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Title: Karl Marx's individualistic conception of the good life
Author: Kandiyali, Jan
ISNI:       0000 0004 5348 8492
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis provides an interpretation and critical examination of Karl Marx’s vision of the good life, a vision that is potent but also notoriously unspecified and opaque. It makes three major interpretive claims. First, it argues that at the heart of Marx’s vision is an uncompromising commitment to ethical individualism, the view that the ultimate value and goal of human societies is the self-realisation of individuals. This individualism is explored through an examination of Marx’s critique of the division of labour (Chapter 2) and hostility to social roles (Chapter 3). Second, it argues that Marx’s ideas about the good life are not of a piece but change in crucial respects throughout his lifetime. For instance, it is argued that Marx gives different arguments in different texts as to why community is necessary for self-realisation (Chapter 3), and different arguments, too, about whether labour or leisure constitutes the true realm of self-realisation under communism (Chapter 4). Third, while Marx’s views do indeed change in crucial respects throughout his lifetime, it argues that these changes cannot be understood in terms of a break between the ‘early’ and ‘late’ Marx, as is commonly claimed. Rather, it argues that Marx oscillated between different conceptions of the good life throughout his lifetime, never fully settling on one. On top of these interpretive claims, the thesis also addresses the question of which, if any, of Marx’s visions provides the most feasible and desirable foundation for a Marxist conception of the good life today. Here, it is argued that in the concluding paragraphs of the ‘Comments on James Mill’s Éléments D’économie Politique’ (hereafter the Comments) Marx puts forward a richer and more plausible conception of the good life than that which he put forward in other texts.
Supervisor: Bennett, Christopher ; Stern, Robert Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available