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Jospeh Dietzgen

Joseph Dj-elzgeD
This article is the first of a series on neglected
philosophers. Some subjects will, like Dietzgen,
be largely unknown, others simply forgotten by British philosophy departments. Later articles will
(we hope) include introductions to Merleau-Ponty,
Cassirer, Collingwood and Fouca~lt. Other suggestions would be welcome

JOSEPH DIETZGEN is indeed a neglected philosopher.

How many people know that he was the man ~arx
introduced to the 1872 Congress of the First
International as ‘our philosopher’? Or that it
was Dietzgen, not Plekhanov, who first coined the
phrase ‘dialectical materialism’? Or that for
the first thirty or so years of this century
Dietzgen’s Philosophical Essays were to be found
on the bookshelves of any working class militant
with Marxist pretensions?

Who, then, was Dietzgen? What were his views?

And, indeed, why has he been neglected?

Joseph Dietzgen was born in December 1828 near
Cologne. His father was a master tanner and ‘it
was in this trade that Dietzgen was trained and
worked. He was neither,a capitalist nor a
property less worker but an artisan owning and
working his own instruments of production. What
distinguished him from other pioneer scientific
socialists like Marx and Engels was that he never
went to university; he was a self-educated man.

Dietzgen was involved in the 1848 rising and after
its failure left for America returning, however,
after a couple of years. He spent another two
years in America after 1859 and went there again
in 1884, never to return. He died in 1888 and is
buried in Chicago.

Dietzgen was not just interested in philosophy,
though this was his main interest. He was also a
writer on economic and political matters for the
German,Social Democratic press, especially in the
1870s. Marx commented favourably on Dietzgen’s
review of Capital in his Afterword to the Second
German Edition. 1 The two men were personal
acquaintances.

Dietzgen wrote in German, but a number of his
writings, including the most important, were translated into English in the early years of this
century and published as two books 2 by the Charles
H. Kerr Co. of Chicago. The book bearing the title
The Positive outcome of Philosophy contains not
only this, his last work originally published in
1887, “but also his first work, The Nature of HUman
Brainwork (1869), and also his Letters on Logic.

The other book, Philosophical Essays, contains
translations of some of the propagandist articles
Dietzgen wrote in the 1970s and also his pamphlet
Excursions of a Socialist into the Domain of
Epi~temology. This pamphlet, especially Chapter
3, ‘Materialism versus Materialism’, is perhaps the
b~st outline of Dietzgen’s views in his own words.

For, frankly, Dietzgen’s works are not easy to
read, partly because of the subject matter, but
partly also because Dietzgen tended to express
himself somewhat philosophically and to needlessly
repeat himself.

In his introduction, written in 1902, to the
English edition of The Positive Outcome of Philosophy, the Dutch Marxist, Anton Pannekoek, described Dietzgen’s philosophical writings as ‘an
important and indispensable auxiliary for the understanding of the fundamental works .of Marx and
Engels.,3 Ernst Untermann, anether German Secial
Demecrat who had emigrated to America, expressed a 1

Adam

Buick

similar view: ‘Dietzgen rounded .out the work .of
Marx and Engels bK a censiste~~ monist conception
.of the Universe.’

Are these opiniens justified?

In this writer’s epinien, yes. Marx’s historical
materialism is a materialist theery of history and
society; it is not, and was net meant to be, a
materialist philosophy. Of course, being an atheist, Marx must have had a materialist conception .of
the universe but he never wrote much about it. Nor
was there any reasen why he should have. His specialities were his~y, secielogy and economics, not
philesephy or epistemolegy. Engels made an attempt
to back up the materialist cenceptien .of history
with a materialist philosephy but, in many respects
failed te do this satisfacterily.

It was Dietzgen
who succeeded and in this sense can justly be said
to have filled a ‘gap’ in secialist theery

Dialectical Materialism
Dietzgen was a thoroughgoing empiricist and materialist. For him all knowledge was derived from
sense-perception; and what human beings perceived
had a real existence independent of their perception of it.

