German and English words, Wissen and knowledge, precisely indicate what is meant by this concept: it is that which „wir wissen”, „we know”, and not what we think to know or believe to know. In „Wissen” is the verb „wissen“, to know, and from it the concept „Wissenschaft“, science, is formed. In „knowledge“, we have the verb „to know”. „Wissen” or „knowledge” is always contained in a sentence, beginning with „I know ...” or „We know ...“, provided we speak about the phenomena and processes of reality. For the sake of clarity and precision, I will continue to use the German concept „Wissen“.
Before we have distinguished between a clever and a wise person. Now we will distinguish between „Vieleswissen’ and „Vielwissen”. In German the prefix „Viel” added to a noun, simply means „much, a great amount of, a lot of“. A person who possesses „Vieleswissen“ is either one who has in fact very little knowledge, but boasts with it, pretending that he is a genius and had accumulated the knowledge of the universe in his mind, or, one who has accumulated a great amount of „facts“, in a positivistic or empiricist sense, either in a particular field or in a general way, is a walking encyclopaedia, but he has not placed this „knowledge“ in a historical, dialectical, processual and universal context. The old English proverb expresses this at best: a jack of all trades, a master of none. Heracleitus had already warned that „Vieleswissen“ does not educate in the least.
On the other hand, „Vielwissen“, qualitative knowledge, and not simply a large quantity of knowledge, as multum no multa, is a conditio sine qua non to acquire wisdom, to be able to philosophise. To be wise, one needs „Vielwissen“, that is, theoretical and praxical knowledge.
Specialised knowledge, especially when it becomes one-tracked, leading to „subject-idiocy“, as is often the case nowadays, where students are just conversant with the specific branch of technology, which they have studied, and which may even get obsolete, if they do not put their specialised knowledge into practice within two years, does not block the road towards „Vielwissen” or wisdom, but it does not necessarily favour them. A scientist who studies the „love-life“ of butterflies, and who is an internationally accepted scholar on the matter, can never be wise because of this scientific endeavour, on the contrary, a medical doctor, a judge or a political scientist, because of their social tasks and the breadth of social knowledge necessary for their professions, have a greater chance. It is necessary for them to grasp essential philosophic knowledge of society, nature, and the universe at large. The more labour is divided and specialised especially in capitalism, the more difficult it becomes to investigate and to teach the most essential and urgent matters which concern human worth, dignity and emancipation, particularly in a world where cheap labour and super-profits form the summum bonum.
Let us turn to Socrates who had called himself for the first time a philósophos, and who as a famous „lover” of sophía was declared by the Oracle of Delphi as the „wisest” man. Ernst Bloch wrote the following about him: „Socrates, who had called himself a philosopher for the first time, a lover of wisdom (more precise: a lover of what is wise), hence, in the first place, loved the urge to define. As is well known, he pretended not to know anything, and questioned the people on the streets and in the market all sorts of things, which they ought to know, because they permanently and in a sure manner talk about these things. For example, he would ask them what is happiness, or a friend, or the Good, and Virtue; stubbornly he continued his interrogations, always with the seeming desire to be taught by them, because he only knew that he knows nothing at all. They wanted to answer Socrates, who still did not comprehend, and who thus asked more and more questions, hence eventually finding themselves in contradictions, ending with an open mouth of just wondering. The person, usually fond of irony, with a weak mind, departs from him with a smile, but perhaps he, who had been so sure abort his wise statements, which he had learnt by rote, now senses the pinprick of reflection, the dangerous urge to formulate precise concepts.“
This „wondering“, the necessity to formulate precise, concise concepts, categories and expressions, is exactly what Socrates, and later Plato and Aristoteles, had understood by the phenomenon „philosophía”. Because of this, it is much more difficult for a wise parson, a philosopher, a scientist, a scientific socialist, to say, to state, to write something, as compared to the overwhelming majority of mankind, which only needs to use their „common sense“, vague words, learned by rote. The moment when one questions them, what is love? What is freedom? What is communism? What is man? What is „I know“, „I think”, „I believe“?, then suddenly they stand there with open mouths or rumble old ruminated phrases, having no philosophic or essential contents. In fact, many victims of capitalism or protagonists of bourgeois class rule do not even qualify anymore for Descartes’ cogito ergo sum - I think, therefore I am! In the strictest sense of the term, they have stopped thinking, they have become alienated to themselves, to society, to nature, have dropped partially lower than members of the animal kingdom.
