Friedrich Engels Philosophy


Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) is the lifelong friend and collaborator of Karl Marx. He wrote many works on politics and history. Unlike Marx, he also wrote at length on philosophical topics .

His major works are :

  • Anti-Durhing
  • The dialectics of nature
  • Feuerbach and the end of classical German philosophy

Marx and Engels

The writings of Engels contain the classicla exposition of what is now called dialectical materialism. Some writers have tried to draw a sharp line between Marx and Engels on this issue, saying Marx was not a dialectical materialist, but this seems unjustifiable. There was certainly a division of labour between the two men, but there is no evidence of a fundamental divergence of views

Summary of Engels’ thought

The dialectics of nature consists only of fragments, and is chiefly about the dialectical character of science; Engels’ main view about philosophy are to be found in the other two works mentioned below. In Ludwig Feuerbach, Engels divides philosophers into two classes, idealists and materialists; the former assert the primacy of mind over matter, the latter assert the primacy of matter.

Engels argues that scientific thinking is dialectical and adds that science has taken over much of what was formerly the province of philosophy. In this connection, he remarks that philosophy (in the sense of speculation about the nature of reality) came to and end with Hegel. But there is still a place for philosophy in the sense of the theory of thought and its laws. Anti-Durhing contains most of what Engels has to say about such laws.

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