Dialectical materialism


Dialectical materialism
   Representing the influence of Friedrich Engels and in particular his book Anti-Dühring (1878), dialectical materialism became the dominant Marxist philosophy in the Second International and official ideology in the Soviet Union. A term probably first used by Georgii Plekhanov, dialectical materialism combined the dialectical approach of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel with philosophical materialism. The materialist aspect of dialectical materialism consists in the tenets that: the material world exists independently of our perception of it or of any thought, mind or spirit; the material world is basic or has primacy over the ideal, mental or spiritual world; and the sole reality is the natural world. The dialectical aspect is contained in Engels’ three laws and can be summed up as asserting that the world is characterized by constant change, including revolutionary change, and by the presence of contradictory tendencies and entities that drive forward the changes. As a philosophy dialectical materialism, or “diamat” as it was called for short, tended to the dogmatic and to be both reductionist and deterministic suggesting a mono–causal approach to understanding society and the world. With the general ossification of philosophy in the Soviet Union from Josef Stalin onwards, dialectical materialism failed to develop and found little favor elsewhere. See also DIALECTICS.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.

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