MARX AND ARISTOTLE
NINETEENTH-CENTURY SOCIAL THEORY AND CLASSICAL ANTIQUITY
This is an unusual collection of essays. As the Iron Curtain was shattered recently in Eastern Europe revealing a diversity of cultural traditions lost during the recent past, so too the curtain that has hidden Marx's writings for many years seems to be crumbling. Its disappearance reveals a rich complexity of traditions and visions that underlay his social, political, and economic theory. The essays contained in this volume attempt to look farther behind this historical veil by examining the influence of classical Greek philosophy -- especially the thought of Aristotle and Epicurus -- on the works of the nineteenth-century social theorist Karl Marx. This collection pulls together some previously published works, but the majority have been newly written for this volume.
In the eighteenth century, Germany came under the spell of the mysterious and alluring world of classical antiquity in the imaginations of Winckelmann, Lessing, Novalis, Goethe, Schiller, and Hölderlin. But the spell was focused in the areas of literature and art. By the nineteenth century, however, this strange attraction of the Greeks began to pervade German political and economic theory, as well as its ethics and social philosophy. These German thinkers critically evaluated the principles and structures of modernity in light of a perceived failure to conform to (or at least confront) the ideals of the ancients; economic and political institutions were increasingly examined through the paradigm of classical aspirations and philosophical expectations. The result was an expansion of moral and political vision and dramatic insight into the weakness and, at times, shallowness of modernity, but also a dizziness and confusion about the practical options available. The vision and vertigo that the Greeks offered to the moderns were aesthetically attractive, morally uplifting, and politically challenging. It is just at this point in the history of Western social theory that empirical social science was wedded to ethics and political theory. And with this union came the power of Marx's contribution to modern thought. Not concerned with social engineering, scientific domination, or economic prediction (as he has been generally misinterpreted), his contributions should be measured by the breadth of his vision understood in terms of his appreciation for human capabilities, political ideals, and social rationality. His vision of the future was so valuable and far reaching because his understanding of the past was so acute and inspired. The extent of his criticisms of possessive individualism, political liberalism, the market economy, and commodity production ultimately rested on the depth of his understanding of Aristotle and Epicurus and the heights to which they rose in their ethical ideals.
The vista from the Acropolis presented him with an opportunity to idealize the ancients within the framework of the real possibilities of modern liberalism. With Marx there was a conscious attempt to integrate the goals of harmony, happiness, and beauty into the heart of a modern industrial society. But oddly enough – though the attraction had been so intense, the effects so important, and the implications so profound – these connections have been, for the most part, a well-kept secret. This is not to say that the subject has not been discussed in print before. It just has not been a central theme in the hermeneutics of Marxian scholarship, nor has it been used to help explain the development of Marx's economic and political theory throughout his life. This volume is an attempt at a partial remedy of this situation. It will offer a more in-depth analysis of the relation between Marx and classical Greece from a wide variety of authors in the fields of political science, philosophy, classics, and sociology. These interpretations will show how Marx's work, from the initial studies in his Dissertation and early writings to his later ideas in the Grundrisse and Capital, cannot be understood without appreciating the vital connection to the classical world.
At every crucial stage in his intellectual development, Marx made specific reference to the importance of Aristotle in his own thinking. He mentions Aristotle 30 times in the extant portions of his doctoral dissertation, On the Difference between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature, and 20 times in his Notebooks on Epicurean Philosophy; at the beginning of his introduction to the Grundrisse, he criticizes the one-sided individualism of the eighteenth-century Robinsonades' theory of human nature and civil society by referring back to Aristotle's view in the Politics that man is by nature political; he connects his theory of production and consumption in the Grundrisse to Aristotle's theory of potentiality and actuality in the Metaphysics; he refers to either Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics or Politics seven times throughout A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy; and in the first volume of Capital, he acknowledges Aristotle as the "greatest thinker of antiquity" and as crucial to the development of his labor theory of value. The specific references to Aristotle in this first volume of Capital are many: Marx's reference to Aristotle's theory of value (common substance, exchange, and equality) at the beginning of the first chapter; Aristotle's distinction between use value and exchange value at the beginning of chapter two; Aristotle's distinction between the economics of the household economy (trade and barter) and the commerce of chrematistic economy (exchange for profit as merchants' capital and interest-bearing capital) in chapters four and five; the ideas about the political and social nature of man in chapter thirteen; and the relation between leisure, slavery, and technological development in chapter twenty-five; among others. In his Dissertation Marx frequently drew on Aristotle's On the Soul, Metaphysics, On the Generation of Animals, Physics, On Becoming and Decaying, and On the Heavens, whereas in his later economic writings he drew mainly from the Nicomachean Ethics and Politics.
