Pisarev, Lenin, & dreaming

Selected Philosophical, Social, and Political Essays

D. I. Pisarev


D. I. Pisarev's Social and Political Views / Translated by R. Dixon 5

Plato's Idealism / Translated by J. Katzer 45

Nineteenth Century Scholasticism / Translated by J. Katzer 72

Bees / Translated by R. Dixon 115

Shedo-Ferroti’s Pamphlet / Translated by R. Dixon 140

Russian Don Quixote / Translated by J. Katzer 148

Essay on the History of Labour / Translated by J. Katzer 172

Progress in the Animal and Vegetable Worlds / Translated by R. Dixon 295

Popularizers of Negative Doctrines / Translated by R. Dixon 497

Heinrich Heine / Translated by R. Dixon 564

Thinking Proletariat / Translated by R. Dixon 624

Notes 676

Name Index 706

SOURCE: Pisarev, Dmitri (Ivanovich), 1840-1868. Selected Philosophical, Social, and Political Essays. Westport, CT: Hyperion Press, 1981. 711 pp., [1] leaf of plates. Originally published 1958.

See also, on this site:

Plato’s Idealism (1861) by D. I. Pisarev

On other sites:

Plato’s Idealism by Dmitry Pisarev (1861) [fragment only]

Pisarev’s "Промахи незрелой мысли" ('Promakhi nezreloi mysli', 1864 = “Blunders of Immature Thought”), cited by Lenin, has not been translated into English.

Dmitry Pisarev - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Barghoorn, Frederick C. “D. I. Pisarev: A Representative of Russian Nihilism,” The Review of Politics, vol. 10, no. 2, April 1948, pp. 190 - 211.

Gudskov, Nikolao. “Terura infano de la rusa kulturo,” La Ondo de Esperanto, 2015, № 10 (oktobro).

Lenin on Pisarev

[262]... Pisarev possessed tremendous literary talent. But for all the enjoyment that the unprejudiced reader derived from the literary brilliancy of Pisarev’s articles, it must be admitted that “Pisarevism” was a sort of reductio ad absurdum of the idealism of our “enlighteners...”

SOURCE: Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich. Remarks on Books: G. V. Plekhanov. N. G. Chernyshevsky, Shipovnik Publishing House, St. Petersburg, 1910. (Part Two)

“We should dream!” I wrote these words and became alarmed. I imagined myself sitting at a “unity conference” and opposite me were the Rabocheye Dyelo editors and contributors. Comrade Martynov rises and, turning to me, says sternly: “Permit me to ask you, has an autonomous editorial board the right to dream without first soliciting the opinion of the Party committees?” He is followed by Comrade Krichevsky; who (philosophically deepening Comrade Martynov, who long ago rendered Comrade Plekhanov more profound) continues even more sternly: “I go further. I ask, has a Marxist any right at all to dream, knowing that according to Marx, mankind always sets itself the tasks it can solve and that tactics is a process of the growth of Party tasks which grow together with the Party?”

The very thought of these stern questions sends a cold shiver down my spine and makes me wish for nothing but a place to hide in. I shall try to hide behind the back of Pisarev.

“There are rifts and rifts,” wrote Pisarev of the rift between dreams and reality. “My dream may run ahead of the natural march of events or may fly off at a tangent in a direction in which no natural march of events will ever proceed. In the first case my dream will not cause any harm; it may even support and augment the energy of the working men.... There is nothing in such dreams that would distort or paralyse labour-power. On the contrary, if man were completely deprived of the ability to dream in this way, if he could not from time to time run ahead and mentally conceive, in an entire and completed picture, the product to which his hands are only just beginning to lend shape, then I cannot at all imagine what stimulus there would be to induce man to undertake and complete extensive and strenuous work in the sphere of art, science, and practical endeavour.... The rift between dreams and reality causes no harm if only the person dreaming believes seriously in his dream, if he attentively observes life, compares his observations with his castles in the air, and if, generally speaking, he works conscientiously for the achievement of his fantasies. If there is some connection between dreams and life then all is well.”

Of this kind of dreaming there is unfortunately too little in our movement. And the people most responsible for this are those who boast of their sober views, their “closeness” to the “concrete”, the representatives of legal criticism and of illegal “tail-ism”.

SOURCE: Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich. What Is To Be Done? Burning Questions of Our Movement [written autumn 1901 - February 1902, published March 1902], translated by Joe Fineberg and George Hanna, in Lenin’s Selected Works, Volume 1, pp. 119-271; Collected Works, (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1961), Volume 5, pp. 347-530; V: The “Plan” For an All-Russia Political Newspaper, B. Can A Newspaper Be A Collective Organiser? [conclusion].

The approach of the (human) mind to a particular thing, the taking of a copy (= a concept) of it is not a simple, immediate act, a dead mirroring, but one which is complex, split into two, zig-zag-like, which includes in it the possibility of the flight of fantasy from life; more than that: the possibility of the transformation (moreover, an unnoticeable transformation, of which man is unaware) of the abstract concept, idea, into a fantasy (in letzter Instanz = God). For even in the simplest generalisation, in the most elementary general idea (“table” in general), there is a certain bit of fantasy. (Vice versa: it would be stupid to deny the role of fantasy, even in the strictest science: cf. Pisarev [“Blunders of Immature Thought”] on useful dreaming, as an impulse to work, and on empty day-dreaming.)

SOURCE: Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich. Conspectus of Aristotle’s Book Metaphysics (1915), translated by Clemence Dutt, edited by Stewart Smith, in Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th Edition (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1976), Volume 38, pp. 363-372. Courtesy of Marxists Internet Archive (source of notes below).

First published in Lenin Miscellany XII, 1930. Aristotle. The Metaphysics, translated by A. Schwegler (2 volumes, Tübingen, 1847) was published in Greek with a German translation. Lenin’s Conspectus is contained in a notebook directly following the fragment “On the Question of Dialectics.”

in letzter Instanz: in the final analysis.

See also, on this site: Lenin on fantasy & cognition.

Lenin on Aristotle

V.I. Lenin on Idealism & The Spiral of Knowledge

V.I. Lenin: Their Abstraction & Ours

V. I. Lenin: Collected Works, Volume 38: Philosophical Notebooks:
selections from writings of 1914-1916

Salvaging Soviet Philosophy (1)

Marx and Marxism Web Guide


Concerning the Intelligentsia” (1912)
by Leon Trotsky

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