Dialectics of Labour: Chapter 9 – Marx and Feuerbach

Dialectics of Labour: Marx and his Relation to Hegel
by C. J. Arthur
first published, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1986
PART THREE: 1844 The Turning Point

Chapter 9 – Marx and Feuerbach


The turning point in Marx’s intellectual development comes in 1844 with his discovery of labour, an event documented in his manuscripts composed in Paris that year under the impetus of his first encounter with political economy. In this chapter the process of Marx’s intellectual formation is investigated with the aim of illuminating the importance of this transition, and, in particular, the way in which he appropriates, and yet rejects, Hegel, as we have already seen, and appropriates, and finally yet rejects, Hegel’s most determined critic, Ludwig Feuerbach, as we shall see below.

A great deal of energy can be expended in assessing the relative influence of thinkers such as Rousseau, Hegel, Feuerbach and the ‘Young Hegelians’ on the formation of Marx’s thought. For example, Lukács declares roundly that, methodologically, ‘Marx took over directly from Hegel’ rather than from the ‘Young Hegelians’, who had affinities with Fichteanism. [1] Michael Löwy replies that ‘the philosophy of practice’ of Fichte, Cieszowski and Hess, ‘is also a foundation stone for Marxism, a necessary step in the evolution of the young Marx’. [2]

Certainly, Marx is quite properly identified at the time of his move to Paris as a member of the so-called ‘Young Hegelian’ movement. None the less his relationship to it was always nuanced. He was never a wholehearted disciple of any of its leading figures, except, for a few months, Feuerbach. We cannot now accept as good Marxian coin the aphorism: ‘There is no other road to truth and freedom but through the brook of fire {Feuer-bach}’. It comes from an anonymous article of 1842. attributed to Marx by Riazanov, but now thought not to be his work. [3] None the less, it expresses very well Marx’s attitude to Feuerbach in 1844. At the same time, he was always ‘his own man’ when participating in the movement, even when heaping praise on Feuerbach.

This chapter will show that Marx, in his 1844 Manuscripts, advances decisively beyond the standpoint of Feuerbach. Marx’s own genius first shows through in 1844 with his category of labour, founded on the ontologically constitutive nature of productive activity for social being. We have seen that in complex ways he relates this discovery to Hegel’s speculative version of activity. It could be argued that Marx’s discovery of the importance of material production is not unexpected in the context of the Young Hegelians’ anthropological reading of Hegel. Indeed, as early as the 1830s the first of them, D.F. Strauss, delivers himself of such vague formulations as that, in the course of human history, humanity ‘ever more completely subjugates nature, both within and around man, until it lies before him as the inert matter on which he exercises his active power’. [4] The idea of production as a ‘species activity’ is further developed by Feuerbach and by Hess. However, in the works of the ‘Young Hegelians’ such views have no fundamental significance. They lie alongside remarks about other human functions. Only with Marx does the social and historical theory of man as his own product emerge – and here the important source is Hegel himself!

The strange thing, none the less, is that the manuscripts are penned explicitly under the sign of Feuerbach. [5] The Preface declares that ‘it is only with Feuerbach that positive, humanistic and naturalistic criticism begins’; his writings ‘contain a real theoretical revolution’. [6] If for no other reason, this solidarity with Feuerbach makes it necessary to avoid reading too much ‘Marxism’ into the early Marx. We know that as late as 1847 he was still engaged in the process of ‘self-clarification’ and the effort to ‘settle accounts’ with the Young Hegelian heritage. Only then, in the context of polemics against Feuerbach, does the first outline of the materialist conception of history as a sequence of modes of production take definite shape. Given the self-affiliation of Marx to Feuerbach in 1844 it is necessary to clear up the question of the role played by Feuerbach in Marx’s evolution in general, and his influence on the 1844 Manuscripts in particular.

Young Hegelianism

Hegel died in 1831 and within a few years his followers polarized: there were conservatives, or ‘Old Hegelians’, and radicals, or ‘Young Hegelians’. [7] This divergence is foreshadowed in internal tensions in Hegel’s own philosophy. In spite of the rationalist and historical elements in Hegel’s thought, he did not give philosophy a radical role in social affairs, at least in his well-known mature works; it seemed that the role of philosophy was to reconcile thought to the present. The Young Hegelians claimed that there was, nevertheless, an esoteric radical Hegel in the exoteric conservative who compromised with the Prussian monarchy. Certainly the younger Hegel welcomed the French Revolution and its Napoleonic extension to Germany. He gave philosophy the task of herald of the new order, indeed, even its promulgator. Soon after the publication of his Phenomenology of Spirit Hegel wrote to a friend: ‘Daily I become more convinced that theoretical work accomplishes more in the world than practical; once the realm of ideas is revolutionized, reality cannot hold out.’ [8] Whether Hegel himself continued to believe this or not, the Young Hegelians certainly held such a view wholeheartedly.

We need look no further than Friedrich Engels, in the period before he joined forces with Marx, to find a typical exponent of Young Hegelianism. Although already a declared ‘communist’ in the early 1840s (having been converted by Hess), he held that communism followed directly from ‘German Philosophy’, that is, from the ‘left’ interpretation of Hegel. Engels makes this claim in a fascinating article he wrote in 1843 for the Owenite periodical New Moral World. Here he explains to his English readers that Hegel ‘neglected to free himself from the prejudices of his age’, notably the attachment to monarchy and religion, but that the Young Hegelians had freed the principles of his thought, little by little, from these conservative encrustations. Eventually, indeed, Hegelianism became in effect atheism, a charge Engels declared himself the first to have allowed just. [9] The reference here is to a pamphlet he had published anonymously in Germany the previous year. This was a counterattack on Schelling’s Berlin lectures directed against Hegelianism. [10]Here Engels develops at greater length the theory of Hegel’s ‘prejudices’. He says that Hegel’s conclusions would have been different if he had proceeded from ‘pure thought’; but, instead, ‘positive’ elements crept in because he was ‘a product of his time’. ‘The principles’, says Engels, ‘are throughout independent and free-minded, the conclusions – no one denies it – sometimes cautious, even illiberal’. [11]All that is necessary for a left wing to take form, then, is to keep to the principles and reject the conclusions. Here Engels expresses the outlook of Young Hegelianism perfectly.

But what would be the right conclusions to draw? Engels has no doubt whatever that ‘the necessary consequence of New Hegelian philosophy’ is communism. He informs the English socialists that ‘philosophical communism may be considered for ever established in Germany’. Striking a note he will return to at the end of his life, he declares that ‘our party’ must prove to the Germans that they must either reject their philosophical tradition as useless, or ‘they must adopt communism’. [12]

Let us turn now to the knotty problem of Marx’s very different encounter with Hegelianism. Althusser says that the Hegel Marx met was ‘the Hegel of the neo-Hegelian movement, a Hegel already summoned to provide German intellectuals of the 1840s with the means to think their own history and their own hopes; a Hegel already made to contradict himself, invoked against himself, in despite of himself’. [13] There is some truth in this; but Marx had his own distinctive position based on his own acute reading of Hegel. Well before Engels repeats the above commonplaces of Young Hegelianism with respect to ‘principles’ and ‘prejudices’, Marx was writing in his doctoral dissertation that it was silly for Hegel’s followers to explain some feature of his system by his accommodation to existing reality; [14] even if a philosopher is consciously making some sort of accommodation, ‘what he is not conscious of is the possibility that this apparent accommodation has its deepest roots in an inadequacy . . . of his principle itself’. [15]

Thus the searchlight must be turned on the principle itself to see how it makes possible the expression of conservative prejudices. This is precisely the task Marx undertakes in 1844 when he shows how Hegel’s conceptualization of the problematic of alienation leads to a reconciliation of ‘reason’ with ‘unreason’ and an accommodation with religion, the state etc. This false position, Marx concludes, is founded in ‘the falsehood of his principle’. [16] The Young Hegelian attempt to preserve the ‘principle’ from ‘accommodations’ on Hegel’s part is therefore untenable. However, we are running ahead of our story.

