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Ten Questions To a Lecturer[1]

V. I. Lenin

1. Does the lecturer acknowledge that the philosophy of Marxism is dialectical materialism?
If he does not, why has he never analysed Engels' countless statements on this subject?
If he does, why do the Machists call their "revision" of dialectical materialism "the philosophy of Marxism"?

2. Does the lecturer acknowledge Engels' fundamental division of philosophical systems into idealism and materialism,[2] Engels regarding those intermediate between these two, wavering between them, as the line of Hume in modern philosophy, calling this line "agnosticism" and declaring Kantianism to be a variety of agnosticism?

3. Does the lecturer acknowledge that recognition of the external world and its reflection in the human mind form the basis of the theory of knowledge of dialectical materialism?

4. Does the lecturer acknowledge as correct Engels' argument concerning the conversion of "things-in-themselves" into "things-for-us"?[3]

5. Does the lecturer acknowledge as correct Engels' assertion that the "real unity of the world consists in its materiality"? (Anti-Dühring, 2nd ed., 1886, p. 28, section I, part IV on world schematism.)[4]

6. Does the lecturer acknowledge as correct Engels' assertion that "matter without motion is as inconceivable as motion without matter"? (Anti-Dühring, 1886, 2nd ed., p. 45, in part 6 on natural philosophy, cosmogony, physics and chemistry.)[5]

7. Does the lecturer acknowledge that the ideas of causality, necessity, law, etc., are a reflection in the human mind of laws of nature, of the real world? Or was Engels wrong in saying so? (Anti-Dühring, S. 20-21, in part III on apriorism, and S. 103-04, in par. XI on freedom and necessity.)[6]

8. Does the lecturer know that Mach expressed his agreement with the head of the immanentist school, Schuppe, and even dedicated his last and chief philosophical work[7] to him? How does the lecturer explain this adherence of Mach to the obviously idealist philosophy of Schuppe, a defender of clericalism and in general a downright reactionary in philosophy?

9. Why did the lecturer keep silent about "adventure" with his comrade of yesterday (according to the Studies), the Menshevik Yushkevich, who has today declared Bogdanov (following in the wake of Rakhmetov) an idealist?[8] Is the lecturer aware that Petzoldt in his latest book has classed a number of Mach's disciples among the idealists?[9]

10. Does the lecturer confirm the fact that Machism has nothing in common with Bolshevism? And that Lenin has repeatedly protested against Machism?[10] And that the Mensheviks Yushkevich and Valentinov are "pure" empirio-criticists?


[1] "Ten Questions to a Lecturer" was written by Lenin during the first half of May 1908 in London. He had come there from Geneva to work on his book Mateterialism and Empirio-criticism, and he sent the questions to I. F. Dubrovinsky, a member of the Bolshevik centre and one of he editors of the newspaper Proletary, as theses for a speech on the occasion of the lecture entitled "Adventures of One Philosophical School" given by A. Bogdanov in Geneva on May 15 (28), 1908.

Bogdnnov, Lunacharsky and others, who supported Machist standpoints in philosophy, took advantage of Lenin's absence to increase their activity. Under the guise of criticising "materialism of the Plekhanov school", they revised materialist philosophy and tried to show that empirio-monism, the variety of Machism invented by Bogdanov, and not dialectical materialism, was the philosophy of Bolshevism.

In preparing his speech, Dubrovinsky made changes in the second, third and tenth questions and deleted the seventh question. In his speech, which was based on Lenin's theses, Dubrovinsky (who used the pseudonym Dorov) sharply criticised Bogdanovs views, declaring that Bolshevism had nothing in common with empirio-monism and showing that the advocacy of "god-building" was incompatible with dialectical materialism.

[2] See F. Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy

[3] See F. Engels, "Special Introduction to the English Edition of 1892" of his work Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, and his Ludwig Fuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy (K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, Moscow, 1958, pp. 99-102, 370-71).

[4] See F. Engels, Anti-Dühring, Moscow, 1959, p. 65.

[5] See F. Engels, Anti-Dühring, Moscow. 1959, p. 86.

[6] See F. Engels, Anti-Dühring, Moscow, 1959, pp. 53-54,157.

[7] Lenin is referring to Ernst Mach's book Erkenntnis und Irrtum. Skizzen sur Psychologie der Forschung (Knowledge and Error. Sketches of the Psychology of Investigation), the first edition of which was published in Leipzig in 1905.

For Lenin's characterisation of the immanentist school see Materialism and Empirio-criticism, especially Chapter Four, Section 3 (pp. 209-17 of this volume).

[8] Lenin is referring to the chapter entitled "A. Bogdanov's Empirio-monism", in P. S. Yushkevich's book Materialism and Critical Realism. Philosophical Trends in Monism, St. Petersburg, 1908, pp. 161-93.

[9] Lenin is referring to Joseph Petzoldt's book Das Weltproblem von positivistischen Standpnnkte aus(The World Problem from the Positivist Standpoint).

[10] See Lenin's letter to A. M. Gorky of February 12 (25), 1908 (present edition, Volume 13 , pp. 448-54).

Written: Written in May, before May 15 (28), 1908
Published: First Published 1925 in Lenin Miscellany III.
Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 14, pages 13-16.
Translated: The Late Abraham Fineberg

eSource: Marxists.org - Marxists Internet Archive
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