The Nature of Human Brainwork (1869) presents
an empiricist theory of knowledge derived from a
rejection of Kantian dualism. Kant had claimed
that Reason (=science, knowledge) could only deal
with the world of experience, but the world of
experience, according to him, was only a world of
appearances or, to use a word derived from Greek
meaning the same, a world of ‘phenomena’. Thus
science could never come to understand the world
as it really was, the world of what Kant called
‘things-in-themsel ves’ o·f which he supposed the
world of phenomena to be but appearances. For
Kant there were two worlds: a world of phenomena,
which was all the human mind could come to understand, and a world of things-in-themselves beyond
human experie~ce and understanding.

For Dietzgen, to posit the existence of a secon”
world beyond the world of experience was simply
metaphysical nonsense.

‘Phenomena or appearances
appea~ – voila tout,.5 The world of phenemena was
the only world; phenomena were themselves real, the
substance of the real world. Phenomena, however,
says Dietzgen, do not exist as independent entities;
they exist only as parts or the entire single world
of phenomena. The world of reality is a single
entity embracing all observable phenomena, past,
present and future. Reality is thus infinite,
having no beginning nor end.

It is constantly
changing.

The universe and all things in it consist of
transformations” of matter, which take place
simultaneeusly and consecutively in space and
time. The universe is in every place and at
any time itself new er present for the first
time. It arises and passes away, passes and
arises under our very hands. Nothing remains
the same, only the infinite change is constant,
and even the change varies. Every part of time
and space brings new changes. 6
The world of reality is.a never-ending, everchanging stream of observable phenomena, and it
exists only as a whole. That Reality, Existence,’

the Universe, Nature – call it what you will (and
Dietzgen called it many things drawn from philosophy, e.g., the Absolute, the Good, Truth, eve~
God) – is a united whole, a single unit, is the

3

basis of Dietzgen’ s theories and is endl”essly
repeated in the Letters on Logic, written over the
period 1880-3 to Eugene, one of his sons.

As can be seen, this conception of the uuiverse
is both materialist (s~nce it posits the existence
of a world of reality independent of men’s perception of it) and dialectical (since it’sees the world
of reality as a changing, differentiated unity) .

It was for this reason that Dietzgen called his
philosophy ‘dialectical materialism’, a phrase he
first used in his l870s articles in the German
Social Democratic press. 7 This was some years
before Plekhanov, who is generally said to have
originated this phrase (which is not to be found
in the writings of Marx or Engels), even claimed
to be a Marxist. Plekhanov, it should be noted,
meant something rather different by it than did
Dietzgen; he was the father of the undialectical
state philosophy of present-day Russia which also,
unfortunately, goes under the name of ‘dialectical
materialfsm’ and with which Dietzgen’ s quite differ
ent theories are not to be confused.

What is Knowledge ‘/
The human mind is not the metaphysical mystery that
idealist philosophers try to make it. As something
that can be observed and studied, it too is part of
the world of phenomena. Once this is recognised,
as Dietzgen insists it should be, then it is
possible to give a materialist explanation of the
nature of thinking. Dietzgen’s philosophy is in
fact essentially such a materialist epistemology.

Human brainwork consists, says Dietzgen, in
generalising from experience, in constructing
abstract general concepts on the basis of perceptions supplied by the senses. The senses perceive
a continuous stream of different phenomena; the
role of the mind is to make sense of this stream
by distinguishing and naming parts of it. The
mind, as the organ of human understanding, understands the world by classifying it.

Knowledge, thinking, understanding, explaining,
has not, and cannot have, any other function
than that of describing the processes of
experience by division or classification. 8
[Dietzgen’s emphasis]
Phenomena are classified by the mind into
different categories on the basis of common
characteristics. But the categories, or concepts,
are abstractions from reality, mental constructs.