Let us return to the beginning. We know that when Marx first came into contact with Hegel’s philosophy at the University of Berlin its ‘craggy melody’ repelled him. For a time he was imbued with ‘the idealism of Kant and Fichte’ and wrote effusive poetry in this vein. [17] He later dismissed this poetry as marked by ‘complete opposition between what is and what ought to be’. [18] A slightly later poem is of peculiar interest in exhibiting his first reaction to Hegel. In a book of verse sent to his father in the spring of 1837 we find the Hegel Epigramme, which are full of irony at Hegel’s expense. The most piquant is the third:

Kant and Fichte soar to heavens blue
Seeking for some distant land;
I but seek to grasp profound and true
That which in the street I find. [19]

This epigram is completely misunderstood when it is thought that ‘I’ refers to Marx himself. [20] The ‘I’ is Hegel – just as it is in the previous epigram beginning ‘words I teach all mixed up in a devilish muddle’ – but it is Hegel forced to speak against himself by Marx. Given this, it is not the case that Marx here endorses the standpoint of Hegel against that of Kant (much less opts for materialism). [21] According to Marx’s own account, in a letter to his father, it is later in 1837 that he ‘arrived at the point of seeking the idea in reality itself’ and found himself delivered into ‘the arms of the enemy’, namely Hegel. [22] As was noted in the remarks on his dissertation, Marx very soon begins to depart from Hegel, but the project of ‘seeking the idea in reality itself’ remains.

In departing from Hegel Marx was enormously encouraged by the work of Feuerbach. In 1843 and 1844 he works with the slogan ‘real humanism’, following Feuerbach’s basic principle. Feuerbach wrote: ‘the new principle makes man, together with nature, as the basis of man, the sole, universal and highest object of philosophy.’ [23] At this time Marx is an enthusiastic partisan of Feuerbach and continually tries to interest him in new publishing projects.

The received version of events is that Marx was an Hegelian, then he was converted by Feuerbach to materialism and then he struck out on his own ‘to change the world’. The true story is more complicated.

The authority of Engels has to be recognized of course, so let us begin with the account in his book Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy (1888). He speaks of Feuerbach in dramatic terms: ‘with one blow’ Feuerbach’s Essence of Christianity (1841) ‘broke the spell’ of idealism; Hegel’s system was ‘exploded and cast aside’; ‘the liberating effect of this book’ aroused ‘general enthusiasm’; ‘we all became at once Feuerbachians’ [24]

Engels’ memory plays him false here. At first Feuerbach’s book was generally taken to be an application of Hegelian principles rather than a refutation. Engels himself is testimony to this. In his anti-Schelling pamphlet of 1842, in passing he defends Hegel also against Feuerbach and opines that ‘Feuerbach’s critique of Christianity is a necessary complement to the speculative teaching on religion founded by Hegel’. [25] Engels also forgets to mention that as far as the critique of Hegel is concerned Feuerbach’s major blows were delivered in the 1843 texts, Preliminary Theses towards the Reform of Philosophy and Principles of the Philosophy of the Future.

As for Marx, Engels goes on, ‘how enthusiastically Marx greeted the new conception and how much – in spite of all critical reservations – he was influenced by it, one may read in The Holy Family‘. [26] But this is a work written three years after Essence of Christianity appeared. In fact, Marx was somewhat slow to respond to the book; there is little sign of its influence in his 1842-3 newspaper articles. In truth, the first major impact on Marx’s thinking of Feuerbach is documented in his study of Hegel, written in Kreuznach in the spring and summer of 1843. The method applied is taken straight from Feuerbach’s newly published Preliminary Theses.

It is true that at the outset Marx expresses some reservations about this work. In a letter to Ruge of March 1843 he says that Feuerbach’s aphorisms refer ‘too much to nature and too little to politics’; he explains that philosophy needs an alliance with politics to come true. [27]

It is a great mistake to treat this opinion as Marx’s final judgement on Feuerbach, and to collate it with the critique offered in the theses On Feuerbach of 1845. For example, N. Rotenstreich connects the appeal to politics here with the first of the theses, in which Marx appeals to practice against Feuerbach’s contemplative materialism; [28] but the practice meant there is not politics, it is a material production. At the earlier date of 1843 Marx is concluding his period as a journalist whose radicalism is clearly idealist in tendency. In taking up in his articles such questions as the law on the ‘theft’ of wood from forests, and the distress of the Mosel peasants, he becomes aware of the inadequacy of his knowledge. Under the impact of this practical experience in coming to terms with material interests, and of Feuerbach’s ‘theoretical revolution’, Marx rook advantage of the closure of his newspaper to undertake a materialist critique of Hegel. [29] This is inspired methodologically by Feuerbach’s charge that Hegel inverts the real relations and that, therefore, the road to truth lies in a reinversion. Feuerbach has in mind, very largely, central philosophical questions about man, God and nature. Marx undertakes to remedy the one-sidedness of Feuerbach’s critique by applying the latter’s method to Hegel’s political philosophy. In this study he shows how Hegel inverts the real relations of ‘civil society’ and ‘the state’. But, in spite of his turn to ‘civil society’ as the ‘real basis’, there is as yet no properly materialist ontology grounded in production. Hence the turn from politics to economics, even to nature, in the 1844 Manuscripts represents an advance over the position held at the time of the letter to Ruge of March 1843.

Given that in the 1843 study on Hegel there is no stress on productive activity, obviously Hegel cannot be praised for grasping man as his own product. The verdict on Hegel at this stage is simply that his idealism mystifies real relations. Although Marx’s critique opens up a new field of inquiry, and although he goes beyond the critique of Hegelian ideology to a critique of real relations, the whole enterprise is Feuerbachian through and through. For example, one of the most striking, and oft-quoted, pronouncements is that ‘knowledge is not gained by applying “the logical concept” everywhere, but in grasping the logic proper to the peculiar character of the object concerned’. [30] This is well within the scope of Feuerbach’s Criticism. [31] Feuerbach writes (in his Philosophy of the Future, 1843):

Only those determinations are productive of real knowledge which determine the object by the object itself, by its own individual determinations; but not those that are general, as for example the logico-metaphysical determinations that, being applicable to all objects without distinction, determine no object. [32]

More than in the 1843 notebook study, Marx’s articles On the Jewish Question, published in 1844, go beyond the critique of ideological inversions to criticize the real estrangement of the modern state from civil society. Marx calls for a recuperation of the sociality disrupted in the split between the atomized members of civil society and the abstract community of citizenship well described by Rousseau. Human emancipation will be achieved, Marx concludes, ‘only when the real, individual man re-absorbs in himself the abstract citizen . . . only when man has recognized and organized his “force propres” as social forces, and consequently no longer separates social power from himself in the shape of political power’. [33]

It is at this date, that is early in 1844, that Marx for the first time nominates the proletariat as the revolutionary force in Germany, in a remarkable essay which exhibits the connection of theory and practice in the highest degree of tension.

