Philosophy and Socialism – by Gajo Petrović

The very topic “Philosophy and Socialism” sometimes meets with opposition, not from those who have nothing to do with philosophy and socialism, but primarily from philosophers and socialists. For there are quite a number of philosophers who believe that philosophy can be in no special relationship to socialism, because it is concerned with the “world as a whole” or “the general structure and the most general laws of all that is” while socialism is only a special socio­political system, movement or theory.

To bring philosophy into a special connection with socialism – these philosophers say – means to degrade philosophy lower it to an inferior sphere which is beneath its dignity. Similarly. There are also many socialists who will oppose any discussion of this tonic because they believe that socialism as a social, economico-political movement – if it can be brought into a closer relation to certain theoretical conceptions at all – should be linked with political economy, political science and other social sci­ences. Socialism – they say – can have no special relationship to philosophy because it offers solutions for the burning social problems of our time, while philosophy “meditates” irresponsibly on insoluble »eternal« problems of every and no time. The introduction of philo­sophy into socialism therefore means a mere dilution of socialism and a diversion of progressive social forces from their primary tasks to­wards empty abstractions and unnecessary discussion.

In contrast to the views referred to above I should like to advance the thesis that socialism and philosophy really are in a special relation­ship for there can he no realization of Philosophy without the reali­zation of socialism, nor can socialism be achieved without the help of philosophy. This relationship between philosophy and socialism has been partly anticipated by many philosophers and socialists and it was clearly expressed in the works of Marx and Engels. The 19th and 20th centuries have brought objective pre-conditions for the realization of philosophy and socialism on a world scale. But in the development of Marxism and socialism since Marx a rift has opened between philosophy and socialism, with philosophy becoming – to a large extent – scholastic and lifeless, and socialism – to the same extent – either bureaucratic or economistic.  The path to the revival of modern philosophy and modern socialism leads through re-establish­ing mutual understanding between philosophy and socialism. This is what makes discussion on the relationship between philosophy and socialism extremely topical and important.

Throughout the history of philosophy there has been much controversy as to what philosophy in fact is, and a variety of different answers have been offered. Therefore to try to answer the question of what philosophy is by means of historical induction, i.e. by com­paring different philosophies and trying to find what they have in common, would – as once remarked by Windelband – resemble an attempt to discover what is common to all individuals called Paul.  However despite existing great differences in the conception of philo­sophy the two basic controversial questions throughout the whole history of philosophy have been (1) what is the »object« of philosophical activity? and (2) what is its own relationship or attitude toward that “object”? Although the replies to these two questions have dif­fered so greatly, and although we are still faced with chaos of the most divergent theories, I believe that we can distinguish two main types of answers to each of the two questions.

One basic answer to the question on the object of philosophy would be that it studies “the world as a whole” or “all that is”; and this answer can be further specified and modified in various ways.  Thus it may be said that philosophy has the task to determine the most general laws (or the most general structure) of the world, discover the concealed nature or “essence” of all that exists, understand the meaning of being, etc. The second basic answer is that the object of Philosophy is man. This answer too can be concretized, specified or limited in various ways. Thus we can say that philosophy wants to discover the “general structure”, “essence” or “nature” of man or even more narrowly, that it studies man’s cognitive, moral, artistic or some other particular activity. Similarly, the answers to the question on the attitude of philosophy towards its object can also be divided into two groups: the view that philosophy, without changing its object, ought only to know and describe it as thoroughly, fully and exhausti­vely as possible, and the view that philosophy should not only know its object but also change it and even create it at least partly.

Although various answers to the first question are independent from answers to the second, the philosophers who have orientated philosophy towards the world as a whole or towards being as such have often shown a marked tendency to conceive philosophy primarily as a cognitive activity which discovers its object as it is and leaves it as it is, while the philosophers who have orientated philosophy towards man have tended to conceive philosophy as an activity by means of which the object is not only known but also changed and even created. Confirmation for this thesis could be found in the history of philosophy. We could, for instance, recall the relationship between Aristotle and the post-Aristotelians in ancient philosophy. Could Aristotle not be viewed as a thinker who directed philosophy towards the knowledge of being as being, and of what is characteristic of it as such, and who at the same time saw the ideal of philosophical knowledge in leaving the object which is studied and known as it is (and even regarded it a degradation for knowledge to have a practi­cal application)? And in post-Aristotelian philosophy, among the Epicureans and Stoics, could we not find an example of philosophizing which is directed towards man and which at the same time insists that philosophy shows man what to do and how to live? An analogue of this situation in antiquity can be found in modern philosophy, in the relation between Hegel and post-Hegelians. Did not Hegel regard philosophy as absolute knowledge of absolute reality, while advancing the thesis that Minerva’s owl takes to the wing in the evening, that philosophical knowledge comes to the world when the latter is completed and thus can exercise no essential influence on it? And do we not find the negation of this view in Kierkegaard, Feuer­bach and other post-Hegelian philosophers who believed that philosophy is a science both about man and for man, a science which tells man what he is and at the same time helps him to change?