A table, for instance, does not have a separate,
independent existence; it is the name given by the
human mind to a certain group of recurring phenomena perceived by the senses. A table (and indeed
all other things) is an abstraction, a mental construct.

In reality all things are interdependent
parts of the whole which is the entire world of
phenomena:

The world is not made up of fixed classes, but
is a fluid unity, the Absolute incarnate, which
develops eternally, and is only classified by
the human mind for purposes of forming intelligent conceptions. 9
This dialectical view contrasts with the everyday – and undialectical – view that the world consists of a collection of separate, fixed objects.

Dietzgen does not challenge the usefulness of this
latter view. On the contrary, he recognises that
men must form such a view of the world if they are
to orient themselves and survive in it.

It is
this ability to generalise, to, as it were, stop
the continuous stream of phenomena (so that parts
of it can become subjects for abstract thought),
that distinguishes men from other animals and has

4

enabled them to intervene in and control the
external world. But, says Dietzgen, ‘we ought to
know that stopping the stream of phenomena and
classifying it into separate, fixed objects is
only a mental operation, however vital to the
survival of the human species:

The logical household use of rigid conceptions
extends, and should and must extend, to all
science. The consideration of things as ‘the
same’, is indispensable, and yet it is very
salutary to know and remember that the things
are not only the same and congealed, but at the
same time variable and fluid. lO
To state that things are mental constructs can
give rise to the misunderstanding that you are
saying that they are only mental constructs and
that you are therefore an idealist who sees the
external world as the creation of the mind. But
Dietzgen was not saying that things were simply
mental constructs: things were mental constructs
out of the real world of phenomena as perceived
by the senses; things were abstractions, yes, but
abstractions from an objectively-existing external
reality. Although a thing as such, as a separate
independent object, did not exist, there was certainly something in the real world of phenomena
which corresponded to it that existed. The mind
was not so much constructing the external world as
reconstructing an image of it.

Science altogether does not want and cannot
want to accomplish more than the classification
of perceptible things according to species and
varieties; its entire desire and ability is
confined to the mental reconstruction of the
different parts of a differential unity.

[emphasis added]

It is the SUbstantial force of the Universe,
in which they participate, which has brought
about the things that are, and all that the
human mind can do is to form a picture of its
gradual, consistent ~nd rational working. ll
These passages make it quite clear that for
Dietzgen the external world existed independently
of the human mind. Unfortunately, as we shall see,
this did not prevent him from being misunderstood
on this point.

A further aspect of Dietzgen’s dialectical
materialism is that knowledge can never be absolute
or complete, all knowledge is relative; our classification or description of the world must always be
regarded as a tentative approximation liable to
revision in the light of further experience.

Dietzgen’s last work, The Positive Outcome of
Philosophy (1887), ends with the following rule
for scientific investigation which remains valid
,to this day:

Thou shalt sharply divide and subdivide and
farther subdivide to the utmost, the universal
concept, the concept of the universe, but thou
shalt be backea up by the consciousness that
this mental classification is a formality,by
which man seeks to register and systematize his
experience; thou shalt furthermore remain
conscious of thy human liberty to progressively
clarify thy experience, which is constantly
enriched in the course of time, through modified
classifica tion. 12

Mindand Matter
Dietzgen, as we saw, called himself a materialist.

There are however various kinds of materialism and
Dietzgen was careful to differentiate his dialect-

ical ~aterialisM froM what he called ‘one-sided’,
‘narrmv’ and ‘I’1echanical’ MaterialisT’1. This ‘…’as
the vie’;.’ (indeed the traditional materialist vie’:!

going back to the philosoohers of Ancient Greece)
that the world is composed of tiny particles of
tangible ‘I’1atter’ and that the mind and thinkino
are simply the effects of the Movement of these
atoms. Writes Dietzgen:

The distinguishing mark between the mechanical
materialists.of the 18th century and the SocialDemocratic materialists trained in German
idealism consists in that the latter have
extended the former’s narrow conception of
matter as consisting exclusively of the
Tangible to all phenomena that occur in the
war ld. 13
[Dietzgen’s emphasis)
Every phenomenon, everything that occurs,
exists, as part of the entire world of phenomena.

