Karl Marx

The Hegelian automaton: mechanism = teleology

For Herr Bauer, as for Hegel, truth is an automaton that proves itself. Man must follow it. As in Hegel, the result of real development is nothing but the truth proven, — i.e., brought to consciousness. Absolute Criticism may therefore ask with the most narrow-minded theologian:

What would be the purpose of history if its task were not precisely to prove these simplest of all truths (such as the movement of the earth round the sun)?”

Just as, according to the earlier teleologists, plants exist to be eaten by animals, and animals to be eaten by men, history exists in order to serve as the act of consumption of theoretical eating — proving. Man exists so that history may exist, and history exists so that the proof of truths exists. In this Critically trivialised form is repeated the speculative wisdom that man exists, and history exists, so that truth may arrive at self-consciousness.

SOURCE: Marx, Karl. The Holy Family, or Critique of Critical Criticism. Against Bruno Bauer and Co. (1845), 2nd rev. ed., Karl Marx & Frederick Engels, translated by Richard Dixon and Clement Dutts (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1975), Chapter 6.1.a. “Spirit” and “Mass”, p. 93.

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