Sunday, January 31, 2010


Thomas Riggins
(Engels and Philosophy)

Frederick Engels discusses the state of natural philosophy in the nineteenth century in light of the views of Herr Eugen Dühring in chapters seven and eight of Part I "Philosophy" of his
classic work Anti-Dühring (Herr Eugen Dühring's Revolution in Science.)

Dühring doesn't have much to say about the transition from the inorganic to the organic world. He seems to favor a gradual transition whereas Engels thinks of things in terms of a leap, no matter how gradual it appears to outside observation. Again, Dühring appears to be borrowing his views from Hegel without giving the latter credit. Hegel at least recognized the leap involved-- a quantitative change leading to a qualitative one, so he is far in advance of Dühring.

Dühring also lifts the idea of teleology in nature from Hegel, but in an incorrect and mangled fashion. Teleological explanations, i.e., nature working towards ends, are no longer fashionable in natural science-- since God was kicked out as an explanatory device. But even as he dumps all over Dühring, Engels seems more supportive of Hegel's view. In his Logic (the section on the Doctrine of the Notion),Hegel appeals to "purpose" to explain life arising out of chemism.

For Hegel this is an "inner purpose" which, Engels points out, is completely within nature itself and to be explained from the nature of the elements at hand. It is not "purpose" coming from the outside from some other source than nature itself (such as God, or eternal wisdom, etc.) Confusion with regard to these different meanings of purpose results in people "thoughtlessly ascribing to nature conscious and purposive activity." Dühring, who calls Hegel "crude" himself makes this mistake and speaks of nature "knowing'' and indirectly "willing" such and such actions and results. Hegel would never make such an error. Yet Dühring even has the nerve to attack DARWIN for, in his own words, "pseudo-scientific mystifications " when that is just what he himself has done.

Darwin is attacked for using the ideas on population put forth by Malthus as part of his theory of evolution. Dühring also says Darwin got his ideas from animal breeders and copied the views of Lamarck. So Darwin's views are "frivolous." Dühring, according to Engels holds that if you take out Lamarck then Darwinism "is a piece of brutality directed against humanity." Dühring doesn't like the struggle for existence aspect of the theory.

Marx and Engels were early enthusiasts of Darwin so it is no surprise that Engels mounts a major assault against Dühring on this issue. He both explains Darwin's theory and gives a robust defense. Natural selection is analogous to animal and plant breeding. In the latter case humans select the traits that pop up and breed those individuals to the neglect of others until they have created a new breed of plant or animal.

In nature there is no conscious selection. If a trait turns up, and is useful, and the individual survives to breed and pass it on, then eventually, if it leads to better reproductive survival and success it will produce a new population with the trait and the older population will die out and be replaced (all other things being equal). This is the origin of species. And there is a struggle for reproductive success-- "the survival of the fittest." [This phrase was first used by Herbert Spencer as a synonym for natural section but was picked up and used by Darwin as well.]

It was true that Darwin did use Malthus' theory of population to illustrate the struggle for survival in the natural world and this was an error. Malthus' theories have long been discredited, Engels says, and all trace of them could be booted out of Darwinism without in any way harming the theory. It would only strengthen it.

It is strange, then, that Engels does not mention the work of Michael Thomas Sadler (1780-1835) whose The Law of Population (1832) was a major anti-Malthusian work. But there were many other critics as well and for Engels the most important would have been none other than Karl Marx. Engels notes "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." Since Engels' day this has come about through the development of population genetics as part of the modern evolutionary synthesis developed by scientists such as Ernst Mayer, J.B.S. Haldane, R.A. Fisher, Sewall Wright, George Gaylord Simpson and others.

Another complaint Dühring brings against Darwin had, at the time, more substance. He complains that Darwin's theory "produces its transformations and differences out of nothing." Engels admits that Darwin does not explain the CAUSES which produce the changes brought about by natural selection. The laws of genetic inheritance had not yet been discovered by the science of Darwin's day. [Actually they had been by Mendel but his work was ignored and they had to be discovered all over again at the beginning of the last century.]

