Martin Glaberman

On the Giant’s Shoulders

(Summer 1966)

From International Socialism (1st series), No.25, Summer 1966, p.33.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The Philosophy of Hegel
G.R.G. Mure
Oxford, 12s 6d

Lenin wrote in his philosophical notebooks: ‘It is impossible completely to understand Marx’s Capital, and especially its first chapter, without having thoroughly studied and understood the whole of Hegel’s Logic, Consequently, half a century later none of the Marxists understood Marx!!’ Another half a century later the situation is not one bit improved. That would be reason enough for socialists to welcome a good introduction to a difficult philosopher. An added concern is that dialectical materialism has been left as a monopoly of the Stalinists; which is to say that it has become rigid, formalistic, dogmatic, in snort: undialectical idealism. It is a pity that this little book by Mure does not fill the need. It is possible that 207 pages is simply too small a space in which to do justice to the totality of Hegel’s system. But the limitations of space are joined by limitations of conception. Mure’s views are much too old-fashioned and too technically ‘philosophical’ to bring Hegel to life for a modern reader. In both of these respects, J.N. Findlay’s book, Hegel: a Re-examination, is considerably better (and is available in paperback).

Lenin could say of Hegel’s Science of Logic, ‘in this most idealistic of Hegel’s works there is the least idealism and the most materialism. “Contradictory,” but a fact’! Findlay recognises the sense of this in his statement that there is ‘as much materialism in Hegel as in Marx ...’ Such conceptions, however, have great difficulty forcing their way past Mure’s concern with Spirit and spirituality.

Everyone knows that Marx stood Hegel on his head. This has served for too long as an excuse to ignore Hegel. Mure makes that excuse too easy to accept. A far better road to Hegel would be through Findlay, through Herbert Marcuse’s Reason and Revolution, and through Lenin’s Philosophical Notebooks, now available in English – all, of course, as prelude to the master who gave to Marx his method.

Last updated on 24 April 2010