On Practice Discussion Qs

What is “dogmatism” in the specific historical context in which this essay was written? Who were “dogmatists”?

What is “empiricism” in this specific historical context? Who were “empiricists” (and their politico-ideological-starategic position)?

What could be the “dogmatist kind of subjectivism”?

What kind of “practice” was Mao talking about? What is the relationship between practice and knowledge in Mao’s thought? Why does “class struggle” as a practice have the special place in Mao’s theory of knowledge-production?

How can Mao’s theory of knowledge-production be understood as a critique of “dogmatism” and “empiricism”?

How can the truthfulness of knowledge be determined in his theory of knowledge? What kind of problem can you see in this?

Explain the first and second stages of cognition (the stage of perception, and of conception, judgment, and inference) with providing the example of each stage. What is the difference between them? How does the development from the first to the second take place?

Mao said, “if you want knowledge, you must take part in the practice of changing reality.” (5) What kind of knowledge is he talking about? If this is true, how can it be scientifically verified? What is the danger of this in terms of the critical-scientific analysis of capitalism and the movement to change it?

Mao said, “From the Marxist viewpoint, theory is important, and its importance is fully expressed in Lenin’s statement, “Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.” But Marxism emphasizes the importance of theory precisely and only because it can guide action.” (9) What is the revolutionary theory? How could this relation between theory and action be related to the actual and paradoxical suppression of workers and peasant by the Party (in USSR, China, Japan, etc)?

Mao said, “…generally speaking, whether in the practice of changing nature or of changing society, men’s original ideas, theories, plans or programmes are seldom realized without any alternation.” (10) First of all, can theories in social science be used in the same way that these in natural science are used? What kind of problems arises when you use social scientific theories in that way?