F. Engels. Ludwig Feuerbach and the end of classical German philosophy
The great fundamental question of the whole, especially of the newest philosophy, is the question of the relation of thinking to being. From that very remote time, when people, having no idea about the structure of their bodies and not being able to explain dreams [...], came to the idea that their thinking and sensations are not the activity of their body, but some kind of a special soul that dwells in this body and leaves it at death - from that time on they had to think about the relation of this soul to the outside world. If she separates from the body at the moment of death and continues to live, then there is no reason to think up for her some other special death. Thus arose the idea of her immortality, which at that stage of development seemed not at all a consolation, but an unavoidable fate, and quite often, for example among the Greeks, was considered a genuine misfortune. Not a religious need for consolation led everywhere to a dull fiction about personal immortality, but the simple fact that once recognized the existence of the soul, people, by virtue of the general limitation, could not explain to themselves where it was after the death of the body. In a very similar way, due to the personification of the forces of nature, the first gods emerged who, in the course of the further development of religion, took on more and more the appearance of outside forces, until, as a result of the process of abstraction, I almost said: the process of distillation, which is absolutely natural in the course of mental development, in the minds of people, finally, from many more or less limited and limiting gods, the notion of a single, exclusive god of monotheistic religions.
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The supreme question of all philosophy, the question of the relation of thinking to being, the spirit to nature, has its roots, no less than any religion, in the limited and ignorant ideas of people of savage period. But it could be delivered with all sharpness, could acquire all its significance only after the population of Europe was awakened from the long winter hibernation of the Christian Middle Ages. The question of the relation of thinking to being, of what is primary: spirit or nature, this question, which played, however, a great role in medieval scholasticism, in spite of the church took a more acute form: was the world created by God or does it exist from the century on?
Philosophers divided into two large camps according to how they answered this question. Tc, who argued that the spirit existed before nature, and which consequently ultimately recognized in one way or another the creation of the world - and among philosophers, for example Hegel, the creation of the world often takes on an even more intricate and ridiculous appearance than in Christianity , - formed an idealistic camp. The same ones who considered nature to be the main source, joined the various schools of materialism.
Nothing else initially and does not mean the expression: idealism and materialism, and only in this sense they are used here. Below we will see what confusion arises when they are given any other meaning.
But the question of the relation of thinking to being has also another side: how do our thoughts about the world around us relate to this very world? Is our thinking able to cognize the real world, can we, in our ideas and concepts of the real world, be a true reflection of reality? In philosophical language this question is called the question of the identity of thinking and being. The vast majority of philosophers affirmatively resolve this question. [...]
But next to this there are a number of other philosophers who challenge the possibility of knowing the world or, at least, exhausting knowledge. They belong among the newest philosophers Hume and Kant, and they played a very significant role in the development of philosophy. The decisive factor in the refutation of this view is already stated by Hegel, as far as this could be done from an idealistic point of view. Feuerbach's additional materialistic considerations are more witty than deep. The most decisive refutation of these, as well as all the other, philosophical quirks lies in practice, precisely in experiment and in industry. If we can prove the correctness of our understanding of this phenomenon of nature by producing it ourselves, calling it out of its conditions, forcing it to serve our purposes, then Kant's elusive "things in themselves" the end comes ... [...]
But with the disintegration of the Hegelian school, another direction was formed, the only one that really bore fruit. This direction is mainly associated with the name of Marx [...].
The gap with Hegel's philosophy also occurred here by returning to the materialist point of view. This means that people in this direction have decided to understand the real world - nature and history - as it is itself given to anyone who approaches it without prejudiced idealistic fancies; they decided to sacrifice without any regret any kind of idealistic invention that does not correspond to facts taken in their own, and not in some fantastic connection. And nothing more materialism at all means. The new direction was different only because here for the first time they really took seriously the materialistic world view, that it was consistently carried out - at least in basic terms - in all the fields of knowledge under consideration.
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Hegel was not simply thrown aside. On the contrary, the above-mentioned revolutionary side of his philosophy, the dialectical method, was taken as the starting point. But this method in its Hegelian form was unsuitable. In Hegel dialectics is the self-development of the concept. The absolute notion not only exists - it is not known where - from the century, but also constitutes the true, living soul of the entire existing world. It develops towards itself through all those preliminary steps, which are discussed in detail in the "Logic" and which are all contained within him. Then it alienates itself, turning into nature, where it, without realizing itself, taking the form of natural necessity, makes a new development, and in man, finally, again comes to self-consciousness. And in history, this self-consciousness is again knocked out of the original state, until, finally, the absolute concept comes completely again to itself in Hegelian philosophy. Discoverable in nature and in history dialectical development, that is, the causal connection of that progressive movement which, through all the zigzags and through all the temporary backward steps, makes its way from the lower to the higher, is Hegel's only development of the notion of the self-movement of the concept, , but in any case completely independent of any thinking human brain. It was necessary to eliminate this ideological perversion. Returning to the materialist point of view, we again saw in human concepts the mapping of real things, instead of seeing in real things the mappings of various stages of the absolute concept. Dialectics was reduced to the science of the general laws of motion of both the external world and human thought: two series of laws that are essentially identical, and in their expression are different only in so far as the human head can apply them consciously, whereas in nature, - and until now, for the most part and in human history - they are paving their way unconsciously, in the form of external necessity, among an endless series of seeming coincidences. Thus, the dialectic of concepts itself became only a conscious reflection of the dialectical movement of the real world. At the same time, Hegel's dialectic was turned upside down, and it is better to say that it was once again set on its feet, since it had previously stood on its head. [...]
