J. Locke's doctrine of primary and secondary qualities

A major representative of English materialism was John Locke (1632-1704). He substantiated the principle of materialistic sensationalism – the origin of all knowledge from the sensory perception of the external world. The struggle against scholasticism brought to the fore the question of the method of knowledge, which was closely related to questions of the theory of knowledge; it is to these questions that Locke’s main work, An Essay on the Human Mind, is devoted. Locke’s treatise begins with a critique of Descartes’ doctrine of innate ideas. Locke proves that in the human mind there are no ideas innate to the mind, they do not exist neither in theoretical thinking nor in moral convictions. The only source of all ideas can only be experience. In accordance with this, he indicates two experimental (empirical) sources of our ideas: the first of them is sensation, the second is reflection. Ideas of sensation arise from the action on the sense organs of things that are not in us. Such, for example, are the ideas acquired through sight, hearing, touch, smell, etc. The ideas of sensation are the basic fund of all our ideas. Ideas of reflection arise in us when our mind considers the inner states and activities of our soul. Such, for example, are the ideas about the various operations of our thinking, emotions, desires, etc. Through the ideas of sensation we perceive the qualities of things. Locke divides these ideas into two classes: 1) ideas of primary qualities and 2) ideas of secondary qualities. Locke calls primary qualities that belong to the objects themselves and reside in them such as they appear to us in our sensations. Primary qualities are inseparable from the body and remain in it constantly with all its changes. Since the primary qualities are in the bodies themselves, Locke calls them real qualities; such are density, extension, figure, movement (or rest), and number. The ideas of primary qualities are copies of those qualities themselves. Secondary Locke calls qualities that seem to us to belong to the things themselves, but in fact are not in the things themselves. Locke considers the ideas of secondary qualities to be the ideas of color, sound, taste, etc. In things themselves, there is only the ability to produce these sensations in us. What in the idea appears pleasant, blue or warm, in the things themselves there is only a certain volume, figure and movement of particles inaccessible to perception. However, with all the differences between primary and secondary qualities, they have something in common: both of them produce their ideas through a “push”. So, for example, the violet, through the “shocks” of particles of matter inaccessible to perception, differing in volume and shape, degrees and types of their movements, produces in the soul the ideas of the blue color and smell of this flower. Locke’s doctrine of the difference between primary and secondary qualities is a development of ideas outlined by the ancient Greek atomist Democritus, and in modern times revived by Descartes and Galileo. This doctrine is based on the absolute opposition of the subjective to the objective.

Rationalism of Descartes

The philosopher René Descartes (1596–1650) stood at the origins of the rationalist tradition. Descartes was educated at the Jesuit College of La Flèche. He early began to doubt the value of book learning, since, in his opinion, many sciences lack a reliable foundation. Leaving his books, he began to travel. Although Descartes was a Catholic, at one time he participated on the side of the Protestants in the Thirty Years’ War. At the age of 23, while staying in winter quarters in Germany, he formulated the main ideas of his method. Ten years later, he moved to Holland to do research in peace and quiet. In 1649 he went to Stockholm to Queen Christina. The Swedish winter was too harsh for him, he fell ill and died in February 1650.

His major works include Discourse on Method (1637) and Metaphysical Meditations (1647), Elements of Philosophy, Rules for the Direction of the Mind.

According to Descartes, there are disagreements in philosophy on any issue. The only truly reliable method is mathematical deduction. Therefore, Descartes considers mathematics as a scientific ideal. This ideal became the defining factor of Cartesian philosophy.

Descartes is the founder of rationalism (from ratio – mind) – a philosophical direction, whose representatives considered the mind to be the main source of knowledge. Rationalism is the opposite of empiricism.

If philosophy is to be a deductive system like Euclidean geometry, then it is necessary to find the true premises (axioms). If the premises are not obvious and doubtful, then the conclusions (theorems) of the deductive system are of little value. But how can one find absolutely obvious and definite premises for a deductive philosophical system? Methodological doubt allows answering this question. It is a means of excluding all propositions that we can logically doubt, and a means of finding propositions that are logically certain. It is precisely such indisputable propositions that we can use as premises of true philosophy. Methodical doubt is a way (method) of excluding all statements that cannot be prerequisites of a deductive philosophical system.

