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Friday, April 20, 2012

The Doctoral Thesis of Karl Marx

In 1839, marx, still int berlin, began writing a doctoral thesis wich would help him to ge ajob as auniversity lecturer. Pressure from his friend Bruno Bauer, quarrels with his family, his engagement to Jenny v. Westhalen and the consequent need to obtain ajob quickly, made marx present his thesis in ahurry and he obtained his degree in absentia from the university of jena in april 1841. The title of the thesis was the differnce between democritus and eficurus philosophy of nature. Many of marx’s young hegelian colleagues were intersted in this post –aristotelian Greek philosophy, both because it seemed to them to present the same problems as confronted pos –hegelian philosophy and also because it was the intelectual climate in which christianity started –and religion was a constant subject of debate among the Young Hegelians.

The body of marx’s thesis is of little interst: it consists of a criticism of those who equated the natural philosophies of democritus and epicurus and a catalogue of the differences between these philosophies. Marx’s attacke democritus’s mecahistic determinism and praised epicurus for introducing the idea of spontaneity into the movement of the atoms. The following extracts come from the far more intesting degressopms interspersed between the notes and deferences and no doubt intended to be incorporated into a revised and enlarged version of the thesis for publication. Marx’s starting-point in these digressions is hegel’s philospophy of history, which hi intended to revise  and push further. The extracts develop the problem raised by marx’ letter to his father: what is the philosopher’s task after the seductive solution to the problem of the relationship of the real to the retional as offered by hegel? Marx’s answer, couched in reather obcscure and abstract language, is that Hegel has to be radically rethought and put on a new basis, a basis tha will involve the disappearance of philosophy at the same time as its realization. For the function of philosophy is to criticize exiting rality and make the gap between the ideal and the ral intorelable. Marx also introduces here the notion of praxis, though as yet in an idealistic form.

Taken from Refleksi: Jurnal Kajian Agama dan Filsafat, vol. Ix, no. 1 (Ciputat: Fakultas Ushuluddin dan Filsafat, UIN Syarif Hidayatulllah Jakarta), 2007: 8-9, h.1

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