Some further issues in reading Marx:

1.  One of the nice things about reading The Communist Manifesto--which has  been seriously underestimated by theorists--is that it helps to resolve the fruitless debate over the "young" and the "old" Marx.  The Manifesto epitomizes the kind of thinking that is frequently associated with the "old" Marx, yet it was published in 1848, only four years after the "1844 Manuscripts."  The important question is what relationship the former has with the latter.  In some ways, the language and structure of the Manifesto are very different, no doubt partly because it was intended to be a political and mobilizational tract. Still, we cannot afford to miss the striking points of similarity--and difference--between the two works.

2. Much of our discussion will revolve around Marx's approach to history. What is Marx's point in talking about history? One of his supporters might say, "Marx is simply telling it like it is." But all historians have this goal; they just approach it in different ways. I think Marx's approach can tell us a great deal about his attitudes about truth, morality, and freedom. Among the philosophers we have studied thus far, the same point applies to Kant, Hegel, and Gentile. Consider the differences between Kant's approach to history and Marx's. Both philosophers believe in historical progress, and both suggest that we are moving forward. However, they justify their arguments about progress in fundamentally different ways. If we want to know why, just look at Marx's and Kant's claims about truth, morality, and freedom.

3.  In this seminar, I am using Marx as a point of transition from the "conventional" strains of German idealism to the dictatorial "perversions" of the twentieth century.  But the last thing I want you to assume is that there is a mechanical separation between these traditions.  In fact, critics of my position could legitimately claim that the less than salutary aspects of this transition begin with Marx himself and that he sets in motion ways of viewing at the world that provided fertile ground for the philosophies of his totalitarian successors.  Thus, ask yourself whether there are clearly identifiable qualitative breaks--a la Gould's "punctuated equilibria"--between Marx's approach to truth, ethics and human agency and those of Kant and Hegel.

4.  Simultaneously, look closely in all of the Marx readings for ambiguities about their positions on truth, ethics, and human agency. How will subsequent philosophers want to address these ambiguities, whether they have dictatorial sympathies or not?  For example, we will soon be reading Nietzsche.

5.  At this point in the seminar, you have accumulated enough information to begin focusing on the comparative dimension of this course.  As you read Marx and, with him, dictatorial sympathizers like Gentile, Lukacs, and Schmitt, try to identify common approaches to truth-seeking, morality, and freedom that tie all of these thinkers (or at least the latter three) together.  Such points of commonality exist, although we may debate what they are or how seriously they should be taken. As you are undertaking this exercise, look back at the readings for our first class discussion. How are scholars like Arendt, Wolin, and Holmes dealing with this issue.

7. Why did I assign The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon/?  For that matter, to what does the "Eighteenth Brumaire" refer?