Sunday, June 26, 2011

Theses On Feuerbach

Written: by Marx in the Spring of 1845, but slightly edited by Engels; First Published: As an appendix to Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy in 1888; Source: Marx/Engels Selected Works, Volume One, p. 13 – 15; Publisher: Progress Publishers, Moscow, USSR, 1969; Translated: W. Lough from the German; Transcription/Markup: Zodiac/Brian Baggins; Copyleft: Marx/Engels Internet Archive (marxists.org) 1995, 1999, 2002.
Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons ShareAlike License;
Proofread: by Andy Blunden February 2005.

I

The chief defect of all hitherto existing materialism – that of Feuerbach included – is that the thing, reality, sensuousness, is conceived only in the form of the object or of contemplation, but not as sensuous human activity, practice, not subjectively. Hence, in contradistinction to materialism, the active side was developed abstractly by idealism – which, of course, does not know real, sensuous activity as such.

Feuerbach wants sensuous objects, really distinct from the thought objects, but he does not conceive human activity itself as objective activity. Hence, in The Essence of Christianity, he regards the theoretical attitude as the only genuinely human attitude, while practice is conceived and fixed only in its dirty-judaical manifestation. Hence he does not grasp the significance of “revolutionary”, of “practical-critical”, activity.

II

The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question. Man must prove the truth — i.e. the reality and power, the this-sidedness of his thinking in practice. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking that is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question.

III

The materialist doctrine concerning the changing of circumstances and upbringing forgets that circumstances are changed by men and that it is essential to educate the educator himself. This doctrine must, therefore, divide society into two parts, one of which is superior to society.

The coincidence of the changing of circumstances and of human activity or self-changing can be conceived and rationally understood only as revolutionary practice.

IV

Feuerbach starts out from the fact of religious self-alienation, of the duplication of the world into a religious world and a secular one. His work consists in resolving the religious world into its secular basis.

But that the secular basis detaches itself from itself and establishes itself as an independent realm in the clouds can only be explained by the cleavages and self-contradictions within this secular basis. The latter must, therefore, in itself be both understood in its contradiction and revolutionized in practice. Thus, for instance, after the earthly family is discovered to be the secret of the holy family, the former must then itself be destroyed in theory and in practice.

V

Feuerbach, not satisfied with abstract thinking, wants contemplation; but he does not conceive sensuousness as practical, human-sensuous activity.

VI

Feuerbach resolves the religious essence into the human essence. But the human essence is no abstraction inherent in each single individual.

In its reality it is the ensemble of the social relations.

Feuerbach, who does not enter upon a criticism of this real essence, is consequently compelled:

To abstract from the historical process and to fix the religious sentiment as something by itself and to presuppose an abstract – isolated – human individual.
Essence, therefore, can be comprehended only as “genus”, as an internal, dumb generality which naturally unites the many individuals.

VII

Feuerbach, consequently, does not see that the “religious sentiment” is itself a social product, and that the abstract individual whom he analyses belongs to a particular form of society.

VIII

All social life is essentially practical. All mysteries which lead theory to mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice.

IX

The highest point reached by contemplative materialism, that is, materialism which does not comprehend sensuousness as practical activity, is contemplation of single individuals and of civil society.

X

The standpoint of the old materialism is civil society; the standpoint of the new is human society, or social humanity.

XI

The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.

Marx: "There Is No Royal Road to Science"

1872 PREFACE TO THE FRENCH EDITION of Capital:

To the citizen Maurice Lach√Ętre

Dear Citizen,

I applaud your idea of publishing the translation of “Das Kapital” as a serial. In this form the book will be more accessible to the working class, a consideration which to me outweighs everything else.

That is the good side of your suggestion, but here is the reverse of the medal: the method of analysis which I have employed, and which had not previously been applied to economic subjects, makes the reading of the first chapters rather arduous, and it is to be feared that the French public, always impatient to come to a conclusion, eager to know the connexion between general principles and the immediate questions that have aroused their passions, may be disheartened because they will be unable to move on at once.

That is a disadvantage I am powerless to overcome, unless it be by forewarning and forearming those readers who zealously seek the truth. There is no royal road to science, and only those who do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits.