At the beginning of some of his major works on economics, we see Marx crediting Aristotle with providing the key insights for his own critique of political economy. This acknowledgment is also important because it provides us with clear evidence that the form and substance of Marx's own theories are to be understood within the broader cultural and philosophical traditions of classical antiquity. In his Dissertation Marx's close contact with the post-Aristotelian philosophy of nature found in Epicurus provided him with ideas that would prove instrumental in the later development of his economic and political theory. For example, his critique of Democritus's positivism and materialism and his use of Epicurus's materialism, his philosophy of physical nature and human nature, epistemology, and ethical thought gave Marx an insight into the weaknesses of the methods and theories of classical political economy. Epicureanism, Stoicism, and Skepticism offered Marx alternative reactions to the decline of the polis and the Aristotelian system and, in turn, insights into the remnants of the Hegelian system itself. Aristotle provided Marx with the theoretical framework for the development and understanding of his own ideas on citizenship and democracy, the political nature of the individual and public participation, the economic system as providing the transcendental structures for species and individual development, a view of natural law and rationality, the concepts of activity and praxis, human emancipation, eudaimonia (happiness) and self-realization, and finally the complex interrelationships between materialism and idealism, ethics and political economy, and a theory of needs and labor theory of value.
OUTLINE OF THE WORK
Part I: Hegel and the Greeks: Remembrance of Things Past, examines the eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century return to the ancient Greek polis as a model for critically examining and interpreting the developments in modern political and social institutions. Chapter One in this collection undertakes an examination of the influence of Greek poetry, art, and drama on the development of eighteenth-century German aesthetics and literature. In "Karl Marx and the Influence of Greek Antiquity on Eighteenth-century German Thought," Horst Mewes traces the development of the German love affair with Greece running from the German Enlightenment, classicism, and romanticism in the writings of Winckelmann, Lessing, Herder, Goethe, Schiller, and Hölderlin. Nineteenth-century ethics, political philosophy, and economic theory of both Hegel and Marx become incomprehensible without this crucial introduction to modern German thought. It is here that the German Griechensehnsucht (longing for Greece) begins. Mewes argues that we must look at Marx "as a pivotal thinker in the growing rift between past and future." Marx stands between the ancients and the moderns as he used the categories and conceptual framework of the ancients to deal with the radical transformation of social and political structures of modernity. Quoting from the works of Georg Lukács, Mewes states that classical antiquity became part of the "humanist struggle against the degradation of man by the capitalist division of labor." The Germans borrowed liberally from the classical period in their search for categories in wide ranging fields: political categories for their lost public sphere; philosophical categories for a new humanistic model expressing the spirituality and sensuality of mankind; aesthetic categories for their ideals of beauty, perfection, wholeness, and harmony; and ethical categories for the reintegration of mind and body, matter and spirit, freedom and necessity, and individual and society. Greece served as a form of perfection and universality from which the fragmentation, division of labor, class conflicts, and utilitarianism of modernity were judged as inferior. The ideals of the ancients were resurrected by the Germans to fill a missing need in the new materialism of the eighteenth century.
Mewes summarizes the German authors and their individual contributions to this return to the ancients: Winckelmann's theory of simplicity and absolute beauty, Herder's theory of human history and universal enlightenment, Schiller's theory of aesthetic education and play, and Hölderlin's theory of poetic mythology and beauty. At the end of his essay, Mewes turns to Eliza Butler's work Tyranny of Greece over Germany and her thesis that the unnaturalness of Greek spiritual tyranny over Germany led to serious consequences in the 1930s and 1940s. Contesting this thesis, he maintains that this very relation permitted the moderns to hold onto ideals, values, and possibilities that had been lost in the rush to modernity. The light in the Enlightenment came from the Greek fire as it spread northward in the eighteenth century.
David Depew continues this line of thought in his analysis of the political theory of Georg Friedrich Hegel. Depew begins Chapter Two, "The Polis Transfigured," by tracing the development of Hegel's political theory from his early attempts at integrating the ideals of classical Greece in the famous essay Natural Law to his more critical and skeptical attitudes in the Philosophy of Right. Steeped in the works of Aristotle from his early days in the Gymnasium, Hegel is seen by Depew as attempting to rewrite Aristotle's Politics for a nineteenth-century German audience, while at the same time transcending its limitations, dualisms and its foundation in classical slavery. Hegel began as a critic of the mind-body dualism and the materialism of the Enlightenment and the emphasis on individual salvation and otherworldliness found in Christianity. Reacting against the narrow and restrictive influences of Hobbes and Descartes and the political theory of possessive individualism, Hegel sought in the Greeks an answer to the question about possible reintegration of the individual into society and the cosmos.