All basic concepts of knowledge, in their essential permanent flux, have constantly to be placed under the iron-test of the fire of philosophy. This cannot be accomplished in individual sciences like Anthropology or Zoology, only in Philosophy, and as we will see later, in Scientific Socialism (Marxism), its identical twin sister. Only philosophy can define such central categories like „perception“, „cause“, „effect“, „chance”, „necessity“, „motion“, „development”, „tendency”, „latency”, „dialectics”, „spirit” or „matter” in a world historic, universal sense. At first glance, these concepts seem to have crystal-clear meanings; due to their everyday usage, in reality, their connotations are permanently changing within the processual flux of time. The more one thinks about them profoundly, the more their contents slip away beyond the boundaries of the individual mind - worse even, are the following categories, „time“, „space“, „history”, „possibility“, „nature”, „freedom“, „death“ or „humanity“. Surely, as individual limited sciences, Politics, Sociology or Economics cannot define their ever-changing essential contents. And definitely, „Vieleswissen“ or ignorance won’t assist much either. This is a work for the sophós and the philósophos, that is, what a „Marxist”, a scientific socialist, can only be.
Now to tackle one of these intransparent precious jewels: what is „philosophía“, philosophy? It is a very comprehensive and complicated question. We have hundreds of famous idealist and materialist, even agnostic or existentialist philosophers; and each one of them has given his own definition of philosophy, and none of these are alike, in fact, they cannot be identical, because they expressed or reflected their specific time or epoch, or specific realities in the historical process. For these diverse philosophies and meaning of philosophy, not the individual philosophers are to be blamed, each one of them had a specific social order, a commission. There is a permanent interaction between social basis and social superstructure, and as we know one of the forms of social consciousness is philosophy. Other forms, for example, are religion, law, morality, arts or politics. There is a permanent dialectical relation between progressive or conservative, explosive or apologetic, revolutionary or evolutionary movements in the social basis and the social superstructure, sometimes the one lags behind, sometimes the other one is way ahead. Not only can two philosophers of a specific epoch reflect these contradictions, for example, Democritus versus Plato, but also in one great philosopher, like Aristotle, we could find both tendencies present in the same philosopher. Two different social orderings could have a life-and-death struggle within one philosophy, for example, that of Hegel. „What is real is rational, what is rational is real“. This famous statement of Hegel precisely expressed the conservative and revolutionary elements in his philosophy, respectively.
Let us make a brief review of philosophy to indicate the various social orders in different philosophies since Thales. The so-called „pre-Socratic“ philosophers, a creation of historians of philosophy (because they could not have known that they were philosophers, living before Socrates), were searching for the hýle or arché, the primordial substance, the Principium of everything; thus they were concerned with the doctrine of substance, Socrates was occupied with the doctrine of the conception of the arete, of the good, the right, the virtuous; Plato with the theory of ideas; Aristotle with the Substance-Form developmental doctrine. For Epicurus philosophy was materialist, for the Stoics it was the doctrine of nature, stressing pantheism and ethics, for Plotinus, the Neo-Platonist, it was the doctrine of emanation of the world, from the Original Light. In the centre of the philosophy of the Christian Scholastics was Logics, dominated by theology. Bruno created inspiration for philosophy in the Unomnia, the All One; Spinoza in the world mathematics of substance; Leibniz in the mirror of the gigantic light tendency in the world; by the French materialists, La Mettrie and Holbach, philosophy became an instrument of the bourgeois revolution, natural mechanics. By Kant it became „praktische Vernunft“ (Practical Reason) and „theoretische Vernunft“ (Theoretical Reason), together with the aesthetic-teleological „Urteilskraft“ (power of reasoning, of judgement). Eventually, by Hegel it was the panlogical dialectical developmental doctrine of the Absolute Idea, the „Weltgeist” (world spirit); by Feuerbach simply materialist anthropology; by Marx and Engels, philosophy is historical dialectical materialism. Until now, this is the highest social order which philosophy has to realise - its self-abolishment as dialectical self-realisation. Throughout this short history of philosophy, an inexorable struggle between the old and the new, between idealism and materialism took place. Hence, all these philosophies did not even have the same, „subject“, more precise, the same „subject matter“, but there are indications of the characteristics of philosophy, what it is not, when compared to other sciences, what it cannot be, and what it does not want to be. Also it is indicated what it is in reality, and will remain as such.