Engels says these causes, whatever they are "up to the present are in part absolutely unknown." He should have left the "in part " out because what he thought was the known part turned out to be wrong. Engels writes: "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."

Engels had read Erst Haeckel's [1834-1919] Schöpfungsgeshichte which, since Haeckel didn't like natural selection, put forth a theory explaining evolution based on Darwin, Lamarck and Goethe. By using Lamarck, the notion of acquired characteristics, independent of genetic mutation, being inherited maintained its unscientific foothold in biology. Haeckel was also one of the founders of "scientific" racism. Haeckel's influence on Engels had some unfortunate unintended consequences for the history of Soviet science (e.g., Lysenko).

Engels is correct is criticizing Dühring for attributing "purpose" to nature, but he himself adds some confusion to this point when he writes, with regard to tree frogs being green and polar animals being white, that although "the colours can only be explained of the basis of physical forces and chemical agents" the animals are nevertheless, with respect to their colours, "purposely ADAPTED to the environment in which they live." This use of "purpose" is a relic of Lamarck's evolutionary theory. The animals were adapted due to random genetic mutations that happened to prove of advantage in their environments-- they were not PURPOSELY adapted. Natural selection is the only modality at work in evolution that we can so far state we know to be at work. If Engels had known about Mendel's discoveries he would never had expressed himself in this way. But Engels' main point is that Dühring's view of purpose in nature, being due to "ideas," leads to Deism and hence to mixing up spirit with natural processes.

Engels next takes issue with Dühring's claim that Darwin traced the origin of all life on earth back to a single common ancestor. Dühring finds fault with this view and Engels quotes The Origin of Species to show that Darwin actually said "SOME FEW BEINGS" were at the root of all life on Earth. That was then. Today many, if not most, biologists hold that there was indeed a UNIVERSAL COMMON ANCESTOR from which all life has descended. Darwin actually ends The Origin of Species with the following: "There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."

The view today, if it hasn't changed recently--science goes by so fast these days-- is that there are three great "kingdoms" of life, or FORMS. The first is the Archaea-- simple one celled critters without a cell nucleus. These are the oldest life forms. From them evolved the Eubacteria (bacteria) and also, a billion years later or so, the Eukarya-- critters one or many celled that have a cell nucleus-- this includes us and everything else that has a cell nucleus. Somewhere back there in the primeval soup the first Archaean cell started up and-- voíla--here we are and everything else too.

How do we know it came about this way? Well, we still don't know anymore than Engels, who wrote: "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."

The next attack on Dühring, in this first chapter on organic nature, concerns Dühring's characterizing Darwin as superficial for thinking the origin of new traits is sexual. Engels rejoins Darwin says natural selection is only concerned with the PRESERVATION of these traits not their origin. Without having Mendel's discoveries at hand, neither Darwin, nor Dühring, nor Engels have any idea how natural selection actually works. Basically there is a mutation in a gene making up the DNA in an X or Y (or both) chromosome[where sexual reproduction is concerned] and this is passed along to the off spring. If it is useful and the off spring lives to pass it on a new trait can become established and eventually a fish becomes a philosopher.

Dühring is also upset because he thinks Darwinists put down Lamarck and his theory of acquired characteristics. Engels says this in not true. Darwin and his followers do not "belittle" Lamarck and in fact recognize "his great services" and have "put him up again on his pedestal."

It is true that modern science does not "belittle" Lamarck. He was a great pioneer and the first one to advocate evolution based on natural law and a materialist framework. But his views on how evolution works and how new traits arise and are passed on-- just by the need for them or because animals acquire them from their environment-- has been basically disowned by modern science.

Engels still used some Lamarckian views in his scientific writings (Australian Aborigines can't learn geometry as easily as Europeans because Europeans have studied it longer) but that was the science of his day and it is difficult to jump out of your time and place 100% of the time. But he did write that "The theory of evolution itself is however still in a very early stage, and it thereby cannot be doubted that further research will greatly modify our present conceptions, including strictly Darwinian ones, of the process of the evolution of species."