However radical philosophical critique becomes, it remains the case, he says, ‘that revolutions need a passive element, a material basis’. The theoretical revolution brought about within post-Hegelian philosophy cannot complete itself within the domain of theory. ‘It is not enough that thought should strive for realization; reality must itself strive towards thought.’ [34] Where then is the material agent of revolution? Marx answers that it must be a class which is forced to revolt under the compulsion of ‘material necessity’, whose revolt has a universal character ‘because of its universal suffering’; it must be a class ‘which is the total loss of humanity and which can therefore redeem itself only through the total redemption of humanity’. There is indeed such a class without any stake in the existing order and thrown into opposition to it – ‘the proletariat’. [35]

So the proletariat is nominated as the material agent of revolutionary change. But let us look carefully at how its struggle is related by Marx to ‘theoretical needs’. ‘Clearly’, he says, ‘the weapon of criticism cannot replace the criticism of weapons, and material force must be overthrown by material force; but theory also becomes a material force once it has gripped the masses.’ [36] He finishes the essay with a whole series of such propositions: ‘just as philosophy finds its material weapons in the proletariat, so the proletariat finds its spiritual weapons in philosophy’; ‘the head‘ of the struggle is ‘philosophy, its heart, the proletariat‘; ‘philosophy cannot realize itself without . . . the proletariat’ and the proletariat cannot liberate itself from its chains without ‘the realization of philosophy’. These are the ‘inner conditions’ of revolution. [37]

It is clear from a reading of this text that Marx has broken with his erstwhile philosophical background in so far as he realizes that criticism cannot change reality. But it is equally clear that he is simply adding in a mechanical way the practical needs of the proletariat to this theoretical criticism. It is a marriage of convenience, not a real union. Furthermore, in the above formulations it is still theory which is the overriding moment; it ‘grips the masses’; theory is not evolved from the practical standpoint of the proletariat. Hence it retains an abstract and moralizing character. He speaks of the ‘categorical imperative’ to redeem humanity. [38]

The proletariat is assigned its revolutionary role because of its neediness and oppression; it is thus qualified to be the bearer of universal emancipation. This intuitive imputation is buttressed dialectically by a very bare and abstract play of the categories of universality and particularity. It is too glib. It has justly been characterized as Marx’s ‘Hegelian choreography’. [39] The antithesis of property and propertylessness is not yet interpreted as that of labour and capital. Furthermore, the revolutionary perspective remains an utterly vague call for ‘human emancipation’.

In the Preface to the 1844 Manuscripts Marx says that he abandoned his plan to do a critique of Hegel’s political philosophy because ‘the intermingling of criticism directed only against speculation with criticism of the various matters themselves proved utterly unsuitable’. [40] From this original critique of Hegel to the subtitle of Capital – ‘Critique of Political Economy’ – ‘criticism’, is one of Marx’s favourite words. But what does it mean? Early on, in his doctoral dissertation, a purely idealist definition appears: critique ‘measures the individual existence by the essence, the particular reality by the Idea’. [41] This is the guiding spirit of his articles for the Rheinische Zeitung. But in the 1843 Hegel study a more interesting definition emerges: ‘truly philosophical criticism . . . not only shows up contradictions as existing, it explains them, it comprehends their genesis, their necessity’. [42]

In fact there is a hint of this idea already in the Rheinische Zeitung when Marx is forced to touch on communism for the first time. In 1842 his newspaper was attacked by another for ‘communism’; in his reply Marx ‘does not admit that communist ideas in their present form possess even theoretical reality‘, although he also says that ‘the sharp-witted work of Proudhon’ (What is Property?), and others, can be criticized only after proper study. [43] Such a study must take on board the objective fact that ‘the estate that today owns nothing demands to share in the wealth of the middle classes’. This is ‘obvious to everyone in Manchester, Paris, and Lyons’. [44] We see that already Marx is shifting the focus of attention from the ideological level to the real social forces in motion. [45] A year later, nevertheless, Marx still writes that communism is ‘a dogmatic abstraction’. The interesting thing, however, is that this complaint is spelled out as an objection to its partial, one-sided realization of ‘the humanistic principle’, and, more explicitly, it is said to be ‘still infected with its antithesis – the private system’. [46] It seems that until his studies in political economy convinced him of the dynamic potential of the struggle against capital he was inclined to regard communism as a mere reflex response to inequality, its mere contrary, ungrounded in an adequate theoretical understanding of the inner relationships of private property.

In the years 1843 and 1844 Marx’s ideas are changing rapidly and the stages of development are hard to map on the texts because these stages frequently overlap each other in the same work. However, it is clear that three ‘pure’ stages may be disentangled from the material. First there is the criticism of private property in the light of its lack of accord with the idea of humanity, private property seen as an alien mediator; such a criticism reveals a discrepancy of real existence and supposed essence. Second there is the transference of the contradiction to reality itself, a self-criticism of society in so far as it produces the propertyless proletariat as ‘the dissolution of society’, forced into revolt by ‘material necessity’. Finally, when the antithesis of property and propertylessness is grasped as the antithesis of labour and capital, the proletariat is seen as reappropriating its estranged powers in the positive supersession of private property.

Prior to 1844 Marx’s effort to unify theory and practice remains an abstract programme because he has not yet identified productive activity as the socially constitutive axis on which all else turns. Now the way opens for an investigation of the material foundations of society and history.

Once Marx grasps labour as the central category of historical dialectic, communism takes its place as the necessary moment of transition to ‘the positive supersession of private property’. Such a communism ‘is the riddle of history solved and it knows itself to be this solution’. [47] Thus grounded, communism, he says later, is not an ideal to which reality has to accommodate itself: ‘we call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things’. [48]

Feuerbach’s Critique of Hegel

Given Marx’s account of ‘the great thing about Hegel’, a strange thing about the 1844 Manuscripts is that Marx gives credence in his Preface to the idea that Feuerbach comprehensively supersedes Hegel, and nowhere does he compare him unfavourably with Hegel. Marx says that ‘the less noise they make, the more certain, profound, extensive, and enduring is the effect of Feuerbach‘s writings, the only writings since Hegel’s Phenomenology and Logic to contain a real theoretical revolution’. [49] The main reason Marx advances in the body of the text for holding Feuerbach in such high esteem is precisely his refutation of Hegelianism. Feuerbach, Marx holds, ‘is the only one who has a serious, critical attitude to the Hegelian dialectic and who has made genuine discoveries in this field’. In fact, ‘he is the true conqueror of the old philosophy’. [50] Of particular interest is Marx’s judgement that ‘a great achievement of Feuerbach is to have opposed to the negation of the negation which claims to be the absolute positive, the positive which is based upon itself and positively grounded in itself’. [51]

How did Feuerbach argue against the ‘negation of the negation which claims to be the absolute positive’? Hegel holds that absolute spirit posits itself in opposition to the material world. Feuerbach does not accept the substantiality thus assigned to the mediated being, spirit, as opposed to that which is immediate, the concrete and sensuously manifest. If the natural, material and sensuous is merely the self-alienation of spirit then it is only ‘something to be negated’, he says, ‘like nature which in theology has been poisoned by original sin’. [52] Feuerbach says that ‘according to Hegel it is only the negation of the negation that constitutes the true positing’. [53] But, he argues, ‘a truth that mediates itself is a truth that still has its opposite clinging to it’; spirit can come to itself only through its mediation in its other, the material world. Feuerbach asks rhetorically: ‘Why should I not proceed directly from the concrete? Why, after all, should that which owes its truth and certainty only to itself not stand higher than that whose certainty depends on the nothingness of its opposite?’ [54] ‘The Hegelian philosophy’, he comments, ‘lacks immediate unity, immediate certainty, immediate truth.’ [55]

