Part I. Philosophy

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III. Classification. Apriorism[edit source]

Philosophy, according to Herr Dühring, is the development of the highest form of consciousness of the world and of life {D. Ph. 2},and in a wider sense embraces the principles of all knowledge and volition. Wherever a series of cognitions or stimuli or a group of forms of being come to be examined by human consciousness, the principles underlying these manifestations of necessity become an object of philosophy. These principles are the simple, or until now assumed to be simple, constituents of manifold knowledge and volition {8}. Like the chemical composition of bodies, the general constitution of things can be reduced to basic forms and basic elements. These ultimate constituents or principles, once they have been discovered, are valid not only for what is immediately known and accessible, but also for the world which is unknown and inaccessible to us. Philosophical principles consequently provide the final supplement required by the sciences in order to become a uniform system by which nature and human life can be explained {9}. Apart from the fundamental forms of all existence, philosophy has only two specific subjects of investigation — nature and the world of man {14}. Accordingly, our material arranges itself quite naturally into three groups, namely, the general scheme of the universe, the science of the principles of nature, and finally the science of mankind. This succession at the same time contains an inner logical sequence, for the formal principles which are valid for all being take precedence, and the realms of the objects to which they are to be applied then follow in the degree of their subordination {15}.

So far Herr Dühring, and almost entirely word for word.

What he is dealing with are therefore principles, formal tenets derived from thought and not from the external world, which are to be applied to nature and the realm of man, and to which therefore nature and man have to conform. But whence does thought obtain these principles? From itself? No, for Herr Dühring himself says: the realm of pure thought is limited to logical schemata and mathematical forms {42} (the latter, moreover, as we shall see, is wrong). Logical schemata can only relate to forms of thought; but what we are dealing with here is solely forms of being, of the external world, and these forms can never be created and derived by thought out of itself, but only from the external world. But with this the whole relationship is inverted: the principles are not the starting-point of the investigation, but its final result; they are not applied to nature and human history, but abstracted from them, it is not nature and the realm of man which conform to these principles, but the principles are only valid in so far as they are in conformity with nature and history. That is the only materialist conception of the matter, and Herr Dühring's contrary conception is idealistic, makes things stand completely on their heads, and fashions the real world out of ideas, out of schemata, schemes or categories existing somewhere before the world, from eternity — just like a Hegel.

In fact, let us compare Hegel’s Encyclopaedia[1] and all its delirious fantasies with Herr Dühring’s final and ultimate truths. With Herr Dühring we have in the first place general world schematism, which Hegel calls Logic. Then with both of them we have the application of these schemata or logical categories to nature: the philosophy of nature; and finally their application to the realm of man, which Hegel calls the philosophy of mind. The “inner logical sequence” of the Dühring succession therefore leads us “quite naturally” {D. Ph. 15} back to Hegel’s Encyclopaedia, from which it has been taken with a loyalty which would move that wandering Jew of the Hegelian school, Professor Michelet of Berlin, to tears.[2]

That is what comes of accepting “consciousness”, “thought”, quite naturalistically, as something given, something opposed from the outset to being, to nature. If that were so, it must seem extremely strange that consciousness and nature, thinking and being, the laws of thought and the laws of nature, should correspond so closely. But if the further question is raised what thought and consciousness really are and where they come from, it becomes apparent that they are products of the human brain and that man himself is a product of nature, which has developed in and along with its environment; hence it is self-evident that the products of the human brain, being in the last analysis also products of nature, do not contradict the rest of nature's interconnections but are in correspondence with them.[3]

But Herr Dühring cannot permit himself such a simple treatment of the subject. He thinks not only in the name of humanity — in itself no small achievement — but in the name of the conscious and reasoning beings on all celestial bodies. Indeed, it would be

“a degradation of the basic forms of consciousness and knowledge to attempt to rule out or even to put under suspicion their sovereign validity and their unconditional claim to truth, by applying the epithet ‘human’ to them” {2}.

Hence, in order that no suspicion may arise that on some celestial body or other twice two makes five {30-31}, Herr Dühring dare not designate thought as being human, and so he has to sever it from the only real foundation on which we find it, namely, man and nature; and with that he tumbles hopelessly into an ideology[4] which reveals him as the epigone of the “epigone” Hegel {197}. By the way, we shall often meet Herr Dühring again on other celestial bodies.

It goes without saying that no materialist doctrine can be founded on such an ideological basis. Later on we shall see that Herr Dühring is forced more than once to endow nature surreptitiously with conscious activity, with what in plain language is called God.

However, our philosopher of reality had also other motives for shifting the basis of all reality from the real world to the world of thought. The science of this general world schematism, of these formal principles of being, is precisely the foundation of Herr Dühring's philosophy. If we deduce world schematism not from our minds, but only through our minds from the real world, if we deduce principles of being from what is, we need no philosophy for this purpose, but positive knowledge of the world and of what happens in it; and what this yields is also not philosophy, but positive science. In that case, however, Herr Dühring's whole volume would be nothing but love's labour lost.

Further: if no philosophy as such is any longer required, then also there is no more need of any system, not even of any natural system of philosophy. The perception that all the processes of nature are systematically connected drives science on to prove this systematic connection throughout, both in general and in particular. But an adequate, exhaustive scientific exposition of this interconnection, the formation of an exact mental image of the world system in which we live, is impossible for us, and will always remain impossible. If at any time in the development of mankind such a final, conclusive system of the interconnections within the world — physical as well as mental and historical — were brought about, this would mean that human knowledge had reached its limit, and, from the moment when society had been brought into accord with that system, further historical development would be cut short — which would be an absurd idea, sheer nonsense. Mankind therefore finds itself faced with a contradiction: on the one hand, it has to gain an exhaustive knowledge of the world system in all its interrelations; and on the other hand, because of the nature both of men and of the world system, this task can never be completely fulfilled. But this contradiction lies not only in the nature of the two factors — the world, and man — it is also the main lever of all intellectual advance, and finds its solution continuously, day by day, in the endless progressive development of humanity, just as for example mathematical problems find their solution in an infinite series or continued fractions. Each mental image of the world system is and remains in actual fact limited, objectively by the historical conditions and subjectively by the physical and mental constitution of its originator. But Herr Dühring explains in advance that his mode of reasoning is such that it excludes any tendency to a subjectively limited conception of the world. We saw above that he was omnipresent — on all possible celestial bodies. We now see that he is also omniscient. He has solved the ultimate problems of science and thus nailed boards across the future of all science.

As with the basic forms of being, so also with the whole of pure mathematics: Herr Dühring thinks that he can produce it a priori that is, without making use of the experience offered us by the external world, can construct it in his head.

In pure mathematics the mind deals “with its own free creations and imaginations” {D. Ph. 43}; the concepts of number and figure are “the adequate object of that pure science which it can create of itself” {42}, and hence it has a “validity which is independent of particular experience and of the real content of the world” {43}.

That pure mathematics has a validity which is independent of the particular experience of each individual is, for that matter, correct, and this is true of all established facts in every science, and indeed of all facts whatsoever. The magnetic poles, the fact that water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen, the fact that Hegel is dead and Herr Dühring alive, hold good independently of my own experience or that of any other individual, and even independently of Herr Dühring’s experience, when he begins to sleep the sleep of the just. But it is not at all true that in pure mathematics the mind deals only with its own creations and imaginations. The concepts of number and figure have not been derived from any source other than the world of reality. The ten fingers on which men learnt to count, that is, to perform the first arithmetical operation, are anything but a free creation of the mind. Counting requires not only objects that can be counted, but also the ability to exclude all properties of the objects considered except their number — and this ability is the product of a long historical development based on experience. Like the idea of number, so the idea of figure is borrowed exclusively from the external world, and does not arise in the mind out of pure thought. There must have been things which had shape and whose shapes were compared before anyone could arrive at the idea of figure. Pure mathematics deals with the space forms and quantity relations of the real world — that is, with material which is very real indeed. The fact that this material appears in an extremely abstract form can only superficially conceal its origin from the external world. But in order to make it possible to investigate these forms and relations in their pure state, it is necessary to separate them entirely from their content, to put the content aside as irrelevant; thus we get points without dimensions, lines without breadth and thickness, a and b and x and y, constants and variables; and only at the very end do we reach the free creations and imaginations of the mind itself, that is to say, imaginary magnitudes. Even the apparent derivation of mathematical magnitudes from each other does not prove their a priori origin, but only their rational connection. Before one came upon the idea of deducing the form of a cylinder from the rotation of a rectangle about one of its sides, a number of real rectangles and cylinders, however imperfect in form, must have been examined. Like all other sciences, mathematics arose out of the needs of men: from the measurement of land and the content of vessels, from the computation of time and from mechanics. But, as in every department of thought, at a certain stage of development the laws, which were abstracted from the real world, become divorced from the real world, and are set up against it as something independent, as laws coming from outside, to which the world has to conform. That is how things happened in society and in the state, and in this way, and not otherwise, pure mathematics was subsequently applied to the world, although it is borrowed from this same world and represents only one part of its forms of interconnection — and it is only just because of this that it can be applied at all. But just as Herr Dühring imagines that, out of the axioms of mathematics,

“which also in accordance with pure logic neither require nor are capable of substantiation” {34},

he can deduce the whole of pure mathematics without any kind of empirical admixture, and then apply it to the world, so he likewise imagines that he can, in the first place, produce out of his head the basic forms of being, the simple elements of all knowledge, the axioms of philosophy, deduce from these the whole of philosophy or world schematism, and then, by sovereign decree, impose this constitution of his on nature and humanity. Unfortunately nature is not at all, and humanity only to an infinitesimal degree, composed of the Manteuffelite Prussians of 1850.[5]

Mathematical axioms are expressions of the scantiest thought-content, which mathematics is obliged to borrow from logic. They can be reduced to two:

1) The whole is greater than its part. This statement is pure tautology, as the quantitatively conceived idea “part” is from the outset definitely related to the idea “whole”, and in fact in such a way that “part” simply means that the quantitative “whole” consists of several quantitative “parts”. In stating this explicitly, the so-called axiom does not take us a step further. This tautology can even in a way be proved by saying: a whole is that which consists of several parts; a part is that of which several make a whole; hence the part is less than the whole — in which the inanity of repetition brings out even more clearly the inanity of content.

2) If two quantities are equal to a third, they are equal to each other. This statement, as Hegel has already shown, is a conclusion, the correctness of which is vouched for by logic, and which is therefore proved, although outside of pure mathematics. The remaining axioms relating to equality and inequality are merely logical extensions of this conclusion.

These meagre principles do not cut much ice, either in mathematics or anywhere else. In order to get any further, we are obliged to bring in real relations, relations and space forms which are taken from real bodies. The ideas of lines, planes, angles, polygons, cubes, spheres, etc., are all taken from reality, and it requires a pretty good portion of naive ideology to believe the mathematicians that the first line came into existence through the movement of a point in space, the first plane through the movement of a line, the first solid through the movement of a plane, and so on. Even language rebels against such a conception. A mathematical figure of three dimensions is called a solid body, corpus solidum, hence, in Latin, even a tangible object; it therefore has a name derived from sturdy reality and by no means from the free imagination of the mind.

But why all this prolixity? After Herr Dühring, on pages 42 and 43,[6] has enthusiastically sung the independence of pure mathematics from the world of experience, its apriority, its preoccupation with the mind’s own free creations and imaginations, he says on page 63:

“It is, of course, easily overlooked that those mathematical elements (number, magnitude, time, space and geometric motion) are ideal only in their form, ... absolute magnitudes are therefore something completely empirical, no matter to what species they belong”, ... but “mathematical schemata are capable of characterisation which is adequate even though divorced from experience.”

The last statement is more or less true of every abstraction, but does not by any means prove that it is not abstracted from reality. In world schematism pure mathematics arose out of pure thought — in the philosophy of nature it is something completely empirical, taken from the external world and then divorced from it. Which are we to believe?

IV. World Schematism[edit source]

“All-embracing being is one. In its self-sufficiency it has nothing alongside it or over it. To associate a second being with it would be to make it something that it is not, namely, a part or constituent of a more comprehensive whole. Due to the fact that we extend our unified thought like a framework, nothing that should be comprised in this thought-unity can retain a duality within itself. Nor, again, can anything escape this thought-unity... The essence of all thought consists in bringing together the elements of consciousness into a unity {D. Ph. 16} ... It is the point of unity of the synthesis where the indivisible idea of the world came into being and the universe, as the name itself implies, is apprehended as something in which everything is united into unity” {17}.

Thus far Herr Dühring. This is the first application of the mathematical method:

“Every question is to be decided axiomatically in accordance with simple basic forms, as if we were dealing with the simple ... principles of mathematics” {224}.

“All-embracing being is one.” If tautology, the simple repetition in the predicate of what is already expressed in the subject — if that makes an axiom, then we have here one of the purest water. Herr Dühring tells us in the subject that being embraces everything, and in the predicate he intrepidly declares that in that case there is nothing outside it. What colossal “system-creating thought” {525}! This is indeed system-creating! Within the space of the next six lines Herr Dühring has transformed the oneness of being, by means of our unified thought, into its unit. As the essence of all thought consists in bringing things together into a unity, so being, as soon as it is conceived, is conceived as unified, and the idea of the world as indivisible; and because conceived being, the idea of the world, is unified, therefore real being, the real world, is also an indivisible unity. And with that

“there is no longer any room for things beyond, once the mind has learnt to conceive being in its homogeneous universality” {D. Ph. 523}.

That is a campaign which puts Austerlitz and Jena, Königgrätz and Sedan completely in the shade.[7] In a few sentences, hardly a page after we have mobilised the first axiom, we have already done away with, cast overboard, destroyed, everything beyond the world — God and the heavenly hosts, heaven, hell and purgatory, along with the immortality of the soul.

How do we get from the oneness of being to its unity? By the very fact of conceiving it. In so far as we spread our unified thought around being like a frame, its oneness becomes a unity in thought, a thought-unity; for the essence of all thought consists in bringing together the elements of consciousness into a unity.

This last statement is simply untrue. In the first place, thought consists just as much in the taking apart of objects of consciousness into their elements as in the putting together of related elements into a unity. Without analysis, no synthesis. Secondly, without making blunders thought can bring together into a unity only those elements of consciousness in which or in whose real prototypes this unity already existed before. If I include a shoe-brush in the unity mammals, this does not help it to get mammary glands. The unity of being, or rather, the question whether its conception as a unity is justified, is therefore precisely what was to be proved; and when Herr Dühring assures us that he conceives being as a unity and not as twofold, he tells us nothing more than his own unauthoritative opinion.

If we try to state his process of thought in unalloyed form, we get the following: I begin with being. I therefore think what being is. The thought of being is a unified thought. But thinking and being must be in agreement, they are in conformity with each other, they “coincide”. Therefore being is a unity also in reality. Therefore there cannot be anything “beyond”. If Herr Dühring had spoken without disguise in this way, instead of treating us to the above oracular passages, his ideology would have been clearly visible. To attempt to prove the reality of any product of thought by the identity of thinking and being was indeed one of the most absurd delirious fantasies of — a Hegel.

Even if his whole method of proof had been correct, Herr Dühring would still not have won an inch of ground from the spiritualists. The latter would reply briefly: to us, too, the universe is simple; the division into this world and the world beyond exists only for our specifically earthly, original-sin standpoint; in and for itself, that is, in God, all being is a unity. And they would accompany Herr Dühring to his other beloved celestial bodies and show him one or several on which there had been no original sin, where therefore no opposition exists between this world and the beyond, and where the unity of the universe is a dogma of faith.

The most comical part of the business is that Herr Dühring, in order to prove the non-existence of God from the idea of being, uses the ontological proof for the existence of God. This runs: when we think of God, we conceive him as the sum total of all perfections. But the sum total of all perfections includes above all existence, since. a non-existent being is necessarily imperfect. We must therefore include existence among the perfections of God. Hence God must exist. Herr Dühring reasons in exactly the same way: when we think of being, we conceive it as one idea. Whatever is comprised in one idea is a unity. Being would not correspond to the idea of being if it were not a unity. Consequently it must be a unity. Consequently there is no God, and so on.

When we speak of being, and purely of being, unity can only consist in that all the objects to which we are referring — are, exist. They are comprised in the unity of this being, and in no other unity, and the general dictum that they all are not only cannot give them any additional qualities, whether common or not, but provisionally excludes all such qualities from consideration. For as soon as we depart even a millimetre from the simple basic fact that being is common to all these things, the differences between these things begin to emerge — and whether these differences consist in the circumstance that some are white and others black, that some are animate and others inanimate, that some may be of this world and others of the world beyond, cannot be decided by us from the fact that mere existence is in equal manner ascribed to them all.

The unity of the world does not consist in its being, although its being is a precondition of its unity, as it must certainly first be before it can be one. Being, indeed, is always an open question beyond the point where our sphere of observation ends. The real unity of the world consists in its materiality, and this is proved not by a few juggled phrases, but by a long and wearisome development of philosophy and natural science.

To return to the text. The being which Herr Dühring is telling us about is

“not that pure, self-equal being which lacks all special determinants, and in fact represents only the counterpart of the idea of nothing or of the absence of idea” {D. Ph. 22}.

But we shall see very soon that Herr Dühring's universe really starts with a being which lacks all inner differentiation, all motion and change, and is therefore in fact only a counterpart of the idea of nothing, and therefore really nothing. Only out of this being-nothing develops the present differentiated, changing state of the universe, which represents a development, a becoming; and it is only after we have grasped this that we are able, even within this perpetual change, to

“maintain the conception of universal being in a self-equal state” {D. Ph. 23}.

We have now, therefore, the idea of being on a higher plane, where it includes within itself both inertness and change, being and becoming. Having reached this point, we find that

“genus and species, or the general and the particular, are the simplest means of differentiation, without which the constitution of things cannot be understood” {24}.

But these are means of differentiation of qualities; and after these have been dealt with, we proceed:

“in opposition to genus stands the concept of magnitude, as of a homogeneity in which no further differences of species exist” {26};

and so from quality we pass to quantity, and this is always “measurable” {26}. Let us now compare this “sharp division of the general effect-schemata” {D.C. 6} and its “really critical standpoint” {D. Ph. 404} with the crudities, wild ravings and delirious fantasies of a Hegel. We find that Hegel's logic starts from being — as with Herr Dühring; that being turns out to be nothing, just as with Herr Dühring; that from this being-nothing there is a transition to becoming the result of which is determinate being [Dasein], i.e., a higher, fuller form of being [Sein] — just the same as with Herr Dühring. Determinate being leads on to quality, and quality on to quantity — just the same as with Herr Dühring. And so that no essential feature may be missing, Herr Dühring tells us on another occasion:

“From the realm of non-sensation a transition is made to that of sensation, in spite of all quantitative gradations, only through a qualitative leap, of which we can say that it is infinitely different from the mere gradation of one and the same property” {142}.

This is precisely the Hegelian nodal dine of measure relations, in which, at certain definite nodal points, the purely quantitative increase or decrease gives rise to a qualitative leap; for example, in the case of heated or cooled water, where boiling-point and freezing-point are the nodes at which — under normal pressure — the leap to a new state of aggregation takes place, and where consequently quantity is transformed into quality.

Our investigation has likewise tried to reach down to the roots, and it finds the roots of the deep-rooted basic schemata of Herr Dühring to be — the “delirious fantasies” of a Hegel, the categories of Hegelian Logic, Part I, the Doctrine of Being, in strictly old-Hegelian “succession” and with hardly any attempt to cloak the plagiarism!

And not content with pilfering from his worst-slandered predecessor the latter's whole scheme of being, Herr Dühring, after himself giving the above-quoted example of the leaplike change from quantity into quality, says of Marx without the slightest perturbation:

“How ridiculous, for example, is the reference” (made by Marx) “to the Hegelian confused, hazy notion that quantity is transformed into quality!” {D. K. G. 498}.

Confused, hazy notion! Who has been transformed here? And who is ridiculous here, Herr Dühring?

All these pretty little things are therefore not only not “axiomatically decided”, as prescribed, but are merely imported from outside, that is to say, from Hegel’s Logic. And in fact in such a form that in the whole chapter there is not even the semblance of any internal coherence unless borrowed from Hegel, and the whole question finally trickles out in a meaningless subtilising about space and time, inertness and change.

From being Hegel passes to essence, to dialectics. Here he deals with the determinations of reflection, their internal antagonisms and contradictions, as for example, positive and negative; he then comes to causality or the relation of cause and effect and ends with necessity. Not otherwise Herr Dühring. What Hegel calls the doctrine of essence Herr Dühring translates into “logical properties of being” {D. Ph. 29}. These, however, consist above all in the “antagonism of forces” {31}, in opposites. Contradiction, however, Herr Dühring absolutely denies; we will return to this point later. Then he passes over to causality, and from this to necessity. So that when- Herr Dühring says of himself:

“We, who do not philosophise out of a cage” {41},

he apparently means that he philosophises in a cage, namely, the cage of the Hegelian schematism of categories.

V. Philosophy of Nature. Time and Space[edit source]

We now come to philosophy of nature. Here again Herr Dühring has every cause for dissatisfaction with his predecessors.

“Natural philosophy sank so low that it became an arid, spurious doggerel founded on ignorance”, and “fell to the prostituted philosophistics of a Schelling and his like, rigging themselves out in the priesthood of the Absolute and hoodwinking the public”. Fatigue has saved us from these “deformities”; but up to now it has only given place to “instability”; “and as far as the public at large is concerned, it is well known that the disappearance of a great charlatan is often only the opportunity for a lesser but commercially more experienced successor to put out again, under another signboard; the products of his predecessor”. Natural scientists themselves feel little “inclination to make excursions into the realm of world-encompassing ideas”, and consequently jump to “wild and hasty conclusions in the theoretical sphere” {D. Ph. 56-57}.

The need for deliverance is therefore urgent, and by a stroke of good luck Herr Dühring is at hand.

In order properly to appreciate the revelations which now follow on the development of the world in time and its limitations in space, we must turn back again to certain passages in "world schematism" {15}.

Infinity — which Hegel calls bad infinity — is attributed to being also in accordance with Hegel (Encyclopaedia, § 93), and then this infinity is investigated.

“The clearest form of an infinity which can be conceived without contradiction is the unlimited accumulation of numbers in a numerical series {18} ... As we can add yet another unit to any number, without ever exhausting the possibility of further numbers, so also to every state of being a further state succeeds, and infinity consists in the unlimited begetting of these states. This exactly conceived infinity has consequently only one single basic form with one single direction. For although it is immaterial to our thought whether or not it conceives an opposite direction in the accumulation of states, this retrogressing infinity is nevertheless only a rashly constructed thought-image. Indeed, since this infinity would have to be traversed in reality in the reverse direction, it would in each of its states have an infinite succession of numbers behind itself. But this would involve the impermissible contradiction of a counted infinite numerical series, and so it is contrary to reason to postulate any second direction in infinity” {19}.

The first conclusion drawn from this conception of infinity is that the chain of causes and effects in the world must at some time have had a beginning:

“an infinite number of causes which assumedly already have lined up next to one another is inconceivable, just because it presupposes that the uncountable has been counted” {37}.

And thus a final cause is proved. The second conclusion is

“the law of definite number: the accumulation of identities of any actual species of independent things is only conceivable as forming a definite number“. Not only must the number of celestial bodies existing at any point of time be in itself definite, but so must also the total number of all, even the tiniest independent particles of matter existing in the world. This latter requisite is the real reason why no composition can be conceived without atoms. All actual division has always a definite limit, and must have it if the contradiction of the counted uncountable is to be avoided. For the same reason, not only must the number of the earth's revolutions round the sun up to the present time be a definite number, even though it cannot be stated, but all periodical processes of nature must have had some beginning, and all differentiation, all the multifariousness of nature which appears in succession must have its roots in one self-equal state. This state may, without involving a contradiction, have existed from eternity; but even this idea would be excluded if time in itself were composed of real parts and were not, on the contrary, merely arbitrarily divided up by our minds owing to the variety of conceivable possibilities. The case is quite different with the real, and in itself distinguished content of time; this real filling of time with distinguishable facts and the forms of being of this sphere belong, precisely because of their distinguishability, to the realm of the countable {64-65}. If we imagine a state in which no change occurs and which in its self-equality provides no differences of succession whatever, the more specialised idea of time transforms itself into the more general idea of being. What the accumulation of empty duration would mean is quite unimaginable {70}.

Thus far Herr Dühring, and he is not a little edified by the significance of these revelations. At first he hopes that they will “at least not be regarded as paltry truths” {64}; but later we find:

“Recall to your mind the extremely simple methods by which we helped forward the concepts of infinity and their critique to a hitherto unknown import... the elements of the universal conception of space and time, which have been given such simple form by the sharpening and deepening now effected” {427-28}.

We helped forward! The deepening and sharpening now effected! Who are "we", and when is this "now"? Who is deepening and sharpening?

"Thesis: The world has a beginning in time, and with regard to space is also limited. — Proof: For if it is assumed that the world has no beginning in time, then an eternity must have elapsed up to every given point of time, and consequently an infinite series of successive states of things must have passed away in the world. The infinity of a series, however, consists precisely in this, that it can never be completed by means of a successive synthesis. Hence an infinite elapsed series of worlds is impossible, and consequently a beginning of the world is a necessary condition of its existence. And this was the first thing to be proved. — With regard to the second, if the opposite is again assumed, then the world must be an infinite given total of co-existent things. Now we cannot conceive the dimensions of a quantum, which is not given within certain limits of an intuition, in any other way than by means of the synthesis of its parts, and can conceive the total of such a quantum only by means of a completed synthesis, or by the repeated addition of a unit to itself. Accordingly, to conceive the world, which fills all spaces, as a whole, the successive synthesis of the parts of an infinite world would have to be looked upon as completed; that is, an infinite time would have to be regarded as elapsed in the enumeration of all co-existing things. This is impossible. For this reason an infinite aggregate of actual things cannot be regarded as a given whole nor, therefore, as given at the same time. Hence it follows that the world is not infinite, as regards extension in space, but enclosed in limits. And this was the second thing" (to be proved).