With the help of methodical doubt, Descartes puts various kinds of knowledge to the test.

1. First, he considers the philosophical tradition. Is it possible in principle to doubt what the philosophers say? Yes, says Descartes. This is possible because philosophers did, and still do, disagree on many issues.

2) Is it possible to logically doubt our sense perceptions? Yes, says Descartes, and makes the following argument. It is a fact that sometimes we are subject to illusions and hallucinations. For example, a tower may appear to be round, although it is later discovered to be square. Our senses cannot provide us with absolutely obvious premises for a deductive philosophical system.

3) As a special argument, Descartes points out that he has no criterion for determining whether he is fully conscious or in a state of sleep. For this reason, he may in principle doubt the real existence of the external world.

Is there anything we cannot doubt? Yes, says Descartes. Even if we doubt everything, we cannot doubt that we doubt, that is, that we are conscious and exist. We therefore have the absolutely true statement: “I think, therefore I am” (cogito ergo sum).

The person who makes the statement cogito ergo sum expresses knowledge that he cannot doubt. It is reflexive knowledge and cannot be refuted. He who doubts cannot, as a doubter, doubt (or deny) that he doubts and therefore that he exists.

Of course, this statement is not enough to build a whole deductive system. Additional claims by Descartes are related to his proof of the existence of God. From the idea of the perfect, he concludes that there is a perfect being, God.

A perfect God does not deceive people. This gives us confidence in the method: everything that seems to us as self-evident as the statement cogito ergo sum must be knowledge that is just as certain. This is the source of the Cartesian rationalistic theory of knowledge: the criterion for the truth of knowledge is not empirical justification (as in empiricism), but ideas that appear clear and distinct before our mind.

Descartes claims that for him, as self-evident as his own existence and the presence of consciousness, is the existence of a thinking being (soul) and an extended being (matter). Descartes introduces the doctrine of a thinking thing (soul) and an extended thing (matter) as the only existing (besides God) two fundamentally different phenomena. The soul is only thinking, not extended. Matter is only extended, but not thinking. Matter is understood with the help of mechanics alone (mechanical-materialistic picture of the world), while the soul is free and rational.

Descartes’ criterion of truth is rationalistic. What the mind, as a result of systematic and consistent reasoning, considers as clear and distinct can be accepted as true. Sense perceptions must be controlled by the mind.

It is important for us to understand the position of the rationalists (Descartes, Leibniz and Spinoza). Roughly speaking, it lies in the fact that we have two kinds of knowledge. In addition to experimental knowledge of individual phenomena of the external and internal world, we can obtain rational knowledge about the essence of things in the form of universally valid truths.

The argument between rationalism and empiricism is mainly centered around the second kind of knowledge. Rationalists argue that with the help of rational intuition we gain knowledge of universal truths (for example, we know God, human nature and morality). Empiricists deny the rational intuition that gives us such knowledge. According to empiricism, we gain knowledge through experience, which they ultimately reduce to sensory experience. Experience can be interpreted as a passive perceptual process in which the subject is supplied with simple impressions of external things. Then the subject combines these impressions according to their appearance together or separately, according to their similarity and difference, which leads to the emergence of knowledge about these perceived things. The exception is knowledge gained through concept analysis and deduction, as is the case in logic and mathematics. However, these two kinds of knowledge, according to empiricists, do not tell us anything about the essential features of being.

It can be said that rationalists think that we are able to know reality (something real) with the help of concepts alone, while empiricists derive all knowledge of reality from experience.

Descartes’ methodology was anti-scholastic. This orientation was manifested, first of all, in the desire to achieve such knowledge that would strengthen the power of man over nature, and would not be an end in itself or a means of proving religious truths. Another important feature of Cartesian methodology is the critique of scholastic syllogistics. Scholasticism, as is well known, considered the syllogism the main instrument of man’s cognitive efforts. Descartes sought to prove the failure of this approach. He did not refuse to use the syllogism as a way of reasoning, a means of communicating already discovered truths. But new knowledge, in their opinion, syllogism cannot give. Therefore, he sought to develop a method that would be effective in finding new knowledge.