Further research actually did modify the conceptions of Engels' day, but in the direction of strengthening and deepening our appreciation of the Darwinian theory. Engels would have been among the first to accept this.

This discussion is based on Part I Chapter VII of Anti-Dühring. Chapter VIII consists of some concluding remarks by Engels concerning Herr Dühring's views on the nature of life and consciousness, but the science is so out of date I don't think we gain much going over this chapter except to be reinforced in the view that Dühring was no match for Engels.

Engels does however make a methodological comment about definitions in science to which I want to call attention. In the antepenultimate paragraph of this chapter Engels says, "From a scientific standpoint all definitions are of little value." He means that to really understand a subject you have to have "an exhaustive knowledge" of it. In Marxism, I think, we have a lot of definitions from the classics. Definitions of the working class, of the capitalist class, of the state, of class struggle, of the dictatorship of the proletariat, etc., etc. These definitions are part of the common language Marxists use to communicate with each other and to explain Marxist ideas to non Marxists. There are some who get all upset with some of these definitions and want to to strike them out of the Marxist lexicon. Well, Engels has just said definitions are of little value in science because science seeks exhaustive knowledge. True, but we can't expect everyone to have digested all three volumes of Das Kapital before we can talk to them.

So, Engels continues by saying, "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." So, maybe we should remember this before we start cleaning up our lexicon. There is a big difference between updating the lexicon and abolishing it. There are some people who no longer speak the common language at all and you would never suspect they were Marxists after listening to them.

In the next chapter of his book Engels will discuss "Eternal Truths." Let's see if he has found any other than death and taxes.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


ANTI-DÜHRING: Part One: Philosophy -- World Schematism
[Engels and Philosophy 2]

Thomas Riggins

There are eleven chapters in Part One of Anti-Dühring which deal with the topic of philosophy. This posting deals with chapters four, five and six.

Engels opens chapter four [World Schematism] with a couple of "oracular passages' from Dühring which amounts to about two pages of the latter's philosophical mumbo-jumbo which Engels translates for us. Dühring is trying to say that he begins by thinking about "being" and uses his thoughts to deduce the world since there can be nothing beyond his thoughts. Engels, shows that this belief in the "identity of thinking and being" is simply lifted from Hegel.

What is comical about Dühring is how he tries to prove the NON-EXISTENCE of God with this idea. He thinks Thought and Being form a unity (an identity of substance). He then uses the ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT to prove there is no God (this argument is usually used with the opposite intention.) The God version is like this: When we think of God we think of a Being that is Perfect. Existence is a perfection. Therefore when we think of a Perfect Being we are forced to think it must exist (otherwise we are not really thinking of a perfect being), therefore God exists.

Dühring's version: When I think of Being I think of one idea, i.e., of a Unity, therefore there is no God. This is because all the things having being are parts of the unified world of experience. God as a separate being would make two things, not a Unity. There is no problem for a pantheist-- God = Nature = the Material World, no problem. Religious people won't go for this since God is just anothet word for the universe-- who will answer prayers, etc.

Well, Engels believes in the unity of Being, i.e., of the material world, but he doesn't think it can be proved by Dühring's idealistic speculations. Engels says the unity of the world isn't due to its being, its existence, but it does have to exist before it can be a unity. Also note that beyond what we can observe being is "an open question." We can't discover world unity without "a long and wearisome development of philosophy and natural science."

Engels spends the rest of the chapter showing that Dühring, who is trying to deduce the world we live in from the first abstract notions of Being (unity), as against Nothingness, and the emergence of Becoming, has done no more than produce an inferior pilfering of Hegel's Logic, Part I, the doctrine of Being. And while Dühring speaks of the "delirious fantasies" of Hegel, he himself has taken all his ideas from him. Engels really resents Dühring for calling Marx more or less "ridiculous" for following Hegel in saying "quantity is transformed into quality." This from a man who stole almost all his ideas from Hegel.