This analogous juxtaposition of Aristotle and post-Aristotelians and Hegel and post-Hegelians may be criticized as being schematic, over-simplified, and even outright wrong. Aristotle’s and, especially, Hegel’s philosophies in some of their essential components and aspects are primarily “anthropological”, and in contrast to their declaratively theoretical character and objectivism both philosophies were “practically engaged” and have made important contributions to the creation of the world in which we still live. However, this and similar cri­ticism, which convincingly shows the impossibility of completely reducing great philosophers to a few simple “theses” (just as philo­sophy cannot be reduced to a few basic »questions«), does not say anything against attempts to distinguish what is essential from what is inessential in the wealth of philosophical »questions« and »answers« or sometimes to view philosophical systems from a greater distance which may obscure certain details but make the basic lines more clearly visible.

When viewing the development of Marxism in this way, it may appear that we can find both basic opposing conceptions in Marxism, because in young Marx we find the view that philosophy should be the knowledge of man and for man, i.e. a thought which should direct man’s activity in the revolutionary transformation of the world, while in the later development of Marxism (Engels, Plelkhanov, Le­nin) we can find the view that philosophy studies the most general dialectical laws of the development of all that exists and that it should present them as they “objectively” are, independently from, and regardless of, ourselves. It may also be thought that contemporary Yugoslav and certain other Marxists are nowadays reviving Marx’s original conception that philosophy should be “anthropological” and “activistic”. But I think this would be merely a wrong impression. Marx’s basic intention was not to reduce philosophy to philosophical anthropology, but to transcend the abstract opposition between the “ontological” and the “anthropological” orientation in philosophy. Marx did not deny that philosophy discovers the essence of all there is, but believed that the road towards the discovery of the essence of all that is leads neither through that “omniscience” which, as Heracli­tus says, “does not teach wisdom”, nor through the compilation or “synthesis” of data supplied by individual sciences, but primarily through the analysis of that being which embodies the highest form of Being and, for this very reason, unifies in itself all other modes of Being. Thus the essence of Marx’s conception is the view that “ontological” questions must necessarily lead to “anthropological” ones, and that anthropological problems cannot be successfully dealt with if we remain within the limits of philosophical anthropology. The question what man is cannot be successfully answered if we remain within the limits of this question, excluding the traditional questions of ontology (and -metaphysics in general), i.e., questions about the meaning and modes of Being, about essence and appearance, about time and its dimensions, about possibility, reality and necessity. The question about man necessarily leads to the question concerning the meaning of being in general.

But Marx’s basic intention was not only to overcome traditional contrarieties between ontology and anthropology but to transcend the abstract synthesis of ontology and anthropology. According to Marx, man is a being which is not only what it in fact is but also what it can and should become, a being which has not always the same unalter­able essence but changes its nature, enriches and creates it.  For this very reason man can be alienated from his own essence. Discussion about man would stop half-way if it did not advance beyond the question of man’s essence, unless the question of man’s alienation from his essence was taken up, and unless there was criticism of self­-alienation and examination of the ways of de-alienation. In discus­sing man’s alienation and de-alienation, philosophy cannot bypass those concrete historical forms in which alienation and de-alienation appear; thus it cannot ignore the “petty” troubles and worries oppres­sing man every day.

Marx’s philosophy, then, is neither pure ontology, nor pure epistemology, anthropology, ethics, social and political philosophy etc.; its essence is in a continuous relationship, a continuous »inter­play« between the most general, “most abstract” questions of ontology and anthropology and »the most ordinary« questions of everyday life. If not ontologically and anthropologically based, it could not be radi­cally revolutionary but at best liberally humanistic and reformistic. Again if it were not at work on our present problems and worries, it would remain empty speculation and pseudo-revolutionary phraseo­logy without any meaning either for us today or for anybody else in the future.


