Dialectics on the authority of Karl Marx
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known by his alias Lenin, says that no one can fully understand Marx’s work without understanding Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, a German philosopher.
Hegel was the one who ever wrote the most difficult to understand writings, and was also Karl Marx’s teacher. We must understand several things about Hegel in order to appreciate the central Marxian concept of dialectics.
The basic idea of dialectics is the centralist contradiction.
According to most philosophies, as well as common sense, to think of contradictions is a fallacy.
Dialectical philosophy believes that there are contradictions in reality and that the best way to understand reality is to study the development of contradictory things.
Hegel used the idea of contradiction to understand historical change. According to him, historical change is driven by contradictory notions, or through our efforts to resolve contradictions.
Marx also accepted the centralist contradiction for historical change. However, he does not believe that these contradictions can work in our minds, or our understanding. Instead, for Marx they are real contradictions that exist.
For Karl Marx, a contradiction cannot be solved by someone sitting in a recliner, but by a desperate struggle to change the social world. This was a very important transformation because it allowed Marx to move dialectics out of the realm of philosophy and into the realm of the study of social relations based on the material world.
Although the dialectical approach is very different from the way of thinking adopted by most sociologists, it is this focus that makes Marx’s work so relevant to sociology.
Dialectics brings attention to the conflicts and contradictions between the various levels of social reality, rather than to the traditional sociological interest when the ways of the various levels neatly form into a unified whole.
For example, one of the current contradictions is the relationship between workers and owners of private enterprises such as owners of factories, or other means of production. Often the owners of the company treat workers with unfair and unfair treatment, such as workers who are not paid according to their work, and workers who are hired past normal hours. The owner of the company must exploit the workers to get profit from their work. Vice versa, the workers also want to keep at least some profits for themselves. With this desire, the capitalist encourages more and more people to become workers, by forcing small companies to leave the business world.
This kind of contradiction can only be solved not through philosophical thought but only through social change.
First published by Shreesham Pandey @TheLibraryLaboratory of The Times of India’s Readers’ Blog on AUG 23, 2021, 21:40 IST.