Essentials Of Unification Thought - The Head-Wing Thought

1. Traditional Epistemologies

Epistemological studies have been carried out since ancient times. It was only in the modern period, however, that epistemology became a central theme of philosophy. The philosopher who explained epistemology systematically for the first time was John Locke, whose Essay concerning Human Understanding became known as an epoch-making work.

The most important questions with regard to the cognition of an object have been those of the origin, the object, and the method of cognition. In terms of the origin of cognition, two opposing schools of thought have arisen, namely, empiricism, which asserted that cognition could be obtained through sensation, and rationalism, which asserted that cognition could be obtained through innate ideas. With regard to the object of cognition, two views have come into opposition, namely, realism, which asserted that the object of cognition existed objectively, and subjective idealism, which asserted that the object of cognition was merely the ideas or representations of the subject. Concerning the method of cognition, such methods as the transcendental method and dialectical method have been proposed.

In the conflict between empiricism and rationalism, empiricism, finally fell into skepticism, and rationalism lapsed into dogmatism. Kant took the position of synthesizing these two opposing positions through his critical method, or transcendental method. 1 This is his theory of "a priori synthetical judgment," which says that the object is synthesized by the subject.

Later, plagiarizing Hegel's dialectic materialistically, Marx presented the materialist dialectic. The epistemology based on the materialist-dialectic is none other than Marxist epistemology, or dialectical epistemology. This is copy theory, or rejection theory, which asserts that the content and form of cognition are actually reflections of things in the external world.

A. The Origin of Cognition

Empiricism says that all knowledge is obtained from experience, while rationalism says that true cognition can be gained through the workings of reason alone, independently from experience. During the 17th and 18th centuries, empiricism was advocated in Great Britain, and rationalism was advocated in continental Europe.

1. Empiricism

a) Bacon

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) established the foundation for empiricism. He considered traditional learning to be merely a series of useless words, empty in content, and that correct cognition is obtained through observation of nature and experimentation. According to him, in order to obtain cognition, one must first renounce one's pre-conceived prejudices. As prejudices, he listed four Idols (idola).

The first is the Idol of the Tribe. This refers to the prejudice into which people in general are likely to fall, namely, the prejudice whereby the real nature of things are reflected distortedly, because the human intellect is like an uneven mirror. An example is the inclination to view nature as personalized.

The second is the Idol of the Cave. This prejudice arises due to an individual's unique nature, habits, or narrow preconceptions as if one were looking at the world from inside a cave.

The third is the Idol of the Market. This refers to the kind of prejudice that derives from one's intellect becoming influenced by words. For example, words may be created for the things that do not exist, which could lead to empty arguments.

And the fourth is the Idol of the Theater. This refers to the kind of prejudice that arise from blindly accepting the theories of various philosophers. Even though their theories are nothing but plays enacted on the stage, we are easily blinded by their prestige and accept them.

Bacon said that we should first remove these four Idols, and then observe nature to find the essence within each individual phenomenon. For that end, he proposed the inductive method.

b) Locke

John Locke (1632-1704) systematized empiricism, and in his major work, "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding," he developed his views. Locke denied what Descartes called "innate ideas," and considered the human mind to be like a blank sheet of blank paper (tabula rasa), and that all ideas come from experience. 2 Experience here consists of external experience and internal experience, namely, "sensation" and "reflection." The human mind can be compared to a dark room, and what corresponds to the windows through which light enters are sensation and reflection. Sensation refers to one's ability to perceive external objects through sense organs; reflection (or internal sense) refers to the perception of the operations of our mind such as willing, reasoning, and thinking.

Next, ideas consist of "simple ideas" and "complex ideas." Simple ideas are those obtained individually and separately by sensation and reflection. When simple ideas have become higher ideas through combination, comparison and abstraction by the operations of the understanding, they are complex ideas.