These sentences are copied word for word from a well-known book which first appeared in 1781 and is called: Kritik der reinen Vernunft by Immanuel Kant, where all and sundry can read them, in the first part, Second Division, Book II, Chapter II, Section II: The First Antinomy of Pure Reason. So that Herr Dühring's fame rests solely on his having tacked on the name — Law of Definite Number — to an idea expressed by Kant, and on having made the discovery that there was once a time when as yet there was no time, though there was a world. As regards all the rest, that is, anything in Herr Dühring's exegesis which has some meaning, “We” — is Immanuel Kant, and the “now” is only ninety-five years ago. Certainly “extremely simple”! Remarkable “hitherto unknown import”!

Kant, however, does not at all claim that the above propositions are established by his proof. On the contrary; on the opposite page he states and proves the reverse: that the world has no beginning in time and no end in space; and it is precisely in this that he finds the antinomy, the insoluble contradiction, that the one is just as demonstrable as the other. People of smaller calibre might perhaps fuel a little doubt here on account of “a Kant” having found an insoluble difficulty. But not so our valiant fabricator of “from the ground up original conclusions and views” {D. Ph. 525}; he indefatigably copies down as much of Kant’s antinomy as suits his purpose, and throws the rest aside.

The problem itself has a very simple solution. Eternity in time, infinity in space, signify from the start, and in the simple meaning of the words, that there is no end in any direction neither forwards nor backwards, upwards or downwards, to the right or to the left. This infinity is something quite different from that of an infinite series, for the latter always starts from one, with a first term. The inapplicability of this idea of series to our object becomes clear directly we apply it to space. The infinite series, transferred to the sphere of space, is a line drawn from a definite point in a definite direction to infinity. Is the infinity of space expressed in this even in the remotest way? On the contrary, the idea of spatial dimensions involves six lines drawn from this one point in three opposite directions, and consequently we would have six of these dimensions. Kant saw this so clearly that he transferred his numerical series only indirectly, in a roundabout way, to the space relations of the world. Herr Dühring, on the other hand, compels us to accept six dimensions in space, and immediately afterwards can find no words to express his indignation at the mathematical mysticism of Gauss, who would not rest content with the usual three dimensions of space[8] {See D. Ph. 67-68}.

As applied to time, the line or series of units infinite in both directions has a certain figurative meaning. But if we think of time as a series counted from one forward, or as a line starting from a definite point, we imply in advance that time has a beginning: we put forward as a premise precisely what we are to prove. We give the infinity of time a one-sided, halved character; but a one-sided, halved infinity is also a contradiction in itself, the exact opposite of an “infinity conceived without contradiction”. We can only get past this contradiction if we assume that the one from which we begin to count the series, the point from which we proceed to measure the line is any one in the series, that it is any one of the points in the line, and that it is a matter of indifference to the line or to the series where we place this one or this point.

But what of the contradiction of “the counted infinite numerical series”? We shall be in a position to examine this more closely as soon as Herr Dühring has performed for us the clever trick of counting it. When he has completed the task of counting from (minus infinity) to 0 let him come again. It is certainly obvious that, at whatever point he begins to count, he will leave behind him an infinite series and, with it, the task which he is to fulfil. Let him just reverse his own infinite series 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 ... and try to count from the infinite end back to 1; it would obviously only be attempted by a man who has not the faintest understanding of what the problem is. And again: if Herr Dühring states that the infinite series of elapsed time has been counted, he is thereby stating that time has a beginning; for otherwise he would not have been able to start “counting” at all. Once again, therefore, he puts into the argument, as a premise, the thing that he has to prove.

The idea of an infinite series which has been counted, in other words, the world-encompassing Dühringian law of definite number, is therefore a contradictio in adjecto, [“contradiction in definition” — ed.] contains within itself a contradiction, and in fact an absurd contradiction.

It is clear that an infinity which has an end but no beginning is neither more nor less infinite than that which has a beginning but no end. The slightest dialectical insight should have told Herr Dühring that beginning and end necessarily belong together, like the north pole and the south pole, and that if the end is left out, the beginning just becomes the end — the one end which the series has; and vice versa. The whole deception would be impossible but for the mathematical usage of working with infinite series. Because in mathematics it is necessary to start from definite, finite terms in order to reach the indefinite, the infinite, all mathematical series, positive or negative, must start from 1, or they cannot be used for calculation. The abstract requirement of a mathematician is, however, far from being a compulsory law for the world of reality.

For that matter, Herr Dühring will never succeed in conceiving real infinity without contradiction. Infinity is a contradiction, and is full of contradictions. From the outset it is a contradiction that an infinity is composed of nothing but finites, and yet this is the case. The limitedness of the material world leads no less to contradictions than its unlimitedness, and every attempt to get over these contradictions leads, as we have seen, to new and worse contradictions. It is just because infinity is a contradiction that it is an infinite process, unrolling endlessly in time and in space. The removal of the contradiction would be the end of infinity. Hegel saw this quite correctly, and for that reason treated with well-merited contempt the gentlemen who subtilised over this contradiction.

Let us pass on. So time had a beginning. What was there before this beginning? The universe, which was then in a self-equal, unchanging state. And as in this state no changes succeed one another, the more specialised idea of time transforms itself into the more general idea of being. In the first place, we are here not in the least concerned with what ideas change in Herr Dühring's head. The subject at issue is not the idea of time, but real time, which Herr Dühring cannot rid himself of so cheaply. In the second place, however much the idea of time may convert itself into the more general idea of being, this does not take us one step further. For the basic forms of all being are space and time, and being out of time is just as gross an absurdity as being out of space. The Hegelian “being past away non-temporally” and the neo-Schellingian “unpremeditatable being” are rational ideas compared with this being out of time. And for this reason Herr Dühring sets to work very cautiously; actually it is of course time, but of such a kind as cannot really be called time, time, indeed, in itself does not consist of real parts, and is only divided up at will by our mind — only an actual filling of time with distinguishable facts is susceptible of being counted — what the accumulation of empty duration means is quite unimaginable. What this accumulation is supposed to mean is here beside the point; the question is, whether the world, in the state here assumed, has duration, passes through a duration in time. We have long known that we can get nothing by measuring such a duration without content just as we can get nothing by measuring without aim or purpose in empty space; and Hegel, just because of the weariness of such an effort, calls such an infinity bad. According to Herr Dühring time exists only through change; change in and through time does not exist. Just because time is different from change, is independent of it, it is possible to measure it by change, for measuring always requires something different from the thing to be measured. And time in which no recognisable changes occur is very far removed from not being time; it is rather pure time, unaffected by any foreign admixtures, that is, real time, time as such. In fact, if we want to grasp the idea of time in all its purity, divorced from all alien and extraneous admixtures, we are compelled to put aside, as not being relevant here, all the various events which occur simultaneously or one after another in time, and in this way to form the idea of a time in which nothing happens. In doing this, therefore, we have not let the concept of time be submerged in the general idea of being, but have thereby for the first time arrived at the pure concept of time.

But all these contradictions and impossibilities are only mere child”s play compared with the confusion into which Herr Dühring falls with his self-equal initial state of the world. If the world had ever been in a state in which no change whatever was taking place, how could it pass from this state to alteration? The absolutely unchanging, especially when it has been in this state from eternity, cannot possibly get out of such a state by itself and pass over into a state of motion and change. An initial impulse must therefore have come from outside, from outside the universe, an impulse which set it in motion. But as everyone knows, the “initial impulse” is only another expression for God. God and the beyond, which in his world schematism Herr Dühring pretended to have so beautifully dismantled, are both introduced again by him here, sharpened and deepened, into natural philosophy.

Further, Herr Dühring says:

“Where magnitude is attributed to a constant element of being, it will remain unchanged in its determinateness. This holds good ... of matter and mechanical force” {D. Ph. 26}.

The first sentence, it may be noted in passing, is a precious example of Herr Dühring's axiomatic-tautological grandiloquence: where magnitude does not change, it remains the same. Therefore the amount of mechanical force which exists in the world remains the same for all eternity. We will overlook the fact that, in so far as this is correct, Descartes already knew and said it in philosophy nearly three hundred years ago; that in natural science the theory of the conservation of energy has held sway for the last twenty years; and that Herr Dühring, in limiting it to mechanical force, does not in any way improve on it. But where was the mechanical force at the time of the unchanging state? Herr Dühring obstinately refuses to give us any answer to this question. Where, Herr Dühring, was the eternally self-equal mechanical force at that time, and what did it put in motion? The reply:

“The original state of the universe, or to put it more plainly, of an unchanging existence of matter which comprised no accumulation of changes in time, is a question which can be spurned only by a mind that sees the acme of wisdom in the self-mutilation of its own generative power.” {78-79}.

Therefore: either you accept without examination my unchanging original state, or I, Eugen Dühring, the possessor of creative power, will certify you as intellectual eunuchs. That may, of course, deter a good many people. But we, who have already seen some examples of Herr Dühring's generative power, can permit ourselves to leave this genteel abuse unanswered for the moment, and ask once again: But Herr Dühring, if you please, what about that mechanical force? Herr Dühring at once grows embarrassed.

In actual fact, he stammers, “the absolute identity of that initial extreme state does not in itself provide any principle of transition. But we must remember that at bottom the position is similar with every new link, however small, in the chain of existence with which we are familiar. So that whoever wants to raise difficulties in the fundamental case now under consideration must take care that he does not allow himself to pass them by on less obvious occasions. Moreover, there exists the possibility of interposing successively graduated intermediate stages, and also a bridge of continuity by which it is possible to move backwards and reach the extinction of the process of change. It is true that from a purely conceptual standpoint this continuity does not help us pass the main difficulty, but to us it is the basic form of all regularity and of every known form of transition in general, so that we are entitled to use it also as a medium between that first equilibrium and the disturbance of it. But if we had conceived the so to speak” (!) “motionless equilibrium on the model of the ideas which are accepted without any particular objection” (!) “in our present-day mechanics, there would be no way of explaining how matter could have reached the process of change.” Apart from the mechanics of masses there is, however, we are told, also a transformation of mass movement into the movement of extremely small particles, but as to how this takes place — “for this up to the present we have no general principle at our disposal and consequently we should not be surprised if these processes take place somewhat in the dark” {79-80, 81}.

That is all Herr Dühring has to say. And in fact, we would have to see the acme of wisdom not only in the “self-mutilation of our generative power” {79}, but also in blind, implicit faith, if we allowed ourselves to be put off with these really pitiable rank subterfuges and circumlocutions. Herr Dühring admits that absolute identity cannot of itself effect the transition to change. Nor is there any means whereby absolute equilibrium can of itself pass into motion. What is there, then? Three lame, false arguments.

Firstly: it is just as difficult to show the transition from each link, however small, in the chain of existence with which we are familiar, to the next one. — Herr Dühring seems to think his readers are infants. The establishment of individual transitions and connections between the tiniest links in the chain of existence is precisely the content of natural science, and when there is a hitch at some point in its work no one, not even Herr Dühring, thinks of explaining prior motion as having arisen out of nothing, but always only as a transfer, transformation or transmission of some previous motion. But here the issue is admittedly one of accepting motion as having arisen out of immobility, that is, out of nothing.

In the second place, we have the “bridge of continuity”. From a purely conceptual standpoint, this, to be sure, does not help us over the difficulty, but all the same we are entitled to use it as a medium between immobility and motion. Unfortunately the continuity of immobility consists in not moving; how therefore it is to produce motion remains more mysterious than ever. And however infinitely small the parts into which Herr Dühring minces his transition from complete non-motion to universal motion, and however long the duration he assigns to it, we have not got a ten-thousandth part of a millimetre further. Without an act of creation we can never get from nothing to something, even if the something were as small as a mathematical differential. The bridge of continuity is therefore not even an asses’ bridge[9]; it is passable only for Herr Dühring.

Thirdly: so long as present-day mechanics holds good — and this science, according to Herr Dühring, is one of the most essential levers for the formation of thought — it cannot be explained at all how it is possible to pass from immobility to motion. But the mechanical theory of heat shows us that the movement of masses under certain conditions changes into molecular movement (although here too one motion originates from another motion, but never from immobility); and this, Herr Dühring shyly suggests, may possibly furnish a bridge between the strictly static (in equilibrium) and dynamic (in motion). But these processes take place “somewhat in the dark”. And it is in the dark that Herr Dühring leaves us sitting.

This is the point we have reached with all his deepening and sharpening — that we have perpetually gone deeper into ever sharper nonsense, and finally land up where of necessity we had to land up — “in the dark”. But this does not abash Herr Dühring much. Right on the next page he has the effrontery to declare that he has

“been able to provide a real content for the idea of self-equal stability directly from the behaviour of matter and the mechanical forces” {D. Ph. 82}.

And this man describes other people as “charlatans”! Fortunately, in spite of all this helpless wandering and confusion “in the dark”, we are left with one consolation, and this is certainly edifying to the soul:

“The mathematics of the inhabitants of other celestial bodies can rest on no other axioms than our own!” {69}.

VI. Philosophy of Nature. Cosmogony, Physics, Chemistry[edit source]

Passing on, we come now to the theories concerning the manner in which the present world came into existence.

A state of universal dispersion of matter, we are told, was the point of departure of the ionic philosophers, but later, particularly from the time of Kant, the assumption of a primordial nebula played a new role, gravitation and the radiation of heat having been instrumental in the gradual formation of separate solid celestial bodies. The contemporary mechanical theory of heat makes it possible to deduce the earlier states of the universe in a far more definite form. However, “the state of gaseous dispersion can be a starting-point for serious deductions only when it is possible to characterise beforehand more definitely the mechanical system existing in it. Otherwise not only does the idea in fact remain extremely nebulous, but also the original nebula, as the deductions progress, really becomes ever thicker and more impenetrable; ... meanwhile it all still remains in the vagueness and formlessness of an idea of diffusion that cannot be more closely determined”, and so “this gaseous universe” provides us with “only an extremely airy conception” {D. Ph. 85-87}.

The Kantian theory of the origin of all existing celestial bodies from rotating nebular masses was the greatest advance made by astronomy since Copernicus. For the first time the conception that nature had no history in time began to be shaken. Until then the celestial bodies were believed to have been always, from the very beginning, in the same states and always to have followed the same courses; and even though individual organisms on the various celestial bodies died out, nevertheless genera and species were held to be immutable. It is true that nature was obviously in constant motion, but this motion appeared as an incessant repetition of the same processes. Kant made the first breach in this conception, which corresponded exactly to the metaphysical mode of thought, and he did it in such a scientific way that most of the proofs furnished by him still hold good today. At the same time, the Kantian theory is still, strictly considered, only a hypothesis. But the Copernican world system, too, is still no more than this,[10] and since the spectroscopic proof of the existence of such red-hot gaseous masses in the starry heavens, proof that brooks no contradiction, the scientific opposition to Kant ’s theory has been silenced. Even Herr Dühring cannot complete his construction of the world without such a nebular stage, but takes his revenge for this by demanding to be shown the mechanical system existing in this nebular stage, and because no one can show him this, he applies all kinds of depreciatory epithets to this nebular stage of the universe. Contemporary science unfortunately cannot describe this system to Herr Dühring ’s satisfaction. Just as little is it able to answer many other questions. To the question: Why do toads have no tails? — up to now it has only been able to answer: Because they have lost them. But should anyone get excited over that and say that this is to leave the whole question in the vagueness and formlessness of an idea of loss which cannot be determined more closely, and that it is an extremely airy conception, such an application of morality to natural science does not take us one step further. Such expressions of dislike and bad temper can be used always and everywhere, and just for that reason they should never be used anywhere. After all, who is stopping Herr Dühring from himself discovering the mechanical system of the primordial nebula? Fortunately we now learn that

the Kantian nebular mass “is far from coinciding with a completely identical state of the world medium, or, to put it another way, with the self-equal state of matter” {D. Ph. 87}.

It was really fortunate for Kant that he was able to content himself with going back from the existing celestial bodies to the nebular ball, and did not even dream of the self-equal state of matter! It may be remarked in passing that when contemporary natural science describes the Kantian nebular ball as primordial nebula, this, it goes without saying, is only to be understood in a relative sense. It is primordial nebula, on the one hand, in that it is the origin of the existing celestial bodies, and on the other hand because it is the earliest form of matter which we have up to now been able to work back to. This certainly does not exclude but rather implies the supposition that before the nebular stage matter passed through an infinite series of other forms. Herr Dühring sees his advantage here. Where we, with science, stand still for the time being at what for the time being is deemed primordial nebula, his science of sciences helps him much further back to that

“state of the world medium which cannot be understood either as purely static in the present meaning of the idea, or as dynamic” {87} —

which therefore cannot be understood at all.

“The unity of matter and mechanical force which we call the world medium is what might be termed a logical-real formula for indicating the self-equal state of matter as the prerequisite of all innumerable stages of evolution” {87-88}.

We are clearly not by a long shot rid of the self-equal primordial state of matter. Here it is spoken of as the unity of matter and mechanical force, and this as a logical-real formula, etc. Hence, as soon as the unity of matter and mechanical force comes to an end, motion begins.

The logical-real formula is nothing but a lame attempt to make the Hegelian categories “in itself ” [An sich] and "for itself" [Für sich] usable in the philosophy of reality. With Hegel, “in itself ” covers the original identity of the hidden, undeveloped contradictions within a thing, a process or an idea, and “for itself ” contains the distinction and separation of these hidden elements and the starting-point of their conflict. We are therefore to think of the motionless primordial state as the unity of matter and mechanical force, and of the transition to movement as their separation and opposition. What we have gained by this is not any proof of the reality of that fantastic primordial state, but only the fact that it is possible to bring this state under the Hegelian category of “in itself”, and its equally fantastic termination under the category of “for itself”. Hegel help us!

Matter, Herr Dühring says, is the bearer of all reality; accordingly, there can be no mechanical force apart from matter. Mechanical force is furthermore a state of matter {See D. Ph. 73}. In the original state, when nothing happened, matter and its state, mechanical force, were one. Afterwards, when something began to happen, this state must apparently have become different from matter. So we are to let ourselves be dismissed with these mystical phrases and with the assurance that the self-equal state was neither static nor dynamic, neither in equilibrium nor in motion. We still do not know where mechanical force was in that state, and how we are to get from absolute immobility to motion without an impulse from outside, that is, without God.

The materialists before Herr Dühring spoke of matter and motion. He reduces motion to mechanical force as its supposed basic form, and thereby makes it impossible for himself to understand the real connection between matter and motion, which moreover was also unclear to all former materialists. And yet it is simple enough. Motion is the mode of existence of matter. Never anywhere has there been matter without motion, nor can there be. Motion in cosmic space, mechanical motion of smaller masses on the various celestial bodies, the vibration of molecules as heat or as electrical or magnetic currents, chemical disintegration and combination, organic life — at each given moment each individual atom of matter in the world is in one or other of these forms of motion, or in several forms at once. All rest, all equilibrium, is only relative, only has meaning in relation to one or other definite form of motion. On the earth, for example, a body may be in mechanical equilibrium, may be mechanically at rest; but this in no way prevents it from participating in the motion of the earth and in that of the whole solar system, just as little as it prevents its most minute physical particles from carrying out the vibrations determined by its temperature, or its atoms from passing through a chemical process. Matter without motion is just as inconceivable as motion without matter. Motion is therefore as uncreatable and indestructible as matter itself; as the older philosophy (Descartes) expressed it, the quantity of motion existing in the world is always the same. Motion therefore cannot be created; it can only be transferred. When motion is transferred from one body to another, it may be regarded, in so far as it transfers itself, is active, as the- cause of motion, in so far as the latter is transferred, is passive. We call this active motion force, and the passive, the manifestation of force. Hence it is as clear as daylight that a force is as great as its manifestation, because in fact the same motion takes place in both.

A motionless state of matter is therefore one of the most empty and nonsensical of ideas — a “delirious fantasy ” of the purest water. In order to arrive at such an idea it is necessary to conceive the relative mechanical equilibrium, a state in which a body on the earth may be, as absolute rest, and then to extend this equilibrium over the whole universe. This is certainly made easier if universal motion is reduced to purely mechanical force. And the restriction of motion to purely mechanical force has the further advantage that a force can be conceived as at rest, as tied up, and therefore for the moment inoperative. For if, as is very often the case, the transfer of a motion is a somewhat complex process containing a number of intermediate links, it is possible to postpone the actual transmission to any moment desired by omitting the last link in the chain. This is the case, for instance, if a man loads a gun and postpones the moment when, by the pulling of the trigger, the discharge, the transfer of the motion set free by the combustion of the powder, takes place. It is therefore possible to imagine that during its motionless, self-equal state, matter was loaded with force, and this, if anything at all, seems to be what Herr Dühring understands by the unity of matter and mechanical force. This conception is nonsensical, because it transfers to the entire universe a state as absolute, which by its nature is relative and therefore can only affect a part of matter at any one time. Even if we overlook this point, the difficulty still remains: first, how did the world come to be loaded, since nowadays guns do not load themselves; and second, whose finger was it then that pulled the trigger? We may turn and twist as much as we like, but under Herr Dühring's guidance we always come back again to — the finger of God.

From astronomy our philosopher of reality passes on to mechanics and physics, and voices the lament that the mechanical theory of heat has not, in the generation since its discovery, been materially advanced beyond the point to which Robert Mayer had himself developed it, bit by bit. Apart from this, the whole business is still very obscure;

we must “always remember that in the states of motion of matter, static relations are also present, and that these latter are not measurable by the mechanical work ... if previously we described nature as a great worker, and if we now construe this expression strictly, we must furthermore add that the self-equal states and static relations do not represent mechanical work. So once again we miss the bridge from the static to the dynamic, and if so-called latent heat has up to now remained a stumbling-block for the theory, we must recognise a defect in this too, which can least be denied in its cosmic applications” {D. Ph. 90}.

This whole oracular discourse is once again nothing but the outpouring of a bad conscience, which is very well aware that with its creation of motion out of absolute immobility it got irretrievably stuck in the mud, but is nevertheless ashamed to appeal to the only possible saviour, namely, the creator of heaven and earth. If the bridge from the static to the dynamic, from equilibrium to motion, cannot be found even in mechanics, including the mechanics of heat, under what obligations is Herr Dühring to find the bridge from his motionless state to motion? That would be a fortunate way for him to get out of his plight.

In ordinary mechanics the bridge from the static to the dynamic is — the external impulse. If a stone weighing a hundredweight is raised from the ground ten yards into the air and is freely suspended in such a way that it remains hanging there in a self-equal state and in a condition of rest, it would be necessary to have an audience of sucklings to be able to maintain that the present position of this body does not represent any mechanical work, or that its distance from its previous position is not measurable by mechanical work. Any passer-by will easily explain to Herr Dühring that the stone did not rise of itself to the rope and any manual of mechanics will tell him that if he lets the stone fall again it performs in falling just as much mechanical work as was necessary to raise it the ten yards in the air. Even the simple fact that the stone is hanging up there represents mechanical work, for if it remains hanging long enough the rope breaks, as soon as chemical decomposition makes it no longer strong enough to bear the weight of the stone. But it is to such simple basic forms, to use Herr Dühring's language, that all mechanical processes can be reduced, and the engineer is still to be born who cannot find the bridge from the static to the dynamic, so long as he has at his disposal a sufficient external impulse.

To be sure, it is a hard nut and a bitter pill for our metaphysician that motion should find its measure in its opposite, in rest. That is indeed a crying contradiction, and every contradiction, according to Herr Dühring, is nonsense {D. Ph. 30}. It is none the less a fact that a suspended stone represents a definite quantity of mechanical motion, which is measurable exactly by the stone's weight and its distance from the ground, and may be used in various ways at will, for example, by its direct fall, by sliding down an inclined plane, or by turning a shaft. The same is true of a loaded gun. From the dialectical standpoint, the possibility of expressing motion in its opposite, in rest, presents absolutely no difficulty. From the dialectical standpoint the whole antithesis, as we have seen, is only relative; there is no such thing as absolute rest, unconditional equilibrium. Each separate movement strives towards equilibrium, and the motion as a whole puts an end again to the equilibrium. When therefore rest and equilibrium occur they are the result of limited motion, and it is self-evident that this motion is measurable by its result, can be expressed in it, and can be restored out of it again in one form or another. But Herr Dühring cannot allow himself to be satisfied with such a simple presentation of the matter. As a good metaphysician he first tears open, between motion and equilibrium, a yawning gulf which does not exist in reality and is then surprised that he cannot find any bridge across this self-fabricated gulf. He might just as well mount his metaphysical Rosinante [Don Quixote’s horse] and chase the Kantian “thing-in-itself”; for it is that and nothing else which in the last analysis is hiding behind this undiscoverable bridge.

But what about the mechanical theory of heat and the tied-up or latent heat which “has remained a stumbling-block” for this theory?

If, under normal atmospheric pressure, a pound of ice at the temperature of the freezing point is transformed by heat into a pound of water of the same temperature, a quantity of heat disappears which would be sufficient to warm the same pound of water from 0° to 79.4° C, or to raise the temperature of 79.4 pounds of water by one degree. If this pound of water is heated to boiling point, that is, to 100° C, and is then transformed into steam of 100° C, the amount of heat that disappears, by the time the last of the water has changed into steam, is almost seven times greater, sufficient to raise the temperature of 537.2 pounds of water by one degree. The heat that disappears is called tied-up. If, by cooling, the steam is again transformed into water, and the water, in its turn, into ice, the same quantity of heat as was previously tied up is now again set free, i.e., can be felt and measured as heat. This setting free of heat on the condensation of steam and the freezing of water is the reason why steam, when cooled to 100°, is only gradually transformed into water, and why a mass of water of freezing point temperature is only very gradually transformed into ice. These are the facts. The question is, what happens to the heat while it is tied up?

