On the Problem of a Theory of Knowledge in Marx
The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question. In practice man must prove the truth, that as, the reality and power, the this sidedness of his thinking. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking which is isolated from practice is purely a scholastic question.
KARL MARX, Theses on Feuerbach.
CAN we speak of a "theory of knowledge" in Marx which is compatible with the dialectical-materialist interpretation of the concept of reflection? What theoretical conclusions can be derived from the Marxist solution of the problem of the relation of man and his practical activities with the external world?
The very formulation of these questions is likely to be contemptuously rejected as naively dogmatic by some contemporary interpreters of Marx, notably some Western Marxilogists, who in the name of cultivating "genuine" or "authentic" Marxism seem to ignore the theoretical-cognitive content of Marx's new outlook and the objective essence of Marx's logic of understanding man and his place in the nature and social scheme of things. At the core of these innocent looking "academic" exercises lurks self-destructive skepticism, which undermines the cognitive significance of the theoretical basis of socialism. This objective is also sought to be achieved, at least indirectly, by certain versions of neo-positivism, pragmatism, existentialism and other related philosophies.
The theoretical basis of socialism is historical materialism. The leading idea of historical materialism and of the whole conception of scientific socialism is the specific notion of the laws of social development and the derivative character of consciousness, both individual and social, in its relation to social being which plays the determining role. Historical materialism is the outcome and the specification of a new world outlook — the dialectical-materialist outlook. This world outlook has become an inseparable element of world culture and a way of life of millions of people today. The
* Department of Philosophy, Bidhan Chandra College, Rishra, Hooghly,