But what is applicable to nature, which we now understand as a historical process of development, is also applicable to all branches of the history of society and to the totality of the sciences that deal with things human (and divine). Like natural philosophy, the philosophy of history, law, religion, etc. consisted in the fact that the place of the actual connection, which should be found in events, was occupied by a connection invented by philosophers; that in history, both in its whole and in separate parts, was looked upon as a gradual realization of ideas, and, of course, always only the favorite ideas of each given philosopher. Thus it turned out that history is unconscious, but it needed to work on the realization of a well-known, pre-set ideal goal; For Hegel, for example, this goal was the realization of his absolute idea, and the steady striving for this absolute idea was, in his opinion, an inner connection in historical events. In place of a real, not yet known connection, therefore, some new, unconscious or gradually mysterious providence reaches consciousness. Here it was necessary, therefore, in the same way as in the field of nature, to eliminate these fictitious, artificial connections, opening real connections. And this task ultimately boiled down to the discovery of those general laws of motion that, as dominant, are making their way into the history of human society.
But the history of the development of society in one point differs significantly from the history of the development of nature. In nature (as we leave aside the reverse effect on it of man), only blind, unconscious forces act on each other, in the interaction of which common laws appear. There is nowhere a conscious, desired goal: neither in innumerable seeming randomities visible on the surface nor in the final results confirming the existence of a regularity within these accidents. On the contrary, in the history of society there are people who are gifted by consciousness, act deliberately or under the influence of passion, striving for certain goals. Here, nothing is done without conscious intention, without the desired goal. But no matter how important this difference is for historical research, especially particular epochs and events, it does not in the least alter the fact that the course of history is subject to internal general laws. In fact, even in this field, on the surface of the phenomena, in spite of the consciously desired goals of each individual, the event, in general, reigns, presumably. The desired is done only in rare cases; for the most part, the goals set by people before themselves come into mutual conflict and contradiction or are inaccessible to the very very essence, partly due to a lack of funds for their implementation. The clashes of innumerable separate aspirations and individual actions lead in the field of history to a state completely analogous to that which prevails in a nature devoid of consciousness. Actions have a known desired goal; but the results that actually follow from these actions are completely undesirable. And if at first they seem to correspond to the desired goal, then in the end they lead not at all to the consequences that were desirable. Thus, it turns out that in general, randomness also dominates in the field of historical phenomena. But where on the surface there is a play of chance, there this randomness itself is always subordinated to internal, hidden laws. It's all about discovering these laws.
Whatever the course of history, people do it this way: each pursues its own, consciously set goals, and the overall result of this multitude of aspirations and their various influences on the outside world is precisely history. The question reduces, therefore, also to what this set of individuals wants. The will is determined by passion or meditation. But those levers, which, in turn, directly determine passion or thinking, are of a very diverse nature. In part this may be external objects, in part - ideal motives: ambition, "service to truth and right", personal hatred or even purely individual whims of every kind. But, on the one hand, we have already seen that the numerous individual aspirations operating in history in most cases cause not the consequences that were desirable, but quite the other, often directly opposite to what was meant, so that these impulses, therefore with respect to the final result, only a subordinate value. And on the other hand, a new question arises: which driving forces are hidden, in turn, behind these motives, what are the historical reasons that in the minds of existing people take the form of these motivations?
Old materialism never asked such a question. His view of history - as he generally had such a view - was therefore essentially pragmatic: he judged everything on the basis of actions, divided historical figures into honest and dishonest, and found that honest ones, as a rule, turned out to be fools, and dishonest ones triumphed. From this circumstance for him, the conclusion was drawn that the study of history gives very little edifying, and for us the conclusion follows that in the historical field old materialism is changing to itself, considering the ideal incentive forces acting there as the last causes of events, instead of investigating that behind them lies the motive power of these motive forces. Inconsistency is not that the existence of ideal motive forces is recognized, but that they stop at them, do not go any further, to their driving reasons. On the contrary, the philosophy of history, especially in the person of Hegel, recognized that both the exposed and the actual motivations of historical figures do not at all represent the ultimate causes of historical events, that behind these impulses there are other driving forces that need to be studied. According to the philosophy of history, these forces were not sought in history itself; on the contrary, she brought them there from without, from philosophical ideology. [...]
When, therefore, it comes to investigating the driving forces behind the motivations of historical figures - whether this is realized, or, as is very often not realized, - and ultimately forming the true driving forces of history, then one must have it is not a matter of motivating individuals, even the most outstanding, but rather the motives that drive large masses of people, whole nations, and in every given nation, in turn, whole classes. And even here, short-term explosions, not short-term outbreaks, and long-term actions, leading to great historical changes, are important. To investigate the driving causes that are clearly or unclear, directly or ideologically, maybe even fantastically reflected in the form of conscious motives in the heads of the acting masses and their leaders, the so-called great people, is the only way leading to the knowledge of laws dominating in history in general and in its individual periods or in individual countries. Everything that sets people in motion must pass through their head; but what kind of view it takes in this head, depends very much on the circumstances.
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