The mechanical theory of heat, according to which heat consists in a greater or lesser vibration, depending on the temperature and state of aggregation, of the smallest physically active particles (molecules) of a body — a vibration which under certain conditions can change into any other form of motion — explains that the heat that has disappeared has done work, has been transformed into work. When ice melts, the close and firm connection between the individual molecules is broken, and transformed into a loose juxtaposition; when water at boiling point becomes steam a state is reached in which the individual molecules no longer have any noticeable influence on one another, and under the influence of heat even fly apart in all directions. It is clear that the single molecules of a body are endowed with far greater energy in the gaseous state than they are in the fluid state, and in the fluid state again more than in the solid state. The tied-up heat, therefore, has not disappeared; it has merely been transformed, and has assumed the form of molecular tension. As soon as the condition under which the separate molecules are able to maintain their absolute or relative freedom in regard to one another ceases to exist — that is, as soon as the temperature falls below the minimum of 100° or 0°, as the case may be, this tension relaxes, the molecules again press towards each other with the same force with which they had previously flown apart; and this force disappears, but only to reappear as heat, and as precisely the same quantity of heat as had previously been tied up. This explanation is of course a hypothesis, as is the whole mechanical theory of heat, inasmuch as no one has up to now ever seen a molecule, not to mention one in vibration. Just for this reason it is certain to be full of defects as this still very young theory is as a whole, but it can at least explain what happens without in any way coming into conflict with the indestructibility and uncreatability of motion, and it is even able to account for the whereabouts of heat during its transformations. Latent, or tied-up, heat is therefore in no way a stumbling-block for the mechanical theory of heat. On the contrary, this theory provides the first rational explanation of what takes place, and it involves no stumbling-block except in so far as physicists continue to describe heat which has been transformed into another form of molecular energy by means of the term “tied-up”, which has become obsolete and unsuitable.

The self-equal states and conditions of rest in the solid, in the liquid and in the gaseous state of aggregation therefore represent, to be sure, mechanical work, in so far as mechanical work is the measure of heat. Both the solid crust of the earth and the water of the ocean, in their present aggregate states, represent a definite quantity of heat set free, to which of course corresponds an equally definite quantity of mechanical force. In the transition of the gaseous ball, from which the earth has developed, into the liquid and subsequently into the largely solid aggregate state, a definite quantity of molecular energy was radiated as heat into space. The difficulty about which Herr Dühring mumbles in his mysterious manner therefore does not exist, and though even in applying the theory cosmically we may come up against defects and gaps — which must be attributed to our imperfect means of knowledge — we nowhere come up against theoretically insuperable obstacles. The bridge from the static to the dynamic is here, too, the external impulse — the cooling or heating brought about by other bodies acting on an object which is in a state of equilibrium. The further we explore this natural philosophy of Dühring's, the more impossible appear all attempts to explain motion out of immobility or to find the bridge over which the purely static, the resting, can by itself pass to the dynamic, to motion.

With this we have fortunately rid ourselves for a time of the self-equal primordial state. Herr Dühring passes on to chemistry, and takes the opportunity to reveal to us three laws of nature's inertness which have so far been discovered by his philosophy of reality, viz.:

(1) the quantity of all matter in general, (2) that of the simple (chemical) elements, and (3) that of mechanical force are constant {D. Ph. 97}

Hence: the uncreatability and indestructibility of matter, and also of its simple component parts, in so far as it is made up of such, as well as the uncreatability and indestructibility of motion — these old facts known the world over and expressed most inadequately — is the only positive thing which Herr Dühring can provide us with as a result of his natural philosophy of the inorganic world. We knew all this long ago. But what we did not know was that they were “laws of inertness” and as such “schematic properties of the system of things”. We are witnessing a repetition of what happened above to Kant: Herr Dühring picks up some old familiar quip, sticks a Dühring label on it, and calls the result:

“from the ground up original conclusions and views ... system-creating ideas {525} deep-rooted science” {200, 219; D. C. 555-56}.

But the need not by any means despair on this account. Whatever defects even the most deep-rooted science and the best-ordered society may have, Herr Dühring can at any rate assert one thing with confidence:

“The amount of gold existing in the universe must at all times have been the same, and it can have increased or diminished just as little as can matter in general” {D. Ph. 96}.

Unfortunately Herr Dühring does not tell us what we can buy with this “existing gold”.

VII. Philosophy of Nature. The Organic World[edit source]

“A single and uniform ladder of intermediate steps leads from the mechanics of pressure and impact to the linking together of sensations and ideas” {D. Ph. 104}.

With this assurance Herr Dühring saves himself the trouble of saying anything further about the origin of life, although it might reasonably have been expected that a thinker who had traced the evolution of the world back to its self-equal state, and is so much at home on other celestial bodies, would have known exactly what’s what also on this point. For the rest, however, the assurance he gives us is only half right unless it is completed by the Hegelian nodal line of measure relations which has already been mentioned. In spite of all gradualness, the transition from one form of motion to another always remains a leap, a decisive change. This is true of the transition from the mechanics of celestial bodies to that of smaller masses on a particular celestial body; it is equally true of the transition from the mechanics of masses to the mechanics of molecules — including the forms of motion investigated in physics proper: heat, light, electricity, magnetism. In the same way, the transition from the physics of molecules to the physics of atoms — chemistry — in turn involves a decided leap; and this is even more clearly the case in the transition from ordinary chemical action to the chemism of albumen which we call life.[11] Then within the sphere of life the leaps become ever more infrequent and imperceptible. — Once again, therefore, it is Hegel who has to correct Herr Dühring. The concept of purpose provides Herr Dühring with a conceptual transition to the organic world. Once again, this is borrowed from Hegel, who in his Logic — the Doctrine of the Notion — makes the transition from chemism to life by means of teleology, or the science of purpose. Wherever we look in Herr Dühring we run into a Hegelian “crudity”, which he quite unblushingly dishes out to us as his own deep-rooted science. It would take us too far afield to investigate here the extent to which it is legitimate and appropriate to apply the ideas of means and end to the organic world. In any case, even the application of the Hegelian “inner purpose” — i.e., a purpose which is not imported into nature by some third party acting purposively, such as the wisdom of providence, but lies in the necessity of the thing itself — constantly leads people who are not well versed in philosophy to thoughtlessly ascribing to nature conscious and purposive activity. That same Herr Dühring who is filled with boundless moral indignation at the slightest "spiritistic" tendency in other people assures us

“with certainty that the instinctive sensations were primarily created for the sake of the satisfaction involved in their activity” {D. Ph. 158}.

He tells us that poor nature

“is obliged incessantly to maintain order in the world of objects” {159} and in doing so she has to settle more than one business “which requires more subtlety on the part of nature than is usually credited to her” {165}. But nature not only knows why she does one thing or another; she has not only to perform the duties of a housemaid, she not only possesses subtlety, in itself a pretty good accomplishment in subjective conscious thought; she has also a will. For what the instincts do in addition, incidentally fulfilling real natural functions such as nutrition propagation, etc., “we should not regard as directly but only indirectly willed” {169}.

So we have arrived at a consciously thinking and acting nature, and are thus already standing on the “bridge” — not indeed from the static to the dynamic, but from pantheism to deism. Or is Herr Dühring perhaps just for once indulging a little in “natural-philosophical semi-poetry”?

Impossible! All that our philosopher of reality can tell us of organic nature is restricted to the fight against this natural-philosophical semi-poetry, against “charlatanism with its frivolous superficialities and pseudo-scientific mystifications”, against the “poetising features” {109} of Darwinism.

The main reproach levelled against Darwin is that he transferred the Malthusian population theory from political economy to natural science, that he was held captive by the ideas of an animal breeder, that in his theory of the struggle for existence he pursued unscientific semi-poetry, and that the whole of Darwinism, after deducting what had been borrowed from Lamarck, is a piece of brutality directed against humanity.

Darwin brought back from his scientific travels the view that plant and animal species are not constant but subject to variation. In order to follow up this idea after his return home there was no better field available than that of the breeding of animals and plants. It is precisely in this field that England is the classical country; the achievements of other countries, for example Germany, fall far short of what England has achieved in this connection. Moreover, most of these successes have been won during the last hundred years, so that there is very little difficulty in establishing the facts. Darwin found that this breeding produced artificially, among animals and plants of the same species, differences greater than those found in what are generally recognised as different species. Thus was established on the one hand the variability of species up to a certain point, and on the other the possibility of a common ancestry for organisms with different specific characteristics. Darwin then investigated whether there were not possibly causes in nature which — without the conscious intention of the breeder — would nevertheless in the long run produce in living organisms changes similar to those produced by artificial selection. He discovered these causes in the disproportion between the immense number of germs [in the original Keime, ‘shoots’,‘embryos’] created by nature and the insignificant number of organisms which actually attain maturity. But as each germ strives to develop, there necessarily arises a struggle for existence which manifests itself not merely as direct bodily combat or devouring, but also as a struggle for space and light, even in the case of plants. And it is evident that in this struggle those individuals which have some individual peculiarity, however insignificant, that gives them an advantage in the struggle for existence will have the best prospect of reaching maturity and propagating themselves. These individual peculiarities have thus the tendency to descend by heredity, and when they occur among many individuals of the same species, to become more pronounced through accumulated heredity in the direction once taken; while those individuals which do not possess these peculiarities succumb more easily in the struggle for existence and gradually disappear. In this way a species is altered through natural selection, through the survival of the fittest.

Against this Darwinian theory Herr Dühring now says that the origin of the idea of the struggle for existence, as, he claims, Darwin himself admitted, has to be sought in a generalisation of the views of the economist and theoretician of population, Malthus, and that the idea therefore suffers from all the defects inherent in the priestly Malthusian ideas of over-population {D. Ph. 101}. — Now Darwin would not dream of saying that the origin of the idea of the struggle for existence is to be found in Malthus. He only says that his theory of the struggle for existence is the theory of Malthus applied to the animal and plant world as a whole. However great the blunder made by Darwin in accepting the Malthusian theory so naively and uncritically, nevertheless anyone can see at the first glance that no Malthusian spectacles are required to perceive the struggle for existence in nature — the contradiction between the countless host of germs which nature so lavishly produces and the small number of those which ever reach maturity, a contradiction which in fact for the most part finds its solution in a struggle for existence — often of extreme cruelty. And just as the law of wages has maintained its validity even after the Malthusian arguments on which Ricardo based it have long been consigned to oblivion, so likewise the struggle for existence can take place in nature, even without any Malthusian interpretation. For that matter, the organisms of nature also have their laws of population, which have been left practically uninvestigated, although their establishment would be of decisive importance for the theory of the evolution of species. But who was it that lent decisive impetus to work in this direction too? No other than Darwin.

Herr Dühring carefully avoids an examination of this positive side of the question. Instead, the struggle for existence is arraigned again and again. It is obvious, according to him, that there can be no talk of a struggle for existence among unconscious plants and good-natured plant-eaters:

“in the precise and definite sense the struggle for existence is found in the realm of brutality to the extent that animals live on prey and its devourment” {118}.

And after he has reduced the idea of the struggle for existence to these narrow limits he can give full vent to his indignation at the brutality of this idea, which he himself has restricted to brutality. But this moral indignation only rebounds upon Herr Dühring himself, who is indeed the only author of the struggle for existence in this limited conception and is therefore solely responsible for it. It is consequently not Darwin who

“sought the laws and understanding of all nature's actions in the kingdom of the brutes” {117}, —

Darwin had in fact expressly included the whole of organic nature in the struggle — but an imaginary bugbear dressed up by Herr Dühring himself. The name: the struggle for existence, can for that matter be willingly sacrificed to Herr Dühring's highly moral indignation. That the fact exists also among plants can be demonstrated to him by every meadow, every cornfield, every wood; and the question at issue is not what it is to be called, whether “struggle for existence” or “lack of conditions of life and mechanical effects” {118}, but how this fact influences the preservation or variation of species. On this point Herr Dühring maintains an obstinate and self-equal silence. Therefore for the time being everything may remain as it was in natural selection.

But Darwinism “produces its transformations and differences out of nothing” {114}.

It is true that Darwin, when considering natural selection, leaves out of account the causes which have produced the alterations in separate individuals, and deals in the first place with the way in which such individual deviations gradually become the characteristics of a race, variety or species. To Darwin it was of less immediate importance to discover these causes — which up to the present are in part absolutely unknown, and in part can only be stated in quite general terms — than to find a rational form in which their effects become fixed, acquire permanent significance. It is true that in doing this Darwin attributed to his discovery too wide a field of action, made it the sole agent in the alteration of species and neglected the causes of the repeated individual variations, concentrating rather on the form in which these variations become general; but this is a mistake which he shares with most other people who make any real advance. Moreover, if Darwin produces his individual transformations out of nothing, and in so doing applies exclusively “the wisdom of the breeder” {125}, the breeder, too, must produce out of nothing his transformations in animal and plant forms which are not merely imaginary but real. But once again, the man who gave the impetus to investigate how exactly these transformations and differences arise is no other than Darwin. In recent times the idea of natural selection was extended, particularly by Haeckel, and the variation of species conceived as a result of the mutual interaction of adaptation and heredity, in which process adaptation is taken as the factor which produces variations, and heredity as the preserving factor. This is also not regarded as satisfactory by Herr Dühring.

“Real adaptation to conditions of life which are offered or withheld by nature presupposes impulses and actions determined by ideas. Otherwise the adaptation is only apparent, and the causality operative thereupon does not rise above the low grades of the physical, chemical and plant-physiological” {D. Ph. 115}.

Once again it is the name which makes Herr Dühring angry. But whatever name he may give to the process, the question here is whether variations in the species of organisms are produced through such processes or not. And again Herr Dühring gives no answer.

“If, in growing, a plant takes the path along which it will receive most light, this effect of the stimulus is nothing but a combination of physical forces and chemical agents, and any attempt to describe it as adaptation — not metaphorically, but in the strict sense of the word — must introduce a spiritistic confusion into the concepts” {115}.

Such is the severity meted out to others by the very man who knows exactly by whose will nature does one thing or another, who speaks of nature's subtlety and even of her will! Spiritistic confusion, yes — but where, in Haeckel or in Herr Dühring? And not only spiritistic, but also logical confusion. We saw that Herr Dühring insists with might and main on establishing the validity in nature of the concept of purpose:

“The relation between means and end does not in the least presuppose a conscious intention” {102}.

What, then, is adaptation without conscious intention, without the mediation of ideas, which he so zealously opposes, if not such unconscious purposive activity? If therefore tree-frogs and leaf-eating insects are green, desert animals sandy-yellow, and animals of the polar regions mainly snow-white in colour, they have certainly not adopted these colours on purpose or in conformity with any ideas; on the contrary, the colours can only be explained on the basis of physical forces and chemical agents. And yet it cannot be denied that these animals, because of those colours, are purposively adapted to the environment in which they live, in that they have become far less visible to their enemies. In just the same way the organs with which certain plants seize and devour insects alighting on them are adapted to this action, and even purposively adapted. Consequently, if Herr Dühring insists that this adaptation must be effected through ideas, he as much as says, only in other words, that purposive activity must also be brought about through ideas, must be conscious and intentional. And this brings us, as is usually the case in his philosophy of reality, to a purposive creator, to God.

“An explanation of this kind used to be called deism, and was not thought much of” — Herr Dühring tells us — “but on this matter, too, views now seem to have been reversed” {111}.

From adaptation we now pass on to heredity. Here likewise, according to Herr Dühring, Darwinism is completely on the wrong track. The whole organic world, Darwin is said to have asserted, descended from one primordial being, is so to speak the progeny of one single being. Dühring states that, in Darwin's view, there is no such thing as the independent parallel lines of homogeneous products of nature unless mediated by common descent; and that therefore Darwin and his retrospectively directed views had perforce to come to an end at the point where the thread of begetting, or other form of propagation, breaks off {111}. The assertion that Darwin traced all existing organisms back to one primordial being is, to put it politely, a product of Herr Dühring's “own free creation and imagination” {43}. Darwin expressly says on the last page but one of his Origin of species, sixth edition, that he regards

“all beings not as special creations, but as the lineal descendants of some few beings”.

And Haeckel even goes considerably further, assuming

“a quite independent stock for the vegetable kingdom, and a second for the animal kingdom”, and between the two “a number of independent stocks of Protista, each of which, quite independently of the former, has developed out of one special archegone of the moneron type”[12] (Schöpfungsgeschichte, p. 397)

This primordial being was only invented by Dühring in order to bring it into as great disrepute as possible by drawing a parallel with the primordial Jew {D. Ph. 110} Adam, and in this he — that is to say, Herr Dühring — suffers the misfortune of not having the faintest idea that this primordial Jew had been shown by Smith's Assyrian discoveries[13] to have been a primordial Semite, and that the whole biblical history of creation and the flood turns out to be a part of the old heathen religious myths which the Jew have in common with the Babylonians, Chaldeans and Assyrians.

It is certainly a bitter reproach against Darwin, and one for which he has no defence, that he comes to an end at once at the point where the thread of descent breaks off. Unfortunately it is a reproach which has been earned by the whole of our natural science. Where the thread of descent breaks off for it, it “ends”. It has not yet succeeded in producing organic beings without descent from others; indeed, it has not yet succeeded even in producing simple protoplasm or other albuminous bodies out of chemical elements. With regard to the origin of life, therefore, up to the present, natural science is only able to say with certainty that it must have been the result of chemical action. However, perhaps the philosophy of reality is in a position to give some help on this point as it has at its disposal independent parallel lines of products of nature not mediated by common descent. How can these have come into existence? By spontaneous generation? But up to now even the most audacious advocates of spontaneous generation have not claimed that this produced anything but bacteria, embryonic fungi and other very primitive organisms — no insects, fishes, birds or mammals. But if these homogeneous products of nature — organic, of course, as here we are only dealing with these — are not connected by descent, they or each of their ancestors must, at the point “where the thread of descent breaks off”, have been put into the world by a separate act of creation. So we arrive once again at a creator and at what is called deism.

Herr Dühring further declares that it was very superficial on Darwin's part

“to make the mere act of the sexual composition of properties the fundamental principle of the origin of these properties” {116}.

This is another free creation and imagination of our deep-rooted philosopher. Darwin definitely states the opposite: the expression natural selection only implies the preservation of variations, not their origin (p. 63). This new imputation to Darwin of things he never said nevertheless helps us to grasp the following depth of Dühringian mentality:

“If some principle of independent variation had been found in the inner schematism of generation, this idea would have been quite rational; for it is a natural idea to combine the principle of universal genesis with that of sexual propagation into a unity, and to regard so-called spontaneous generation, from a higher standpoint, not as the absolute antithesis of reproduction but just as a production” {116}.

And the man who can write such rubbish is not ashamed to reproach Hegel for his “jargon” {D. K. G. 491}!

But enough of the peevish, contradictory grumbling and nagging through which Herr Dühring gives vent to his anger at the colossal impetus which natural science owes to the driving force of the Darwinian theory. Neither Darwin nor his followers among naturalists ever think of belittling in any way the great services rendered by Lamarck; in fact, they are the very people who first put him up again on his pedestal. But we must not overlook the fact that in Lamarck’s time science was as yet far from being in possession of sufficient material to have enabled it to answer the question of the origin of species except in an anticipatory way, prophetically, as it were. In addition to the enormous mass of material, both of descriptive and anatomical botany and zoology, which has accumulated in the intervening period, two completely new sciences have arisen since Lamarck’s time, and these are of decisive importance on this question: research into the development of plant and animal germs (embryology) and research into the organic remains preserved in the various strata of the earth’s surface (palaeontology). There is in fact a peculiar correspondence between the gradual development of organic germs into mature organisms and the succession of plants and animals following each other in the history of the earth. And it is precisely this correspondence which has given the theory of evolution its most secure basis. The theory of evolution itself is however still in a very early stage, and it therefore cannot be doubted that further research will greatly modify our present conceptions, including strictly Darwinian ones, of the process of the evolution of species.

What, of a positive character, has the philosophy of reality to tell us concerning the evolution of organic life?

“The ... variability of species is a presupposition which can be accepted” {D. Ph. 115}. But alongside it there hold also “the independent parallel lines of homogeneous products of nature, not mediated by common descent” {111}.

From this we are apparently to infer that the heterogeneous products of nature, i.e., the species which show variations, descend from each other but not so the homogeneous products. But this is not altogether correct either; for even with species which show variations,

“mediation by common descent is on the contrary quite a secondary act of nature” {114}.

So we get common descent after all, but only “second class”. We must rejoice that after Herr Dühring has attributed so much to it that is evil and obscure, we nevertheless find it in the end readmitted by the backdoor. It is the same with natural selection, for after all his moral indignation over the struggle for existence through which natural selection operates we suddenly read:

“The deeper basis of the constitution of organisms is thus to be sought in the conditions of life and cosmic relations, while the natural selection emphasised by Darwin can only come in as a secondary factor” {115}.

So we get natural selection after all, though only second class; and along with natural selection also the struggle for existence, and with that also the priestly Malthusian overpopulation! That is all, and for the rest Herr Dühring refers us to Lamarck.

In conclusion he warns us against the misuse of the terms: metamorphosis and development. Metamorphosis, he maintains, is an unclear concept {112}, and the concept of development is permissible only in so far as laws of development can be really established {126}. In place of both these terms we should use the term “composition” {114}, and then everything would be all right. It is the same old story over again: things remain as they were, and Herr Dühring is quite satisfied as soon as we just alter the names. When we speak of the development of the chicken in the egg we are creating confusion, for we are able to prove the laws of; development only in an incomplete way. But if we speak of its’ “composition” everything becomes clear. We shall therefore no longer say: This child is developing finely but: It is composing itself magnificently. We can congratulate Herr Dühring on being a worthy peer of the author of the Nibelungenring not only in his noble self-esteem but also in his capacity of composer of the future.[14]

VIII. Philosophy of Nature. The Organic World, Conclusion[edit source]

“Ponder ... what positive knowledge is required to equip our section on natural philosophy with all its scientific premises. Its basis is provided firstly by all the fundamental achievements of mathematics, and then the principal propositions established by exact science in mechanics, physics and chemistry, as well as the general conclusions of natural science in physiology, zoology and similar branches of inquiry“ {D. Ph. 517}.

Such is the confidence and assurance with which Herr Dühring speaks of the mathematical and naturalistic erudition of Herr Dühring. It is impossible to detect from the meagre section concerned, and still less from its even more paltry conclusions, what deep-rooted positive knowledge lies behind them. In any case, in order to create the Dühring oracle on physics and chemistry, it is not necessary to know any more of physics than the equation which expresses the mechanical equivalent of heat, or any more of chemistry than that all bodies can be divided into elements and combinations of elements. Moreover, a person who can talk of “gravitating atoms” {81}, as Herr Dühring does (p. 131) {D. Ph.}, only proves that he is completely “in the dark” as to the difference between atoms and molecules. As is well known, it is only chemical action, and not gravitation or other mechanical or physical forms of motion, that is explained by atoms. And if anyone should read as far as the chapter on organic nature, with its vacuous, self-contradictory and, at the decisive point, oracularly senseless meandering verbiage, and its absolutely futile final conclusion, he will not be able to avoid forming the opinion, from the very start, that Herr Dühring is here speaking of things of which he knows remarkably little. This opinion becomes absolute certainty when the reader reaches his suggestion that in the science of organic beings (biology) the term composition should be used instead of development {114}. The person who can put forward such a suggestion shows that he has not the faintest suspicion of the formation of organic bodies.

All organic bodies, except the very lowest, consist of cells, small granules of albumen which are only visible when considerably magnified, with a nucleus inside. As a rule the cells also develop an outer membrane and the contents are then more or less fluid. The lowest cellular bodies consist of a single cell; the immense majority of organic beings are multi-cellular, congruous complexes of many cells which in lower organisms remain of a homogeneous type, but in higher organisms develop more and more varied forms, groupings and functions. In the human body, for example, bones, muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, cartilages, skin, in a word, all tissues are either composed of cells or originated from them. But in all organic cellular structure, from the amoeba, which is a simple and most of the time skinless albuminous particle with a nucleus inside, up to man, and from the tiniest unicellular desmids up to the most highly developed plant, the manner in which the cells multiply is the same: by fission. The cell nucleus first becomes constricted in the middle, the constriction separating the two halves of the nucleus gets more and more pronounced, and at last they separate from each other and form two cell nuclei. The same process takes place in the cell itself; each of the two nuclei becomes the centre of an accumulation of cellular substance, linked to the other by a strip which is steadily growing narrower, until at last the two separate from each other and continue to exist as independent cells. Through such repeated cell fission the whole animal is gradually developed in full out of the embryonal vesicle of the animal egg, after it has been fertilised, and the replacement of used-up tissues is effected in the same way in the adult animal. To call such a process composition, and to say that to describe it as development is “pure imagination” {D. Ph. 126}, certainly indicates a person who — however difficult this may be to believe at the present day — knows absolutely nothing of this process; here it is precisely and exclusively development that is going on, and indeed development in the most literal sense, and composition has absolutely nothing to do with it!

Later on we shall have something more to say about what Herr Dühring understands in general by life. In particular his conception of life is as follows:

“The inorganic world too is a system of self-executing impulses; but it is only at the point where there begins real differentiation, with the circulation of substances through special channels from one internal point and according to a germ-scheme transmissible to a smaller structure,that we may venture to speak of real life in the narrower and stricter sense” {141}.