For Depew, Hegel also attempted the integration of Athens and Jerusalem -- the expansion of the belief that "some men are free" to the belief that "all men are free." Marx would continue this development by transcending Aristotle's hierarchy of knowledge and human functioning. He, in turn, would integrate the conflicts between poiesis (making and technical knowledge), praxis (political action and practical wisdom), and theoria (theoretical contemplation and science). Hegel, too, had attempted a reconciliation, especially in his later works, but had failed to solve these divisions in the forms of knowledge. According to Depew, this happened because Hegel had failed to see the social divisions within civil society with its interlocking systems of self-interest, competition, private property, and narrow individualism. These divisions could not be resolved by the institutionalization of a false individualism or corporatism in the form of a monarchy or medieval guild system. Marx, on the other hand, began a synthesis of these areas with his belief in their overall integrity and rationality, that is, the rationality of knowledge, participatory democracy, and work within a free society.
Depew emphasizes one of Hegel's important contributions in this discussion: his analysis of the principles and structures of the modern state. The characteristics of modernity clearly distinguished themselves from those of classical antiquity. Hegel as the "new Aristotle" outlined the principles of modernity: the belief in abstract natural rights, the economic freedoms of the marketplace, and the subjective freedom of conscience and free will (romanticism, Christianity, and Kant's philosophy of practical reason). The structural features of this market society included civil society, competitive market, specialization of work, private property, and anomie, as well as the structures of the modern state (abstract right, property, family, civil society, and the state government). It is in these structures that the very possibility existed for Hegel that humanity could form social patterns whose priority was an interpersonal and spiritual recognition -- mutual reinforcement of self-consciousness and dignity. This represented Hegel's explicit attempt to reconstruct a modern form of Greek Sittlichkeit.
Where Aristotle had excluded the economic from the political, Hegel attempted their integration. Following the lead of Manfred Riedel, G. A. Kelly, and Judith Shklar, Depew interprets Hegel as moving -- at the turn of the nineteenth century -- away from his early attempts at a direct reconciliation and synthesis of the ancients and moderns. The break and departure from his early works were completed at the time of the writing of Phenomenology of Spirit. In fact, Hegel moves in the direction of creating a neo-Platonic theory of politics. Themes mentioned in Depew's chapter about the nature of the Greek household economy, Marx's critique of Hegel, the relation between moral and political principles (capabilities) and social structures, and the nature of Sittlichkeit are developed by other contributors to this collection of essays.
Steven Smith in "The Origins of the Dialectic," Chapter Three, continues to trace the relationships between the ancient Greeks and Hegel. He too refers to Hegel as the "German Aristotle." Smith summarizes the different schools of thought that attribute the origins of Hegel's dialectical method to Socrates, Heraclitus, Greek tragedy, or the neo-Platonism of Proclus and Plotinus. Although he does not reject any of these claims, Smith instead emphasizes the role of ancient skepticism from Pyorrhea of Elis, Socrates, and the Sophists, down to Sextus Empiricus. He recognizes the importance of the skeptical critique of foundationalism that lies at the heart of Hegel's method and is most clearly stated in the famous introduction to the Phenomenology of Spirit.
Unlike what Smith calls the "dogmatism of modern skepticism" found in the works of David Hume and G. E. Schulze, the Greek form of skepticism was more radical and penetrating. It attacked both rationalism and empiricism as inadequate foundations for knowledge, as well as the epistemological foundations of moral choice. The epistemological form of skepticism produced a tranquility (ataraxia) of the soul as the philosopher withdrew from political activity, whereas moral skepticism undermined the moral and cultural traditions of the polis as they criticized the prevailing values of the political system. Their goal was to increase self-consciousness and moral autonomy. For Smith, skepticism lay at the heart of the Hegelian system and method, as Hegel attempted to reach a state of tranquility through a comprehension of the history of the movement of the Spirit.
Modern skepticism from Hume to the neo-Kantians was never radical in Hegel's eyes, since they could only challenge the validity of the noumenal world beyond the senses. They left intact the world of observation and perception as beyond the critical scope of skepticism. This is what makes its modern form dogmatic. Hegel, on the other hand, attacked the world of sense certainty, perception, and understanding as the basis for true knowledge, that is, the world of the immediately given. This critique of the "objectivity of the world" provided Hegel with the foundation for his modern critical and dialectical method of analysis, whose philosophical origins lay in the Greek experience. According to Hegel, skepticism led to nihilism and radical subjectivity. They were forms of consciousness that reflected the decay of the classical civilizations. Smith next turns to the positive side of the dialectic with its notions of transcendence and incorporation (Aufhebung), necessity, totality, and the rational structure of Being. He also incorporates in this analysis the modern evaluations of the dialectic from the perspectives of Marxism and analytic philosophy.
