The chief defect of all
hitherto existing materialism (that of Feuerbach included)
is that the thing, reality, sensuousness, is conceived only
in the form of the object or of contemplation, but not as
sensuous human activity, practice, not subjectively. Hence,
in contradistinction to materialism, the active side was developed
abstractly by idealism -- which, of course, does not know
real, sensuous activity as such.
wants sensuous objects, really distinct from the thought objects,
but he does not conceive human activity itself as objective
activity. Hence, in Essence of Christianity, he regards the
theoretical attitude as the only genuinely human attitude,
while practice is conceived and fixed only in its dirty-judaical
manifestation. Hence he does not grasp the significance of
"revolutionary", of "practical-critical", activity..
The question whether objective
truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question
of theory but is a practical question. Man must prove the
truth -- i.e. the reality and power, the this-sidedness of
his thinking in practice. The dispute over the reality or
non-reality of thinking that is isolated from practice is
a purely scholastic question.
The materialist doctrine concerning
the changing of circumstances and upbringing forgets that
circumstances are changed by men and that it is essential
to educate the educator himself. This doctrine must, therefore,
divide society into two parts, one of which is superior to
society. The coincidence of the changing of circumstances
and of human activity or self- changing can be conceived and
rationally understood only as revolutionary practice.
Feuerbach starts out from the
fact of religious self-alienation, of the duplication of the
world into a religious world and a secular one. His work consists
in resolving the religious world into its secular basis.
that the secular basis detaches itself from itself and establishes
itself as an independent realm in the clouds can only be explained
by the cleavages and self- contradictions within this secular
basis. The latter must, therefore, in itself be both understood
in its contradiction and revolutionised in practice. Thus,
for instance, after the earthly family is discovered to be
the secret of the holy family, the former must then itself
be destroyed in theory and in practice.
Feuerbach, not satisfied with
abstract thinking, wants contemplation; but he does not conceive
sensuousness as practical, human-sensuous activity.
Feuerbach resolves the religious
essence into the human essence. But the human essence is no
abstraction inherent in each single individual.
its reality it is the ensemble of the social relations.
who does not enter upon a criticism of this real essence,
is consequently compelled: To abstract from the historical
process and to fix the religious sentiment as something by
itself and to presuppose an abstract -- isolated -- human
therefore, can be comprehended only as "genus", as an internal,
dumb generality which naturally unites the many individuals..
Feuerbach, consequently, does
not see that the "religious sentiment" is itself a social
product, and that the abstract individual whom he analyses
belongs to a particular form of society.
All social life is essentially
practical. All mysteries which lead theory to mysticism find
their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension
of this practice.
The highest point reached by
contemplative materialism, that is, materialism which does
not comprehend sensuousness as practical activity, is contemplation
of single individuals and of civil society.
The standpoint of the old materialism
is civil society; the standpoint of the new is human society,
or social humanity.
The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various
ways; the point is to change it.