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Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels believed Hegel was "standing on his head," and endeavoured to put him back on his feet, ridding Hegel's logic of its orientation towards philosophical idealism, and conceiving what is now known as materialist or Marxist dialectics. This is what Marx had to say about the difference between Hegel's dialectics and his own:

Nevertheless, Marx "openly avowed [himself] the pupil of that mighty thinker" and even "coquetted with modes of expression peculiar to him."[37]

Marx wrote:

In the work of Marx and Engels the dialectical approach to the study of history became intertwined with historical materialism, the school of thought exemplified by the works of Marx, Engels, and Lenin. (Marx himself never referred to "historical materialism.") Under Joseph Stalin, Marxist dialectics became synonymous with what was called "diamat" (short for dialectical materialism). The "diamat" was a social theory coined by 19th century philosopher Joseph Dietzgen which emphasized commodities and the effects of their exchange over time. Dietzgen used his theory sparingly to explain the nature of socialism and social development, but it was never researched academically until the Soviet Union indoctrinated the philosophy. A dialectical methodology came to be seen as the vital foundation for any Marxist politics, through the work of Karl Korsch, Georg Lukács and certain members of the Frankfurt School. Some Soviet academics, most notably Evald Ilyenkov, continued with unorthodox philosophical studies of the Marxist dialectic, as did a number of thinkers in the West. One of the best known North American dialectical philosophers is Bertell Ollman, Professor of Political Science at New York University.

Engels argued that all of nature is dialectical. In Anti-Dühring he contends that negation of negation is

In Dialectics of Nature, Engels states,

Marxists view dialectics as a framework for development in which contradiction plays the central role as the source of development. This is perhaps best exemplified in Marx's Capital, which outlines two of his central theories: that of the theory of surplus value and the materialist conception of history. In Capital, Marx had the following to say about his dialectical methodology:

At the heart of Marxist dialectics is the idea of contradiction, with class struggle playing the central role in social and political life. Marx and subsequent Marxists also identify other historically important contradictions, such as those between mental and manual labor and town and country. Contradiction is the key to all other categories and principles of dialectical development: development by passage of quantitative change into qualitative ones, interruption of gradualness, leaps, negation of the initial moment of development and negation of this very negation, and repetition at a higher level of some of the features and aspects of the original state.

Soviet era publishers brought together a number of writings by V.I. Lenin that were devoted to materialist dialectics. Lenin expresses his own views and also quotes Marx and Engels extensively.

Lenin goes on to describe his understanding of development in dialectical terms:

It is probably worth adding that Lenin makes specific reference to materialist dialectics as "what is decisive in Marxism" in the same publication.

Rothenfelde modern dialectics

In the Soviet Union dialectics of Marx developed in two directions - the ideological propaganda and research methodology. Some research scientists have used the dialectic of Hegel and Marx to interpret the results of natural sciences - physics, etc.. One of them was Yuri Rothenfelde (born in 1940). At the same time he created the non-classical dialectic (Not-Hegelian dialectic).

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