Let us look at the latter more closely. Bloch gave the following precise illustration: „Philosophy is not the same as any individual science, although it had contained once before all the individual sciences in it. Due to objective and necessary reasons, they have separated themselves from it: firstly, mathematics (like astronomy, for practical reasons its independence was already very early possible), and lastly, psychology and the so-called sociology. And exactly because they had separated themselves from philosophy due to a fast progressing division of labour, to a greater dimension of empirical material - the original difference between philosophy and individual science (already noticeable very clearly by Democritus and Aristotle) became more and more apparently obvious....
In all its forms of change, philosophy has never lost the direct connection to totality (zum Ganzen) and actuality (Eigentlichen). It does not read mainly the individual paragraphs, but the context of the book of the world. More so, Marxist philosophy, because it has dedicated itself to interpret the world, for the only reason to change it, is writing further in this book, is helping the world, to develop definitely further into the New.”
Thus philosophy by Marx and Engels does not have the obsolete aristocratic pretension to be the „queen“ of all sciences; in scientific socialism as a social order, there will be only a „republic“ of sciences, liberated from all previous forms of ideology class interests and profit-limitations, only serving true enlightment and human emancipation. Also, there is no necessity for philosophy to swallow up the various individual sciences, „instead of being the queen, or even the newsreel of the week, of sciences, philosophy is rather their living context in its own concentratedness ... Thus philosophy, containing the best human heritage in it, is the universal material science of tendency (universelle materielle Tendenzwissenschaft) itself, that is, the connecting enlightment of the From-Where, Whereto and Why of the process lawfully contained in the world-matter (Weltmaterie).“
The gigantic witnesses of the essence of philosophy, in the past, were Anaximander, Democritus, Aristotle, Avicenna, Avicebron, Leibniz and Hegel, since Marx and Engels, Scientific Socialism can finally be the highest, future-oriented Theory-Praxis in philosophy, Scientific Socialism (Marxism) with its revolutionary task, as new social order, is the dialectical jump from all hitherto „great thoughts“, which had no intention to change the world radically; in the words of Bloch, it is no more just „an experimenting key, but now its lever, namely, to actuality (Eigentlichen), as emerging Good.“ Hence, philosophy is the encompassing consciousness and knowledge of this historic aim, within all sciences; philosophy and individual sciences are dialectically linked with each other, they depend on each other. Thus, individual sciences would not lose the universal and human context, and philosophy would retain its empirical contents, and not be damned to abstraction and pure speculation, like it was the case in most idealist philosophy.
Now, what is the relation of philosophy as revolutionary science, to the proletariat, whose historic task is to emancipate mankind from the evils of capitalism and introduced socialism, and eventually communism, the „dominion of freedom”?
Let us first look at the concept of „science“ of Scientific Socialism. Bourgeois science had taught us to think sine ira et studio, to be „objective” and impartial in our investigation. The truth of the matter is that the ideas, as expressed by bourgeois science of our epoch, are the ruling ideas, expressing ruling class interests. As far as capital and super-profits are concerned, there is no compromise, no „objectivity” or „impartiality“, only open partisanship for capitalism. Thus, in philosophy, as revolutionary science against bourgeois science thinking and action can only be cum ira et studio, there is no place for opportunism, cowardice and chameleon behaviour.
Praxis must stand homogeneously in the centre of Theory, and vice versa and as Marx and Engels had stated, „the eating is the proof of the pudding”. Praxis, out of contradictions, which only become manifest in it, creates new Theory and this only for the sake of new Praxis. Thus, instead of stagnation of theory in bourgeois science, there is a permanent oscillation in the Theory-Praxis Relationship, causing history to develop as a process in a constant spiral direction. Scientific socialist praxis per definitionem suam does not only mean changing-the-world, but more so creating-a-better world. According to Marx, the revolution does not realise ideals, but it frees existing tendencies. That is why the „young” Marx had considered radicalness, the act to tackle problems at their radix, at their root. And in the introduction of the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (1844), Marx clearly stated that „man is the highest being for man, hence with the categorical imperative to overthrow all relations in which man is a debased, enslaved, forsaken, despicable being”. This is meant by radically and scientifically changing the world to create a better world, void of human beings as „poor dogs” (Marx), filled with social classless beings.
As Protagoras, the Sophist, had made man the measure of all things: Latin: omnium rerum homo mensura est; and as Menandros considered nothing alien to him, that concerns human beings: Latin: homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto; similarly, Marx, criticizing all of oppressive class social relations, and demanding their radical change for the embetterment of humanity, had formulated his own homo mensura and homo-sum sentences, thus placing truth in what is called „revisionism”, and partisanship in the so-called „Objectivity” of science, defining the Marxist conception of science as real humanism, human realism.
