Marx's Attempt to Leave Philosophy

By Daniel Brudney | Go to book overview

8 The German Ideology I: More Antiphilosophy

IN HIS WORK OF 1844, Marx asserts that, under capitalism, agents' conceptions of how to realize their nature (their conceptions of what I have called "the human self-realization activity") are distorted. He also believes that agents' conceptions of how they are related to the world (their conceptions of what, in the last chapter, I termed their "fundamental relation to the world") are also distorted. And Marx provides alternative conceptions of these things. Yet Marx seems, on his own premises, to have no adequate justification, under capitalism, for the assertions or the alternatives. I have read the Theses on Feuerbach as claiming that revolutionary practice can make the missing justification accessible, but I have argued that this tack, too, has its problems. In the final three chapters I trace these issues and their descendants in The German Ideology.

In this chapter I deal with Marx's attack on Feuerbach and Bauer and, indeed, on the Young Hegelians generally, with the new method he thinks he has settled on, and with his belief that he has rid himself of philosophy. In the next chapter I look at the conception of the good life in The German Ideology, and at the change that text makes from Marx's earlier work. In Chapter 10 I examine The German Ideology's critique of morality.

The German Ideology brings to a close the line of development I have been tracing. With it Marx thinks that he has made a change, that, as a matter of method, he has abandoned the goal of shifting one's standpoint. He turns to a new method that he believes obviates the need for such shifts. This does not, however, solve the problem of how to justify a normative critique of capitalism. Still, in The German Ideology there is a change in that problem's structure. Marx now focuses less on the issue of the agent's relation/orientation to the world and no longer highlights

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