Marx on Schopenhauer or vice versa?

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ryang
 
Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2010 10:56 am
This may seem like an odd question, but does anyone know if Marx ever commented on Schopenhauer's philosophy (or vice versa)? I assume Marx would feel Schopenhauer was pessimistic and Schopenhauer would feel Marx was another silly Hegelian but I have no idea if they ever made comments on one another. Despite this, as a philosophy student, I imagine Marx would have read Schopenhauer's magnum opus, even though Schopenhauer held such disdain for Hegel's dialectic.

The reason I ask is I cannot help but draw ontological lines between Schopenhauer's concept of the 'will to life' in The World as Will and Representation and Marx's concept of 'need', specifically 'natural need', in the 1844 Manuscripts. Although Schopenhauer felt that the 'will' is a dark and miserable drive that can never be completely fulfilled for humans (and thus suppressed) and Marx felt humans should create a 'wealth of needs' collectively, both philosophers felt that these drives must be objectified externally to be actualized.

Any knowledge of them making comments about one another?
 
claudius phil
 
Reply Sat 20 Mar, 2010 10:29 am
@ryang,
I can say that Schopenhauer would feel contempt for a man like Marx. The reason for that can be found in fact that Marx's teaching about collective needs in case of human dialectic directly violates Schopenhauer's concept of freedom and right which both contents are negative, i.e. there must be absence of any hindrance for activity in the case of freedom and of any injury in the case of right.
What Marx meant was some kind of positive freedom and right, that means that people or institutions should intervene in changing the society and its functions to create a classless society.

Other factor for which Schopenhauer would feel disdain is the aim or end of Marx's dialectic, that is the rule that all people shpuld create wealth collectively. As a proponent of limited government which only aim should be to enable man free to work out his salvation Schopenhauer would definitely ranked Marx next to Hegel, as a clumsy charlatan.
There is a passage in his Parerga and Paralipomena where he expresses his negative view on workers' movement with the aim to rule the state. He even said in his masterpiece The World as Will and Representation that he would prefer to be ruled by a lion than one of his fellow rats.

Regarding you question about the fact 'that both felt that these drives must be objectified externally to be actualized', I am of opinion that you did not grasped Schopenhauer's concept of the will right.
The will for him is already objectified in different grades from inorganic nature (like simple matter) to the highest grade in organic nature (man). And the aim for him is not for a people to actualize this will to live (that was a concept Nietzche invented) but to resign from it and attain a blissful state of nirvana, the same aim as in Buddhism.
So they were in direct opposition in basis of their teachings.

No comments on eachother were found by me but I might even add that events in a period of histoy after both men proved who was right.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Sat 8 May, 2010 12:37 am
@ryang,
Here's a Marxist on Schopenhauer (and Hegel). I'm not sure what to make of this but when I came across it today I remembered this OP and figured I'd take the time to post it. Maybe it will give you some ideas ryang.
Quote:
Hegel was a man of vision who belied his own insights in order to assure the Prussian monarchy that its existence was part of the divine plan an, indeed, its final expression. Since the reasons he adduced were the most transparent rationalizations, both his system and his method fell into disrepute. Attempting to prove that all of existence was rational, therefore necessary, and, therefore, good, he failed to make the existence of any particular thing intelligible. There was not much difference between his ruthless optimism which assured the rising German bourgeoisie that this was the best of all possible worlds and the sentimental pessimism of his arch-enemy, Schopenhauer, who held it was the worst. For neither system admitted that the world could significantly change on way or the other. For Hegel, change was merely appearance, for Schopenhauer, illusion.

Marx was an empiricist. If change was not real, nothing was real. Even if permanence and invariance were characters of existence, they could only be recognized in change and difference. The dialectic method of Marx is a way of dealing with what is both constant and variable in every situation. It is the logic of movement, power, growth and action.
- Sidney Hook
- from Towards the Understanding of Karl Marx p.148
Also, it occurs to me now that Marx believed in action, praxis "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it." If I remember correctly Schopenhauer ultimately believed in doing the exact opposite.



ryang;137222 wrote:
This may seem like an odd question, but does anyone know if Marx ever commented on Schopenhauer's philosophy (or vice versa)? I assume Marx would feel Schopenhauer was pessimistic and Schopenhauer would feel Marx was another silly Hegelian but I have no idea if they ever made comments on one another. Despite this, as a philosophy student, I imagine Marx would have read Schopenhauer's magnum opus, even though Schopenhauer held such disdain for Hegel's dialectic.

