Marx's Attempt to Leave Philosophy

By Daniel Brudney | Go to book overview

7 The Theses on Feuerbach

THE STORY SO FAR has taken us from Feuerbach's critique of Christianity to Marx 1844 critique of capitalism. Key to the story has been that justifying certain claims--for instance, that there is no god distinct from and creator of the world and humanity, or that self-realization involves a particular kind of activity--comes not through abstract argument but through the proper stance toward the world. I have argued that this creates a problem for the 1844 Marx. In this chapter I look at the Theses on Feuerbach to see if the 1844 remarks on French workers' associations can be developed into a solution to that problem.

My further reason for generating yet another interpretation of the Theses (the volume of commentary on this text is an ironic comment on its eleventh thesis) is that it has been the locus classicus of an influential interpretation of Marx. The roots of that interpretation are in Georg Lukács ' History and Class Consciousness, and the interpretation has been articulated in different forms by Jürgen Habermas, Leszek Kolakowski, Shlomo Avineri, Jean-Yves Calvez, Alfred Schmidt, and others. 1 Distinctive of this interpretation in its various forms is the role accorded to labor or activity (or sometimes "praxis"). Roughly, the idea is that labor (or activity or praxis) is how human beings latch onto the world. An external world altogether distinct from human labor (activity, practice) is held to be opaque in principle, something to which no content can be given.

Writers who subscribe to this reading see Marx as continuing the

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