Marx's Attempt to Leave Philosophy

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Harvard University Press, Jun 30, 2009 - Philosophy - 448 pages
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Daniel Brudney traces the development of post-Hegelian thought from Ludwig Feuerbach and Bruno Bauer to Karl Marx's work of 1844 and his Theses on Feuerbach, and concludes with an examination of The German Ideology. Brudney focuses on the transmutations of a set of ideas about human nature, the good life, and our relation to the world and to others; about how we end up with false beliefs about these matters; about whether one can, in a capitalist society, know the truth about these matters; and about the critique of capitalism which would flow from such knowledge.

Brudney shows how Marx, following Feuerbach, attempted to reveal humanity's nature and what would count as the good life, while eschewing and indeed polemicizing against "philosophy"--against any concern with metaphysics and epistemology. Marx attempted to avoid philosophy as early as 1844, and the central aims of his texts are the same right through The German Ideology. There is thus no break between an early and a late Marx; moreover, there is no "materialist" Marx, no Marx who subscribes to a metaphysical view, even in The German Ideology, the text canonically taken as the origin of Marxist materialism. Rather, in all the texts of this period Marx tries to mount a compelling critique of the present while altogether avoiding the dilemmas central to philosophy in the modern era.

Table of Contents:


Themes from the Young Hegelians
Feuerbach's and Marx's Complaint against Philosophy
The Interest of These Texts
Chapter by Chapter

1. Feuerbach's Critique of Christianity
The Critique of Christianity
The Method of The Essence of Christianity
The Geistiger Naturforscher

2. Feuerbach's Critique of Philosophy
The Status of Philosophy
The Method of the Critique of Philosophy
The Content of the Critique of Philosophy
Final Comment

3. Bruno Bauer
State and Civil Society
The Critique of Religion
Bauer's Method

4. The 1844 Marx I: Self-Realization
Species Being: Products
Species Being: Enjoyments
The Human Relation to Objects
Species Being: Immortality
The Human Self-Realization Activity

5. The 1844 Marx II: The Structure of Community
Completing One Another
Mediation with the Species
3 Digression on Community

6. The 1844 Marx III: The Problem of Justification
The Workers' Ignorance of Their True Nature
The Problem of Justification
The Problem of Communists' Ends and Beliefs
Marx's 1844 Critique of Philosophy
The Problem of the Present

7. The Theses on Feuerbach
Fundamental Relations/Orientations
Thesis Eleven
The Practical-Idealist Reading
The Problem of the First Step
Thesis Six

8. The German Ideology I: More Anti-Philosophy
Some General Comments
The Attack on the Young Hegelian
Empirical Verification
Anti-Philosophy I
Anti-Philosophy II

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

10. The German Ideology III: The Critique of Morality (and the Return to Philosophy)
What Is the Problem with Morality?
The (Weak) Sociological Thesis
The Strong Sociological Thesis and the Structural Thesis
Morality and Moral Philosophy under Communism
Can The German Ideology Justify a Condemnation of Capitalism?
Returning to Philosophy



Reviews of this book:
"[Marx's Attempt to Leave Philosophy] is plainly the work of a thoughtful and intelligent philosopher. The discussions of Bruno Bauer and Marx's writings of 1844-6, in particular, are valuable resources for students of German philosophy of the 1840s." DD--Brian Leiter, Times Literary Supplement

"Brudney's work offers some fascinating insights into the world of the Young Hegelians from whence Marx came. It also makes some subtle points about the epistemology of moral theory and about the communitarian aspects of Marx's vision that are important for contemporary philosophy." DD--R. Hudelson, Choice


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1 Feuerbachs Critique of Christianity
2 Feuerbachs Critique of Philosophy
3 Bruno Bauer
The Structure of Community
The Problem of Justification
7 The Theses on Feuerbach
More Antiphilosophy
The Picture of the Good Life and the Change from 1844
The Critique of Morality and a Return to Philosophy

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About the author (2009)

Daniel Brudney is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago.

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