Furthermore, according to Locke, simple ideas include those of the qualities which have objective validity, namely, solidity, extension, figure, motion, rest, number, and the like; in addition, simple idea include the qualities which have only subjective validity, namely, color, smell, taste, sound, and the like. The former qualities are called "primary qualities," and the latter are called "secondary qualities."

Locke mentioned three kinds of complex ideas, namely, mode, substance and relation. "Mode" refers to the idea expressing the situation and quality of things, that is, the attributes of things, such as the mode of space, the mode of time, the mode of thinking, and the mode of power. "Substance" refers to the idea concerning the substratum that carries the various qualities. And "relation" refers to the idea that comes into being by comparing two ideas, like the idea of cause and effect.

Locke regarded knowledge as "the perception of the connection and agreement, or disagreement and repugnancy of any of our Ideas." He also said, "Truth is the marking down in Words, the agreement or disagreement of Ideas as it is." He sought to answer the question concerning the origin of cognition by analyzing ideas.

Locke considered the existence of the spirit, which is recognized intuitively, and the existence of God, which is recognized through logical proof, both to be certain. Yet as for material things in the external world, he considered that there cannot be certainty regarding their existence, because, even though material things cannot be denied, they can be perceived only through sensation.

c) Berkeley

George Berkeley (1685-1753) rejected Locke's distinction between primary qualities and secondary qualities, and described both primary and secondary qualities as subjective.

For example, we do not see distance as it is. The idea of distance is obtained in the following way: We see a certain object with our eyes. We approach it and touch it with our hands. When we repeat this process, certain visual sensation lead us to expect that they will be accompanied by certain tactile sensation. Thus arises the idea of distance. In other words, we do not look at distance as extension itself.

Berkeley also denied substance as the carrier of qualities, as Locke stated, and viewed things as mere collections of ideas. He asserted that "to be is to be perceived" (esse est perspi). Thus Berkeley denied the existence of the substance of material objects, but he had no doubt regarding the existence of spirit as the substance that perceives.

d) Hume

David Hume (1711-1776) advanced empiricism to its ultimate state. He considered our knowledge to be based on impressions and ideas. "Impression" refers to a direct representation based on sensation and reflection, whereas "idea" refers to a representation that appears in the mind through memory or imagination, after the impression has disappeared. Impressions and ideas make up what he called "perceptions."

Hume enumerated resemblance, contiguity, and cause and effect as the three laws of association ideas. Here, the cognition of resemblance and contiguity is certain, and poses no problem, but there is a problem with cause and effect, he said.

With regard to cause and effect, Hume gave the following example: when one hears thunder after a lightning, one usually think! that lightning is the cause and thunder is the effect. Hume, how ever, claimed that there is no reason to connect the two as cause and effect, for they are merely impressions; the idea of cause and effect is established on the basis of people's subjective customs and beliefs, he asserted. For instance, the phenomenon of the sun rising shortly after a rooster crows is empirically well known. Here we cannot say that the rooster's crowing is the cause, and the sun's rising is the effect. Knowledge accepted as cause and effect is then based on subjective human customs and beliefs. In this way, empiricism, upon reaching Hume, fell into skepticism. Concerning the idea of substantiality, Hume, like Berkeley, doubted the existence of substance in material objects. He went even further to doubt the existence of the spiritual substance, considering it to be nothing but a bundle of perceptions.

2. Rationalism

In contrast to empiricism developed in Britain, as discussed above, rationalism expanded over the continental Europe. Represented by Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Wolff, and others, it considered that through experience one cannot obtain correct cognition. Instead, correct cognition can be obtained only through deductive logical reasoning. That position is what is called Continental Rationalism.

a) Descartes

Rene Descartes (1596-1650), regarded as the founder of rationalism, started from doubting everything as a method to attain true cognition. This technique has been called "methodic doubt."

