Karl Marxs Critique on the Young Hegelians

In the development of Marx critique of Hegelian idealism, and as well as on his critical comments on the materialism of Feuerbach, which led him to the development of a unique theory whish is dialectical materialism, he first made a critique on the young Hegelians. On Marxs work A Critique on the German Ideology, he actually stated that the modern young Hegelian philosophy...is announced by our philosophic heroes with the solemn consciousness of its cataclysmic dangerousness. It is true that the Young Hegelians, also called as the Left Hegelian, all started with Hegel, which was also one of the major influences in Marx, particularly in his dialectical method, and its application to human history, However, Marx began to make a criticism on the young Hegelians by the time that he also began to look at the issue of materialism and idealism, in the context of the so called illusions of the German ideology.

According to the preface of the work A Critique on the German Ideology (Delaney et.al.), the young Hegelians actually showing how their bleating merely imitates in a philosophic form the conceptions of the German middle class, including on how they are actually only mirroring the wretchedness of the real conditions in Germany. In this case, understanding the critique of Marx necessitates understanding the difference between idealism and materialism, as expounded in his work the German Ideology. The starting point of Marx in the criticism of the young Hegelians was in the fact that German criticism has failed to quit the realm of philosophy, in which the whole body of its inquiries has actually sprung from the soils of a definite philosophical system, that of Hegel (Delaney et. al.). What does this mean According to Marx, the criticism of the Young Hegelians actually came from attributing to it religious conceptions or by pronouncing it in a theological matter (Delaney et. al.). In this case, Marx earlier said that the error in all of the German criticism of philosophy actually came from dismissing philosophical concepts altogether as a religious or theological in conception, as a form of cult (Delaney et. al.). According to Marx, the error in this analysis is that this would soon subsume different important aspects, like the political, juridical and moral man as religious (Delaney et. al.). In this case, according to Marx, the dominance of religion was then taken for granted (Delaney et. al.). The analysis of Marx here is that because of the fact that the critique of these young Hegelians on German philosophy rested on dismissing everything theological and religious, and resulting into the conclusion that every dominant relationship resulted into the cult of the state, or the cult of law, then the major role which religion actually played a part in establishing these dominant relationships where altogether dismissed (Delaney et. al.). In addition, Marx also criticized the young Hegelians use of Hegels categories of substance and self-consciousness, even exalting these categorizations, and then proceeding to secularize these categories as the Unique and Man among others (Delaney et. al.). This kind of critique, according to Marx, is actually metaphysical in itself, and that their very questions were actually a mystification (Delaney et. al.). In this case, them Marx emphasized that the focus on the critique of the left Hegelians hinged on categorizations of religious and metaphysical, and claimed that this critique of the German society was in itself divorced from German reality, because of the fact that they failed to connect German philosophy with German reality (Delaney et. al.). This point, I think, is what was characterized by the term wanting to realize philosophy without abolishing it as coined by Marx to the young Hegelians. Marx argued that then polemics of the young Hegelians actually rested upon extracting one side of the Hegelian system and turns it against the whole system as well (especially in secularizing the categorizations of Hegel as stated earlier), and that all of their criticism was confined to religious and theological appropriations (Delaney et. al.). According to Marx, this is what limited the criticism of the young Hegelians they failed to go out of the Hegelian philosophical system, and depended in it largely, in which  lead them to have a failure in connecting philosophy to reality, causing to undermine the role of religion in forming dominant relationships for instance, making them realizing philosophy without abolishing itthat is, failing to abolish their overdependence on Hegels philosophical system, instead of questioning the very premises of philosophy(emphasis mine).

In addition, Marx also noted the fact that Since the Young Hegelians consider conceptions, thoughts, ideas, in fact all the products of consciousness, to which they attribute an independent existence, as the real chains of men (just as the Old Hegelians declared them the true bonds of human society) it is evident that the Young Hegelians have to fight only against these illusions of consciousness (Delaney et. al.), this lead them to opposing only phrases, and making them fail to establish the relation of their own criticism to the material reality which actually surrounds them (Delaney et. al.). Establishing the connection of philosophy to reality was the case in Marxs argument to argue on the premises of the materialist method, and this is what the young Hegelians failed to do. This is why they actually remained theologians in themselves their philosophy was tied in mystique due to their consideration that all are products of consciousness that has a separate existence, and making them only to critique such illusions of consciousness, divorcing them from material reality (Delaney et. al.). This is what Marx started to refute in his case for dialectical materialism.


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