This sentence is, in the narrower and stricter sense, a system of self-executing impulses (whatever they may be) of nonsense, even apart from its hopelessly confused grammar. If life first begins where real differentiation commences, we must declare that the whole Haeckelian kingdom of Protista and perhaps much else are dead, depending on the meaning we attach to the idea of differentiation. If life first begins when this differentiation can be transmitted through a smaller germ-scheme, then at least all organisms up to and including unicellular ones cannot be regarded as living. If the circulation of substances through special channels is the hallmark of life, then, in addition to the foregoing, we must also strike from the ranks of the living the whole of the higher class of the Coelenterata (excepting however the Medusae), that is, all polyps and other zoophytes.[15] If the circulation of substances through special channels from one internal point is the essential hallmark of life, then we must declare that all those animals which have no heart and those which have more than one heart are dead. Under this heading would fall, in addition to those already enumerated, all worms, starfish and rotifers (Annuloida and Annulosa, Huxley's classification[16]), a section of the Crustacea (lobsters), and finally even a vertebrate animal, the lancelet (the Amphioxus). And moreover all plants.

In undertaking, therefore, to define real life in the narrower and stricter sense, Herr Dühring gives us four characteristics of life which totally contradict one another, one of which condemns to eternal death not only the whole vegetable kingdom but also about half the animal kingdom. Really no one can say that he misled us when he promised us “from the ground up original conclusions and views” {525}!

Another passage runs:

“In nature, too, one simple type is the basis of all organisms, from the lowest to the highest”, and this type is “fully and completely present in its general essence even in the most subordinate impulse of the most undeveloped plant” {305}.

This statement is again “full and complete” nonsense. The most simple type found in the whole of organic nature is the cell, and it certainly is the basis of the higher organisms. On the other hand, among the lowest organisms there are many which are far below the cell — the protamoeba, a simple albuminous particle without any differentiation whatever, and a whole series of other monera and all bladder seaweeds (Siphoneae). All of these are linked with the higher organisms only by the fact that their essential component is albumen and that they consequently perform functions of albumen, i.e., live and die. Herr Dühring further tells us:

“Physiologically, sensation is bound up with the presence of some kind of nerve apparatus, however simple. It is therefore characteristic of all animal structures that they are capable of sensation, i.e., of a subjectively conscious awareness of their states. The sharp boundary line between plant and animal lies at the point where the leap to sensation takes place. Far from being obliterated by the known transitional structures, that line becomes a logical necessity precisely through these externally undecided or undecidable forms” {D. Ph. 141-42}.

And again:

“On the other hand, plants are completely and for all time devoid of the slightest trace of sensation, and even lack any capacity for it” {140}.

In the first place, Hegel says (Naturphilosophie, § 351, Addendum) that

“sensation is the differentia specifica [“specific difference”], the absolute distinguishing characteristic of the animal”.

So once again we find a Hegelian “crudity” {D. K. G. 235}, which through the simple process of appropriation by Herr Dühring is raised to the honourable position of a final and ultimate truth.

In the second place, we hear for the first time here of transitional structures, externally undecided or undecidable forms (fine gibberish!) between plant and animal. That these intermediate forms exist; that there are organisms of which we cannot say flatly whether they are plants or animals; that therefore we are wholly unable to draw a sharp dividing line between plant and animal — precisely this fact makes it a logical necessity for Herr Dühring to establish a criterion of differentiation which in the same breath he admits will not hold water! But we have absolutely no need to go back to the doubtful territory between plants and animals; are the sensitive plants which at the slightest touch fold their leaves or close their flowers, are the insect-eating plants devoid of the slightest trace of sensation and do they even lack any capacity for it? This cannot be maintained even by Herr Dühring without “unscientific semi-poetry” {D. Ph. 56, 142}.

In the third place, it is once again a free creation and imagination on Herr Dühring's part when he asserts that sensation is physiologically bound up with the presence of some kind of nerve apparatus, however simple. Not only all primitive animals, but also the zoophytes, or at any rate the great majority of them, show no trace of a nerve apparatus. It is only from the worms on that such an apparatus is regularly found, and Herr Dühring is the first person to make the assertion that those animals have no sensation because they have no nerves. Sensation is not necessarily associated with nerves, but undoubtedly with certain albuminous bodies which up to now have not been more precisely determined.

At any rate, Herr Dühring's biological knowledge is sufficiently characterised by the question which he does not hesitate to put to Darwin:

“Is it to be supposed that animals have developed out of plants?” {110}.

Such a question could only be put by a person who has not the slightest knowledge of either animals or plants. Of life in general Herr Dühring is only able to tell us:

“The metabolism which is carried out through a plastically creating schematisation” (what in the world can that be?) “remains always a distinguishing characteristic of the real life process” {141}.

That is all we learn about life, while in the “plastically creating schematisation” we are left knee-deep in the meaningless gibberish of the purest Dühring jargon. If therefore we want to know what life is, we shall evidently have to look a little more closely at it ourselves.

That organic exchange of matter is the most general and most characteristic phenomenon of life has been said times out of number during the last thirty years by physiological chemists and chemical physiologists, and it is here merely translated by Herr Dühring into his own elegant and clear language. But to define life as organic metabolism is to define life as — life; for organic exchange of matter or metabolism with plastically creating schematisation is in fact a phrase which itself needs explanation through life, explanation through the distinction between the organic and the inorganic, that is, that which lives and that which does not live. This explanation therefore does not get us any further.

Exchange of matter as such takes place even without life. There is a whole series of processes in chemistry which, given an adequate supply of raw material, constantly reproduce their own conditions, and do so in such a way that a definite body is the carrier of the process. This is the case in the manufacture of sulphuric acid by the burning of sulphur. In this process sulphur dioxide, SO2, is produced, and when steam and nitric acid are added, the sulphur dioxide absorbs hydrogen and oxygen and is converted into sulphuric acid, H2SO4. The nitric acid gives off oxygen and is reduced to nitric oxide; this nitric oxide immediately absorbs new oxygen from the air and is transformed into the higher oxides of nitrogen, but only to transfer this oxygen immediately to sulphur dioxide and to go through the same process again; so that theoretically an infinitely small quantity of nitric acid should suffice to change an unlimited quantity of sulphur dioxide, oxygen and water into sulphuric acid. — Exchange of matter also takes place in the passage of fluids through dead organic and even inorganic membranes, as in Traube's artificial cells.[17] Here too it is clear that we cannot get any further by means of exchange of matter; for the peculiar exchange of matter which is to explain life needs itself to be explained through life. We must therefore try some other way.

Life is the mode of existence of albuminous bodies, and this mode of existence essentially consists in the constant self-renewal of the chemical constituents of these bodies.

The term albuminous body is used here in the sense in which it is employed in modern chemistry, which includes under this name all bodies constituted similarly to ordinary white of egg, otherwise also known as protein substances. The name is an unhappy one, because ordinary white of egg plays the most lifeless and passive role of all the substances related to it, since, together with the yolk, it is merely food for the developing embryo. But while so little is yet known of the chemical composition of albuminous bodies, this name is better than any other because it is more general.

Wherever we find life we find it associated with an albuminous body, and wherever we find an albuminous body not in process of dissolution, there also without exception we find phenomena of life. Undoubtedly, the presence of other chemical combinations is also necessary in a living body in order to induce particular differentiations of these phenomena of life; but they are not requisite for naked life, except in so far as they enter the body as food and are transformed into albumen. The lowest living beings known to us are in fact nothing but simple particles of albumen, and they already exhibit all the essential phenomena of life.

But what are these universal phenomena of life which are equally present among all living organisms? Above all the fact that an albuminous body absorbs other appropriate substances from its environment and assimilates them, while other, older parts of the body disintegrate and are excreted. Other non-living, bodies also change, disintegrate or enter into combinations in the natural course of events; but in doing this they cease to be what they were. A weather-worn rock is no longer a rock, metal which oxidises turns into rust. But what with non-living bodies is the cause of destruction, with albumen is the fundamental condition of existence. From the moment when this uninterrupted metamorphosis of its constituents, this constant alternation of nutrition and excretion, no longer takes place in an albuminous body, the albuminous body itself comes to an end, it decomposes, that is, dies. Life, the mode of existence of an albuminous body, therefore consists primarily in the fact that every moment it is itself and at the same time something else; and this does not take place as the result of a process to which it is subjected from without, as is the way in which this can occur also in the case of inanimate bodies. On the contrary, life, the metabolism which takes place through nutrition and excretion, is a self-implementing process which is inherent in, native to, its bearer, albumen, without which the latter cannot exist. And hence it follows that if chemistry ever succeeds in producing albumen artificially, this albumen must show the phenomena of life, however weak these may be. It is certainly open to question whether chemistry will at the same time also discover the right food for this albumen.

From the metabolism which takes place through nutrition and excretion, as the essential function of albumen, and from its peculiar plasticity proceed also all the other most simple factors of life: irritability, which is already included in the mutual interaction between the albumen and its food; contractibility, which is shown, even at a very low stage, in the consumption of food; the possibility of growth, which in the lowest forms includes propagation by fission; internal movement, without which neither the consumption nor the assimilation of food is possible.

Our definition of life is naturally very inadequate, inasmuch as, far from including all the phenomena of life, it has to be limited to those which are the most common and the simplest. From a scientific standpoint all definitions are of little value. In order to gain an exhaustive knowledge of what life is, we should have to go through all the forms in which it appears, from the lowest to the highest. But for ordinary usage such definitions are very convenient and in places cannot well be dispensed with; moreover, they can do no harm, provided their inevitable deficiencies are not forgotten.

But back to Herr Dühring. When things are faring badly with him in the sphere of earthly biology, he knows where to find consolation; he takes refuge in his starry heaven.

“It is not merely the special apparatus of an organ of sensation, but the whole objective world, which is adapted to the production of pleasure and pain. For this reason we take it for granted that the antithesis between pleasure and pain, and moreover exactly, in the form with which we are familiar, is a universal antithesis, and must be represented in the various worlds of the universe by essentially homogeneous feelings.... This conformity, however, is of no little significance, for it is the key to the universe of sensations.... Hence the subjective cosmic world is to us not much more unfamiliar than the objective. The constitution of both spheres must be conceived according to one concordant type, and in this we have the beginnings of a science of consciousness whose range is wider than merely terrestrial” {D. Ph. 139-40}.

What do a few gross blunders in terrestrial natural science matter to the man who carries in his pocket the key to the universe of sensations? Allons donc! [“Well, really!”]

IX. Morality and Law. Eternal Truths[edit source]

We refrain from giving samples of the mish-mash of platitudes and oracular sayings, in a word, of the simple balderdash with which Herr Dühring regales his readers for fifty full pages as the deep-rooted science of the elements of consciousness. We will cite only this:

“He who can think only by means of language has never yet learnt what is meant by abstract and pure thought” {D. Ph. 189}.

On this basis animals are the most abstract and purest thinkers, because their thought is never obscured by the officious intrusion of language. In any case one can see from the Dühringian thoughts and the language in which they are couched how little suited these thoughts are to any language, and how little suited the German language is to these thoughts. At last the fourth section brings us deliverance; apart from the liquefying pap of rhetoric, it does at least offer us, here and there, something tangible on the subject of morality and law. Right at the outset, on this occasion, we are invited to take a trip to the other celestial bodies:

the elements of morals “must occur in concordant fashion among all extra-human beings whose active reason has to deal with the conscious ordering of life impulses in the form of instincts... And yet our interest in such deductions will be small... Nevertheless it is an idea which beneficently extends our range of vision, when we think that on other celestial bodies individual and communal life must be based on a scheme which ... is unable to abrogate or escape from the general fundamental constitution of a rationally acting being” {192-93}.

In this case, by way of exception, the validity of the Dühringian truths also for all other possible worlds is put at the beginning instead of the end of the chapter concerned; and for a sufficient reason. If the validity of the Dühringian conceptions of morality and justice is first established for all worlds, it is all the more easy beneficently to extend their validity to all times. But once again what is involved is nothing less than final and ultimate truth {2}.

The world of morals, “just as much as the world of general knowledge”, has “its permanent principles and simple elements”. The moral principles stand “above history and also above the present differences in national characteristics... The special truths out of which, in the course of evolution, a more complete moral consciousness and, so to speak, conscience are built up, may, in so far as their ultimate basis is understood, claim a validity and range similar to the insights and applications of mathematics, Genuine truths are absolutely immutable ... so that it is altogether stupid to think that the correctness of knowledge is something that can be affected by time and changes in reality” {196}. Hence the certitude of strict knowledge and the adequacy of common cognition leave no room, when we are in possession of our senses, for doubting the absolute validity of the principles of knowledge. “Even persistent doubt is itself a diseased condition of weakness and only the expression of hopeless confusion, which sometimes seeks to contrive the appearance of something stable in the systematic consciousness of its nothingness. In the sphere of ethics, the denial of general principles clutches at the geographical and historical variety of customs and principles, and once the inevitable necessity of moral wickedness and evil is conceded, it believes itself so much the more to be above the recognition of the great importance and actual efficacy of concordant moral impulses. This mordant scepticism, which is not directed against particular false doctrines but against mankind’s very capacity to develop conscious morality, resolves itself ultimately into a real Nothing, in fact into something that is worse than pure nihilism {194} ... It flatters itself that it can easily dominate within its utter chaos of disintegrated ethical ideas and open the gates to unprincipled arbitrariness. But it is greatly mistaken: for mere reference to the inevitable fate of reason in error and truth suffices to show by this analogy alone that natural fallibility does not necessarily exclude the attainment of accuracy” {195}.

Up to now we have calmly put up with all these pompous phrases of Herr Dühring's about final and ultimate truths, the sovereignty of thought, absolute certainty of knowledge, and so forth, because it is only at the point which we have now reached that the matter can be settled. Up to this point it has been enough to enquire how far the separate assertions of the philosophy of reality had “sovereign validity” and “an unconditional claim to truth” {2}; now we come to the question whether any, and if so which, products of human knowledge ever can have sovereign validity and an unconditional claim to truth. When I say “of human knowledge” I do not use the phrase with the intention of insulting the inhabitants of other celestial bodies, whom I have not had the honour of knowing, but only for the reason that animals also have knowledge, though it is in no way sovereign. A dog acknowledges his master to be his God, though this master may be the biggest scoundrel on earth.

Is human thought sovereign? Before we can answer yes or no we must first enquire: what is human thought? Is it the thought of the individual man? No. But it exists only as the individual thought of many milliards of past, present and future men. If, then, I say that the total thought of all these human beings, including the future ones, which is embraced in my idea, is sovereign, able to know the world as it exists, if only mankind lasts long enough and in so far as no limits are imposed on its knowledge by its perceptive organs or the objects to be known, then I am saying something which is pretty banal and, in addition, pretty barren. For the most valuable result from it would be that it should make us extremely distrustful of our present knowledge, inasmuch as in all probability we are just about at the beginning of human history, and the generations which will put us right are likely to be far more numerous than those whose knowledge we — often enough with a considerable degree of contempt — have the opportunity to correct.

Herr Dühring himself proclaims it to be a necessity that consciousness, and therefore also thought and knowledge, can become manifest only in a series of individual beings. We can only ascribe sovereignty to the thought of each of these individuals in so far as we are not aware of any power which would be able to impose any idea forcibly on him, when he is of sound mind and wide awake. But as for the sovereign validity of the knowledge obtained by each individual thought, we all know that there can be no talk of such a thing, and that all previous experience shows that without exception such knowledge always contains much more that is capable of being improved upon than that which cannot be improved upon, or is correct.

In other words, the sovereignty of thought is realised in a series of extremely unsovereignly-thinking human beings; the knowledge which has an unconditional claim to truth is realised in a series of relative errors; neither the one nor the other can be fully realised except through an unending duration of human existence.

Here once again we find the same contradiction as we found above, between the character of human thought, necessarily conceived as absolute, and its reality in individual human beings all of whom think only limitedly. This is a contradiction which can be resolved only in the course of infinite progress, in what is — at least practically for us — an endless succession of generations of mankind. In this sense human thought is just as much sovereign as not sovereign, and its capacity for knowledge just as much unlimited as limited. It is sovereign and unlimited in its disposition, its vocation, its possibilities and its historical ultimate goal; it is not sovereign and it is limited in its individual realisation and in reality at any particular moment.

It is just the same with eternal truths. If mankind ever reached the stage at which it should work only with eternal truths, with results of thought which possess sovereign validity and an unconditional claim to truth, it would then have reached the point where the infinity of the intellectual world both in its actuality and in its potentiality had been exhausted, and thus the famous miracle of the counted uncountable would have been performed.

But are there any truths which are so securely based that any doubt of them seems to us to be tantamount to insanity? That twice two makes four, that the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles, that Paris is in France, that a man who gets no food dies of hunger, and so forth? Are there then nevertheless eternal truths, final and ultimate truths {D. Ph. 2}?

Certainly there are. We can divide the whole realm of knowledge in the traditional way into three great departments. The first includes all sciences that deal with inanimate nature and are to a greater or lesser degree susceptible of mathematical treatment: mathematics, astronomy, mechanics, physics, chemistry. If it gives anyone any pleasure to use mighty words for very simple things, it can be asserted that certain results obtained by these sciences are eternal truths, final and ultimate truths; for which reason these sciences are known as the exact sciences. But very far from all their results have this validity. With the introduction of variable magnitudes and the extension of their variability to the infinitely small and infinitely large, mathematics, usually so strictly ethical, fell from grace; it ate of the tree of knowledge, which opened up to it a career of most colossal achievements, but at the same time a path of error. The virgin state of absolute validity and irrefutable proof of everything mathematical was gone for ever; the realm of controversy was inaugurated, and we have reached the point where most people differentiate and integrate not because they understand what they are doing but from pure faith, because up to now it has always come out right. Things are even worse with astronomy and mechanics, and in physics and chemistry we are swamped by hypotheses as if attacked by a swarm of bees. And it must of necessity be so. In physics we are dealing with the motion of molecules, in chemistry with the formation of molecules out of atoms, and if the interference of light waves is not a myth, we have absolutely no prospect of ever seeing these interesting objects with our own eyes. As time goes on, final and ultimate truths become remarkably rare in this field.

We are even worse off in geology which, by its nature, has to deal chiefly with processes which took place not only in our absence but in the absence of any human being whatever. The gleaning here of final and ultimate truths is therefore a very troublesome business, and the crop is extremely scanty.

The second department of science is the one which covers the investigation of living organisms. In this field there is such a multiplicity of interrelationships and causalities that not only does the solution of each question give rise to a host of other questions, but each separate problem can in most cases only be solved piecemeal, through a series of investigations which often require centuries; and besides, the need for a systematic presentation of interconnections makes it necessary again and again to surround the final and ultimate truths with a luxuriant growth of hypotheses. What a long series of intermediaries from Galen to Malpighi was necessary for correctly establishing such a simple matter as the circulation of the blood in mammals, how slight is our knowledge of the origin of blood corpuscles, and how numerous are the missing links even today, for example, to be able to bring the symptoms of a disease into some rational relationship with its cause! And often enough discoveries, such as that of the cell, are made which compel us to revise completely all formerly established final and ultimate truths in the realm of biology, and to put whole piles of them on the scrap-heap once and for all. Anyone who wants to establish really genuine and immutable truths here will therefore have to be content with such platitudes as: all men are mortal, all female mammals have lacteal glands, and the like; he will not even be able to assert that the higher animals digest with their stomachs and intestines and not with their heads, for the nervous activity, which is centralised in the head, is indispensable to digestion.

But eternal truths are in an even worse plight in the third, the historical, group of sciences, which study in their historical sequence and in their present resultant state the conditions of human life, social relationships, forms of law and government, with their ideal superstructure in the shape of philosophy, religion, art, etc. In organic nature we are at least dealing with a succession of processes which, so far as our immediate observation is concerned, recur with fair regularity within very wide limits. Organic species have on the whole remained unchanged since the time of Aristotle. In social history, however, the repetition of conditions is the exception and not the rule, once we pass beyond the primitive state of man, the so-called Stone Age; and when such repetitions occur, they never arise under exactly similar circumstances. Such, for example, is the existence of an original common ownership of the land among all civilised peoples, or the way it was dissolved. In the sphere of human history our knowledge is therefore even more backward than in the realm of biology. Furthermore, when by way of exception the inner connection between the social and political forms of existence in any epoch comes to be known, this as a rule occurs only when these forms have already by half outlived themselves and are nearing extinction. Therefore, knowledge is here essentially relative, inasmuch as it is limited to the investigation of interconnections and consequences of certain social and state forms which exist only in a particular epoch and among particular peoples and are by their very nature transitory. Anyone therefore who here sets out to hunt down final and ultimate truths, genuine, absolutely immutable truths, will bring home but little, apart from platitudes and commonplaces of the sorriest kind — for example, that, generally speaking, men cannot live except by labour; that up to the present they for the most part have been divided into rulers and ruled; that Napoleon died on May 5, 1821, and so on.

Now it is a remarkable thing that it is precisely in this sphere that we most frequently encounter truths which claim to be eternal, final and ultimate and all the rest of it. That twice two makes four, that birds have beaks, and similar statements, are proclaimed as eternal truths only by those who aim at deducing, from the existence of eternal truths in general, the conclusion that there are also eternal truths in the sphere of human history — eternal morality, eternal justice, and so on — which claim a validity and scope similar to those of the insights and applications of mathematics. And then we can confidently rely on this same friend of humanity taking the first opportunity to assure us that all previous fabricators of eternal truths have been to a greater or lesser extent asses and charlatans, that they all fell into error and made mistakes; but that their error and their fallibility are in accordance with nature’s laws, and prove the existence of truth and accuracy precisely in his case; and that he, the prophet who has now arisen, has in his bag, all ready-made, final and ultimate truth, eternal morality and eternal justice. This has all happened so many hundreds and thousands of times that we can only feel astonished that there should still be people credulous enough to believe this, not of others, oh no! but of themselves. Nevertheless we have here before us at least one more such prophet, who also, quite in the accustomed way, flies into highly moral indignation when other people deny that any individual whatsoever is in a position to deliver the final and ultimate truth. Such a denial, or indeed mere doubt of it, is weakness, hopeless confusion, nothingness, mordant scepticism, worse than pure nihilism, utter chaos and other such pleasantries. As with all prophets, instead of critical and scientific examination and judgment one encounters moral condemnation out of hand.

We might have made mention above also of the sciences which investigate the laws of human thought, i.e., logic and dialectics. In these, however, eternal truths do not fare any better. Herr Dühring declares that dialectics proper is pure nonsense; and the many books which have been and are still being written on logic provide abundant proof that here, too, final and ultimate truths are much more sparsely sown than some people believe.

For that matter, there is absolutely no need to be alarmed at the fact that the stage of knowledge which we have now reached is as little final as all that have preceded it. It already embraces a vast mass of judgments and requires very great specialisation of study on the part of anyone who wants to become conversant with any particular science. But a man who applies the measure of genuine, immutable, final and ultimate truth to knowledge which, by its very nature, must either remain relative for many generations and be completed only step by step, or which, as in cosmogony, geology and the history of mankind, must always contain gaps and be incomplete because of the inadequacy of the historical material — such a man only proves thereby his own ignorance and perversity, even if the real thing behind it all is not, as in this case, the claim to personal infallibility. Truth and error, like all thought-concepts which move in polar opposites, have absolute validity only in an extremely limited field, as we have just seen, and as even Herr Dühring would realise if he had any acquaintance with the first elements of dialectics, which deal precisely with the inadequacy of all polar opposites. As soon as we apply the antithesis between truth and error outside of that narrow field which has been referred to above it becomes relative and therefore unserviceable for exact scientific modes of expression, and if we attempt to apply it as absolutely valid outside that field we really find ourselves altogether beaten: both poles of the antithesis become transformed into their opposites, truth becomes error and error truth. Let us take as an example the well-known Boyle’s law. According to it, if the temperature remains constant, the volume of a gas varies inversely with the pressure to which it is subjected. Regnault found that this law does not hold good in certain cases. Had he been a philosopher of reality he would have had to say: Boyle’s law is mutable, and is hence not a genuine truth, hence it is not a truth at all, hence it is an error. But had he done this he would have committed an error far greater than the one that was contained in Boyle’s law; his grain of truth would have been lost sight of in a sand-hill of error; he would have distorted his originally correct conclusion into an error compared with which Boyle’s law, along with the little particle of error that clings to it would have seemed like truth. But Regnault, being a man of science, did not indulge in such childishness, but continued his investigations and discovered that in general Boyle’s law is only approximately true, and in particular loses its validity in the case of gases which can be liquefied by pressure, namely, as soon as the pressure approaches the point at which liquefaction begins. Boyle’s law therefore was proved to be true only within definite limits. But is it absolutely and finally true within those limits? No physicist would assert that. He would maintain that it holds good within certain limits of pressure and temperature and for certain gases; and even within these more restricted limits he would not exclude the possibility of a still narrower limitation or altered formulation as the result of future investigations.[Eng 1] This is how things stand with final and ultimate truths in physics, for example. Really scientific works therefore, as a rule, avoid such dogmatically moral expressions as error and truth, while these expressions meet us everywhere in works such as the philosophy of reality, in which empty phrasemongering attempts to impose itself on us as the most sovereign result of sovereign thought.

