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Book Chapter

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Rowman & Littlefield


I would like to argue that the young Marx's ethical views have been influenced not only by Hegel but even more so by Aristotle and Kant. Marx draws away from Hegel's concept of essence toward one more like Aristotle's, and he operates with a concept of universalization similar to that found in Kant's categorical imperative. At the same time, Marx's task is to reconcile these Aristotelian and Kantian elements.

Marx's main concern, however, is not simply to explain what morality is but to explain how it can be realized in the world. For us to understand his views we first must gain at least a basic understanding of what morality means for the young Marx. To do this we must examine several concepts and the way in which they are connected to each other: his concepts of freedom , essence, and the state. Then we will be able to understand his concept of universalization and will begin to see how it is like Kant's concept of a categorical imperative. Once we have taken these preparatory steps, we can begin to talk about what really interests Marx, namely, how morality can be realized in society. Let us begin by discussing Marx's concepts of the state and freedom.

Chapter of

Marx and Aristotle


George E. McCarthy


Copyright © 1992 Rowman & Littlefield. Material originally published as Kain, P. J. "Aristotle, Kant, and the Ethics of the Young Marx," in Marx and Aristotle. Ed. G.E. McCarthy. Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Littlefield, 1992, 213-42. Reproduced by permission of Rowman & Littlefield. All rights reserved. Please contact the publisher for permission to copy, distribute or reprint.



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