MARX'S DOC DISSERTATION - REVIEW - 1

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Sun Apr 30 19:53:37 MDT 1995


YOUNG YOUNG MARX AND IDEAS AS SOCIAL FORCES

by Ralph Dumain

SUMMARY REVIEW OF: Baronovitch, L.  "Two appendices to a doctoral
dissertation: some light on the origin of Karl Marx's dissociation
from Bruno Bauer and the Young Hegelians", THE PHILOSOPHICAL
FORUM, vol. 8, nos. 2-4, 1978, p. 219-240.

If one wants to know why Marx became the greatest of the Young
Hegelians, one needs to go back to the beginning, past the young
Marx to the young young Marx of the doctoral dissertation, to
understand why Marx's distinction was recognized early on, to
observe Marx's perspicuity in recognizing social forces in the
evolution of ideas.

There is an introductory section, a section on "Abstract and real
possibility: the practical evolution of philosophy", another
section -- "From abstract to real possibility: possibility as
worldly practice", and of course a concluding section.  Well, you
may have heard of Feuerbach, but you must go further back to
Marx's sojourn in Berlin with the Doctors' Club, when the main
influence on Marx was Bruno Bauer.  This scenario is explained in
some detail (p. 222-223), but for now we'll strip the story down
to the barest of crib notes.

Bauer emphasis on the relationship between history and philosophy
and the role of self-consciousness influenced Marx's choice of a
dissertation topic, as can be discerned in Marx's Preparatory
"Notebooks on Epicurean Philosophy".  The Young Hegelians (Koeppen
is noted in particular) studied the emergence of Christianity out
of the Roman mind which itself originated in Greek
post-Aristotelian philosophy, especially Epicureanism.  Already
Koeppen was comparing this scenario to the contemporary German
Enlightenment.  Bauer wanted to liberate the potential of Hegel's
system, noting with his peers that Hegel undervalued the later
Greek thinkers.  Now I begin to quote directly:

"Bauer, in fact, took up Hegel's thesis of the ongoing development
of mind precisely at the point where it ended up in the
_Phanomenologie_, that of a supreme self-consciousness.  His major
contribution to Hegelian philosophy was to revitalise the motion
of mind by transposing self-consciousness from its passive role in
the system of Hegel into a weapon of philosophical criticism with
the aid of dialectics.  Nowhere is the impact of Bauer's thought
on this subject better expressed than in Karl Marx's _Doctoral
Dissertation_ ...." (p. 223)

Baronovitch focuses his attention on the two understudied
preparatory notebooks and two appendices to the doctoral
dissertation.  We are reminded that Marx's general object "was to
show that the famous declination principle of Epicurean natural
philosophy was a reflection of a general principle of
self-consciousness acting through the entire system of Greek's
[sic] thought." (p. 224)  Now for the interesting stuff:

"The worldly expression of philosophy ... had two sides, one, an
_objective_ relationship of thought to the world.  The second,
"the relation of the philosophical system which is actualised to
its intellectual supporters and to the individual
self-consciousness in which its progress becomes manifest."  This
second, _subjective_ aspect has a further quality .... [having] to
do with the attempt of the philosopher to convey his thought to
the world .... when a system of philosophy achieved a _totality_
having expanded to the whole world, it turned against the world of
appearance.  The world confronting such a total philosophy ....
was a world torn apart and the activity of the philosopher
contradictory ... in the attempt of the philosopher to make the
world philosophical, the realisation of his philosophy also became
its loss as his intellectual activity became worldly and
practical, and as such, fell into the same defects as those it
sought to fight in the opposite camp." (p. 225)

This is, of course, the situation befalling the Hegelian system.
And now Baronovitch quotes Marx directly:

"this duality of the philopshical mind produces two schools
completely opposed to one another, one of which, the liberal party
as we may loosely call it, lays most emphasis on philosophy as a
concept and principle, while the other holds fast to what are not
concepts, to the real.  This second school is positive philosophy.
The activity of the first takes the form of a critique i.e.
philosophy turning itself against the exterior world, the activity
of the latter is an attempt to philosophise i.e. philosophical
introspection.  The second school sees the deficiency as immanent
to philosophy, whereas the first sees it as a deficiency of the
world that it is trying to make philosophical.  Each of these
parties does exactly what the other aims at and does not itself
intend.  But the first, in spite of its inner contradictions, is
in general aware of its principle and aim .... As regards content,
it is only the liberal party, because it is the party of the
concept, which makes any real progress, whereas positive
philosophy is only capable of requirements and tendencies whose
form contradicts their meaning. (p. 226)

Marx belongs to the liberal party, the party of the concept.
However, by the end of 1843 Marx's position has shifted, as
expressed in the _Introduction to a Critique of Hegel's Philosophy
of Right_.  It looks like Marx has become the Third Camper of the
Hegelian Left.  The theoretical party (later stage of the liberal
party) was right to connect Germany's 'dream history' with its
real history and to continue the struggle on the purely
intellectual plane, but the practical political party is correct
in demanding the negation of philosophy, but is wrong in turning
its back on philosophy, which is part of the German actuality.
Philosophy cannot be transcended without actualizing it;
philosophy cannot be actualized without transcending it. (p. 227)

I can't say I understand this completely, but boy am I fascinated
by this stuff.  Unfortunately, I don't have any notes for the next
several pages.

In the next installment I will treat Marx's break with Bauer.

[30 April 1995]


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