THE YOUNG HEGELIANS (was "materialism")

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Sun Feb 18 01:03:23 MST 1996


In response to Hans Despain, the special issue he was thinking of
is surely the following:

THE PHILOSOPHICAL FORUM, vol. VIII, nos. 2-4, 1978: Feuerbach,
Marx and the Left Hegelians.

If you are interested in this topic, you cannot afford not to have
this volume.  I ordered this back issue.  I don't have the
paperwork handy, but I'm guessing that I paid cover price $8.50 +
$3 postage.  Just send 'em a check for $11.50 and tell 'em I sent
you.  I have two addresses.  The more familiar one is: The
Philosophical Forum, Baruch College of CUNY, Box 239, 17 Lexington
Ave., New York NY 10010.  I have a second but more obscure address
for subscriptions: The Philosophical Forum, 111 East 18th St.,
G-1437, New York, NY 10010.

This issue includes both primary and secondary literature.  There
are translations from Bruno Bauer, Max Stirner, Edgar Bauer, and
Ludwig Feuerbach.  There are articles on these people and there
are several articles on Marx as well.  One of them refutes those
ever-recurring charges of Marx's anti-semitism.  There are two
essays on Marx's dissertation.  "Two appendices to a doctoral
dissertation: some new light on the origin of Karl Marx's
dissociation from Bruno Bauer and the Young Hegelians" by L.
Baronovitch is a must-read.

The significance of the doctoral dissertation is primarily one of
the sociology of ideas.  Marx had an uncanny instinct for ideas as
social forces.  In opposition to Justin, I don't call this
pragmatism, but that is a subject for future discussion.  Marx
felt that contemporary German philosophy was in an analogous
situation to post-Aristotle antiquity: what happens following the
achievement then break-up of a grand philosophical synthesis?
What direction should one go in, which fragments should be
pursued?  The Young Hegelians wanted to take philosophy in
directions beyond which Hegel could not go in religion and
politics, but they could not equal his achievement in terms of
creating such a grand intellectual synthesis.  What to do?

The Marx most of us know is the Marxist "I am not a Marxist" Marx.
To understand Marx's development, you have to enter a very
different world from the one you know.  Marx's earliest and at the
time closest philosophical comrade was Bruno Bauer.  Bauer was a
way station, as was Feuerbach, and finally Stirner a stimulus that
finally broke Marx free of all of them.  However, one cannot
understand this rupture in terms of ahistorical, detached abstract
tripe about epistemological breaks.  One must study the actual
development to understand what happened in THE GERMAN IDEOLOGY.

McLellan's THE YOUNG HEGELIANS AND KARL MARX is a good sourcebook
and not a bad place to start, but it is rather sketchy and perhaps
presents a somewhat misleading picture.  Sidney Hook's FROM HEGEL
TO MARX is surprisingly excellent.  When Hook became an
anti-communist, he wrote nothing but shit, so I was surprised to
find that this book was so good, and so necessary, since there was
nothing else in English at the time as far as I know.  As always,
I recommend Georges Labica's MARXISM AND THE STATUS OF
PHILOSOPHY.

One cannot underestimate what the language barrier has done to us,
especially us anglophones who think we've got access to
everything.  Not so.  You'd be shocked at what has not been
translated.  In the early 80s finally an anthology of the Young
Hegelians' writings in English translation compiled by Lawrence
Stepelevich came out.  I don't have it and I need it.  Stepelevich
also translated a satirical work by Bruno Bauer on "Hegel the
Antichrist" which some say Marx covertly co-authored.

Speaking of needs, I need to procure an anthology of Feuerbach's
writings, THE FIERY BROOK (1972?).  I also need Kamenka's book on
Feuerbach (1970).  I'll pay.

There are some books on the Young Hegelians in English.  The only
thing I have is HEGELIANISM: THE PATH TOWARD DIALECTICAL HUMANISM,
1805-1832 by John Edward Toews.  However, this book only covers
the early period of post-Hegel Hegelianism, which was decisively
influenced by Strauss's LEBEN JESU (Life of Jesus).  Bauer
represents the next stage after Strauss.

One final note: always beware of genealogical interpretations, as
I have said before.  There is a sense in which Marx did and did
not evolve out of his connection with Bauer, Feuerbach, etc.
Labica gives a sense of this, which is one reason I love the book.
I love works which confront the problematics of intellectuals
traditions, which is why my shelves are warm with Jonathan Ree,
Jacques Ranciere, and E.P. Thompson's WITNESS AGAINST THE BEAST:
WILLIAM BLAKE AND THE MORAL LAW.  The discussion over Spinoza
reminds me of my perpetual caveat.


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