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Marxism and the Dialectical Method

Marxism and the
Dialectical Method:

A Critique of G.A. Cohen
Sean Savers
The dialectical method, Marx insisted, was at the basis of
his account of society. In 1858, in a letter to Engels, he
wrote,
In the method of treatment the fact that by
mere accident I again glanced through Hegel’s
Logic has been of great service to me…. If
there should ever be the time for such work
again, I would greatly like to make accessible to
the ordinary human intelligence, in two or three
printer’s sheets, what is rational in the method
which Hegel discovered ••• (1)
But he never did find the time for this work. As a result,
Marx’s dialectical method and the ways in which it draws
on Hegel’s philosophy remain among the most controversial
and least well understood aspects of Marx’s work. My purpose in this paper is to explain some of the basic presuppositions of this method and to bring out their significance for Marx’s theories. I shall do so by focussing critically on G.A. Cohen’s account of Marxism in Karl Marx’s
Theory of History: A Defence (2). In this important and
influential work, Cohen contrives to give an account of
Marxism in entirely non-dialectical – indeed, in antidialectical – terms. By criticising Cohen’s views I will seek
to show that the dialectical method is the necessary basis
for an adequate theory of history and an indispensable part
of Marx’s thought.

The major purpose of Cohen’s book is to develop and
defend a particular interpretation of historical materialism,
the Marxist theory of historical development. Cohen claims
that his account is an ‘old-fashioned’ and a ‘traditional’

one (p.x); and, indeed, in certain respects it is. For, in contrast to the tendency of much recent Marxist writing,
Cohen strongly emphasises the materialistic and deterministic character of Marx’s theory of history. He insists that
the development of the productive forces is the primary
motive force for historical change, and potrays Marxism as
a form of technological determinism. However, there are
various different forms of materialism, not all of them
Marx’s. In particular, it has been a standard part of ‘traditional’ Marxist philosophy to criticise mechanical forms of
materialism and to insist that a dialectical form of materialism is needed in order to comprehend the complexity
and richness of concrete historical processes. Cohen
manages to ignore this aspect of the traditional picture
almost entirely, and what little discussion he devotes to
dialectics is hostile and dismissive.

The basis of this hostility is not far to seek. It is
revealed by another major purpose of Cohen’s book. For, as
well as presenting an interpretation of historical materialism, he is attempting to vindicate the analytical method in
philosophy; and although he does not say it in so many
words, it is apparent that he regards this as irreconcilable
with the dialectical aspects of Marx’s work. Cohen is right
about this, I shall argue: dialectical philosophy does,
indeed, involve methods and assumptions which are ulti4

mately incompatible with those of the analytic approach.

However, against Cohen I will argue that dialectics is the
necessary basis for a satisfactory theory of history and an
indispensable part of Marx’s thought. Cohen’s use of the
analytic method and his rejection of dialectics leads him to
give a systematically distorted account of Marx’s theory of
history, which is neither faithful to Marx’s own thought,
nor adequate for an understanding of the concrete reality
of history. This is what I shall try to show.

1 The Analytic vs. the Dialectical Method

What, then, is Cohen’s analytical method? Unfortunately,
Cohen himself never spells this out, although it is an
important part of his purpose to defend and vindicate it.

First, it should be noted that a philosophy can be described
as ‘analytical’ in two distinct senses. One may mean by this
term simply that the philosophy is part of the twentieth
century tradition of analytical philosophy. Cohen’s work is
certainly ‘analytical’ in this sense, and this is immediately
apparent from its outward style: the use of formal logical
notation, abstract symbols, numbered sentences, and so
forth. Cohen himself talks of ‘the standards of clarity and
rigour which distinguish twentieth-century analytical philosophy’ (p.ix). However, these virtues are not peculiar to
twentieth-century analytical philosophy; indeed, they are
not even particularly characteristic of it. Anyone who has
read a representative selection of work in this tradition
will be well aware that, all too often, it is needlessly
obscure in style, cloudy in thought and not noticeably more
rigorous in agument than the work of any other major
school of philosophy. Clarity and rigour are the virtues of
good philosophy, of good thought in all fields; they are no
monopoly of analytical philosophy. Cohen’s work has these
virtues to a high degree; but that is because it is good
philosophy, not because it is in the analytical tradition.

Twentieth-century analytical philosophy has been a
diverse tradition and it is not easy to make generalisations
about it. However, that is not my purpose here, since
Cohen’s philosophy is also ‘analytical’ in a further and
deeper sense. It is analytical not merely in its style and
form, but in its very presuppositions and content. And it is
analytical in a very traditional sense. For, like the philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Cohen
relies on the method of analysis. He insists upon analysing
the whole that he is considering into its component parts.

He insists upon separating and isolating the different elements and aspects of the given concrete totality, and considering and defining these in isolation. The effect of this
method is to produce a fragmented and atomised picture of
reality.

Underlying this method, as Cohen makes clear, is what
could be called a logic of external relations 0). For,
according to Cohen, things are what they are, and have
their essential nature in themselves, quite independently of

the relations in which they stand. In general, things – or
‘terms’ in Cohen’s language – are not affected by their
relations or context. In other words, relations are external
to, and independent of, the things or terms related: ‘the
terms bound by relations do not belong to the structure
these relations constitute’ (p.35). One is reminded of
Locke’s view that relation is ‘not contained in the real
existence of things, but (is) something extraneous and
superinduced’ (4-).

Things are what they are; they have their being
purely in themselves and quite independently of the context
of their relations. ‘Everything is what it is and not another
thing’ – Bishop Butler’s slogan (5) admirably sums up the
logic of this sort of analytical approach.

This logic is rejected by dialectical philosophy.

Dialectics insists that in order to understand the concrete
nature of things it is vital to see them in the context of
their inter-connections with other things within a wider
whole. For dialectics, concrete and particular things are
always and essentially related, connected to and interacting with other things within a larger totality. This context
of relations is internal and essential to the nature of
things, not external and accidental. By contrast, the analytical approach, with its logic of external relations, has
the effect of removing things from their context and producing an abstract account of them. It has the effect of
fragmenting the world into a disconnected series of atomic
particulars and, thereby, producing a mechanical account of
reality. To substantiate and illustrate these points let us
now turn to Marx’s theory of history and Cohen’s account
of it.

2 Forces and Relations of Production
Cohen’s account of Marxism is very closely based on
Marx’s 1859 ‘Preface’. In part, this reads as follows:

In the social production of their life, men enter
into definite relations that are indispensable and
independent of their will, relations of production which correspond to a definite stage of
development of their material productive forces.