I think that the conception of the “object” of philosophy here outlined suggests a definite reply to the question of its relation to its object. If philosophy were only an exploration of a given, always equal and unattainable essence of the world (or man), an essence which is hidden behind misleading and changeable appearance alt hough determining it from its own hiding place, there would indeed be nothing left to philosophy but to try to know this essence such as it is. But if philosophy is not pure speculation about unchangeable hidden essences, if it tells us something about our own essence which we e create and change by our own deeds, if it tells us what we can be and what we ought to be, then philosophy – unless it wants to be insincere and contradictory – cannot limit itself exclusively to theoretical proclamation of what can be, but must participate in its birth and development. And if philosophy is to commit itself to a trans formation of the world, if it is to participate in the creation of a new and really human world, it must fight for socialism.

For what in fact is socialism? According to the most widely accepted view, socialism is a “lower phase of communism”, a social order which develops between the dictatorship of the proletariat (the transi tional period from capitalism to communism) and what is called the – higher phase of communism”. According to this scheme the differ ence between socialism and communism lies in the fact that in socia lism distribution is made according to work, while in communism it is done according to need. I discussed this conception and this scheme in my paper “Philosophy and Politics in Socialism” (Praxis, 2-3/1965), but I have gathered from subsequent verbal and written reac tions that neither my criticism of this Stalinist scheme nor the conception I advanced have been correctly understood. Therefore, without repeating what I wrote then, I should like to discuss some controversial questions.

First of all I was criticized for describing the scheme, according to which social development goes from capitalism to a transitional period, from this transitional period to socialism, and from there to communism, as a Stalinist scheme with roots in Marx. Some critics objected to the term “Stalinist scheme” maintaining that this scheme could equally be found in Marx and Lenin and other Marxists. Ho wever, if a scheme is classified as Stalinist, this does not mean that it has nothing to do with Marx. Stalinism certainly has “something” to do with Marxism, because it is an estranged, self alienated form of Marxism. Starting from Marxist theses, Stalinism fixes them one sidedly, abstracting, simplifying, schematizing and dogmatizing them, and thus negating the fundamental guiding; ideas and the essential meaning of Marxism. Just because Stalinism is a distorted form of Marxism, it needs constant criticism. If it had nothing to do with Marxism, we could say so once and for all and thereafter pay no attention to it.

Other critics again while not protesting that this scheme has been classified as Stalinist, have objected to the “concession” that it has roots in Marx. However, in his Critique of the Gotha Programme Marx really speaks both of the period of the revolutionary transformation of capitalist society into communist society, and of the two phases of communist society; and although he nowhere explicitly states the three-phase scheme of post-capitalist development (transition period – socialism – communism), there is no doubt that he supplied the elements for this scheme. Not only did Stalin not invent the elements of the three-phase scheme, which he definitely canonized, but he was not even the first to construct a scheme from these element. Merit for this (if there is any) goes to Lenin who, in analyzing the Critique of the Gotha Programme (in his State and Revolution) divided the rele vant chapter (Chapter V, Economic Foundations of the Withering-away of the State) into four sections: 1. Marx’s Posing of the Question – 2. Transition from Capitalism to Communism, 3. First Phase Communist Society, and 4. Higher Phase of Communist Society. Thus the scheme has roots in Marx and Lenin, but neither Marx’s nor Lenin’s word is sacred. Even if Marx had advanced it consistently this would not be decisive. But this is not the case. The scheme is in contradiction with many other things written by Marx and Lenin. Even more, it negates the essence of Marx’s teachings.

First of all a negation of the essence of Marx’s doctrine is the placing of the dictatorship of the proletariat into a separate transition period between capitalism and communism (or socialism). In stating this I do not want to deny the necessity of the dictatorship of the proletariat for the development of socialism, but want to stress that the dictatorship of the proletariat is really a dictatorship of the pro letariat if it already is the initial phase of socialism and communism. Unless the dictatorship of the proletariat is understood in this way and if it is regarded instead as a separate transitional period, which is neither capitalism nor socialism and may in principle be different from both developed capitalism and developed socialism, then this period can also be interpreted as a period of unlimited violence and terror from which reactionary, anti-socialist consequences may result. The dictatorship of the proletariat is really a dictatorship of the Proletariat to the extent only to which it realizes a socialist, humanist society. Unless it helps to bring about a socialist (humanist) society, the alleged dictatorship of the proletariat – regardless of whether those who effectuate it are former or present proletarians – is not a dictatorship of the proletariat in Marx’s sense.

