Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx

Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx

Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx

Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx

Excerpt

This book seeks to carry forward the still unfinished work of reinterpretation and basic critical analysis of the thought of Karl Marx.

The need for reinterpretation has become apparent since the publication some years ago of a set of previously unpublished manuscripts in which Marx, as a young man of twenty-six, set forth a first systematic sketch of Marxism. Here the economic interpretation of history and the conception of communism have as their setting a comprehensive scheme of thought that is philosophical in character. Its subject is man and the world -- self-estranged man in an 'alienated world' as Marx called it. The world revolution is conceived as the act by which estranged man changes himself by changing the world. Instead of being divided against himself as always in the past, man is to be restored to his human nature -- and this is what Marx means by 'communism'. The origins of this Weltanschauung in earlier German philosophy from Kant to Feuerbach, its genesis in Marx's mind during the early 1840's, and its evolution into the more familiar, seemingly unphilosophical Marxism of the Communist Manifesto and other later writings by Marx and Engels, form the main subject-matter of this book. An underlying continuity of Marx's thought from the early philosophical manuscripts to the later stage is demonstrated. In the concluding part, this demonstration becomes the basis for a new analysis of the element of myth in Marx's vision of the world-process as recorded in Capital.

Many were generous with encouragement and assistance while I was in the process of writing, expanding and then rewriting the book over a period of seven years. Paul Kecskemeti, Maurice Mandelbaum, Morris Watnick, Rulon Wells, Morton White and John Wild read it in the original version, which was submitted to Harvard University in 1958 as a doctoral dissertation, and offered valuable criticisms and suggestions. I am very grateful too for comments received from Daniel Bell. Moreover, discussion with my students of ideas contained in the book has contributed much to the shaping of the finished product.

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