Cognizability of the world and its patterns

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  Cognizability of the world and its patterns
K. Y. Andreev

Practice as a criterion of truth

In the history of the development of the theory of knowledge, the question of the criterion of truth has always occupied one of the central places. Determining the source, ways, ways of knowing the world around us, people inevitably posed the question: how to separate the true from the false, how to determine the reliability of our knowledge, their correspondence to those processes, phenomena, patterns that are objectively inherent in the real world? 

It is quite understandable that the idealists could not give a correct answer to this question, because they incorrectly, anti-scientifically interpreted the essence of truth itself. For idealists, as we have seen, truth is something purely subjective, an arbitrary creation of human consciousness. The idealists reduce the whole process of cognition to purely mental activity of a person, reflecting, as a rule, the ideology, aspiration, and desire of reactionary, dying classes that are not interested in true knowledge of the world, idealists are afraid of reality, avoid testing their ideas with facts, social practice. 

Before the emergence of Marxism, the question of a truly objective criterion of truth was not resolved, not only in idealist philosophy, but in essence even all pre-Marxist materialists could not find a complete scientific solution to this problem. All philosophers before Marx either completely ignored the role of practice as a criterion of truth, or reduced it to experience, experiment, observation, etc. 

Only the classics of Marxism-Leninism for the first time in the history of the development of philosophy found a truly scientific solution to the question of the criterion of truth, thereby making a revolutionary revolution in the theory of knowledge. 

They proved that the social, labor, production activity of people is not only the basis of the entire process of cognition from its beginning to end, but also the decisive criterion of truth and the ultimate goal of cognition. 

Proceeding from the materialistic solution of the basic question of philosophy, dialectical materialism teaches that truth is an adequate reflection of objective reality in the human mind, while the criterion of whether the human mind adequately reflects the external world is practice. 

Only those ideas and theories that are confirmed in social practice can be recognized as a correct reflection of the objective world. 

It should be noted that some idealists also recognized practice as the criterion of truth, but practice in their understanding is not the social revolutionary historical activity of people, but spiritual practice, i.e. human thinking (Kant, Hegel, etc.) or narrow vulgar practicality and businesslike (pragmatism is a reactionary idealistic trend in philosophy). This practice is purely subjective. It cannot determine which moments of our ideas are objective and which are subjective, which of them are inherent in objects of objective reality and which are introduced by us in the process of thinking. Practice, which is interpreted as a manifestation of the spirit, consciousness, and not as the real production and historical activity of people, inevitably leads to priesthood. It cannot objectively reflect reality, real life, because it is limited only to the abstract activity of consciousness. The idea here is the criterion of itself. Such an understanding of the criterion of truth is anti-scientific, idealistic. 

Ignoring the true material practice of people by idealists forces them to come up with such criteria of truth as "clarity" and "evidence" (Descartes), "internal coherence of thoughts" (Hume), "a priori significance" (Kant), "economy of thought" (Mach), “utility” (pragmatists), etc. What they have in common is the rejection of objective truth and the recognition of the so-called formal criterion of truth, which should reflect not objective reality, but correspondence between thoughts. This is especially vividly carried out in the philosophical system of Kant, neo-Kantians, and other idealists, for whom the forms of knowledge are pure abstractions that have nothing to do with objective reality, and all our knowledge should not be verified by comparison with things and phenomena of the objective world, with real facts, but by comparing theories with theories, ideas with ideas, thoughts with thoughts. 

The position is called “true” not because it coincides with reality, which is on the other side of all thinking and everything conceivable, wrote the neo-Kantian Cassirer, but because in the process of thinking it proved itself in practice and led to new fruitful conclusions. Truth for neo-Kantians does not mean the correspondence of our ideas, theories, thoughts, to objective reality, but is derived from a priori abstract concepts in a purely logical way. 

The assertions of the pragmatists are also an idealist twist. It is known that in their theory of knowledge, pragmatists rely on practice, on experience, which they understand as a set of human sensations and experiences. Truth, from the point of view of pragmatism, is created by the person himself as a result of his volitional creative actions aimed at achieving the goal. All their knowledge is based on subjective interest. Practice, understood by them as mercantile entrepreneurial activity, is a criterion of truth insofar as it benefits the subject. “The value of truth,” wrote the most prominent representative of pragmatism, the American reactionary philosopher James, “is the process of its evaluation, expressed in the usefulness of the cause.”  

Pragmatism has a lot in common with Machism. Mach, in his book Knowledge and Error, also argued that only success can separate knowledge from error. This blood relationship of pragmatism, Machism and solipsism (a kind of subjective idealism) was revealed by V. I. Lenin in his brilliant work Materialism and Empirio-Criticism.  

Explaining and developing the main provisions of the theory of knowledge of dialectical materialism, V. I. Lenin wrote: “Knowledge can be biologically useful, useful in human practice, in preserving life, in preserving the species, only if it reflects an objective truth independent of man. For the materialist, the "success" of human practice proves the conformity of our ideas with the objective nature of the things we perceive. For the solipsist, "success" is all that I need in practice, which can be considered separately from the theory of knowledge. (V. I. Lenin. Op. vol. 14, p. 127.)

Pragmatism is the most reactionary idealist philosophy of the imperialist bourgeoisie. It calls not for actual knowledge of the objective world with the aim of changing it, but for adaptation to the existing reality; it calls for measuring truth only by utility. The same James in his book “Pragmatism” wrote: “Pragmatism recognizes the truth (and this is its only criterion of truth) that “works best for us,” i.e., for the capitalists. It is difficult to express more directly and frankly the essence of this ideology of predatory, bloodthirsty imperialism.  

In contrast to all these tricks of the ideological servants of imperialism, dialectical materialism provides the only scientific solution to the question of the criterion of truth, proving that it is in practical socio-historical activity, in the process of production, that people are directly connected with the outside world, that the process of cognition and the process of testing knowledge the subordination of the forces of nature to the interests of mankind. 

Theoretical knowledge,” wrote V.I. Lenin, “should give an object in its necessity, in its all-round relations, in its contradictory movement ... But the human concept “finally” grasps, captures, masters this objective truth of knowledge only when the concept becomes “being for itself” in the sense of practice. That is, the practice of man and mankind is a test, a criterion for the objectivity of knowledge. (V. I. Lenin. Philosophical Notebooks, p. 183.) 

The theory of the development of the bourgeois-democratic revolution into a socialist revolution, developed by V. I. Lenin in his work “Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution” and specified in the April Theses, at one time caused a furious howl among Russian and world opportunism. Rejecting this theory, they called it "delusional", supposedly capable of ruining the revolution. But life, practice, and the further course of the revolution brilliantly confirmed the correctness of Lenin's ideas. 

We see the same thing in the natural sciences. The doctrine of the solar system, created by Copernicus, remained a hypothesis for three hundred years. And only when Leverrier, using this hypothesis, proved that there must be another, until then unknown planet, and even determined the place that it should occupy in heavenly space, when the astronomer Halle later actually discovered this planet, Copernicus' theory was proved. 

Being an integral part and basis of the knowledge of nature and its management, practice makes it possible to separate the essential from the non-essential, the necessary from the accidental, the permanent from the transient; Practice helps a person to choose from the countless aspects of objective reality exactly those that he needs to fulfill the tasks assigned to him. 

The socio-historical practice of a person, his production activity, being a criterion of truth, helps to expose outdated, obsolete theories, as well as reactionary, anti-scientific and erroneous ideas and views that hinder the progressive development of human society. 

It is known, for example, that in science for a long time there was a "theory" according to which living matter has only a cellular structure. The Soviet biologist O. B. Lepeshinskaya refuted this erroneous point of view. Through a scientific experiment, O. B. Lepeshinskaya proved the existence of a living substance that does not have a cellular structure. She proved that in nature there is a constant process of formation of new cells from a structureless protein. 

It was with the help of experiments and the practice of vegetative hybridization of plants that I. V. Michurin and T. D. Lysenko irrefutably proved the anti-scientific content of the Morganist “chromosomal theory of heredity”. 

Being a criterion of the truth of human concepts, theories, ideas about things and phenomena of the objective world, helping to reveal everything that is reactionary, fantastic, erroneous, practice at the same time introduces changes, corrections, additions into our knowledge about the world, determines the path for further development of theory. Life is always richer, more complex, more diverse than our ideas about it. 

Life and practice brilliantly confirmed and proved the correctness of the teachings of Marx and Engels. In the new socio-historical conditions, V. I. Lenin, and J. V. Stalin in the era of imperialism and proletarian revolutions continued and creatively developed Marxism. An ingenious generalization of this new practice is, for example, the Leninist-Stalinist theories about the possibility of building socialism in one country taken separately, about socialist industrialization, about the collectivization of agriculture, the doctrine of the state under socialism and communism, about the paths of transition from socialism to communism, about general crisis of capitalism and many others. 

Thus, life, socio-historical revolutionary practice helps to introduce changes, corrections, additions into our knowledge of the world, allows the Communist Party to creatively develop Marxist-Leninist theory. 

Genuine science, if it really is a science, sees the strength and truthfulness of its theoretical propositions and conclusions in the fact that they are confirmed by practice. Therefore, in order to test the truth of her theories, she invariably turns to practice, to experience, to the process of social production. 

Recognizing practice as the basis of knowledge, dialectical materialism at the same time does not deny the relative independence, transforming and organizing role of advanced theory. At the same time, it also fights against overestimation, absolutization of theory, believing that in the inseparable unity of theory and practice, the latter always determines the former. 

Dialectical materialism regards theory as a generalized social revolutionary practice. 

“Theory,” says Comrade Stalin, “is the experience of the labor movement of all countries, taken in its general form. Of course, theory becomes non-objective if it does not link up with revolutionary practice, just as practice becomes blind if it does not light its way with revolutionary theory. But theory can turn into the greatest force of the working-class movement if it develops in inseparable connection with revolutionary practice, for it, and only it, can give the movement confidence, the power of orientation and understanding of the inner connection of surrounding events, for it, and only it, can help practice to understand not only how and where the classes are moving in the present, but also how and where they should move in the near future. None other than Lenin said and repeated dozens of times the well-known proposition that: 

"Without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement." (I. Stalin. Questions of Leninism, p. 14.) 

Therefore, theory and practice cannot be isolated from each other and considered independently. 

The inseparable unity of theory and practice in Marxist-Leninist epistemology is determined primarily by the fact that the movement of knowledge does not end with the acquisition of reliable knowledge, verified by social practice. This is only half the problem. Marxist-Leninist philosophy believes that the task is not only to learn the patterns of development of nature and society and explain the world, but to use this knowledge to actively influence the world, to transform reality in practice in the interests of the working masses. “Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways,” wrote Marx, “but the point is to change it.” (K. Marx, F. Engels. Selected works, vol. II. p. 385). The greatest organizing and transforming force of Marxist-Leninist theory lies precisely in the fact that it directs the practical activity of the proletariat, shows it the ways, and means of transforming reality, the way of building a new, communist society. However correct and good a theory may be, it will not matter if it is not used in revolutionary practice. Growing out of practice, all our knowledge must return to it not only to verify their truth, but also in order to illuminate and direct the process of revolutionary change in the world, the production, political and scientific activities of people. 

Through practice, discover truths,” writes Mao Tse-tung, “and through practice, confirm truths and develop truths. From sensory cognition to actively move to rational cognition and, further, from rational cognition to active leadership of revolutionary practice, to the transformation of the subjective and objective world. Practice - knowledge, again practice - and again knowledge - this form in its cyclical repetition is endless, and the content of the cycles of practice and knowledge rises to a higher level each time. Such is the whole theory of cognition of dialectical materialism, such is the view of dialectical materialism on the unity of knowledge and action. (Mao Tse-tung. Selected works, vol. I, p. 528. I. L. 1952.) 

The ideological servants of modern American-British imperialism preach the theory of the unknowability of the world around us because they are afraid that the working classes will use the laws of science to radically transform nature and social life. In an effort to perpetuate capitalist slavery, to prove the inevitability and imminence of all the vices of the imperialist system, the ideologists of imperialism keep saying that people are powerless to change the capitalist social system, just as they are supposedly powerless to fight the elemental forces of nature. 

In contrast to these conjectures, dialectical materialism has proved, and life, practice has fully confirmed, that people are not only capable of mastering the laws of development of the world around us, but also using them for the progressive transformation of reality. This was particularly convincingly proved by Comrade Stalin in his work The Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR. Using a number of simple and convincing examples, Comrade Stalin irrefutably proved "that people can discover laws, cognize them, master them, learn to apply them with full knowledge of the matter, use them in the interests of society and thus subdue them, achieve dominance over them." (I. Stalin. Economic problems of socialism in the USSR, p. 9.) 

Comrade Stalin tirelessly teaches us that theory cannot develop successfully unless it is based on practice, unless every step is verified by practice, just as practice is blind and helpless if it does not light its way with theory. 

Directing the multifaceted and versatile activities of the world's first socialist state, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union comprehensively studies and generalizes the latest experience in the economic and political life of our country, strengthens the Soviet state, develops further Marxist-Leninist theory and on the basis of scientific knowledge of objective laws, skillfully implementing the unity of practice with revolutionary theory, leads us to a brighter future, to communism. 

The greatest significance of the practical activity of people, aimed at transforming nature and society, at a radical change in the views and consciousness of people themselves, stands out especially brightly and convincingly in our time, in our country. Life itself, the practice of communist construction, the most progressive science in the world—dialectical materialism—help us to uncover and overcome everything that is old, obsolete, conservative, which hinders our progress, help us to expose anti-scientific reactionary ideas and theories, help us to quickly overcome the remnants of capitalism in the minds of Soviet people, contribute to the formation of a new, communist consciousness. 

As early as 1908, the great Lenin wrote that the criterion of practice, i.e., the objective course of the development of history and, above all, the process of development of all capitalist countries, irrefutably showed that “following the path of Marx’s theory, we will approach objective truth more and more (never exhausting it); going along any other path, we cannot come to anything but confusion and lies. (V. I. Lenin. Works, vol. 14, p. 130.) 

The practice of our rapid advance towards communism once again confirms the correctness and vitality of the Marxist-Leninist theory, enriches it with new experience in the struggle and victories of the working people of the country of victorious socialism. 

This richest experience of the revolutionary struggle of our people under the leadership of the Communist Party, as well as the experience of the class struggle of the world proletariat, was brilliantly summarized by Comrade Stalin. 

The “Brief Biography of Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin” states that “Comrade Stalin gave a generalization of everything that Marx, Engels and Lenin contributed to the doctrine of the dialectical method and materialist theory, and further developed the doctrine of dialectical and historical materialism on the basis of the latest data of science and revolutionary practices." (Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin. Brief biography, p. 164.) 

In his immortal works, and especially in his works “On Dialectical and Historical Materialism”, “Marxism and Linguistics”, “Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR”, in his historical speech at the 19th Congress of the CPSU, Comrade Stalin clearly showed the inseparable unity of science with life, the advanced revolutionary theory with practice, the inseparability and organic unity of the world outlook of the Marxist-Leninist party and its revolutionary practical activity. The Communist Party itself serves as a living embodiment of the organic internal unity of advanced Marxist-Leninist theory and revolutionary practice. 

Pointing to this most important principle of Marxist-Leninist theory, Comrade Stalin wrote: 

“This means that the connection between science and practical activity, the connection between theory and practice, their unity must become the guiding star of the party of the proletariat.” (I. Stalin. Questions of Leninism, p. 545.)