Marx's Attempt to Leave Philosophy

By Daniel Brudney | Go to book overview

9 The German Ideology II: The Picture of the Good Life and the Change from 1844

IN THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER I argued that Marx wants to avoid appeal to any special standpoint, but that his way of resolving philosophical questions seems to force him back to an appeal of this kind. In giving this reading I have presented The German Ideology as in many ways continuous with the work of 1844. That may suggest that the only change from 1844 is in Marx's attempt to appeal to a new (and ambiguous) method, what he thinks of as empirical verification. In fact, further change occurs in The German Ideology. In the first three sections of this chapter I look at the change in Marx's conception of the good life. I then deal with the nature of the overall change from 1844.


1. Division of Labor

In the 1844 Manuscripts and the Comments, the labor to produce material plenty is said to be the human self-realization activity. The alienation of such labor under capitalism is said to be a significant flaw in that social system. It prevents people from living the good life for human beings. In The German Ideology, the image of the good life, and so capitalism's flaw with respect to it, appear to be different. Marx famously declares, "[I]n communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt

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