The sum total of these relations of production
constitutes the economic structure of society,
the real basis, on which arises a legal and political superstructure, and to which correspond
defini te forms of social consciousness. The mode
of production of material life conditions the
social, political and intellectual life process in
general. It is not the consciousness of men that
determines their being, but, on the contrary,
their social being that determines their
consciousness.

(6)
An important and valuable part of Cohen’s work consists in the careful and detailed accounts he gives of the
various theoretical terms that Marx here uses. However,
although Cohen’s analyses of the meanings of particular
terms are often very helpful and instructive, the general
picture that emerges of Marx’s theory is more questionable.

For example, Cohen’s discussion of the notion of the
productive forces is full, useful and important. The productive forces of a society are composed mainly of the
means of production (i.e. instruments of production and raw
materials) and labour power (i.e. ‘the productive faculties
of producing agents: strength, skill, knowledge, inventiveness etc.’ (p.32». The relations of production are the
economic relations of society. The set of economic relations prevailing in a particular society constitutes its
economic structure, its economic basis. So far so good.

However, Cohen insists that forces of production and relations of production be regarded as entirely distinct and
separate from each other. The productive forces are one
thing, the relations of production another: ‘productive
forces are not part of the economic structure’ (p.28); ‘production relations alone and not productive forces constitute
the economic structure’ (p.29).

The separation of the different elements and aspects
of society is certainly an essential part of any scientific
account of it. Analysis – the distinction of different things
– is without doubt an indispensable feature of all understanding and all knowledge. Dialectics does not deny this.

Indeed, dialectics goes further and insists that analysis
should not be regarded as a merely intellectual and mental
process, as a purely conceptual and logical activity, the
work of thought alone. For in the concrete historical process itself, different aspects and features separate themselves. The division and conflict between forces and relations of production, for example, is a real historical distinction, a part of the process of actual economic development; and only subsequently does it come to be grasped and
reflected accurately in economic thought. Nothing is
cloudier and less helpful than the attempt to merge all distinctions together and insist that, in reality, ‘all is one’.

‘As though’, in Marx’s words, ‘this separation had forced
its way from the textbook into real life and not, on the
contrary, from real life into the textbooks’ (7).

Dialectics does not deny the reality of distinctions,
nor the need for them in thought. But it does insist that in
concrete reality different and opposed things are also in
unity. It rejects the exclusive, rigid, absolute, either/or
distinctions of analytical thought. In particular, forces of
production and relations of production are different and
conflicting aspects of a single process: the productive activity of people in society. These different aspects exist in
unity. Their unity as well as their difference must be
recognised if their nature is to be properly understood.

Thus productive forces are productive forces only in
the context of certain relations of production. A machine,
for example, requires people to build, operate and maintain
it – only given these is it a productive force. A machine is
a productive force only in the context of certain relations
of production in which it is employable productively. No
doubt it is possible to remove a machine entirely from its
surrounding social relations and consider it purely abstractly and in isolation. This is what Cohen dcresin his account
of productive forces. But then one is no longer considering
it as a productive force, but merely in its abstract material
aspect, as a physical object. A machine is regarded in this
way by the physicist or the engineer. This is perfectly
valid and legitimate, if your interest is confined to its material properties, since a machine is indeed a physical object
– a certain configuration of metal and other materials and remains so, whatever the social context in which it is
placed. The historian, however, is interested in the machine
not merely as a physical object, but as an instrument of
social production, as a productive force. And a machine
becomes a productive force only in certain social contexts,
only in certain relations of production. These relations are
essential – that is to say, internal and not merely external
– to its being as a productive force (8).

Similar remarks apply to labour power, the other
major constituent of the productive forces. Labour power ‘the productive faculties of producing agents’ (p.32) – can-

5

not be understood if it is abstracted and isolated from the
social relations in which it is exercised. Man is an essentially social creature, and his powers and capacities are
essentially social. In particular, to consider labour power in
its abstract and isolated individual form is to blind oneself
to one of the most significant means for its development:

social cooperation. Cooperative production – that is,
socially coordinated, as opposed to mere individual, production – not only increases the labour power of the individual
in a variety of ways, but also brings a ‘new power’ into
being: ‘the social productive power of labour or the
productive power of social labour’ (9). As Marx says,
Not only have we here an increase in the productive power of the individual, by means of
cooperation, but the creation of a new power,
namely the collective power of the masses.

(10)
This new collective power is something more than the sum
of its parts. An observation by Napoleon, cited by Engels,
well illustrates this. The French cavalry were poor riders,
but well organised and disciplined; the Mamelukes, on the
other hand, were excellent horsemen, but undisciplined. The
result, according to Napoleon, was that
Two Mamelukes were undoubtedly more than a
match for three Frenchmen; 100 Mamelukes
were equal to 100 Frenchmen; 300 Frenchmen
could generally beat 300 Mamelukes, and 1000
Frenchmen invariably defeated 1500 Mamelukes.

(11)
Labour power cannot be defined in isolation from
social relations, since social cooperation itself is a powerful productive force. Modern labour, in particular, is essentially social labour. In engaging in it, man develops his
powers and capaci ties as social powers and capacities, for
‘when the labourer cooperates systematically with others
he strips off the fetters of his individuality, and develops
the capabilities of his species’ (12). So, here too, the conclusion is that productive forces and relations of production cannot be entirely separated and abstracted fro.m each
other. The productive forces are what they are only in the
context of the appropriate relations of production. These
relations are thus internal and essential to them, not purely
external and distinct.

3 Nature and Society
Cohen supports his account of the forces and relations of
production with a very interesting discussion of the distinction between nature and society. According to Cohen,
The ••• distinction between forces and relations
of production is, in Marx, one of a set of contrasts between nature and society •••• The matter
or content of society is nature, whose form is
the social form.

(p.98)
Cohen’s account of these contrasts is among the most valuable and illuminating parts of his book. However, here
again, there is the same analytic tendency to make absolute and rigid distinctions between these opposites where a
recognition of their essential relation and unity is also
needed. Cohen, in fact, sees that in concrete circumstances
society and nature always exist in unity. However, his
method and logic preclude him from incorporating this insight into his theory; and he insists that these aspects are
logically or ‘conceptually’ distinct and must, in thought, be
held apart.

Viewed physically, production appears stripped
of its social form…. Production in its asocial
aspect is ‘material production’; this being the
content ••. of production. And that content may
be described in illuminating abstraction from the
form with which it is integrated…. So if we
look through the social form we discern something conceptually separate from it: ••• material
production.