In the introduction to his Anti-Dühring (1878), Engels wrote: ”But for dialectics, which grasps things and their images, ideas, essentially in their interconnection, in their sequence, their movement, their birth and death, such processes as those mentioned above are so many corroborations of its own method of treatment. Nature is the test of dialectics, and it must be said for modern natural science that it has furnished extremely rich and daily increasing materials for this test, and has thus proved that in the last analysis nature’s process is dialectical and not metaphysical.
… modern materialism is essentially dialectical, and no longer needs many philosophy standing above the other sciences. As soon as each separate science is required to get clarity as to its position in the great totality of things and of our knowledge of things, a special science dealing with this totality is superfluous. What still independently survives of all former philosophy is the science of thought and its laws – formal logic and dialectics. Everything else is merged in the positive science of nature and history.“
It is important to note that Engels, mainly criticising the Hegelian system of philosophy in 1878, and not having considered the neo-Kantians, or even Spencer or Wundt as philosophers, in the above quotation saw an end of philosophy. 34 years earlier, the „young“ Marx, in his Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right Introduction (1844), quoted earlier, also saw an end of philosophy, as propagated by Hegel and the „Young Hegelians“ of the 1840s. Attacking the German pseudo-revolutionary „theoretical political party“, Marx stated: „it thought it could make philosophy a reality without abolishing it“; earlier in the passage, Marx had remarked: „in a word, you cannot abolish philosophy without making it a reality.“ Thus, Marx also saw an „abolishment“ of philosophy, as self-realisation. At the end of this famous introduction, Marx became very explicit, as to what he was really saying: „The head of this emancipation is philosophy, its heart is the proletariat. Philosophy cannot be made a reality without the abolition of the proletariat, the proletariat cannot be abolished without philosophy being made a reality.“ In this quotation, Marx spoke about the „Aufhebung des Proletariats“ (abolition, and not supersesion, of the proletariat) and not about „Aufhebung der Philosophie“ (abolition of philosophy); on the contrary, he mentioned the „Verwirklichung der Philosophie“ (realisation of philosophy). However, the stress, concerning the end of philosophy, is placed differently by Marx and Engels, the former is criticising Hegel, who wanted to eliminate self-alienation only through knowledge, the latter is criticising Hegel’s philosophic system in its totality. Marx gave up philosophy in its hitherto contemplative form, and gave it a new task. Engels partially gave it up, because „positive science“ itself had become ripe for inter-connective comprehension. Marx demanded from philosophy that it must realise itself praxically and to abolish the proletariat. Engels reduced it to an already emerging positive science; Marx intensified it to a still to be accomplished abolition of the proletariat.
Consequently, for Marx, philosophy has the potentiality to fulfil its historic task, has still to accomplish it; it has to discard Hegelian dialectical idealist theory, and apply dialectical materialist theory and praxis. This he stated very clearly in the following: „As philosophy finds its materials weapons in the proletariat, so the proletariat finds its spiritual weapons in philosophy. And once the lightning of thought has squarely struck this ingenuous soil of the people the emancipation of the Germans into human beings will take place”.
But, it is not just the point that „the lightning of thought” must first strike the „ingenuous soil of the people“, that theory must be brought to the people, and then they will become „human beings”; already before Marx had stressed: „it is not enough for thought to strive for realisation, reality must itself strive towards thought.“ Here the essence of the theory-praxis relation is highlighted, the dialectics between social consciousness and social being, between philosophy and social reality. It is for this reason why „the weapon of criticism cannot, of course, replace criticism of the weapon, material force must be overthrown by material force; but theory also becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses. Theory is capable of gripping the masses as soon as it demonstrates ad hominem, as soon as it becomes radical. To be radical is to grasp the root of the matter. But for man the root is man himself.“
A year before Marx wrote this Critique, he had written in a letter to Arnold Ruge of September 1843, criticising his historical radicalness: „it will be proved, that long already the world possesses a dream of something, of which it must just possess the consciousness, to really possess it.“ This something (Sache) is already potentially, in latency and tendency, present in the world-matter, in the living world-process. It is the matter of becoming praxically conscious of it, to realise it, to possess it. This „Traum einer Sache“ (dream of something) is not a night dream, a nightmare or a pipe-dream, it is a subjective-and objective-real concrete utopian in-possibility-being, as Aristotle called it, dynámei on.