Rationalism is a philosophical direction that recognizes reason as the basis of human knowledge and behavior. Opposes both irrationalism and sensationalism.

Having spoken out against the Middle Ages. scholasticism and religious dogmatism, classical rationalism of the 17th–18th centuries. proceeded from the idea of natural order – an endless causal chain that permeates the whole world.

Scientific (i.e. objective, universal, necessary) knowledge, according to rationalism, is achievable only through reason – both the source of knowledge and the criterion of its truth.

The limitations of rationalism consisted in the separation of rational cognition from sensory cognition, in the idealistic conception of innate ideas.

Rationalism is one of the philosophical sources of the ideology of the Enlightenment.


(development of materialism)

Descartes is a dualist, mathematician, physicist.

Recognized the existence of 2 substances:

1. Spiritual substance.

2. Material substance.

Matter, which has the attributes of extension, and spirit, whose attribute is thinking.

Matter is an infinite universe, which consists of capsules, divisible to infinity. Descartes endowed matter with an independent force and considered movement as a manifestation of the life of matter, which is the only substance, the only basis of being.

He criticized scholasticism and theology from the standpoint of rationalism.

This concept contains two elements:

1) the idea of reason (logical thinking) as the highest way to comprehend the truth. The idea of omnipotence, the infallibility of reason. Doubt is central.

2) The source of rational knowledge of the world is innate ideas.

Descartes discovered the most important method of scientific thinking – inductive.

Descartes’ doctrine of matter/corporeal substance identifies matter with extension.

The common cause of motion is God, he created matter and, together with motion and rest, preserves in it the same amount of motion and rest.

In man, the soulless bodily mechanism is connected with the thinking soul.

The essence of the soul is in thinking.

Substance is a thing that does not need anything other than itself for its existence, therefore the substance is God.

The world is divided into spiritual and material substances.

Spiritual substances are indivisible.

The main attributes are thinking and extension.

The main attribute of a material substance is extension. Material substance Descartes identifies with nature.

The concept of innate ideas: a person is born with a relatively formed consciousness.

General approaches to understanding the world:

1) true knowledge must be presented in a clear form.

2) it is impossible (necessary) to decompose a thing into its constituent elements.

3) knowledge is achieved from simple to complex.

4) when studying a thing, it is impossible (necessary) to take into account all its connections.

The universe is filled with matter. The form of its existence is movement (indestructible and uncreatable).

Philosophy of Marxism.

Classical Marxist philosophy arose in Germany in the 40s of the 19th century on the wave of the labor movement, as an ideological expression of this process. Its founders were Marx and Engels, and its theoretical sources are French materialism of the 18th century and German classical philosophy. The specificity of Marxist philosophy consisted in its initial appeal to the problems of the earth, i.e. to topical issues of public life – the economy, social relations, political life.

The philosophy of Marxism is historical and dialectical materialism. Materialism was applied to the study of nature, society and man himself. Dialectics is inherent in Marxist philosophy as a method of philosophical thinking and a theory of development. This philosophy is characterized by an orientation towards a practical change in the world in which a working person exists.

The philosophy of Marxism is called dialectical and historical materialism. Its founders were Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895). The philosophy of Marxism originated in the 1840s in Germany, and its emergence was due to a number of circumstances:

The beginning of the industrial revolution, the accelerated formation of the capitalist mode of production and the revolutionary events in Europe, which set a number of tasks for philosophy in the study of the laws of development of society.

There was a need for a philosophical understanding of the achievements in natural science in the first half of the 19th century, which changed the scientific picture of the world: first of all, this is the discovery of the cellular structure of living organisms, the law of conservation and transformation of energy, Darwin’s evolutionary doctrine, which approved the idea of communication and development in the understanding of nature.

There were theoretical prerequisites that made it possible to take further steps in the development of philosophical knowledge. The leading role in this was played by German classical philosophy – the Hegelian doctrine of the dialectical method and Feuerbach’s materialism.

The philosophical evolution of Marx and Engels was expressed in the transition from idealism to materialism and was the basis for their rethinking of their economic and socio-political views. English political economy in the person of A. Smith and D. Ricardo and French utopian socialism (A. de Saint-Simon and C. Fourier) had a significant influence on the formation of the philosophical positions of Mraks and Engels.

