> Publications > China Social Science Review > 2021 > no.3(September 2021)

Is the Materialist Conception of History a Political Philosophy? A Discussion with Professor Wang Xinsheng

| 2021-11-02 | Hits:

China Social Science Review

No.3, 2021

 

Is the Materialist Conception of History a Political Philosophy? A Discussion with Professor Wang Xinsheng

(Abstract)

 

Duan Zhongqiao

 

A crucial question currently facing scholars who propose to construct a Marxian political philosophy is how the relationship between the materialist conception of history and Marx’s political philosophy should be understood. In this regard, Professor Wang Xinsheng of Nankai University suggests that Marx’s “materialist conception of history is political philosophy, and vice versa.” However, this idea is controversial because neither the idea itself nor the evidence provided by Wang—that the materialist conception of history explains both the inevitability of communism in the cognitive sense and its moral justification in the normative sense—have any textual basis in Marx and Engels, and clearly contradict their views. According to Marx and Engels themselves, the materialist conception of history is simply an empirical scientific theory revealing the general laws of the historical development of human society; it speaks of communism only as the product of a high degree of development of the productive forces and the relations of production. Of course, one cannot conclude from the fact that the materialist conception of history is an empirical scientific theory that it has nothing to do with normative ideas, nor that Marx and Engels had no normative ideas of their own on questions of freedom, equality, equity, justice, etc. However, since they never proposed or used the concept of political philosophy or dedicated any articles or other works to this subject, the idea of constructing a “Marxian political philosophy” should be replaced by the idea of constructing a “contemporary Chinese political philosophy.”