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The German Ideology: the theory of history and the history of theory

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The central concern of this paper is to argue that The German Ideology should be analysed and interpreted as an integral whole. Its various sections are intimately related to one another and share a community of purpose and character. In design and practice, The German Ideology is a work devoted to the history of theory. The character of the project upon which Marx and Engels are engaged in The German Ideology is clearly conveyed in the subtitles of its two volumes, ‘Critique of Modern German Philosophy according to its representatives, Feuerbach, B. Bauer and Stirner’ and ‘Critique of German Socialism according to its various prophets’. The sections on Feuerbach, Bauer and Stirner which constitute Volume 1 explain and criticize the respective philosophical positions of these Young Hegelian Theorists by relating them to one another and tracing their source in Hegel's absolute idealism. The second volume, dealing with German socialism, is concerned to identify and criticize the attachment of German socialists to the language and concepts of philosophers in the Hegelian tradition analysed in the first volume. The central concern of The German Ideology to criticize contemporary theories shapes its well-known statements on materialism, historical method and alienation.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Oxford Brookes University.

Publication date: 1993-03-01

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