But, a naive reader may ask, where has Herr Dühring expressly stated that the content of his philosophy of reality is final and even ultimate truth {D. Ph. 2}? Where? Well, for example, in the dithyramb on his system (page 13), a part of which we cited in Chapter II. Or when he says, in the passage quoted above: Moral truths, in so far as their ultimate bases are understood, claim the same validity as mathematical insights. And does not Herr Dühring assert that, working from his really critical standpoint {D. Ph. 404} and by means of those researches of his which go to the root of things {200}, he has forced his way through to these ultimate foundations, the basic schemata, and has thus bestowed final and ultimate validity on moral truths? Or, if Herr Dühring does not advance this claim either for himself or for his age, if he only meant to say that perhaps some day in the dark and nebulous future final and ultimate truths may be ascertained, if therefore he meant to say much the same, only in a more confused way, as is said by “mordant scepticism” and “hopeless confusion” {194} — then, in that case, what is all the noise about, what can we do for you, Herr Dühring? [Goethe, Faust, Act I, Scene III (“Faust's Study”) — Ed.]

If, then, we have not made much progress with truth and error, we can make even less with good and evil. This opposition manifests itself exclusively in the domain of morals, that is, a domain belonging to the history of mankind, and it is precisely in this field that final and ultimate truths are most sparsely sown. The conceptions of good and evil have varied so much from nation to nation and from age to age that they have often been in direct contradiction to each other. — But all the same, someone may object, good is not evil and evil is not good, if good is confused with evil there is an end to all morality, and everyone can do as he pleases. — This is also, stripped of all oracular phrases, Herr Dühring's opinion. But the matter cannot be so simply disposed of. If it were such an easy business there would certainly be no dispute at all over good and evil; everyone would know what was good and what was bad. But how do things stand today? What morality is preached to us today? There is first Christian-feudal morality, inherited from earlier religious times; and this is divided, essentially, into a Catholic and a Protestant morality, each of which has no lack of subdivisions, from the Jesuit-Catholic and Orthodox-Protestant to loose “enlightened” moralities. Alongside these we find the modern-bourgeois morality and beside it also the proletarian morality of the future, so that in the most advanced European countries alone the past, present and future provide three great groups of moral theories which are in force simultaneously and alongside each other. Which, then, is the true one? Not one of them, in the sense of absolute finality; but certainly that morality contains the maximum elements promising permanence which, in the present, represents the overthrow of the present, represents the future, and that is proletarian morality.

But when we see that the three classes of modern society, the feudal aristocracy, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, each have a morality of their own, we can only draw the one conclusion: that men, consciously or unconsciously, derive their ethical ideas in the last resort from the practical relations on which their class position is based — from the economic relations in which they carry on production and exchange

But nevertheless there is great deal which the three moral theories mentioned above have in common — is this not at least a portion of a morality which is fixed once and for all? — These moral theories represent three different stages of the same historical development, have therefore a common historical background, and for that reason alone they necessarily have much in common. Even more. At similar or approximately similar stages of economic development moral theories must of necessity be more or less in agreement. From the moment when private ownership of movable property developed, all societies in which this private ownership existed had to have this moral injunction in common: Thou shalt not steal. [Exodus 20:15; Deuteronomy 5:19. — Ed.] Does this injunction thereby become an eternal moral injunction? By no means. In a society in which all motives for stealing have been done away with, in which therefore at the very most only lunatics would ever steal, how the preacher of morals would be laughed at who tried solemnly to proclaim the eternal truth: Thou shalt not steal!

We therefore reject every attempt to impose on us any moral dogma whatsoever as an eternal, ultimate and for ever immutable ethical law on the pretext that the moral world, too, has its permanent principles which stand above history and the differences between nations. We maintain on the contrary that all moral theories have been hitherto the product, in the last analysis, of the economic conditions of society obtaining at the time. And as society has hitherto moved in class antagonisms, morality has always been class morality; it has either justified the domination and the interests of the ruling class, or ever since the oppressed class became powerful enough, it has represented its indignation against this domination and the future interests of the oppressed. That in this process there has on the whole been progress in morality, as in all other branches of human knowledge, no one will doubt. But we have not yet passed beyond class morality. A really human morality which stands above class antagonisms and above any recollection of them becomes possible only at a stage of society which has not only overcome class antagonisms but has even forgotten them in practical life. And now one can gauge Herr Dühring’s presumption in advancing his claim, from the midst of the old class society and on the eve of a social revolution, to impose on the future classless society an eternal morality independent of time and changes in reality. Even assuming — what we do not know up to now — that he understands the structure of the society of the future at least in its main outlines.

Finally, one more revelation which is “from the ground up original” {D. Ph. 525} but for that reason no less “going to the root of things” {200}: With regard to the origin of evil,

“the fact that the type of the cat with the guile associated with it is found in animal form, stands on an even plane with the circumstance that a similar type of character is found also in human beings... There is therefore nothing mysterious about evil, unless someone wants to scent out something mysterious in the existence of a cat or of any animal of prey” {210-11}.

Evil is — the cat. The devil therefore has no horns or cloven hoof, but claws and green eyes. And Goethe committed an unpardonable error in presenting Mephistopheles as a black dog instead of a black cat. Evil is the cat! That is morality, not only for all worlds, but also — for cats.

[This is, in German, a play on words: für die Katze (for the cat) denotes something utterly useless or wasted effort. — Ed.]

X. Morality and Law. Equality[edit source]

We have already had more than one occasion to make ourselves acquainted with Herr Dühring’s method. It consists in dissecting each group of objects of knowledge to what is claimed to be their simplest elements, applying to these elements similarly simple and what are claimed to be self-evident axioms, and then continuing to operate with the aid of the results so obtained. Even a problem in the sphere of social life

“is to be decided axiomatically, in accordance with particular, simple basic forms, just as if we were dealing with the simple ... basic forms of mathematics” {D. Ph. 224}.

And thus the application of the mathematical method to history, morals and law is to give us also in these fields mathematical certainty of the truth of the results obtained, to characterise them as genuine, immutable truths.

This is only giving a new twist to the old favourite ideological method, also known as the a priori method, which consists in ascertaining the properties of an object, by logical deduction from the concept of the object, instead of from the object itself. First the concept of the object is fabricated from the object; then the spit is turned round, and the object is measured by its reflexion, the concept. The object is then to conform to the concept, not the concept to the object. With Herr Dühring the simplest elements, the ultimate abstractions he can reach, do service for the concept, which does not alter matters; these simplest elements are at best of a purely conceptual nature. The philosophy of reality, therefore, proves here again to be pure ideology, the deduction of reality not from itself but from a concept.

And when such an ideologist constructs morality and law from the concept, or the so-called simplest elements of “society”, instead of from the real social relations of the people round him, what material is then available for this construction? Material clearly of two kinds: first, the meagre residue of real content which may possibly survive in the abstractions from which he starts and, secondly, the content which our ideologist once more introduces from his own consciousness. And what does he find in his consciousness? For the most part, moral and juridical notions which are a more or less accurate expression (positive or negative, corroborative or antagonistic) of the social and political relations amidst which he lives; perhaps also ideas drawn from the literature on the subject; and, as a final possibility, some personal idiosyncrasies. Our ideologist may turn and twist as he likes, but the historical reality which he cast out at the door comes in again at the window, and while he thinks he is framing a doctrine of morals and law for all times and for all worlds, he is in fact only fashioning an image of the conservative or revolutionary tendencies of his day — an image which is distorted because it has been torn from its real basis and, like a reflection in a concave mirror, is standing on its head.

Herr Dühring thus dissects society into its simplest elements, and discovers in doing so that the simplest society consists of at least two people. With these two people he then proceeds to operate axiomatically. And so the basic moral axiom naturally presents itself:

“Two human wills are as such entirely equal to each other, and in the first place the one can demand nothing positive of the other” {D. Ph. 200}. This “characterises the basic form of moral justice” {201}, and also that of legal justice, for “we need only the wholly simple and elementary relation of two persons for the development of the fundamental concepts of law” {228}.

That two people or two human wills are as such entirely equal to each other is not only not an axiom but is even a great exaggeration. In the first place, two people, even as such, may be unequal in sex, and this simple fact leads us on at once to the idea that the simplest elements of society — if we accept this childishness for a moment — are not two men, but a man and a woman, who found a family, the simplest and first form of association for the purpose of production. But this cannot in any way suit Herr Dühring. For on the one hand the two founders of society must be made as equal as possible; and secondly even Herr Dühring could not succeed in constructing from the primitive family the moral and legal equality of man and woman. One thing or the other: either the Dühringian social molecule, by the multiplication of which the whole of society is to be built up, is doomed beforehand to disaster, because two men can never by themselves bring a child into the world; or we must conceive them as two heads of families. And in that case the whole simple basic scheme is turned into its opposite: instead of the equality of people it proves at most the equality of heads of families, and as women are not considered, it further proves that they are subordinate.

We have now to make an unpleasant announcement to the reader: that from this point on for some considerable time he will not get rid of these famous two men. In the sphere of social relations they play a similar role to that hitherto played by the inhabitants of other celestial bodies, with whom it is to be hoped we have now finished. Whenever a question of economics, politics etc., is to be solved, the two men instantly march up and settle the matter in the twinkling of an eye “axiomatically” {224}. An excellent, creative and system-creating discovery on the part of our philosopher of reality. But unfortunately, if we want to pay due regard to truth, the two men are not his discovery. They are the common property of the whole eighteenth century. They are already to be found in Rousseau's discourse on inequality (1754),[18] where, by the way, they prove axiomatically the opposite of Herr Dühring's contentions. They play a leading part with the economists, from Adam Smith to Ricardo; but in these they are at least unequal in that each of the two carries on a different trade — as a rule one is a hunter and the other a fisherman — and that they mutually exchange their products. Besides, throughout the eighteenth century, they serve in the main as a purely illustrative example, and Herr Dühring’s originality consists only in that he elevates this method of illustration into a basic method for all social science and a measure of all historical forms. Certainly it would be impossible to simplify further the “strictly scientific conception of things and men” {387}.

In order to establish the fundamental axiom that two people and their wills are absolutely equal to each other and that neither lords it over the other, we cannot use any couple of men at random. They must be two people who are so thoroughly free from all reality, from all national, economic, political and religious relations which are found in the world, from all sexual and personal peculiarities, that nothing is left of either of them beyond the mere concept: human being, and then they are of course “entirely equal”. They are therefore two complete phantoms conjured up by that very Herr Dühring who is everywhere scenting and denouncing “spiritistic” tendencies. These two phantoms are of course obliged to do everything which the man who conjured them into existence wants them to do, and for that very reason all their artifices are of no interest whatever to the rest of the world.

But let us pursue Herr Dühring’s axiomatics a little further. The two wills can demand nothing positive of each other. If nevertheless one of them does so, and has its way by force, this gives rise to a state of injustice; and this fundamental scheme serves Herr Dühring to explain injustice, tyranny, servitude — in short, the whole reprehensible history of the past. Now Rousseau, in the essay referred to above, had already made use of two men to prove, likewise axiomatically, the very opposite: that is, given two men, A cannot enslave B by force, but only by putting B into a position in which the latter cannot do without A, a conception which, however, is much too materialistic for Herr Dühring. Let us put the same thing in a slightly different way. Two shipwrecked people are alone on an island, and form a society. Their wills are, formally, entirely equal, and this is acknowledged by both. But from a material standpoint there is great inequality. A has determination and energy, B is irresolute, lazy and flabby. A is quick-witted, B stupid. How long will it be before A regularly imposes his will on B, first by persuasion, subsequently by dint of habit, but always in form voluntarily? Servitude remains servitude, whether the voluntary form is retained or is trampled underfoot. Voluntary entry into servitude was known throughout the Middle Ages, in Germany until after the Thirty Years' War.[19] When serfdom was abolished in Prussia after the defeats of 1806 and 1807, and with it the obligation of the gracious lords to provide for their subjects in need, illness and old age, the peasants petitioned the king asking to be left in servitude — for otherwise who would look after them when in distress? The two-men scheme is therefore just as “appropriate” to inequality and servitude as to equality and mutual help; and inasmuch as we are forced, on pain of extinction of society, to assume that they are heads of families, hereditary servitude is also provided for in the idea from the start.

But let this entire matter rest for the moment. Let us assume that Herr Dühring’s axiomatics have convinced us and that we are enthusiastic supporters of the entire equality of rights as between the two wills, of “general human sovereignty” {D. Ph. 229}, of the “sovereignty of the individual” {268} — veritable verbal colossi, compared with whom Stirner's “Ego” together with his Own[20] is a mere dwarf, although he also could claim a modest part in them. Well, then, we are now all entirely equal {200} and independent. All? No, not quite all.

There are also cases of “permissible dependence”, but these can be explained “on grounds which are to be sought not in the activity of the two wills as such, but in a third sphere, as for example in regard to children, in their inadequate self-determination” {200}.

Indeed! The grounds of dependence are not to be sought in the activity of the two wills as such! Naturally not, for the activity of one of the wills is actually restricted. But in a third sphere! And what is this third sphere? The concrete determination of one, the subjected, will as inadequate! Our philosopher of reality has so far departed from reality that, as against the abstract term “will”, which is devoid of content, he regards the real content, the characteristic determination of this will, as a “third sphere”. Be that as it may, we are obliged to state that the equality of rights has an exception. It does not hold good for a will afflicted with inadequate self-determination. Retreat No. 1. To proceed.

“Where beast and man are blended in one person the question may be asked, on behalf of a second, entirely human, person, whether his mode of action should be the same as if persons who, so to speak, are only human were confronting each other {201} ... our hypothesis of two morally unequal persons, one of whom in some sense or other has something of the real beast in his character, is therefore the typical basic form for all relations which, in accordance with this difference, may come about ... within and between groups of people” {202}.

And now let the reader see for himself the pitiful diatribe that follows these clumsy subterfuges, in which Herr Dühring turns and twists like a Jesuit priest in order to determine casuistically how far the human man can go against the bestial man, how far he may show distrust and employ stratagems and harsh, even terrorist means, as well as deception against him, without himself deviating in any way from immutable morality.

So, when two persons are “morally unequal” {202}, there again is no longer equality. But then it was surely not worth while to conjure up two entirely equal people, for there are no two persons who are morally entirely equal. — But the inequality is supposed to consist in this: that one person is human and the other has a streak of the beast in him. It is, however, inherent in the descent of man from the animal world that he can never entirely rid himself of the beast, so that it can always be only a question of more or less, of a difference in the degree of bestiality or of humanity. A division of mankind into two sharply differentiated groups, into human men and beast men, into good and bad, sheep and goats, is only found — apart from the philosophy of reality — in Christianity, which quite logically also has its judge of the universe to make the separation. But who is to be the judge of the universe in the philosophy of reality? Presumably the procedure will have to be the same as in Christian practice, in which the pious lambs themselves assume the office of judge of the universe in relation to their mundane goat-neighbours, and discharge this duty with notorious success. The sect of philosophers of reality, if it ever comes into being, will assuredly not yield precedence in this respect to the pious of the land. This, however, is of no concern to us; what interests us is the admission that, as a result of the moral inequality between men, equality has vanished once more. Retreat No. 2.

But, again, let us proceed.

“If one acts in accordance with truth and science, and the other in accordance with some superstition or prejudice, then ... as a rule mutual interference must occur {216}... At a certain degree of incompetence, brutality or perversity of character, conflict is always inevitable... It is not only children and madmen in relation to whom the ultimate resource is force. The character of whole natural groups and cultured classes in mankind may make the subjection of their will, which is hostile because of its perversity, an inevitable necessity, in order to guide it back to the ties held in common. Even in such cases the alien will is still recognised as having equal rights; but the perversity of its injurious and hostile activity has provoked an equalisation, and if it is subjected to force, it is only reaping the reaction to its own unrighteousness” {D. Ph. 217}.

So not only moral but also mental inequality is enough to remove the “entire equality” of the two wills and to call into being a morality by which all the infamous deeds of civilised robber states against backward peoples, down to the Russian atrocities in Turkestan, can be justified. When in the summer of 1873, General Kaufmann ordered the Tatar tribe of the Yomuds to be attacked, their tents to be burnt and their wives and children butchered — “in the good old Caucasian way”, as the order was worded — he, too, declared that the subjection of the hostile, because perverted, will of the Yomuds, with the object of guiding it back to the ties held in common, had become an inevitable necessity, that the means employed by him were best suited to the purpose,[21] and that whoever willed the end must also will the means. Only he was not so cruel as to insult the Yomuds on top of it all and to say that it was just by massacring them for purposes of equalisation that he was recognising their will as having equal rights. And once again in this conflict it is the elect, those who claim to be acting in accordance with truth and science and therefore in the last resort the philosophers of reality, who have to decide what are superstition, prejudice, brutality and perversity of character and when force and subjection are necessary for purposes of equalisation. Equality, therefore, is now — equalisation by force; and the second will is recognised by the first to have equal rights through subjection. Retreat No. 3, here already degenerating into ignominious flight. Incidentally, the phrase that the alien will is recognised as having equal right precisely through equalisation by means of force is only a distortion of the Hegelian theory, according to which punishment is the right of the criminal;

“punishment is regarded as containing the criminal’s right and hence by being punished he is honoured as a rational being” (Rechtsphilosophie, § 100, Note).

With that we can break off. It would be superfluous to follow Herr Dühring further in his piecemeal destruction of the equality which he set up so axiomatically {224}, of his general human sovereignty {229} and so on; to observe how he manages to set up society with his two men, but in order to create the state he requires a third because — to put the matter briefly — without a third no majority decisions can be arrived at, and without these, and so also without the rule of the majority over the minority, no state can exist; and then how he gradually steers into calmer waters where he constructs his socialitarian state of the future where one fine morning we shall have the honour to look him up. We have sufficiently observed that the entire equality of the two wills exists only so long as these two wills will nothing; that as soon as they cease to be human wills as such, and are transformed into real, individual wills, into the wills of two real people, equality comes to an end; that childhood, madness, so-called bestiality, supposed superstition, alleged prejudice and assumed incapacity on the one hand, and fancied humanity and knowledge of truth and science on the other hand — that therefore every difference in the quality of the two wills and in that of the intelligence associated with them — justifies an inequality of treatment which may go as far as subjection. What more can we ask, when Herr Dühring has so deep-rootedly, from the ground up, demolished his own edifice of equality?

But even though we have finished with Herr Dühring’s shallow, botched treatment of the idea of equality, this does not mean that we have finished with the idea itself, which especially thanks to Rousseau played a theoretical, and during and since the great revolution a practical political role, and even today still plays an important agitational role in the socialist movement of almost every country. The establishment of its scientific content will also determine its value for proletarian agitation.

The idea that all men, as men, have something in common, and that to that extent they are equal, is of course primeval. But the modern demand for equality is something entirely different from that; this consists rather in deducing from that common quality of being human, from that equality of men as men, a claim to equal political resp. social status for all human beings, or at least for all citizens of a state or all members of a society. Before that original conception of relative equality could lead to the conclusion that men should have equal rights in the state and in society, before that conclusion could even appear to be something natural and self-evident, thousands of years had to pass and did pass. In the most ancient, primitive communities, equality of rights could apply at most to members of the community; women, slaves and foreigners were excluded from this equality as a matter of course. Among the Greeks and Romans the inequalities of men were of much greater importance than their equality in any respect. It would necessarily have seemed insanity to the ancients that Greeks and barbarians, freemen and slaves, citizens and peregrines, Roman citizens and Roman subjects (to use a comprehensive term) should have a claim to equal political status. Under the Roman Empire all these distinctions gradually disappeared, except the distinction between freemen and slaves, and in this way there arose, for the freemen at least, that equality as between private individuals on the basis of which Roman law developed — the completest elaboration of law based on private property which we know. But so long as the antithesis between freemen and slaves existed, there could be no talk of drawing legal conclusions from general equality of men; we saw this even recently, in the slave-owning states of the North American Union.

Christianity knew only one point in which all men were equal: that all were equally born in original sin — which corresponded perfectly to its character as the religion of the slaves and the oppressed. Apart from this it recognised, at most, the equality of the elect, which however was only stressed at the very beginning. The traces of community of goods which are also found in the early stages of the new religion can be ascribed to solidarity among the proscribed rather than to real equalitarian ideas. Within a very short time the establishment of the distinction between priests and laymen put an end even to this incipient Christian equality. — The overrunning of Western Europe by the Germans abolished for centuries all ideas of equality, through the gradual building up of such a complicated social and political hierarchy as had never existed before. But at the same time the invasion drew Western and Central Europe into the course of historical development, created for the first time a compact cultural area, and within this area also for the first time a system of predominantly national states exerting mutual influence on each other and mutually holding each other in check. Thereby it prepared the ground on which alone the question of the equal status of men, of the rights of man, could at a later period be raised.

The feudal Middle Ages also developed in their womb the class which was destined, in the course of its further development, to become the standard-bearer of the modern demand for equality: the bourgeoisie. Originally itself a feudal estate, the bourgeoisie developed the predominantly handicraft industry and the exchange of products within feudal society to a relatively high level, when at the end of the fifteenth century the great maritime discoveries opened to it a new career of wider scope. Trade beyond the confines of Europe, which had previously been carried on only between Italy and the Levant, was now extended to America and India, and soon surpassed in importance both the mutual exchange between the various European countries and the internal trade within each individual country. American gold and silver flooded Europe and forced its way like a disintegrating element into every fissure, rent and pore of feudal society. Handicraft industry could no longer satisfy the rising demand, in the leading industries of the most advanced countries it was replaced by manufacture.

But this mighty revolution in the conditions of the economic life of society was, however, not followed by any immediate corresponding change in its political structure. The political order remained feudal, while society became more and more bourgeois. Trade on a large scale, that is to say, particularly international and, even more so, world trade, requires free owners of commodities who are unrestricted in their movements and as such enjoy equal rights; who may exchange their commodities on the basis of laws that are equal for them all, at least in each particular place. The transition from handicraft to manufacture presupposes the existence of a number of free workers — free on the one hand from the fetters of the guild and on the other from the means whereby they could themselves utilise their labour-power — workers who can contract with the manufacturer for the hire of their labour-power, and hence, as parties to the contract, have rights equal to his. And finally the equality and equal status of all human labour, because and in so far as it is human labour, found its unconscious but clearest expression in the law of value of modern bourgeois political economy, according to which the value of a commodity is measured by the socially necessary labour embodied in it.[Eng 2] — However, where economic relations required freedom and equality of rights, the political system opposed them at every step with guild restrictions and special privileges. Local privileges, differential duties, exceptional laws of all kinds affected in trade not only foreigners and people living in the colonies, but often enough also whole categories of the nationals of the country concerned; everywhere and ever anew the privileges of the guilds barred the development of manufacture. Nowhere was the road clear and the chances equal for the bourgeois competitors — and yet that this be so was the prime and ever more pressing demand.

The demand for liberation from feudal fetters and the establishment of equality of rights by the abolition of feudal inequalities was bound soon to assume wider dimensions, once the economic advance of society had placed it on the order of the day. If it was raised in the interests of industry and trade, it was also necessary to demand the same equality of rights for the great mass of the peasantry who, in every degree of bondage, from total serfdom onwards, were compelled to give the greater part of their labour-time to their gracious feudal lord without compensation and in addition to render innumerable other dues to him and to the state. On the other hand, it was inevitable that a demand should also be made for the abolition of the feudal privileges, of the freedom from taxation of the nobility, of the political privileges of the separate estates. And as people were no longer living in a world empire such as the Roman Empire had been, but in a system of independent states dealing with each other on an equal footing and at approximately the same level of bourgeois development, it was a matter of course that the demand for equality should assume a general character reaching out beyond the individual state, that freedom and equality should be proclaimed human rights And it is significant of the specifically bourgeois character of these human rights that the American constitution,[22] the first to recognise the rights of man, in the same breath confirms the slavery of the coloured races existing in America: class privileges are proscribed, race privileges sanctified.

As is well known, however, from the moment when the bourgeoisie emerged from feudal burgherdom, when this estate of the Middle Ages developed into a modern class, it was always and inevitably accompanied by its shadow, the proletariat. And in the same way bourgeois demands for equality were accompanied by proletarian demands for equality. From the moment when the bourgeois demand for the abolition of class privileges was put forward, alongside it appeared the proletarian demand for the abolition of the classes themselves — at first in religious form, leaning towards primitive Christianity, and later drawing support from the bourgeois equalitarian theories themselves. The proletarians took the bourgeoisie at its word: equality must not be merely apparent, must not apply merely to the sphere of the state, but must also be real, must also be extended to the social, economic sphere. And especially since the French bourgeoisie, from the great revolution on, brought civil equality to the forefront, the French proletariat has answered blow for blow with the demand for social, economic equality, and equality has become the battle-cry particularly of the French proletariat.

The demand for equality in the mouth of the proletariat has therefore a double meaning. It is either — as was the case especially at the very start, for example in the Peasant War [see Engels’ work Peasant War in Germany]— the spontaneous reaction against the crying social inequalities, against the contrast between rich and poor, the feudal lords and their serfs, the surfeiters and the starving; as such it is simply an expression of the revolutionary instinct, and finds its justification in that, and in that only. Or, on the other hand, this demand has arisen as a reaction against the bourgeois demand for equality, drawing more or less correct and more far-reaching demands from this bourgeois demand, and serving as an agitational means in order to stir up the workers against the capitalists with the aid of the capitalists’ own assertions; and in this case it stands or falls with bourgeois equality itself. In both cases the real content of the proletarian demand for equality is the demand for the abolition of classes. Any demand for equality which goes beyond that, of necessity passes into absurdity. We have given examples of this, and shall find enough additional ones when we come to Herr Dühring’s fantasies of the future.

The idea of equality, both in its bourgeois and in its proletarian form, is therefore itself a historical product, the creation of which required definite historical conditions that in turn themselves presuppose a long previous history. It is therefore anything but an eternal truth. And if today it is taken for granted by the general public — in one sense or another — if, as Marx says, it “already possesses the fixity of a popular prejudice”,[23] this is not the effect of its axiomatic truth, but the effect of the general diffusion and the continued appropriateness of the ideas of the eighteenth century. If therefore Herr Dühring is able without more ado to let his famous two men conduct their economic relations on the basis of equality, this is so because it seems quite natural to popular prejudice. And in fact Herr Dühring calls his philosophy natural because it is derived solely from things which seem to him quite natural. But why they seem natural to him is a question which of course he does not ask.

