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Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: The Philosophical Cradle of Marxism

Pillai N., Vijayamohanan (2013): Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: The Philosophical Cradle of Marxism.

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This paper is part of a larger study on ‘Poverty of Communism: The Game of Filling in the Marxian Blanks’. As Lenin (1913) remarked, the philosophy of Marxism is materialism. To be more specific, Marxism is both a world view in general and a view of the society and its progress in particular; that world view is dialectical materialism (a term devised by Plekhanov, the Russian Marxist, and first used by him in an article published in 1891) and its application to the study of social history is the materialist conception of history or historical materialism, as called by Engels. Thus, as Stalin wrote in 1938, dialectical materialism is the world outlook of the Marxist-Leninist party; it is called dialectical materialism because its approach to the phenomena of nature, its method of studying and apprehending them, is dialectical, while its interpretation of the phenomena of nature, its conception of these phenomena, its theory, is materialistic. The present chapter seeks to discuss the development of philosophy in general that served as the cradle of Marxism. In this we follow the argument of Engels that the philosophical question whether there are only material entities or only mental entities divided philosophy into two opposite camps: materialism and idealism, and trace out the dialectical development of philosophy through the conflict between the two.

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