Concerning the realisation of the „Traum einer Sache” by the revolutionary forces in history, by the proletariat in the capitalist mode of production, in his Critique of Political Economy 1859, fifteen years later, Marx had the following to say: „No social order ever disappears before all the productive forces, for which there is room in it, have been developed; and new higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society. Therefore, mankind always takes up only such problems as it can solve; since, looking at the matter more closely, we will always find that the problem itself arises only when the material conditions necessary for its solution already exist or are at least in the process of formation.“
Relevant to us, is that „mankind always takes up only such problems as it can solve“, and that as dynámei on, the material conditions necessary for the huge contemporary social problems, either „already exist“ for their solution, „or are at least in the process of formation“. This is of what we nave to become conscious, through „Vielwissen”, sophía, philosophía and Scientific Socialism. In the words of Bloch, this not-yet-conscious has to be realised.
Bloch very clearly wrote: „There does not exist any philosophy anymore which is not dialectical materialist. Similarly, there is no dialectical materialism which is not philosophic, otherwise, it is not dialectical materialism but a vulgar one.”
Concerning this relation between philosophy and Scientific Socialism (Marxism), in an interview of 1970 with the student newspaper, „Der Stachel“ of Essen, Ernst Bloch gave an excellent explanation, when the interviewer asked him whether he was in agreement with being called a „Marxist philosopher”:
Bloch: „Who is a Marxist, has actually also to be a philosopher; and when one is a philosopher, to be a philosopher, one must either be Marxist or an ideologue of the ruling class, whether one wants to be or not. Marxism is philosophy, it is a special type of philosophy. They are at least brother and sister, when not by and large identical. False philosophy is false Marxism, and should Marxism not be philosophy, then it is vulgar-Marxism, then it becomes very quickly counter-revolutionary.“
In the same context, it is clear that there exist no false wisdom, false knowledge, false philosophy, false proletariat or false socialism. The Latin Proverb of Sallust expresses this very adequately: corruption op-timi pessima, the worst corruption is that of the best. False socialism is no socialism, therefore, we have used the concept Scientific Socialism, which is identical with Marxism, as explained by Friedrich Engels in a foot-note to his Ludwig Feuerbach (1888), in spite of Marx’ famous protest in Paris: „I am not a Marxist!”
In conclusion, concerning sophía, philosophía and the proletariat, we should remember that the Minerva, not only had the wise owl, but also the spear and shield as attribute; also her owl is not a night bird, in the sense of Hegel’s famous exclamation, but an allegory or symbol for permanent watchfulness.
Mérida, 10th April, 1982
Words like „democracy“, „ideology“ or „peace“ seem to have an infinite number of meanings. In fact, each individual seems to have his/her own meaning. Certainly, concepts, ideas or words, if they concern material reality - and even thought is a product of material reality - they have to reflect something real, material or concrete. If they do not, they do not express anything scientific. The above also apply to abstract concepts such as „time“, „space“, „freedom“ or „beauty“. Even the very word, „theory“, is meaningless, unless it reflects a reality, „praxis“.
Furthermore, everything changes, the universe, life, history, all are processes, that means, anything reflected in them is not absolute. Truth reflects change, therefore, scientific truth is never absolute.
„Ideology“ as a human concept is subject to historic change, not in its essence, because it cannot be its opposite, but in its appearance forms. If the essence, which is a unity and contradiction of opposites, changes, qualitatively, „ideology“ becomes something else.
Most of our central social concepts, we have inherited from the ancient Greek heathen idealist and materialist philosophers. Theory, praxis, democracy, ideology - all come from Greek. Etymologically, ideology comes from idea and logos. The meaning of a concept is related to its historical reality. That reality has changed, hence it is very difficult for us to ascertain precisely what the ancient Greeks would have understood by the compound word - idea-logos. Surely, they could not have meant what we would define today as ideology. And, certainly, in three centuries’ time, the meaning of today will not essentially connotate such a word, if it will exist still at all.
Hence, it is not so much the word which concerns us, but mainly what it is supposed to reflect. And, as long as that has not changed qualitatively, it will continue to reflect its essence. In short, it is the problem, what do „ideology“, „ideología“ or „Ideologie” reflect in reality, in spite of being English, Spanish, German or Dutch words.