Feuerbach argues at length that sensuous intuition does possess immediate truth. Of course, he is well aware that the Phenomenology begins precisely with a refutation of the standpoint of sense certainty; although sensuousness claims immediate certainty, it lacks the form of truth; it is therefore sublated in higher forms of cognition and grasped ultimately in terms of spirit’s own objectification of itself, its free product constituted as an otherness to be intuited. Feuerbach responds that all that is refuted in the Phenomenology is the logical ‘Here’ and ‘Now’ – which does not touch the real sensuous object. [56]

The second objection to the Phenomenology is that it rests on the presumption of the identity of thought and being. Feuerbach argues that the circle of thought-determinations can never reach the other of thought and must collapse to a formal identity merely; difference is unreal where there is no objective ground for it. Hegel faits to produce an actual substance because it relies for its content on forms of alienation, and since these are denied their independence from spirit, this means that spirit is denied real substantiality. Feuerbach argues that ‘thought which is isolated and cut off from sensuousness cannot get beyond formal identity’. For thought determinations are ‘always repetitions of the self-identity of thought’. Hence the ‘other’, if ‘posited by the idea itself, is not truly and in reality distinguished from it’. [57] Feuerbach concludes that ‘the identity of thought and being expresses, therefore, only the identity of thought with itself: ‘this means that absolute thought is unable to cleave itself from itself, that it cannot step out of itself to he able to reach being‘. [58]

For any idealist philosophy the question of the reality of the natural world, including the human organism, clearly poses problems. The transition to ‘Nature’ in Hegel’s Encyclopaedia has always been found especially problematical. The various moments of thought outlined in the Logic are internally connected through the self-determination of the concept in its development. The categories cannot be external to each other – they form a mediated whole. However, at the end of the Logic the absolute idea freely posits itself in the form of otherness, ‘as nature’. [59] This problem Feuerbach very early identified as a crucial limitation. In relation to the vexed question of the validity of this transition he says: ‘If nature did not exist, logic, this immaculate virgin, would never be able to produce it out of itself.’ [60] Hegel’s explanation is as follows:

The idea, which is for itself, when viewed on the point of its unity with itself, is intuition: and the intuited idea is nature: But as intuition the idea is posited, through external reflection, in a one-sided determination of immediacy or negation. Enjoying, however, an absolute freedom the idea . . . resolves to let the moment of its . . . other-being, the immediate idea as its reflected image, go forth freely as nature. [61]

Marx comments on this trenchantly as follows:

The absolute idea which ‘resolves to let the moment . . . of its other-being, the immediate idea, as its reflection, issue freely from itself as nature‘, this whole idea, which conducts itself in such a strange and baroque fashion, and which has given the Hegelians such terrible headaches, is purely and simply . . abstraction which, taught by experience and enlightened as to its own truth, resolves . . . to relinquish itself and . . . in place of its self-absorption, to let nature, which it concealed within itself as a mere abstraction, as a thing of thought, issue freely from itself that is to say . . . it resolves on intuition . . . The mystical feeling which drives the philosopher from abstract thinking to intuition is boredom, the longing for a content. [62]

This follows the same line as Feuerbach’s criticism. Marx follows Feuerbach too in saying that ‘the abstract thinker who decides on intuition, intuits nature abstractly’; hence ‘the whole of nature only repeats to him in a sensuous external form the abstractions of logic’; and it follows that ‘nature as nature . . . distinct from these abstractions . . . has no meaning, or has only the sense of an externality to be superseded . . .’. [63] This is seen when Hegel says that ‘since . . . the idea is present as the negative of itself, or is external to itself, nature is not merely external in relation to this idea . . . but externality constitutes its specificity, as nature’. [64] Nature is an external world of objects externally related to its own truth. It is absolute externality because the internality to which that externality is related can only be reconstituted through the medium of thought.

In the final part of Hegel’s Encyclopaedia, ‘Spirit’, there is a ‘return out of nature’. Spirit is defined as the unity of subject and object. ‘This identity is absolute negativity – for whereas in nature the concept has its objectivity in a completely external manner, this its alienation has been sublated.’ [65] When Hegel characterizes nature as ‘externality’ this sounds innocent enough; but, as Marx explains, externality here should not be understood as a sensuously accessible world exposing itself to the light of day; rather, he says, ‘it is to be taken in the sense of alienation, a flaw, a weakness . . .’. For Hegel it is not a question of natural objectivity of which man is a part and in and through which his existence is naturally mediated; it is a question of spirit positing the realm of nature as immediately other, hence being moved to idealize this actuality, since, as inherent externality, nature lacks ideality itself and must submit to its incorporation as a moment in spirit’s actualization. As Marx puts it: ‘For the abstract thinker nature must therefore supersede itself, since it is already posited by him as a potentially superseded being.’ [66]

The difficulty in interpreting Marx’s position arises when we see that, although he does not explicitly say so, he takes up a fundamentally different position from that of Feuerbach with respect to materialism; and this in turn allows Marx a deeper appreciation of Hegel’s merit. The issue turns on the centrality of material labour in Marx’s social ontology. For Feuerbach, whatever the qualifications he introduces, the main drift of his positive doctrine is the assertion of an immediate unity between man and nature. He seems to identify mediation as such with the distance thought introduces between man and the object and to reject it accordingly. For Marx, by contrast, the unity of man with the rest of nature is not immediate, but established by labour, and hence changes and develops with new forms of labour. The unity of man with nature is always mediated in industry and incorporates within itself equally a struggle to bring into human use the recalcitrant forces of nature. This gives rise to a historical dimension, which depends on changes in the mode of production. This dimension is lacking in Feuerbach. Marx finds it in Hegel, but it is raised to the level of purely philosophical reflection which has lost touch with the real basis of history in material labour. None the less, Hegel’s philosophy contains the idea of activity, and, moreover, an activity that develops through a stage of alienation and estrangement.

Feuerbach sees Hegel’s negation of the negation only as a contradiction of philosophy with itself: to this he counterposes the positivity of sensuous immediacy. He does not grasp the objective basis of Hegel’s thematization of alienating objectification. However, Marx looks deeper into the historical content of Hegel’s work, and its real achievement. He appears to follow Feuerbach in his critique of Hegel’s dialectic, and he endorses Feuerbach’s naturalism; but this is by no means all, because he transfers the problems of philosophy to the ground of historical practice and of revolutionary transition. For Marx it is necessary to take the speculative problematic seriously as a symptom of the real historical agenda. Feuerbach sees in Hegel’s problematic of alienation only the self-delusion of a philosophy estranged from the real world, in that it refuses to abandon itself to sensuousness. For Marx, Hegel’s speculative problematic is an attempt to pose, and hence to solve, within philosophy, a real historical problem, which Marx sees in terms of the necessity to supersede the rule of private property. Hegel’s speculative solution is inadequate because the problem is not so much a theoretical as a practical one.

