FRIEDRICH ENGELS
ON EMPIRICISM, SPIRITUALISM, SCIENCE, MYSTICISM,
AND PHILOSOPHICAL NAIVETE

Here it becomes palpably evident which is the surest path from natural science to mysticism. It is not the extravagant theorizing of the philosophy of nature, but the shallowest empiricism that spurns all theory and distrusts all thought .... Indeed, dialectics cannot be despised with impunity. However great one's contempt for all theoretical thought, nevertheless one cannot bring two natural facts into relation with each other, or understand the connection existing between them, without theoretical thought. The only question is whether one's thinking is correct or not, and contempt of theory is evidently the surest way to think naturalistically, and therefore incorrectly. But, according to an old and well-known dialectical law, incorrect thinking, carried to its logical conclusion, inevitably arrives at the opposite of its point of departure. Hence, the empirical contempt for dialectics is punished by some of the most sober empiricists being led into the most barren of all superstitions, into modern spiritualism.


SOURCE: Dialectics of Nature, Natural Science and the Spirit World. Quoted in: On Religion, by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (New York: Schocken Books, 1964), p. 186.


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