As far as we can ascertain, for the ancient Greeks, idea, meant all that we today understand by an „image“, a „picture“, a main or original „thought“. By Plato, in his doctrine of the „world of ideas“, an idea was exactly the opposite of what we would understand by the concept. Hegel had even elevated the „Idea“ to an absolute status, to the „logos“, the spirit, reason. For Hegel, idea and logos meant the nous, tautology or identicity. By Anaxagoras, logos meant the nous, spirit and reason, but not in a supernatural sense. Today, our concepts like doctrine, teaching of thought, spirit, even „God“, would all enter into the single concept of the ancient Greek „logos“.
Until the 18th century, the concept „philosophy“ was sufficient to express, what most people today try to understand as a „system of ideas“ of a specific person, or of peoples, in a specific historical or geographical context. And for the different „systems of ideas“, philosophy had catered for: idealism, materialist agnosticism; existentialism, etc.
Unless we use the concept „ideology“ also for the ideas of Zinjanthropus, two million years ago, or for the „system of ideas“ of the „Aborigines“ or „Bushmen”, ten thousand years ago, then we can safely relate the concept to a „class society“, based on division of labour, and private ownership of the means of production. A class society is an antagonistic society, a unity and contradiction of opposites, and this class struggle is reflected in ideas. Now we can define all ideas in a class society as ideology, and then escape through the possibility of „false“ or „true“, by applying formal logic. Then, we can coin a galaxy of adjectives, expressing „appearance forms”, „false consciousness”, „false socialism“, „true democracy“, „false democracy“, „real Marx”, „young Marx“. And, eventually end up by stating that there are two types of ideology: „false consciousness“ and „true consciousness”, or, there are „bourgeois ideology“ and „proletarian ideology“, why not continue to talk about a „proletarian capitalist“, a „capitalist proletarian“, „bourgeois socialism“, and „socialist capitalism“. A praxical definition which indicates and reflects a process always, by applying the laws of the dialectics, and the dialectical method, expresses a phenomenon, firstly as the negation or affirmation of something, its unity and contradiction to its opposite, and then name the phenomenon, being distinct from the name of its opposite: coldness - warmth; form - essence; black - white; etc. Secondly, the real unity and contradiction of opposites in a phenomenon, say „ideology“, can then be defined.
In this way, we can never end up in such nonsensical concepts as „essenceless form“, „theoryless praxis“, „cold warmth“, etc. There is a distinct difference between proletarian and bourgeois interests in a capitalist society, and each class interest is reflected by a specific idea. The class which is ruling will control its ruling interests, its ruling ideas. It will do everything possible to destroy proletarian interests and ideas. How can we call both such ideas „ideology”. Or are there ideas in a society which do not reflect class relations, interests, conflicts, ideals, dreams, aspirations, etc? In fact, if we do, the concept becomes vague, meaningless, of no scientific value.
The birthplace of science is human production and there it is permanently at home. Science is „theory-praxis“ in the process of human production, in history. Everything else is trial and error, not knowledge, but ignorance, not-yet knowledge, or deliberate falsification of knowledge. Deliberate falsification, of already known or acquired knowledge is not inculcation of „false consciousness“, it just indicates a low level of consciousness, which can be manipulated a proletarian is either conscious of reality, of scientific facts and knowledge, or he is not, but he cannot be falsely conscious. It is like, you and I are religious, but I have the „right” religion, and you have the „false“ one. Religion itself has an opposite, and types of religion, whether Muslim, Christian or Hindu, do not change the essence of religion, that is why one can never spread the „gospel“ of socialism, which is by essence scientific. But, you can spread the gospel of any one of the above three, or of any „socialism“, which needs an adjective before it.
The word „ideology“ itself was for the first time used by Destutt de Tracy in the 18th century. For him, ideology was the analytic science of ideas. In a certain sense, ideology was for him the science of Logics, which is part of philosophy. Francis Bacon is the originator of the idea of ideology as „false consciousness”, to which even Engels fell prey at the end of his life. Marx never interpreted ideology as such, not even in his „immature“, young days, in the transition from idealism to materialism.
Bacon had recognised that social factors (class factors) are responsible for the falsification of true intellect. He especially mentioned the prejudices of the market and social relations. Claude Adrien Helvetious and Paul H. Von Holbach already in the middle of the 18th century very clearly saw the link between ruling class „ideology“ and religion. They already began to associate „ruling class ideals” with the concept „ideology”, and regarded religion as a form of ideology, that it can be placed in the service of ruling class interests. In any case, in the „Dark Ages“ of the Spanish Inquisition, Catholicism was the ideology of the ruling classes, this was expressed in the relation Church – State. This does not mean that religion cannot be used for other purposes, even revolutionary ones. After all, the fourth cornerstone of Scientific Socialism was „Atheism in Christianity” (Ernst Bloch).