Since non-tangible phenomena, e.g., ideas,
thoughts etc, also occur, they are just as real
or, if you like, just as ‘material’ as tangible
phenomena:

world of ohenoMena; in reality tangible phenomena
do not exist senarately from other phenomena, they
exist only as an integral part of the entire single
world of all ~henomena.

It is worth emphasising again that this equal
e~istemological status of tangible and mental
ohenomena does not at ail rule out scientific
exnlanations of mental phenomena in terms of
tangible phenomena, e.g., in terms of the physiological functioning of the brain and nervous
system, or indeed of the explanation of all nhenomena in terms of the movement of atoms. The fact
that ‘matter’ and ‘atoms’ were mental abstractions
from the world of phenomena did not in the least
detract from their possible usefulness as concents
for understanding the world. As Dietzgen said of
atoms:

)!toms are groups. As smallest parts they exist
only in our thoughts and thus give excellent
service in chemistry.

The consciousness that
they are not plastic but only mental things,
does not detract from their usefulness, but
heightens it still more. 18

In the endless Universe matter in the sense of
old and antiquated materialists, that is, of
tangible matter, does not possess the slightest
preferential right to be more substantial, i.e.

more immediate, more distinct and more certain
than any other phenomena of nature. 14

To understand the world Ivas to divide it into
necessarily abstract concepts.

It was not Dietzgen’ s ai~ to decide which was the best ,-lav to
classify, describe and explain the ,vorlo but to
show what we were doing when ve (hd do thi s . To
“lscribe reality to any of these mental constructs,
even so general a one as (tangible) matter was a
Dietzgen had no objection to the classification
confusion, was to think undialectically; the only
of the world of phenomena into two general catething that had a separate, indepencent existence
gories, one consisting of tangible phenomena and
was the entire world of nhenomena itself. !Jietz·called ‘matter’ and the other consisting of mental
gen’s criticism of one-sided, narrow materialism
phenomena and called ‘mind’. He had no objection
was a criticism of its confusion on this noint,
either to explanations of mental phenomena in
terms of tangible phenomena. h1hat he was concerned and not at all a cri ticiSITl of the basic princi.oles
of materialism.

to point out was that, in this sense, both ‘mind’

Dietzgen was essentially a philosopher of
and ‘matter’ were abstractions, e~ren if very
science. We would not want to claim that he al,-,’ay~;
general-ones, from the real world of ~henomena.

The rigid distinction between ‘mind’ and ‘matter’

expressed himself clearly or adequately (his
ontological proof of the universe ann his virtuZll
was a mental distinction that did not exist in
pantheism will make some readers wince – or smile),
the world of phenomena which, des~ite this mental
but despite his shortcomings he must be given the
operation, remained an undivided ‘vhole:

credit for first formulating Cl theory of the
The mind is a collective name for the mental
nature of science – as basically a descriotion of
phenomena, as matter is-a collective name for
the world for purposes of prediction and control
the material phenomena, and the trro together
– which is now largely accepted even if it does not
figure under the idea and name of the phenomena
call itself ‘dialectical r.taterialism’ or indeed
of Nature. 1 5
refer to itself as ‘materialist’ at all (mainlv
for fear of confusion with the narrow, one-sided
This was the basis of Dietzgen’s statement,
which, as we shall see, so upset Lenin, that ‘our
materialiSM of the past – and present-day ~ussia) .

