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Title: Needs in the philosophy of history : Rousseau to Marx
Author: Chitty, Andrew
ISNI:       0000 0001 3545 1547
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1994
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The thesis examines the role of the multiplication of human needs, the desires associated with them, and the capacities developed by human beings to satisfy those desires, in the philosophies of history of Rousseau, Kant, Hegel and Marx. It presents an interpretation of Rousseau in which the historical multiplication of needs is both generated by and generates the development of 'amour-propre'. In turn the development of 'amour-propre' is necessary in order for human beings to develop the virtue of justice, and to participate as citizens in the society of the Social Contract. It argues that in Kant's philosophy of history the expansion of needs and their associated desires, and the development of the means to satisfy them, brings about a 'culture of skill'. This in turn leads to the development of just civil societies and of the 'culture of discipline'. These together constitute the 'ultimate end of nature': that naturally produced circumstance which can maximally facilitate the moralisation of mankind. It interprets sections of Hegel's systematic account of mind as providing a philosophical history of ordinary human motivation, in which the 'desire' of the isolated human being is superseded successively by the 'needs' of the person, the 'social needs' of the member of a civil society, and the 'duties' of the citizen of the modern state. This history provides an underpinning for Hegel's official account of history as the rise and fall of successive civilisations. It argues that in Marx's early writings history is conceived as the development through private exchange of those needs, activities and products which are characteristically human, but in an 'estranged' shape which can only be overcome by the final abolition of private exchange itself. This conception of history survives in Marx's later writings and provides a basis for understanding direct producers' motivations for overthrowing a social form as derived from a sense of incompatibility between their conception of self and the economic relations under which they live. Marx's 'moral' condemnations of capitalism are understood in the light of this model of revolutionary motivation. It is concluded that in each of these thinkers the process of multiplication of needs and their associated desires plays a central role in a conception of history as a process culminating in the establishment of the 'good society', and thus in humanity's self-realisation. It thereby plays an important though under-recognised role in the social and political thought of each of them.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Need (Philosophy) ; History--Philosophy