This is a test question:

State and examine the main features of Dialectical Materialism as enunciated by Hegel.

Is it wrong? The reason I ask is because Hegel propagated the concept of dialectics and not materialism but this question asks the main features of dialectical materialism enunciated by Hegel. Is this correct?

  • 1
    What has your research uncovered so far?
    – Joseph Weissman
    Dec 20, 2013 at 14:23
  • 2
    As I recall, "dialectical materialism" is the Marx's extension of Hegel's dialectics. Both philosophies are nonsensical IMHO.
    – Michael
    Dec 20, 2013 at 21:43
  • where are you studying? the question is so poorly worded it's absurd as
    – user6917
    Sep 10, 2015 at 20:43
  • It very much looks like that the test question confuses Hegel with Engels. Hegel had nothing to do with Dialectical Materialism, and I fear even died before the phrase was coined. Engels wrote more or less extensively about it. Oct 25, 2016 at 14:00

5 Answers 5


I believe Marx proposed Dialectic materialism by "reversing" the Hegelian dialectic idealism so to make it stand with "the feet on the ground". As i know "material" for Hegel is an idea. But "idea" is not something just in man's head, but the whole spirit of the world, so some times an "idea" is pure materialistic. Correct me if i 'm wrong.


Hegel himself can be read as materialistic (in a very, very weak sense): In the sense that the general in which the particular being is thought, the concept ("Begriff"), is always "grounded" in the very being of this particular, as it is the generality of the being.

BUT he descriminates between being ("Dasein") and reality ("Wirklichkeit"), where reality is what conforms to the concept and therefore is persistant. For him, the main task of our substance (that is "being practical", including "thinking" for developing a grasp on the concepts) is bringing a being into existance that can be seen as a particular of the concepts and therefore is reality (hegelian "idea"). This is why Engels made his claim about Hegel and Marx: Hegel's reality as persistant being is grounded in the concepts of mind/spirit/reason (in the end: GOD). Materialistic would be if the concepts of mind would be grounded in reality.

But actually this holds for the later works (Encyclopedia, Philosophy of law) as I do not know his earlier ones ;)

  • 2
    Or to pare that down, it's material in so far as it is spiritual for Hegel.
    – virmaior
    Oct 3, 2015 at 1:59
  • Nicely summarized, added one up arrow.
    – user13955
    Oct 4, 2015 at 2:53
  • To him, after all, the reality is the mirror or the interpretation of his perception, which is, mind or namely GOD, not vice versa, that's why Hegel's introduction to philosophy is as easy as a heavy homework. sorry just with a smile.
    – user13955
    Oct 4, 2015 at 2:56

Aristotle, says in the Metaphysics, that:

All philosophers agree that the Principles of Change are Contraries

And that they act on some Other; he admits it's hard to establish whether they are in toto - two, or three.

I interpret this to mean, thinking Contraries are Unity of Opposites.

  • that the Contrary being a Pair of Opposites is two, and the Other being a one; and together we have three

  • or the Contrary being a Unity, is one, and the Other being a one, we have two.

Hegel reduces this to One (one as a quantity, and also as the Parmenidian One); uniting Being and Becoming - they are opposites, notably; and identifying this with Being (not Becoming); obtains an emanationist cosmology:

(SL 21.70) Pure Being and Pure Nothing are therefore the same; the truth is neither Being, nor Nothing; but rather that Being has passed over into Nothing, and Nothing into Being.

And in the same paragraph he adds:

Their truth is therefore this movement of the immediate vanishing of the one into the other: Becoming

Also, a little later, in remark 3:

The unity, whose moments, Being and Nothing, are inseperable, is at the same time different from these moments. It thus stands as a third with respect to them - a third which, in its most proper form, is Becoming.

When Being achieves determination, this is Matter; and the dialectic of Becoming sublated into Matter, acts:

Existence proceeds from Becoming...it is not mere being, but existence, or Dasein, according to its German etymology, it is Being (Sein) in a certain Place (Da)...with the Concrete Whole is in the form of being, of immediacy, constitutes Determinateness.

This is Hegels notion of dialectical materialism.

  • 1
    Good answer if you have an intuition for Hegels thoughts, perhaps too short/precise for the question. At least some reference would make it a perfect answer in my opinion, although I know how hard it is to extract some sentences, because speculative philosophy (Hegel's notion) in my opinion means producing intuitions with a whole text, not stating truths in sentences.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Oct 3, 2015 at 10:47
  • Thanks; I had actually contemplated putting in something from Hegel...but decided against it - as you note, it takes some work; but I think I will add a few supporting quotations. Oct 3, 2015 at 11:04
  • @klocking: some quotes included - let me know if you think they work. Oct 3, 2015 at 12:54
  • 1
    Yep, I think it does. Connecting to Materialism as a school of thinking could be useful, but it works as from a hegelian standpoint.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Oct 3, 2015 at 15:35

John Am (above) is right that Engel's at least claimed that Marx turned Hegel "on his head".

There are less famous engagements by him, with Hegel.

The former link has the feel of a summary of went before (1845 as opposed to 1844). In it, he seems to treat Feuerbach as the foremost left (or young) Hegelian, a bourgeois materialist.

All who follow Hegel could do was the

contemplation of single individuals and of civil society.

Of course, Marx conceived of "the thing, reality" as activity, and was thereby able to take the

standpoint of the new [which] is human society, or social humanity

Quite why it is that Hegel was unable to take this standpoint, is actually quite a good question. Because if there's no reason, it seems like the entire engagement with Hegel was a scholastic game. Sorry for the sparse answer.

By the way, Marxists I like said Hippolyte is a good analysis of Hegel. Why that is, I don't know.


Hegel's philosophy is dialectical, which is a term for the method Hegel uses. In part, this can be traced back to Plato's dialogues and the means by which Socrates questions people to uncover the truth.

Hegel's method is not identical, but working from the Phenomenology of Spirit, the dialectic is the activity of Spirit (De: Geist). Spirit here is not exactly what we commonly mean by the word but somewhat akin to the use of "spiritual" to mean mental. At the same time, Hegel is not necessarily trying to deny "spiritual" as a religious or theological phenomenon (though he does subsume this in a way that makes clear his Christianity is nothing like orthodox Christianity). Thus, Hegel's dialectic is a spiritual dialectic. In Hegel's dialectic, the motion of the dialectic is an inevitable occurrence that moves through several phases up until Spirit is both self-conscious of itself and using reason and communal (spoiler alert: turns out we are spirit and we are god).

I'm not a Marx scholar, so I am not really up to it on that half of the equation, but from what I gather Marx keeps the notion of progress, the concept of necessity, the idea of dialectical progress, but he gets rid of the "spirit" bit. Now, it's just physics pushing things forward through struggle. I don't know how that works exactly since a core feature in Hegel is that it's the nature of consciousness to move us up through the dialectic of spirit.

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