materialism is distinguished by its special
Dietzgen’s works, besides being difficult to
obtain, make difficult reading. However, his best
knowledge of the common nature of mind and matter’

interpreter, the Dutch !1arxist Anton Pannekoek,
[his emphasis J 16
By this he simply meant that
expressed himself very clearly. Pannekoek was
‘both mind and matter were parts of the world of
hinself a scientist, a ~rofessor of astronomy of
observable phenomena.

world renmm in fact, and ~vrote not only the introThose Dietzgen called the ‘narrow’ ma.terialists
duction to the Kerr editions of The Positive
made the mistake of not thinking dialectically,
Outcome of Philosophy but also, later, two short
that is, of not realising that the parts of the
brilliant books annlying Dietzgen’s dialectical
world of phenomena do not exist independently but
materialism: Lenin as Philosop:Jer (1938) 1 g and
only as interconnected parts of that vorld.

In
. .1nthropogenesis (1944). Unfortunatelv these are
taking one part of the world of phenomena and
just as difficult to obtain as the works of
making it the basis of all the other parts ‘. they
Dietz0en hi~self.

were falsely ascribing a real, independent existence to what was in fact only an abstraction:

This materialism is so enamoured of mechanics,
that it, as it were, idolizes it, does not
regard it as part of the world, but as the
sole substance of ~”hich the universe is made
up. I?

This was the same mistake as regardina the
objects of everyday use as havinq an indenendent,
se~arate existence.

‘~atter’

just as Much as
‘table’ Ivas a Mental abstraction from the real

Lenin versus Dietzgen
At about the same time as Dietzgen was writing, two
other German-speakers, Ernst {.iach in Austria and
“{ichard .~venarius in Switzerland, were workinq out
a theory of science which was in a number of ways
similar to Dietzgen’ s. One of Avenarius’ follo”lers
called this theory ’empirio-criticism’. We can’t
GO into this theory here excent to say that it too

5

saw knowledge as essentially the classification of
experience. However, while Dietzgen never doubted
the independent existence of the world of phenomena
or experience, empirio-criticism wa~ ambiguous on
this point.

It wished to construct the world from
‘experience’ (sense-data, etc) bu~ since experience
is the experience of human beings it came very near
to saying, and some of its exponents did say, that
the human mind (or minds) was as vital to the
existence of the external world as external phe~o­
mena themselves.

Empirio-criticism, partly because of ‘ its similar
ity with Dietzgen’s dialectical materialism}enjoye
a certain vogue in Social Democratic circles in the
early years of this century. A number of Social
Democrats, including Dietzgen’s son Eugene, misinterpreted Dietzgen in an empirio-criticist direction.

Included in the Kerr edition of Dietzgen’s
Philosophical Essays is an essay on Max stirner by
Eugene wherein we read that ‘whatever does not
partake of the psycho-physical nature of the
universe, cannot exist for us’ and that ‘phenomena
outside of us •.. exist independently of individual
man, although they cannot exist for mankind
independently of human cOIlsciousness. 20 [emphasis
added]
Eugene Dietzgen would seem to be suggesting here
that the external world is not an opjective world
but only an inter-subjective world, i.e., a sort
of collective creation of all human minds which
would not exist in their absence.

Similar views
were expounded also by a number of members of the
Russian Bolshevik Party. Lenin was scandalised by
this departure from materialism (as indeed it was)
and set out to refute this deviation once and for
all.

In 1908 was published Plekhanov’s Fundamental
Problems of Marxism and in 1909 Lenin’s Materialism
and Empirio-Criticism.

Both contain a denial of
the view we quoted earlier that Dietzgen had added
something to the work of MarK and Engels. We
won’t deal with Plekhanov’s criticism here except
to say that he preferred Fuerbach’s materialism to
Dietzgen’s dialectical materialism (though he
retained the phrase ‘dialectical materialism’.)
Lenin devotes a section of Materialism and
Empirio-Criticism to Dietzgen entitled ‘How Could
J. Dietzgen Have Found Favour with the Reactionary
Philosophers?’ in which he criticises in particular
Dietzgen’s view that the real, or material, world
includes the intangible (thoughts, etc) as well as
the tangible:

To say that thought is material is to make a
false step, a step towards confusing materialism
and idealism.