However, Holbach and Helvetius already introduced „ideology critique” for revolutionary reasons, and they did not criticise ideology with ideology, in the same way, as it is impossible for Cecil John Rhodes to criticise imperialism. They began with a critique of religion; simply because they lived at the eve of the French Revolution. Briefly they considered religion as a prejudiced condition, which contradicts all the rules of Reason (the material logos), as an instrument to secure and rationalise political power. Note that this happened nearly half-a-century before Marx and Engels formulated their critique of bourgeois „ruling ideals“, in one word, of ideology.
Thus, it becomes very clear that already before the bourgeois revolutions, the spiritual world of ideology, the intellectual world of the rulers of the world, was seen to have a specific class socio-political function. Of course, as long as there will be „ruling classes“, „ruling elites“, „ruling bureaucracies“, which control material production, they will control spiritual production, they will produce „ruling ideas“, ideology. Not even the transition from capitalism to socialism will be safe from this. As long as the classes have not faded away, the State has not withered away, there will be „ruling ideas“, an ideology.
Criticism of ideology is criticism of class power. After the French revolution, Napoleon I was instrumental in extending bourgeois class power across Europe. Even he made an important contribution to the understanding of the concept „ideology“ - it is the „critical intellect“ which has to reconstruct society rationally. „What is rational is real“ (Hegel), thus, Napoleon was Hegel’s world logos, the „Absolute Idea“ on horse-back, plundering and ransacking Europe, for the sake of introducing Reason, capitalism, Marx was interested in the „revolutionary side“ of Hegel. As far as „Ideology“ was concerned: Everything that is real is rational, that is, after „Napoleon“ made it „real“. As far as Marx’s critique of Hegel and Feuerbach was concerned, „Everything that is rational is real“ (Hegel). And, if we study the „Theses on Feuerbach“ (1845-46), we will note that for Marx - young, mature and old - the revolutionary force of „theory and praxis” as a dialectical unity was rational. And, strange enough, although Marx himself did not formulate his „ideology“ concept of 1845-1848, with scientific precision, yet, he already formulated, exact opposite of „ideology“ in those same eleven theses: revolutionary theory-praxis. Briefly, theses 1 to 3 concern mainly the unity of theory and praxis, and theses 2 and 8, concern proofs, verification and realisation of theory-praxis. Thesis II provides the philosophic solution of the puzzle of reality, where all ideologies are eradicated and the world is being changed and made worth living in.
Before, we have already indicated with what Marx, as early as 1845 had counterposed „ideology“, in spite of the fact, that he, Engels, Lenin, Gramsci, Mandel, etc. often spoke about „socialist ideology“, „proletarian ideology“, „revolutionary ideology“, and yet meant exactly what was propounded in the Eleven Theses on Feuerbach: revolutionary theory-praxis. It is not the name of the „rose“, it is what gives the flagrant, fragrant revolutionary odour. But for praxical purposes, to avoid confusion in the contemporary world revolutionary struggle, it is quite essential to state what „ideology“ is and what it is not, only in this way we can counter the corruption of the best, which is the worst corruption.
Let us look at two famous quotations of the „young“ and „mature” Marx, which say the same thing:
„It is not the consciousness of men that determine their existence, but, on the contrary, their social existence determines their consciousness.“
Man has no „false“ social existence, thus, only man’s real social existence determines his real social consciousness. But, let us see what he said 13 years before:
„Men are the producers of their conceptions, ideas, etc. - real active men, as they are conditioned by a definite development of their productive forces and of the intercourse corresponding to these, up to its highest forms. Consciousness can never be anything else than conscious existence, and the existence of men is their actual life process. If in all ideology men and their circumstances appear upside down as in a camera obscura, this phenomenon arises just as much from their historic life process as the inversion of objects on the retina does from their physical life process. ...“ (The German Ideology, 1846).
