Feuerbach, whom until now we have not considered but whose doctrine
casts a third shadow prominently throughout the EPM, is actually the
key to how Marx is able to synthesize his unspoken assault on Kant's
previous, purely philosophical, attempt at a 'grand synthesis', i.e.,
the Critiques of 'Pure Reason' and 'Judgement'. Marx refers to the
achievement of Feuerbach in proving: 1) that philosophy is nothing
else but religion rendered into thought, as another estrangement of
the 'essence of man', hence 'equally to be condemned'. 2) For establishing
materialism as a real science by making the social relations of human
subjects the founding principle of the theory. 3) For demonstrating
the falsity of Hegel's negation of the negation as the 'absolute positive'
by contrasting to this the self-supporting positive. If Marx halted
at this point it might indeed be justifiable to label him in his early
guise as a radical socialist humanist. But through working with these
theorems and setting this philosophy in the light of Smith's political
economy, Marx realizes that Feuerbach conceives the negation of the
negation, the opposing of religion as the estrangement of the human
essence, only as a contradiction of philosophy with itself. Conceive
it only 'as the philosophy which affirms theology' (the transcendent,
etc.) after having denied it, and which it therefore affirms 'in opposition
to itself'. For Marx therefore Feuerbach's position is simply a materialism
that is not yet sure of itself. This is then contrasted to his own
exclusive, fully-fledged, materialist position of 'sense-certainty
based on itself'. Hence for Marx it is to the profane economic conditions
that we must look, to the kind that Smith theoretically exposes, but
not yet fully, and that make up the necessary thought-material that
allows us to locate where notions of transcendence have their origins,
i.e. in the actual material conditions that affect human sense and
feeling. Marx criticizes at this point Feuerbach precisely for halting
at humanism, and his postulates are embraced but then taken a step
further by Marx into the basis for a secular and sensual aesthetic.
This is one of the single most occluded aspects of (the undivided)
Marx's thought, chiefly because its attack on Philosophy and humanism
is from an essentially non-philosophical, and therefore non-academic
institutional (ruling class State Apparatus) position.
In this sense Marx's idea of perception in the EPM is not one that
grasps it as an abstractly mental phenomena but as a sensual process:
I would add, is an aesthetic. This aesthetic is now capable of underpinning
the critique and simultaneous usage of Hegelian and Smithian categories.
It now lies at the epistemological foundations of Marx's new concept
of productive labor and the alienation of that labor, and unveils
the sensual6 and active nature of the human subject that
is 'set to work' under such conditions. These latter being conditions
that are felt by the worker (we must stress the word 'felt' here),
a living, sensual being, to be alienating. So with Marx we can now
perceive capitalist conditions that bring to life labor aware of its
own estrangement, which is therefore a category of labor at once predisposed
to seek its own abolition. This awareness need not be considered necessarily
as consciousness in the sense of mental theoretical awareness, but
is intuited by the worker at every stroke of productive activity,
under such conditions.
In the final analysis, we may have been fortunate enough here to root
out the actual affective motivation for Marx's entire later 'practical-critical'
activity. For example, we can describe it thus: it begins with a 'practical-theoretical'
overthrow of an estrangement in the activity of writing the EPM, these
demonstrating through its original textual strategy that the writer
was not disunited from the actual, formal and sensual, manufacture
of the book. It is important to emphasize that this is much more than
just a radically distinct, avant-garde style. What we are talking
about is a unity between form and subject matter that has a lot to
do with the old philosophical metaphor of the kernel and husk. It
is probable that the first notebook, what Fay calls the 'core notebook'
because it 'fits into' the other notebooks, represents the core of
the problem having been inverted. The outside (exterior) of the notebooks,
which is made up by the other notebooks and especially notebook three
(notebook two, seems to deal with the transition from 3 to 1), are
philosophical in nature (or concern this 'philosophicalness'), whereas
the core or kernel (which 'wraps up upon itself' in that the pagination
returns us to its starting point) is now a critical economics. Now,
because up until this moment, up until this epistemological break
(to use Althusser's famous notion that he placed later in time for
Marx but which seems entirely appropriate at this point) the kernel
problematic was seen as being philosophical, i.e. spiritual, Hegelian/Feuerbachian.
