Maurice Cornforth

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Maurice Campbell Cornforth (28 October 1909 – 31 December 1980) was a British Marxist philosopher. When he began his career in philosophy in the early 1930s, he was a follower of Ludwig Wittgenstein, writing in the then current style of analytic philosophy. He later became a leading ideologist of the Communist Party of Great Britain. He vigorously opposed the aesthetic theories of fellow Marxist Christopher Caudwell.

In Defense of Philosophy attacks empiricist philosophies of many kinds, such as those of Rudolf Carnap (linguistic analysis) and William James (pragmatism), on the "materialist" grounds that they divorce science and scientific investigation from the search for truer understanding of the really existing universe. [clarification needed] In this book there is a combination of Marxism with deep insights into the interrelations of the various sciences and the philosophical conundrums produced by the empiricist attempt to reduce science to the collection and correlation of data. Both the insights are based on the theory of the primacy of physical work and tools (thus, "materialism") in the development of specifically human traits such as language, abstract thought, and social organization, and the essential role of the external world in the increasingly complex development of forms of life.[citation needed]

His multi-volume book Dialectical Materialism was originally published in 1953 by the International Publishers, Co., Inc. The first U.S. edition of this work was printed in 1971. The text originated from lectures that Cornforth received funding for from the London District Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1950.[citation needed]

The first volume, Materialism and the Dialectical Method provides a good introduction to several important sociological principles; idealism, metaphysics, materialism, mechanical materialism, and dialectical materialism, in addition to Marxist philosophy. The other volumes of this text are entitled as follows: volume 2 as "Historical Materialism", and volume 3 as "Theory of Knowledge".[citation needed]


  • Food and Farming for Victory, Communist Party Pamphlet (1942)
  • Science Versus Idealism: An Examination of "Pure Empiricism" and Modern Logic (1946)
  • Dialectical Materialism and Science (1949)
  • In Defense of Philosophy - Against Positivism and Pragmatism (1950)
  • Science for Peace and Socialism (c.1950) with J. D. Bernal
  • Dialectical Materialism (1952) Vol 1: Materialism & the Dialectical Method, Vol 2: Historical Materialism, Vol 3: Theory of Knowledge, and later editions
  • Readers' Guide to the Marxist Classics (1952)
  • Rumanian Summer: A View of the Rumanian People's Republic (1953) with Jack Lindsay
  • Philosophy for Socialists (1959)
  • Marxism and the Linguistic Philosophy (1965)
  • The Open Philosophy and the Open Society: A Reply to Dr. Karl Popper's Refutations of Marxism (1968)
  • Communism and Human Values (1972)
  • Rebels and Their Causes: Essays in honour of A. L. Morton (1978) editor
  • Communism & Philosophy: Contemporary Dogmas and Revisions of Marxism (1980)

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