He thought that sensation can deceive us, and so doubted everything related to sensation. Arguing, however, that, for someone who doubts everything, the fact that he or she doubts (or thinks) cannot be doubted, Descartes reached the proposition, "I think, therefore I am" (cogito ergo sum). Even if a malicious spirit were deceiving me, I, who am being deceived, must exist, he argued. Based on that proposition, Descartes was able to assure the existence of the spirit, whose nature is thinking.

For Descartes, the proposition "I think, therefore I am" is the first principle of philosophy. 5 That proposition is certain, he argued, because one's perception of it is clear and distinct. he then derived a general rule that, "things we perceive very clearly and very distinctly are all true." 6 If this rule is taken as correct, then the existence of material substance, the attribute of which is extension, can be recognized as certain; as well as the spiritual substance, the attribute of which is thought.

'Clear' implies that something is present and obvious to the spirit, and 'distinct' implies that it is distinguishable from other objects. 7 The opposite of 'clear' is 'obscure,' and the opposite of 'distinct' is 'confused.'

In order to guarantee a clear and distinct cognition, one must not allow cases in which evil spirits secretly deceive people. In order to prevent such a thing, one must assume the existence of God. If God exists, no mistake can occur in my cognition, because an honest God can never deceive me.

Descartes is said to have proved the existence of God as follows: First, the idea of God is innate in us. In order for this idea to exist, the cause of this idea must exist. Second, the fact that we, who are imperfect, have the idea of a perfect Being (God) proves the existence of God. Third, since the idea of the most perfect Being (God) necessarily contains existence as its essence, the existence of God is proved.

In this way the existence of God was proved, according to Descartes. Therefore, God's essences, namely, infinity, omniscience, and omnipotence, become clear; honesty (veracitas), as one of God's attributes, is secured. And clear and distinct cognition is guaranteed.

Descartes ascertained the existence of God and the existence of spiritual and corporeal substance, or mind and body; among those, the only independent being, in the true sense, is God, for mind and body are dependent on God. He also held that mind and body -- with the attributes of thought and extension, respectively-are substances independent from each other; thus, he advocated dualism.

Descartes proved the certainty of clear and distinct cognition, thereby asserting the certainty of rational cognition based on the mathematical method.

b) Spinoza

Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677), like Descartes, thought that truth can be cognized through rigorous proofs, and tried to develop a logical reasoning particularly by applying the geometrical method to philosophy.

The premise of Spinoza's philosophy was that all truth can be cognized through reason. That is, when one perceives things, in the eternal aspect through reason and also perceives them wholly and intuitively in their necessary relationship with God, true cognition can be obtained. He divided cognition into three types: imagination, scientific knowledge (which is on the level of reason), intuitive knowledge. Among these three, he held that if imagination is not properly ordered by reason, it is imperfect. He thought that true cognition can be obtained through scientific knowledge and intuitive knowledge. For Spinoza, intuitive knowledge is not separated from reason, but rather it is based on reason.

Descartes considered mind, which has thought as its attribute, and body, which has extension as its attribute, to be substances independent from each other. In contrast, Spinoza held that God alone is substance, and extension and thinking are God's attributes. Spinoza said that God and nature are in the relationship of natura nalurans (the origin of all things) and natura naturala (everything which follows, by the necessity, from the nature of God), and are inseparable. Thus he developed a pantheistic thought, claiming that "God is nature."

c) Leibniz

Gottlieb Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646-1716) placed great importance on the mathematical method, and considered that it is ideal to derive every proposition from a few fundamental principles. He classified the truth into two kinds: first, the truth that can be found logically through reason, and second, the truth that can be obtained through experience. He labeled the former as eternal truths, or truths of reason, and the latter as truths of fact, or contingent truths. He held that what guarantees truths of reason is the principle of identity and the principle of contradiction, and what guarantees truths of fact is the principle of sufficient reason, which says that nothing can exist without sufficient reason.

Yet, such dysfunction of truths applies only to the human intellect; for God can cognize, through logical necessity, even what is regarded by humans as truths of fact. Therefore, ultimately, truth of reason was held to be the ideal truth.

Leibniz also held that the true substance is the "monad," or a living mirror of the universe. I le explained the monad as a non-spatial substance having perception and appetite, whereby apperception arises as a collection of minute unconscious perceptions. Monads were classified into three stages: "sleeping monad" (or "naked monad") in the material stage; "soul" (or "dreaming monad") in the animal stage, which possess sensation and memory; and "spirits" (or "rational souls") in the human stage, which possess universal cognition. In addition, there is the monad on the highest stage, which is God.

d) Wolff

Christian Wolff (1679-1754), based on Leibniz's philosophy, further systematized the rationalistic position. He held that true knowledge is truth of reason derived logically from fundamental principles. He considered that all truths can be established purely on the basis of the principles of identity and contradiction. He accepted the existence of empirical truths of fact, but according to him, truths of reason have nothing to do with empirical truths, and empirical truths are not necessarily true, but only contingently so.

In this way, Continental rationalism attached little importance to the cognition of facts, considering that everything can be cognized rationally, and in the end came to fall into dogmatism. 8

B. The Essence of the Object of Cognition

Next comes the question of what the object of cognition is. Realism asserts that the object of cognition exists objectively and independently of the subject, whereas subjective idealism states that the object of cognition does not exist in the objective world, but exists only as an idea within the consciousness of the subject.

1. Realism

In realism, there is naive realism, first of all. This is also called natural realism, and refers to the common-sense view that the object is composed of matter and exists independently from the subject, and moreover exists just as we see it. In other words, our perception is a faithful copy of the object.

Next, there is scientific realism. In this view, the object exists independently from the subject, but sensory cognition, as it is, is not necessarily true. True existence can be correctly known only by adding scientific reflection to the empirical facts obtained from the object, and this is done through the function of understanding, which transcends sensory cognition.

Next, there is idealistic realism. This view is also called objective idealism. It is the view that the essence of the object is spiritual and objective, transcending human consciousness. Specifically, this view holds that the spirit not only exists in human beings, but existed at the origin of the world even before the appearance of humankind, and that this original spirit is the true reality of the world and it is the prototype of the universe. In this view, all things are nothing but various expressions of the spirit. For example, Plato regarded Ideas, which are the essences of things, as the true reality, and asserted that this world is nothing but the shadow of the world of Ideas. Hegel asserted that the world is the self-development of the Absolute Spirit.

In dialectical materialism, the object exists independently of human consciousness, and it is an objective reality that is reflected in consciousness. Thus dialectical materialism, also, is realism. It does not, however, assert, as naive realism does, that objects exist as the subject sees them; rather, it asserts that true reality can be cognized by verification through practice.

2. Subjective Idealism

Realism, as was mentioned, views the object of cognition as existing independently from the subject, whether the object is a material being or an idea. Subjective idealism, on the other hand, holds that the object does not exist independently of human mind and that its existence can be recognized only to the extent that the object appears in human mind. Berkeley was its representative exponent, and his proposition that "to be is to be perceived" (esse est percipi) eloquently expresses this position. In addition, J. G. Fichte (1762-1814), who held that no one can ever say for sure whether or not non-ego (the object) exists apart from the function of ego, and A. Schopenhauer (1788-1860), who said "The world is my representation" (Die Welt isi mein Vorstellung), took similar positions.

C. Epistemology in Terms of Method

As we have seen, empiricism, which saw experience as the origin of cognition, fell into skepticism, whereas rationalism, which saw reason as the origin of cognition, fell into dogmatism. They reached that situation because they did not examine the questions of how experience becomes truths, and how cognition is made through reason, in other words, the method of cognition. It was Hegel, Marx and Kant who attached importance to the method of cognition. I will introduce here the main points of the Kantian and Marxian methods.