XI. Morality and Law. Freedom and Necessity[edit source]

“In the sphere of politics and law the principles expounded in this course are based on the most exhaustive specialised studies. It is therefore ... necessary to proceed from the fact that what we have here ... is a consistent exposition of the conclusions reached in the sphere of legal and political science. Jurisprudence was my original special subject and I not only devoted to it the customary three years of theoretical university preparation, but also, during a further three years of court practice continued to study it particularly with a view to the deepening of its scientific content... And certainly the critique of private law relationships and the corresponding legal inadequacies could not have been put forward with such confidence but the consciousness that all the weaknesses of the subject were known to it as well as its stronger sides” {D. Ph. 537}.

A man who is justified in saying this of himself must from the outset inspire confidence, especially in contrast with the

“one-time, admittedly neglected, legal studies of Herr Marx” {D. K. G. 503}.

And for that reason it must surprise us to find that the critique of private law relationships which steps on to the stage with such confidence is restricted to telling us that

“the scientific character of jurisprudence has not developed far” {D. Ph. 222-23}, that positive civil law is injustice in that it sanctions property based on force {219} and that the “natural basis” of criminal law is revenge {224}, —

an assertion of which in any case the only thing new is its mystical wrapping of “natural basis”. The conclusions in political science are limited to the transactions of the famous three men, one of whom has hitherto held down the others by force, with Herr Dühring in all seriousness conducting an investigation into whether it was the second or the third who first introduced violence and subjection {265-66}.

However, let us go a little more deeply into our confident jurist’s most exhaustive specialised studies and his erudition deepened by three years of court practice.

Herr Dühring tells us of Lassalle that

he was prosecuted for “inciting to an attempt to steal a cash-box” but that “no sentence by the court could be recorded, as the so-called acquittal for lack of evidence, which was then still possible, supervened ... this half acquittal” {D. K. G. 510}.

The Lassalle case referred to here came up in the summer of 1848, before the assizes at Cologne,[24] where, as in almost the whole of the Rhine Province, French criminal law was in force. Prussian law had been introduced by way of exception only for political offences and crimes, but already in April 1848 this exceptional application had been abrogated by Camphausen. French law has no knowledge whatever of the loose Prussian legal category of “inciting” to a crime, let alone inciting to an attempt to commit a crime. It knows only instigation to crime, and this, to be punishable, must have been committed “by means of gifts, promises, threats, abuse of authority or of power, culpable incitements or artifices” (Code penal, art. 60).[25] The Ministry of State, steeped in Prussian law, overlooked, just as Herr Dühring did, the essential difference between the sharply defined French code and the vague indefiniteness of Prussian law and, subjecting Lassalle to a tendentiously conducted trial, egregiously failed in the case. Only a person who is completely ignorant of modern French law can venture to assert that French criminal procedure permitted the Prussian legal form of an acquittal for lack of evidence, this half acquittal; criminal procedure under French law provides only for conviction or acquittal, nothing between.

And so we are forced to say that Herr Dühring would certainly not have been able to perpetrate this “historical depiction in the grand style” {556} against Lassalle if he had ever had the Code Napoléon[26] in his hands. We must therefore state as a fact that modern French law, the only modern civil code, which rests on the social achievements of the great French Revolution and translates them into legal form, is completely unknown to Herr Dühring.

In another place, in the criticism of trial by jury with majority decision which was adopted throughout the Continent in accordance with the French model, we are taught:

“Yes, it will even be possible to familiarise oneself with the idea, which for that matter is not without precedent in history, that a conviction where opinion is divided should be one of the impossible institutions in a perfect community {D. Ph. 402} ... This important and profoundly intelligent mode of thought, however, as already indicated above, must seem unsuitable for the traditional forms, because it is too good for them” {D. Ph. 403}.

Once again, Herr Dühring is ignorant of the fact that under English common law, i.e., the unwritten law of custom which has been in force since time immemorial, certainly at least since the fourteenth century, unanimity of the jury is absolutely essential, not only for convictions in criminal cases but also for judgments in civil suits. Thus the important and profoundly intelligent mode of thought, which according to Herr Dühring is too good for the present-day world, had had legal validity in England as far back as the darkest Middle Ages, and from England it was brought to Ireland, the United States of America and all the English colonies. And yet the most exhaustive specialised studies failed to reveal to Herr Dühring even the faintest whisper of all this! The area in which a unanimous verdict by the jury is required is therefore not only infinitely greater than the tiny area where Prussian law is in force, but is also more extensive than all the areas taken together in which juries decide by majority vote. Not only is French law, the only modern law, totally unknown to Herr Dühring; he is equally ignorant of the only Germanic law which has developed independently of Roman authority up to the present day and spread to all parts of the world — English law. And why does Herr Dühring know nothing of it? Because the English brand of the juridical mode of thought

“would anyhow not be able to stand up against the schooling in the pure concepts of the classical Roman jurists given on German soil” {D. K. G. 456},

says Herr Dühring; and he says further:

“what is the English-speaking world with its childish hodgepodge language as compared with our natural language structure?” {D. Ph. 315.}

To which we might answer with Spinoza: Ignorantia non est argumentum. Ignorance is no argument.[27] We can accordingly come to no other final conclusion than that Herr Dühring's most exhaustive specialised studies consisted in his absorption for three years in the theoretical study of the Corpus juris,[28] and for a further three years in the practical study of the noble Prussian law. That is certainly quite meritorious, and would be ample for a really respectable district judge or lawyer in old Prussia. But when a person undertakes to compose a legal philosophy for all worlds and all ages, he should at least have some degree of acquaintance with legal systems like those of the French, English and Americans, nations which have played quite a different role in history from that played by the little corner of Germany in which Prussian law flourishes. But let us follow him further.

“The variegated medley of local, provincial and national laws, which run counter to one another in the most various directions, in very arbitrary fashion, sometimes as common law, sometimes as written law, often cloaking the most important issues in a purely statutory form — this pattern-book of disorder and contradiction, in which particular points override general principles, and then at times general principles override particular points — is really not calculated to enable anyone to form a clear conception of jurisprudence” {278}.

But where does this confusion exist? Once again, within the area where Prussian law holds sway, where alongside, over or under this law there are provincial laws and local statutes, here and there also common law and other trash, ranging through the most diverse degrees of relative validity and eliciting from all practicing jurists that scream for help which Herr Dühring here so sympathetically echoes. He need not even go outside his beloved Prussia — he need only come as far as the Rhine to convince himself that all this ceased to be an issue there for the last seventy years — not to speak of other civilised countries, where these antiquated conditions have long since been abolished. Further:

“In a less blunt form the natural responsibility of individuals is screened by means of secret and therefore anonymous collective decisions and actions on the part of collegia or other institutions of public authority, which mask the personal share of each separate member” {218}.

And in another passage:

“In our present situation it will be regarded as an astonishing and extremely stern demand if one opposes the glossing over and covering up of individual responsibility through the medium of collective bodies” {402}.

Perhaps Herr Dühring will regard it as an astonishing piece of information when we tell him that in the sphere of English law each member of a judicial bench has to give his decision separately and in open court, stating the grounds on which it is based; that administrative collective bodies which are not elected and do not transact business or vote publicly are essentially a Prussian institution and are unknown in most other countries, and that therefore his demand can be regarded as astonishing and extremely stern only — in Prussia. Similarly, his complaints about the compulsory introduction of religious practices in birth, marriage, death and burial {407} apply to Prussia alone of all the greater civilised countries, and since the adoption of civil registration they no longer apply even there.[29] What Herr Dühring can accomplish only by means of a future “socialitarian” state of things, even Bismarck has meanwhile managed by means of a simple law. — It is just the same with his “plaint over the inadequate preparation of jurists for their profession” {501}, a plaint which could be extended to cover the “administrative officials” {503} — it is a specifically Prussian jeremiad; and even his hatred of the Jews, which he carries to ridiculous extremes and exhibits on every possible occasion, is a feature which if not specifically Prussian is yet specific to the region east of the Elbe. That same philosopher of reality who has a sovereign contempt for all prejudices and superstitions is himself so deeply immersed in personal crotchets that he calls the popular prejudice against the Jews, inherited from the bigotry of the Middle Ages, a “natural judgment” based on “natural grounds”, and he rises to the pyramidal heights of the assertion that

“socialism is the only power which can oppose population conditions with a rather strong Jewish admixture” {D. Ph. 393}. (Conditions with a Jewish admixture! What “natural” German!)

Enough of this. The grandiloquent boasts of legal erudition have as their basis — at best — only the most commonplace professional knowledge of quite an ordinary jurist of old Prussia. The sphere of legal and political science, the attainments in which Herr Dühring consistently expounds, “coincides” with the area where Prussian law holds sway. Apart from the Roman law, with which every jurist is fairly familiar, now even in England, his knowledge of law is confined wholly and entirely to Prussian law — that legal code of an enlightened patriarchal despotism which is written in a German such as Herr Dühring appears to have been trained in, and which, with its moral glosses, its juristic vagueness and inconsistency, its caning as a means of torture and punishment, belongs entirely to the pre-revolutionary epoch. Whatever exists beyond this Herr Dühring regards as evil [Matthew 5:37 — Ed.] — both modern civil French law, and English law with its quite peculiar development and its safeguarding of personal liberty, unknown anywhere on the Continent. The philosophy which “does not allow the validity of any merely apparent horizon, but in its powerfully revolutionising movement unfolds all earths and heavens of outer and inner nature” {430} — has as its real horizon — the boundaries of the six eastern provinces of old Prussia,[30] and in addition perhaps the few other patches of land where the noble Prussian law holds sway; and beyond this horizon it unfolds neither earths nor heavens, neither outer nor inner nature, but only a picture of the crassest ignorance of what is happening in the rest of the world. It is hard to deal with morality and law without coming up against the question of so-called free will, of man's mental responsibility, of the relation between necessity and freedom. And the philosophy of reality also has not only one but even two solutions of this problem.

“All false theories of freedom must be replaced by, what we know from experience is the nature of the relation between rational judgment on the one hand and instinctive impulses on the other, a relation which so to speak unites them into a resultant force. The fundamental facts of this form of dynamics must be drawn from observation, and for the calculation in advance of events which have not yet occurred must also be estimated, as closely as possible, in general both as to their nature and magnitude. In this manner the silly delusions of inner freedom, which people have chewed on and fed on for thousands of years, are not only cleared away in thoroughgoing fashion, but are replaced by something positive, which can be made use of for the practical regulation of life” {187}.

Viewed thus freedom consists in rational judgment pulling a man to the right while irrational impulses pull him to the left, and in this parallelogram of forces the actual movement proceeds in the direction of the diagonal. Freedom is therefore the mean between judgment and impulse, reason and unreason, and its degree in each individual case can be determined on the basis of experience by a “personal equation”, to use an astronomical expression.[31] But a few pages later on we find:

“We base moral responsibility on freedom, which however means nothing more to us than susceptibility to conscious motives in accordance with our natural and acquired intelligence. All such motives operate with the inevitability of natural law, notwithstanding an awareness of possible contrary actions; but it is precisely on this unavoidable compulsion that we rely when we apply the moral levers” {218}.

This second definition of freedom, which quite unceremoniously gives a knock-out blow to the first one, is again nothing but an extreme vulgarisation of the Hegelian conception. Hegel was the first to state correctly the relation between freedom and necessity. To him, freedom is the insight into necessity (die Einsicht in die Notwendigheit).

"Necessity is blind only in so far as it is not understood [begriffen]."

Freedom does not consist in any dreamt-of independence from natural laws, but in the knowledge of these laws, and in the possibility this gives of systematically making them work towards definite ends. This holds good in relation both to the laws of external nature and to those which govern the bodily and mental existence of men themselves — two classes of laws which we can separate from each other at most only in thought but not in reality. Freedom of the will therefore means nothing but the capacity to make decisions with knowledge of the subject. Therefore the freer a man’s judgment is in relation to a definite question, the greater is the necessity with which the content of this judgment will be determined; while the uncertainty, founded on ignorance, which seems to make an arbitrary choice among many different and conflicting possible decisions, shows precisely by this that it is not free, that it is controlled by the very object it should itself control. Freedom therefore consists in the control over ourselves and over external nature, a control founded on knowledge of natural necessity; it is therefore necessarily a product of historical development. The first men who separated themselves from the animal kingdom were in all essentials as unfree as the animals themselves, but each step forward in the field of culture was a step towards freedom. On the threshold of human history stands the discovery that mechanical motion can be transformed into heat: the production of fire by friction; at the close of the development so far gone through stands the discovery that heat can be transformed into mechanical motion: the steam-engine. — And, in spite of the gigantic liberating revolution in the social world which the steam-engine is carrying through, and which is not yet half completed, it is beyond all doubt that the generation of fire by friction has had an even greater effect on the liberation of mankind. For the generation of fire by friction gave man for the first time control over one of the forces of nature, and thereby separated him for ever from the animal kingdom. The steam-engine will never bring about such a mighty leap forward in human development, however important it may seem in our eyes as representing all those immense productive forces dependent on it — forces which alone make possible a state of society in which there are no longer class distinctions or anxiety over the means of subsistence for the individual, and in which for the first time there can be talk of real human freedom, of an existence in harmony with the laws of nature that have become known. But how young the whole of human history still is, and how ridiculous it would be to attempt to ascribe any absolute validity to our present views, is evident from the simple fact that all past history can be characterised as the history of the epoch from the practical discovery of the transformation of mechanical motion into heat up to that of the transformation of heat into mechanical motion. True, Herr Dühring's treatment of history is different. In general, being a record of error, ignorance and barbarity, of violence and subjugation, history is a repulsive object to the philosophy of reality; but considered in detail it is divided into two great periods, namely (1) from the self-equal state of matter up to the French Revolution, (2) from the French Revolution up to Herr Dühring; the nineteenth century remains

“still in essence reactionary, indeed from the intellectual standpoint even more so” (!) “than the eighteenth”. Nevertheless, it bears socialism in its womb, and therewith “the germ of a mightier regeneration than was fancied” (!) “by the forerunners and the heroes of the French Revolution” {D. Ph. 301}.

The philosophy of reality’s contempt for all past history is justified as follows:

“The few thousand years, the historical retrospection of which has been facilitated by original documents, are, together with the constitution of mankind so far, of little significance when one thinks of the succession of thousands of years which are still to come... The human race as a whole is still very young, and when in time to come scientific retrospection has tens of thousands instead of thousands of years to reckon with, the intellectually immature childhood of our institutions becomes a self-evident premise undisputed in relation to our epoch, which will then be revered as hoary antiquity” {302}.

Without dwelling on the really “natural language structure” of the last sentence, we shall note only two points. Firstly, that this “hoary antiquity” will in any case remain a historical epoch of the greatest interest for all future generations, because it forms the basis of all subsequent higher development, because it has for its starting-point the moulding of man from the animal kingdom, and for its content the overcoming of obstacles such as will never again confront associated mankind of the future. And secondly, that the close of this hoary antiquity — in contrast to which the future periods of history, which will no longer be kept back by these difficulties and obstacles, hold the promise of quite other scientific, technical and social achievements — is in any case a very strange moment to choose to lay down the law for these thousands of years that are to come, in the form of final and ultimate truths, immutable truths and deep-rooted conceptions discovered on the basis of the intellectually immature childhood of our so extremely “backward” and “retrogressive” century. Only a Richard Wagner in philosophy — but without Wagner’s talents — could fail to see that all the depreciatory epithets slung at previous historical development remain sticking also on what is claimed to be its final outcome — the so-called philosophy of reality. One of the most significant morsels of the new deep-rooted science {219} is the section on individualisation and increasing the value of life. In this section oracular commonplaces bubble up and gush forth in an irresistible torrent for three full chapters. Unfortunately we must limit ourselves to a few short samples.

“The deeper essence of all sensation and therefore of all subjective forms of life rests on the difference between states... But for a full” (!) “life it can be shown without much trouble” (!) “that its appreciation is heightened and the decisive stimuli are developed, not by persistence in a particular state, but by a transition from one situation in life to another... The approximately self-equal state which is so to speak in permanent inertia and as it were continues in the same position of equilibrium, whatever its nature may be, has but little significance for the testing of existence... Habituation and so to speak inurement makes it something of absolute indifference and unconcern, something which is not very distinct from deadness. At most the torment of boredom also enters into it as a kind of negative life impulse... A life of stagnation extinguishes all passion and all interest in existence, both for individuals and for peoples. But it is our law of difference through which all these phenomena become explicable” {D. Ph. 362-63}.

The rapidity with which Herr Dühring establishes his from the ground up original conclusions passes all belief. The commonplace that the continued stimulation of the same nerve or the continuation of the same stimulus fatigues each nerve or each nervous system, and that therefore in a normal condition nerve stimuli must be interrupted and varied — which for years has been stated in every textbook of physiology and is known to every philistine from his own experience — is first translated into the language of the philosophy of reality. No sooner has this platitude which is as old as the hills, been translated into the mysterious formula that the deeper essence of all sensation rests on the difference between states, than it is further transformed into “our law of difference”. And this law of difference makes “absolutely explicable” a whole series of phenomena which in turn are nothing more than illustrations and examples of the pleasantness of variety and which require no explanation whatever even for the most common philistine understanding and gain not the breadth of an atom in clarity by reference to this alleged law of difference. But this far from exhausts the deep-rootedness of “our law of difference” {219}.

“The sequence of ages in life, and the emergence of different conditions of life bound up with it, furnish a very obvious example with which to illustrate our principle of difference... Child, boy, youth and man experience the intensity of their appreciation of life at each stage not so much when the state in which they find themselves has already become fixed, as in the periods of transition from one to another” {363}.

Even this is not enough.

Our law of difference can be given an even more extended application if we take into consideration the fact that a repetition of what has already been tried or done has no attraction” {365}.

And now the reader can himself imagine the oracular twaddle for which sentences of the depth and deep-rootedness of those cited form the starting-point. Herr Dühring may well shout triumphantly at the end of his book:

“The law of difference has become decisive both in theory and in practice for the appraisement and heightening of the value of life!” {558}

This is likewise true of Herr Dühring’s appraisement of the intellectual value of his public: he must believe that it is composed of sheer asses or philistines. We are further given the following extremely practical rules of life:

“The method whereby total interest in life can be kept active” (a fitting task for philistines and those who want to become such!) “consists in allowing the particular and so to speak elementary interests, of which the total interest is composed, to develop or succeed each other in accordance with natural periods of time. Simultaneously, for the same state the succession of stages may be made use of by replacing the lower and more easily satisfied stimuli by higher and more permanently effective excitations in order to avoid the occurrence of any gaps that are entirely devoid of interest. However, it will be necessary to ensure that the natural tensions or those arising in the normal course of social existence are not arbitrarily accumulated or forced or — the opposite perversion — satisfied by the lightest stimulation, and thus prevented from developing a want which is capable of gratification. In this as in other cases the maintenance of the natural rhythm is the precondition of all harmonious and agreeable movement. Nor should anyone set before himself the insoluble problem of trying to prolong the stimuli of any situation beyond the period allotted them by nature or by the circumstances” {375} — and so on.

The simpleton who takes as his rule for the “testing of life” these solemn oracles of philistine pedantry subtilising over the shallowest platitudes will certainly not have to complain of “gaps entirely devoid of interest”. It will take him all his time to prepare his pleasures and get them in the right order, so that he will not have a moment left to enjoy them. We should try out life, full life. There are only two things which Herr Dühring prohibits us:

first “the uncleanliness of indulging in tobacco”, and secondly drinks and foods which “have properties that rouse disgust or are in general obnoxious to the more refined feelings” {261}.

In his course of political economy, however, Herr Dühring writes such a dithyramb on the distilling of spirits that it is impossible that he should include spirituous liquor in this category; we are therefore forced to conclude that his prohibition covers only wine and beer. He has only to prohibit meat, too, and then he will have raised the philosophy of reality to the same height as that on which the late Gustav Struve moved with such great success — the height of pure childishness.

For the rest, Herr Dühring might be slightly more liberal in regard to spirituous liquors. A man who, by his own admission still cannot find the bridge from the static to the dynamic {D. Ph. 80} has surely every reason to be indulgent in judging some poor devil who has for once dipped too deep in his glass and as a result also seeks in vain the bridge from the dynamic to the static.

XII. Dialectics. Quantity and Quality[edit source]

“The first and most important principle of the basic logical properties of being refers to the exclusion of contradiction. Contradiction is a category which can only appertain to a combination of thoughts, but not to reality. There are no contradictions in things, or, to put it another way, contradiction accepted as reality is itself the apex of absurdity {D. Ph. 30} ... The antagonism of forces measured against each other and moving in opposite directions is in fact the basic form of all actions m the life of the world and its creatures. But this opposition of the directions taken by the forces of elements and individuals does not in the slightest degree coincide with the idea of absurd contradictions {31} ... We can be content here with having cleared the fogs which generally rise from the supposed mysteries of logic by presenting a clear picture of the actual absurdity of contradictions in reality and with having shown the uselessness of the incense which has been burnt here and there in honour of the dialectics of contradiction — the very clumsily carved wooden doll which is substituted for the antagonistic world schematism” {32}

This is practically all we are told about dialectics in the Cursus der Philosophie. In his Kritische Geschichte, on the other hand, the dialectics of contradiction, and with it particularly Hegel, is treated quite differently.

“Contradiction, according to the Hegelian logic, or rather Logos doctrine, is objectively present not in thought, which by its nature can only be conceived as subjective and conscious, but in things and processes themselves and can be met with in so to speak corporeal form, so that absurdity does not remain an impossible combination of thought but becomes an actual force. The reality of the absurd is the first article of faith in the Hegelian unity of the logical and the illogical.... The more contradictory a thing the truer it is, or in other words, the more absurd the more credible it is. This maxim, which is not even newly invented but is borrowed from the theology of the Revelation and from mysticism, is the naked expression of the so-called dialectical principle” {D. K. G. 479-80}.

The thought-content of the two passages cited can be summed up in the statement that contradiction=absurdity, and therefore cannot occur in the real world. People who in other respects show a fair degree of common sense may regard this statement as having the same self-evident validity as the statement that a straight line cannot be a curve and a curve cannot be straight. But, regardless of all protests made by common sense, the differential calculus under certain circumstances nevertheless equates straight lines and curves, and thus obtains results which common sense, insisting on the absurdity of straight lines being identical with curves, can never attain. And in view of the important role which the so-called dialectics of contradiction has played in philosophy from the time of the ancient Greeks up to the present, even a stronger opponent than Herr Dühring should have felt obliged to attack it with other arguments besides one assertion and a good many abusive epithets.

True, so long as we consider things as at rest and lifeless, each one by itself, alongside and after each other, we do not run up against any contradictions in them. We find certain qualities which are partly common to, partly different from, and even contradictory to each other, but which in the last-mentioned case are distributed among different objects and therefore contain no contradiction within. Inside the limits of this sphere of observation we can get along on the basis of the usual, metaphysical mode of thought. But the position is quite different as soon as we consider things in their motion, their change, their life, their reciprocal influence on one another. Then we immediately become involved in contradictions. Motion itself is a contradiction: even simple mechanical change of position can only come about through a body being at one and the same moment of time both in one place and in another place, being in one and the same place and also not in it. And the continuous origination and simultaneous solution of this contradiction is precisely what motion is.

Here, therefore, we have a contradiction which “is objectively present in things and processes themselves and can be met with in so to speak corporeal form”. And what has Herr Dühring to say about it? He asserts that

up to the present there is “no bridge” whatever “in rational mechanics from the strictly static to the dynamic” {D. Ph. 80}.

The reader can now at last see what is hidden behind this favourite phrase of Herr Dühring’s — it is nothing but this: the mind which thinks metaphysically is absolutely unable to pass from the idea of rest to the idea of motion, because the contradiction pointed out above blocks its path. To it, motion is simply incomprehensible because it is a contradiction. And in asserting the incomprehensibility of motion, it admits against its will the existence of this contradiction, and thus admits the objective presence in things and processes themselves of a contradiction which is moreover an actual force.

If simple mechanical change of position contains a contradiction this is even more true of the higher forms of motion of matter, and especially of organic life and its development. We saw above that life consists precisely and primarily in this — that a being is at each moment itself and yet something else. Life is therefore also a contradiction which is present in things and processes themselves, and which constantly originates and resolves itself; and as soon as the contradiction ceases, life, too, comes to an end, and death steps in. We likewise saw that also in the sphere of thought we could not escape contradictions, and that for example the contradiction between man's inherently unlimited capacity for knowledge and its actual presence only in men who are externally limited and possess limited cognition finds its solution in what is — at least practically, for us — an endless succession of generations, in infinite progress.

We have already noted that one of the basic principles of higher mathematics is the contradiction that in certain circumstances straight lines and curves may be the same. It also gets up this other contradiction: that lines which intersect each other before our eyes nevertheless, only five or six centimetres from their point of intersection, can be shown to be parallel, that is, that they will never meet even if extended to infinity. And yet, working with these and with even far greater contradictions, it attains results which are not only correct but also quite unattainable for lower mathematics.

But even lower mathematics teems with contradictions. It is for example a contradiction that a root of A should be a power of A, and yet A1/2 = . It is a contradiction that a negative quantity should be the square of anything, for every negative quantity multiplied by itself gives a positive square. The square root of minus one is therefore not only a contradiction, but even an absurd contradiction, a real absurdity. And yet is in many cases a necessary result of correct mathematical operations. Furthermore, where would mathematics — lower or higher — be, if it were prohibited from operation with ?

