Doctoral Dissertation. Marx 1841

IV. General Difference in Principle between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature

Plutarch, in his biography of Marius, provides us with an appalling historical example of the way in which this. type of morality destroys all theoretical and practical unselfishness. After describing the terrible downfall of the Cimbri, he relates that the number of corpses was so great that the Massilians were able to manure their orchards with them. Then it rained and that year was the best for wine and fruit. Now, what kind of reflections occur to our noble historian in connection with the tragical ruin of those people? Plutarch considers it a moral act of God, that he allowed a whole, great, noble people to perish and rot away in order to provide the philistines of Massilia with a bumper fruit harvest.

Thus even the transformation of a people into a heap of manure offers a desirable occasion for a happy revelling in morality!

2) Also in relation to Hegel it is mere ignorance on the part of his pupils, when they explain one or the other determination of his system by his desire for accommodation and the like, hence, in one word, explain it in terms of morality. They forget that only a short time ago they were enthusiastic about all his idiosyncrasies [Einseitigkeiten], as can be clearly demonstrated from their writings.

If they were really so affected by the ready-made science they acquired that they gave themselves up to it in naive uncritical trust, then how unscrupulous is their attempt to reproach the Master for a hidden intention behind his insight! The Master, to whom the science was not something received, but something in the process of becoming, to whose uttermost periphery his own intellectual heart’s blood was pulsating! On the contrary, they rendered themselves suspect of not having been serious before. And now they oppose their own former condition, and ascribe it to Hegel, forgetting however that his relation to his system was immediate, substantial, while theirs is only a reflected one.

It is quite thinkable for a philosopher to fall into one or another apparent inconsistency through some sort of accommodation; he himself may be conscious of it. But what he is not conscious of, is the possibility that this apparent accommodation has its deepest roots in an inadequacy or in an inadequate formulation of his principle itself. Suppose therefore that a philosopher has really accommodated himself, then his pupils must explain from his inner essential consciousness that which for him himself had the form of an exoteric consciousness. In this way, that which appears as progress of conscience is at the same time progress of knowledge. No suspicion is cast upon the particular conscience of the philosopher, but his essential form of consciousness is construed, raised to a definite shape and meaning and in this way also transcended.

By the way, I consider this unphilosophical trend in a large section of Hegel’s school as a phenomenon which will always accompany the transition from discipline to freedom.

It is a psychological law that the theoretical mind, once liberated in itself, turns into practical energy, and, leaving the shadowy empire of Amenthes as will, turns itself against the reality of the world existing without it. (From a philosophical point of view, however, it is important to specify these aspects better, since from the specific manner of this turn we can reason back towards the immanent determination and the universal historic character of a philosophy. We see here, as it were, its curriculum vitae narrowed down to its subjective point.) But the practice of philosophy is itself theoretical. It is the critique that measures the individual existence by the essence, the particular reality by the Idea. But this immediate realisation of philosophy is in its deepest essence afflicted with contradictions, and this its essence takes form in the appearance and imprints its seal upon it.

When philosophy turns itself as will against the world of appearance, then the system is lowered to an abstract totality, that is, it has become one aspect of the world which opposes another one. Its relationship to the world is that of reflection. Inspired by the urge to realise itself, it enters into tension against the other. The inner self-contentment and completeness has been broken. What was inner light has become consuming flame turning outwards. The result is that as the world becomes philosophical, philosophy also becomes worldly, that its realisation is also its loss, that what it struggles against on the outside is its own inner deficiency, that in the very struggle it falls precisely into those defects which it fights as defects in the opposite camp, and that it can only overcome these defects by failing into them. That which opposes it and that which it fights is always the same as itself, only with factors inverted.

This is the one side, when we consider this matter purely Objectively as immediate realisation of philosophy. However, it has also a subjective aspect, which is merely another form of it. This is the relationship of the philosophical system which is realised to its intellectual carriers, to the individual self -consciousnesses in which its progress appears. This relationship results in what confronts

the world in the realisation of philosophy itself, namely, in the fact that these individual self-consciousnesses always carry a double-edged demand, one edge turned against the world, the other against philosophy itself. Indeed, what in the thing itself appears as a relationship inverted in itself, appears in these self-consciousnesses as a double one, a demand and an action contradicting each other. Their liberation of the world from un-philosophy is at the same time their own liberation from the philosophy that held them in fetters as a particular system. Since they are themselves engaged merely in the act and immediate energy of development – and hence have not yet theoretically emerged from that system – they perceive only the contradiction with the plastic equality-with-self [Sich-selbst-Gleichheit] of the system and do not know that by turning against it they only realise its individual moments.

This duality of philosophical self-consciousness appears finally as a double trend, each side utterly opposed to the other. One side, the liberal party, as we may call it in general, maintains as its main determination the concept and the principle of philosophy; the other side, its non-concept, the moment of reality. This second side is positive philosophy. The act of the first side is critique, hence precisely that turning-towards-the-outside of philosophy; the act of the second is the attempt to philosophise, hence the turning-in-towards-itself of philosophy. This second side knows that the inadequacy is immanent in philosophy, while the first understands it as inadequacy of the world which has to be made philosophical. Each of these parties does exactly what the other one wants to do and what it itself does not want to do. The first, however, is, despite its inner contradiction, conscious of both its principle in general and its goal. In the second party the inversion [Verkehrtheit], we may well say the madness [Verrücktheit], appears as such. As to the content: only the liberal party achieves real progress, because it is the party of the concept, while positive philosophy is only able to produce demands and tendencies whose form contradicts their meaning.

That which in the first place appears as an inverted [verkehrtes] relationship and inimical trend of philosophy with respect to the world, becomes in the second place a diremption of individual self-consciousness in itself and appears finally as an external separation and duality of philosophy, as two opposed philosophical trends.

It is obvious that apart from this there also emerge a number of subordinate, querulous formations without individuality. Some of them place themselves behind a philosophical giant of the past-but the ass is soon detected under the lion’s skin; the whimpering voice of a manikin of today or yesterday blubbers in comical contrast to the majestic voice resounding through the ages-say of Aristotle, whose unwelcome organ it has appointed itself. It is as if a mute would help himself to a voice by means of a speaking-trumpet of enormous size. Or as if some Lilliputian armed with double spectacles stands on a tiny spot of the posterior of the giant and announces full of amazement to the world the astonishingly novel vista his punctum visus [point of view] offers and makes himself ridiculous explaining that not in a flowing heart, but in the solid substantial ground on which he stands, has been found the point of Archimedes, pou sto (pou stw), on which the world hinges. Thus we obtain hair-, nail-, toe-, excrement-philosophers and others, who have to represent an even worse function in the mystical world man [Weltmensch] of Swedenborg. However, all these slugs belong essentially to the two above-mentioned sides as to their element. As to these sides themselves: in another place I shall completely explain their relation, in part to each other, in part to Hegel’s philosophy, as well as the particular historical moments in which this development reveals itself.