Part II: Marx and Epicurus: Materialism, Ethics, and Greek Physics, centers on an analysis of Marx's doctoral Dissertation and the early stages of development of his economic and political theory. It begins with Chapter Four, Michael DeGolyer's essay "The Greek Accent of the Marxian Matrix." This is the broadest essay in the collection, as it summarizes the development of Marx's thought from his earliest writings to Capital. Some of the specific topics include an analysis of the nature of nineteenth-century European education steeped in classical training, Marx's background and schooling at the University of Berlin (which, at the time, was the international center for classical studies), Marx's Dissertation on Epicurus and Democritus with its focus on Greek materialism and a theory of justice, the connection between the Dissertation and Marx's later economic writings, and the Aristotelian elements in his economic and social theory in Capital. In his detailed overview, DeGolyer views Aristotle's work as providing access to the "hidden inner structure" of Marx's thought. In fact, DeGolyer convincingly argues that in Capital Marx is reading Aristotle through Epicurus as he integrates both science and ethics, materialism and morality, economics and politics into one comprehensive work. Outlining Aristotle's theory of justice and its various forms—distributive justice, commutative or corrective justice, and reciprocal justice within his overall theory of needs and friendship—DeGolyer then shows how Marx borrowed these ideas and incorporated them into his theory of community, species being, human needs, critique of natural rights and morality, theory of economic alienation, and finally his theory of justice.
The second essay in this group, Chapter Five, is by Laurence Baronovitch: "Karl Marx and Greek Philosophy." This piece examines Marx's Dissertation as a work of self-development and enlightenment by which Marx attempted to come to grips with the position of the Left-Hegelians in relation to Hegel himself. Marx's choice of dissertation topic and his concern with post-Aristotelian philosophy were reflections of his love of Greek thought. But the Hellenistic reaction and criticism of Aristotle also provided him with an opportunity to rethink his relation to both Hegel and the post-Hegelian philosophers. In an unusual twist in his interpretation, Baronovitch sees Marx as chiding the followers of Hegel -- David Strauss, Bruno Bauer, Ludwig Feuerbach, and Max Stirner -- for having at first an uncritical acceptance of Hegel and then for not being critical enough. By studying Epicurus's and Democritus's relation to Aristotle Baronovitch argues, Marx was working through his own relation to Hegel and his followers. Much of the secondary literature on this topic places Marx well within the Left-Hegelian camp at this time in his life in 1841. Baronovitch is challenging these interpretations with the argument that Marx was even then beginning to challenge the Hegelian school of thought, well before his outright break with them in his work The Holy Family (1844). He argues that Marx challenged the Left-Hegelians from the very beginning of his works by accusing them of being "ignorant, naively uncritical, and unscrupulous" in their interpretations and criticism of Hegel. It is at this point in his analysis that Baronovitch begins to examine the importance of Marx's interpretation of Epicurus's view of happiness and justice. Again in reaction to the more conventional interpretations (and even his own earlier ones), Baronovitch follows with a scathing critique of Epicurus's passivity and hypocrisy over the issue of Greek slavery. Epicurus had precipitated a rush of spiritual and theoretical freedom for Marx, but it was to be Spartacus who provided the impetus for the eleventh thesis in the Theses on Feuerbach: "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it."
Part III: Marx and Aristotle: Human Capabilities and Social Structures, gets us directly into the relationship between Marx and Aristotle. The three chapters in this part of the work focus on Marx's and Aristotle's view of human nature as the development and self-realization of human capabilities within clearly defined social structures. Martha Nussbaum's article concentrates on Aristotle with a brief mention of Marx at the end, while Philip Kain's essay develops in more detail the Aristotelian element in Marx's ethical theory. Both Nussbaum and Kain stress the notions of human nature and capabilities, as well as their prior necessary social conditions: social structures. William Booth's essay makes an important contribution by analyzing the different forms of social structures examined by Marx that, he believed, either inhibited or facilitated the full development of human potential and functioning: the household economy of classical Greece, the factory or firm, and communism. The three chapters in this part are held together by a transcendental understanding of the relation between human nature and political economy: economics as the subordinate foundation for the primary goals of human advancement within the community.
