The Philosophical Issue Regarding Knowledge



The largest philosophical issue regarding knowledge is the casting of knowledge in a philosophical form that reveals its reality and essence and shows whether it is a material phenomenon present in matter when matter reaches a certain stage of development and completion, as materialism claims, or a phenomenon free from matter and, together with its manifestations, supported by a certain kind of existence, as it is understood philosophically in metaphysics.

Since Marxism is a materialistic school, it of course emphasizes the materialistic notion of thought and knowledge. This is made clear in the following texts from Marx, Engels, Georges Politzer and Roger Garaudy, respectively:
Thought is inseparable from thinking matter. This matter is the substance of all changes. [1] (p. 372)

Regardless of the apparent superiority of our consciousness and thought, they are nothing but a bodily or material organic product - this being the brain. [2]
Engels continues:
It is necessary that any driving force in people passes through their brains. This is true even of food and drink which begin by a sensation of hunger or thirst. This sensation is also felt in the brain. The influences of the external world on a human being are expressed in his brain, where they are reflected in the form of sensations, ideas, motives and intentions.[3]
The natural sciences show that a deficiency in the development of the brain of a certain individual is the biggest impediment in the face of the development of his consciousness and thought. This is the case with stupidity.

Thought is a historical product of nature's development to a high degree of perfection represented in the sense organs and nervous system of the living species, especially in the highest central part which rules the whole organic being, i.e. in the brain. [4]
The material formation of thought presents us, as we will see, with proofs that deserve to be believed and accepted. [5]

The philosophical notion of knowledge is not the only notion of knowledge (p. 373) worthy of research and study, for knowledge is the meeting point of many [types of] research and studies. Every scientific discipline has its own notion that treats one of the many problems concerning knowledge, and one aspect of the secrets of the intellectual life whose mysteriousness and complexity make it exciting. Behind all these scientific notions lies the philosophical notion in which conflict between materialism and metaphysics arises, as mentioned earlier. The present issue, therefore, is the subject of different types of philosophical and scientific discussions.
Many writers and researchers fell into error [by] not distinguishing between the aspects on whose scrutiny and analysis scientific studies must concentrate and the aspect in which philosophical consideration must have its say.

 On the basis of this error, the materialistic claim was established, this is the claim which asserts that knowledge in the philosophical notion of metaphysics is incompatible with knowledge in the scientific notions.

 We have already seen how Georges Politzer attempted to prove the materiality of knowledge from a philosophical point of view by means of pieces of evidence drawn from the natural sciences. Others also made the same attempt.
For this reason, we find it necessary to determine the philosophical position with regard to this issue, so that we can thwart the attempts seeking to confuse the philosophical and the scientific fields, and to charge that the metaphysical explanation of knowledge is on the opposite side of science and that it rejects the scientific truths and assertions.
That is why we will isolate [our] general position regarding knowledge and shed some light on the various kinds of scientific research that will determine the points of difference between us and materialism in general, and Marxism in particular, as it will determine the aspects that scientific studies can take up and explore; so that this will make it clear (p. 374) that such studies cannot be considered in support of materialism in the intellectual battle it fights against metaphysics for the purpose of establishing the most complete philosophical notion of knowledge.

We have already remarked that the aspects of knowledge touched upon or treated by those scientific studies are many, owing to the relation of the sciences to the various aspects of knowledge, rather due to the fact that a science has a variety of scientific schools, every one of which investigates knowledge from its own specific point of view. Physical and chemical researches, for example, explore certain aspects of knowledge.

Physiology has its own share in exploring knowledge; also psychology, with its various schools, including the schools of introspectionism (al-istibtaniyya), [8] behaviorism, functionalism (al-wazifiyya), [9] and so on.

 Every one of these schools studies a various aspect of knowledge. After all of this, the role of philosophical psychology emerges to treat knowledge from its own perspective. It investigates whether knowledge in essence is a material state of the nervous system or a pure spiritual state.
In what follows, we will clarify those various aspects to the extent needed to light up the path of our investigation, and to show our position regarding materialism and Marxism.



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