In its operations with variable quantities mathematics itself enters the field of dialectics, and it is significant that it was a dialectical philosopher, Descartes, who introduced this advance. The relation between the mathematics of variable and the mathematics of constant quantities is in general the same as the relation of dialectical to metaphysical thought. But this does not prevent the great mass of mathematicians from recognising dialectics only in the sphere of mathematics, and a good many of them from continuing to work in the old, limited, metaphysical way with methods that were obtained dialectically.

It would be possible to go more closely into Herr Dühring’s antagonism of forces and his antagonistic world schematism only if he had given us something more on this theme than the mere phrase. After accomplishing this feat this antagonism is not even once shown to us at work, either in his world schematism or in his natural philosophy — the most convincing admission that Herr Dühring can do absolutely nothing of a positive character with his “basic form of all actions in the life of the world and its creatures”. When someone has in fact lowered Hegel’s “Doctrine of Essence” to the platitude of forces moving in opposite directions but not in contradictions, certainly the best thing he can do is to avoid any application of this commonplace.

Marx's Capital furnishes Herr Dühring with another occasion for venting his anti-dialectical spleen.

“The absence of natural and intelligible logic which characterises these dialectical frills and mazes and conceptual arabesques... Even to the part that has already appeared we must apply the principle that in a certain respect and also in general” (!), “according to a well-known philosophical preconception, all is to be sought in each and each in all, and that therefore, according to this mixed and misconceived idea, it all amounts to one and the same thing in the end” {D. K. G. 496}.

This insight into the well-known philosophical preconception also enables Herr Dühring to prophesy with assurance what will be the “end” of Marx's economic philosophising, that is, what the following volumes of Capital will contain, and this he does exactly seven lines after he has declared that

“speaking in plain human language it is really impossible to divine what is still to come in the two” (final) “volumes”[32] {496}.

This, however, is not the first time that Herr Dühring’s writings are revealed to us as belonging to the “things” in which “contradiction is objectively present and can be met with in so to speak corporeal form” {479-80}. But this does not prevent him from going on victoriously as follows:

“Yet sound logic will in all probability triumph over its caricature... This presence of superiority and this mysterious dialectical rubbish will tempt no one who has even a modicum of sound judgment left to have anything to do ... with these deformities of thought and style. With the demise of the last relics of the dialectical follies this means of duping ... will lose its deceptive influence, and no one will any longer believe that he has to torture himself in order to get behind some profound piece of wisdom where the husked kernel of the abstruse things reveals at best the features of ordinary theories if not of absolute commonplaces... It is quite impossible to reproduce the” (Marxian) “maze in accordance with the Logos doctrine without prostituting sound logic” {D. K. C. 497}. Marx's method, according to Herr Dühring, consists in “performing dialectical miracles for his faithful followers” {498}, and so on.

We are not in any way concerned here as yet with the correctness or incorrectness of the economic results of Marx's researches, but only with the dialectical method used by Marx. But this much is certain: most readers of Capital will have learnt for the first time from Herr Dühring what it is in fact that they have read. And among them will also be Herr Dühring himself, who in the year 1867 (Ergänzungsblätter III, No. 3) was still able to provide what for a thinker of his calibre was a relatively rational review of the book; and he did this without first being obliged as he now declares is indispensable, to translate the Marxian argument into Dühringian language. And though even then he committed the blunder of identifying Marxian dialectics with the Hegelian, he had not quite lost the capacity to distinguish between the method and the results obtained by using it, and to understand that the latter are not refuted in detail by lampooning the former in general.

At any rate, the most astonishing piece of information given by Herr Dühring is the statement that from the Marxian standpoint “it all amounts to one and the same thing in the end” {496}, that therefore to Marx, for example, capitalists and wage-workers, feudal, capitalist and socialist modes of production are also “one and the same thing” — no doubt in the end even Marx and Herr Dühring are “one and the same thing”. Such utter nonsense can only be explained if we suppose that the mere mention of the word dialectics throws Herr Dühring into such a state of mental irresponsibility that, as a result of a certain mixed and misconceived idea, what he says and does is “one and the same thing” in the end.

We have here a sample of what Herr Dühring calls

“my historical depiction in the grand style” {556}, or “the summary treatment which settles with genus and type, and does not condescend to honour what a Hume called the learned mob with an exposure in micrological detail; this treatment in a higher and nobler style is the only one compatible with the interests of complete truth and with one's duty to the public which is free from the bonds of the guilds” {507}.

Historical depiction in the grand style and the summary settlement with genus and type is indeed very convenient for Herr Dühring, inasmuch as this method enables him to neglect all known facts as micrological and equate them to zero, so that instead of proving anything he need only use general phrases, make assertions and thunder his denunciations. The method has the further advantage that it offers no real foothold to an opponent, who is consequently left with almost no other possibility of reply than to make similar summary assertions in the grand style, to resort to general phrases and finally thunder back denunciations at Herr Dühring — in a word, as they say, engage in a clanging match, which is not to everyone“s taste. We must therefore be grateful to Herr Dühring for occasionally, by way of exception, dropping the higher and nobler style, and giving us at least two examples of the unsound Marxian Logos doctrine.

“How comical is the reference to the confused, hazy Hegelian notion that quantity changes into quality, and that therefore an advance, when it reaches a certain size, becomes capital by this quantitative increase alone” {498}.

In this “expurgated” presentation by Herr Dühring that statement certainly seems curious enough. Let us see how it looks in the original, in Marx. On page 313 (2nd edition of Capital), Marx, on the basis of his previous examination of constant and variable capital and surplus-value, draws the conclusion that “not every sum of money, or of value, is at pleasure transformable into capital. To effect this transformation, in fact, a certain minimum of money or of exchange-value must be presupposed in the hands of the individual possessor of money or commodities.” He takes as an example the case of a labourer in any branch of industry, who works daily eight hours for himself — that is, in producing the value of his wages — and the following four hours for the capitalist, in producing surplus-value, which immediately flows into the pocket of the capitalist. In this case, one would have to have at his disposal a sum of values sufficient to enable one to provide two labourers with raw materials, instruments of labour and wages, in order to pocket enough surplus-value every day to live on as well as one of his labourers. And as the aim of capitalist production is not mere subsistence but the increase of wealth, our man with his two labourers would still not be a capitalist. Now in order that he may live twice as well as an ordinary labourer, and turn half of the surplus-value produced again into capital, he would have to be able to employ eight labourers, that is, he would have to possess four times the sum of values assumed above. And it is only after this, and in the course of still further explanations elucidating and substantiating the fact that not every petty sum of values is enough to be transformable into capital, but that in this respect each period of development and each branch of industry has its definite minimum sum, that Marx observes: “Here, as in natural science, is shown the correctness of the law discovered by Hegel in his Logic, that merely quantitative changes beyond a certain point pass into qualitative differences.”

And now let the reader admire the higher and nobler style, by virtue of which Herr Dühring attributes to Marx the opposite of what he really said. Marx says: The fact that a sum of values can be transformed into capital only when it has reached a certain size, varying according to the circumstances, but in each case definite minimum size — this fact is a proof of the correctness of the Hegelian law. Herr Dühring makes him say: Because, according to the Hegelian law, quantity changes into quality, “therefore an advance, when it reaches a certain size, becomes capital” {D. K. G. 498}. That is to say, the very opposite.

In connection with Herr Dühring’s examination of the Darwin case, we have already got to know his habit, “in the interests of complete truth” and because of his “duty to the public which is free from the bonds of the guilds” {507}, of quoting incorrectly. It becomes more and more evident that this habit is an inner necessity of the philosophy of reality, and it is certainly a very “summary treatment” {507}. Not to mention the fact that Herr Dühring further makes Marx speak of any kind of “advance” whatsoever, whereas Marx only refers to an advance made in the form of raw materials, instruments of labour, and wages; and that in doing this Herr Dühring succeeds in making Marx speak pure nonsense. And then he has the cheek to describe as comic the nonsense which he himself has fabricated. Just as he built up a Darwin of his own fantasy in order to try out his strength against him, so here he builds up a fantastic Marx. “Historical depiction in the grand style” {556}, indeed!

We have already seen earlier, when discussing world schematism, that in connection with this Hegelian nodal line of measure relations — in which quantitative change suddenly passes at certain points into qualitative transformation — Herr Dühring had a little accident: in a weak moment he himself recognised and made use of this line. We gave there one of the best-known examples — that of the change of the aggregate states of water, which under normal atmospheric pressure changes at 0° C from the liquid into the solid state, and at 100°C from the liquid into the gaseous state, so that at both these turning-points the merely quantitative change of temperature brings about a qualitative change in the condition of the water.

In proof of this law we might have cited hundreds of other similar facts from nature as well as from human society. Thus, for example, the whole of Part IV of Marx's Capital — production of relative surplus-value — deals, in the field of co-operation, division of labour and manufacture, machinery and modern industry, with innumerable cases in which quantitative change alters the quality, and also qualitative change alters the quantity, of the things under consideration; in which therefore, to use the expression so hated by Herr Dühring, quantity is transformed into quality and vice versa. As for example the fact that the co-operation of a number of people, the fusion of many forces into one single force, creates, to use Marx's phrase, a “new power”, which is essentially different from the sum of its separate forces.

Over and above this, in the passage which, in the interests of complete truth, Herr Dühring perverted into its opposite, Marx had added a footnote: “The molecular theory of modern chemistry first scientifically worked out by Laurent and Gerhardt rests on no other law.” But what did that matter to Herr Dühring? He knew that:

“the eminently modern educative elements provided by the natural-scientific mode of thought are lacking precisely among those who, like Marx and his rival Lassalle, make half-science and a little philosophistics the meagre equipment with which to vamp up their learning” {D. K. G. 504} —

while with Herr Dühring

“the main achievements of exact knowledge in mechanics, physics and chemistry” {D. Ph. 517} and so forth serve as the basis —

we have seen how. However, in order to enable third persons, too, to reach a decision in the matter, we shall look a little more closely into the example cited in Marx's footnote. What is referred to here is the homologous series of carbon compounds, of which a great many are already known and each of which has its own algebraic formula of composition. If, for example, as is done in chemistry, we denote an atom of carbon by C, an atom of hydrogen by H, an atom of oxygen by O, and the number of atoms of carbon contained in each compound by n, the molecular formulas for some of these series can be expressed as follows:

CnH2n+2 — the series of normal paraffins

CnH2n+2O — the series of primary alcohols

CnH2nO2 — the series of the monobasic fatty acids.

Let us take as an example the last of these series, and let us assume successively that n=l, n=2, n=3, etc. We then obtain the following results (omitting the isomers):

CH2O2 — formic acid: boiling point 100° melting point 1°

C2H4O2 — acetic acid: 118° melting point 17°

C3H6O2 — propionic acid: 140° " "

C8H8O2 — butyric acid: 162°

C5H10O2 — valerianic acid: 175°

and so on to C50H60O2, melissic acid, which melts only at 80° and has no boiling point at all, because it cannot evaporate without disintegrating.

Here therefore we have a whole series of qualitatively different bodies, formed by the simple quantitative addition of elements, and in fact always in the same proportion. This is most clearly evident in cases where the quantity of all the elements of the compound changes in the same proportion. Thus, in the normal paraffins CnH2n+2, the lowest is methane, CH4, a gas; the highest known, hexadecane, C16H34, is a solid body forming colourless crystals which melts at 21° and boils only at 278°. Each new member of both series comes into existence through the addition of CH2, one atom of carbon and two atoms of hydrogen, to the molecular formula of the preceding member, and this quantitative change in the molecular formula produces each time a qualitatively different body.

These series, however, are only one particularly obvious example; throughout practically the whole of chemistry, even in the various nitrogen oxides and oxygen acids of phosphorus or sulphur, one can see how “quantity changes into quality”, and this allegedly confused, hazy Hegelian notion appears in so to speak corporeal form in things and processes — and no one but Herr Dühring is confused and befogged by it. And if Marx was the first to call attention to it, and if Herr Dühring read the reference without even understanding it (otherwise he would certainly not have allowed this unparalleled outrage to pass unchallenged), this is enough — even without looking back at the famous Dühringian philosophy of nature — to make it clear which of the two, Marx or Herr Dühring, is lacking in “the eminently modern educative elements provided by the natural-scientific mode of thought” {D. K. G. 504} and in acquaintance with the “main achievements of ... chemistry” {D. Ph. 517}.

In conclusion we shall call one more witness for the transformation of quantity into quality, namely — Napoleon. He describes the combat between the French cavalry, who were bad riders but disciplined, and the Mamelukes, who were undoubtedly the best horsemen of their time for single combat, but lacked discipline, as follows:

“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 1,000 Frenchmen invariably defeated 1,500 Mamelukes.”

Just as with Marx a definite, though varying, minimum sum of exchange-values was necessary to make possible its transformation into capital, so with Napoleon a detachment of cavalry had to be of a definite minimum number in order to make it possible for the force of discipline, embodied in closed order and planned utilisation, to manifest itself and rise superior even to greater numbers of irregular cavalry, in spite of the latter being better mounted, more dexterous horsemen and fighters, and at least as brave as the former. But what does this prove as against Herr Dühring? Was not Napoleon miserably vanquished in his conflict with Europe? Did he not suffer defeat after defeat? And why? Solely in consequence of having introduced the confused, hazy Hegelian notion into cavalry tactics!

XIII. Dialectics. Negation of the Negation[edit source]

“This historical sketch” (of the genesis of the so-called primitive accumulation of capital in England) “is relatively the best part of Marx's book, and would be even better if it had not relied on the dialectical crutch to help out its scholarly crutch. The Hegelian negation of the negation, in default of anything better and clearer, has in fact to serve here as the midwife to deliver the future from the womb of the past. The abolition of ‘individual property’, which since the sixteenth century has been effected in the way indicated above, is the first negation. It will be followed by a second, which bears the character of a negation of the negation and hence of a restoration of ‘individual property’, but in a higher form, based on the common ownership of land and of the instruments of labour. Herr Marx calls this new ‘individual property’ also ‘social property’, and in this there appears the Hegelian higher unity, in which the contradiction is supposed to be sublated, that is to say, in the Hegelian verbal jugglery, both overcome and preserved... According to this, the expropriation of the expropriators is, as it were, the automatic result of historical reality in its materially external relations... It would be difficult to convince a sensible man of the necessity of the common ownership of land and capital, on the basis of credence in Hegelian wordjuggling such as the negation of the negation {D. K. G. 502-03}... The nebulous hybrids of Marx’s conceptions will not however appear strange to anyone who realises what nonsense can be concocted with Hegelian dialectics as the scientific basis, or rather what nonsense must necessarily spring from it. For the benefit of the reader who is not familiar with these artifices, it must be pointed out expressly that Hegel’s first negation is the catechismal idea of the fall from grace and his second is that of a higher unity leading to redemption. The logic of facts can hardly be based on this nonsensical analogy borrowed from the religious sphere {504} ... Herr Marx remains cheerfully in the nebulous world of his property which is at once both individual and social and leaves it to his adepts to solve for themselves this profound dialectical enigma” {505}

Thus far Herr Dühring.

So Marx has no other way of proving the necessity of the social revolution, of establishing the common ownership of land and of the means of production produced by labour, except by citing the Hegelian negation of the negation; and because he bases his socialist theory on these nonsensical analogies borrowed from religion, he arrives at the result that in the society of the future there will be dominant an ownership at once both individual and social, as Hegelian higher unity of the sublated contradiction.

But let the negation of the negation rest for the moment and let us have a look at the “ownership” which is “at once both individual and social”. Herr Dühring characterises this as a “nebulous world”, and curiously enough he is really right on this point. Unfortunately, however, it is not Marx but again Herr Dühring himself who is in this nebulous world. Just as his dexterity in handling the Hegelian method of “delirious raving” {D. Ph. 227, 449} enabled him without any difficulty to determine what the still unfinished volumes of Capital are sure to contain, so here, too, without any great effort he can put Marx right à la Hegel, by imputing to him the higher unity of a property, of which there is not a word in Marx.

Marx says: “It is the negation of negation. This re-establishes individual property, but on the basis of the acquisitions of the capitalist era, i.e., on co-operation of free workers and their possession in common of the land and of the means of production produced by labour. The transformation of scattered private property, arising from individual labour, into capitalist private property is, naturally, a process, incomparably more protracted, arduous, and difficult, than the transformation of capitalistic private property, already practically resting on socialised production, into socialised property.” [K. Marx, Das Kapital, p. 793.] [Capital, volume I, Chapter 33, page 384 in the MIA pdf file.] That is all. The state of things brought about by the expropriation of the expropriators is therefore characterised as the re-establishment of individual property, but on the basis of the social ownership of the land and of the means of production produced by labour itself. To anyone who understands plain talk this means that social ownership extends to the land and the other means of production, and individual ownership to the products, that is, the articles of consumption. And in order to make the matter comprehensible even to children of six, Marx assumes on page 56 [Chapter 1, page 48 in the MIA pdf] “a community of free individuals, carrying on their work with the means of production in common, in which the labour-power of all the different individuals is consciously applied as the combined labour-power of the community”, that is, a society organised on a socialist basis; and he continues: “The total product of our community is a social product. One portion serves as fresh means of production and remains social. But another portion is consumed by the members as means of subsistence. A distribution of this portion amongst them is consequently necessary.” And surely that is clear enough even for Herr Dühring, in spite of his having Hegel on his brain.

The property which is at once both individual and social, this confusing hybrid, this nonsense which necessarily springs from Hegelian dialectics, this nebulous world, this profound dialectical enigma, which Marx leaves his adepts to solve for themselves — is yet another free creation and imagination on the part of Herr Dühring. Marx, as an alleged Hegelian, is obliged to produce a real higher unity, as the outcome of the negation of the negation, and as Marx does not do this to Herr Dühring's taste, the latter has to fall again into his higher and nobler style, and in the interests of complete truth impute to Marx things which are the products of Herr Dühring's own manufacture. A man who is totally incapable of quoting correctly, even by way of exception, may well become morally indignant at the “Chinese erudition” {D. K. G. 506} of other people, who always quote correctly, but precisely by doing this “inadequately conceal their lack of insight into the totality of ideas of the various writers from whom they quote”. Herr Dühring is right. Long live historical depiction in the grand style {556}!

Up to this point we have proceeded from the assumption that Herr Dühring's persistent habit of misquoting is done at least in good faith, and arises either from his total incapacity to understand things or from a habit of quoting from memory — a habit which seems to be peculiar to historical depiction in the grand style, but is usually described as slovenly. But we seem to have reached the point at which, even with Herr Dühring, quantity is transformed into quality. For we must take into consideration in the first place that the passage in Marx is in itself perfectly clear and is moreover amplified in the same book by a further passage which leaves no room whatever for misunderstanding; secondly, that Herr Dühring had discovered the monstrosity of “property which is at once both individual and social” {505} neither in the critique of Capital, in the Ergänzungsblätter which was referred to above, nor even in the critique contained in the first edition of his Kritische Geschichte, but only in the second edition — that is, on the third reading of Capital; further, that in this second edition, which was rewritten in a socialist sense, it was deemed necessary by Herr Dühring to make Marx say the utmost possible nonsense about the future organisation of society, in order to enable him, in contrast, to bring forward all the more triumphantly — as he in fact does — “the economic commune as described by me in economic and juridical outline in my Cursus” {504} — when we take all this into consideration, we are almost forced to the conclusion that Herr Dühring has here deliberately made a “beneficent extension” of Marx's idea — beneficent for Herr Dühring.

But what role does the negation of the negation play in Marx? On page 791 and the following pages he sets out the final conclusions which he draws from the preceding fifty pages of economic and historical investigation into the so-called primitive accumulation of capital.[33] Before the capitalist era, petty industry existed, at least in England, on the basis of the private property of the labourer in his means of production. The so-called primitive accumulation of capital consisted there in the expropriation of these immediate producers, that is, in the dissolution of private property based on the labour of its owner. This became possible because the petty industry referred to above is compatible only with narrow and primitive bounds of production and society and at a certain stage brings forth the material agencies for its own annihilation. This annihilation, the transformation of the individual and scattered means of production into socially concentrated ones, forms the prehistory of capital. As soon as the labourers are turned into proletarians, their conditions of labour into capital, as soon as the capitalist mode of production stands on its own feet, the further socialisation of labour and further transformation of the land and other means of production, and therefore the further expropriation of private proprietors, takes a new form.

“That which is now to be expropriated is no longer the labourer working for himself, but the capitalist exploiting many labourers. This expropriation is accomplished by the action of the immanent laws of capitalistic production itself, by the concentration of capitals. One capitalist always kills many. Hand in hand with this concentration, or this expropriation of many capitalists by few, develop, on an ever extending scale, the co-operative form of the labour-process, the conscious technical application of science, the methodical collective cultivation of the soil, the transformation of the instruments of labour into instruments of labour only usable in common, the economising of all means of production by their use as the jointly owned means of production of combined, socialised labour. Along with the constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolise all advantages of this process of transformation, grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working class, a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organised by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself. Capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and flourished along with, and under it. Concentration of the means of production and socialisation of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.”

And now I ask the reader: where are the dialectical frills and mazes and conceptual arabesques; where the mixed and misconceived ideas according to which everything is all one and the same thing in the end; where the dialectical miracles for his faithful followers; where the mysterious dialectical rubbish and the maze in accordance with the Hegelian Logos doctrine, without which Marx, according to Herr Dühring, is unable to put his exposition into shape? Marx merely shows from history, and here states in a summarised form, that just as formerly petty industry by its very development necessarily created the conditions of its own annihilation, i.e., of the expropriation of the small proprietors, so now the capitalist mode of production has likewise itself created the material conditions from which it must perish. The process is a historical one, and if it is at the same time a dialectical process, this is not Marx's fault, however annoying it may be to Herr Dühring. It is only at this point, after Marx has completed his proof on the basis of historical and economic facts, that he proceeds:

“The capitalist mode of production and appropriation, hence the capitalist private property, is the first negation of individual private property founded on the labour of the proprietor. Capitalist production begets, with the inexorability of a process of nature, its own negation. It is the negation of the negation” — and so on (as quoted above).

Thus, by characterising the process as the negation of the negation, Marx does not intend to prove that the process was historically necessary. On the contrary: only after he has proved from history that in fact the process has partially already occurred, and partially must occur in the future, he in addition characterises it as a process which develops in accordance with a definite dialectical law. That is all. It is therefore once again a pure distortion of the facts by Herr Dühring when he declares that the negation of the negation has to serve here as the midwife to deliver the future from the womb of the past {D. K. G. 502-03}, or that Marx wants anyone to be convinced of the necessity of the common ownership of land and capital {503} (which is itself a Dühringian contradiction in corporeal form) on the basis of credence in the negation of the negation {479-80}.

Herr Dühring's total lack of understanding of the nature of dialectics is shown by the very fact that he regards it as a mere proof-producing instrument, as a limited mind might look upon formal logic or elementary mathematics. Even formal logic is primarily a method of arriving at new results, of advancing from the known to the unknown — and dialectics is the same, only much more eminently so; moreover, since it forces its way beyond the narrow horizon of formal logic, it contains the germ of a more comprehensive view of the world. The same correlation exists in mathematics. Elementary mathematics, the mathematics of constant quantities, moves within the confines of formal logic, at any rate on the whole; the mathematics of variables, whose most important part is the infinitesimal calculus, is in essence nothing other than the application of dialectics to mathematical relations. In it, the simple question of proof is definitely pushed into the background, as compared with the manifold application of the method to new spheres of research. But almost all the proofs of higher mathematics, from the first proofs of the differential calculus on, are from the standpoint of elementary mathematics strictly speaking, wrong. And this is necessarily so, when, as happens in this case, an attempt is made to prove by formal logic results obtained in the field of dialectics. To attempt to prove anything by means of dialectics alone to a crass metaphysician like Herr Dühring would be as much a waste of time as was the attempt made by Leibniz and his pupils to prove the principles of the infinitesimal calculus to the mathematicians of their time. The differential gave them the same cramps as Herr Dühring gets from the negation of the negation, in which, moreover, as we shall see, the differential also plays a certain role. Finally these gentlemen — or those of them who had not died in the interval — grudgingly gave way, not because they were convinced, but because it always came out right. Herr Dühring, as he himself tells us, is only in his forties, and if he attains old age, as we hope he may, perhaps his experience will be the same.