Chapter Six is Martha Nussbaum's "Nature, Function, and Capability." She presents Aristotle's theory of human good, needs, and human functioning within the context of the political distribution of economic, social, and political resources of the community. She seeks a clarification of the important distinction between "good arrangement" and "good functioning" or the fit between social structures necessary for the realization of the good life and human flourishing. Her major point is that Aristotle offers political theorists a stronger vision of the good life than modern liberal thinkers today -- especially John Rawls. Thus, Aristotle's critique of the "fetishism of money and goods" in an exchange economy provided the social context for a "strong theory" of the good and happy life. Nussbaum takes up the different and conflicting views of political distribution found in Aristotle's Politics. By discussing the best and most practical political constitution and way of life, she argues that Aristotle's predominant theme justifies a more democratic type of political distribution in which "the good of each is what preserves each."
Happiness for Aristotle, she continues, must apply to all or at least most of the parts of the political community and must not be based on wealth, power, or the privileges of the few. Society should be organized so as to permit the fullest development of individual capabilities. It should permit and provide relative leisure, absence of repetitive labor, close friendship and family ties, the economic basis for life, and political participation open to all. Because of the close connections between the structures of society and human development (i.e., education) and the possibilities (capabilities) that lie in most individuals, there cannot be any pre-established or predefined basis for political participation and self-realization. That is, there cannot be any pre-established criterion of birth, wealth, power, or virtue that defines an individual as a citizen, since it is the role of the polis to help educate and encourage the development of individual potential. This education and development would be ruled out by establishing these other criteria. This decidedly "democratic interpretation" of Aristotle's polity is a distinguishing characteristic of Nussbaum's essay, though she herself never uses the term democratic. For her, Aristotle's empirical references also betray this democratic orientation: his critique of Sparta, his praise of Solon and legislators who are also educators, and his ideal based on the Cretan political constitution. What is necessary is that individuals be capable of developing their practical rationality and public-spiritedness when supplied with the necessary educational and economic support.
Thus the final criterion for citizenship and full participation in the polis is "the capability to perform the function in question" in the same way that the judgment about who should playa musical instrument rests with the capability of using it well. She pushes the argument further by stating that the role of a good legislator is to attend to the needs of "all of them, rather than striving to maximize excellent functioning" of a few. This radical democratic twist to Aristotle requires that human functioning always be seen in terms of social institutions, since individuals are not born into their political and ethical roles. Political and economic theory are integrated into ethics. The highest form of human functioning, according to Aristotle, lies not in nutrition or sense perception, but in the development of our practical rationality, since it is this activity of political participation that ultimately defines us as human. Finally, Nussbaum ends her analysis with a short, but important, reference to Marx's Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. Marx, too, took an Aristotelian turn in his thinking in his early manuscripts as he saw the connection between the development of human potential of species being and the economic foundations of society.
Philip Kain's contribution, "Aristotle, Kant, and the Ethics of the Young Marx" -- Chapter Seven -- continues this very line of thought. Kain, too, traces Marx's integration of the individual and the social by viewing them as categories within Aristotelian and Kantian philosophy. That is, he intends to trace the integration of Moralität, which consists of individual self-consciousness, conscience, and moral autonomy, and Sittlichkeit, which consists of laws, social institutions, customs, and traditions. In order for there to be free self-consciousness and moral action, philosophers must consider the importance of society in framing the context of morality. Also individual rationality requires a prior rational form of social organization (e.g., economic and political institutions), which results from the objectification of individual intentions and labor. Kain views Marx as establishing the mediating link between Moralität and Sittlichkeit in species being or labor, since the objective world is constituted in the very act of laboring itself. The highest form of moral action is thus the free expression of self or the freedom to express one's essence as a species being: "Each thing has a process, activity, or function and when it fully achieves its proper activity or function, it realizes its essence and achieves its end or good." This Kain explicitly takes to be a borrowing of Marx from Aristotle. At this point in his analysis of Marx, it appears that Kain is paralleling ideas developed in Nussbaum's analysis of Aristotle. Tom Rockmore will further develop the parallels between Marx and Aristotle on this particular point in Part IV.
As Kain unfolds Marx's anthropological assumptions in his earliest writings, he concentrates on the latter's theory of needs, since it is an expression of human essence. The needs produced in a particular society offer us a gauge by which to measure whether the economic structures (productive forces and their corresponding social relations) reflect or distort the development of truly human needs or only artificial ones. In this way the essence of mankind -- as a species being having a certain type of function -- may be compared to its actual form of social existence. In a capitalist society, human needs are measured by the distortions created in commodity exchange and the market economy; human needs are reduced to the contingencies and needs of the production process. This method of comparing a thing's existence by its essence (species being and human needs) is, for Kain, an approach borrowed from Kant (i.e., the principle of the categorical imperative), while comparing its present actuality to its future possibilities represents a return to Aristotle (i.e., the doctrine of essence). Human needs and species being are manifestations of human capabilities and powers, which in turn require a democratic society in order to be realized. Individuals have an imperative to realize their freedom in social institutions through activity and, in the process, realize the social and personal good. As Kain reads Marx, "morality means realizing one's essence." It is the historical process by which individuals create the social forms of their existence in particular economic and political settings, by which they reconcile their needs and social institutions in a free society, and finally by which they objectify their essence as species being in society and history.