As it is not advisable to place the dictatorship of the proletariat into a separate period which differs from socialism, there is no justifi cation for differentiating between a lower and a higher phase of communism in the way in which it is so frequently done. The usual view according to which the essential difference between the two phases is the mode of distribution (in socialism according to work, and in communism according to needs), suffers from irremediable defects. The first of these is taking differences in distribution as the criterion for distinguishing phases of communism, while disregarding any other differences which may emerge in the sphere of economic life, particularly in the sphere of production. The scheme would, however, still be deficient even if we took as criterion something not limited to distribution but covering the economy as a whole. For in socialism as conceived by Marx the division of society into quarrelling “spheres” and the domination of the economy over other spheres are overcome; thus the criterion for distinguishing the phases of socialism can he neither distribution nor the economy in general, but only some more complex principle which treats man as a whole.

In criticizing the view that socialism is a “lower” and communism a “higher” phase of the classless society I referred to certain texts by Marx which indicate that he believed socialism to be a higher phase (or an aspect of a higher phase), and communism a lower phase. Some similar texts could be added. However, I think it is more important dispel the misunderstanding which has already arisen in connection with the texts quoted. For some people have taken it to mean that not important to explode the un-Marxist scheme in question, but it is sufficient to correct it terminologically, so that -while retaining – the traditional two-phase distinction – we call the lower phase “communism” and the higher one “socialism”. However, the point is not to change the terminology; what is important is to destroy the pretentious scheme which divides in advance our whole future into two phases, naively using as the criterion of division a principle which cannot have a decisive effect on the life of society even in the foreseeable and not so distant future.

As regards the view that the prevailing principle of distribution can not be used as the only criterion for distinguishing the main pha ses of a humanist society, it might be argued that even in this event, i.e. if the principle of distribution is not an eternal determinant of man’s entire life, the question of the principle, or principles, which could and should govern distribution in human society is neither meaningless nor unimportant. Even if one concedes that distribution is not all, the question still remains whether in a really human society distribution should be made according to work, to needs or to some third principle (e. g. position, merit, reputation. connections. family ties etc.). Regardless of how we solve the question of the, abstractly viewed, “most ideal” principle of distribution, we must not overlook the question under what conditions this principle can be implemented and in what way the required conditions can be created.

In his Critique of the Gotha Programme, Marx sharply criticized Lassalle who regarded distribution according to work to be “just” in contrast to F. Lassalle, Marx and Lenin believed that the principle of distribution “according to work- was a principle of bourgeois jus tice which applies “equal standards to unequal people”; thus, despite formal equality, it is “a violation of equality and an injustice”. But they also pointed out that a communist society, in the first phase of its development, is unable to eliminate the injustice contained in the distribution of consumer goods “according to work” (instead of accor ding to needs). Only in the higher phase of communism will conditions be created for “transcending the narrow horizon of bourgeois justice” and for effectuating the principle of distribution according to needs. “As regards the distribution of articles of consumption, bourgeois justice, of course, inevitably presupposes the existence of a bourgeois state, because justice is nothing without a machinery which can en force respect of legal norms. – The implication thus is that in com munism for some time not only will bourgeois justice still survive but even the bourgeois state – without a bourgeoisie!” (V. I. Lenin, Socinenija (Works), 4th ed., Vol. 95, pp. 442-443).

The idea of distribution according to needs is regarded by some as a Utopia. And indeed it would be not only Utopian but even reactio nary if under distribution according to needs we understood distri bution that satisfied all human needs. For the satisfaction of all man’s needs would be possible only if man’s needs were constant, al ways the same, if the satisfaction of some needs did not produce new ones, if man’s needs did not continue developing and changing; and the satisfaction of all human needs would be desirable only if all man’s needs were real, truly human, if there were no inhuman needs and if the development of human needs and means for their satisfaction did not give rise to pseudo-needs, which are more necessary to the means for their own satisfaction than these means are needed by man. But if we managed to draw a distinction between real needs and pseudo-needs (and this distinction can be made although its precise formulation may cause difficulties), and between a complete satisfac tion of all needs and the maximum possible satisfaction of needs appro priate to a certain historical level (and this distinction is not unreal either), the principle of distribution according to needs could be for mulated in its “non-Utopian” form.

