Karl Marx on Philosophy & Practicality

The opinion that philosophy is the abstract expression of the existing state of things does not belong originally to Herr Edgar. It belongs to Feuerbach, who was the first to describe philosophy as speculative and mystical empiricism and to prove it. But Herr Edgar manages to give this opinion an original, Critical twist. While Feuerbach concludes that philosophy must come down from the heaven of speculation to the depth of human misery, Herr Edgar, on the contrary, informs us that philosophy is over-practical. However, it seems rather that philosophy, precisely because it was only the transcendent, abstract expression of the actual state of things, by reason of its transcendentalism and abstraction, by reason of its imaginary difference from the world, must have imagined it had left the actual state of things and real human beings far below itself. On the other hand, it seems that because philosophy was not really different from the world it could not pronounce any real judgment on it, it could not bring any real differentiating force to bear on it and could therefore not interfere practically, but had to be satisfied at most with a practice in abstracto. Philosophy was over-practical only in the sense that it soared above practice. Critical Criticism, by lumping humanity together in a spiritless mass, gives the most striking proof how infinitely small real human beings seem to speculation.

SOURCE: Marx, Karl; Engels, Frederick. The Holy Family, or Critique of Critical Criticism. Against Bruno Bauer and Co. (1845), 2nd rev. ed., translated by Richard Dixon and Clement Dutts (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1975), Chapter IV, section 4, Proudhon (by Marx): Critical Comment No. 3, pp. 47-48.

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