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Philosophy and Revolution: From Kant to Marx Paperback – March 17, 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 450 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; 1ST edition (March 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859844715
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859844717
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #841,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This ambitious tract on the formation of Karl Marx's ideas brings together disparate currents in an original and multifaceted reading. Combining intellectual history and biographical narrative, with a hemming and hawing distrust of both modes, Kouvelakis re-evalutates the cultural context of Marx's ideological development, and the constellation of personalities that made it possible. Poet Heinrich Heine, the "first ironic German," gains some footing in Kouvelakis's evaluation, while Engels recedes a bit, and the primacy of the 1848 French Revolution's effects on the thought of 19th century German philosophy in general remains unquestioned. Overall, the book produces the effect of bright webbing strung between the people and events of a pivotal time, as the ancien regime of Europe segued convulsively into modernity, winding pathways of thought leading always towards the explosive event of revolution. Admittedly, some of this effect might be a result of unwieldy translations: "I have chosen to approach the early Marx's trajectory as a theoretical event that is utterly incomprehensible when it is considered apart from the sequence that precedes it (chronologically, to begin with, but also in the order of my exposition) yet is radically irreducible to it." And that's only the second half of a weighty, establishing thought. For scholars of Marx or European philosophy, and those accustomed to labored, academic prose, this book offers a fresh methodology and original interpretation of Marx's achievements.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


“Quite simply the best study of the ‘young Marx’ (pre-1848) and his immediate predecessors I have ever read.”—Science & Society

“Perhaps the first truly original new version of [Marx’s] formation since Auguste Cornu’s monumental postwar history ... but also a new theory of what is structurally most central and distinctive in Marx’s achievement, namely the unique political nature and powers of the proletariat.”—Fredric Jameson, from the Preface

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael Steinberg on July 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
A challenging and brilliant book, based on an extraordinary amount of research in the left-wing thought of the early 1840s. Kouvelakis emphasises the crucial importance of Heine (yes, the poet) in the "Germanization" of revolutionary thought. More surprisingly, he shows us an Engels who was in many ways the opposite of Marx, pursuing an empirical "social-ism" at odds with the profoundly self-critical approach that led to Marx's discovery/creation of the proletariat. While there is a lot that's difficult or just plain obscure here on first reading, and a few too many references to Foucault, the flaws don't get in the way of Kouvelakis's rediscovery of Marx's original vision of a permanently self-transforming historical process, one as different from the statist organization of production usually associated with Marx as it is from the "humanist" Marx usually drawn from the 1844 manuscripts. Here is Marx the Hegelianizer of Hegel, pushing the limits of thinking-about until it issues in self-transforming action instead--a Marx who once again can challenge us. We are all in Kouvelakis's debt.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gil Hyle on January 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
Frederic Jameson prefaces Stathis Kouvelakis' Philosophy and Revolution with the claim that it is the first truly original version of Marx's intellectual development since Auguste Cornu. Well, not quite. But it certainly does stand in the Cornu-Ranciere-Labica tradition, rather than in the Anglo-American analysis of Marx's intellectual origins. With Cornu generally untranslated, that makes it - if for no other reason - worthwhile for the English language reader.

Kouvelakis builds his contribution on three pillars - Heine, Hess and Engels. For Kouvelakis the advantage of studying these writers is that they « shuttled back and forth between different theoretical and national cultures » (P.168). Marx is to stand portrayed by contrast with those three, though not as their reconciliation.

From Heine he observes the spontaneous post-hegelian dialectic of transition from universality to particularity and to singularity. In retrospect that movement can be seen to frame 19th-20th century intellectual history and to emerge because of the inability of Hegel's method to derive the universal from the particular.

To my mind his reading of Heine does not pin down the specific character of the moment of singularity so critical to Heine. He misses the historical fact that Heine's moment of singularity retrospectively undermines the whole dialectical approach with a humble romanticism. This is most evident in his reading of Heine's 1855 `Forward to Lutetia'. Kouvelakis reads it - in defiance of Heine's own version of his intellectual development (cf his 1851 will) - as indicating Heine's continued, unaltered, partisanship for communism.
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Philosophy and Revolution: From Kant to Marx
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