Marx and Engels' odd "materialism"

"The sun is the object of the plant -- an indispensable object to it confirming its life -- just as the plant is an object of the sun, being an expression of the life awakening power of the sun, of the sun's objective essential power." -- Engels, quoted in Bartell Ollman, Alienation, p. 28

It turns out that when Marx and Engels objected to Hegel's "idealism," what they were actually objecting to was his notion that broad, philosophical ideas direct the course of history. They want to "place the blame" on more mundane "materialist" factors. However, their basic conception of those factors is still idealist, in that the factors are composed of internal relations (as we see in the quote above). And Marx even goes so far as to say that one of the "material" factors determining an outcome can be... a theory!

1 comment:

  1. 'And Marx even goes so far as to say that one of the "material" factors determining an outcome can be... a theory!'

    This seems like an expected (not odd) thing for a materialist to believe. 'Being determines consciousness' , so purely physical processes in the material world cause theories to be embedded in human brains. These theories then drive the owners of the brains to take actions that clearly will affect the material world (that will in turn cause changes in the theories held in the brains etc).

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