Dialectical Materialism - History, Philosophy and...

Dialectical Materialism

In our country for a long time in the field of philosophy undividedly dominated the dialectical materialism of K. Marx, F. Engels and V. I. Lenin. Soviet physicists were forced to reckon with the ideological situation in the country. Physicists could escape their own philosophical assessment. But the philosophers of physics were not allowed to remain silent. If physicists did not avoid philosophizing, they had to vouch for their loyalty to dialectical materialism. Thus, the brilliantly gifted physicist VA Fock in one of his books noted that the philosophical side of his "views on the theory of space, time and gravitation was formed under the influence of the philosophy of dialectical materialism, especially under the influence of Lenin's book Materialism and Empirio-Criticism"

This recognition is all the more surprising because Fock was an extraordinarily brave man. I will also note a striking fact: in the 1960s-1980s, Soviet physics philosophers have advanced to the forefront in the world. Their absolute majority were convinced supporters of dialectical materialism. But was dialectical materialism really able to contribute decisively to the development of the philosophy of physics? Perhaps, in our own day it is necessary to develop the philosophy of physics under the umbrella of dialectical materialism?

Dialectical materialism retained its closest dependence on the dialectic of Hegel, which should be distinguished from the dialectic of Socrates. The philosophical genius of antiquity understood dialectics as an exchange of opinions, contributing to clarifying the truth. According to Hegel, dialectics is the conceptual content of all that exists, including matter and consciousness, which he called logic. It is interpreted not as a formal science, but as an ontology, a doctrine of being. The decisive factor is the filling dialectical logic, its category. The author counted 24 triad categories in Hegel, in particular: a) nothing - becoming - something, b) essence - phenomenon-reality, c) quality - quantity - measure.

Immediately the question arises about the availability of these categories in physics. Do they really express the conceptual structure of a physical theory, for example, classical mechanics? Is it necessary to switch to the language of Hegel's categories of logic, or is it enough to be guided by the concepts of mechanics (force, mass, energy, speed, acceleration)? It turns out that the dialectical categories are taken from the ceiling & quot ;. In physics, nothing turns into something, there is no essence, quality is not removed by quantity. Physics is arranged differently than dialectical logic. In particular, there are no dialectical contradictions in it, which in dialectical materialism are the source of all movement. And this means that the most important law of dialectical logic is untenable. The law of transition of quantitative changes to qualitative ones is also not being fulfilled in physics. By the magnitude of the mass of bodies can be very different, but the mass does not go into something that is not mass. The author seems to have said enough about the unacceptability for the physics of dialectical logic, and, consequently, of dialectical materialism.

The question of materialism deserves special discussion. Often physicists declare themselves materialists, not idealists. They do not take into account that the very attribution of scientists to the two philosophical camps is a rather meaningless conceptual operation. Suppose that you, trying to understand the structure of physics, come to the conclusion that Newton's laws do not depend on the arbitrariness of people. Because of this, you declare yourself a materialist. And who will object to you? The quickest colleagues will blame you for banality. Let's say that you will be asked to identify the genesis of physical concepts. You will have to pay special attention to the activity of consciousness. The reference to the primacy of matter and the secondary nature of consciousness is unlikely to decisively contribute to an understanding of the structure of physics. Really urgent scientific questions lead far beyond the banal opposition of materialists to idealists.

According to the author, one should not introduce into the physical theory concepts that do not correspond to its organic arrangement. This is true of philosophical categories, for example, the concept of matter. When such integration takes place, there is always a danger of introducing alien concepts to physics.

We also mention the classics of dialectical materialism. Marx was never interested in physical theories. Engels had such an interest, but before any meaningful interpretation of even one physical theory, he did not get it. Lenin was not an expert in physics. He mercilessly criticized Mach, but did not enter into polemics with him about the problematic questions of physical theory. Lenin believed that "modern physics lies in childbirth." It gives rise to dialectical materialism. " In reality, it gave birth to relativistic and quantum mechanics.

Why did many Soviet philosophers of physics think that they were using the potential of dialectical materialism productively? Firstly, because they did not manage to penetrate deeply into its content. Secondly, to the extent that they mistakenly believed that the content of physics could be translated into the language of dialectical concepts. Thirdly, the influence of the Iron Curtain was affected, because of which the acquaintance of Soviet philosophers with analytical philosophy, hermeneutics and poststructuralism was rather superficial. Fourth, the harmful influence of Stalinism in science also affected. Finally, fifthly, both philosophers and physicists did not pay sufficient attention to metascientific research.

What is the main recipe for dialectical materialism? Look for dialectical contradictions everywhere, above all in the material world. But they are not. By modifying this recipe, you can insist on cultivating the problem method of cognition. This is really true.


1. Dialectical materialism does not deserve to be enlisted in a number of basic philosophical trends of the present.

2. In physics, there are no dialectical contradictions.

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