Marx and Wittgenstein: Knowledge, Morality, and Politics

Marx and Wittgenstein: Knowledge, Morality, and Politics

Marx and Wittgenstein: Knowledge, Morality, and Politics

Marx and Wittgenstein: Knowledge, Morality, and Politics


Building on Ray Monk's 1990 biography of Wittgenstein, which challenged the traditional view that Wittgenstein's theories undermined Marxism, this book further explores the similarities between Wittgenstein's ideas and Marxism.


This book originated from an international symposium on ‘Marx and Wittgenstein’ held at Trinity College, Cambridge, uk, between 29 March and 1 April 1999. All but three of the sixteen who attended the symposium have written chapters for the book. However, even chapters derived from symposium papers have been considerably developed for publication here, and in four cases symposium participants have written a chapter especially for the book in place of their original paper. in addition to contributions by symposium participants the editors have also included two further chapters by other scholars (T.P. Uschanov and Ferruccio Rossi-Landi) in order to further deepen and complete the text.

The original symposium brought together people from six countries and four continents, and this book contains contributions from people from a further two nations. the symposium was, and this book is, therefore, a genuinely international initiative, in which a variety of cultural, as well as intellectual, perspectives are brought to bear on this fascinating topic. the symposium was also an unusually interdisciplinary event, bringing together not just philosophers but also economists, sociologists and political theorists interested in some aspect of the life and thought of Marx and/or Wittgenstein.

In a period in academic history in which academics are increasingly battered by demands that their activities be ‘practical’, ‘policy relevant’ and above all ‘income generating’, the symposium on ‘Marx and Wittgenstein’ was determinedly none of these things, which is perhaps why all its participants recall it with affection as one of the most intellectually stimulating events of recent years and one which has given rise to some lasting friendships.

The editors of this book, and the organisers of the symposium—Gavin Kitching and Nigel Pleasants—wish to thank Trinity College for its hospitality in hosting the event and subsidising part of the costs, and also James Whiting of Routledge for commissioning the publication of the resulting book. the hopes we have for the influence which this book might exert are laid out in more detail in the Introduction which follows. But suffice it to say here that if this book were to result in a generalised dialogue both among and between Marxists and Wittgensteinians even approximating the openness, intensity and honesty displayed in Cambridge then its editors will be more than satisfied.

Gavin Kitching

Nigel Pleasants

June 2002

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