In Chapter Eight, entitled "Households, Markets, and Firms," William James Booth seeks to examine alternative forms of nonmarket economies as viewed by Marx: the household or oikos model of the ancients, the factory or firm, and communism. His goal is to examine alternative economic relationships that, Marx thought, would help to determine "how freedom might be possible in the absence (or subordination) of markets." The emphasis here is clearly on a structural analysis of social forms that would permit the full realization of human capabilities, activities, and needs. Here, too, Aristotle provided some valuable clues to the structures of an alternative society with his theory of the household economy and his subordination of economic and market relations to the political community and civic virtue.
Booth is also working within the general perspective that runs throughout many of the essays in this volume: the need for an analysis of the relation between moral principles (freedom and autonomy) and social structures. In the previous chapter, Kain examined the anthropological and philosophical implications of this connection, while Booth examines its structural and political sides. To accomplish this task, Booth begins with a study of Aristotle's theory of the ancient household economy, which provided Marx with his key categories for understanding surplus value and capitalism. Marx accepted Aristotle's designation of a precapitalist economy by distinguishing between a marketless use-value economy subordinated to the broader needs of society (the art of household management) and an exchange-value chrematistic economy based on market exchange and the unlimited pursuit of money. This distinction would later help Marx formulate the relationships between the simple exchange of commodities C-M-C (oikonomike) and the use of commodities for the exchange of money and profits M-C-M (chrematistike). Economic activity in the household economy is to be used only as a means for some higher ethical purpose and satisfaction of basic material needs. It is not to become an end in itself. At this point, Booth examines In more detail the division of labor and social hierarchy of the ancient household economy.
Marx is repulsed by the despotic and authoritarian structure of this ancient economy based on the domination of women and slaves. However, Aristotle's economic theory does provide the foundation stone for his later economics in Capital. It provides the central categorial distinction between use value and exchange value, as well as the idea that economics must be subordinated to ethics and politics, that is, the good life and happiness. Booth continues and says that Aristotle's theory of the household economy provided Marx with "part of the foundation for his theory of communism." What interests Booth in this view is the interconnectedness within a non market moral economy among economics, human ends and needs, the community, and individual freedom. This is then counterpoised to the disadvantages and domination of an exchange market. Next Booth turns to the liberalism of a market economy and its organization of formal freedom, equality of persons, and individual rights. But the formal freedoms of modernity were also permeated by the commodification of the community. New forms of domination and control replaced those of the ancient despotic community. Labor itself became commodified as the market and exchange value pervaded every aspect of human life.
As capitalism has produced an exchange economy, it has also produced, according to Marx, a new form of despotism: the factory. Booth proceeds to examine the structure, functional technology, social division of labor, interdependency, discipline, and specialization of this modern form of despotism. The market offered the moderns a superior economic system when compared to the ancients because of its formal equality, freedoms, rights of man, and individuality. The market is also superior to the modern form of factory despotism with its hierarchical and authoritarian structures. The moral cries of alienation, oppression, and deindividualization are reserved in Booth's analysis for the social form of production. In this interpretation of Marx, liberalism is split between a potentially liberating market and the repressive structures of production based on profit maximization. The limited freedoms of the market are viewed as superior to the despotism of the master-slave relationship in the ancient household. However, the factory reproduces the latter on a new scale.
In the final section of his essay, Booth raises the all-important structuralist question: How can one construct a nonmarket system that doesn't reproduce the oppression and hierarchy of the ancient economy or liberal capitalism? Drawing together scattered remarks by Marx, Booth blends together the components of a moral socialism or "new household economy, " thereby continuing further the line of argument of the two previous chapters in Part III: Marx's theory of needs; the liberal ideals of autonomy, equality, and individuality; and the principles and structures of a socialist community. Without the structural transformation of the economic and political realm, the possibilities for realizing human potential are negated.
