Man must prove the truth, i.e., the reality and power, the this-sidedness [Diesseitigkeit] of his thinking, in practice

Thesis two of Marx's very short Theses on Feuerbach.

I'm no scholar: does Marx mean the Diesseitigkeit of the capitalist's thinking?

  • 1
    How could we frame the headline as a question here? Maybe it's just "what does Marx mean by one-sided thinking?" – Joseph Weissman Jan 4 '16 at 23:40

In Karl Marx and the Future of the Human, Cyril Smith makes a statement on this that can be found here:

The odd word "Diesseitigkeit" might carry a bit more weight than is sometimes imagined. It is chosen as the opposite of the much more common "Jenseitigkeit", "other-worldliness" or transcendence.

I think the terminology refers to Hegel, e.g. to his Phenomenology of Spirit, where he writes in the Chapter III Force and the understanding; appearance and the supersensible world:

In this, the “inner true,” as the absolutely universal which is purified of the opposition of universal and individual and which has come to be for the understanding, what is disclosed for the first time and henceforth is a supersensible world as the true world over and above the sensuous world as the appearing world. That is, over and above the vanishing this- worldliness [Diesseits], there is disclosed an persisting other-worldly beyond [Jenseits], an in-itself which is the first and therefore incomplete appearance of reason, that is, which is the pure element in which the truth has its essence.

Diesseitigkeit is an adjectivation of the noun Diesseits (translation: this world), Jenseitigkeit accordingly of Jenseits (translation: the other world).

As another possible direction, the Historisch-kritisches Wörterbuch des Marxismus [Historic-Critical Dictionary of Marxism](German, found here) states regarding the actual relation to Feuerbach that Marx' criticism is aiming primarily at Wesen des Christentums [The Essence of Christianity] and thesis two is about the concept of Gattung [Category?!, not sure] there. But as I'm not into Feuerbach, I cannot give any more specification on that.


I actually think with Cyril Smith that his materialism is here to be thought as a statement against the priority of thought in dualism and idialism (and, taking the answer of @KentaroTotomo, Feuerbach's wannabe materialism), but would add that as Feuerbach wrote about Christianity, also against the priority of afterlife in there: Thought and truth are not "of another world" and there are no things in themselves, therefore the truth (and good!) can be proven (and have to be!) in practice, that means in a change of this world. This is coherent to the general line of attack in his Theses. Hence, Diesseitigkeit has nothing to do with capitalism.

  • Thank you, I did not know that such a word, in English, simply a "sidedness" has such weight..... – Kentaro Tomono Jan 5 '16 at 17:08
  • thanks it's a good answer. normally i'd be wary to say something of marx's "had nothing to do with capitalism" or that it needs much scholarship to unpack. but i suppose these theses may be more suited to those claims – user6917 Jan 5 '16 at 19:37
  • @MATHEMETICIAN: Well then, an acceptance would be appreciated ;) – Philip Klöcking Jan 5 '16 at 22:18
  • @KentaroTomono: As an aside, "Jenseits" is in common German an expression used for the other world in the sense of Afterlife, "Diesseits" as our very world we live in. This is also strongly related to the Christian theme of Feuerbach, obviously, as we should not contain the potential good we could do in ourselves for afterlife ;) – Philip Klöcking Jan 5 '16 at 22:23
  • You see, before Feuerbach made Hegel's idea "upside down" to the earth, by the Essence Of Christianity, how difficult Hegel's sentence, honestly, if I have to confess, I have no idea what Hegel is trying to say in your bold part, otherwordly........( I can smell about the worldliness ) sorry wtf is that! :) – Kentaro Tomono Jan 6 '16 at 14:31

I am sorry I completely forgot the contents of Thesis On Feuerbach.

But if you read carefully, I think the answer is inside the Chapter 1.

Marx says,

Hence it happened that the active side, in opposition to materialism, was developed by idealism — but only abstractly, since, of course, idealism does not know real, sensuous activity as such. Feuerbach wants sensuous objects [Objekte], differentiated from thought-objects, but he does not conceive human activity itself as objective [gegenständliche] activity.

So I think the Diesseitigkeit, or the sidedness, is placed towards to criticize the one-sided Feuerbach's materialism, which is, HIS IDEA IS ONLY IN HIS ( FEUERBACH'S ) THOUGHT AND CAN NOT BE MATERIALIZED IN THE HUMAN ACTIVITIES, that's why I think he used the term, Diesseitkgkeit, or the sidedness.

Thank you.

  • Reason for the downvote please????? Marx's core idea of Materialism is that the materialistic philosophy should be applied in human activities....therefore he only is describing his idea too. – Kentaro Tomono Jan 4 '16 at 23:58
  • wasn't me,,, i like the answer, it reflects how i read that short text, and perhaps (good) communists – user6917 Jan 7 '16 at 6:20

In the passage quoted from Marx' theses on Feuerbach the term Diesseitigkeit in pararaph 2 does not mean the capitalist thinking.

Instead the term 'this-sideness [Diesseitigkeit] of his thinking' refers to action in out present world. Marx criticizes the static conception of objects. He advocates to focus on the dynamic aspect. Whether a statement or an insight concerning an object is true cannot be determined by a static contemplation - disqualified pejoratively as scholastical. Instead, to determine whether the insight is true or not, it has to stand the test of practice, i.e. to guide successfully real actions in our world.

In these two paragraphs Marx deals with philosophical, not with sociological issues.

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