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Marxist Philosophy and The Mind/Body Problem

QUESTION: Marxist Philosophy – The Mind/Body Problem


Like every philosophy, dialectical materialism must address the mind-body problem. Marxists rely on the key word reflect when addressing this issue. They contend that our mind reflects matter in a way that makes our perception accurate. For Marx, “the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought.”1 However, Marx does not address the origin of this ideal. Lenin echoes Marx: “The existence of the mind is shown to be dependent upon that of the body, in that the mind is declared to be secondary, a function of the brain, or a reflection of the outer world.”2 To avoid calling consciousness supernatural, Marxists rely on the notion that consciousness is just a subjective reflection of objective reality.

Marxist Philosophy – Everything is Matter
For the dialectical materialist, everything must have proceeded from matter, even societal interrelationships and the mind. Maurice Cornforth writes, “Mental functions are functions of highly developed matter, namely, of the brain. Mental processes are brain processes, processes of a material, bodily organ.”3 Although Marxists may refer to thought as a reflection of objective reality, they must admit that in their view the mind is simply a function of matter.


Rendered with permission from the book,Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews(Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 Karl Marx,Introduction to Capital, 3 vols. (London, UK: Progress Publishers, 1889), vol. 1.
2 Lenin, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, 66.
3 Maurice Cornforth, The Theory of Knowledge (New York, NY: International Publishers, 1963), 22.

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