Marxist philosophy or Marxist theory are terms that cover work in philosophy that is strongly influenced by Karl Marx's materialist approach to theory or that is written by Marxists. It may be broadly divided into Western Marxism, which drew out of various sources, and the official philosophy in the Soviet Union, which enforced a rigid reading of Marx called "diamat" (for "dialectical materialism"), in particular during the 1930s.
The phrase "Marxist philosophy" itself does not indicate a strictly defined sub-field of philosophy, because the diverse influence of Marxist theory has extended into fields as varied as aesthetics, ethics, ontology, epistemology, theoretical psychology and philosophy of science, as well as its obvious influence on political philosophy and the philosophy of history. The key characteristics of Marxism in philosophy are its materialism and its commitment to political practice as the end goal of all thought.
Louis Althusser, for example, defined philosophy as "class struggle in theory", thus radically separating himself from those who claimed philosophers could adopt a "God's eye view" as a purely neutral judge. Just as the young Marx had left university and German Idealism to encounter the proletariat, which permitted him to modify his perspective on practice and theory, "intellectuals" couldn't content themselves with instructing the masses from their chairs (as the "organic intellectual" conception denounced by Antonio Gramsci) but personally had to take part in the social struggles of their times.
Famous quotes containing the words marxist and/or philosophy:
“One good reason for the popularity of reductionism among the philosophical outposts of the Western Establishment is that it can be, and is, used as a device for trying to take the wind, so to speak, out of the sails of Marxism.... In essence reductionism is a kind of anti-Marxist caricature of Marxist determinism. It is what anti-Marxists pretend that Marxist determinism is.”
—Claud Cockburn (19041981)
“A philosophy can and must be worked out with the greatest rigour and discipline in the details, but can ultimately be founded on nothing but faith: and this is the reason, I suspect, why the novelties in philosophy are only in elaboration, and never in fundamentals.”
—T.S. (Thomas Stearns)