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Philosophy is the study of things which seeks to understand their essence through deductive reasoning, finding their origins and causes and in this seeking to understand how to view the world and act accordingly. Philosophically, Marxism is materialist and monist. It is materialist because it sees physical things, materials, as the main driver of occurrences in the world, positing that studying the material causes of things will reveal a comprehensive, objective truth; a singular metanarrative that governs being — thus it is also monist. This is opposed to dualism, which sees the world as composed of two forces which are separate and opposed, for example good and evil or man and the world. Furthermore, Marxism is opposed to postmodernism, a broad movement which rejects metanarratives characteristic of modernist thinking. Perhaps the main distinction of Marxism though is its materialist worldview, which diametrically opposes idealism. Idealism posits that abstract qualities and things primarily originated from individual consciousness, with things like meaning for example sourced from the supernatural (religion) or "figured out" in any of various ways (existentialism). Marxism for its part rejects this on the basis of analyzing history and having found consistent patterns between material conditions and the results, with materials, among other things, largely determining the morality, customs, and political structure of a society.

Before philosophy, people were hardly aware of abstract concepts and even about the notion of abstraction itself. This was expressed through institutions like language as well as beliefs and folklore, where things that are in fact immaterial like evil or wisdom were represented and understood only through a physical form, as can be seen in the ancient Greek myth about Pandora's box or the African tale of Anansi; among many other primitive creation myths. Similarly the Sumerian language lacked a word for "kill" and instead communicated physical occurrences like "to strike with a stick on the head". There was also the view of several tribal societies that synonymized women sowing crops with a good harvest, with a few people in Uganda still believing that a barren women can only provide a barren garden, as in their societies abstractions have been particularly slow to develop. Besides this, neither did ancient societies abstract man from nature, with many shamanistic beliefs holding inanimate objects to have humanlike spirits, further believing that many occurrences of the world also happen as a result of the deceased, who became spirits that affected the world, invisibly though as largely material phenomena otherwise.

As socio-economic conditions advanced, humanity began to master its own means of living, thus relying less on supernatural explanations while also gradually developing new technologies and methods that compelled ever more complex and abstract thought. Philosophy in its proper finally originated around the middle of the 1st millennium BC almost simultaneously in various parts of the world, as a result of such socio-economic conditions developing. The most prominent ancient civilizations which began to develop in such a way were India, China, and Greece. They all had the material conditions most suited for the development of philosophical thinking — in the case of Greece, the origin of Western thought, this was ultimately due to the variety of landscapes, mineral resources, and existence of waterways for trade and other travel. This led to the Bronze Age, in which the copper, tin, and other materials needed to make bronze often had to be traded for and abstract ways of thinking be developed, among these ones such as mathematics, which recognizes the immaterial value of objects — their quantity for instance — as separate from their physical selves, thus recognizing the existence of such abstract qualities common to many objects in spite of their differences in size, shape, color, etc. Then came the Iron Age in which philosophy arose, with both the material bases and ways of thought of the previous era giving rise to these two.[1]


See also

Marxist works on philosophy

Title Author Year Description
The Philosophy of Marxism: An Exposition John Somerville 1967
On Dialectical Materialism Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, Vladimir Lenin 1977 Compilation of works
Marxist-Leninist Philosophy Alexander Petrovich Sheptulin 1978
What Is Philosophy? Galina Kirilenko, Lydia Korshunova 1985
A Handbook of Philosophy B.I. Syusyukalov, L.A. Yakovleva 1988
Dictionary of Philosophy Ivan Timofeevich Frolov 1984
Philosophy and Sociology Georgy Pavlovich Frantsov 1975
What Is Personality? Galina Kirilenko, Lydia Korshunova 1989
What Is Dialectical Materialism? Vassily Krapivin 1985
Materialism and the Dialectical Method Maurice Cornforth 1971
Dialectical Materialism Alexander Spirkin 1983
Dialectical and Historical Materialism Joseph Stalin 1940 Central text of Marxism–Leninism; describes the Bolshevik Party's official doctrine on dialectical materialism and historical materialism
On Practice Mao Zedong 1937
On Contradiction Mao Zedong 1952 Original essay from 1937, revised and added to the Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung in 1952, translated into English in 1953
History of Ancient Philosophy: Greece and Rome A.S. Bogomolov 1985
Elementary Principles of Philosophy Georges Politzer 1976
The Making of the Marxist Philosophy Teodor Ilyich Oizerman 1962
What is Philosophy? A Marxist Introduction Howard Selsam 1962
Philosophy in Revolution Howard Selsam 1957
Socialism and the Individual John Lewis 1961
ABC of Dialectical and Historical Materialism B.M. Boguslavsky, V.A. Karpushin, A.I. Rakitov, V.Y. Chertikhin, G.I. Ezrin 1978
The Theory of Knowledge Maurice Cornforth 1971
Science Versus Idealism: In Defense of Philosophy against Positivism and Pragmatism Maurice Cornforth 1955
The Open Philosophy and the Open Society, a Reply to Dr. Karl Popper's Refutations of Marxism Maurice Cornforth 1972
Communism and Freedom Richard Kosolapov 1970
The Fundamentals of Marxist-Leninist Philosophy F.V. Konstantinov 1982
Fundamentals of Philosophy Alexander Spirkin 1990
Denis Diderot Tamara Dlugach 1988 Soviet biography
Philosophy in the USSR: Problems of Dialectical Materialism Team of Soviet philosophers 1977
The Main Trends in Philosophy: A Theoretical Analysis of the History of Philosophy Teodor Ilyich Oizerman 1988
Pragmatism: The Philosophy of Imperialism Harry K. Wells 1954
Humanism: Its Philosophical, Ethical and Sociological Aspects Maria Petrosyan 1972
Soviet Man: The Making of a Socialist Type of Personality Georgi Smirnov 1973
The Future of Society: A Critique of Modern Bourgeois Philosophical and Socio-Political Conceptions Authors from the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union 1973
A History of Classical Sociology Igor Semenovich Kon 1979
Diderot, Interpreter of Nature: Selected Writings Denis Diderot, Jonathan Kemp 1963 Intro discusses Diderot in relation to dialectical materialism
Bertrand Russell: Philosopher and Humanist John Lewis 1968 Marxist critique of Russell's philosophy
A Dictionary of Ethics Various Soviet authors 1990
Socialism and Ethics Howard Selsam 1943
Ethics and Progress: New Values in a Revolutionary World Howard Selsam 1965
Marxist Ethics: A Short Exposition Willis H. Truitt 2005
Communist Morality N. Bychkova, R. Lavrov, V. Lubisheva 1962 Contains works by Marx, Engels, Lenin, Krupskaya, Kalinin, Kirov, Dzerzhinsky, and Khrushchev


  1. What Is Philosophy?. Galina Kirilenko, Lydia Korshunova. 1985.