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Publication Details

The Category of Being

(Original title: Kategória bytia)
Filozofia, 26 (1971), 2, 122-135.
Type of work: Papers and Discussions
Publication language: Slovak
One of the basic problems of Engels' philosophy is the determination of material being. It is principally necessary to differentiate between the basic gnozeological question of being, the question of existential independence of the objective world from the consciousness and the ontological question of characterization of being by means of notional categories. Engels differentiated clearly the basic gnozeological question of being from the modes of its existence. He asserted that we could not advance any further than to the knowledge of the forms of the motion of matter, to the knowledge of mutual operation, because there is nothing to recognize behind it. It is not groundless to differentiate matter as a philosophical category from matter (a material, a mass) as an ontological category as well as a category of particular branches of science. In this delimitation matter is always somehow formed and by this formation — as Engels said — the mode of its existence is expressed. The quality of material being is expressed first of all by its time-space determination. According to Engels — space, time and motion are the basic forms and modes of existence in the sense of matter. The time-space determination concerns the quality of being, i. e. of the deeply empirical world. Engels asserted that time and space are “the basic forms of all being“. Outer being, independent of our consciousness, turns in the dialectical process of knowledge and practice always more distinctly from “the thing-in-itself“ into “the thing for us“, i. e. it becomes a cognitive and practically controllable object. We express the motive unity of regular r-'ations, functions, causal and dialectical connections of objects or processes by the notion of dynamic structure. The dialectical-structural approach is principally directed to the time-space determination of every material entity. The development of scientific knowledge consists in penetrating into deeper and deeper dynamic structures of reality, into more and more essential levels of the material world. In each stage of the development of science, those elements and components of the material structure whose substructure has not yet been known, are presented as elements of the basic level. But there is no definite and final basis. Each stage of development of scientific knowledge that has been achieved corresponds to an adequate depth of penetration into the concrete contents of the essence of reality. This penetration into the deeper levels of essence involves, of course, inevitably the construction of a specific system of notions, adequate to the relevant level. This system cannot be simply derived from the notional structure of the less deep levels of reality, as it was assumed by the mere mechanistic science.
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