But Feuerbach’s standpoint too cannot link up with practice. He interprets the problem of estrangement as the view of nature as the ‘otherness’ of the idea, and the logical as opposed to the human. This is interpreted again as exclusively a problem of the consciousness of theologians and philosophers. To this speculative illusion Feuerbach counterposes the immediate truths of naturalism and humanism, and he sets out to reform consciousness to this effect. This makes him an idealist in practical philosophy, as he himself naïvely confesses. [67] For Marx ‘positive humanism’ is a result of real historical development, a necessary sequence in the self-production of the ontological essence of man, whereas for Feuerbach it is seen in ethical terms; Feuerbach posits the ‘communal essence’ of man as a fixed abstraction based simply on the capacity for universal mutual recognition on the part of individuals. At best this allows for an equally abstract criticism of the perversities of theology and philosophy. In Marx the communal essence is established through production in society. Its estrangement is expressed in the development of the division of labour and the money system. Money is the mediation that both ties and separates individuals; it is the ‘estranged and alienating species-essence of man’; [68] a person’s bond with society lies literally ‘in his pocket’. [69] However, this critique is not an ethical-anthropological one, for it is grounded in an ontology which allows for the development of alienation and its supersession to be grasped as historical necessities. Thus Marx can assert ‘both that human life needed private property for its realization and that it now needs the abolition of private property’. [70]

In effect, Feuerbach falls below the level of historical concreteness already attained by Hegel. One is inclined to agree with Lukács’ verdict that Hegel poses the problem of estrangement as a problem of the structure of social being, and in the development of the stages of spirit the reality of the historical periods breaks through their conceptual expressions in the aprioristic framework. [71] But, although Feuerbach uses a methodological dialectic in evolving and situating his thought in the history of philosophy, [72] his positive doctrine in effect rejects objective dialectic altogether. [73] Lukács is therefore right to set Hegel above Feuerbach, because in the materialist alignment of Marx with Feuerbach we miss Hegel’s great insight into the dialectical movement of history. [74]

Certainly Marx had good reason to feel much sympathy with Feuerbach’s Hegel critique. He credits Feuerbach with having drawn attention to Hegel’s conflation of objectivity with estrangement. [75] Much of what Marx says about the objective character of man and his world is drawn from Feuerbach. It is possible to overlook this and take as great discoveries of Marx himself things he copied wholesale from Feuerbach. As an example of the identity and difference of Marx and Feuerbach let us look at the last section of the 1844 Manuscripts to be written – a fragment on money. It begins with the premise that ‘man’s feelings {Empfindungen}, passions {Leidenschaften}, etc., are not merely anthropological phenomena in the narrower sense, but truly ontological affirmations of being (of nature) and . . . are only really affirmed because their object exists for them as a sensual object’. [76] This is straight out of Feuerbach, who says that ‘man’s feelings have no empirical or anthropological significance in the sense of the old transcendental philosophy, they have rather, an ontological and metaphysical significance . . .’. Significantly, however, Feuerbach’s chosen example is that ‘love is the true ontological demonstration of the existence of objects apart from our head . . .’. [77] Marx, by contrast, chooses a different path: ‘only through developed industry does the ontological essence of human passion come into being’. [78]

The passage is a good illustration of how Marx goes beyond Feuerbach in the attack on idealism. The recurrence in Marx’s text of words such as ‘feeling’, ‘passion’, ‘ontology’, etc., which come from Feuerbach, obscures the fact that Marx’s ontology is very different. In Feuerbach’s naturalism the emphasis is on feeling, whereas in Marx it is on productive activity. ‘Feeling’ (Empfindung) denotes a relatively low form of experience in which no distinction is drawn between subject and object; hence Feuerbach uses it to denote an indifferent immediacy, not a dialectically mediated unity. It is true that Feuerbach is capable of incorporating productive activity in the essence of man. He says in the Essence of Christianity that ‘the idea of activity, of making, of creation, is in itself a divine idea’ because ‘in activity man feels himself free, unlimited, happy’; and ‘the most blissful activity is that which is productive’. Hence, he concludes, ‘this attribute of the species productive activity – is assigned to God’. [79] Nevertheless, this is not with Feuerbach, as it is with Marx, a synthesizing category.

For Feuerbach the paradigm case of an objective relation is love, as we have just seen. No such thing appears in Marx’s 1844 Manuscripts. Yet Erich Fromm [80] gets excited when he reads this from Marx’s pen in The Holy Family: ‘love . . . first really teaches man to believe in the objective world outside himself’. [81] Although Fromm’s reading of Marx is Feuerbachian through and through, he does not recognize the provenance of this remark in such statements as that quoted above. What happened was that Edgar Bauer, under the pretext of a book review, attacked the idea of a love object, thus covertly attacking Feuerbach. Then Marx, in his critique of the Bauer circle, reasserted the Feuerbachian view in a highly contextualized manner, within this debate. Therefore, although it is interesting that Marx expresses his solidarity with Feuerbach even on this point, it is not this that Marx finds important about Feuerbach. Certainly no great ontological significance should be attached to this isolated statement when Marx over and over again stresses production as the central mediator. For example ‘species being’ in the 1844 Manuscripts has quite a different content from what it has in Feuerbach. It is not constituted in consciousness but in social production.

Feuerbach’s critique of religion is often given as an important source of Marx’s theory of alienation. Undoubtedly Marx was impressed by it; but it is important to notice how much more thoroughgoing is Marx’s own theory. For Feuerbach, religion consists in ‘the objectification of the essence of man’. [82] This means that ‘the personality of God is the alienated, objectified, personality of man’. [83] Feuerbach finds ‘the secret of religion’ is that man ‘objectifies {Vergegenständlichkeit} his being, and then again makes himself the object of this objectified being, transformed into a subject, a person’. [84] He amplifies this in an interesting note where ‘religious self-objectification’ is distinguished from ‘that occurring in reflection and speculation’; for ‘the latter is arbitrary, the former necessary – as necessary as art and language’. [85] The reference in this note to ‘speculation’ is explained by Feuerbach’s claim that Hegel’s philosophy is itself alienating! It ‘estranges man from his own being and his own activity’. [86] This remark is indicative. Feuerbach’s critique in truth is limited to a critique of ideology – worthless ideology in the case of theology and philosophy, man’s lived relation to himself in the case of religion as a necessary medium of species self-awareness.

Marx, by contrast, stresses that man ‘duplicates himself not only… in consciousness, but actively, and actually, and therefore he sees himself in the world he has created’ (see p. 9). Likewise, alienation is objective.

In this light, one must enter qualifications about Marx’s – genuine – enthusiasm for Feuerbach at this stage of his development. When he says Feuerbach’s great achievement is to have counterposed to the negation of the negation the self-subsistent positive, he has in mind primarily the way in which Hegel uses the negation of the negation to affirm the absolute as spirit. Secondarily, Marx has in mind the way in which the idealist negation of the negation fails to move beyond the stage of self-reference in estrangement to a positive supersession. These two aspects of the matter are connected, of course.

On the first point, however, Feuerbach rejects objective dialectics along with idealism; while, on the second point, Marx diverges at least as far from Feuerbach as he does from Hegel, because for Feuerbach ‘positive humanism’ is merely a philosophical perspective produced by inverting religion and philosophy so that speculative thought is brought down to earth, while for Marx it is historically produced through the supersession of real objective estrangement. Marx is primarily interested in the historical dialectic, and he wants to root communist revolution immanently in it; hence he tries to recuperate Hegel’s dialectic of negativity within a materialist conception of history. Feuerbach rejects Hegel’s negation of the negation altogether because he is primarily interested in nature, which idealist dialectic reduces to the status of an ‘externality’ to be sublated. Here Marx is bound to go some of the way with Feuerbach. However, although the 1844 Manuscripts contain some undigested lumps of Feuerbach’s naturalism, it is already clear that Marx advances beyond Feuerbach’s endorsement of the immediate unity of man and nature to pose labour as their mediation. This provides him with the ontological basis for his historical dialectic. It follows that, with Marx, alienation is read as objective alienation. The new interpretation of the world and its religious reflex provided by Feuerbach is inadequate from this point of view: the point is to change the world. [87]

The Changing Verdicts

The thesis of a linear development from Hegel through Feuerbach to Marx is seen to be untenable when we consider the evidence of the 1844 Manuscripts. Marx’s turn to political economy there brought the category of labour to the forefront of his thought and allowed him to make the complex connections with Hegel’s Phenomenology we have already examined. Commentators as different as Marcuse and Althusser recognize this return to Hegel.

