Karl Marx

Karl Marx

Karl Marx

Karl Marx

Synopsis

This is one of the most respected books on Marx's philosophical thought. Wood explains Marx's views from a philosophical standpoint and defends Marx against common misunderstandings and criticisms of his views. All the major philosophical topics in Marx's work are considered: the central concept of alienation; historical materialism and Marx's account of social classes; the nature and social function of morality; philosophical materialism and Marx's atheism; and Marx's use of the Hegelian dialectical method and the Marxian theory of value. The second edition has been revised to include a new chapter on capitalist exploitation and new suggestions for further reading. Wood has also added a substantial new preface which looks at Marx's thought in light of the fall of the Soviet Union and our continued ambivalence towards capitalism, exploring Marx's continuing relevance in the twenty-first century.

Excerpt

This book attempts to expound the philosophy of Karl Marx. But the first question it must address is whether Marx has a philosophy at all. Marx's principal academic training was in philosophy, but in his mature thought Marx focuses on political economy and the history of capitalism, and usually tends to neglect the philosophical side even of his own theories. Even in his early writings, Marx does not often address himself directly to philosophical questions, but treats such questions only in the course of developing his ideas about contemporary society or criticizing the ideas of others. If it is possible to describe Marx as a philosopher, it is probably more accurate to describe him as an economist, historian, political theorist or sociologist, and above all as a working class organizer and revolutionary.

Yet Marx is also a systematic thinker, who attaches great importance to the underlying methods and aims of his theory and the general outlook on the human predicament expressed in it. In his mature writings, every topic - from the most technical questions of political economy to the most specific issues of practical politics - are viewed in the context of a single comprehensive program of inquiry, vitally connected to the practical movement for working class emancipation. Further, Marx views his own thought as heir to a definite philosophical tradition, or rather as combining two traditions: that of German idealist philosophy from Kant to Hegel in which he was educated, and that of Enlightenment materialism which he greatly admired. Most of all, Marx's social theories consciously raise important philosophical questions: about human nature and human aspirations, about society and history and the proper business of those who would study them scientifically, about the right way to approach the rational assessment and alteration of social arrangements. At least

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