Eugen Dühring

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Dühring, Eugen

 

Born Jan. 12, 1833, in Berlin; died Sept. 21, 1921, in Nowawes, near Potsdam. German philosopher; also dealt with questions of political economy and law. Son of a Prussian official. Educated as a lawyer. Privatdocent at the University of Berlin from 1863 to 1877.

Dühring attempted to construct his own system of “the philosophy of reality,” which, in his words, would establish a new way of thinking. However, his construct proved to be only a blending of elements from metaphysical materialism, positivism, and Kantianism. He regarded philosophy as an a priori doctrine of final truths. The world has no end, but it had a beginning in time, which was preceded by a condition of absolute rest. The transition from rest to motion he explained by the concept of a certain “mechanical force” inherent in matter. Thus Dühring tried to avoid the concept of a prime mover and at the same time not adopt the materialist interpretation of motion as an attribute of matter. In his view, time is a thing apart from space and matter.

Dühring’s sociological concepts are based on an idealistic view according to which violence is the source of social in-equality, exploitation, and poverty. The socialist transformation of society should take place, in his view, without a revolutionary overthrow of the old order and should be carried out, according to the model of the petit bourgeois socialism of Proudhon, by bringing small-scale producers together into cooperatives. Dühring was a follower of the economic doctrines of the American H. C. Carey. He opposed Marxist political economy, materialist dialectics, and scientific socialism. His ideas gained a certain currency within German social democracy, which prompted Engels to subject Dühring’s views to a critical analysis, exposing their eclectic character and lack of scientific grounding.

WORKS

Natürliche Dialektik. Berlin, 1865.
Kürsus der Philosophie. Leipzig, 1875.
Logik und Wissenschaftstheorie, 2nd ed. Leipzig, 1905.
Kritische Geschichte der allgemeinen Principien der Mechanik, 2nd ed. Leipzig, 1877.
In Russian translation:
Tsennost’ zhizni. St. Petersburg, 1894.

REFERENCE

Lenin, V. I. Materializm i empiriokrititsizm. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 18.

T. I. OIZERMAN