(pp.98-99)
6

It is certainly vital to make a distinction between the
material and the social. Moreover, Cohen is right to stress
that Marxism, as a form of materialism, sees the material
level as basic and as the primary determinant of historical
development.

But Cohen makes it an either/or matter.

Society and nature, form and content, are portrayed as
exclusive opposites, with the social form made entirely
external to and logically independent of the material content. The dialectical view, by contrast, is that these opposites, as well as being different and opposed, interact and
interpenetrate; and it rejects any rigid antitheses here, ‘as
though’, in Marx’s words, ‘these were two separate “things”
and man did not always have before him an historical
nature and a natural history’ (13).

At times Cohen himself sees this. For example, he
says,
The material description captures a society’s
underlying nature. In this sense of ‘nature’,
nature is of course a product of history, changing in and as a result of social forms. Humanity
in social organisation thrusts itself against its
environment, altering it and its own human
nature, for it develops its own powers and needs
in the course of the encounter.

(p.96)
But at other times (and these are the more characteristic
ones), he ignores this interaction and describes history as a
process of ‘adjustment to nature’ (p.285), as though nature
were a purely external and immutable constraint to which
society had to conform.

This is not a satisfactory way in which to interpret
Marxism. Nature and society are not purely external to
each other; on the contrary, they interpenetrate and mutually transform each other. Society not only adapts itself
to nature, but also, and on an ever-increasing scale, society adapts and transforms nature to its needs. The rigid,
analytic separation of the natural from the social tends to
blind Cohen to these facts. Like Feuerbach, he tends not
to see ‘how the sensuous world around him is,. not a thing
given direct from all eternity, remaining ever the same, but
the product of industry and the state of society’ (14).

These problems come out clearly in Cohen’s attempt
to assimilate Marx’s theory to that of the Sophists. He
writes,
Social arrangements cannot alter physical necessities, but social arrangements can be altered.

When they are confused with the necessities
they arrange, they appear to partake of the
immutability of the latter. The Sophist’s distinction between nature and convention is the
foundation of all social criticism and Marx’s distinction is a development of it.

(p.l07)
Physical necessities – if by that is meant the laws of
nature – cannot be altered. That is true. But nature can be
altered by human activity – it is not ‘immutable’. The development of human productive power enables man to
control nature and to overcome the constraints of his
environment; not by transcending or abolishing the laws of
nature, but by using them. Freedom, in the Marxist view, is
based upon ‘the recognition of necessity’ (15).

For Marx, social revolution is not just a matter of
changing the social form on the basis of an unaltered and
unalterable nature. The Sophists indeed said: nature is
fixed, but human conventions and social forms are alterable. But Marx is profounder than this. He maintains that
social forms are not merely ‘conventional’ and not changeable just at will. Definite material conditions of production
impose definite social forms, and it is through the development of material conditions that social relations change.

Man, through labour, alters nature in accordance with his
needs and is, in the process, altered by it. There is an
interaction here.

Labour is ••• a process in which both man and
nature participate…. He opposes himself to
nature as one of her own forces ••• in order to

appropriate nature’s productions in a form
adapted to his own wants. By thus acting on the
external world and changing it, he at the same
time changes his own nature.

(16)

Marx’s social criticism, therefore, has an entirely
different basis from that of the Sophists. For Marx, socialism is not an alternative form of society, an ideal which it
is possible to realise because social forms are merely conventional and alterable. Socialism, for Marx, is the outcome
of a real and present social movement, which is the product of the material forces at work in present, capitalist
society. The social criticism he talks of is a material and a
practical one.

Communism is for us not a state of affairs
which is to be established, an ideal to which
reality will have to adjust itself.

We caB
communism the real movement which abolishes
the present state of things. The conditions of
this movement result from the premises now in
existence.

(17)

4 Relations and Properties

At the basis of Cohen’s account of Marxism, as I have
emphasised, is the philosophical theory of external relations. It is now time to focus attention upon this theory
and to criticise it. According to Cohen, society is made up
of people and productive forces. These are the ‘terms’ of
society, the substantial entities – the material elements related by social relations to make up society: ‘persons and
productive forces are the only terms bound by production
relations’ (p.3!). These relations, Cohen insists, are external to, separate and distinct from, the terms related: ‘the
terms bound by relations do not belong to the structure
those relations constitute’ (p.35).

Cohen discusses these views with reference to the
following passages from Marx.

A negro is a negro. He only becomes a slave in
certain relations. A cotton-spinning jenny is a
machine for spinning cotton. It becomes capital
only in certain relations. Torn from these relationships it is no more capital than gold itself is
money.

(18)

But Marx also wr i tes,
To be a slave or to be a ci tizen are social
determinations, the relationship of man A to
man B.

(19)

And also,
Capital is not a thing, but rather a definite
social production relation, belonging to a definite historical formation of society, which is
manifested in a thing.

(20)
Commenting on these passages, Cohen writes,
Marx describes capital, slaves, etc., in two
divergent ways. On the one hand, he insists that
capital is a relation and not, like a machine, a
thing; on the other hand, he allows that it may
be a thing, for example a machine placed in
certain relations •••• The two forms of speech are
incompatible.

(pp.89-90)
He then goes on to argue that it is incorrect to talk of
capital, or a slave, as a relation. Capital, he insists, is a
particular sort of thing (a machine, say) placed in certain
social relations; and, likewise, a slave is a different sort of
thing (a person) in certain relations.

To make this point, Cohen appeals to the notion of a
‘relational property’.

A husband is a man related by marriage to a
woman: he is not also a relationship of
marriage. Being a husband is a property of that
man, one he has in virtue of that relationship,
and commonly styled a relational property.

Being capital and being a slave are, similarly,
relational properties of means of production and
men. More specifically they are social relational
properties, whereas being means of production
and being a man are not. The latter are possessed independently of the social form. Remove
the social form in thought experiment and those
properties persist.

(p.90)
Cohen here wants to distinguish ‘relational’ from other properties. The idea is that some properties – those material
properties which make a man a man and a machine a machine – are more basic and essential (i.e. internal) than the
‘relational’ properties. The social relations, the social form,
that these things assume (slave, capital) are, by contrast,
inessential and external.

This whole picture needs questioning. Productive
forces are productive forces only in the context of the
necessary relations of production – in the absence of these
they are mere useless objects. A spinning jenny, therefore,
is a machine for spinning cotton only given certain relations of production. Transferred to a stone-age society it
would be a mere physical object of no productive use.

Likewise, a stone axe has no place in our society as a productive force but only as a museum exhibit. If, by ‘thought
experiment’, the social form is removed from capital, what
is left is not a productive force but a mere physical object.

Similar arguments apply to the other example discussed by
Cohen.

People are essentially social animals. Their social
relations are not external and inessential to their nature as
human beings. This was certainly Marx’s view:

The further back we trace the course of history, the more does the individual ••• appear to
be dependent and to belong to a larger whole •••.

Man is a zoon politikon (social animal) in the
most literal sense: he is not only a social animal, but an animal that can be individuated only
within society.

(2!)
If, by ‘thought experiment’, a human being were entirely
removed and abstracted from all his social relationships, he
would be unlikely to survive the first few days of infancy;
but, even if he did so, he would emerge as a mere animal
of the human species, without any individuality or other
distinctively human characteristics.

The upshot of this· discussion is, again, that concrete
things exist in relations; and the essential point that dialectics makes is that these relations are not merely exter7

nal, but internal to the things related. The notion of a
‘relational property’ to which Co hen appeals is no help to
his case, it only confuses the issue. Nonetheless, a word
should be said about it since it was introduced by G.E.

Moore (22) to combat the Hegelian philosophy of internal
relations and has since become a standard part of the
orthodoxy of analytical philosophy.

Relational properties are supposed to be those properties which a thing has simply by virtue of the relations in
which it stands to other things; and such properties are
contrasted with the non-relational properties, which are
supposed to be intrinsic to a thing, regardless of its relations. The assumption underlying this distinction is our old
friend, the doctrine of external relations: the view that
relations are extrinsic and external to things. According to
this theory, as we have seen, things are what they are and
have the essential properties that they have, intrinsically
and quite independently of their relations to other things.

Thus, the properties which things have in virtue only of
their relations are supposed to be merely accidental and
inessential properties. A man is a person in himself and
essentially; only accidentally does he occupy a particular
social role and relate to others.

A t first sight, this distinction looks simple and clearcut, but these matters are by no means as straightforward
as the advocates of the notion of relational properties
suggest. The problem is that all properties are relational;
all the properties which things have exist by virtue of their
relations. As Hegel says, properties are ‘the determinate
relations of the thing to another thing; property exists only
as a mode of relationship between them’ (23). He gives the
following illustration:

By properties of herbs, for instance, we understand determinations which not only are proper
to something, but are the means whereby this
something in its relations with other some things
maintains itself in its own peculiar way,
counteracting the alien influences posited in it
and making its determina tions effective in the
other.

(24)

The language Hegel uses here is doubtless strange and unfamiliar, but the idea that he is expressing is surely a clear
and a profoundly important one. A thing reveals the particular properties it has only through its relations to otherthings; indeed, only through its opposition to and negation
of them, its ‘counteracting’ them. As Spinoza said, ‘omnis
determinatio est negatio’ (all determination is negation).

Only by reflecting light in a certain way does a thing
manifest colour; only in and through its mechanical interactions with other bodies does an object manifest mass;
only through its relations to other things in space does a
thing show its shape, and so on and so forth. In short, all
properties are ‘relational’, and the concept of a ‘relational
property’ gets us nowhere.

But this is not the end of the matter. The problem
still remains of whether there is a useful distinction to be
drawn between the intrinsic and essential properties and
relations of things, their internal relations, on the one
hand, and their extrinsic, external and inessential properties and relations, on the other. The strong Hegelian view
is that all relations are internal. However, it is not my purpose todefend such a position here. All that I am arguing
is that the opposite extreme – Cohen’s position – that all
relations are external and extrinsic to the nature of things,
is incoherent and unsatisfactory. Some, at least, of the
relations of a thing must be internal. And, in particular,
historical materialism maintains that their social relations
are internal and essential features of the nature of both
people and productive forces.

Things and relations are not purely external to each
other, not absolutely distinct and separate. These are not
either/or exclusive categories. In concrete reality these
opposites pass into each other, they exist in unity. This
sort of language no doubt has a mysterious sound to it and
8

may well appear ‘cloudy’ and ‘evasive’ as Cohen charges,
but it is not so. On the contrary, it embodies the crucially
important idea of dialectics that concrete things must be
understood in the context of their relations and in a
dynamic fashion. For how opposites can be united is intelligible only when we see that relations between them are
not fixed and stationary, but that opposites interpenetrate
and pass into each other. To see here an abstract, isolated,
individual person or thing, there a disembodied structure of
social relations, in the analytic manner, is no way in which
to understand society. In concrete social reality it is rather
the case that people are active. They enter into social
relations, they interact with other people and things
according to more or less set patterns, they are active in
their social roles; and, in so being, they produce and reproduce their social relations. Conversely, too, their social
relations enter into them, and give shape and form and
structure to their activities and thoughts and intentions.

There is a constant process of interaction and interpenetration between a person and his social relations; and
hence unity as well as conflict between these opposites.

The same is true of the interaction of the forces and
relations of production. These opposites also interact,
interpenetrate and pass into each other.

The concentration of the instruments of production and the division of labour are ••• inseparable one from the other •••• As the concentration
of instruments develops, the division develops
also, and vice-versa…. Every big mechanical
invention is followed by a greater division of
labour, and each increase in the division of
labour gives rise in turn to new mechanical
inventions.

(25)

The general point is this: relations do not remain
external to terms. There is no absolute division or opposition between things and relations. Things do not remain
merely ‘in themselves’, shut up, closed- off and isolated
from other things. Things enter into their relations, act and
interact with other things, manifest their properties. And,
conversely, its relations and properties enter into the thing
and are its properties. This is what Hegel is saying when he
writes,
The inadequacy of the standpoint at which this
philosophy stops short consists essentially in
holding fast to the abstract thing-in-itself as an
ultimate determination, and in opposing to the
thing-in-itself ••• the determinateness and manifoldness of the properties; whereas in fact the
thing-in-itself essentially possesses this external
reflection within itself and determines itself to
be a thing with its own determinations, a thing
endowed with properties.

(26)

5 Causality and Necessary Connection
I have been arguing that terms and relations, productive
forces and relations of production, the material and the
social aspects of society, must not be regarded as entirely
distinct and separate from each other. In concrete conditions these are contradictory opposites which interpenetrate and exist in unity. In response, no doubt, the
objection will be made that I am misrepresenting the analytical approach and being unfair to Cohen in my criticisms. Analysis, it will be said, is a tool of thought; and it
is the peculiar power and privilege of thought to be able to
abstract and to separate in theory things which in reality
are inseparably united. Indeed, Cohen defends his method in
just these terms.

