Marx, Engels, and Dialectics

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D. Reidel Publishing Company


In his very influential book, History and Class Consciousness, Lukács argued that Engels illegitimately extended Marx's dialectical method beyond the social realm to the realm of nature and in doing so replaced Marx's dialectical theory of knowledge (in which subject and object are reciprocally trans formed) with a contemplative reflection theory (in which subject and object "persist in their old, rigid opposition").1 Since then, and very much in the same spirit, many others have located the difference between Marx and Engels not in their treatments of historical materialism or method but in Engels' acceptance of a dialectic of nature and a theory of reflection.2 I shall try to argue precisely the opposite, namely, that their differences are to be located in the former, far more than in the latter, areas.