This piece was submitted in commemoration of the 200th Anniversary of Engels’ birth.
As one of the founders of Marxism, Engels founded Marxist philosophy together with Marx. Engels has always funded and supported Marx’s theoretical research, and fought with Marx, injecting strong impetus into Marx’s theoretical research. Generally speaking, Engels was the first person to present a complete system of Marxist philosophy by participating in joint research, elucidating new world views, controversy, sorting, revising, editing, and publishing.
1. Clearly presenting the transformative nature of Marxist philosophy
Engels paid great attention to the study of economic issues in his early days, such as the “Critical Outline of National Economics” written in September 1843-January 1844 and published in the “Germany and France Yearbook” in February 1844. Marx paid more attention to the study of philosophical issues, such as the “Introduction to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law”, which was written in October-December 1843 and published in the German-French Yearbook in February 1844. The two studies are not only complementary, but also inspiring each other.
When Marx was an editor of the “Rheinland”, he began to face the debate on free trade and protection of tariffs, and he wanted to express his opinions on the “so-called material interests.” This was the initial motivation for him to study economic problems, but Engels’s research on economic problems It also inspired Marx in a certain sense and made him realize that in order for philosophy to be mastered by the masses, it is necessary to grasp the fundamentals of things. For this, it is necessary to take a solid foundation to study economic issues. In his early years, Marx began to think and study economic issues, which was mainly reflected in the “Manuscript of Economics and Philosophy in 1844.” In this book, Marx uses humanistic philosophy to study economic issues-that is, a basic economic fact that exists in capitalist society. This is that the more wealth a worker produces, the greater the impact and scale of his production, the more The poorer; the more commodities a worker creates, the more cheap he becomes. The appreciation of the world of things is proportional to the devaluation of the world of humans, which is “alienated labor.” Through the analysis of alienated labor, Marx further revealed the economic relationship of capitalist society—private property. This shows that Marx began to pay attention to and deeply study the issues of production, labor, economic relations (including private property), and grasped the root of historical development. Article 6 of the “Outline on Feuerbach” written by Marx in 1845, it can be clearly seen that his worldview, ideological understanding and research orientation are undergoing a fundamental change, that is, from abstract humanism to an individual who studies reality. , Production and communication forms.
In the “German Ideology” co-created by Marx and Engels in 1846, they took the actual individual as a logical starting point for analysis. In their view, the actual individual is the living individual; the living individual is the individual with the needs of physical organization; unlike animals, in order to meet the needs of personal physical organization, people must engage in the production of material means of living; In the production process of means of living, Marx and Engels discovered the decisive role of material production in the development of human history, and revealed the law of human history development from the contradictory movement of productivity and communication forms, and then created historical materialism and realized philosophical changes.
Afterwards, Engels’ “Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of German Classical Philosophy” comprehensively and systematically expounded the changes achieved by Marxist philosophy for the first time, saving dialectics from German idealist philosophy and applying it to The materialistic view of nature and history, and the use of dialectics to discover the law of human history in the field of history, embodies the transformative and innovative nature of Marxist philosophy.
Engels’ contribution to Marxist philosophy enlightens us, not only to use a philosophical approach to grasp economic and historical issues, to give an understanding and interpretation of ontology, epistemology, dialectics, values and human sciences of economic activities and history, but also to use analysis and research Economic and historical issues thus make philosophy based on reality and move toward the depths of history.
2. Clearly presenting the essence of Marxist philosophy
Engels worked with Marx to promote the construction of a new world outlook, so he has a deep understanding of Marx’s new world outlook. Engels called Marx’s “Thesis on Feuerbach” “the first document containing the budding genius of a new worldview”. This conclusion not only shows that Marx started the construction of his “new” worldview in 1845, but also fully expresses Engels’ accurate grasp of the essential characteristics of the “new” worldview created by Marx and him.
Engels called Marx’s “Thesis on Feuerbach” “the first document containing the budding genius of a new worldview”, and he said that the “Thesis on Feuerbach” clearly and concentratedly expressed Marx’s new World outlook, this new world outlook introduces the principle of practice into materialism, and emphasizes the important role of the principle of practice in explaining and transforming the world. Here, Engels actually presented the essence (essential characteristics) of Marxist philosophy.
