What is Hegelian materialism, and what does it mean?July 2, 2021
According to the expression “Minerva’s owl begins to fly only after dark”, first the events are experienced, then the thoughts of those events are acquired; again this clearly means that matter precedes thought.
Hegel, in his Philosophy of History, says, “The real state emerges only when there is a class separation, when wealth and poverty gain enormous proportions (the difference between them becomes chaste N)”, as if he was not the one who idealized the state institution. In the same work, Hegel, who considers the state institution to be the most competent entity with a metaphysical understanding, while describing how the ancient Greeks established their colonies, rises to the same level with the great masters of dialectical and historical materialism: “The Greeks held political power in their hands in various cities. During a long stagnation phase, their population increased. The result was that there was a great accumulation of wealth that went hand in hand with ever greater poverty. There was no industry, all the lands were confiscated. The only way out was to acquire colonies in order not to sink into domestic poverty.”
In his speech Die Vernunft in der Geschicte, Hegel says: “World history…does not begin with any conscious end.” This is also true for any materialist. The real and scientific materialism that took place in the 19th century was realized by transcending Hegelianism, in accordance with the dialectic of Hegel himself. That is why the mystique of dialectics in Hegel’s hands, the founder of dialectical and historical materialism, cannot in any way overshadow the general movement forms of the dialectic. In Hegel, the dialectic stands upside down. In order to find the true essence within the mystical shell, it must be reversed, put on one’s feet” (Marks N.).
Another materialist based on Hegel before scientific dialectical and historical materialism is the German thinker Feuerbach (1804-1872). This understanding of materialism, with the identity of materialism-atheism that culminated in 18th century French materialism, reflects a philosophical behavior of ‘watching’, which is one of the typical features of pre-Marx materialism. This behavior abstracts people from society and nature as an individual, and makes people, whom they regard as a passive perceiver, watch the objective reality of nature. This kind of materialism has to have the same results with thoughtfulness, because neither sees man’s active, social effort to transform the world, but only his individual and theoretical effort. As a matter of fact, Feuerbach says: “The basis of the structure of being is matter, but it is thought itself. In my opinion, materialism is the basis of human existence and knowledge. But it is not the structure of being itself, as understood by a physiologist, a naturalist. I am behind with materialism, but I am not together in the future.” Although Feuerbach had the honor of being the first materialist critic of Hegel, he made the mistake of pushing Hegel aside altogether and failed to see the dialectical essence in him.
The anthropological disposition is another feature of non-dialectal materialism. This kind of materialism sees man as the supreme being of nature and tries to explain man’s specific qualities (N. by pushing aside his social source) with his natural source. In this kind of materialism, the objectivity of social laws is out of question, and the history of man is explained by his personal character. Feuerbach examined the institution of religion from this perspective and saw it as the alienation of man from himself. Considering this alienation as unconsciousness, Feuerbach replaces it with the conscious and proposes a new religion (human religion) by resorting to education.
After Feuerbach, 19th century materialism was developed by Russian and Eastern European thinkers on the same metaphysical level.
Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov (1711-1765) is the founder of Russian materialism. He claimed that the origin of beings is nature, developed a kind of atomic materialism, showed that heat is formed by motion, and defended the sensory and natural source of thought by opposing the theory of innate thought.
Alexander Nikolayevich Radishchev (1749-1802) opposed the immortality of the soul and was regarded as the father of Russian revolutionary thought with materialist views.
Visaryon Grigoryevich Belinski (1811_1848), through his literary criticism, argued that the intellectual is born from the physical, stated the active role played by consciousness in the interaction between man and his environment, and defended the objectivity of social laws.
Aleksander Ivanovich Herzen (1812-1870) interpreted Hegel’s dialectic from a materialist point of view, approached the dialectical materialist approach, examined social laws and argued that the capitalist (capitalist) stage of development in Russian socialism could be skipped.
Nikolay Gavrilovich Chernyshevsky (1828-1889) also interpreted Hegel’s dialectic from a materialist point of view, criticized Kant’s agnosticism, argued that the objective world is the source of knowledge, and defended practice as the driving force of theory.
Nikolay Alexandrovich Dobrolyubov (1836-1861) opposed agnosticism and skepticism, turned to the concept of historicity and determined the development of nature and society, autocratic