Marx's Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Nature

Science and Society 61 (4):449 - 473 (1997)
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Despite the general acceptance of Hegel's importance for Marx, virtually no one has paid sufficient attention to Marx's youthful critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Nature. Even Alfred Schmidt, whose work refers to the Naturphilosophie most frequently, underestimates its importance in the formulation of Marx's own materialist philosophy of nature and comes close to replicating the very Hegelian views that Marx is attacking. Yet the critique of the Naturphilosophie in Marx's Dissertation and the 1844 Manuscripts foreshadows Marx's later stated intention in Capital to turn Hegel right-side up. It affirms not only a theory of the ontological reality of the material world, but a dialectics of nature whose importance for Marx extends from the Paris Manuscripts to Capital. Marx' s Naturphilosophie criticizes Hegel's replacement of natural history with a Philosophy of Nature derived from logical categories. It affirms Engels' later view that natural history should be restored by discovering dialectics in nature rather than imposing dialectics on it.



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