That the conception of ‘matter’ must also
include thoughts, as Dietzgen repeats in the
Excursions, is a muddle, for i f such an inclusion is made, the epistemological contrast
between mind and matter, idealism and materialism, a contrast upon which Dietzgen himself
insists, loses ~ll meaning. 21
Lenin regards this as a ‘deviation’ by Dietzgen
from materialism, without seeming to realise that
this view is the basis of Dietzgen’s whole materialist epistemology.

It is not a question of Dietzgen
expressing himself badly but of there being a
fundamental difference between Dietzgen’s materialism and Lenin’s. Lenin was clearly one of those
Dietzgen described as a narrow, one-sided,
mechanical materialist.

Lenin’s claim about the epistemological contrast
between idealism wnd materialism being’blurred if
thoughts are regarded as part of the world of
phenomena (= the material world) is not true. As
we have seen, Dietzgen was quite able to make this

6

the basis of his epistemology and to remain a
thoroughgoing ~aterialist who never for one moment
doubted the objectiveexistence of the external
world. Lenin was quite right, on the other hand,
to attack people like Eugene Dietzgen who only gave
the external world an inter-subjective existence.

This was indeed a departure from materialism in the
direction of idealism, but Lenin’s criticism of it
was made from the point of view of what Pannekoek
in his Lenin as Philosopher called ‘bourgeois
materialism’ not that of dialectical materialism.

Pannekoek, in this work (which is a reply to
Lenin following the publication of German, English
and French translations in 1927 and 1928), attempted
to give an explanation of why the Russian Bolshevik
Party should have adopted ‘bourgeois materialism’

as its theory. By ‘bourgeois’ materialism Pannekoek meant a materialism which seeks to explain
everything in terms of physics and chemistry. When
the bourgeoisie had to fight to achieve and retain
power, said Pannekoek, they believed in the power
of the physical sciences to change the world,
practically by developing modern industry, and
theoretically by exposing the religious views of
their class opponents as superstitious nonsense.

That Lenin and the Bolsheviks22 should have
adopted a similar ideology to that of the rising
bourgeoisie of Western Europe at an earlier period
was to be explained, said Pannekoek, by the
essentially similar task that confronted them: to
carry out the equivalent of a bourgeois revolution
in Russia which would sweep away the obstacles,
institutional and ideological, to the development
of modern industry there. Pannekoek saw Leninism
as the ideology of a new ruling class whose
historical task was to industrialise Russia on
the basis of state capitalism, with militant
physical-science materialism as its ideology.

This materialism, though falsely called ‘dialectical’, is still the dominant ideology in Russia
today.

Dielzgen Today
Whatever the explanation as to why Lenin rejected
Dietzgen’s dialectical materialism, the fact that
he did contributed in large measure to Dietzgen
becoming a neglected philosopher. 23 Dietzgen’s
ideas had been introducrd into Britain before the
first World War by the English-language translations of his works published by Kerr of Chicago,
and had been propagated he~e by such organisations
as the Labour College movement and the Socialist
Party of Great Britain. Both of these continued to
exist after the War and Russian revolution and both
of them proclaimed a Marxism independent of Moscow.

A textbook on Dietzgen’s philosophy by an NCLC
lecturer, Fred Casey, called Thinking (192~i was
widely read in militant working class circles.

Then in 1927 was published the first English translation of Lenin’s Materialism and EmpirioCriticism. 24 From then on, as in the 1930s, the
Communist Party’s false claim to be genuine Marxists came to be widely accepted, Dietzgen receded
into the background.

