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The Marxist Outlook1


By a “world-outlook” I mean a systematic account of the nature of the world which claims, by showing the place of man in the scheme of things, to indicate the point and purpose of his life. The theory of the world is often called a metaphysical theory and the theory of conduct an ethical or moral theory. In my opinion the clarification and criticism of world-outlooks is a fundamental part of philosophy. Indeed, I hardly think that philosophy would have existed as something distinct from science or poetry but for the tendency to attempt some explanation of the world as the scene of human endeavour. When Kant referred to “the inevitable problems of pure reason” about “God, freedom, and immortality,” he was referring in a summary way to the fundamental philosophical task of analysing and criticizing world-outlooks, a task that may be undertaken even by those philosophers who do not believe that any world-outlook is or could be adequate. It is clear, of course, that the civilized religions, since they seek to show how human conduct fits in with some Divine Plan or Cosmic Conflict, have world-outlooks. It is, however, misleading to look upon religions and world-outlooks as the same thing, as some people do. For in ordinary usage religion involves belief in supernatural beings and conduct regulated in the light of this belief, but according to some world-outlooks (e.g. that of Spinoza) there are no supernatural beings, while according to others (e.g. Epicureanism) beings may exist deserving that description but human conduct need take no account of them.

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page 209 note 1 Since writing this I have seen MrPaul G. A.'s Lenin's Theory of Perception. Analysis. Vol. V. No. 5. 08, 1938; and there has appeared in Polemic (No. 6, November-December, 1946), Professor Sidney Hook's critical article entitled “The Laws of Dialectic.”

page 210 note 1 Translated into English by Kvitko D. as Vol. XIII of the Collected Works of V. I. Lenin, London, 1927.

page 211 note 1 His best known work on perception is translated into English as The Analysis of Sensations, Open Court Publishing Company, Chicago. 1914.

page 212 note 1 Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society. New Series. Vol. XXXIX. 19381939, p. 16.

page 213 note 1 Lenin discusses with approval (pp. 48–50, p. 67) ProfessorSmith Kemp's article, “Avenarius's Philosophy of Pure Experience,” Mind, Vol. XV. 1906.

page 214 note 1 Pp. 30–31.

page 214 note 2 P. 15 of the English translation which forms volume XVII of the Marxist-Leninist Library, published by Lawrence and Wishart.

page 214 note 3 In a letter to Engels dated July 7, 1866, Marx refers to Comte's “positivist rot,” and writing to Professor Beesly on June 21, 1871, he says “I as a Party man have a thoroughly hostile attitude towards Comte's philosophy while as a scientific man I have a very poor opinion of it.” But I think his objections to Comte were (a) to the political proposals, (b) to the religion of humanity, and (c) to the theory of gradual, i.e. non-dialectical, development.

page 215 note 1 In the Dialectics of Nature (Lawrence and Wishart , 1941, pp. 297310), Engels, in criticizing the credulity of Russell Wallace and Crookes, correctly points out that empiricism can be carried too far, and that the genuineness of new mediums may be reasonably suspect, if most mediums of the past have been shown to be fraudulent.

page 215 note 2 Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, p. 220.

page 216 note 1 Socialism, Utopian and Scientific, pp. xv–xvii.

page 216 note 2 Ludwig Feuerbach, English translation, 1935, p. 32.

page 216 note 3 None of the meanings or stages of practice mentioned in this paragraph is identical with practice as the “vital leap” or “animal faith” which leads to epistemological realism. I think, however, that Engels regarded these as continuous with it. See Ludwig Feuerbach, pp. 32–33.

page 216 note 4 Ludwig Feuerbach, pp. 36–37.

page 217 note 1 Referred to by ProfessorHaldane (The Marxist Philosophy and the Sciences, p. 150), as “the only academic philosopher in England whose system has any serious affinity with Marxism”.

page 217 note 2 The Mind and its Place in Nature, p. 610.

page 217 note 3 Translated by A. A. Moseley, revised and edited by John Lewis, Gollancz. The last three parts of this book were prepared under the auspices of the Leningrad Institute of Philosophy.

page 218 note 1 Quoted by Stalin Generalissimo in his Dialectical and Historical Materialism, p. 9 (Little Stalin Library, No. 4. Lawrence and Wishart , 1943).

page 218 note 2 Note on Dialectics (printed at the end of the English translation of Materialism and Empirio-Criticism), p. 323.

page 218 note 3 Anti-Dühring (Handbook of Marxism, ed. Bums Emil, pp. 256–57).

page 219 note 1 A Textbook of Dialectical Materialism (Lawrence and Wishart , 1939), p. 44.

page 219 note 2 Anti-Dühring (Handbook of Marxism, p. 262).

page 219 note 3 St. Paul held a dialectical, though not perhaps a materialist, philosophy, as may be seen from I Corinthians, xv, e.g. “So also is the resurrection of the dead: it is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.”

page 219 note 4 Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, p. 297.

page 219 note 5 Anti-Dühring, (Handbook of Marxism, p. 266).

page 220 note 2 The editor of the Correspondence of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, 1846–95: A Selection with Commentary and Notes, (Lawrence and Wishart , 1934), thinks otherwise: “The enormous growth of technique and of the natural sciences in the Soviet Union, the decay of technique and of the natural sciences in capitalist countries, have revealed the conditions in which a full and consistent application of dialectical materialism to research in the natural sciences is possible and can be carried out on the widest scale.” p. 115.

page 220 note 2 Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, pp. 31–32.

page 221 note 1 Quoted in Basic Trends in Soviet Philosophy, Somerville John, The Philosophical Review, 05, 1946. pp. 251–52.

page 221 note 2 Twenty-five Years of Philosophy in the U.S.S.R., Mitin M.. Philosophy, 1944. p. 80.

page 221 note 2 Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, p. 290.

page 222 note 1 Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, p. 278.

page 222 note 2 Ibid. p. 281.

page 224 note 1 Dialectical and Historical Materialism (Little Stalin Library, No. 4), p. 15.

page 224 note 2 German Ideology, p. 14.

page 227 note 1 Professor L. J. Russell called my attention to this.

page 228 note 1 Engels , Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, p. 73.

page 228 note 2 Cp. Lenin , “Those who are really convinced that they have advanced science would demand not freedom for the new views to continue side by side with the old, but for the substitution of the old views by the new ones.” What is to be done? p. 14.

page 229 note 1 Ludwig Feuerbach, p. 50.

page 229 note 2 Dialectics, p. 363.

1 Series: Contemporary World-Outlooks (II).

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