Given a certain level of development of the
productive forces ••• a certain set of production
relations, or social form, is appropriate…. But
we may always abstract from the social form

and display the current state of the relation
between man and nature, and the material relations between men underlying their social relations…. The relationship between man and
nature is ‘mediated’ by the social form: it does
not occur outside it. The development of nature,
described in socio-neutral terms, is therefore an
abstraction. But it is a theoretically important
abstraction.

(pp.97-98)
Elsewhere, Cohen describes such abstractions as ‘illuminating’ ones. And indeed they are, so long as it is remembered
that they are abstractions, and that in concrete reality
matter and~orm, nature and man, are also essenti.ally
related.

The analytic approach, however, and its underlying
either/or logic, requires that each term is isolated from its
opposite, and that an impassable logical gulf is created
between them. This method produces ‘abstractions’ to be
sure, but not ‘illuminating’ ones.

According to Cohen, there is no ‘logical’ connection
between terms and relations, form and content, the material and the social levels: the relations between them are
purely external and contingent; they are ‘conceptually
separate’ (p.99). He illustrates this by saying,
We may envisage a complete material description of a society – a socio-neutral description from which we cannot deduce its social form. It
will provide extensive information, detailing the
material abilities and needs of persons, the
resources and facilities available to them, their
scientific knowledge. But ownership patterns,
distribution of rights and duties, social roles
will go unremarked.

(p.94)
Here we are being presented with the atomised and fragmented picture of the world which is the necessary outcome of the analytic method. There is no necessary
connection between the material aspects of society and its
social forms. This is Hume’s picture of the world: ‘All
events seem entirely loose and separate. One event follows
another, but we never can observe any tie between them:

they seem conjoined, but never connected’ (27). According
to this logic, there are no necessary connections between
events. Any event could follow any other; it is ‘logic~lly
possible’ for any sort of society to be associated with any
sort of material means of production.

Marx’s idea was different: ‘The hand-mill gives you
society with the feudal lord; the steam mill, society with
the industrial capitalist’ (28). The necessary connection
between a society’s productive forces and its social relations was one of Marx’s great discoveries. It may seem possible to have any sort of society – a socialist society even
– based upon the hand-mill. Indeed, a large and influential
body of romantic and utopian thinking is based upon just
this idea. According to Marx, however, this is not possible.

It is not, that is to say, a real, historical possibility.

A scientific understanding of events involves a knowledge of the laws and necessities governing them. Hence it
involves a knowledge of the real and concrete possibilities
inherent in a situation, as opposed to the merely apparent
and abstract, or ‘logical’, possibilities. Cohen, like other
philosophers in the analytic tradition, devotes considerable
time and ingenuity to exploring various unreal but ‘logically
possible’ cases (29). However, to say that something is
‘logically possible’ means only that it is not self-contradictory; and, as Hegel says,
Every content can be brought under this form,
since nothing is required except to separate it
from the relations in which it stands. Hence any
content, however absurd and non-sensical, can
be viewed as possible.

(39)
For this reason, questions of ‘logical possibility’ should be
of no interest to philosophers, historians, or anyone else

concerned with the real world. The proper subject matter
of philosophy, as Hegel says, is actuality; and Marx would
surely have agreed, at least with the spirit of this (31).

As one comes to understand reality scientifically, one
comes to grasp the real connections between apparently
unrelated events. A knowledge of the concrete nature of
things involves a knowledge of the laws governing them:

their necessary processes of development and their connections with other things.

Usually we regard things as unaffected by each
other…. Everything is thus put outside of every
other. But the aim of philosophy (and science,
n.b.) is to banish indifference and to ascertain
the necessity of things. By that means the other
is seen to stand over and against its other.

(32)

Conversely,
The less education a man has, or, in other
words, the less he knows of the specific connections of the objects to which he directs his observation, the greater is his tendency to launch
out into all sorts of empty possibilities.

(33)
As I have been arguing, the analytic picture of the
world and the logic of external relations have precisely the
effect that Hegel here describes. This philosophical method
separates things from their relations. It portrays things as
‘loose and separate’, merely contingently and externally
related. This is Hume’s picture of the wrld; and, as Hume
himself was well aware, it leads to a total scepticism about
science. For, on this account, there can be no valid basis
for scientific theories of the lawlike and necessary
behaviour of things. In other words, this philosophy provides a logical framework which undermines scientific
knowledge. It is therefore incapable of illuminating Marx’s
theory of history, which claims to be a scientific theory.

This fragmented, Humean picture of the world is the
underlying basis of a great deal of contempqrary analytical
philosophy. It is the underlying basis of Cohen’s account of
Marxism, as I have shown. Cohen, of course, knows perfectly well that there is a connection between the material
productive forces and social relations, and that it is the
purpose of Marx’s theory of history to describe this connection. Cohen himself does not believe that there could be
a socialist society based upon hand production. Nevertheless, he insists that the connection between the forces and
relations of production is not a logical or ‘deductive’ one.

Rather, he maintains, the relation is a purely contingent,
external and Humean causal one. Cohen, in other words,
accepts Hume’s premises: he accepts Hume’s fragmented
picture of the world; but he is unwilling to accept Hume’s
sceptical conclusion.

Though we cannot deduce social relationships
from a material description, we can infer them
more or less confidently, by dint of general or
theoretical knowledge.

(p.95)
Given Cohen’s premises, however, this is just what cannot
be done. Starting, as Cohen does, from the analytical picture of the world as composed of discrete and unconnected,
‘loose and separate’ particulars, it is not possible to infer
anything beyond the immediately given. If ever a philosophical result has been demonstrated conclusively, it is surely
this one, by Hume’s celebrated arguments. Uncritical and
unsupported talk of ‘inferences’ will not do here. Hume, by
contrast, spells out the sceptical implications of the
analytical view with uncompromising clarity:

It is evident that Adam, with all his science,
would never have been able to demonstrate that
the course of nature must continue uniformly
the same…. Nay I will go further and assert
that he could not so much as prove by any
probable arguments that the future must be conformable to the past.

(34)
9

Marxism claims to give an account of the laws of
historical development. It maintains that there is a necessary connection, an internal relation, between the development of the productive forces and changes in the relations
of production and in the political and ideological superstructure. This theory cannot be understood in terms of a
logic which has the effect of fragmenting social and
historical processes into isolated parts and denying the
connections between them.

6 The Mechanistic Outlook
So far I have been concerned with the philosophical and
logical assumptions which are at the basis of the analytical
approach. Now let us look at the effect of this method
when it is applied. This effect is simply stated. The analytical approach produces a mechanistic picture of the
world. The reasons for this are not hard to see.