Part IV: Marx and Aristotle: Morality and Praxis, starts with a discussion undertaken by Richard Miller and Alan Gilbert over the existence of a moral theory in Marx and the relation between Marx and Aristotle. The part ends with two radically different interpretations by Joseph Margolis and Tom Rockmore about Marx's indebtedness to Aristotle for his theory of subjectivity, activity, and species being. In Chapter Nine, "Marx and Aristotle: A Kind of Consequentialism," Richard Miller develops the argument that Marx and Aristotle represent alternatives to both a rights-based political theory and utilitarianism. Their theories are guided by an analysis and judgment of social institutions based on the consequences they have for promoting the good life and happiness. Miller outlines eight basic features and requirements of Aristotle's good life and happiness found in the Nicomachean Ethics: a minimum of basic material goods within the economic system, the exercise of human capacities, the use and development of intelligence, the application of rational deliberation and choice, the expression of character through virtuous action, a society based on friendship and mutual caring, pleasure as the unhindered exercise of human capabilities, and the recognition of the unnaturalness of monetary ends. These characteristics are then compared to a similar outline of eight features of the distorted good life found in Marx's theory of alienated labor: capitalism degrades human capabilities by not providing an economic minimum for human life; work does not express human needs, but animal functions; production results in alienation and stupidity; alien forces of the market determine life and not rational choice; labor power becomes a means of life and not its expression; people become means in commodity exchange; the system produces the pain of alienation and lost possibilities; and, finally, money is pursued for its own sake as something natural. Implicit in Marx's critique is his theory of the good life as the full expression of species being.
In the next section of his essay, Miller summarizes Marx's and Aristotle's objections to utilitarianism and natural rights theory by a close textual analysis of their works. He contends that Marx had other priorities at the heart of his political thought -- self-expression and mutuality -- whereas Aristotle had stressed the importance of good character, virtuous living, and friendship and mutual caring as his ultimate values. Miller then outlines Aristotle's theory of social justice by examining its different forms: distributive justice, rectificatory (corrective) justice, and reciprocal justice. After a four-page analysis, he then concludes with the statement that in Marx "we discover the same consequentialist outlook we have encountered in Aristotle." Beginning with an interesting study of the role of rights in Marx's socialism, Miller argues that commodity exchange of labor does not violate the right to equal exchange and, therefore, is not unfair (see the Allen Wood thesis). However, he does not let the argument lie there, since he says that this is not a primary right for Marx and has serious negative consequences; he also mentions that the right to equal exchange would contradict other rights and priorities in a socialist society. So long as rights are seen as means to other primary ends, such as self-control, human dignity, self-expression, and rationality, then they are valid. The consequence of rights is the final arbiter, according to this view.
Where Marx and Aristotle really differ on these issues -- besides the more obvious cases of slavery and domination in classical society -- is in Aristotle's hierarchy of activities. Miller interprets Marx as calling for a diversity of intellectual, perceptual, and manual activities and concludes his chapter in Aristotelian fashion with the thought that having a "secure sense of possessing a real self, acceptance of one's individuality ... can only flourish when social relations are characterized by mutual caring."
In Chapter Ten, "Marx's Moral Realism," Alan Gilbert starts with the comment that, in Marx's indictment of alienation and economic exploitation, there is a "moral vision of great stature." Marx's moral theory, as well as his theory of justice, furthered the moral vision already contained in Aristotle's theory of eudaimonia. And it is this insight that provides valuable information for a reading of Marx's theory of alienation and his later economic theory in Capital. As in the case with Miller's essay, Gilbert outlines the similar values and positions of Marx and Aristotle: both stress the importance of the good life as encompassing a free political system, politics as expressing moral character (sympathy and friendship), development of a theory of justice, and the common good resting on practical deliberation, prudence, and free choice. Gilbert, too, then proceeds to compare eudaimonism (needs) and utilitarianism (pleasure) to the detriment of the latter. Compared to the values and ideals of the good life as expressed in the political community of the Paris Commune of 1871, capitalist institutions and norms undermine and distort the very possibility of happiness.
Alienation, poverty and inequality, the loss of species being, commodity production (surplus value and abstract labor), and class domination make up the picture of modernity to which the classical values of antiquity are contrasted: friendship, social life, political community, and self-realization. The juxtaposing of modem social institutions and the moral values of classical antiquity form the foundation of Marx's critical social theory. Gilbert states that, with the emphasis on modem political and economic institutions in the analysis of Marx's theory, the classical element had been lost. "Some of Marx's most original, deepest arguments against capitalism are Aristotelian or eudaimonist in inspiration." In the final section of this essay, Gilbert advances a friendly critique of a thesis developed by Richard Miller: that Marx's social theory lacks a coherent and systematic moral theory, that is, lacks general norms, universality, and equality. His essay then develops into a more detailed analysis of the nature of moral theory itself.
