The Routledge Companion to Nineteenth Century Philosophy

By Dean Moyar | Go to book overview

7
AFTER HEGEL: THE
ACTUALIZATION
OF PHILOSOPHY IN
PRACTICE

Michael Quante

Translated by Patrick R. Leland

The history of the debate which led from Hegel to Marx is philosophically the history of the disintegration of the Hegelian school, and socially a time of political stagnation and restoration in Germany. The debate is short-lived, but fierce and in a continual process of fermentation. Its participants are philosophers, publicists, and political thinkers who were excluded from academic life, persecuted politically, and marginalized by a politically restrictive society. To trace the history of a philosophical debate is always, in a certain respect, to tell a story. The perspective adopted for the narrative organizes an abundance of material, guides its selection and constitutes its inner logic. Without doubt, it is itself the expression of an epistemic interest or a philosophical thesis, for no history narrates itself. The perspective chosen for this article takes as its protagonist the young Marx. The narrative begins during the early 1830s and ends at the point where Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels take stock and come to terms with their earlier philosophical conscience: with the emergence of the German Ideology during the years of 1845–6.

To present the history of the philosophical debate during these fifteen years as a path from Hegel to Marx is neither original nor obligatory. Nevertheless, this article is not another contribution to the Marxist historiography of a progressive historical development from a bourgeois Idealism to a mature Marxism. On the contrary, I will present issues that have philosophical potential that has been submerged in the course of societal, political, and philosophical events. Some of these issues are still (or are again) an object of contemporary philosophical discussion, though without any awareness of the relation to the earlier debate. This article aims to bring the earlier debate out of obscurity and make it again available for contemporary thought.

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