The Escape from Hegel

Science and Society 63 (3):283 - 309 (1999)
Abstract
At least since the publication of Roman Rosdolsky's "The Making of Marx's Capital", the Grundrisse has been an essential reference for anyone wishing to demonstrate a significant dependence of Marx's political economy upon Hegelian "logic." Contrary to Rosdolsky's interpretation, however, the "Grundrisse" can in fact be read as the drama of Marx's escape from his Hegelian philosophical heritage. Hegel's "dialectical method" is not a method of logical argumentation, but a "method" of paralogical mystification. Marx's own attempts to construct "dialectical derivations" of economic categories in the "Grundrisse" lead him into theoretical culs-desac, and he is only able to make real progress in his economic investigations by precisely foregoing such adventures. The persistence, nonetheless, of certain characteristically Hegelian formulae—though, n. b., not characteristically Hegelian argumentational structures—in "Capital", and especially in the first chapter, is a function of the ontological peculiarity of Marx's initial object of inquiry, viz., money, and does not reflect any "methodological" choice. Marx's arguments in "Capital" are not "dialectical" but rather "transcendental" in nature, starting from given market phenomena (prices, profit, etc.) and working back to their conditions of possibility.
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