1844-1848 is a very important period in the life of Marx and Engels. when they get to know each other and develop the philosophical foundations of a new worldview in the process of revising the philosophical heritage of Hegel and Feuerbach.

The main provisions of the new philosophy were:

An organic combination of the principle of materialism with the dialectical method of cognizing nature and society, which found expression in the development of dialectical and historical materialism. Using the dialectical method of thinking developed by Hegel, Marx and Engels applied it to the analysis of objective reality, arguing that subjective dialectics (the dialectics of thinking) is nothing more than a reflection in the minds of people of objective dialectics, that is, the development and connections of nature itself and society.

The central category of Marxism was “practice”, understood as a purposeful socio-historical material activity of people to transform the objective world. Thus, the active active nature of man’s attitude to the world (the transformation of nature and society) was emphasized. Practice was also considered as the basis, source and goal of knowledge and an objective criterion of truth.

Quite innovative in Marxism was the consideration of society as a complex system in which the leading role was played by material being, which is based on the economic activity of people, giving rise to the social class division of society. The thesis about the primacy of social being and the secondary nature of social consciousness was a way of solving the main question of philosophy in relation to society. This made it possible to overcome the one-sidedness of social idealism, which dominated the history of philosophical thought until the middle of the 19th century.

The spread of the materialistic principle in explaining the world to the understanding of history made it possible to see internal social contradictions as a source of the development of society. The historical process appeared as a progressive change of socio-economic formations and the methods of material production underlying them.

The humanistic orientation of Marxist philosophy is connected with the search for ways to free a person from social alienation. It is this idea that permeated all the joint early works of Marx and Engels, connected with the rethinking of Feuerbach’s anthropological materialism.

General ideological attitudes did not at all exclude the peculiarities of the philosophical views of each of the founders of Marxism. Thus, Engels focused his attention on the study of the problems of the philosophy of nature; in his works “Dialectics of Nature” and “Anti-Dühring” he gives a philosophical analysis of the achievements of natural science in creating a scientific picture of the world. The principles of classification of the forms of matter movement put forward by him and the study of the process of anthropogenesis and sociogenesis have not lost their significance for modern science.

The philosophical views of Marx are essentially anthropocentric, since he is primarily interested in the problems of the essence of man and the conditions of his existence in society. This is the focus of his early work “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844”, first published in 1932, in which he explores the conditions of human alienation in society. The basis of social alienation, according to Marx, is the alienation of a person in the sphere of the economy, associated with the emergence of private property, which leads to the alienation of a person from the very process of labor and its products, as well as to alienation in the sphere of communication, to the breaking of social ties. The process of historical development is considered by him as a gradual removal of social alienation and an increase in the degree of human freedom in society. Communism as an ideal of social development must lead to the elimination of alienation and the creation of conditions for the free and harmonious development of man. In fact, the creation of the main work of his life, Capital, was caused not only by an interest in analyzing the trends in the development of the bourgeois economic system, but also by the search for real conditions for the liberation of a person from the shameful consequences of forced labor. Thus, in contrast to Feuerbach’s abstract humanism, Marx’s humanism is based on a deep analysis of reality itself.

Rousseau’s Marxist solution to the problem of human alienation is based on the notion that capitalist society is an inhuman environment that generates social inequalities. Marxism divided the entire historical process into two major epochs:

1. Prehistory (primitive, slaveholding, feudal and bourgeois formations). In these societies, a person is not free, because he is suppressed by the power of the community or the state, the elements of the market, etc. Prehistory should be replaced by a true story, which will be created by conscious people. The idea of a socialist revolution is the idea of a radical way for the transition of society from a state of unfreedom into the realm of true freedom. In Marxism, the revolution is seen as a change in the economic foundations of society, the overcoming of private property, as a source of exploitation of man by man. This revolution must be carried out by the proletariat, as a propertyless class, and the revolution itself will become the engine of the historical process. According to Marxists, communism will become a new era in the history of mankind, an era of complete human control over the social and natural world. The formation of communism is a long process, a period of profound transformations in the entire system of social relations, a change in the very way of life of people. As a result, an association of free workers will be established on a worldwide scale.

The Communist Manifesto is the first programmatic work of Marxism. “Capital” is the main work of Marxism in which Marx revealed the economic structure of contemporary capitalist society. In Dialectics of Nature, Engels developed the Marxist doctrine of matter, its properties, forms, and modes of existence.

Marxism consists of three parts: materialist philosophy, political economy, and the theory of scientific socialism. In Western Europe – Mering, Lafargue, Kautsky, etc. Thanks to their efforts, Marxism became an international phenomenon. In Russia, Marxist theory began to penetrate in the 80s of the 19th century thanks to Plekhanov and his associates. Leninism is the Marxism of the era of the preparation and practical implementation of proletarian revolutions in some European countries.

Lenin’s views are expounded in “Philosophical Notebooks”, “State and Revolution”, “Materialism and Imperial Criticism”. Lenin’s views were very radical. In Marxist theory, he saw, first of all, an instrumental function that would serve the practice of political struggle.

The main thing in the system of Marxism is the spirit of active transformation of society in an effort to arrange the world reasonably and justly.

The fate of the teachings of Marx and Engels is very dramatic, since the further development of Marxism as a socio-political and philosophical trend was accompanied by countless falsifications and one-sided interpretations. In this regard, we can talk about the variety of versions of Marxism in the context of different eras and the peculiarities of the national perception of his teachings in different countries. So, in relation to Russia, one can speak of Lenin, Plekhanov, Stalin and other versions of Marxism.

The main stages in the formation and development of Marxist philosophy

Young Hegelian period in the works of Marx and Engels. Active development of the theoretical heritage of the German classics. Hegelian position in philosophy. Democratic sympathies of Marx and Engels in the socio-political field. This period covers 1839-43.

Criticism of Hegel’s idealism. The beginning of the formation of Marxist views proper. Transition to positions of materialism and communism. 1843-44

The final formulation of the philosophical ideas of Marxism. 1845-50 The development of the philosophical, socio-philosophical and methodological provisions of Marxism in the works of Marx and Engels in the remaining period of their lives.

The development of Marxist philosophy in the works of the students of Marx and Engels in the 70s – 90s of the XIX century.

Lenin’s stage in the philosophy of Marxism. It covers 1895 – 1924.

Marxist-Leninist philosophy in the USSR in the 20-80s of the XX century.

Western Marxism in the 20th century.

The current state of Marxist thought.

The main philosophical ideas of Marxism

Idea of practice;

Ideas and principles of materialistic dialectics;

Dialectical-materialistic understanding of history;

Alienation concept.

The most significant philosophical works of the classics of Marxism

K. Marx’s works: “On the Criticism of the Hegelian Philosophy of Law”. 1843; “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844”; “Theses on Feuerbach” (1845), “Poverty of Philosophy” (1847); “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte” (1852); “Capital” (1857-70).

Works of F. Engels: “Sketch to the Critique of Political Economy” (1844); Anti-Dühring (1878), Dialectics of Nature (1873-76); “The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State” (1884); “Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy” (1886), “Letters on Historical Materialism” (1890-94);

Joint works of K. Marx and F. Engels: “The Holy Family” (1845); “German Ideology” (1846); “Manifesto of the Communist Party” (1848).

Summary of the main provisions of the philosophy of Marxism

Practice idea:

The processing by Marx and Engels of the idealistic dialectics of Hegel and the main provisions of the materialism of that time was carried out not through their mechanical combination, but through the prism of the principle of human activity. This is the problem of concretizing the essence of a person: either he simply lives in the world, contemplating it, or he changes reality, makes it suitable for himself. Labor as an activity to change nature and social relations is an essential parameter of human being. Marx and Engels use practice as a synonym for labor, a category concretizing the concept of labor. Under it, they understood the sensual-objective, purposeful activity of a person, focused on the development and transformation of the conditions of his existence and, in parallel with this, on the improvement of the person himself.

Practice is primary and determines the spiritual world of a person, his culture. It has a social character, serves as the basis for communication between people, a prerequisite for various forms of community life.