Well, enough of this: on to the next chapter: Five-- "Natural Philosophy. Time and Space".
The first thing to keep in mind is that physics today is very different from the 1870s and 80s. There is no point in turning to Engels for a physics lesson. All I want to do is contrast Engels attitudes towards science with those of Dühring.

Dühring claims to answered all the questions regarding the nature of space and time . To this absurd claim Engels counters by pointing that he has only lifted his ideas from Kant's CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON (first part, Second Division, Book II, Chapter II, Section II: The First Antinomy of Pure Reason). There Kant says, "The world has a beginning in time, and with regard to space is also limited." Dühring rephrases this in his organ jargon and calls it (his great discovery) "The Law of Definite Number." As Aquinas with Aristotle, Dühring borrows what he likes from Kant and junks the rest.

The rest of this chapter deals with Dühring's views on the nature of infininity and the science of mechanics as well as the nature of motion and rest. We need not bother ourselves with these speculations. Engels real point is to show that Dühring's views are borrowed from others and his treatment of the topics is not only derivitive but incoherent.

Don't forget, Engels wants to discredit Dühring's reputation as a great philosopher because he has joined the German socialist movement and is seeking to become a leader by down playing Marx. Engels' real targets are his views on economy and political science. By showing that he is a boob in philosophy and natural science it is more likely we will agree on his boobishness in these latter areas as well.

Let us move on to chapter six,"Natural Philosophy. Cosmogony, Physics, Chemistry."

Again we are dealing with outdated science, nevertheless Engels makes some general observations that are of interest. As far as Dühring is concerned he is out to lunch when it comes to understanding science. Even thoughthis chapter is dedicated to refuting his views we can just ignore him and concentrate on those things of general interest brought up by Engels.

Engels mentions that Kant's Nebular Hypothesis, that the all the celestial bodies were made out of rotating nebular clouds of dust and particles, "was the greatest advance made by astronomy since Copernicus." Engels thinks this so because Kant's theory for the first time allowed people to see that nature had a history. Thed stars and planets were not eternal fixtures of the heavens but had an historical development just as every thing else in nature. [While Kant certainly popularized the Nebular Hypothesis, some version of which is still taught in Astronomy today, it was actually the Swedish mystic theologian and scientist Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) who first put forth the Nebular Hypothesis.]

Dühring dismisses Kant and has his own theory which Engels shows is completely unscientific. Dühring claims only matter "is the bearer of all reality." The old materialists spoke of matter AND motion. You can't just start with only matter because then you can't explain where motion comes from. The Marxist solution is summed up by saying, "MOTION IS THE MODE OF EXISTENCE OF MATTER." Engels has old fashoned physics in mind when he talks about the conservation of motion, etc., but his views can easeily be updated to a more modern vocabulary. Today science speaks of the conservation of energy, momentum, and angular momentum and that these three cannot be created or destroyed.

This chapter has a few more pages where Engels rags on Dühring's views on chemistry and some other topics but since the science here is outmoded we can pass on. Chapter seven begins Engel's discussion of the organic world and that is where the next section of this exposition will pick up.
[Engels 4]

Sunday, January 10, 2010


ANTI-DÜHRING: Part One: Philosophy -- Classification & Apriorism

Thomas Riggins

There are eleven chapters in Part One of Anti-Dühring which deal with the topic of philosophy. This part begins with Chapter Three: "Classification. Apriorism."

Dühring, Engels informs us, believes philosophy is the supreme form of the consciousness of all the PRINCIPLES of willing and knowledge and, since all the forms of being are studied by consciousness, then these principles must appear to consciousness as objects of philosophy. Being thus appears to us under three headings-- as the form of the universe, as Nature, and as the human world. Being appears to us in that order as a logical progression.