Joseph Margolis's essay "Praxis and Meaning" -- Chapter Eleven -- takes a much more critical and skeptical approach than the previous authors regarding the relationship between Marx and Aristotle. In fact, he presses the issue that the gulf between them is much wider than any similarities they may share. Margolis wishes to recover Marx's theory of praxis and morality from the failed attempts of historical materialism and Soviet communism. Aristotle may have stimulated Marx's thought on certain issues, but the direction he took was very modem and very different: "Marx's link with Aristotle is solely one that involved seizing a useful point of departure: any claim of closer ties would be entirely misleading." Marx's theory of species being represented a rejection of Aristotle's theory of praxis, as well as his philosophical anthropology. Following a detailed analysis of Marx's notion of species being, Margolis concludes that Aristotle and Marx have incompatible theories. Aristotle's essentialist view was based on an unchanging and universal view of human nature, while Marx's was historically and socially specific to changing economic, political, and social relationships. Man's nature is practical and historical as it changes the very social conditions that give it its definition and form. Man, as a Gattungswesen, transforms social institutions as well as human nature itself though praxis. This certainly is a marked critique of the other positions in this volume.
Margolis further details his critique of this connection between Marx and Aristotle by an exegesis of Allen Wood's "Aristotelian Marx" in his work Karl Marx. Margolis next criticizes Marx's rejection of Aristotle's hierarchy of knowledge and the connections between contemplative philosophy and practical action as developed in the Metaphysics and Nicomachean Ethics. He emphasizes that Marx's theory of praxis was a theory of thinking that traces the formation of thought back to its historical and sociological origins. Praxis was thus placed within the context of a materialist epistemology and sociology of knowledge; it does not reflect an essentialist view of human nature. The final contribution to this collection is Tom Rockmore's "Marxian Subjectivity, Idealism, and Greek Philosophy," Chapter Twelve. This essay was not intended as a response to Margolis's critique of the "Aristotelianization" of Marx, but it does serve as a defense of this position by stressing the continuity between Aristotle's and Marx's concept of activity. Rockmore presents us with an historical overview to the issue of a theory of knowledge and the important contribution that Marx makes. The Greeks had a view of the subject, but it was not until Christianity that the subject became identified as an individual human being. Rockmore then moves to Descartes as the modem articulator of a new theory of knowledge, which rested on the epistemological subject as a pure cogito. This form of consciousness provided Descartes with the foundation for his whole theory of knowledge. Rockmore emphasizes that this subjectivity was a passive spectator of independent objects of knowledge. This form of modernity was in turn criticized by German idealists, including Kant, Fichte, Hegel, and Marx.
The fundamental assumption of idealism was its belief that the objective world could be known, because it is a product of human intervention and production. The subject as knower is capable of understanding the object, since there is an identity between subjectivity and objectivity at some level. This shift away from Cartesian epistemology represents a return to ancient Greek philosophy with its emphasis on the active qualities of subjectivity. The contemplative activity of the philosopher and the practical activity of the citizen were the highest forms of rational life for Aristotle. Rockmore investigates the Aristotelian theory of activity with its categories of potentiality and actuality, process and result, means and ends. He argues that it is this very concept of activity that links the various members of German idealism. In this context Marx reflects the Aristotelian moment in his theory of alienation and theory of value. Criticizing historical materialism and dialectical materialism as inadequate reflections of Marx's critical theory, Rockmore turns to Marx's theory of praxis or activity as the basis for understanding the latter's theory of human nature, knowledge, and society. The roots of his concept of activity trace back to the ancients. Marx's goal is to rethink the real possibilities of freedom within the modern context of economic and social relations of production: "In part following Fichte, Marx also starts from a real human being in a qualified return to Aristotle's practical theory." The last pages in this chapter are taken up by a critique of some of the weaknesses of Marx's theory of subjectivity, but with a recognition of the value of Marx's own contribution to the discussion.
The chapters outlined above uncover in their exegeses a richness and subtlety in Marx's work that reveal the roots of his ethical vision hidden in the ideals of classical Greek antiquity. Much more work needs to be done in the area of Marx's political, sociological, and economic theory to develop these insights. The editor's own book, Marx and the Ancients, makes one such modest attempt by relating the fire of the Greek vision to Marx's economic crisis theory in the Grundrisse and Capital and his critique of Locke's and Ricardo's labor theory of value in Theories of Surplus Value. By viewing classical political economy of the nineteenth century through the lens of the ancient Greeks, the role and place of economics radically alter; economics becomes a subarea of ethics and political theory, on the one hand, and subordinate to the community, on the other. With the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the growth of the German Enlightenment and romanticism, the spark that began in ancient Greece spread northward to become the "northern fire."