But this is Marx's well known inversion of the Hegelian dialectic,
which, as well as placing Hegel the right way up and so 'on his feet',
simultaneously replaces the philosophical problem with an economic
and political one.
Thus it is that what Marx is demonstrating through the Manuscript's
design is this radical, topological inversion/substitution of the
philosophical problem. This substitution, if this is correct, is not
only a substitution but also an immanent deconstruction of the 'thing'
(Economics) that is used to substitute philosophy. This is because
by losing its central role and becoming exterior, philosophy is itself
transformed. Its rational element, the dialectic method, is its rational
residue, and it is now free to work within what newly constitutes
the kernel: Political Economy. Hence, in what is now the core problematic
Adam Smith and other prominent economists are subjected to a radical
critique, but this immanent dialectical critique simply 'maps' the
contradictions, almost allows them to develop and transform themselves
in front of the readers eyes. And these are contradictions and syntheses
that the reader is helped to witness in the making of direct internal
theoretical comparisons between the concepts. Indeed, in comparing
translations of the text with the German original it can be seen that
the strategy in the core notebook especially, is, at almost every
stage, to give an exposition of the method of dialectics at work,
in this case on economic categories. This is therefore by default
a text in which paraphrases and quotes are arranged, along with only
a relatively small amount of his own writing, side-by-side in columns.
This is so that a dialectical concatenation can be perceived by the
reader through the clash of theoretical contradictions and syntheses,
which occur often through the simple arrangement of theoretical material
that is given, and already accepted as truths (and still are today),
by the relevant authorities.
For example, on page XI in both of the two columns 'Wages
of Labor' and 'Profit of Capital', there is mentioned the material
activity of spinning cotton along with the factor of industrial mechanization.
These are placed side-by side by using quotes from Wilhelm Schulz.
But they are written about thematically from the perspective of these
distinct conceptual categories, which proves that although one argument
is that mechanization reduces monotonous tasks in labor, as accounted
for in the column on 'Wages', the actual fact is that a greater amount
of workers become engaged in such labor, as accounted for in the column
on 'Profit'. So it is revealed that the proportion of monotonous work
A central theme of Marx's EPM therefore resolves itself to the practical
overthrow of the actual, secular conditions in the wider sphere of
the social division of labor, but which then includes the division
of mental from practical labor. Marx was of course an individual existing
within these very same social relations and (as the online hypertext
version proves), was attempting to restructure his own method of production
in line with the results of his research. The suggestion is therefore
that Marx did not want his text to function solely as an interpretative
or narrative piece, as was traditional within previous 'grand' Philosophy
and Criticism. He wanted it to have the quality, longevity, mystery
and 'facture' of a work of art, a dialectical artwork, in fact, that
aided the reader in a structured process towards comprehension, and
thereby to a new, revolutionary position, through the form of the
transaction (so there is an element of the postmodern in this).
The conception of the EPM as an artwork was in many ways confirmed
by Marx's own subsequent attitude towards it. He apparently kept them
with him throughout his life and would often refer to them for self-clarification.
And of course we must not forget that they were written in Paris at
a time of great artistic ferment. As a glance at the paintings of
the Salon of 1844 will confirm, there are precursors and pre-antagonists
to the later impressionist/post-impressionist movement exhibiting,
and it could be expected that a kind of formal radicalism was 'in
the air', at least of the intelligentsia. But the EPM is an artwork
which, because of its radical and prescient nature, like many visual
or musical artistic products of a similar radicalism (and whoever
stated that Philosophy must only be written?), probably could not
have been published during Marx's lifetime, and still represent a
difficulty in this respect. Much of this tends to be hidden in the
conventional publications and interpretations of the text (for instance
McLelland's well known compilation version does not even refer to
the pagination). However, one recent biographer of Marx who has noted
his desire to produce his texts (also) as works of art, and who should
be credited for this insight, is Francis Wheen (2000).