"Materialism and Empirio-Criticism" must be the most boring work ever written. My sympathies go to the poor Czarist censor-bureaucrat who had to sift through this book before it was published. I tried to read it three times, but never managed to do the same. (I suspect the censor was cheating, too.)
In a way, however, I also empathize with the author, V.I. Lenin himself. (The book is actually Lenin's philosophical magnum opus.) "Materialism and Empirio-Criticism" is an attack on the philosophy of Mach, Avenarius and some of their epigones. It can hardly be denied that the empirio-criticists were full of crap. Lenin must have felt a great amount of frustration when attempting to prove that, really guys, there is such a thing as a mind-independent world. The Machists had great trouble explaining where the mind-dependent world might have been before the emergence of humans. Was the world dependent for its existence on the mind of an ichtyosaurus, a worm, or what? And what if humanity would disappear? Would the world disappear with it? Et cetera. Poor Nikolai Lenin, being forced to argue such trivial points with a bunch of ivory tower intellectuals. I suppose he later got his revenge - and his own censors!
Still, those parts of the work I somehow managed to read, contain obvious contradictions. Lenin regards dialectical materialism as absolutely true, and opposed to both metaphysics and relativism. According to dialectical materialism, there is such a thing as absolute truth somewhere "out there". Humans can never fully grasp this absolute truth (presumably because humans are finite). What they can do, however, is to constantly come closer and closer to it. With this sleight of hand, Lenin solves the contradiction between abstract metaphysics and pure relativism.Read more ›
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