Volume 33, 2018
Philosophical Traditions in Asia and the Pacific
Naming Marx’s Philosophy in China
At least five names have been used to describe Marx’s philosophy since it came to China in the late nineteenth century: Social Evolution Theory, Materialist Conception of History, Dialectical Materialism and Historical Materialism, Humanism and Practice Materialism. This paper traces debates about each name, examines problems with each account and ends with the conclusion that Marxist philosophy is most appropriately named the materialist conception of history. The main arguments are as follows: The object of Marx’s philosophical research was history and his principal interest was to determine laws of history through which he could show human beings their bright future. Hence, Marx’s philosophy is a conception of history, and its most prominent theoretical characteristic is its materialism. Crucially in this regard, Engels claimed that Marx’s materialist conception of history was one of his two most important discoveries.