Believe me, dear citizen, Your devoted,

Karl Marx
London
March 18, 1872

Marx As the "Darwin" of History

In his 1888 Preface to The Communist Manifesto, Frederick Engels attributes to Marx a “proposition which, in my opinion, is destined to do for history what Darwin’s theory has done for biology[.]” This proposition is as follows:
[I]n every historical epoch, the prevailing mode of economic production and exchange, and the social organization necessarily following from it, form the basis upon which is built up, and from which alone can be explained, the political and intellectual history of that epoch; that consequently the whole history of mankind (since the dissolution of primitive tribal society, holding land in common ownership) has been a history of class struggles, contests between exploiters and exploited, ruling and oppressed classes; that the history of these class struggles forms a series of evolutions in which, nowadays, a stage has been reached where the exploited and oppressed class -– the proletariat –- cannot attain its emancipation from the sway of the exploiting and ruling class –- the bourgeoisie -– without, at the same time, and once and for all, emancipating society at large from all exploitation, oppression, class distinctions and class struggles.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Our Syllabus

"The Point Is To Change It"

Critical Theory A, Summer 2011

Seminar Room 18, Monday and Wednesday, 9.30-12.30, June 13-August 5

Instructor: Dale Carrico; dcarrico@sfai.edu

Course Web-Site: http://thepointistochangeit.blogspot.com/

Approximate Grade Breakdown: Attendance/Participation 15%; Precis/Co-facilitation 20%; Essay 1 35%; Essay 2 40%

Provisional Schedule of Meetings:

June

Week One

Mon 13 Administrative Introduction | Personal Introductions.

Wed 15 Course Introduction | Oscar Wilde, "Soul of Man Under Socialism"

Week Two

Mon 20 Nietzsche: Ecce Homo
Preface
Why I Am So Wise
Why I Am So Clever
Why I Am a Destiny (or Fatality)

Wed 22 -- Marx on Idealism and Materialism [STAN]
-- Marx on Commodity Fetishism, from Capital

Week Three

Mon 27 Sigmund Freud, Doctor Schreber (Handout) [MICHELE]

Wed 29 Walter Benjamin, "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility" [GIO] | Adorno and Horkheimer, "The Culture Industry"

July

Week Four

Mon 4 Independence Day Holiday

Wed 6 Roland Barthes, Mythologies, Purchase or Check Out Whole Book!

Week Five

Mon 11 Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle | Naomi Klein, No Logo One and Two [JESSICA]

Wed 13 Carpenter (dir.), They Live, In-Class Screening

Hand in Mid-Term Essay

Week Six

Mon 18 William Burroughs, "Immortality" and "Coincidence" [CALEB] | Valerie Solanas, "SCUM Manifesto" [BRIAN]

Wed 20 Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, History of Sexuality, College de France lecture excerpts (Handout) [MATTHEW]

Week Seven

Mon 25 Hannah Arendt, "On Violence" | Must Eichmann Hang? and Human Condition Section 33 (Handout) [CONNOR]

Wed 27 Franz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, Purchase or Check Out Whole Book! also excerpts from Judith Butler Undoing Gender, and "Precarious Life"

August

Week Eight

Mon 1 Hannah Arendt, Conquest of Space [LYNSEY] | CS Lewis Abolition of Man [ARYANNA]

Wed 3 Donna Haraway, “A Manifesto for Cyborgs” | Bruno Latour, A Plea for Earthly Science

Hand in Final Essay

Course Objectives:

Contextualizing Contemporary Critical Theory: The inaugural Platonic repudiation of rhetoric and poetry, Vita Activa/Vita Contemplativa, Marx's last Thesis on Feuerbach, Kantian Critique, the Frankfurt School, Exegetical and Hermeneutic Traditions, Literary and Cultural Theory from the Restoration period through New Criticism, from Philosophy to Post-Philosophy: Marx, Nietzsche, Freud.

Survey of Key Themes in Critical Theory: Aura, Critique, Culture Industry, Discourse, Equity-in-Diversity, Fetish, Figurality, Humanism/Post-Humanism, Ideology, Judgment, Neoliberalism, Post-Colonialism, Scientificity, Spectacle, Textuality.

Survey of Key Critical Methodologies: Critique of Ideology, Marxism/Post-Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Foucauldian Discourse Analysis, Critical Race Theory, Gender Theory, Science and Technology Studies.

Connecting theoria and poiesis: thinking and acting, theory and practice, creative expressivity as aesthetic judgment and critical theory as poetic refiguration, etc.