Gramsci: Critique of Materialism

Gramsci: Critique of Materialism

June 26, 2021 Off By Felso

With the belief that human history and common practice (praxis) determine whether any philosophical question is meaningful or not, Gramscian views opposed metaphysical materialism and the ‘copy’ theory of perception developed by Engels and Lenin, although he did not explicitly state this.

For him, Marxism does not deal with a reality that is in and for itself, independent of humanity. The concept of an objective universe outside of human history and human practice was, for him, similar to belief in God: there could be no objectivity, but a universal intersubjectivity that could only be established in the future communist society. Natural history was thus meaningful only in relation to human history. In his view, philosophical materialism, like primitive common understanding, was the result of a lack of critical thinking, and could not be said to oppose religious superstitions, as Lenin claimed.

By contrast, Gramsci problematized this controversial crude form of Marxism: the status of the proletariat as an independent class means that his philosophy, Marxism, can often be expressed in popular superstitions and common beliefs. However, the ideologies of the educated classes must be effectively challenged so that Marxists present their philosophy in a more complex fashion and try to truly understand the views of their opponents.