Reader in Marxist Philosophy
One of the leading American Marxist philosophers of his time and one of the editors of this book Howard Selsam said somewhere that the best way to understand the Marxist philosophy and world outlook is to hear from its great exponents themselves, i.e., Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao. The present selection is designed to acquaint the readers with the Marxist philosophy through the writings of Marx, Engels and Lenin. These writings are the ones which laid down the basic foundations of Marxist philosophy. As the editors have pointed out in their General Introduction, these writings do not deal explicitly or exclusively with questions of philosophy only; these writings often deal with the most immediate political and economic questions of the working class movement of the contemporary period. However, they contain the broadest philosophical generalisations, which now serve as the basis of Marxist philosophy.
Socialism and Ethics
The capitalist propagandists of the petty category have always been
attempting to prove Marxism as “immoral” and that it has nothing to
do with Ethics. The serious capitalist thinkers, which are but a few,
bring the morality related Marxist thoughts closer to vulgar materialism
by distorting them.
In fact Marxism proved for the first time in a scientific manner that the
source of moral thoughts are the historically evolving modes of
production, evolving law-governed structures in the social life and
the progress of the material and intellectual culture. Thus Marxist
ethics throws light on the nature of morality, its place in the social
life and the specific reflection of social being in the moral
consciousness. An important task of Marxist ethics is to study the
evolution of human morality which goes on in the form of the history
of struggle between the socio-economic structures and the ethical
thoughts of classes and the policy-conduct related opinions reflecting
this process. Marxism establishes that at individual level the moral
principles are not established by the philosophers belonging to this or
that stream, rather they are formed in the process of social practice.
Moral principles reflect the experience of entire masses and different
classes of numerous generations. Marxist ethics also analyses the
nature of morality, studies it in the form of an aspect of man’s social
activities and in the form of a special variety of social relations and
consciousness. By exposing the scientific basis and social character
of morality, Marxism clarifies the real meaning of the basis of moral
judgment and human liberty.
Socialism and Ethics by Howard Selsam, one of the leading
Marxist thinker and writer of his time in the U.S., has been quite
famous as a popular and simple exposition of Marxist ethics. It is
unique in presenting an extremely simple explanation of a difficult
philosophical subject like ethics. It was published for the first time in
1943 from International Publishers, New York.
What is Philosophy?
The basic question of philosophy is that of worldview and methodology. We need to have a correct scientific worldview and methodology if we intend to understand the various phenomena surrounding us. In this very process we can comprehend the role of human agency in social change. This book attempts to understand the real meaning and function of philosophy through a historical analysis of its development and attempts to develop a Marxist theory of philosophy. This is not a book on Marxist philosophy. Rather, this is a Marxist book on philosophy. To borrow from Althusser, it is not a discourse in philosophy, but a discourse on philosophy.
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