What Dühring proceeds to do is deduce the structure of the world system and the role of the human sciences from this logical structure produced by his philosophical consciousness. This is IDEALISM and quite the method used by Hegel half a century before. Dühring is quite confused as the facts relating to the nature of the universe and humankind are to be discovered by the study of Nature and History and the logical structure arrived at by philosophers is only valid, insofar as it is valid, because it is derived from experience of the external world not because it is imposed upon it.

Idealists were struck by the fact that the laws of thought and the laws of nature were in such close correspondence but failed to see that the laws discovered by the human brain were so discovered because the brain is a part of nature. Thus, "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."

Dühring's idealism leads him, Engels says, to view human consciousness as not human! Here are Dühring's own words: It's "a degradation of the basic forms of consciousness and knowledge to attempt to rule out or even put under suspicion their sovereign validity and their unconditional claim to truth, by applying the epithet 'human' to them." But consciousness (human) and knowledge (human) have only developed through the process of evolution in human brains. How can Dühring think they have some kind of transcendental existence?

Engels writes that "no materialist doctrine can be founded on such an ideological basis." But let us see if we can salvage some of Dühring's idea here. Granted that A=A is a human concept developed in a human brain. But A=A appears as a basic law of thought -- it would hold for any rational consciousness including non-human extraterrestrial rational beings. So we can agree that A=A or Reason may not be limited to just the human brain or to the Earth.

Engels says that Dühring, by separating thought from being a human product "has to sever it from the only real foundation on which we find it, namely man and nature." Well, maybe "thought" can be severed from the human brain-- how can we rule out that some other star system does not have intelligent life that reasons on the basis of A=A. But still this would be the result of a process of nature, the natural conditions of this other star system. So Engels is still basically correct, but Dühring too has his point: that rational consciousness may exist independently of humanity(even though we have yet to discover any other rational creatures in the universe). But it is no "degradation" to Reason to call it human.

Engels main point remains true-- we understand the world structure not from our minds but THROUGH our minds. In this sense we don't need philosophy "but positive knowledge of the world" that is "not philosophy, but positive science." I think Engels goes too far when he suggests "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." I want to suggest that we still need philosophy. DIAMAT itself is a philosophical system based on scientific realism or naturalism (materialism). Just a few sentences later in Anti-Dühring Engels himself makes some observations that suggest that we will still need philosophy.

I will argue that Engels, in fact, proposes ideas remarkably similar to what Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) the great English skeptic will say, some seventy years later than Anti-Dühring, is the nature of philosophy. Here is Russell, from the introductory remarks to his HISTORY OF WESTERN PHILOSOPHY: "Philosophy, as I shall understand the word, is something intermediate between theology and science. Like theology, it consists of speculations on matters as to which definite knowledge has, so far, been unascertainable; but like science, it appeals to human reason rather than to authority, whether that of tradition or that of revelation. All DEFINITE knowledge-- so I should contend-- belongs to science; all DOGMA as to what surpasses definite knowledge belongs to theology. But between theology and science there is a No Man's Land, exposed to attack from both sides; this No Man's Land is philosophy." Needless to say, when some kind of definite knowledge is discovered in No Man's Land it quickly moves on over into science leaving philosophy behind.

Now, what Engels has to say about knowledge is pretty much the same as Russell, so much so that Engels, save for stylistic differences, could have himself penned Russell's words. What does he say? Engels says that the goal of science is to give a complete description of nature. The mind, via perceptions of the external world, constructs a mental image of "the world system." The scientific world view is the result of an interconnection between the processes of nature and our mental image of them.

But, Engels says, it is not possible for us to attain a complete scientific description of this interconnection. If we ever attained a complete understanding of nature, the mind and history, it would mean knowledge "had reached its limit." If we made society in agreement with this absolute knowledge it would be the End of History ('further historical evolution would be cut short). "This is absurd, it is nonsense", says Engels.

Humanity faces a big contradiction. We strive to attain absolute knowledge, but due to the nature of the world system and of mankind, it is unattainable. "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." This being the case every advance in knowledge brings about new conditions and new problems ad infinitum. So, as it were, there will always be a speculative No Man's Land where philosophy will be located between dogmas of the past on one side and definite knowledge on the other.