In 1936 T.A. Jackson, a
professional Communist Party writer, included a
vituperative attack, in true Leninist style, on
the unfortunate Casey in his book Dialectics; to
be a ‘Caseyite’, i.e., to accept Dietzgen’s philo~
sophy without Lenin’s ‘correction’, became a
heresy in Communist Party circles.

We would not want to claim that the sole reason
for Dietzgen becoming neglected was the fact that
his materialism differed from that proclaimed by
the State philosophers of Russia. other factors
entered into ~t too, inc~uding the difficult read-

ing that his writings make. Also, with the decline
of religion as a social force, working class
militants have felt less need to arm themselves
with a militant materialism such as D~etzgen
provided. Nor is it now really necessary to
‘revive’ Dietzgen. For, as we have said, his basic
views have been absorbed into modern science which
in practice is both dialectical and materialist.

For the historical record, though, it is worth
paying a tribute to the working tanner and socialist militant who pioneered these views. Dietzgen,
radical philosophers of today should be aware, was
the man who first formulated the theory of dialectical materialism as an essential complement to
Marx’s materialist conception of history.

Notes
1

2

3

4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14

15
16
17

‘Excursions’, Essays, pp3ll-2.

‘Excursions’, Essays, p308.

‘The Positive outcome of Philosophy’, Positive
Outcome, p368.

18
19

Ibid,p4l8.

Lenin As Philosopher, New Essays, New York,

in

20
21

22

Capital, Vol.I, p16, FLPH, Moscow, 1961
The positive Outcome of Philosophy, Charles H.

Kerr, Chicago, 1906. A second, revised edition
was published in 1928, from which the quotes
for this article are taken. Philosophical
Essays, Charles H. Kerr~ Chicago, 1906 and 19i7.

Positive Outcome, p63.

Science and Revolution, p16l, Kerr, 1905.

‘The Nature of Human Brainwork’, Positive
Outcome, pl02.

Ibid, plOl.

Essays, pp139, 159, 208, 216 [231, 293, 294,
306, 307, 361].

‘The positive Outcome of Philosophy, Positive
outcorne f p425.

lExcursions’, Essays, p322.

‘The Positive Outcome of Philosophy’, positive
Outcome, pp374-5.

‘Excursions’, Essays, pp36l-2 and p3l0
respectively.

‘The Positive Outcome of Philosophy’, Positive
Outcome, p428.

‘Excursions’, Essays, p298.

‘Excursions’, Essays, p307.

1948, A Frencb translation was recently published by Spartacus, 5 rue Ste-Croix-de-laBretonnerie, Paris IVe.

See also Pannekoek’s
article ‘Society and Mind
Marxian philosophy’, Science and Society, 1, 4, 1937.

‘The Protetarian Method’, Essays, p65 and p6l
respectively.

Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, p290 and
p292 respectively, Foreign Languages Press,
Peking, 1972.

Trotsky too was a mechanical materialist who
believed that, in principle, it was possible to
explain everything, from the movement of the
planets to thinking and consciousness, in terms
of the movement and properties of the tangible
atomic particles he supposed the world to be made
up of.

See the extracts from two speeches made
in 1925 and 1926, reproduced in The Age of

Permanent Revolution: A Trotsky Anthology,

23

24

edited and introduced by Isaac Deutscher, Dell,
New York, 1964, pp342-355.

Dietzgen was not entirely forgotten.

See, for
instance, ‘Empiricism and Ethics in Dietzgen’

by Loyd D. Easton, Journal of the History of
Ideas, January 1958. Also the SPGB, and the
World Socialist Party of the united States (from
which this wTiter first learnt of the ideas of
Dietzgen and Pannekoek), continued, and continue,
to propagate his ideas.

There exist two English translations of Lenin’s
work. The first, the one published in 1927,
evidently had various inaccuracies. For instance, it has a passage ‘all materialists regard
Dietzgen as an inconsistent philosopher’ which
the second translateti ‘materialists .•. regard
Dietzgen as a philosopher who is not entirely
consistent’ !

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