Analysis involves dissecting and decomposing a given
whole into its constituent parts. Underlying this approach,
as we have seen, is the doctrine of external relations. The
assumption is that the whole is merely a collection of
externally related parts, which are not essentially affected
by their relations to each other in the whole. Thus in the
analytic division of the thing into its component parts, the
parts, it is claimed, are not altered: nothing is lost;clarity
and precision are gained.

In thus dismembering the thing, it is understood,
we disintegrate and take to pieces the attributes which have coalesced, and add nothing but
our own act of disintegration.

(35)
These methods and assumptions seem particularly
satisfactory and appropriate in the case of mechanical objects and systems. For mechanical action is external action;
and a mechanical system appears, at least initially, to be a
mere assemblage of parts, indifferent to each other and in
purely external relation. ‘In its superficial form,’ as Hegel
says, ‘the mechanical nexus consists in the parts being
independent of each other and of the whole’ (36). A clock,
for example, appears to be a mechanism in which the parts
are related to and act upon each other purely externally.

Analysis of the clock, taking it to pieces, does not affect
the parts: they are self-subsistent objects, indifferent to
their relations to each other and to the system as a whole.

However, although this account may appear satisfactory for purely mechanical systems, it is clearly not
adequate to describe higher and more complex material
forms. In a living organism, a plant or an animal, there are
also differentiated parts and organs; but these parts are
not in merely external relation to each other or to the organism as a whole. The different parts or organs of an
organism are internally and essentially related to the
whole.

The single members of the body are what they
are only by and in relation to their unity. A
hand, e.g., when hewn off from the body is, as
Aristotle observed, a hand in name only, not in
fact.

(37)
The severed hand ceases to be a living organ – it dies and
putrifies (38). In other words, its relation to the living
organism is internal and essential to its nature as a living
thing.

It may seem that the advent of transplant surgery has
refuted these ideas, but I do not think it does so. There
are important differences between such surgery and the
process of dismantling and re-assembling a clock. A bodily
organ, unlike a mechanical part, is not a self-subsistent
entity. Artificial means must be used to preserve it during
the time when it is severed from the body. Moreover, the
parts of the body cannot simply be re-assembled after surgery: the organ must be grafted on to its new body, and
steps taken to ensure that the graft is not ‘rejected’ and
that the living whole of the organism re-establishes itself.

Essentially similar processes occur in plant grafting. In
talking in this way of ‘organic wholes’ and ‘vital unity’ it
may seem that I am appealing to idealistic and mystical
notions; but there is no basis in what I have been saying
for such criticisms. The point I am making is a simple one
and does not in any way transcend a purely materialistic
understanding of biology. I am merely insisting on the fact
that living organisms cannot adequately be understood as
systems of self-subsistent and merely externally related
parts. That is to say, biological phenomena cannot be successfully comprehended in purely mechanical terms. This
point is made by Hegel with great clarity as follows.

The limbs and organs ••• of an organic
body are not merely parts of it: it is only
in their unity that they are what they
are, and they are unquestionably affected
by that unity, as they also in turn affect
it. These limbs and organs become mere
parts only when they pass under the hands
of the anatomist, whose occupation, be it
remembered, is not with the living body
but with the corpse. Not that such analysis is illegitimate: we only mean that
the external and mechanical relation of
whole and parts is not sufficient for us, if
we want to study organic life in its truth.

And if this be so in organic life, it is the
case to a much greater extent when we
apply this relation to the mind and the
formations of the spiritual world.

(39)
As Hegel here says, the analytical approach and the
associated mechanical world-view is a wholly unsatisfactory
basis for understanding social and historical phenomena. It
labours under a delusion, if it supposes that,
while analysing the objects, it leaves them as
they were: it really transforms the concrete
into an abstract. And as a consequence of this
change the living thing is killed: life can exist
only in the concrete and one. Not that we can
do without this division, if it is our intention to
comprehend…. The error lies in forgetting that
this is only one half of the process, and that
the main point is the reunion of what has been
parted.

(40)

The analytic method is closely associated with the
mechanistic world-view, as I have stressed. It thus seems to
have a legitimate sphere of application to mechanical objects. The problems appear to arise only when it is applied
beyond this sphere. But this is not in fact so. The dialectical idea that things are essentially and internally related
applies, in some respects, even to inorganic things. It is
particularly important to emphasise this fact in order to
avoid the creation of a dualistic divide between the org-

10

anic and inorganic worlds, and in order to avoid any temptation to posit a ‘life force’ in living things which transcends the material world.

Even in the realm of purely inorganic, physical phenomena, the mechanical view is an abstract and metaphysical
one. It portrays physical objects in an idealised fashion, as
unaffected by their relations. Mechanics, as Wittgenstein
says, ‘describes the movements of the mechanism on the
assumption that its parts are completely rigid’ (41). But
real mechanical objects are not like this: ‘Do we forget the
possibility of their bending, breaking off, melting, and so
on? Yes; in many cases we don’t think of that at all’ (42).

The pieces and parts of a real clock, for instance, do not
remain indifferent, but gradually ‘wear in’ to one another;
and eventually wear out altogether, as with all machinery.

But such facts play no part in mechanics, which views
things in an abstract and idealised form.

Of course, the mechanical outlook has played an
extremely important role in the development of the scientific understanding of nature, and it is not my intention to
reject such methods and assumptions altogether. The error
comes when such methods and assumptions are made into a
universal philosophy and emphasised in an exclusive and
one-sided fashion. Their abstract character is forgotten and
they are employed as though they alone formed an adequate basis for understanding reality. The result is an
abstract and metaphysical view of the world.

7 Historical and Dialectical Materialism
We have reached the conclusion that society is not a mechanism: it is not like a clock, in which separate and selfsubsistent parts act externally on each other. Society is an
organic whole, in which the different parts and aspects
exist as such only in relation to each other and in relation
to the whole. I shall finish off by briefly pointing to some
of the implications of this account for Marx’s theory of
history. In doing so, I shall at last be emerging from out of
the undergrowth of abstract logical and philosophical argument into what, for most Marxists at least, will be more
familiar terrain.

In his account, Cohen places strong emphasis on
Marx’s materialism. He rightly argues that Marx gives primacy to the development of the productive forces in his
theory of history. However, Cohen’s analytic method leads
him to stress the role of technological development in a
one-sided and exclusive fashion. The development of the
productive forces is made into the sole active force in
historical development. Marxism is reduced to a form of
technological determinism. Historical change is portrayed as
a linear causal process. Movement always comes from
‘below’, as it were, from the material level; and it is transmitted ‘upwards’ in a causal and mechanical fashion. ‘The
productive forces,’ writes Cohen, ‘strongly determine the
character of the economic structure while forming no part
of it’ (p.31). The economic structure in turn determines the
character of the political superstructure. Economic relations and political forms are the mere effects, the mere
outcome of a particular level of development of the productive forces. The relations of production and the superstructure are thus regarded as inactive results, with no
independent life or internal dynamic of their own.