But what then is this fearful negation of the negation, which makes life so bitter for Herr Dühring and with him plays the same role of the unpardonable crime as the sin against the Holy Ghost does in Christianity? — A very simple process which is taking place everywhere and every day, which any child can understand as soon as it is stripped of the veil of mystery in which it was enveloped by the old idealist philosophy and in which it is to the advantage of helpless metaphysicians of Herr Dühring’s calibre to keep it enveloped. Let us take a grain of barley. Billions of such grains of barley are milled, boiled and brewed and then consumed. But if such a grain of barley meets with conditions which are normal for it, if it falls on suitable soil, then under the influence of heat and moisture it undergoes a specific change, it germinates; the grain as such ceases to exist, it is negated, and in its place appears the plant which has arisen from it, the negation of the grain. But what is the normal life-process of this plant? It grows, flowers, is fertilised and finally once more produces grains of barley, and as soon as these have ripened the stalk dies, is in its turn negated. As a result of this negation of the negation we have once again the original grain of barley, but not as a single unit, but ten-, twenty- or thirtyfold. Species of grain change extremely slowly, and so the barley of today is almost the same as it was a century ago. But if we take a plastic ornamental plant, for example a dahlia or an orchid, and treat the seed and the plant which grows from it according to the gardener’s art, we get as a result of this negation of the negation not only more seeds, but also qualitatively improved seeds, which produce more beautiful flowers, and each repetition of this process, each fresh negation of the negation, enhances this process of perfection. — With most insects, this process follows the same lines as in the case of the grain of barley. Butterflies, for example, spring from the egg by a negation of the egg, pass through certain transformations until they reach sexual maturity, pair and are in turn negated, dying as soon as the pairing process has been completed and the female has laid its numerous eggs. We are not concerned at the moment with the fact that with other plants and animals the process does not take such a simple form, that before they die they produce seeds, eggs or offspring not once but many times; our purpose here is only to show that the negation of the negation really does take place in both kingdoms of the organic world. Furthermore, the whole of geology is a series of negated negations, a series of successive chatterings of old and deposits of new rock formations. First the original earth crust brought into existence by the cooling of the liquid mass was broken up by oceanic, meteorological and atmospherico-chemical action, and these fragmented masses were stratified on the ocean bed. Local upheavals of the ocean bed above the surface of the sea subject portions of these first strata once more to the action of rain, the changing temperature of the seasons and the oxygen and carbonic acid of the atmosphere. These same influences act on the molten masses of rock which issue from the interior of the earth, break through the strata and subsequently cool off. In this way, in the course of millions of centuries, ever new strata are formed and in turn are for the most part destroyed, ever anew serving as material for the formation of new strata. But the result of this process has been a very positive one: the creation of a soil composed of the most varied chemical elements and mechanically fragmented, which makes possible the most abundant and diversified vegetation.

It is the same in mathematics. Let us take any algebraic quantity whatever: for example, a. If this is negated, we get -a (minus a). If we negate that negation, by multiplying -a by -a, we get +a2, i.e., the original positive quantity, but at a higher degree, raised to its second power. In this case also it makes no difference that we can obtain the same a2 by multiplying the positive a by itself, thus likewise getting a2. For the negated negation is so securely entrenched in a2 that the latter always has two square roots, namely, a and — a. And the fact that it is impossible to get rid of the negated negation, the negative root of the square, acquires very obvious significance as soon as we come to quadratic equations. — The negation of the negation is even more strikingly obvious in higher analysis, in those “summations of indefinitely small magnitudes” {D. Ph. 418} which Herr Dühring himself declares are the highest operations of mathematics, and in ordinary language are known as the differential and integral calculus. How are these forms of calculus used? In a given problem, for example, I have two variables,x and y, neither of which can vary without the other also varying in a ratio determined by the facts of the case. I differentiate x and y, i.e., I take x and y as so infinitely small that in comparison with any real quantity, however small, they disappear, that nothing is left of x and y but their reciprocal relation without any, so to speak, material basis, a quantitative ratio in which there is no quantity. Therefore, dy/dx, the ratio between the differentials of x and y, is dx equal to 0/0 but 0/0 taken as the expression of y/x. I only mention in passing that this ratio between two quantities which have disappeared, caught at the moment of their disappearance, is a contradiction; however, it cannot disturb us any more than it has disturbed the whole of mathematics for almost two hundred years. And now, what have I done but negatex and y, though not in such a way that I need not bother about them any more, not in the way that metaphysics negates, but in the way that corresponds with the facts of the case? In place ofx and y, therefore, I have their negation, dx and dy, in the formulas or equations before me. I continue then to operate with these formulas, treating dx and dy as quantities which are real, though subject to certain exceptional laws, and at a certain point I negate the negation, i.e., I integrate the differential formula, and in place of dx and dy again get the real quantities x and y, and am then not where I was at the beginning, but by using this method I have solved the problem on which ordinary geometry and algebra might perhaps have broken their jaws in vain.

It is the same in history, as well. All civilised peoples begin with the common ownership of the land. With all peoples who have passed a certain primitive stage, this common ownership becomes in the course of the development of agriculture a fetter on production. It is abolished, negated, and after a longer or shorter series of intermediate stages is transformed into private property. But at a higher stage of agricultural development, brought about by private property in land itself, private property conversely becomes a fetter on production, as is the case today both with small and large landownership. The demand that it, too, should be negated, that it should once again be transformed into common property, necessarily arises. But this demand does not mean the restoration of the aboriginal common ownership, but the institution of a far higher and more developed form of possession in common which, far from being a hindrance to production, on the contrary for the first time will free production from all fetters and enable it to make full use of modern chemical discoveries and mechanical inventions.

Or let us take another example: The philosophy of antiquity was primitive, spontaneously evolved materialism. As such, it was incapable of clearing up the relation between mind and matter. But the need to get clarity on this question led to the doctrine of a soul separable from the body, then to the assertion of the immortality of this soul, and finally to monotheism. The old materialism was therefore negated by idealism. But in the course of the further development of philosophy, idealism, too, became untenable and was negated by modern materialism. This modern materialism, the negation of the negation, is not the mere re-establishment of the old, but adds to the permanent foundations of this old materialism the whole thought-content of two thousand years of development of philosophy and natural science, as well as of the history of these two thousand years. It is no longer a philosophy at all, but simply a world outlook which has to establish its validity and be applied not in a science of sciences standing apart, but in the real sciences. Philosophy is therefore “sublated” here, that is, “both overcome and preserved” {D. K. G. 503}; overcome as regards its form, and preserved as regards its real content. Thus, where Herr Dühring sees only “verbal jugglery”, closer inspection reveals an actual content.

Finally: Even the Rousseau doctrine of equality — of which Dühring's is only a feeble and distorted echo — could not have seen the light but for the midwife’s services rendered by the Hegelian negation of the negation {502-03} — though it was nearly twenty years before Hegel was born.[34] And far from being ashamed of this, the doctrine in its first presentation bears almost ostentatiously the imprint of its dialectical origin. In the state of nature and savagery men were equal; and as Rousseau regards even language as a perversion of the state of nature, he is fully justified in extending the equality of animals within the limits of a single species also to the animal-men recently classified by Haeckel hypothetically as Alali: speechless. But these equal animal-men had one quality which gave them an advantage over the other animals: perfectibility, the capacity to develop further; and this became the cause of inequality. So Rousseau regards the rise of inequality as progress. But this progress contained an antagonism: it was at the same time retrogression.

“All further progress” (beyond the original state) “meant so many steps seemingly towards the perfection of the individual man, but in reality towards the decay of the race... Metallurgy and agriculture were the two arts the discovery of which produced this great revolution” (the transformation of the primeval forest into cultivated land, but along with this the introduction of poverty and slavery through property). “For the poet it is gold and silver, but for the philosopher iron and corn, which have civilised men and ruined the human race.”

Each new advance of civilisation is at the same time a new advance of inequality. All institutions set up by the society which has arisen with civilisation change into the opposite of their original purpose.

“It is an incontestable fact, and the fundamental principle of all public law, that the peoples set up their chieftains to safeguard their liberty and not to enslave them.”

And nevertheless the chiefs necessarily become the oppressors of the peoples, and intensify their oppression up to the point at which inequality, carried to the utmost extreme, again changes into its opposite, becomes the cause of equality: before the despot all are equal — equally ciphers.

“Here we have the extreme measure of inequality, the final point which completes the circle and meets the point from which we set out: here all private individuals become equal once more, just because they are ciphers, and the subjects have no other law but their master's will.” But the despot is only master so long as he is able to use force and therefore “when he is driven out”, he cannot “complain of the use of force... Force alone maintained him in power, and force alone overthrows him; thus everything takes its natural course”.

And so inequality once more changes into equality; not, however, into the former naive equality of speechless primitive men, but into the higher equality of the social contract. The oppressors are oppressed. It is the negation of the negation.

Already in Rousseau, therefore, we find not only a line of thought which corresponds exactly to the one developed in Marx’s Capital, but also, in details, a whole series of the same dialectical turns of speech as Marx used: processes which in their nature are antagonistic, contain a contradiction; transformation of one extreme into its opposite; and finally, as the kernel of the whole thing, the negation of the negation. And though in 1754 Rousseau was not yet able to speak the Hegelian jargon {D. K. G. 491}, he was certainly, sixteen years before Hegel was born, deeply bitten with the Hegelian pestilence, dialectics of contradiction, Logos doctrine, theologies, and so forth. And when Herr Dühring, in his shallow version of Rousseau’s theory of equality, begins to operate with his victorious two men, he is himself already on the inclined plane down which he must slide helplessly into the arms of the negation of the negation. The state of things in which the equality of the two men flourished, which was also described as an ideal one, is characterised on page 271 of his Philosophie as the “primitive state”. This primitive state, however, according to page 279, was necessarily sublated by the “robber system” — the first negation. But now, thanks to the philosophy of reality, we have gone so far as to abolish the robber system and establish in its stead the economic commune {504} based on equality which has been discovered by Herr Dühring — negation of the negation, equality on a higher plane. What a delightful spectacle, and how beneficently it extends our range of vision: Herr Dühring's eminent self committing the capital crime of the negation of the negation!

And so, what is the negation of the negation? An extremely general — and for this reason extremely far-reaching and important — law of development of nature, history, and thought; a law which, as we have seen, holds good in the animal and plant kingdoms, in geology, in mathematics, in history and in philosophy — a law which even Herr Dühring, in spite of all his stubborn resistance, has unwittingly and in his own way to follow. It is obvious that I do not say anything concerning the particular process of development of, for example, a grain of barley from germination to the death of the fruit-bearing plant, if I say it is a negation of the negation. For, as the integral calculus is also a negation of the negation, if I said anything of the sort I should only be making the nonsensical statement that the life-process of a barley plant was integral calculus or for that matter that it was socialism. That, however, is precisely what the metaphysicians are constantly imputing to dialectics. When I say that all these processes are a negation of the negation, I bring them all together under this one law of motion, and for this very reason I leave out of account the specific peculiarities of each individual process. Dialectics, however, is nothing more than the science of the general laws of motion and development of nature, human society and thought.

But someone may object: the negation that has taken place in this case is not a real negation: I negate a grain of barley also when I grind it, an insect when I crush it underfoot, or the positive quantity a when I cancel it, and so on. Or I negate the sentence: the rose is a rose, when I say: the rose is not a rose; and what do I get if I then negate this negation and say: but after all the rose is a rose? — These objections are in fact the chief arguments put forward by the metaphysicians against dialectics, and they are wholly worthy of the narrow-mindedness of this mode of thought. Negation in dialectics does not mean simply saying no, or declaring that something does not exist, or destroying it in any way one likes. Long ago Spinoza said: Omnis determinatio est negatio — every limitation or determination is at the same time a negation.[35] And further: the kind of negation is here determined, firstly, by the general and, secondly, by the particular nature of the process. I must not only negate, but also sublate the negation. I must therefore so arrange the first negation that the second remains or becomes possible. How? This depends on the particular nature of each individual case. If I grind a grain of barley, or crush an insect, I have carried out the first part of the action, but have made the second part impossible. Every kind of thing therefore has a peculiar way of being negated in such manner that it gives rise to a development, and it is just the same with every kind of conception or idea. The infinitesimal calculus involves a form of negation which is different from that used in the formation of positive powers from negative roots. This has to be learnt, like everything else. The bare knowledge that the barley plant and the infinitesimal calculus are both governed by negation of negation does not enable me either to grow barley successfully or to differentiate and integrate; just as little as the bare knowledge of the laws of the determination of sound by the dimensions of the strings enables me to play the violin. — But it is clear that from a negation of the negation which consists in the childish pastime of alternately writing and cancelling a, or in alternately declaring that a rose is a rose and that it is not a rose, nothing eventuates but the silliness of the person who adopts such a tedious procedure. And yet the metaphysicians try to make us believe that this is the right way to carry out a negation of the negation, if we ever should want to do such a thing.

Once again, therefore, it is no one but Herr Dühring who is mystifying us when he asserts that the negation of the negation is a stupid analogy invented by Hegel, borrowed from the sphere of religion and based on the story of the fall of man and his redemption {D. K. G. 504}. Men thought dialectically long before they knew what dialectics was, just as they spoke prose long before the term prose existed. [An allusion to Molière's comedy Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, Act II, Scene 6 — Ed.] The law of negation of the negation, which is unconsciously operative in nature and history and, until it has been recognised, also in our heads, was only first clearly formulated by Hegel. And if Herr Dühring wants to operate with it himself on the quiet and it is only that he cannot stand the name, then let him find a better name. But if his aim is to banish the process itself from thought, we must ask him to be so good as first to banish it from nature and history and to invent a mathematical system in which -a x -a is not +a2 and in which differentiation and integration are prohibited under severe penalties.

XIV. Conclusion[edit source]

We have now finished with philosophy; such other fantasies of the future as the Cursus contains will de dealt with when we come to Herr Dühring’s revolution in socialism. What did Herr Dühring promise us? Everything. And what promises has he kept? None. “The elements of a philosophy which is real and accordingly directed to the reality of nature and of life” {D. Ph. 430}, the “strictly scientific {387} conception of the world”, the “system-creating ideas” {525}, and all Herr Dühring's other achievements, trumpeted forth to the world by Herr Dühring in high-sounding phrases, turned out, wherever we laid hold of them, to be pure charlatanism. The world schematism which, “without the slightest detraction from the profundity of thought, securely established the basic forms of being” {556-57}, proved to be an infinitely vulgarised duplicate of Hegelian logic, and in common with the latter shares the superstition that these “basic forms” {9} or logical categories have led a mysterious existence somewhere before and outside of the world, to which they are “to be applied” {15}. The philosophy of nature offered us a cosmogony whose starting-point is a “self-equal state of matter” {87} — a state which can only be conceived by means of the most hopeless confusion as to the relation between matter and motion; a state which can, besides, only be conceived on the assumption of an extramundane personal God who alone can induce motion in this state of matter. In its treatment of organic nature, the philosophy of reality first rejected the Darwinian struggle for existence and natural selection as “a piece of brutality directed against humanity” {117}, and then had to readmit both by the back-door as factors operative in nature, though of second rank. Moreover, the philosophy of reality found occasion to exhibit, in the biological domain, ignorance such as nowadays, when popular science lectures are no longer to be escaped, could hardly be found even among the daughters of the “educated classes”. In the domain of morality and law, the philosophy of reality was no more successful in its vulgarisation of Rousseau than it had been in its previous shallow version of Hegel; and, so far as jurisprudence is concerned, in spite of all its assurances to the contrary, it likewise displayed a lack of knowledge such as is rarely found even among the most ordinary jurists of old Prussia. The philosophy “which cannot allow the validity of any merely apparent horizon” is content, in juridical matters, with a real horizon which is coextensive with the territory in which Prussian law exercises jurisdiction. We are still waiting for the “earths and heavens of outer and inner nature” {D. Ph. 430} which this philosophy promised to reveal to us in its mighty revolutionising sweep; just as we are still waiting for the “final and ultimate truths” {2} and the “absolutely fundamental” {150} basis. The philosopher whose mode of thought “excludes” any tendency to a “subjectively limited conception of the world” {13} proves to be subjectively limited not only by what has been shown to be his extremely defective knowledge, his narrowly construed metaphysical mode of thought and his grotesque conceit, but even by his childish personal crotchets. He cannot produce his philosophy of reality without dragging in his repugnance to tobacco, cats and Jews as a general law valid for all the rest of humanity, including the Jews. His “really critical standpoint” {404} in relation to other people shows itself by his insistently imputing to them things which they never said and which are of Herr Dühring’s very own fabrication. His verbose lucubrations on themes worthy of philistines, such as the value of life and the best way to enjoy life, are themselves so steeped in philistinism that they explain his anger at Goethe's Faust {112-13, 423}. It was really unpardonable of Goethe to make the unmoral Faust and not the serious philosopher of reality, Wagner, his hero. — In short, the philosophy of reality proves to be on the whole what Hegel would call “the weakest residue of the German would-be Enlightenment” — a residue whose tenuity and transparent commonplace character are made more substantial and opaque only by the mixing in of crumbs of oracular rhetoric. And now that we have finished the book we are just as wise as we were at the start; and we are forced to admit that the “new mode of thought” {543}, the "from the ground up original conclusions and views" and the “system-creating ideas” {525}, though they have certainly shown us a great variety of original nonsense, have not provided us with a single line from which we might have been able to learn something. And this man who praises his talents and his wares to the noisy accompaniment of cymbals and trumpets as loudly as any market quack, and behind whose great words there is nothing, absolutely nothing whatsoever — this man has the temerity to say of people like Fichte, Schelling and Hegel, the least of whom is a giant compared with him, that they are charlatans. Charlatan, indeed! But to whom had it best be applied?

Notes[edit source]

Engels' notes[edit source]

  1. Since I wrote the above it would seem already to have been confirmed. According to the latest researches carried out with more exact apparatus by Mendeleyev and Boguski, all true gases show a variable relation between pressure and volume; the coefficient of expansion for hydrogen, at all the pressures so far applied, has been positive (that is, the diminution of volume was slower than the increase of pressure); in the case of atmospheric air and the other gases examined there is for each a zero point of pressure, so that with pressure below this point the coefficient is positive, and with pressure above this point their coefficient is negative. So Boyle's law, which has always hitherto been usable for practical purposes, will have to be supplemented by a whole series of special laws. (We also know now — in 1885 — that there are no "true" gases at all. They have all been reduced to a liquid form.) [Here Engels relates a report in the journal Nature of November 16, 1876 dealing with the paper read by Dmitry Mendeleyev on September 3, 1876 at the 5th Congress of Russian Naturalists and Physicians in Warsaw. Mendeleyev reported on the results of his experiments, conducted jointly with Jozef Jerzy Boguski in 1875-76, to verify the Boyle-Mariotte law.
    Engels evidently wrote this note when checking the proof of this chapter of Anti-Dühring, which was printed in Vorwärts on February 28, 1877. Engels added the end of the note, given in parentheses, in 1885, when he was preparing the second edition of Anti-Dühring. - Ed.]
  2. This derivation of the modern ideas of equality from the economic conditions of bourgeois society was first demonstrated by Marx in Capital.

Editor's notes[edit source]

  1. G. W. F. Hegel's Encyclopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften im Grundrisse, Heidelberg, 1817 consists of three parts: 1) logic, 2) philosophy of nature, 3) philosophy of the mind.
  2. Engels is presumably alluding to Die Epiphanie der ewigen Persönlichkeit des Christes (published in separate installments in 1844, 1847 and 1852), the work of the Hegelian philosopher K. L. Michelet, who published the works of his teacher.
  3. Engels made a note here, which he subsequently included in Dialectics of Nature.
  4. In the original, here and elsewhere, the term "Ideologie" is used, as a rule, as a synonym for "idealism".
  5. This is an allusion to the servile submissiveness of the Prussians, who accepted the Constitution granted by King Frederick William IV on December 5, 1848, when the Prussian Constituent Assembly was dissolved. The Constitution drawn up with the participation of the Minister of the Interior, Baron Manteuffel, was finally approved by Frederick William IV on January 31, 1850, after numerous amendments had been introduced.
  6. In Part I of Anti-Dühring, all page references made by Engels are to Dühring's Cursus der Philosophie.
  7. Engels enumerates a number of major battles in European wars of the nineteenth century.
  8. A reference to the research carried out by the German mathematician Karl Friedrich Gauss into non-Euclidean geometry.
  9. In the original a play on words: Eslesbrücke (asses' bridge) means in German also an unauthorised aid in study used by dull-headed or lazy students; a crib or pony.
  10. In 1886, in his Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy, Engels wrote the following on the Copernican system: "For three hundred years the Copernican solar system was a hypothesis with a hundred, a thousand or ten thousand chances to one in its favour, but still always a hypothesis. But when Leverrier, by means of the data provided by this system, not only deduced the necessity of the existence of an unknown planet, but also calculated the position in the heavens which this planet must necessarily occupy, and when Galle really found this planet, the Copernican system was proved". The planet mentioned in the quotation is Neptune, which was discovered in 1846 by Johann Galle of the Berlin Observatory.
  11. Engels made a note here, which he subsequently included in Dialectics of Nature (see MECW, volume 25, pp. 530-34).
  12. Protista (from the Greek protistos — meaning first) are, according to Haeckel's classification, a vast group of simple, both unicellular and non-cellular, organisms.
  13. The reference is to the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh and the Accadian version of the Deluge story discovered in 1872 by George Smith, the English Assyriologist and archaeologist.
  14. Ring of the Nibelung — Richard Wagner's monumental tetralogy: Rheingold, Valkyrie, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung.
  15. Zoophytes — a name which, from the sixteenth century onwards, designated a group of invertebrates (mainly sponges and coelenterata). From the mid-nineteenth century, the term zoophytes was used as a synonym for coelenterata; it has now dropped out of use.
  16. This classification was given in Huxley's Lectures on the Elements of Comparative Anatomy, London, 1864, Lecture V. It provided the basis for H. A. Nicholson's Manual of Zoology (first published in 1870), which Engels used in his work on Anti-Dühring and Dialectics of Nature.
  17. Traube's artificial cells — inorganic formations representing a model of living cells; they were created by the German chemist and physiologist Moritz Traube by mixing colloidal solutions. He read a paper on his experiments to the 47th Congress of German Naturalists and Physicians in Breslau, on September 23 1874. Marx and Engels thought highly of Traube's discovery (see Marx's letter to Pyotr Lavrov of June 18, 1875, and to Wilhelm Alexander Freund of January 21, 1877, MECW, Vol. 45).
  18. Rousseau's Discours sur l'origine et les fondemens de l'inégalité parmi les hommes was written in 1754 and published in 1755.
  19. The Thirty Years' War (1618-48) — an all-European war caused by the struggle between Protestants and Catholics. Germany became the main arena of this war, and consequently the object of military pillage and the predatory claims of the belligerents.
  20. This refers to Stirner's Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum, Leipzig, 1845; for criticism of it see The German Ideology by Marx and Engels.
  21. Engels' main source of data on these events was, evidently, the American diplomat Eugene Schuyler's Turkistan. Notes of a Journey in Russian Turkistan, Khokand, Buthara, and Kuldja, in two volumes, Vol. II, London, 1876, pp. 356-59.
  22. American Constitution of 1787MECW
  23. Karl Marx, Das Kapital, Bd. 1, 2. Aufl., Hamburg, 1872, p. 36 (Part 1, Chapter 1, Section 3, A, 3: The Equivalent Form of Value).
  24. Lassalle was arrested in February 1848 on a charge of inciting to steal a cash-box with documents to be used in the divorce case of Countess Sophie Hatzfeldt, whose lawyer he was from 1846 to 1854. Lassalle's trial took place from August 5 to 11, 1848; he was acquitted by a jury.
  25. Code pénal — the French Penal Code, adopted in 1810, which came into force in France and French-conquered regions of Western and South-western Germany in 1811; along with the Civil Code, it remained in force in the Rhine Province after it had been annexed by Prussia in 1815.
  26. Code Napoléon — the French Civil Code was adopted in 1804. Engels called it "a classical legal code of bourgeois society" in his Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy (see MECW, Vol. 26).
  27. In Ethica ordine geometrico demonstrata et in quinque parses distincta (first published in Amsterdam in 1677), Part 1, Addendum, Spinoza said that ignorance is no argument, in opposition to the clerical-teleological view that everything is determined by "divine Providence" as the final cause and that the only means of argumentation is the plea of ignorance of other causes.
  28. Corpus juris civilis — code of civil laws regulating property relations in Roman slave-owning society; it was drawn up from 528 to 534 under the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. In Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy, Engels described it as the "first world law of a commodity-producing society" (see MECW, Vol. 26).
  29. The law on the compulsory civil registration of births, marriages and deaths was passed in Prussia on October 1, 1874 and a similar one for the whole German Empire on February 6, 1875. The law deprived the Church of the right to such registration, thereby considerably curtailing its influence and income. It was directed primarily against the Catholic Church.
  30. The reference is to the provinces of Brandenburg, East Prussia, West Prussia, Posen, Pomerania and Silesia, which were part of the Kingdom of Prussia until the Vienna Congress of 1815.
  31. Personal equation — a correction made for variation in astronomical observation due to a person's individual peculiarities.
  32. Dühring drew these data on the structure of Marx's Capital from the Preface to the first German edition (see MECW, Vol. 35). From 1867 onwards, when Vol. I of Capital was published, Marx's plan was to have the entire work brought out in three volumes in four books, the 2nd and the 3rd of which were to comprise Vol. II. After Marx's death, Engels published the 2nd and 3rd books as vols. II and III. The last, fourth book, Theories of Surplus-Value, was published after Engels' death.
  33. Chapter XXIV of Vol. I of Capital — "The So-called Primitive Accumulation" — takes up pp. 742-93 of the 1872 German edition. The last, seventh paragraph of this chapter — "Historical Tendency of Capitalist Accumulation" — begins on p. 791 of that edition.
  34. The reference is to Rousseau's Discours sur l'origine et les fondemens de l'inégalité' parmi les hommes, written in 1754. Below, Engels quotes the second part of this work (1755 edition, pp. 116, 118, 146, 175-76 and 176-77).
  35. The expression determinatio est negatio is to be found in Spinoza's letter to Jarigh Jelles of June 2, 1674 (see B. Spinoza, Epistolae doctorum quorundam virorum ad B. de Spinoza et auctoris responsiones ..., Letter 50), where it is used in the sense of "determination is a negation". The expression omnis determinatio est negatio and its interpretation as "every determination is a negation" are to be found in Hegel's works, from which they have become widely known (see G. W. F. Hegel, Encyclopadie der philosophischen Wissenschaften, Erster Teil, § 91, Zusatz Die Wissenschaft der Logik, Erstes Buch, Erster Abschnitt, Zweites Kapitei: "b. Qualitat"; Vorlesungen uber die Geschichte dkr Philosophie, Erster Teil, Erster Abschnitt, Erstes Kapitel, Paragraph uber Parmenides).