Monday, October 9, 2017

Dialectical Materialism - simple definition and explanation

What is dialectical materialism?

short version: A simple definition of Marx's concept of dialectical materialism is a view of history as determined by the struggle between economic forces. In "dialectical" Marx means to see history as progressing through conflict between opposing forces. In "materialism" Marx holds that it is the material factors of human reality are the field in which these shaping conflicts take place (as opposed to the field of thought, as Hegel would argue in his dialectical idealism).


And now for a more elaborate definition and explanation of Marx's dialectical materialism:

Explained simply, dialectical materialism (sometimes called "historical materialism" or Materialist Theory of History) is an evolutionary concept which accounts for the dynamic, ever evolving process of history. The idea of dialectics says that history progresses through struggles between a thesis and an antithesis which eventually lead to a synthesis that will in turn become a thesis, yielding an opposing antithesis and so forth. Hegel, who made dialectics famous, thought that this progression occurs between conflicting ideas, and that philosophy is in fact what drives history forward. Marx accepted Hegel's dialectics but rejected his idealism, arguing that it is material aspects of humanity which account for every turn in history. The conflicts that make up the dialectical process are not between ideas but between material economic interests, especially Class Conflict.

Marx demonstrates his dialectical materialism on history, trying to account for historical events and processes as explained by a struggle between different classes on resources and means of production.

If you want a less simplified definition and explanation of Marx's dialectical materialism you can go to our summaries of Marx's German Ideology or The Communist Manifesto. If you want an even broader definition try A Very Short introduction to Marx or go for the real thing with Marx's selected writings.


Here you can find additional summaries and explanations about Karl Marx's theory: