Knowledge Requires Interaction with the Material World

Where do correct ideas come from? Do they drop from the skies? No. Are they innate in the mind? No. They come from social practice, and from it alone; they come from three kinds of social practice, the struggle for production, the class struggle and scientific experiment.

Where Do Correct Ideas Come from? (May 1963), 1st pocket ed., p. 1.

It is man's social being that determines his thinking. Once the correct ideas characteristic of the advanced class are grasped by the masses, these ideas turn into a material force which changes society and changes the world.


In their social practice, men engage in various kinds of struggle and gain rich experience, both from their successes and from their failures. Countless phenomena of the objective external world are reflected in a man's brain through his five sense organs - the organs of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. At first, knowledge is perceptual. The leap to conceptual knowledge, i e., to ideas, occurs when sufficient perceptual knowledge is accumulated. This is one process in cognition. It is the first stage in the whole process of cognition, the stage leading from objective matter to subjective consciousness, from existence to ideas. Whether or not one's consciousness or ideas (including theories, policies, plans or measures) do correctly reflect the laws of the objective external world is not yet proved at this stage, in which it is not yet possible to ascertain whether they are correct or not. Then comes the second stage in the process of cognition, the stage leading from consciousness back to matter, from ideas back to existence, in which the knowledge gained in the hrst stage is applied in social practice to ascertain whether the theories, policies, plans or measures meet with the anticipated success. Generally speaking, those that succeed are correct and those that fail are incorrect, and this is especially true of man's struggle with nature. In social struggle, the forces representing the advanced class sometimes suffer defeat not because their ideas are incorrect but because, in the balance of forces engaged in struggle, they are not as powerful for the time being as the forces of reaction; they are therefore temporarily defeated, but they are bound to triumph sooner or later. Man's knowledge makes another leap through the test of practice. This leap is more important than the previous one. For it is this leap alone that can prove the correctness or incorrectness of the first leap in cognition, i.e., of the ideas, theories, policies, plans or measures formulated in the course of reflecting the objective external world. There is no other way of testing truth.

Ibid., pp. 1-3.*

Often, correct knowledge can be arrived at only after many repetitions of the process leading from matter to consciousness and then back to matter, that is, leading from practice to knowledge and then back to practice. Such is the Marxist theory of knowledge, the dialectical materialist theory of knowledge.

Ibid., P. 3.*

Whoever wants to know a thing has no way of doing so except by coming into contact with it, that is, by living (practising) in its environment. ... If you want knowledge, you must take part in the practice of changing reality. If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself.... If you want to know the theory and methods of revolution, you must take part in revolution. All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience.

"On Practice" (July 1937), Selected Works, Vol. I, pp. 299-300.

Knowledge begins with practice, and theoretical knowledge which is acquired through practice must then return to practice. The active function of knowledge manifests itself not only in the active leap from perceptual to rational knowledge, but - and this is more important - it must manifest itself in the leap from rational knowledge to revolutionary practice.

Ibid., p. 304.*

It is well known that when you do anything, unless you understand its actual circumstances, its nature and its relations to other things, you will not know the laws governing it, or know how to do it, or be able to do it well.

"Problems of Strategy in China's Revolutionary War" (December 1936), Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 179.


We have no other way of knowing things.

Folksonomies: experimentation empiricism knowledge

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/hobbies and interests/magic and illusion (0.426253)
/society (0.376088)

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China:Country (0.996604 (neutral:0.000000))

Sense (0.984153): dbpedia | freebase
Knowledge (0.943407): dbpedia | freebase
Perception (0.900622): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Scientific method (0.876440): dbpedia | freebase
Mind (0.852449): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Science (0.800684): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Epistemology (0.772200): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Plato (0.758991): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago

 Quotations Friom Chairman Mao Tsetung
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  • Folksonomies: communism socialism