So, Engels rejects Dühring's concept of Being. He also rejects his ideas about mathematics. In pure mathematics, Dühring says, the mind works "with its own free creations and imaginations" with regard to figures and numbers it deals with ideas which are "the adequate object of that pure science which it can create of itself" and so with a "validity which is independent of PARTICULAR experience and of the real content of the world."

Engels agrees that the particular experience of individuals can be left out of account, 2+2=4 will still be 2+2=4, but rejects the idea that in mathematics the mind is only working "with its own creations and imaginations." Ideas of number and figure "have not been derived from any source other than the world of reality." [Since the "mind" is part of that world this would seem to follow ipso facto.] Engels means they are "borrowed exclusively from the external world" and do "not arise in the mind out of pure thought." [Whatever is "pure thought" anyway?]

Higher mathematics can become very abstract and seemingly removed from the empirical world but this is the result of the historical evolution of mathematical thought that seems to result in "the free creations and imaginations of the mind."

The truth is, Engels says, "Like all other sciences, mathematics arose out of the NEEDS of men." As knowledge evolves the concepts and laws derived from concrete reality become more and more abstract until they seem to be independent of their mundane origins. They then begin to appear "as something independent, as laws coming from outside, to which the world has to conform." This is what has happened with economics and political science. The economic laws of capitalism, an economic system created by mankind after a long social evolution, now appear as independent economic laws to which all economic life must conform. We make the idols we worship.

So much for chapter three of Anti-Dühring. But I should remark that Engels makes a few more remarks about mathematics that, while they are not crucial to his argument, have been attacked as showing confusion with regard to his understanding of the axiomatic method and the relation of mathematics to logic. Anyone wishing to pursue these criticisms should start with a paper by Jean van Heijenoort, "Frederick Engels and Mathematics" available on the internet.

Stay tuned.
[Anti-Dühring 3]

Monday, January 04, 2010

Anti-Dühring: The General Introduction


Thomas Riggins

Modern Socialism, says Engels, is the product of the class war between capitalists and workers and the irrational anarchy rampant in capitalist production. Its theoretical elaboration is descended from the French philosophers in years just prior to the Great French Revolution. In a note we are informed that the FIRST socialists were Morelly and Mably.

Morelly published THE CODE OF NATURE in 1755. Nobody really knows anything about "Morelly" and this name might have been a pseudonym for either Francois-Vincent Toussaint OR Denis Diderot. Gabriel Bonnot de Mably (1709-1785) published ENTRETIENS DE PHOCION in 1757.

Engels says the French thinkers just before the Revolution were "extreme revolutionists" and means that as a compliment. They did not accept any authority except REASON. "Reason became the sole measure of everything." Engels then quotes HEGEL on the Revolution as a "dawn of a new day" the advent of the Kingdom of Reason. "All thinking beings," Hegel wrote in The Philosophy of History, "participated in celebrating this holy day."

Today we know that this "holy day" was not of Reason but was "the idealized kingdom of the bourgeoisie." Great as the French thinkers were (especially Rousseau with his Contrat Social) they could not "go beyond the limits imposed upon them by their epoch." And we should keep this in mind too when we read Engels (and Marx)-- these giants of the nineteenth century-- in the twenty-first century.

Capitalist development was still in its infancy in the eighteenth century and the bourgeoisie put itself forward as the representative of all the classes being oppressed by feudalism. The bourgeoisie, the workers, and peasants comprised "the people" against the exploiters (the feudal nobility). But there are always hints of the coming struggle between the bourgeoisie and its class allies. Engels gives three examples:
1. The Reformation-- The Peasant's War-- Thomas Münzer, the Anabaptists.
2. The great English Revolution-- The Levelers.
3. the great French Revolution [Engels likes to put "great" in front of any revolution]- Babeuf.