The practice is historical, its methods and forms change over time, become more and more refined, contribute to the manifestation of the most diverse aspects of human essence, allow discovering new aspects in the surrounding world.

On the need to introduce the idea of practice into philosophy, Marx first speaks in the work “Theses on Feuerbach”, where he criticizes Feuerbach’s materialism for its contemplative character.

Practice is an objective activity that has the following structure: need – goal – motive – actually expedient activity – means – result.

Although practice is the opposite of theory, there is a close relationship between them on the following points:

Practice is a source of theory, acts as a “customer” of certain developments. Things that have no practical value are developed extremely rarely.

Practice is the criterion of the truth of the theory.

Practice is the goal of any theory.

Practice as a holistic process is described using the categories of objectification and deobjectification.

Objectification is a process in which human abilities pass into an object and are embodied in it, due to which this object becomes a human object. Activity is objectified not only in the external world, but also in the qualities of the person himself.

Deobjectification is a process in which the properties, essence, logic of an object become the property of a person. Man appropriates the forms and content of the previous culture.

The dialectic of objectification and deobjectification in the philosophy of Marxism clearly demonstrates the structure of practice, shows the mechanisms of continuity in the development of culture.

Materialist dialectic

Marx and Engels used Hegel’s achievements in developing the dialectical method in order to show the essence and dynamics of human practical activity. Marxist philosophy is often called dialectical and historical materialism, emphasizing that its core is the method of materialist dialectics.

The term “dialectics” or “dialectical” is used in the works of the classics of Marxism in two main meanings: “objective dialectics” and “subjective dialectics”.

Objective dialectics is life itself, which is an integral system that exists and develops according to dialectical laws and principles.

Subjective dialectics is the reproduction of objective dialectics in various forms of human activity, but, above all, in cognition. Sometimes, instead of the expression “subjective dialectics” the concept of “dialectical method” is used.

The development of materialist dialectics as a theory and method was carried out by Marx and Engels in the following works: “German Ideology”, “Holy Family”, “Capital”, “Theses on Feuerbach”, “Dialectics of Nature”, “Anti-Dühring”.

The main thing in dialectics is the understanding of the world as an organic system. This means that it consists of many diverse, but necessary, interconnected elements. And, most importantly, it contains the cause of its development in itself. Dialectics takes place where the development of the world is carried out at the expense of internal contradiction. Thus, dialectics acts as a doctrine of the world as an integral system, the main law of which is the law of the contradictory, necessary connection of its elements.

Under “connection” in dialectics is understood such a relationship between things or processes, when a change in properties or states in one automatically entails a change in properties or state in others.

The concept of development is central in dialectics. It is seen as self-development. Following Hegel, Marx and Engels subject the process of development to the action of three laws:

The law of unity and struggle of opposites.

The law of mutual transition of quantitative and qualitative changes.

The law of negation of negation.

Each of these laws expresses a certain aspect of the integral process of development: the law of the unity and struggle of opposites characterizes the source of development; the law of mutual transition of quantitative and qualitative changes is the mechanism of development, and the law of negation of negation is the goal of development.

Most critics of Marxist philosophy believe that assertions about the objective character of dialectics are groundless. If dialectics has the right to exist, then only as one of the methods of cognition.

The idea of dialectics as a system of methods of cognition occupies an important place in Marxism. Unlike their later critics, Marx and Engels considered the dialectical method to be the universal method of cognition.

The dialectical method is a system of methods and principles that make it possible to reproduce in thought the objective logic of an object or phenomenon.

Basic Methodological Principles of Marxist Dialectics

The principle of system.

The principle of ascent from the abstract to the concrete.

The principle of unity of historical and logical.

Categories of Marxist dialectics

Marx and Engels almost completely borrowed the categorical apparatus of their philosophy from Hegel. Categories are built into a systematic unity, according to the logic of the movement of thought from the most general and abstract to the concrete. At the beginning stands the category of the individual, at the end – the category of reality. The transition from one category to another is carried out according to the laws of dialectics.

Thus, dialectics, as a method, is a system of interrelated and interdependent laws, principles and categories that prescribes a strictly defined order of cognition and transformation of reality.

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