The contemporary significance of Engels’ contribution to Marxist philosophy lies in the fact that practice is a generative activity of man, man becomes a man in his own practical activity, and things are produced in the process of human practical activity. It also becomes a human-related world in the process of human practical activities. People, things, and the world are all a procedural existence, a generative existence. Therefore, it is necessary to explain the world, explain things, and explain people in terms of the generative nature of practice.
3. Consciously presenting the scientific nature of Marxist philosophy
After 1845, Marx’s philosophical thinking and research paid relatively more attention to the objectivity, empirical nature and scientific nature of “human” and “practice”. In 1846, in “German Ideology”, Marx understood the materialistic view of history created by him and Engels as “a true empirical science describing people’s practical activities and actual development process”, which is “from an investigation of the development of human history. The generalization of the most general results abstracted from the “In no way provides prescriptions or formulas that can be applied to various historical eras.” In his later years, Marx spent his entire life studying “Das Kapital”. In “Das Kapital”, Marx analyzed the development process of capitalist society with the accuracy of mathematics, and proved that this development direction will inevitably lead to socialism.
When he was young, Engels’ philosophical thinking and research also focused on “human beings” and “practical subjectivity”, but paid more attention to positivism and objectivity, and focused more on the dimensions of “facts”, “history”, and “objectivity” or using “facts”. “History” and “objectivity” look at the problem. This was especially true for Engels in his later years. In “The Origin of Family, Private Ownership, and the State”, Engels focused on analyzing and studying the history of human production and development in the primitive society from the dimensions of “facts”, “history” and “objectivity”; writing “Dialectics of Nature” requires him to have mathematics And natural science knowledge. For this reason, Engels spent 8 years in mathematics and natural sciences for a thorough “hair removal”, which enabled him to focus on the scientific evidence and objectivity to think and study the dialectics of nature, to study materialism and epistemology; In “Dewig Feuerbach and the End of German Classical Philosophy”, Engels pays more attention to expounding the basic principles of the materialist view of history in terms of economic benefits and material production. In “Anti-Duhring”, Engels also focused on expounding the three components of Marxism from the dimensions of “facts”, “history” and “objectivity”. In “Speech at the Tomb of Marx”, Engels summarized Marx’s two major discoveries in his life, one of which is the materialist view of history. When talking about the materialist view of history, Engels emphasized that Marx discovered the development of human history behind a simple fact (that people must eat, drink, live, and wear first) hidden by a complex ideology. law. The above shows that Engels pays attention to the objectivity of the development of things, human development, natural development, and historical development. In this way, Engels further demonstrated the scientific nature of Marxist philosophy.
The contemporary significance of Engels’ contribution to Marxist philosophy lies in the fact that Marxist philosophy certainly pays attention to “normative” research, focusing on observing and thinking about the world from the perspective of “human” and “value” and “practical subjectivity”; at the same time, Marxist philosophy also Pay attention to “empirical” research, focus on observing and thinking about the world with precise eyes such as “facts”, “history” and “objectivity”, build value scales on the basis of historical scales, and adhere to historical scales and value scales, empirical evidence and norms. The organic unity of subjectivity and objectivity. This makes Marxist philosophy both scientific and valuable.