For Marx, „in all ideology“, the real world has an upside down appearance form, hence it does not reflect „real“ „reality“. The proletariat cannot use something which is upside down, with that it can only achieve an „upside down“ socialism. Also „consciousness“ is „conscious existence”, in the actual life process“. Man cannot have a „false existence, in which case, he would have a „false consciousness“, in a „false life process. Not to have a political consciousness or a class consciousness, does not mean that a proletarian or worker has no consciousness at all, or worse even, what he has is false, because he does not have the above. The „ruling ideas“, the „ideology“ of the bourgeoisie, are consciously produced and consciously received by the proletariat, as part of the latter’s „conscious existence“. Consciousness is enjoyed by all men, also by the bourgeoisie, which is very class and politically conscious. Within this „conscious existence” of both classes, ideology is sided to hinder, to corrode, and even to divert proletarian consciousness, to keep its level low, but it cannot „falsify“ consciousness, change it into something else, otherwise, the bourgeoisie will have animals as „wage-workers“, but not humans. And, the bourgeoisie has no interest in employing „oxen“ or „horses“.
Marx went further, he introduced the concept of „historical consciousness“, a term, which has no place for ideology, „false consciousness“, in an individual or subjective sense. It is the human production process, history, the totality of social relations, society, due to objective factors (level of development of forces of production, of scientific knowledge, etc.) which have not yet reached their Truth. In this sphere of History not yet having reached its own truth, Marx criticised class ideology most vehemently. Ernst Bloch, in his Experimentum Mundi, has elaborated this Marxist ideology Critique, and very precisely developed its categories.
The Blochian conception of „Noch-Nicht-Bewusste“ (not-yet-consciousness) - which is not identical with „false consciousness“ is a scientifically precise expression of the historico-social process which has not yet become conscious of its own Truth, about the Truth of Revolutionary Theory-Praxis in all its dialectical materialist processes. The Truth of society in process, history, is the realisation of total human emancipation, that is, the „humanisation“ of Nature, and at the same time, the „naturalisation“ of Man, the harmonisation of the contradiction between Society and Nature, and perhaps, even its total dialectical qualitative change. Only in this way, Man can leap from the „realm of necessity“, to the realm of freedom“, to Truth. To achieve all this, Man only needs to understand Philosophy, in its Marxist conception, and praxically apply its principles in the emancipation process. Man, the proletariat, in a classless society, needs no ideology. And even before, the proletariat needs Truth, and not rationalisations, camouflage, falsifications, lies, etc. - which are the essence of all ideology - to remain on the path of Truth, of Freedom. However, as long as there will be different classes, even in the epoch of transition of Socialism, ideology will be existent, because it was born at the genesis of the division of labour, and it will die away with the nemesis of all ruling classes, which will be meted out by the final „ruling Class“ - the proletariat, as already explained in 1848 in the Communist Manifesto.
Anything that is directed against Man’s task to achieve the above emancipation, especially in the sphere of thought and thinking - both material processes - for Marx, is directed against Truth. Anything that favours human discrimination, political oppression, economic exploitation, social degradation, is directed this Truth, is ideology. This is why „racism“, as practised in South Africa, and all over where capitalism reigns, is ideology. And, if this is ideology, how can we identify something as evil as this, with „proletarian ideology“: it is as terrible as putting „national socialism (Nazism)“ and scientific socialism in the same category of phenomena.
For Marx, ideology, which is „ruling class ideas“, cannot take the dialectical step from abstract theory of freedom (as expressed in all the beautiful declarations of human rights, magna chartas and constitutions, etc.) to concrete freedom of historico-social praxis, revolutionary theory-praxis. In fact, it cannot, and it never had or will have this historic objective. It has to change its essence to achieve this, and this is not done by the addition of any adjective like „democratic“ or „socialist”.
Marx had declared Philosophy, already in his youth, as the „head of the proletariat”, and many of our „proletarian leaders“ of today are „ideologues“, but know very little about philosophy. This is one of the main reasons why the confusion between „ideology“ and revolutionary theory-praxis came about. In the process of total emancipation, the proletariat and philosophy (its „conscious existence”) will dialectically abolish each other.
Hence, finally, there is a dire need, especially in the so called „Third World“, to differentiate between „ruling class ideas“ as ideology, and, „socialist principles“ as revolutionary theory-praxis. The original Greek „idea-logos“ has been so prostituted and „idealogisised“ that it has become useless as a socialist category, and any serious defence of it will end up in flogging a dead horse, which only has a „false consciousness“, in other words, no consciousness. Man, in his historical struggle, to walk in upright gait towards Truth and Freedom, is precisely defined as being a conscious being, a being which can revolutionise the Universe by Theory-Praxis.
Port Harcourt, 21st May, 1983.