1. Kant's Transcendental Method

British empiricism fell into skepticism, and continental rationalism fell into dogmatism, but Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) synthesized these two positions and established a new view. He considered empiricism to be mistaken because it ascribed cognition to experience, disregarding the function of reason, whereas on the other hand, rationalism was mistaken because it regarded reason as almighty. Thus, Kant considered that in order to obtain true knowledge, one has to start from an analysis of how experience can become knowledge. To achieve this, one has to examine, or critique, the function of reason.

Kant wrote three books of critique, namely, Critique of Pure Reason, Critique of Analytical Reason, and Critique of Judgment, which, respectively, deal with how truth is possible, how goodness is possible, and how judgment of taste is possible. Accordingly, Kant dealt with the realization of the values of truth, goodness, and beauty. Among his works, the one concerned with epistemology is his Critique of Pure Reason.

a) Highlights of Critique of Pure Reason

Kant tried to unify empiricism and rationalism on the basis of the fact that knowledge increases through experience, and that correct knowledge must have universal validity. It is self-evident that cognition starts from experience, and Kant proposed that "a priori forms of cognition" (concepts) exist within the subject of cognition. In other words, the object of cognition is established when the sensory content (which is also called material, sensation, manifold of sensations, or matter of sensation) coming from the object is put in order by the a priori forms of the subject. All former philosophies had held that the object is grasped as it is; in contrast, Kant said that the object of cognition is synthesized by the subject. Through this insight, Kant believed he had effected a Copernican revolution in philosophy. Thus, Kant's epistemology did not seek to obtain knowledge of the object itself, but sought to clarify how objective truthfulness can be obtained. He named it the "transcendental method."

For Kant, cognition is judgment. Judgment is made in terms of a proposition, and in a proposition there are subject and predicate. Knowledge increases through a judgment (a proposition), in which a new concept that is not contained in the subject appears in the predicate. Kant called such a judgment "synthetic judgment." In contrast, a judgment in which the concept of the predicate is already contained in the concept of the subject is called "analytical judgment." In the end, new knowledge can be obtained only through synthetic judgments.

Among the examples given by Kant of analytical and synthetic judgments, there are the following: the judgment that "all bodies are extended" is an analytical judgment, for the concept of body already has the meaning that it has extension. On the other hand, the judgment that "between two points, the straight line is the shortest line" is a synthetic judgment, for the concept of a straight line indicates only the quality of straightness without containing the quantity of longness or shortness. Therefore, the concept of the shortest line is a completely new addition.

Yet, even though new knowledge can be obtained through synthetic judgment, it cannot become correct knowledge if it does not have universal validity. In order for knowledge to have universal validity, it should not be merely empirical knowledge, but should have some a priori element independent of experience. That is, in order for a synthetic judgment to have universal validity, it must be an a priori cognition, namely, an a priori synthetic judgment. So, Kant had to cope with the question: How are a priori synthetic judgments possible? 9

b) Content and Form

Kant tried to accomplish the synthesis of empiricism and rationalism through the unity of content and form. "Content" refers to the representations given to our senses through the stimuli from the things in the external world, namely, the content of our mind. Since the content is the matter of sensation coming from the outside, it is an a posteriori, empirical element.

On the other hand, "form" refers to the framework, or determinative, that unifies the material, or the manifold of sensations. What Kant asserted is that a priori forms of cognition exist within us. He argued that, through these a priori forms, synthetic judgments with universal validity become possible.