4. Systematic presentation of the integrity of Marxist philosophy
Marx and Engels helped each other and complemented each other in theoretical research, which helped to show the integrity of Marxist philosophy. Generally speaking, Marx pays more attention to historical fields and historical dialectics, while Engels pays more attention to natural fields and natural sciences, pays more attention to natural dialectics; Marx pays more attention to thinking economic issues from a philosophical perspective, while Engels pays more attention to thinking economic issues from a factual perspective ; Marx pays more attention to the production of material means of life, while Engels pays more attention to the production of people themselves. Especially when the debate between Marx and the opponent is distorted and misunderstood by the opponent, Engels will stand up and resolutely defend the integrity and rigor of Marx’s theory. For example, when Marx’s theory was attacked by Duhring, Engels fought back in “On Anti-Duhring”, expounding the integrity of Marxist philosophy theory for the first time, namely the three components of Marxism and its internal logic. Engels said that since we often have to emphasize the main principles denied by them when rebutting our arguments, and there is not always time, place and opportunity to give due attention to other factors participating in the interaction, Marx The relative importance and emphasis on the decisive role of production and productivity in the field of social history, while the relative independence, reaction and interaction of the superstructure and social consciousness, Marx explained relatively little. As a result, some young people mistakenly believed that Marx only emphasized that economic factors were the only decisive factor. In response to such misunderstandings or misunderstandings and even misunderstandings, Engels resolutely defended Marx in his letters on historical materialism in his later years. While emphasizing that production and productivity play a decisive role in the process of social and historical development, he also focused on the superstructure and social consciousness. Relative independence and its counter-effects and interactions provide supplementary and systematic in-depth analysis and elaboration on the subjective initiative of people in the process of social and historical development, and the combined forces of social and historical development. This shows the integrity of Marxist philosophy.
Engels’ contribution to presenting the integrity of Marxist philosophy is also reflected in Engels’s accomplishment of Marx’s unfinished business—according to Marx’s terms, it means “doing something”, that is, undertaking to identify, sort, revise, edit, and publish Marx Liability for posthumous manuscripts. At that time, the task of publishing the first volume, third edition (in German) and the second volume of “Das Kapital” fell on Engels. It is quite difficult to complete these tasks, and there are many obstacles (Engels’s eyesight is declining, and he often participates in labor sports, etc.). Especially the third volume of “Das Kapital” is more difficult to organize, because the first draft is extremely incomplete, almost a draft. However, Engels was able to overcome all difficulties with iron will and perseverance, and with his rich economic knowledge, according to Marx’s logic, he successfully completed these tasks and presented the integrity of Marx’s theory.
The contemporary significance of Engels’ contribution to Marxist philosophy lies in the fact that an essential feature of Marxist philosophy is to focus on “integrity”, but its integrity is not presented at once. Marx and Engels are in the historical process of the development of his thoughts. Gradually move towards completeness and integrity. Therefore, we should pay attention to understanding and grasping the integrity and integrity of Marxist philosophy, as well as the unity, integrity and complementarity of Marx and Engels in the ideological development of Marx and Engels. Therefore, the view that opposes the thoughts of Marx and Engels, and opposes the young Marx and the old Marx are all wrong.
5. Complete presentation of the systemic nature of Marxist philosophy
Marx was relatively good at creating new theories, proposing new ideas, and constructing new theories. Of course, Engels also participated and made important contributions. But relatively speaking, Engels is good at making a systematic and classic elucidation of the new theories created by Marx, new ideas, new theories constructed, and all theoretical innovations, which reveals the systematic nature of Marxist philosophy. , So that people can comprehensively and systematically and accurately understand and grasp the theoretical system of Marxist philosophy and its quintessence and core concepts. Engels pointed out: “I cannot deny that I have worked together with Marx for 40 years. Before and during this period, I participated in the establishment of this theory to a certain extent, especially with regard to this theory (materialist view of history- -An analysis of the author’s note).”
In “Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of German Classical Philosophy”, Engels gave the first systematic overview of Marx and his philosophical changes and his materialist view of history. In “Anti-Duhring Theory”, he also gave the first comprehensive and systematic explanation of the basic theories of the three components of Marxism and the internal relations between them. In “Anti-Duhring Theory” and “Speech at Marx’s Tomb”, he gave an incisive summary of the “two major discoveries” of Marx’s life. All these will help us to fully understand and grasp the systematic and logical nature of Marxist philosophy.
The five historical contributions that Engels made to Marxist philosophy fully demonstrated: Engels was directly involved in the process of Marx’s creation of a new worldview; he was the first to sort out Marx’s manuscripts; he was the first to understand Marx; A person who enriched, refined, summarized and systematically explained Marx’s theory.