Genealogies of Common Sense

Marx and Nietzsche
  • Patrick McGee


By the use of the word “genealogy,” I do not mean to imply that I am now going to write a history of the term “common sense.” Rather, I want to reimagine a certain practice of language—a style—that breaks open the self-containment of philosophy, which has been understood, at least since the Greeks, even if in the guise of medieval theology and later early modern science, as the highest and purest form of natural language. Hegel represented the culmination of this linguistic perspective and therefore became the condition, or the occasion, of its breakdown. There are several names associated with this breakdown, and one of the more humorous is Max Stirner, the pseudonym of the man who was the object of Marx and Engels’s diatribe “Saint Max” in The German Ideology. Not too long ago, in his belated reading of Marx, Derrida conjured up the spirit of Stirner in a way that cast him as Marx’s double, someone who had anticipated the Marxian exorcism of ideological specters.1 Stirner wanted to rid humankind of its ghosts—by which he meant their higher being or essence—by centering everything on a material ego that expresses the principle of self-ownership.


Common Sense Free Time Ordinary Language Life Process Critical Consciousness 
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© Patrick McGee 2009

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  • Patrick McGee

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