Marcuse points out that when, in his theses On Feuerbach, Marx demarcates himself from Feuerbach through the concept of human practice he thereby ‘reaches back beyond Feuerbach to Hegel’; so the matter is not as simple as a straight road from Feuerbach to Marx subsequent to a rejection of Hegel; ‘instead of this, Marx, at the origins of his revolutionary theory, once again appropriates the decisive achievements of Hegel on a transformed basis’. [88] Althusser speaks of ‘Hegel reintroduced by force into Feuerbach’. [89]

It has to be said that Marx fails in the 1844 Manuscripts to make his differences with Feuerbach explicit. No doubt the general enthusiasm of Marx and Engels for Feuerbach’s devastating critique of theology and philosophy in the early 1840s led to an over-estimation of his contribution and a lack of interest in taking any distance from him at the outset of Marx’s own development of materialist criticism. This may be why there is no trace in Marx’s 1844 Manuscripts of any recognition of the distance he has travelled from his mentor.

The first documented break comes with the theses On Feuerbach drafted in the spring of 1845. Nothing before this is conclusive in my view. The early letter quoted above containing a reservation on Feuerbach’s naturalism is evidently retracted in practice with Marx’s materialist turn. Those, like Lukács [90] and Naville, [91] who cite Marx’s 1844 statement that Feuerbach sees Hegel’s negation of the negation only as the contradiction of philosophy with itself, as if it were a criticism of Feuerbach, are reading too much into the text. The statement occurs in a passage summarizing and endorsing Feuerbach’s counterposition to Hegel of ‘positive facts’. [92] Instead of starting from positive facts Hegel engages in a positing through double negation. If such Hegelian doctrine is taken literally, then Marx rejects it as mystifying and anti-naturalistic. At this level Marx is in agreement with Feuerbach and the statement quoted should be read as an endorsement, or at least as a neutral report. Certainly no other remark in the 1844 Manuscripts can be said to be critical of Feuerbach, so the balance of probability is that this is not either.

Where Marx goes beyond Feuerbach is in recognizing that Hegel’s dialectic of negativity, freed from its estranged form of expression within philosophy, can be given concrete content in the pattern of historical genesis. What Marx seems to say is that past history itself can he criticized for positing through negation, but in the future socialist man knows how to start from himself as a positive fact, so to speak.

At this stage Marx does not see it as his task to point out Feuerbach’s limitations with regard to the comprehension of historical dialectic. Indeed, at this stage he still entertains the hope of securing Feuerbach’s collaboration. He writes to him in August 1844 to persuade him that on his own humanist principles he too should become a socialist. Marx points out that, whether he knows it or not, Feuerbach has provided ‘a philosophical basis for socialism’ and that ‘the communists’ have understood this.

The unity of man with man, which is based on the real differences between men, the concept of the human species brought down from the heaven of abstraction to the real earth, what is this but the concept of society? [93]

Strangely enough, Feuerbach responds to this injunction. While at first reluctant to state publicly that he is a communist, [94] his reply (1845) to Stirner’s criticism of his work ends in ringing tones with the declaration that, in as much as he ‘places the essence of man in community alone’, he is ‘Kommunist‘. [95]

Rather ungratefully, Marx later writes (in the German Ideology) that Feuerbach ‘is deceiving himself when he declares himself a communist’ because his conception of ‘communist’ is merely a category that registers an ahistorical fact about men’s need for society whereas ‘in the real world’ a communist is a follower of a revolutionary party bent on overthrowing the existing order: [96] ‘rather ungratefully’ because Marx’s original letter makes such an equation between communism and ‘the concept of society’. As for party affiliation: it is touching to learn that, when he was almost forgotten, Feuerbach joined the Social Democratic Party, two years before his death. [97]

However, this is to run ahead of the story. Returning to the question of Feuerbach and Hegel, we have seen that the 1844 Manuscripts hail Feuerbach as ‘the true conqueror of the old philosophy’. The only hint of a doubt in Marx’s mind is revealed by a passage at the end of the Preface. He says that ‘Feuerbach’s discoveries about the nature of philosophy still, for their proof at least, call for a critical discussion of philosophical dialectic’. [98] Even then Marx had second thoughts and hastily crossed it through. In The Holy Family (1845) he still talks of Feuerbach’s ‘masterly criticism’ of Hegel, [99] and says that ‘Feuerbach was the first to describe philosophy as speculative and mystical empiricism and to prove it’. [100] But in the German Ideology (1846) Mans concludes that, after all, Feuerbach does not provide a criticism of Hegel’s dialectics. [101] Before the German Ideology we have the well-known theses On Feuerbach. For the first time Marx comprehensively, and consciously, breaks with Feuerbach.

It must be remarked that this break occurs after the appearance of Max Stirner’s scorching critique Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum. Although dated 1845, this came out late in 1844 and, judging by his correspondence, Marx must have read it at once. [102] All the Young Hegelians felt constrained to reply to Stirner. Feuerbach’s reply was mentioned above. M. Hess (using material in a letter of Marx’s) replied immediately in his Die Letzten Philosophen. Marx and Engels set to work late in 1845 on the German Ideology, by far the largest section of which is a page by page attack on Stirner’s work. In this connection it should be noted that Engel’s reminiscences, quoted earlier, are misleading. He lists the Young Hegelians in the order Strauss, Bauer, Stirner, Feuerbach. The uninitiated might think that Feuerbach’s main works replied to Stirner. In fact, it was Stirner who came last with a book, and that included a violent attack on Feuerbach. At all events, Marx and Engels, in 1845, began to include Feuerbach with the other young Hegelians as part of their past, now superseded.

From our point of view, the most important of the theses On Feuerbach is the first, because in it ‘materialism’ (Feuerbach’s explicitly included) is charged with neglect of the practical relation to objectivity; by contrast ‘the active side was set forth abstractly by idealism’. [103] This shows how far Marx’s materialism, in its concentration on practice, goes beyond the passivity of sensuous intuition presented by Feuerbach and so many others as the nub of materialism. In thus distancing himself from ‘the old materialism’ Marx even acknowledges once again merit in idealism (Hegel), despite the fact that it transposes real activity into the dialectic of abstractions.

It is in the German Ideology that Marx and Engels develop the method of historical materialism at length for the first time. However, these positive views are embedded in a critique of the Young Hegelians, including Feuerbach. According to this account, ‘their polemics against Hegel and against one another are confined to this – each takes one side of the Hegelian system and turns this against the whole system as well as against the aspects chosen by the others’. [104] A rather nice example of this occurs in Feuerbach’s first Hegel-critique, where he inverts Hegel’s ordering of space and time, preferring ‘the liberality of space’ to ‘the monarchical tendency of time’; but where both are still recognizably Hegel’s categories. [105]

The main point, of course, is the emphasis placed by Marx and Engels on the importance of the mode of production. Feuerbach says in his Essence of Christianity that man is distinguished from animals by religion and by consciousness. [106] Obviously with this in mind, Marx and Engels say:

men can be distinguished from animals by consciousness, by religion, or anything else you like. They themselves begin to distinguish themselves from animals as soon as they begin to produce their means of subsistence . . . This mode of production is a definite mode of life on their part . . . What they are, therefore, coincides with their production. [107]

They take Feuerbach severely to task for his abstract contemplative materialism; they point our that the cherry tree outside his window is an object of sensuous certainty for Feuerbach only as a result of world trade; nature just as ‘given’ exists only on a few coral islands; the progression of industry has thoroughly transformed the objective world.

