Among the various senses of ‘materialism’ distinguished in the preceding study as relevant to Marx’s understanding of it, a ‘dialectical’ variety does not figure. This may surprise the reader who has heard of Marx as a representative, or even as the effective originator of a doctrine called ‘dialectical materialism’. Now it is certainly the case that the term does not occur in Marx’s writings (nor in those of Engels for that matter).2 But it is no less true that he considered himself as using a ‘dialectical method’ and that he held a ‘dialectic’ to be at work in the real world both of nature and society.3 Unfortunately it is not at all clear what Marx meant by this. On a couple of occasions he expressed his intention of writing a short work on the subject,4 but this is one of the many projects that he did not carry through. What writing there is on the subject in the Marxist tradition gives even less help than usual.5 So there is nothing for it but to start from scratch and to try to produce an account of Marx’s thinking on this theme based on what he himself wrote.
KeywordsMaterialist Dialectic Abstract Labour Real Conflict Dialectical Method Marxist Tradition
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Chapter 3 Marx, Hegel and ‘CONTRADICTION’
- E.g. G. Lukacs, History and Class Consciousness (1923, London: Merlin Press, 1971) p. 132. Cf. also the 1967 preface, p. xix.Google Scholar
- It should be noted that my use of the term ‘emancipation’ and cognates is not an allusion to Habermas’s idea of ‘emancipatory interest’. See e.g. J. Habermas, Knowledge and Human Interests (London: Heinemann, 1972) esp. ch. 9, and Appendix (especially pp. 311ff).Google Scholar
- Georg Lukacs, Die Eigenart des Aesthetischen, 1 Hbbd (Werke, Bd 11) (Neuwied-Berlin: Luchterhand, 1963) pp. 45f. Cf. also p. 112.Google Scholar
- Marx, Texts on Method (tr. T. Carver) (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1974) p. 210.Google Scholar
- For a more detailed exposition see W. Suchting, ‘Marx on the Dialectics of Production and Consumption in the Introduction to the Grundrisse’ Social Praxis, 3 (1975) 291-314.Google Scholar