[OPE-L:2698] Re: Marx's relationship to Hegel

From: C. J. Arthur (cjarthur@pavilion.co.uk)
Date: Mon Apr 03 2000 - 18:54:56 EDT

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>Andrew Kliman

>This is what Marx wrote about his relationship to Hegel, in a footnote
>in _Capital_, Vol. II:
>"In a review of the first volume of _Capital_, Mr. Duehring notes that,
>in my zealous devotion to the schema of Hegelian logic, I even discovered
>the Hegelian forms of the syllogism in the process of circulation. My
>relationship with Hegel is very simple. I am a disciple of Hegel, and
>the presumptuous chattering of the epigones who think they have buried
>this great thinker appear frankly ridiculous to me. Nevertheless, I have
>taken the liberty of adopting towards my master a critical attitude,
>disencumbering his dialectic of its mysticism and thus putting it through
>a profound change, etc."
>Engels left this out of the version of Vol. II he edited. It appears in
>Rubel's French edition. I have quoted from the English translation, in
>Raya Dunayevskaya's _Rosa Luxemburg, Women's Liberation, and Marx's
>Philosophy of Revolution_, p. 149. I do not know the exact date this
>passage was written, but Dunayevskaya (ibid.) notes that "Marx wrote this
>after volume 1 had already been published."
For sure before he wrote the Afterword to the Second Edition of Volume 1 or
he would be repeating himself. No doubt this was why E left it out. (see
also marx's letter 27 June 1870 to Kugelmann - "my critical manner of
applying the Hegelian method" - for similar stuff which is also repeated in
the Afterword.)
On the disucussion in this stream: Marx's achievement was absolutely
staggering; his stuff is not a footnote to Ricardo but is clearly of a
different theoretical and methodological order. And he had to do it all
himself with very lttle input from anybody - even when he writes to Engels
the replies he gets are bemused. It is hardly surprising therefore if it
lacks clarity, not just here and there because of the huge task he set
himself substantively but at a deep methodological level. While
Althusserians complain about Hegelian residues, I, with equal justice,
could complain about Ricardian residues. I do not think Marx first worked
out his method and then applied it; he developed and redeveloped the method
at the very same time as he wrestled with the substantive issues. In this
sense I do not think Capital is unfinished because he only published Volume
1, I think the thought is itself unfinished. It is poised between Hegel and
Ricardo but does not imo represent a coherent synthesis. In order to
express entirely new thoughts he not surprisingly borrowed from these
people, and sometimes it carries some of that baggage. (just as in early
Marx 'species being' is borrowed from Feuerbach but represents a new
The lesson is that the reader has to take a step back from the text and try
to make sense of it precisely by studying it in its own intellectual
Not for boring history of thought purposes but to have a chance of
understanding what is going on. Having done this my conclusion is that
exegesis is not enough and the thought itself needs developing, clarifying
etc. This is where crunch issues ar e faced because one has to choose ones
own context of appropriation. Positivist? neo-Kantian? Historicist? For my
money the key is to take seriously the quotation Andrew gives at the top.
Chris A.

P. S. Please note that I have a new Email address,
but the old one will also run until the summer. (To be doubly sure load both!)

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