This is a mechanical interpretation of the historical
process. For it is characteristic of the mechanical outlook,
as we have seen, to regard causal action as purely external: motion and change always come to things from outside.

Mechanical things are thus inert and passive: they have no
internal activity of their own, but can only transmit motion
which comes to them from elsewhere. As Locke puts it,
A body at rest affords us no idea of any active
power to move; and when it is set in motion
itself, that motion is rather a passion than an
action in it ••• we observe it only to transfer
but not produce motion.

(43)

A distinctive feature of Cohen’s interpretation of
Marxism is his insistence that it is a sort of functionalism.

‘History,’ he writes, ‘is, fundamentally, the growth of
human productive power and forms of society rise and fall
according as they enable or impede that growth’ (p.x).

According to Co hen, Marx gives a functional explanation of
the character of the relations of production and of the
superstructure. These are explained in terms of the fact
that they are conducive to the development of production.

Economic structures are as they are because,
being so, they enable human productive power
to expand ••• suprstructures are as they are
because, being so, they consolidate economic
structures.

(p.xi)
It is true, as Cohen stresses, that this functionalist
account involves the idea of an ‘interaction’ between the
forces and relations of production in the historical process.

Not only do the productive forces determine the relations
of production, but also the relations condition the forces.

First, they promote the development of the
forces…. Second, they help to determine the
particular path development takes…. Finally,
the relations influence the rate of productivity
development.

(p.165)
At first, it may appear that these views do not accord with
the idea, which I have just attributed to Cohen, of history
as a linear causal process; but there is no contradiction
here. Mechanical things do both interact and also transmit
motion in a linear fashion. For example, I strike a billiard
ball with a cue and this ball hits another and sets it in
motion. In the process, the motion of the first ball is
changed. Each ball acts on the other – an interaction
occurs.

But it is an interaction between passive and
merely inertial objects, that are not in themselves active,
but which merely transmit the motion imparted by my shot.

For this reason such mechanical systems are· said to be
‘lifeless’.

The same principles are at work in Cohen’s account of
history. Despite the interaction of forces and relations, the
sole dynamic element in history, according to Cohen, is the
development of the productive forces.

The master thesis of historical materialism puts
the growth of human productive powers at the
centre of the historical process, and it is to this
extra-social development that society itself is
constrained to adjust.

(p.285)
Economic relations and political forms are merely ‘functional’ to the prevailing level of technological development:

in themselves they are inactive and inert. Social processes
are thus lifeless, without any independent development or
internal activity of their own. The dynamic of history
comes from outside of history; and, without this external
push, the social mechanism would grind to a halt. It is for
this reason that Cohen needs to posit a trans-historical
tendency for the productive forces to develop: his so-called
‘development thesis’ (Chapter 6). To explain this transhistorical tendency, he appeas to an equally trans-historical
human nature. People are ‘somewhat rational’ and have
‘compelling needs’ (p.152), and both these features of our
nature, it is suggested, are pre-social, biological endowments. It is these purely biological needs which are the ultimate motive principle of history, the active force which is
transmitted through the system – the mainspring, as it
were, that keeps the historical mechanism in motion.

Thus far, Cohen. We are a long way from Marx.

Indeed, all this is barely recognisable as Marxism, for
Marx’s account is the direct opposite. First of all, Marx
does not attempt to deduce history from human nature; on
the contrary, he argues that human nature and human needs
are the product of history. Needs lead to production, but
also production leads to the creation of ‘new needs’ (44).

There is a dialectical interaction here, in which neither
11

term is inert or passive, and in the course of which social
productive activity and human nature are both transformed.

However, ‘the essential point to emphasise’, says Marx,
is that ••• production and consumption ••• appear
as moments of a single process in which production is the actual point of departure and
accordingly the predominant moment. Consumption, as a pressing necessity, as a need, is itself
an internal moment of productive activity.

(45)

In other words, in so far as the development of production
can be understood in terms of meeting needs – as, indeed,
it can, in that production is completed in consumption – it
is not abstract, trans-historical needs which are in question, but needs which have developed historically in a particular form of society.

Furthermore, Marx does not see society as a lifeless
structure, merely functional to external developments. Historical materialism is the opposite of this mechanistic
theory: it gives a dialectical account of historical development. Social processes have their own internal dynamic,
their own inner contradictions. The different aspects of
society – forces and relations of production, base and
superstructure – are aspects of a single whole, internally
and organically related, in dialectical interaction and conflict. It is these interactions, these conflicts, these contradictions – which are internal to society – that lead to historical change. In the process, none of these aspects is
inert or passive: the forces and relations of production and
also the superstructure are all transformed and developed.

‘The conclusion we arrive at,’ says Marx,
is that production, distribution, exchange and
consumption ••• all constitute members of a
single whole, differences within a single unity ••••
Interaction takes place among the various
moments. Such is the case with every organic
unity.

(46)

This is the dialectical account of history given by
Marx, and it differs entirely from Cohen’s mechanical
interpretation. The differences are clearly spelled out by
Engels in the well known series of letters that he wrote
towards the end of his life. In them he insists that the
economic system and the superstructure are not simply the
immediate and direct products of the prevailing form of
production. Although their character is certainly conditioned predominantly by the development of the productive
forces, it cannot be reduced to this factor alone. On the
contrary, the economic system, for example, acquires its
own distinctive character and its own inner dynamic.

Through the division of labour, trade and commerce become
areas of activity increasingly independent of production.

They acquire, in short, a degree of ‘relative autonomy’.

Where there is division of labour on a social
scale, there the different labour processes
become independent of each other. In the last
instance production is the decisive factor. But
as soon as trade in products becomes independ-

ent of production proper, it follows a movement
of its own, which, while it is governed as a
whole by production, still in particular respects
and within this general dependence follows laws
of its own; ••• this movement has phases of its
own and in turn reacts on the movement of
production.

(47)

The same is true, even more clearly, of political and
legal institutions and of art, religion and philosophy. None
is purely ‘functional’ to the development of production.

Each of these spheres, while in general being determined
by the development of production and by economic forces,
has its own relatively autonomous process of development,
its own relative independence. Each affects the others and
the material base.

Poli tical, juridical, philosophical, religious, li terary, artistic, etc., development is based on
economic development. But all of these react
upon one another and also upon the economic
basis. It is not that the economic condition is
the cause and alone active, while everything
else is only a passive effect. There is, rather,
interaction on the basis of economic necessity,
which ultimately always asserts itself.

