Marx and the Ancients: Classical Ethics, Social Justice, and Nineteenth-Century Political Economy

Marx and the Ancients: Classical Ethics, Social Justice, and Nineteenth-Century Political Economy

Marx and the Ancients: Classical Ethics, Social Justice, and Nineteenth-Century Political Economy

Marx and the Ancients: Classical Ethics, Social Justice, and Nineteenth-Century Political Economy

Synopsis

Marx and the Ancients is the first book-length treatment to detail the relationship between classical Greek philosophy and Karl Marx's critique of political economy. From his dissertation on the physics and astronomy of Epicurus and Democritus to his later economic writings, Marx's view of the classical polis left its mark. George McCarthy argues that this forgotten element in Marx's thought helps clarify his positions on ethics and social justice.

Excerpt

From his earliest days in the gymnasium to the completion of his university studies, Karl Marx was steeped in the culture and philosophy of the Ancients. From his earliest interests in Greek and Roman history and mythology to the completion of his dissertation on the physics of Epicurus and Democritus, ancient philosophy formed a central focus of his intellectual life. The purpose of this book is to examine some of the aspects of these interests with special attention to the philosophy of Aristotle and Epicurus. It will be shown how the values and ideals of the Greeks influenced the later development of his ideas of social justice, participatory democracy, and even his theory of economics. In fact, it will be argued that a true understanding of Marx's theory of value, his economic crisis theory, and his critique of political economy ultimately rests on his vision of social justice grounded in the ideals of the Greek polis. Without an appreciation for Epicurus's theories of happiness and nature or Aristotle's theory of universal and particular justice, the purpose of Marx's later analyses of the classical political economy of Ricardo, Smith, and Malthus would be lost. As unusual as it may sound, Marx's analysis of Ricardo's Principles of Political Economy and Taxation makes sense only within the context of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. Within this context, too, Marx's ethics and theory of social justice will be closely examined.

In the past few years, the topic of Marx and ethics has been a popular one in North America. New works have produced a flood of analyses over whether Marx has a theory of ethics or a theory of social justice. One problem with many of them is that these questions have been asked within a cultural vacuum. Though they have been characterized by close exegetical scholarship, they have failed to . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.