The principle of distribution according to work is seemingly much easier to realize than the principle of distribution according to needs, not only because the latter assumes the existence of a much higher level of development of productive forces, but also because it seems much easier to measure work than needs. But as in measuring the extent to which needs are satisfied the greatest difficulty is not in determining the extent to which this or that particular need is satisfied (though this, too, need not be simple) but in finding a standard for comparing qualitatively different needs, thus the main difficulty in measuring work is not in determining the amount of actually per formed or socially necessary work of a particular type, but in deter­mining the proportion between qualitatively different types of work. The distinction between “simple” and,”complex” work certainly makes sense, but it is difficult to give a rational justification to the assumption that all qualitative differences can be reduced to quantitative ones and that for all qualitatively different types of work the precise degree of complexity (and consequently also a key for distri bution) can be determined. This does not imply that the difficulties encountered in the application of the principle of distribution accor ding to work are insurmountable. There are individuals about whom – without any great theory and without any precise measurements — we know that in distribution they receive not only much more than they, according to their work, deserve but also above their actual needs.

Despite the theoretical and practical difficulties connected with them, both the principle of distribution according to work and the principle of distribution according to needs do have a meaning and, within certain limits, can be practically applied. We can also accept Marx’s idea that in the first phases of humanist society it is not possible immediately to achieve a sweeping realization of the principle of distribution according to needs and that the bourgeois principle of distribution according to work must prevail. However, this does not mean that we should also be uncritical towards the various carica tured forms in which Marx’s thought sometimes appears.

Some people think that in the first phase of communism all distri bution should be based on the principle of distribution according to work, applying this principle without exception, strictly and precisely, both because this is the most just among possible principles for this phase and because only a consistent application of this principle can help one day to create the conditions for transition to the “higher” phase i.e. for the application of the principle of distribution accor ding to needs But let us briefly consider the radical form of the principle of distribution according to work which is formulated with the words: “he who does not work, need not eat”. This principle can be used by the workers in their struggle against the exploiters, for it implies that the exploiters who do not work, do not deserve what they eat But this principle can also be used by the exploiters against workers, for it implies that a worker who does not work regardless of the reason why he does not work, i.e. even if he is dismissed through no fault of his – need not eat. This shows that we must he more careful when proclaiming general principles. Generally formulated and literally understood, the principle “he who does not work need not eat” is not only anti-socialist but is even below that level of humanity which a developed bourgeois society can achieve. It can acquire a progressive and socialist meaning only if proclaimed with additional explanations and qualifications.

As the principle “he who does not work need not eat” is only a negative form or the “reverse” of the principle of distribution accor ding to work, the same will essentially apply to this positive principle. This principle can be comparatively “progressive” and “human” (and thus also “socialist” and “communist”) if it is applied to those who have the ability and chance to work; but it turns into its own contrary and becomes anti-socialist and inhuman if applied to old or sick people, invalids, expectant mothers, children and other persons who are unable to work. It is also inhuman if applied to those who possess the biophysiological conditions for work but cannot find (or have lost) the opportunity to work through no fault of theirs. Consequently, even in the initial phases of socialism, even in the most difficult situations, the principle of distribution according to work will be socialist and humanist only if from the outset it is supplemented in a certain measure by a particular form of the principle of distribution according to needs, i.e. the principle that the minimum needs of life of every man should be satisfied. Consequently, the principle of distribution according to work and the principle of distribution accor ding to needs should be combined in the very initial phase of socialism; indeed, there is probably no socialist country where this is not pract iced at least partially and insufficiently. It is a positive and important development that a movement is under way in certain capitalist countries which demands that the minimum means of existence should be guaranteed to every member of society without delay. An adverse development, however, is the fact that not only in capitalist countries but also in socialist ones it sometimes occurs that those who work hard and well are unable to satisfy their basic needs of life, while those who work little and poorly actually receive more than what they really need or can rationally consume.

These reflections do not imply any need for a revision of Marx’s conception according to which socialism should develop from distri bution according to work towards distribution according to needs. What these reflections do imply is that we must beware of any over simplification, absolutization and abstract contrasting of these prin ciples. In particular we must see that one of these two principles or any other principle, is not put above the basic principle of socialism which derives from its character as a really human, humanist society: i.e. the principle that society is socialist to the extent to which it opens possibilities for the free creative development of every man.

