In the first thesis on Feuerbach, Marx argues:
The chief defect of all hitherto existing materialisms (that of Feuerbach included) is that the thing, reality, sensuousness is conceived only in the form of the object of contemplation, but not as sensuous human activity, practice, not subjectively. Hence in contradistinction to materialism, the active side was developed abstractly by idealism which, of course, does not know real, sensuous activity as such. Feuerbach wants sensuous objects, really distinct from the thought objects, but he does not conceive human activity itself as objective activity. (TGI 659)
In his famous eleventh Thesis on Feuerbach Marx had held that "the philosophers haveonly interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it." This surelyreads as if Marx was calling on people to put forth an effort to change their world inreality and not only in thought. Yet, the question is, what obliges them to do so? Marxdoes not reply by invoking some general ideal which he holds incumbent on persons, for hesupposed such ideals are only the reflex of class interests. As Marx said, communism wasthe real movement that abolishes the present state of society, not just an ideal. But ifcommunism is only a real social movement expressing laws of society, then Marx was justdescribing--and validating his description of--the social world, either predicting whatwill happen or stating what had already happened. Yet in the eleventh Thesis he is clearlydoing more: he is persons to undertake action--i.e., "praxis."
§17. Comments on the "11th Thesis on Feuerbach"
These concerns must not be ignored. But it's time for Americans, including Marxists, togrow-up intellectually. No, we cannot lead, inspire, organize and win effectiverevolutionary ACTION based on the concepts and words now in the average American'svocabulary. Marx in the Theses on Feuerbach corrected the then predominant error ofmaterialism which was the failure to treat the subject (the acting individual person) asactive. Today, in America, we have all attention to action, activism, but have fallen intothe error of a certain folk Pragmatism, that is action, action, action without extensivesimultaneous philosophical interpretation and contemplation. We should not drop theattention to action and practice as fulfillment and test of philosophical interpretationand theory, but we must pick up more philosophy.