Revolutionary Subjectivity in the Thought of Karl Marx
Elias, Paul Steven
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This dissertation demonstrates several theses in relation to key components of Marxs philosophy that conventional interpretations either misrepresent or overlook. The chief thesis concerns his idea of revolutionary subjectivity which is demonstrably inconsistent and undertheorized. The main areas of Marxs work that are explored to elucidate this idea are his ontology and method, philosophical anthropology, idea of communist society, and theory of history. Insight into these and other aspects of his work can be derived through analysis of a tradition of social philosophy which has its origins in ancient Hellenic thought. Marxs strongest inspiration from this period came from the philosophy of Aristotle, whose work profoundly influenced his understanding of human development and his idea of free life-activity and relations. A key component of this tradition is the ontological idea that reason governs the world. Marx sublated the form that it took in Hegels philosophy. Inspired by Hegels idea that reason is at work in human history through a process of estrangement, Marx claimed that the capitalist mode of production is instrumental in the development of the productive forces and the integral development of the revolutionary working class. According to Marx the creation of revolutionary subjectivity takes place through estrangement and revolutionary practice. On his premises, such developmentally self-transformative life-activity is indispensable for the development of the capacities required for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and reorganization of social life. And yet he also claimed that the life-activity of working people in capitalist society has a tendency to ruin them physically and mentally. An accurate representation of this problem at the heart of Marxs idea of revolutionary subjectivityand thus of this idea itselfrequires an emphasis on his sensitivity to the subjective-mental dimension of human life (his incipient psychology and theory of mind) and the development of individual ethical capacities in particular. This dissertation concludes by rearticulating elements of Marxs thought about estrangement and human subjectivity with Husserlian phenomenology and Freudian psychoanalysis (including some of Melanie Kleins revisions of it) so as to establish a fruitful starting point for sublating Marxs social philosophy.