Engels says even though the workers as a class were just beginning to form in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries there were still thinkers that had begun to express the interests of the future class, although in a utopian manner [Thomas More "Utopia" 1516, Thommaso Campanella "City of the Sun 1623]. Then came 'the three great utopians"-- i.e., Saint-Simon, Fourier, and Owen. What the three had in common, according to Engels, is that they presented systems of universal social salvation and did not base themselves on the working class as such.

All these systems, Engels says, end up in "the dust hole" just because they are as irrational as the bourgeoisie that they represent: in the last analysis they just can't work to liberate humanity. "To make a science of socialism," Engels says, "it first had to be placed upon a real basis."

So, part of the real basis was rooted in the French philosophers -- materialism and revolution, but something else was still needed-- dialectics. And that was provided by HEGEL. Hegel's philosophy was the high point of German philosophy. "Its greatest merit was taking up again of dialectics as the highest form of reasoning.

Hegel made advances on the philosophy of Aristotle ("the Hegel of the ancient world") and developed ideas first enunciated by the ancient Greeks. Other philosophers responsible for laying the real basis for socialism as a science who Engel's mentions are Heraclitus, Descartes, Spinoza, Diderot and Rousseau.

The Greeks saw a world in flux and change, everything in motion and change (for the most part at least, there were major exceptions) and they laid the foundations of modern science, also the Arabs (Muslims) of the middle ages contributed, but real modern science actually dates from the middle of the fifteenth century. Due to the influence of thinkers such as Bacon and Locke, Engels says, the idea of flux and dialectical thinking was given up and people began looking at the world as made up of unchanging forces and objects subject to immutable mathematical laws. Engels calls this "the metaphysical mode of thought" characterizing the eighteenth century. It will have to give way to the dialectical mode of thought before socialism can be scientific.

This won't be so difficult because, as Engels says, "Nature is the proof of dialectics" and the biggest blow against the metaphysical outlook was struck by DARWIN whose theory of evolution reveals a biological world in constant change and flux. But this theory can also be extended to the solar system and the universe itself as revealed by KANT and LAPLACE and their formulation of the nebular hypothesis which put an end to NEWTON'S eternally enduring universe. HEGEL, of course, saw the course of human history as an evolutionary development. So, by the mid nineteenth century the natural, biological, and human sciences were all poised to be studied with the dialectical method.

Hegel's idealism proved inadequate to a correct understanding of the world. Hegel's view was that the flux and change of evolution was the reflection in the material wold of the development and manifestation of the Absolute Idea, which when once achieved would then arrive at rest. Engels considered this an unresolvable contradiction-- that world of flux would end up at rest. So idealism is replaced by MATERIALISM which sees the process of change as unending. But Engels may have a contradiction too. Why should the social question end with the arrival of socialism. If flux is eternal why would not a socialist world also change and break up (as we have apparently seen happen around 1989-91)?

Perhaps we are getting ahead of ourselves. Lets stay with Engels' intro. We have arrived at scientific socialism based on science and a materialist outlook. We can make sense of the social question without resorting to metaphysics or utopian schemes. A scientific study of how capitalism works, that is the world economic system currently in place, is now possible. The secrete of capitalism is not revealed simply by enumerating its bad social consequences. That won't tell us how it works. The secrete is to reveal how SURPLUS VALUE works, how unpaid labor "is the basis of the capitalist mode of production."

There is a short second part of the introduction, "What Herr Dühring Promises"[2] this is about six pages. I am only going to say a few words about this section. It is basically a series of quotes from Dühring's works showing what a ridiculous megalomanic he was. He claimed to have arrived at the absolute final truth about philosophy, science, socialism, etc., and anyone who disagreed with him was simply backwards and wrong. Engels mocks Dühring's oversized ego in this section.

Well, this is enough on the Introduction to Anti-Dühring. I will now proceed to Part One "Philosophy" and go over the fourteen chapters devoted to this topic. Keep in mind, that Engels doesn't see any role for modern philosophy over and above the role of science for understanding the world-- except for logic and dialectical thinking.
[Anti-Dühring 2]