(48)

Here we have the concept of a ‘relatively autonomous’

sphere, distinct from other areas of social activity, yet
essentially related to these and interacting with them
within the social totality. This idea is by now a familiar
one. It is the idea of an organic part of an organic whole.

This notion is an essential part of Marx’s theory, and indispensable for a genuine understanding of society and history. But Cohen has no comprehension of the dialectical
basis of Marx’s thought. When he comes to discuss these
ideas he can only caricature them. He talks, for instance,
of ‘that zig-zag “dialectic” between forces and relations,
with priority on neither side, which is widely favoured’

(p.138). This sort of thing doesn’t deserve a response,
except to emphasise that Marx, when he talks of the
‘interaction’ and ‘contradiction’ between forces and relations, does not regard these moments as having equal
weight. On the contrary, like Engels, he makes clear
throughout his work that he regards production and the
development of the productive forces as the most powerful
and as the ultimately decisive forces.

In short, he is a materialist. But never a mechanical
materialist after the manner of Cohen. Marx’s materialist
theory of history is quite distinct from the abstract and
metaphysical views propounded by Cohen. It cannot adequately be understood using a purely analytical approach.

This is what I have been arguing. As Engels says,
What these gentlemen all lack is dialectics.

They always see only here cause, there effect.

That this is a hollow abstraction ••• that here
everything is relative and nothing absolute this they never begin to see. Hegel has never
existed for them.

(49)

Footnotes
1 Marx to Engels, 14 January 1858: Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence,
Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, n.d., p.121.

2 G.A. Cohen, Karl Marx’s Theory of History: A Defence, Clarendon Press, Oxford,
1978. Otherwise unattributed page references in this article refer to this work.

3 A.C. Ewing, Idealism: A Critical Survey, Methuen, London, 1934. Chapter 4 gives cl
clear account of the idea of ‘external’ and ‘internal’ relations in the Hegelian tradi·.

tion. For an application of these ideas to Marxism, see B. Oilman, Alienation,
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1971.

Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 1l.25.8.

This saying was used by G.E. Moore as the motto of his Principia Ethica (1903), and
thereby achieved modern currency as one of the slogans of the analytic movement.

6 Marx, ‘Preface’ (1859) to A Contribution to a Critique of Political Economy, in
Preface and Introduction to A Contribution to a Critique of Political Economy,
Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1976, p.3.

‘Introduction’ (1857), ibid., p.17.

Cohen’s attempt to portray productive forces as mere material entities denies this.

However, he tacitly recognises the point I am here making in the definition he

12

9
10
11
12
13
14

offers of ‘productive force’. ‘To qualify as a productive force,’ says Cohen, ‘a facility must be capable of use by a producing agent in such a way that production
occurs (partly) as a result of its use, and it is someone’s purpose that the facility so
contributes to production’ (p.32). The first clause of this definition is consistent
with Cohen’s general views. That a thing is capable of productive use refers solely
to its material features. However, the second clause, with its talk of people’s purposes, clearly brings in a reference to the way in which people relate to the productive forces, and hence a reference to relations to production. This is further
evidence that the productive forces cannot be defined independently of the relations of production. (I am indebted to Prof. Howard Smokier for pointing this out to
me.)
Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1961, p.329.

Ibid., p.326.

Engels, Anti-DUhring, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1962, pp.176-77.

Marx, Capital, Vol. I, p.329.

Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, Part I, (ed.) C.J. Arthur, International
Publishers, NY, 1978, pp.62-63.

Ibid., p.62.

15 See, for example, Engels, Anti-Diihring, Part I, Ch. XI; C. CaudwelI, ‘On Liberty’ in
Studies in a Dying Culture, Bodley Head, London, 1938.

16 Marx, Capital, Vol. I, p.ln.

17 Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, pp.56-57.

18 Marx, ‘Wage Labour and Capital’, Selected Works in One Volume, Lawrence &
Wishart, London, 1970, p.79.

19 Marx, Grundrisse, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1973, p.265.

20 Marx, Capital, Vol. Ill, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1962, p.794.

21 Marx, ‘Introduction’ (1857), pp.9-10.

22 G.E. Moore, ‘External and Internal Relations’, Philosophical Studies, Routledge and
Kegan Paul, London, 1922, pp.281ff.

23 Hegel, Science of Logic, trans. A.V. Miller, AlIen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1969,
p.487.

24 Ibid., p.114.

25 Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1955, p.121.

26 Hegel, Science of Logic, p.490.

27 Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Bobbs-Merrill, Indianapolis, 1955,
p.85.

28 Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, p.95.

29 See, for example, Chapter 3, Section 2.

30 Hegel Logic (Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences, Part I), trans. W. Wallace,
Clarendon Press, Oxford, 3rd edition, 1975.

31 ‘Actuality’ is a technical term in Hegel’s philosophy with distinctly idealistic
overtones.

32 Hegel, Logic, Section 119 (Add.), pp.173-74. My bracket.

33 Ibid., Section 143 (Add.), pp.203-04.

34 Hume, ‘An Abstract of A Treatise of Human Nature’, in Enquiry Concerning Human
Nature, p.188.

35 Hegel, Logic, Section 38 (Add.), p.62.

36 Ibid., Section 136, p.I92.

37 Ibid., Section 216 (Add.), p.280. The reference is to Aristotle, Politics, 1253a 19ft.

See also, Hegel, Philosophy of Right, trans. T.M. Knox, Clarendon Press Oxford,
1952, Section 270 (add.), p.283.

38 Hegel, Philosophy of Nature (Enc clo aedia of the Philoso hical Sciences, Part 10,
trans. A.V. Miller, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1970, Section 248 (Add. , p.18.

39 Hegel, Logic, Section 38 (Add.), pp.191-92.

40 Ibid., Section 38 (Add.), p.63.

41 Wittgenstein, Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics, Basil Blackwell, Oxford,
1st edition, 1964, Section 1-120, p.37.

42 Ibid., Section 1-122, p.37.

43 Locke, Essay, 11.21.4. Cf. Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge, Section 25:

‘The things which we perceive ••• are visibly inactive; there is nothing of power or
agency included in them.’

44 Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, p.49.

45 Marx, ‘Introduction’ (1857), p.23.

46 Ibid., pp.29-30.

47 Engels to C. Schmidt, 27 October 1890, Selected Works, p.684.

48 Engels to W. Borgius (H. Starkenburg), 25 January 1894, Selected Works, p.694.

49 Engels to C. Schmidt, 27 October 1890, Selected Works, p.689.

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