First, within sensation there is an a priori form, which are the forms of intuition of space and time; that is, a framework, that perceives the manifold of sensation in space and time. Cognition, however, does not take place through intuition alone. Kant said that it is necessary for the object to be thought through understanding, and asserted that a priori concepts, the forms of thought, exist within understanding. In other words, he held that cognition takes place when the content, which is perceived intuitively, and the forms of thought are combined. Kant described it in the following way: "Thoughts without content are empty; intuitions without concepts are blind." 10

Kant named the a priori concepts within the understanding "pure concepts of understanding" or "categories." Based on the forms of judgment (forms of understanding) used in general logic since Aristotle, Kant derived the following twelve categories:

Fig. 9-a

In this way, Kant asserted that cognition becomes possible as the sensory content of the object are perceived through the forms of intuition and are thought through the forms of thought (categories). The consciousness at the time of cognition should not be empirical or fragmentary, but there must be a unity of consciousness underlying empirical consciousness, which he called "consciousness in general," "pure apperception," or "transcendental apperception." As for the question of how the functions of sensation and understanding are connected, Kant said that the power of imagination serves as the mediator between the two.

c) The Denial of Metaphysics and the Thing-in-Itself

In this way, Kant discussed how sure knowledge is possible in the phenomenal world, namely, in natural science or mathematics, and then examined whether or not metaphysics is possible. Since metaphysics has no sensory content, and therefore, cannot become an object of perception, it cannot be perceived. Since, however, the function of our reason is related to the understanding alone and not directly to sensation, there are some cases in which one has an illusion whereby something that does not really exist appears to exist. Kant called this type of illusion "transcendental illusion." The transcendental illusion consist of three types: the idea of the soul, the idea of the world, and the idea of God.

Among them, he called the idea of the universe, namely, cosmological illusion, the antinomy of pure reason. This means that when reason pursues the infinite being (the infinite world), reason will reach two entirely opposite conclusions from the same basis of argument. An example of this is the two contradictory propositions: "the world has a beginning in time and is also limited in regards to space" (the thesis) and "the world has no beginning in time and no limits in space" (the antithesis). Kant field this to be an error deriving from trying to grasp the content of sensation as the world itself

Kant held that cognition takes place only to the extent that the sensory content coming from the object are synthesized through a priori forms of the subject, and that the object itself, namely, the "things-in-themselves," can never be cognized. This is the agnosticism of Kant. The world of "things-in-themselves" is the reality lying behind the phenomena, and is called "noumenal reality." Never the less, Kant did not totally deny the world of things-in-themselves. In Critique of Analytical Reason, he held that noumenal reality is to be postulated in order to establish morality. Likewise, in order for noumenal reality to exist, freedom, the immortality of soul, and the existence of God must be postulated, he said.

2. Marxist Epistemology

Next, I will explain epistemology based on materialist dialectic. It is called Marxist epistemology, or the dialectical-materialist theory of knowledge.

a) Theory of Reflection (Copy Theory)

According to materialist dialectic, the spirit (consciousness) is a product or function of the brain, and cognition takes place as objective reality is reflected (copied) onto consciousness. This theory is called the "theory of reflection" or "copy theory" (leoriya oirazhenia). Of this, Engels said, "we comprehended the concepts in our ]leads once more materialistically-as images [Abbilder] of real things." Lenin stated that, "From Engels' point of view, the only immutability is the reflection by the human mind (when there is a human mind) of an external world existing and developing independently of the mind." 13

In Marxist epistemology, what Kant called sensory content is not the only reflection of the objective world upon consciousness. The form of thinking is also a reflection of the objective world; it is a reflection of the forms of existence.

b) Sensory Cognition, Rational Cognition, and Practice

Cognition is not merely a reflection of the objective world, but it has to be verified through practice, according to Marxist epistemology. Lenin explains this process as follows: "From living perception to abstract thought, and from this to practice -- such is the dialectical path of the cognition of truth, of the cognition of objective reality." 14

Mao Tse-tung explained the process of materialist dialectical cognition more concretely. He said the following:

This dialectical-materialist theory of the process of development of knowledge, basing itself on practice and proceeding from the shallow to the deeper. ...Marxism-Leninism holds that each of the two stages in the process of cognition has its own characteristics, with knowledge manifesting itself as perceptual at the lower stage and logical at the higher stage, but that both are stages in an integrated process of cognition. The perceptual and the rational are qualitatively different, but are not divorced from each other; they are unified on the basis of practice. 15

