The German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel saw the world as a representation of the evolution of a great soul that is in constant motion.
The goal of this constant movement is for this great soul to reach absolute awareness of himself. If man is more self-aware than other animals, and man today is more self-reflecting and self-discovered than he was thousands of years ago, it is an evolutionary representation of that “idea” or spirit. Hegel has a term called the “spirit of history” and it is the developmental stage of the idea or spirit of the world. From the Hegelian point of view, rationality means being in sync with this absolute idea or the whole soul.
In 1836, when Karl Marx went to the University of Berlin, the dominant philosophical thinking at that university, like any other German university at the time, was Hegelian. Marx thus dealt with the subject of his doctoral dissertation, which was on the “comparison of the views of Democritus and Epicurus,” in a Hegelian mood. But reading Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach’s Introductory Theses on the Reformation of Philosophy led Marx to conclude that he had to correct his Hegelian view.
A summary of Feuerbach’s critique of Hegel’s views can be found in the phrase “Isaiah Berlin”:
“What is the spirit of such and such an age but an acronym for all the phenomena that make up that age or culture ?!”
The fact that each age has a pattern that distinguishes it from other eras cannot be a basis for assuming a causal pattern for history. Patterns can not cause events. A pattern is a form or form, it is the nature of events, and events themselves can only be the result of other events. What are terms like Greek genius, Roman character, Renaissance spirit or French Revolution spirit? Except for the abstract labels that people have forged for ease of work and attach to a certain set of qualities and historical events ?! “The Hegelian idea is merely a pseudonym for the anthropomorphic god of Christianity, Christianity, and therefore transcends the scope of rational discussion.”
Marx, who, after reading Feuerbach’s views, took a critical look at Hegel’s views, came to the conclusion that Hegel had built a beautiful mansion of words, and that it was the duty of Marx and his contemporaries to build this mansion with symbols of real things of time and space and relations. Visible experiments are also interchangeable. Thus Marx became the founder of a kind of “historical materialism”. In this formulation of thought, Marx, like Hegel, accepted a kind of “historical algebra,” but did not attribute the basis of this historical algebra to something abstract called the “flow of consciousness of the absolute idea,” but to “the struggle for survival” and “economic necessity.” This syntax transferred the rule of the Hegelian mansion from heaven to earth.
For Marx, economics is the foundation of culture, in the sense that economic necessities give rise to social contracts, and over time, these contracts become cultural traditions.
I have addressed this issue in the book “Professions for the Today” (Green Spring Publications). In the past, when economic necessities were different from today, cultural frameworks commensurate with those economic necessities have been agreed upon by the general public. Centuries later, these “social contracts” have become cultural traditions. Now that economic necessities have changed, it’s inefficient for us to orthodoxly preserve these cultural traditions.
Fifty years ago, 70% of Iranians lived in rural areas and 30% of them were urban dwellers. Iran’s economy was “livestock-agriculture”. Now this ratio has been reversed, seventy percent of Iranians are urban, and our economy is supposed to be an industrial economy. Maintaining “village-based” traditions is more costly for us.
Dr. Mohammad Reza Sargolzaei – Psychiatrist
Translated By: Negar Kolkar
The book “Karl Marx: Life and Environment” written by Isaiah Berlin and translated by Reza Rezaei has been published by Mahi Publishing in Persian.
Read the article “Foucault-Marx-Culture-Economy” on the channel or site drsargolzaei.com.
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