I can imagine the young Marx reading Schopenhauer. Perhaps he would not have agreed with it. Perhaps he would have thought Hegel was still the superior philosopher. But I can imagine that Schopenhauer as a voice of dissidence gave many young post-Hegelian minds the permission (if that is the right word) or the courage to disagree with Hegel. Schopenhauer's influence on the young Hegelians or post-Hegelians seems like a very rich area to investigate. I haven't ran across it before.
ryang;137222 wrote:

The reason I ask is I cannot help but draw ontological lines between Schopenhauer's concept of the 'will to life' in The World as Will and Representation and Marx's concept of 'need', specifically 'natural need', in the 1844 Manuscripts. Although Schopenhauer felt that the 'will' is a dark and miserable drive that can never be completely fulfilled for humans (and thus suppressed) and Marx felt humans should create a 'wealth of needs' collectively, both philosophers felt that these drives must be objectified externally to be actualized.

It really sounds like you are on to something and are already several steps beyond my above comments. I know this is an old post and maybe you have moved on from this idea but if possible could you maybe juxtapose a couple relevant quotes regarding Schopenhauer's "will to life" and Marx's "natural need". Out on a limb but I think Schopenhauer's concept is more of a sort of force or instinct than Marx's concept is. On that note, intuitively I'm guessing Schopenhauer is closer to say Freud than Marx was (though maybe mentioning Freud is a stupid red herring on my part - Schopenhauer treats the will as an inner drives which it is I guess. Here's another relevant quote from Hook regarding Marx's need and how it is couched in Marx's post-Hegelian dialectic.
Quote:

Marx tries to show how social change arises from the interacting processes of nature, society and human intelligence. From objective conditions, social and natural (thesis), there arise human needs and purposes which in recognizing the objective possibilities in the given situation (antithesis) set up a course of action (synthesis) designed to actualize these possibilities.
- p. 158 of the same text

"objectified externally to be actualized." is an interesting phrase and reminds me of Marcuse's manufacture needs. A natural need precedes its external objectification whereas in the case of the manufactured need this is flipped around. But that is slightly off topic.

I'll see if I can dig up more info about what you are comparing here: Marx's natural need and Schopenhauer's "will to life" but again if you have some relevant quotes ready at hand they will be much appreciated.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 11 May, 2010 10:57 pm
@ryang,
Schopenhauer said that to have read Herodotus was enough, as far as history goes. I can only guess that Marx would resist this from the depths of his Hegelian roots.

In the German Ideology at least, Marx's style reminded me of Schopenhauer. And Nietzsche. He's direct for one thing and also a real smart ass about "Saint Max" and the gang, quite arrogant, contemptuous, etc. I expected him to be drier than that, but I'm glad he wasn't. Or at least it made for a better read. (Still, I didn't finish the book, and perhaps the tone began to wear on me.)
I think certain characters in Dostoevsky, especially within Demons, effected my interpretation of this book.
 
ryang
 
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 04:55 pm
@ryang,
Thanks for all of the replies. The Will is a very interesting concept and I'm still trying to comprehend it. I think the reason I feel Schopenhauer is so interesting is he was an Idealist but his understanding of suffering (like Marx) seems very 'real', not an abstraction. Was this the basis for his pessimism (Ideal happiness cannot be achieved without the negation of pursuing happiness)?

Max Horkheimer, a Frankfurt Schooler (who I'm a big fan of), was a big fan of both Marx and Schopenhauer. I feel like the critique of Hegel in this speech is both Schopenhauerian and Marxian, no?

Frankfurt School: The Present Situation of Social Philosophy and the Tasks of an Institute for Social Research 1931


"Metaphysical pessimism, always an implicit element in every genuinely materialist philosophy, had always been congenial to me." - Max Horkheimer
(Not from the linked speech, but sums up his theoretical and philosophical approach. If Marx and Schopenhauer can be viewed as 'opposites', then, as a Hegelian, I feel Horkheimer brought out the unifying truth of both in his Critical Theory. Damn, that's pretty good! I might have to use that in a paper someday haha)

 
 

 
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