The final verdict of Marx on Feuerbach is given much later on. In an obituary (of January 1865) on Proudhon, Marx remarks in passing that ‘compared with Hegel, Feuerbach is exceedingly poor’. So why all the fuss? Because ‘he was epoch-making after Hegel, since he laid stress on certain points disagreeable to Christian consciousness while important for the progress of criticism, and which Hegel had left in mystic semi-obscurity’. [108]

‘Compared with Hegel, Feuerbach is exceedingly poor’: this is interesting not only for Marx’s opinion of Feuerbach but for a revaluation of Hegel. How does it come about that ‘the conqueror of Hegel’ now bears no comparison with him? What happens with Marx is that as Feuerbach’s star wanes, Hegel’s rises. Not at first: not in The Holy Family for example. Although this was composed – mostly by Marx – immediately after the 1844 Manuscripts, there is little trace in it of the advances made there. In particular, there is no mention of any ‘great thing’ in Hegel; Feuerbach is the hero. Hegel is treated scornfully throughout, under such headings as ‘Mystery of Speculative Construction’. Indeed, for the next ten years Marx’s references to Hegel and his dialectic are almost uniformly negative: the German Ideology dismisses Hegel’s speculative history; the Poverty of Philosophy (1847) makes fun of Hegel’s ‘strings of thoughts’ in the methodology section; the dialectic of negation of the negation is attacked without reference to any virtue in it.

It is only when Marx seriously tries to get his economics into shape that there is a second return to Hegel. The first was the 1844 return to the Phenomenology; this time it is to the Logic. We have a letter (January 1858) in which Marx reports that he had been made a present of Hegel’s Logic and found it of great service ‘in the method’. [109] This influence was noted by several reviewers of Capital(1867), mostly with disapproval. In a letter of 1868 Marx remarks of the fashion to treat Hegel’s dialectics as a dead dog that ‘Feuerbach has much on his conscience in this respect’. [110] So the man who was first applauded for overthrowing Hegel’s dialectic should now apologize! Again in 1870 Marx mentions how put out Lange and others are by his resurrection of Hegel – after they had long buried him! [111] When the second edition of Capital appeared in 1873, Marx made a special point of asserting his affiliation to Hegel on the question of dialectic – unfortunately in words too cryptic to construe easily.


What this survey shows is that there is no unilinear development from Hegel through Feuerbach to a ‘mature’ Marxism. Moreover, in contrast to much recent talk of a ‘break’ in Marx’s work, and the contraposition of a ‘young’ and ‘old’ Marx, Marx himself showed no inclination to reject any of his work, however early. In 1851, well after his adoption of a communist outlook, he was happy to see republished his early journalism. [112] In 1867 he re-read The Holy Family and reported to Engels that he ‘was pleasantly surprised to find that we do not need to be ashamed of this work, although the cult of Feuerbach produces a very humorous effect upon one now’. [113]

At the same time, it is obvious that there are important developments in Marx’s thought. We can mark out the following stages:

  1. 1840-3
    Young Hegelianism leading to radical democratic works.
  2. 1843-4
    Feuerbachian works, especially his notes on Hegel’s Philosophy of Right applying the method of inversion of Hegel. A turn towards a practical thrust in the Introduction.
  3. 1844
    The turning point. Birth of Marxism in that labour is centralized, and political economy is seen as a key science. Feuerbach is not yet rejected. The first return to Hegel in that there is praise for the ‘producing principle’ of the Phenomenology.
  4. 1844-57
    Transitional works. Anti-speculative settling with philosophy, both Hegel’s, in The Holy Family (still under the sign of Feuerbach) and Feuerbach’s also, in the Theses and German Ideology. Growing concreteness of outlook, e.g. class struggle in the Manifesto.
  5. 1857 on
    Mature work on political economy and politics; the second return to Hegel, this time to the Logic. [114]

1 Georg Lukács, ‘Moses Hess’ (1926) in Political Writings 1919-1929.
trans. M. McColgan, London, 1972, p. 203.

Michael Löwy, Georg Lukács – From Romanticism to Bolshevism (1975),
London, 1979, p. 196.

Possibly the author was Feuerbach himself; for the debate see T.I.
Oizerman, The Making of the Marxist Philosophy (1977). Eng. trans., Moscow,
1981, p. 124-5.

4The Life of Jesus (1835) in The Young Hegelians, ed. L. Steplevitch,
Cambridge, 1983, p. 48.

Marx’s over-enthusiastic espousal of Feuerbach does not go quite as far
as the stunning citation in H. P. Adams, Karl Marx in his Earlier
(1940), London, 1965, p. 104: ‘Political economy owes its true
foundations to the discoveries of Feuerbach’. What Marx actually says (in
a deleted paragraph moreover) is that ‘positive criticism as a whole’ –
and therefore ‘criticism of political economy’ – ‘owes . . . etc.
(C.W.3, 232).

6Werke Eb., 468; C.W.3, 232.

This standard classification is a bit simplistic. For the full story
see J.E. Toews, Hegelianism: Path to Dialectical Humanism 1805-1841,
Cambridge. 1980. For Young Hegelian materials in translation, see
Steplevitch, The Young Hegelians.

Hegel to Niethammer 28 October 1808; in Briefe von und an Hegel Band 1,
ed. J. Hoffmeister, Hamburg. 1952, p. 253.

9C.W.3, 404.

The existence of this pamphlet is sufficient refutation of Alan White’s
claim that Engels was ‘receptive’ to Schelling’s critique: see White, Absolute Knowledge: Hegel and the Problem of Metaphysics, Athens, Ohio,
and London, 1983. p. 7. Equally mistaken is Alfred Schmidt’s claim
that Schelling’s critique influenced the young Marx. Marx’s contempt for
Schelling’s later work is evident in his letter to Feuerbach of 3
October 1843. Schmidt’s reference to an allegedly Schellingian passage in the
young Marx does not make it clear that it is Hegel‘s view Marx is
characterizing: see Schmidt, The Concept of Nature in Marx (1962), London,
1971, p. 20.

11Schelling and Revelation (1842): C.W.2, 196.

12C.W.3, 406. Compare with this the closing page of Engels’ 1888 work Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy (in M.E.S.W.).

Louis Althasser, For Marx (1965), trans. Ben Brewster, London, 1969, p. 65.

For the latest account of Hegel’s accommodation see Ilting in The State and Civil Society, ed. Z.A. Pelczynski, Cambridge, 1984.

15C.W.1, 84.

16Werke Eb., 581; C.W.3, 339.

17C.W.1, 18.

Ibid., 11.

19Werke Eb., 608; C.W.1, 577; another translation is in M.A. Rose, Reading the Young Marx and Engels. London, 1978, p. 68.

‘In a poem written in 1837 … preoccupation with the world of thought
is contrasted with his own concern for the everyday life of man.’
Bertell Ollman, Alienation, Cambridge, 1971, p. 264.

For a critical reading of this period, see Rose, Reading.

22 C.W.1, 18.

23 Principles of the Philosophy of the Future: K.S.II, 337; F.B., 243.

24M.E.S.W., 602-3.

25C.W.2, 237.

26M.E.S.W., 603.

27C.W.1, 400; New MEGA III, 1, Briefe bis April 1846, p. 45.

Nathan Rotenstreich, Basic Principles of Marx’s Philosophy,
Indianapolis, 1965, p. 29.

See Marx’s mini-autobiography in the Preface to a work of 1859: M.E.S.W., 181 ff.

. . . die eigentümliche Logik des eigentümlichen Gegenstande zu
‘: New MEGA 1,2, p. 101; C.W.3, 91; E.W., 159.

