This article will help you to differentiate between the ideas of Marx and Hegel.
Marx accepts this process of evolution but the basic difference is in Marx’s thought system there is no place of Idea. Matter is everything. Hegel emphasizes the concept of Idea, but Marx talks about matter. This is materialism.
The differences between Hegel and Marx are important. In Hegel’s opinion Idea is of first importance because it arises at first and matter is of secondary importance. Engels says, “The Hegelian system is a colossal miscarriage.”
Explaining Hegel’s interpretation of history with the help of dialectics Hunt says:
“For Hegel history were a process in which the Absolute progressively unfolds itself revealing more of its true nature in later periods than in earlier, and this more in the national state than in primitive communities. The dialectic provided clue to this development.”
Marx borrowed this concept of dialectic from Hegel and applied it to the explanation of society. He also said that dialectic was also the clue to progress but this progress is not history and the culmination of progress is neither history nor Absolute Idea not even the National State of Germany.
Marx also differed from Hegel on another standpoint. Hegel had simply interpreted the history dialectically but he did not suggest how to change the history as well as society. In Marx’s view, function of philosophy was not to interpret the world, but to change it.
Hunt further observes “having found, as he believed, a convenient instrument in the dialectic, he went further than Hegel in applying it to the future.”
Marx applied dialectic to “justify” the proletarian revolution and radicalism. Hegel idealized the state through dialectical method and ultimately it culminated to fascism. Marx’s application of dialectic led to the proletarian revolution and establishment of communism. Marx had no interest in metaphysics.
What is metaphysics? It is essentially an abstract way of thinking. Idea and metaphysics failed to allure Marx. To him matter was of primary importance. Both Marx and Engels had admitted that Hegelian dialectics had both idealistic and revolutionary aspects.
Marx and Engels accepted the latter. In this background we can say that Marx and Engels have converted Hegelian dialectics into materialist dialectics and this is not only a method but also a theory a theory of development of the most general laws of development of nature, society and knowledge. Marxist method is materialist as well as dialectical. In Marxism, dialectics and materialism are not separate from each other.
Finally, we say that Marx expressed his indebtedness to Hegel in regard to dialectics but simultaneously he categorically stated his differences with Hegelian dialectics.
Let us quote few lines from his Capital; “My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. To Hegel the life process of human brain, i.e., the process of thinking, which under the name of idea he even transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurges of the real world, and the real world is only the external, phenomenal form of the idea. With me, on the contrary the idea is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind and translated into forms of thought.” Marx agreed with the dialectics of Hegel but disagreed with the mystifying aspect.
In the thoughts of both Hegel and Marx there are seeds of revolution. For the first time Hegel pointed out that history is always in movement. It never stands at a particular pointer stage.
Its movement is dialectical. “He insisted that it is not simply a bare sequence of events, but a gradual process of unfolding”.
According to Marx the society also progresses and the method is dialectic. In the process of progress the latter stage is different from the former. Marx also said that the latter stage is developed from the former. Both Hegel and Marx insisted that there was reason behind the dialectical process and it is not guided and motivated by any external or any other force.