The first step in the process of cognition is contact with the objects of the external world; this belongs to the stage of perception [the stage of sensory cognition]. The second step is to synthesize the date of perception by arranging and reconstructing them; this belongs to the stage of conception, judgment, and inference [the stage of rational cognition]. 16

In this way, cognition proceeds from sensory cognition to rational cognition (or logical cognition), and from rational cognition to practice. Now, cognition and practice are not something that takes place only once. "Practice, knowledge, again practice, and again knowledge. This form repeats itself in endless cycles, and with each cycle the content of practice and knowledge rises to a higher level." 17

Kant said that cognition takes place insofar as the subject synthesizes the object, and that it is impossible to cognize the "things-in-themselves" behind the phenomena, advocating agnosticism. In contrast, Marxism asserted that the essence of things can be known only through phenomena, and that things can be known fully through practice, negating the existence of the "things-in-themselves" separate from the phenomena. About Kant, Engels said the following:

In Kant's time, our knowledge of natural objects was indeed so fragmentary that he might well suspect, behind the little we knew about each of them, a mysterious "thing-in-itself." But one after another these ungraspable things have been grasped, analyzed, and, what is more, reproduced by the giant progress of science; and what we can produce we certainly cannot consider as unknowable. 18

Now, in the process of cognition and practice, practice is held to be more important. Mao Tse-tung said, "The dialectical-materialist theory of knowledge places practice in the primary position, holding that human knowledge can in no way be separated from practice. 19) Practice usually refers to human action on nature and social activities, but in Marxism, revolution is held to be the supreme form of practice among all kinds of practice. Therefore, it can be said that the ultimate purpose of cognition is revolution. In fact, Mao Tse-tung said, The active function of knowledge manifests itself not only in the active leap from perceptional to rational knowledge, but-and this is more important-it must manifest itself in the leap from rational knowledge to revolutionary practice." 20

Next I will deal with the forms of thought in logical cognition (rational cognition). Logical cognition refers to thinking such as Judgment and inference mediated by concepts, in which the forms of thought play an important role. Marxism, which advocates copy theory, regards the forms of thought as reflections of the processes in the objective world upon consciousness, that is, as reflections of existing forms. Among the categories (forms of existence, forms of thought) in Marxism, there are the following: 21

Fig. 9-b

3. Absolute Truth and Relative Truth

Knowledge grows through the repetition of cognition and practice. That knowledge grows means that the content of knowledge is enriched, and that the accuracy of knowledge is enhanced. Therefore, the relativity and absoluteness of knowledge becomes the issue. Marxism says that truth is what reflects objective reality correctly. It says that, "If our sensations, perceptions, notions, concepts and proportion contradiction individual, particular, and universal cause and effect necessity and chance possibility and reality content and form essence and appearance theories correspond to objective reality, if they reflect it faithfully, we say that they are true, while true statements, judgments or theories are called the truth." 22

Furthermore, Marxism asserts that practice-ultimately revolutionary practice-is the standard of truth. In order to know whether or not a cognition is true, all one needs to do is to compare it with reality and ascertain that cognition concurs with the reality. Of this, Marx said, "Man must prove the truth, i.e., the reality and power, the this-world lines of his thinking in practice" 23 and Mao Tse-tung said, "Man's social practice alone is the criterion of the truth of his knowledge of the external world." 24

According to Marxism, knowledge in a particular period is partial, imperfect, and remains to be relative truth, but with the progress of science, knowledge approaches absolute truth to an infinite degree. Thus, Marxism approves the existence of absolute truth. Therefore, Lenin says, "There is no impassable boundary between relative and absolute truth." 25 Also, the elements which are absolutely true are contained within relative truths, and when they are accumulated steadily, they will become absolute truth, according to Marx" 26

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