Philosophy after Marx

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Published Nov 2016
ISBN: 9789004224278

100 Years of Misreadings and the Normative Turn in Political Philosophy

Christoph Henning, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. Translated by Max Henninger

Christoph Henning writes a concise history of misreadings of Marx in the 20th century. Focussing on German philosophy from Heidegger to Habermas, he also addresses the influence of Rawls and Neopragmatism, subsequently scrutinizing a previous history of Marx-interpretations that had served as the premises upon which these later works were based. Henning sketches a historical trajectory in which a theory of socialist politics enters the fields of economics, sociology, critical theory and theology, before finally – overloaded with intellectually dead freight – entering into philosophy. In so doing, he takes a hermeneutic approach to how misreadings in a specific field proliferate into further misreadings across a variety of fields, leading to an accumulation of questionable preconceptions. With the recent resurgence of interest in Marx, Henning’s historical recursions make evident where and how academic Anti-Marxism had previously got it wrong.

English translation of Philosophie nach Marx. 100 Jahre Marxrezeption und die normative Sozialphilosophie der Gegenwart in der Kritik, Transcript-Verlag, Bielefeld, 2005.

Biographical note

Christoph Henning, Ph.D. (2003), is a philosopher at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. He has published widely on economic philosophy, Marxism, and critical theory, and recently wrote a book entitled Political Philosophy of Perfectionism.


All interested in Marxism and Critical theory; continental and German Philosophy; Sociology and its history, as well as in social and political philosophy more generally.

Table of contents

In Place of a Preface
‘Sandblasting Marx’ – a review by Fredric Jameson

1 Introduction
1.1 The problem
1.2 Retaining Marx? A preliminary account of his theory
1.3 The lacuna in contemporary social theory
1.4 On the method employed in this study
1.5 The structure of the study

2 Marx Yesterday: On the Genesis of Erroneous Theoretical Receptions
2.1 Marx in the theory of Social Democracy
2.2 Marx in the theory of communism
2.3 Marx in economic theory
2.4 Marx in (German) sociology
2.5 ‘From Marx to Heidegger’: social philosophy
2.6 Critical theory or the dissolution of critique in religion

3 Marx today: critique of contemporary philosophy
3.1 Jürgen Habermas or the return of the philosophy of law
3.2 John Rawls or the apotheosis of ignorance
3.3 Business ethics: a ‘normatively substantive’ social theory?
3.4 Neo-pragmatism or the persistence of Hegel

4 Conclusions on Philosophy after Marx
4.1 The reality check as a philosophical litmus test
4.2 Topology of social philosophy
4.3 The function and scope of theory after Marx
4.4 Normative theory: ethics as a surrogate for explanation