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Publication Details

The Philosophical Character of Historical Materialism

(Original title: Filozofický charakter historického materializmu)
Filozofia, 27 (1972), 1, 3-12.
Type of work: Papers and Discussions
Publication language: Slovak
The Marxist philosophy has developed in Czechoslovakia since 1948 in a close connection with the building up of the socialist system that accorded it both a ground for practical application and impulses of ideas for creative activity. This is even more valid for the development of historical materialism as the Marxist philosophical theory of society, for which the socialist aims represent the immanent attitude of values. In the paper two extensive discussions that can be situated abruptly in the 1950s and 1960s are assayed: those about the general questions of social knowledge, about the object and methods of historical materialism. Not having solved the key questions of the first discussion was the main cause of a renewed discussion in the sixties when the Marxist philosophy was exposed to the increasing pressure of the social-scientific and artistic front that demanded hasty and onesided solutions on the basis of empirical, practicist or aesthetic-moralizing standpoints. Especially in the extreme opinions, minimizing historical materialism or demanding its departure from ideology as a precondition of its „scientification“, the paralyzing influences of bourgeois thinking hiding its antisocialist intentions, intruded finally the discussions. The core of the argument was represented, in both cases, by the question about the philosophical character of historical materialism that has its roots in the existence of two layers of thought of the constitution of historical materialism: the abstract-general and the concrete-specific, the philosophical and the empirical. If in the perspective of the first layer historical materialism appears as the materialist ontology of society, in the other perspective it appears as a generalization of the contradictions and of the class struggle in the capitalist society. The hybrid solution that attempts at a compromise on the basis of the above referred reality and sees historical materialism as a social philosophy that, at the same time, fulfills also the empirical cognitive functions of a sociological character, has proved itself too contradictory to be considered as a final outcome of the discussion. A continuation of the discussion is at the present time equally inevitable and it ought to be welcomed.
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