dialectical materialism

dialectical materialism

Philosophical approach expressed through the writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and later by Georgy Plekhanov, Vladimir Ilich Lenin, and Joseph Stalin, the official philosophy of communism. Its central tenet, borrowed from Hegelianism, is that all historical growth, change, and development results from the struggle of opposites. (In philosophical terms, a thesis is opposed by its antithesis, which results in a synthesis.) Specifically, it is the class struggle—the struggle between the capitalist and landowning classes, on the one hand, and the proletariat and peasantry, on the other—that creates the dynamic of history. The laws of historical dialectics are seen to be so powerful that individual leaders are of little historical consequence. Originally conceived as operating primarily in the social, economic, and political realm, the principle was extended in the 20th century to the scientific realm as well, with major effects on Soviet science. Marx and Engels stated their philosophical views mainly in the course of polemics and brief historical studies; there is no systematic exposition of dialectical materialism.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on dialectical materialism, visit Britannica.com.

Seen & Heard

What made you look up dialectical materialism? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.

Get Our Free Apps
Voice Search, Favorites,
Word of the Day, and More
Join Us on FB & Twitter
Get the Word of the Day and More