ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES of PHILOSOPHY
by Georges Politzer
by Georges Cogniot
Part One — Philosophical Problems
1. Why must we study philosophy?
2. Is the study of philosophy a difficult thing?
3. What is philosophy?
4. What is materialist philosophy?
5. What is the relationship between materialism and Marxism?
6. Campaigns of the bourgeoisie against Marxism
1 THE FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM OF PHILOSOPHY
1. How should we begin the study of philosophy?
2. Two ways to explain the world
3. Matter and spirit
4. What is matter? What is spirit?
5. The fundamental question or problem of philosophy
6. Idealism or materialism
1. Moral idealism and philosophical idealism
2. Why should we study Berkeley’s Idealism?
3. Berkeley’s Idealism
4. Consequences of “idealist” arguments
5. Idealist arguments
(1) Spirit creates matter
(2) The world does not exist outside of our thoughts
(3) It is our ideas which create things
1. Why should we study materialism?
2. Where does materialism come from?
3. How and why materialism has evolved
4. What are the materialist principles and arguments?
4 WHO IS RIGHT, THE IDEALIST OR THE MATERIALIST?
1. How we should state the question
2. Is it true that the world exists only in our thoughts?
3. Is it true that it is our ideas which create things?
4. Is it true that spirit creates matter?
5. Materialists are right and science proves their assertions
5 IS THERE A THIRD PHILOSOPHY—AGNOSTICISM?
1. Why a third philosophy?
2. Arguments of this third philosophy
3. Where does this philosophy come from?
4. Its consequences
5. How can this “third” philosophy be refuted?
Part Two — Philosophical Materialism
1 MATTER AND MATERIALISTS
1. What is matter?
2. Successive theories of matter
3. What matter is for materialists
4. Space, time, motion and matter
2 WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A MATERIALIST?
1. Union of theory and practice
2. What does it mean to be a supporter of materialism in the sphere of thought?
3. How is one a materialist in practice?
3 HISTORY OF MATERIALISM
1. The need for studying this history
2. Pre-Marxist materialism
(1) Greek antiquity
(2) English materialism
(3) Materialism in France
(4) 18th century materialism
3. Where does idealism come from?
4. Where does religion come from?
5. The merits of pre-Marxist materialism
6. The faults of pre-Marxist materialism
Part Three — The Study of Metaphysics
1 OF WHAT DOES THE “METAPHYSICAL METHOD” CONSIST?
1. The characteristics of this method
(1) First characteristic: The principle of identity
(2) Second characteristic: The isolation of things
(3) Third characteristic: Eternal and impassible divisions
(4) Fourth characteristic: Opposites are mutually exclusive
2. Summary and evaluation
3. The metaphysical concept of nature
4. The metaphysical concept of society
5. The metaphysical concept of thought
6. What is logic?
7. The explanation of the word “metaphysics”
Part Four — The Study of Dialectics
1 INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY OF DIALECTICS
1. Preliminary precautions
2. Where did the dialectical method come from?
3. Why was dialectics dominated for a long time by the metaphysical concept?
4. Why was the materialism of the 18th century metaphysical?
5. How dialectical materialism was born: Hegel and Marx
2 THE LAWS OF DIALECTICS. 1ST LAW: DIALECTICAL CHANGE
1. What is meant by dialectical motion?
2. For dialectics, there is nothing permanent, absolute, sacred
3 2ND LAW: RECIPROCAL ACTION
1. The sequence of processes
2. The great discoveries of the 19th century
(1) The discovery of the living cell and its development
(2) The discovery of the transformation of energy
(3) The discovery of evolution in man and animals
3. Historical or spiral development
4 3RD LAW: CONTRADICTION
1. Life and death
2. Things change into their opposites
3. Affirmation, negation and negation of the negation
5. The unity and struggle of opposites
6. Errors to be avoided
7. Practical consequences of dialectics
5 4TH LAW: TRANSFORMATION OF QUANTITY INTO QUALITY OR LAW OF PROGRESS BY LEAPS
1. Reforms or revolution:
(1) Political argumentation
(2) Historical argumentation
(3) Scientific argumentation
2. Historical materialism:
(1) How can history be explained?
(2) History is the work of man
Part Five — Historical Materialism
1 THE MOTOR FORCES OF HISTORY
1. An error to be avoided
2. "Social being” and consciousness
3. Idealist theories
4. “Social being” and the conditions of existence
5. Class struggle, the motor of history
2 WHERE DO CLASSES AND ECONOMIC CONDITIONS COME FROM?
1. The first great division of labor
2. The first division of society into classes
3. The second great division of labor
4. The second division of society into classes
5. What determines economic conditions?
6. Modes of production
Part Six — Dialectical Materialism and Ideologies
1 THE APPLICATION OF THE DIALECTICAL METHOD TO IDEOLOGIES
1. Of what importance are ideologies for Marxism?
2. What is an ideology? (The ideological factor and ideological forms)
3. Economic structure and ideological structure
4. True consciousness and false consciousness
5. Action and reaction of ideological factors
6. A method of dialectical analysis
7. The necessity of ideological struggle
DEFINITIONS AND BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES