Engels to Marx in London; Manchester, 6 November 1868
(On Joseph Dietzgen)

Manchester, 6 November 1868  

Dear Moor,

Herewith return back Eichhoff’s letters and Dietzgen’s manuscript. The latter I had placed in a safe place, away from the tidying females, and there it was completely forgotten.

It is difficult to pass absolutely definite judgement on the thing; the man is not a born philosopher and, in addition, half self-taught. Some of his sources (e. g., Feuerbach, your book [Capital, Vol. 1] and various trashy publications on the natural sciences) can be immediately traced partly from his terminology, but one cannot tell what else he has read. The terminology is, of course, still very confused, hence the lack of precision and frequent reiterations in new terms. There is also dialectics in it, but appearing more in the form of flashes than in any connected way. The presentation of the thing-in-itself as a conceivable thing [Gedankending] would be very nice and even brilliant if one could be certain that he himself had discovered it. There is plenty of wit in it and, despite the poor grammar, a marked talent for style. All in all, however, a remarkable instinct to think out so much that is correct on the basis of such inadequate studies.

The repetitions are, as I said, partly a result of the shortcomings in terminology, partly due to his lack of logical schooling. It will be a hard job to get rid of them all. If the man definitely wants to print his stuff, I do not know if the reduction to 2 printed sheets would be the best for him; in any case, it would be a frightful job for him, since he is not aware of his repetitions. In addition, I do not know whether 2 sheets would get any attention at all. 6-8 sheets would be more likely to do this. But he will never get it into a magazine.

Borkheim has written to ask whether I would agree that he should reprint my Bakunin article from the Neue Rheinische Zeitung in Liebknecht’s paper and says, in this connection, that this article ‘fits, for him, most excellently in his framework’. I replied that we planned to publish our earlier articles, etc., jointly, that we were already negotiating with a book-dealer, but that I did not know how things stood at the moment and had therefore written to you. I don't know though which article he means; there are several and he speaks of one. Besides, he repeats his nonsense about Bakunin, Eichhoff, etc.

Eichhoff’s thorough defence made me laugh.

Best greetings.


F. E.

SOURCE: Engels, Friedrich. Letter: Engels to Marx in London; Manchester, 6 November 1868; in Marx Engels Collected Works, Volume 43: Marx & Engels 1868-70: Letters: April 1868 - July 1870 (New York: International Publishers, 1975), pp. 152-3. Footnotes omitted here. This is part of the Marx-Engels interchange on Joseph Dietzgen’s Das Wesen der menschlichen Kopfarbeit = The Nature of Human Brainwork (published 1869).

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Joseph Dietzgen - Wkipedia, the free encyclopedia

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