V.I. Lenin

Materialism and Empirio-criticism

Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy[1]

Book information




1. The Theory of Knowledge of Empirio-Criticism and of Dialectical Materialism - I
  1. Sensations And Complexes Of Sensations
  2. “The Discovery of the World-Elements”
  3. The Principal Co-Ordination and “Naive Realism”
  4. Did Nature Exist Prior to Man?
  5. Does Man Think With The Help of the Brain?
  6. The Solipsism of Mach and Avenarius
2. The Theory of Knowledge of Empirio-Criticism and of Dialectical Materialism - II
  1. The “Thing-In-Itself,” or V. Chernov Refutes Frederick Engels
  2. “Transcendence,” Or Bazarov “Revises” Engels
  3. L. Feuerbach and J. Dietzgen on the Thing-In-Itself
  4. Does Objective Truth Exist?
  5. Absolute and Relative Truth, or the Eclecticism of Engels as Discovered by A. Bogdanov
  6. The Criterion of Practice in the Theory of Knowledge
3. The Theory of Knowledge of Dialectical Materialism and of Empirio-Criticism - III
  1. What Is Matter? What Is Experience?
  2. Plekhanov’s Error Concerning The Concept “Experience”
  3. Causality And Necessity In Nature
  4. The “Principle Of Economy Of Thought” And The Problem Of The “Unity Of The World”
  5. Space And Time
  6. Freedom and Necessity
4. The Philosophical Idealists as Comrades-In-Arms and Successors of Empirio-Criticism
  1. The Criticism of Kantianism from the Left and From the Right
  2. How the “Empirio-Symbolist” Yushkevich Ridiculed the “Empirio-Criticist” Chernov
  3. The Immanentists as Comrades-In-Arms of Mach and Avenarius
  4. Whither is Empirio-Criticism Tending?
  5. A. Bogdanov’s “Empirio-Monism”
  6. The “Theory of Symbols” (or Hieroglyphs) and the Criticism of Helmholtz
  7. Two Kinds of Criticism of Dühring
  8. How Could J. Dietzgen Have Found Favour with the Reactionary Philosophers?
5. The Recent Revolution in Natural Science and Philosophical Idealism
  1. The Crisis in Modern Physics
  2. “Matter Has Disappeared”
  3. Is Motion Without Matter Conceivable?
  4. The Two Trends in Modern Physics and English Spiritualism
  5. The Two Trends in Modern Physics, and German Idealism
  6. The Two Trends in Modern Physics and French Fideism
  7. A Russian “Idealist Physicist”
  8. The Essence and Significance of “Physical” Idealism
6. Empirio-Criticism and Historical Materialism
  1. The Excursions of the German Empirio-Criticists Into The Field of the Social Sciences
  2. How Bogdanov Corrects and “Develops” Marx
  3. Suvorov’s “Foundations Of Social Philosophy”
  4. Parties in Philosophy and Philosophical Blockheads
  5. Ernst Haeckel and Ernst Mach
  6. Conclusion
  7. Supplement to Chapter Four, Section I


[1] The book Materialism and Empirio-criticism. Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy was written by Lenin during February to October 1908 in Geneva and London. It was published in Moscow in May 1909 by the Zveno Publishers. The manuscript of the book and Lenin’s preparatory material for it have so far not been found.

The book is the outcome of a prodigious amount of creative scientific research carried out by Lenin during nine months. His main work on the book was carried out in Geneva libraries, but in order to obtain a detailed knowledge of the modern literature of philosophy and natural science be went in May 1908 to London, where he worked for about a month in the library of the British Museum. The list of sources quoted or mentioned by Lenin in his book exceeds 200 titles.

In December 1908 Lenin went from Geneva to Paris where he worked until April 1909 on correcting the proofs of his book. He had to agree to tone down some passages of the work so as not to give he tsarist censorship an excuse for prohibiting its publication. It was published in Russia under great difficulties. Lenin insisted on the speedy issue of the book, stressing that “not only literary but also serious political obligations” were involved in its publication.

Lenin’s work Materialism and Empirio-criticism played a decisive part in combating the Machist revision of Marxism. It enabled the philosophical ideas of Marxism to spread widely among the mass of party members and helped the party activists and progressive workers to master dialectical and historical materialism.

This classical work of Lenin’s has achieved a wide circulation in many countries, and has been published in over 20 languages.