Dialectical materialism is a strand of Marxism synthesizing Hegel's dialectics and Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach's materialism. According to certain followers of Karl Marx, it is the philosophical basis of Marxism, although this remains a controversial assertion due to the disputed status of science and naturalism in Marx's thought. The basic idea of dialectical materialism is that every economic order grows to a state of maximum efficiency, while at the same time developing internal contradictions or weaknesses that contribute to its decay.
Dialectical materialism originates from two major aspects of Marx's philosophy. One is his transformation of Hegel's idealistic understanding of dialectics into a materialist one, an act commonly said to have "put Hegel's dialectics back on its feet". Marx's materialism developed through his engagement with Feuerbach. Marx sought to base human social organization within the context of the material reproduction of their daily lives, which he calls sensous practice in his early works (Marx 1844, 1845). From this material context men develop certain ideas about their world, thereby leading to the core materialist conception that social being determines social consciousness. The dialectical aspect retains the Hegelian method within this materialist framework, and emphasizes the process of historical change arising from contradiction and class struggle based in a particular social context.
Dialectics is the science of the general and abstract laws of the development of nature, society, and thought. Its principal features are:
1. The universe is an integral whole in which things are interdependent, rather than a mixture of things isolated from each other.
2. The natural world or cosmos is in a state of constant motion:
3. Development is a process whereby insignificant and imperceptible quantitative changes lead to fundamental, qualitative changes. Qualitative changes occur not gradually, but rapidly and abruptly, as leaps from one state to another. A simple example from the physical world is the heating of water: a one degree increase in temperature is a quantitative change, but between water of 100 degrees and steam of 100 degrees (the effect latent heat) there is a qualitative change.
"Merely quantitative differences, beyond a certain point, pass into qualitative changes." --Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. 1.
4. All things contain within themselves internal dialectical contradictions, which are the primary cause of motion, change, and development in the world. It is important to note that 'dialectical contradiction' is not about simple 'opposites' or 'negation'. For formal approaches, the core message of 'dialectical opposition / contradiction' must be understood as 'some sense' opposition between the objects involved in a directly associated context.