The conception of socialism discussed above also suggests a certain reply to the question of the relationship between socialism and philosophy. If socialism is a really human society, which differs in principle from the existing self-alienated society, it can develop from the old society neither spontaneously nor merely with the aid of devices that skillfully manoeuvre the forces maintaining this old society in such a way that they put into effect what is contrary to their own nature. In other words socialism can come about neither automat ically, nor semi-automatically, by a clever operation of selected levers of the exploiting class society. Socialism can be brought about only by the conscious struggle of revolutionary social forces; and an unavoi dable condition and integral part of this struggle is unsparing criticism of the old society, criticism which also incorporates the search for ways for its own negation and for the development of a really human society. The development of socialism is impossible without the development of socialist thought. And if socialism is not only an economic, political or legal order, if it is an integral form of life which: is concerned with man as a whole, then neither political eco nomy nor political theory, sociology or any other special social science or their sum total can supply an adequate theoretical basis for soci alism (which does not mean that they cannot make valuable theoretical contributions towards throwing light on individual aspects of socialist development). For bringing light to bear on the essential meaning and prospects of socialism, philosophy is indispensable.

Some people may perhaps agree that philosophy is necessary for socialism; however, they will add that it is not necessary from the outset but only later on when socialism becomes established and begins to develop more fully its “humanist side”. But since the “humanist aspect” is the essence of socialism, and thus socialism is not socialism if it fails to develop this “aspect”, this means that neither the initial nor any other phase in the development of socialism is possible with out philosophy. But, as stated before, this dependence is not uni lateral. Just as authentic socialism is impossible without philosophy, so philosophy cannot become philosophy in the fullest sense of the word (or even remain philosophy to the extent to which it has been so far), if it fails to engage most actively in the struggle for socialism. Unless it is to remain abstract theorizing, philosophy cannot disregard the phenomenon of man’s self-alienation; it cannot abstain from criticizing inhuman, exploiting society, or keep aloof from the struggle for a really human, socialist (humanist) society.

The thesis of the inseparability of philosophy from socialism may also arouse, as indeed it does, misunderstandings and criticism. As I have had a number of opportunities to reply to various objections, I will mention here only two. One objection is that by means of such theses, professional philosophers want to arrogate and monopolize the intellectual and perhaps even practical leadership of socialism.

This objection overlooks that what is concerned are not professional philosophers but philosophy as an activity by which man tries to discover his own essence and the meaning of his Being in the world course does not mean that professional philosophers can make no contribution to philosophy. After all, the greatest philosopher of antiquity was the professional philosopher Aristotle, and the greatest philosopher of the bourgeois world was the professional philosopher Hegel.  The greatest philosopher of the proletariat and the future classless society, Karl Marx, also studied and wrote his doctoral thesis in philosophy.   Important contributions to philosophy, apart from professional philosophers, have also been made by some profes­sional writers, businessmen, diplomats, politicians and lawyers, and this is likely to happen in the future as well. Thus the question is not of professional philosophers, but of philosophy as an activity which is open to everybody who has the ability for it. Nor is it implied on the other hand, that philosophy is the only theoretical activity which is indispensable to socialism. It would be ridiculous to maintain that any social or natural science is of no importance for socialism. The point is only that there is no socialism without theoreti cal discussion of its meaning and content, without radical and essential criticism of self–alienated society, and without clarifying the possibil ities for de-alienation.

Another criticism says that under this conception philosophy removes the boundaries separating it from other theoretical activities which really are essentially different. Philosophy – they say – could perhaps speak generally about the meaning of socialism, but it should not speak about the concrete processes of socialist development in individual countries, cities or towns, particularly not about individual persons or events. To this one could reply: It is true that philosophy cannot and should not be concerned with everything. But philosophy would be insincere and pointless if it kept floating in generalities, if it avoided becoming engaged in the decisive “concrete” questions of its own time, and if it were not ready sometimes to “intervene” in apparently non-philosophical controversies. For even where the question is apparently of “only” some individual or some “trouble” which has befallen him, an eminently philosophical question might be involved such as the question of what man is and what should the relations between human beings in socialism be. By apparently transcending its limits, philosophy may sometimes get a firmer footing on its own ground.

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