Galvano della Volpe does not realize this and hence sees the 1843
critique of Hegel as more important than the 1844 Mss in the development of Marx’s new science. See ‘For a materialist methodology’ (1955-57), in Della Volpe, Rousseau and Marx (1964), London, 1978.

32K.S.II, 332; F.B., 238-9.

33C.W.3, 168.

34New MEGA 1, 2, 178; E.W., 252.

35New MEGA 1, 2, 181-2; E.W., 256.

36New MEGA 1, 2, 177; E.W., 251.

37New MEGA 1, 2, 182-3; E.W., 257.

38New MEGA 1, 2, 177; E.W., 251.

By M. Nicolaus, Studies on the Left, 7 (l967), no. I, who believes this
is carried through at least as late as the Grundrisse.

40Werke Eb., 467; C.W.3, 231.

41C.W.1, 85.

42C.W.3, 91.

43C.W.1, 220.

Ibid., 216.

E.V. Il’enkov sums up the turn Marx’s thought takes now as follows:
‘Marx in 1842 did not turn to a formal analysis of contemporary communist
ideas (they were indeed quite naïve), nor to a criticism of the
practical attempts to implement them (they were quite feeble), but rather he
contemplated a theoretical analysis of the conflict within the social
organism which spawned these ideas and the elucidation of that real
demand which expressed itself in the form of ideas such as Utopian socialism
and communism.’ In Marx and the Western World, rd. N. Lobkowicz, Notre
Dame, Indiana, 1967, p. 397.

46C.W.3, 143.

Ibid., 297.

48C.W.5, 49.

49Werke Eb., 468; C.W.3, 232.

50Werke Eb., 569; C.W.3, 328.


52Principles: S.W.2, 276; F.B., 205.

53S.W.2, 276; F.B., 206.

54S.W.2, 301; F.B., 229.

55Preliminary Theses on the Reform of Philosophy: S.W.2, 227; F.B., 157.

56Towards a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy: S.W.2, 227; F.B., 157.

57Principles: S.W.2, 310-11; F.B., 237.

58S.W.2, 282; F.B., 211.

59Hegel’s Logic (Encyclopaedia I), trans. W. Wallace, 3rd rd., Oxford,
1975, para. 244.

60Philosophische Fragmente: S.W.2, 363; F.B., 270.

Enzyklopädie der Philosophischen Wissenschaften im Grundrisse (1830)
Hamburg, 1975, para. 244. In Hegel’s Phenomenology the same idea appears:
‘spirit displays the process of its becoming spirit in the form of free contingent happening, intuiting its pure self as Time outside of it,
and equally its being as Space. This last becoming of spirit, Nature,
is its living immediate becoming . . . But the other side of its
becoming, History, is a conscious self-mediating process – spirit emptied out
{entäusserte} into time; but the externalization … is equally an
externalization of itself; the negative is the negative of itself’ Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A.V. Miller, Oxford, 1977, para. 807-8.

62Werke Eb., 585-6; C.W.3, 344; E.W., 397-8.

63Werke Eb., 587; C.W.3, 345-6; E.W., 398-9.

64Philosophy of Nature: Enzyklopädie para. 247.

65Philosophy of Mind: Enzyklopädie para. 381. For a defence of the
incorporation of physical objects in ‘infinite teleology’ see, Crawford
Elder, Appropriating Hegel (1980), Aberdeen, 1981.

66 Werke Eb., 588; C.W.3, 346.

Preface to the second edition of The Essence of Christianity: F.B.,

68Werke Eb., 565; C.W.3, 325; E.W., 377.

K. Marx, Grundrisse, trans. M. Nicolaus, Harmondsworth, 1973, p.

70Werke Eb., 562; C.W.3, 321; E.W., 374.

Lukács, Political Writings, pp. 210-12.

This aspect in well brought out by M. Wartofsky, Feuerbach, Cambridge,

Lukács, Political Writings, pp. 202-7; David McLellan, The Young
Hegelians and Karl Marx
, London, 1969, pp. 18, 112.

Lukács, Political Writings, p. 211; Lukács, The Young Hegel, trans. R.
Livingstone, London, 1975, pp. 548, 559.

75C.W.4, 665.

76Werke Eb., 562; C.W.3, 322.

77Principles: K.S.II, 318; F.B., 226.

78Werke Eb., 563; C.W.3, 322. Thus ‘the science of man is a produce of
man’s self-formation through practice’, adds Marx; that is, man only
knows what he is when he has become what he is in the totality of
expressions. This view of science is parallel to that in Hegel’s Phenomenology.

79 Gesammelte Werke 5, Berlin, 1984, p. 365; Essence of Christianity,
trans. Marian Evans, New York, 1957, p. 217.

Erich Fromm. Marx’s Concept of Man (1961), New York, 1971, p. 32.

81C.W.4, 21.

82Essence: F.B., 262.

83Essence: Gesammelte Werke 5, p. 377.

84Essence: Gesammelte Werke 5, p. 71; F.B., 127.

85Essence: Gesammelte Werke 5, p. 71, n.3; F.B., 133.

86 Principles: K.S.II, 301; F.B., 209.

87On Feuerbach thesis 11, C.W.5, 5.

Marcuse (1932) in Marcuse, From Luther to Popper, essays trans. Joris
de Bres, London, 1983. pp. 21-2.

Louis Althusser. Politics and History (1970), London, 1972, p. 176.

Lukács, Young Hegel, p. 559.

Pierre Naville, De L’Aliénation à la Jouissance, Paris, 1957, p. 134.

92Werke Eb., 570; C.W.3, 329.

Marx to Feuerbach 11 August 1844: New MEGA III,1, Briefe bis 1846, 63; C.W.3, 354.

According to Engels, C.W.38, 22.

95K.S.II, 441.

96C.W.5, 57.

Wartofsky, Feuerbach, p. xx.

98C.W.3, 254.

99C.W.4, 139.

100C.W.4, 39.

101C.W.5, 530. Jindrich Zelený holds the German Ideology is also an
implicit self criticism of Feuerbachianism in the 1844 Mss: The Logic of Marx (1968), Oxford, 1980.

See Engels to Marx, 20 January 1845: C.W.38, 16.

103C.W.5, 3.

104C.W.5, 29.

105K.S.11, 18; F.B., 54.

106Gesammelte Werke 5, p. 28; F.B., 97.

107C.W.5, 31.

Marx to J. B. Schweitzer, 24 January 1865, Selected Correspondence, ed.
S. Ryazanskaya, Moscow, 1965, P. 151.

109Selected Correspondence, p. 100.

Marx to Engels, 11 January 1868: Werke Band 32, Berlin, 1965, p. 18; Selected Correspondence, trans. Dona Torr, London, 1934. P. 233.

Marx to Kugelmann, 27 June 1870. Marx’s words (‘ . . . das sie – poor
deer – ihn langst begraben haben‘) pose problems for translators because
of the strange spelling and syntax: (a) Werke Band 32 takes Marx
literally and informs the German reader that Marx calls Hegel ‘armes Tier
(P. 686); (b) the English Selected Correspondence (1965) silently
corrects to: ‘that he – poor dear – had long been buried by them’ (p. 240);
Raya Dunayevskaya, in Philosophy and Revolution, New York, 1973,
following the syntax, assumes Marx meant to be patronizing to the ‘poor dears’
Lange & Co. (p. 50).

Maximillien Rubel, Marx Life and Works (1965), London, 1980, p. 26.

24 April 1867: Selected Correspondence (1934), p. 217.

Alfred Schmidt, History and Structure (1971), Cambridge, Mass., notes
the two distinct appropriations of Hegel (p. 61).

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