Marx's Attempt to Leave Philosophy

By Daniel Brudney | Go to book overview

4 The 1844 Marx I: Self-Realization

THE REST of this book examines what I take to be the central works of Karl Marx between 1844 and 1846. My underlying concern is the nature of Marx's normative critique of capitalism. Among other things, I look carefully at Marx's view of how such a critique is to be justified. That means looking at his view of philosophy. I argue that Marx's hostility to certain philosophical questions and methods generates a problem for the justification of his normative critique. In examining his texts from this period, a large part of my focus will be on successive but (I think) never successful ways in which he might be thought to solve that problem. The claim, I should note, is not that Marx consciously attempts to solve the problem; the claim is that it is useful to look at his texts in terms of whether they provide the resources to do so.

In this and the next two chapters, I deal with the 1844 Marx, the Marx of the Comments on James Mill and the 1844 Manuscripts. In this chapter I begin discussion of the 1844 Marx's conception of communism. I look at his view of how in a communist society human beings would relate to the products of their labor, to one another's satisfactions and accomplishments, and to physical objects generally. To a considerable extent, these sections deal with aspects of Marx's picture of communists as strongly communal beings. I then look at the 1844 Marx's account of what I call the "human self-realization activity" (in subsequent chapters I sometimes refer to it as "the essential human activ

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