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Table of contents
1. From Philosophical Anthropology to Social Ontology and Back: What to Do with Marx's Sixth Thesis on
Feuerbach?...................................................................................................................................................... 1
Bibliography...................................................................................................................................................... 22
15 May 2014 ii ProQuest
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From Philosophical Anthropology to Social Ontology and Back: What to Do with Marx's Sixth Thesis
on Feuerbach?
Author: Balibar, tienne

ProQuest document link
Abstract: This essay is based on a reading of Marx's Theses on Feuerbach from 1845, especially Thesis 6,
which discusses its wording with reference to signifying chains tracing back to the constitution of Western
Metaphysics. The claim that "the human essence is not an abstract being inhabiting the singular individual" not
only rejects post-Aristotelian metaphysics, but also theologies of the interpellation of the subject. Saying that "in
its reality it is the ensemble of the social relations" opens the possibility of a multifaceted ontology of relations.
Further, it identifies a weakness in Marx's assessment of Feuerbach's philosophy of the "generic being." It is on
this basis that applications to contemporary debates on philosophical anthropology should be reformulated.
Links: Linking Service
Full text: The Theses on Feuerbach, an ensemble of eleven aphorisms apparently not destined for publication in
this form, were written by Marx in the course of 1845 while he was working on the manuscript of the German
Ideology, also left unpublished. They were later discovered by Friedrich Engels, who published them with some
corrections (not all insignificant) as an appendix to his own pamphlet, "Feuerbach and the End of German
Classical Philosophy" (1886).
1
They are widely considered one of the emblematic formularies of Western
philosophy and sometimes compared to other concise texts - such as Parmenides' Poem or Wittgenstein's
Tractatus -- that combine a speculative content of seemingly enigmatic, inexhaustible richness with a manifesto-
like style of enunciation, apparently signaling a radically new mode of thinking. Some of the best-known
aphorisms have achieved a posteriori the same value of a turning point in philosophy (or in our relationship to
philosophy) as, for instance, not only Parmenides's and Wittgenstein's respective "tauton gar esti noein te kai
einai"
2
and "Worber man nicht sprechen kann, darber muss man schweigen" (27), but also Spinoza's "ordo et
connexio idearum idem est ac ordo et connexio rerum" (Ethics II, Prop. VII) or Kant's "Gedanken ohne Inhalt
sind leer, Anschauungen ohne Begriffe sind blind" (Critique of Pure Reason B75/A51), etc.
In such conditions, it is both extremely tempting and imprudent to embark on a new commentary. But it is also
inevitable that we return to the letter of the Theses, checking our understanding of their terminology and
phrases, whenever we decide to assess the place of Marx (and an interpretation of Marx) in our contemporary
debates. This is what I am trying to do in this presentation, at least partially, with regard to an ongoing
discussion of the meaning and uses of the categories "relation" and "relationship" (both possible equivalents for
the German Verhltnis). The implications of this discussion range from logic to ethics, but involve in particular a
subtle, perhaps decisive nuance separating a "philosophical anthropology" from a "social ontology" (or an
ontology of the "social being," as Lukcs, among others, would put it). My purpose quite naturally leads to
emphasizing the importance of Thesis Six, which in Marx's original version reads as follows:
Feuerbach lst das religise Wesen in das menschliche Wesen auf. Aber das menschliche Wesen ist kein dem
einzelnen Individuum inwohnendes Abstraktum. In seiner Wirklichkeit ist es das Ensemble der
gesellschaftlichen Verhltnisse.
Feuerbach, der auf die Kritik dieses wirklichen Wesens nicht eingeht, ist daher gezwungen: 1. von dem
geschichtlichen Verlauf zu abstrahieren und das religise Gemt fr sich zu fixieren, und ein abstrakt - isoliert -
menschliches Individuum vorauszusetzen. 2. Das Wesen kann daher nur als "Gattung", als innere, stumme, die
vielen Individuen natrlich verbindende Allgemeinheit gefat werden.
Here is a standard English translation:
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Feuerbach resolves the religious essence into the human essence. But the human essence is no abstraction
inherent in each single individual. In its reality it is the ensemble of the social relations.
Feuerbach, who does not enter upon a criticism of this real essence, is consequently compelled to abstract from
the historical process and to fix the religious sentiment as something by itself and to presuppose an abstract -
isolated - human individual. Essence, therefore, can be comprehended only as "genus," as an internal, dumb
generality which naturally unites the many individuals.
(Marx/Engels 13-15)
Among the many commentaries devoted to these formulas (and especially to the first three phrases), I single
out those of Ernst Bloch and Louis Althusser, which illustrate sharply antithetic positions.
3
For Bloch, whose
detailed commentary, part of his magnum opus Das Prinzip Hoffnung, was first published separately in 1953,
4
the Theses include the full construction of the concept of revolutionary praxis, presented as a "word/motto (
Losungswort)" that overcomes the metaphysical antitheses of "subject" and "object" and of "philosophical
thinking" and "political action." The Theses express the crucial idea that (social) reality as such is "changeable (
vernderbar)" because its complete notion does not only denote given states of affairs or relations arising from
an accomplished process (i.e., the present and the past), but also always already involves the objective
possibility of a future or a "novelty (novum)" - something neither classical materialism nor idealism ever
admitted. For Althusser, the Theses are symptomatic of the theoretical revolution (or "epistemological break")
through which Marx would have dropped an essentially Feuerbachian, "humanist" understanding of communism
to adopt a scientific (non-ideological) problematic of social relations and class struggles as the motor of history.
The Theses thus deserve a (rather counter-intuitive) reading that reveals the "new" ideas twisting an "old"
language to express (or rather announce and anticipate) a theory that, essentially, has no precedent, but whose
implications are still to come. (The main example of this hermeneutic of twisted, internally inadequate concepts
is Althusser's reading of praxis as a philosophical name for "a system of articulated social practices").
Interestingly, both Bloch's and Althusser's commentaries emphasize the temporal scheme of a "future"
objectively included within the present as a disruptive possibility - except that for Bloch, this scheme
characterizes history, whereas for Althusser, it characterizes theory or discourse.
5

What is most interesting for us are the ways they resolve the paradoxes in Thesis Six that arise from antithetic
definitions of "human essence (das menschliche Wesen)"; these definitions directly affect the notion of
"anthropology" (inherited from Kant, Hegel, and Humboldt, but above all of course from Feuerbach, whose main
thesis in The Essence of Christianity [1841] is that the secret of theological discourse is anthropological
experience, or that the idea of God and his attributes are inverted, imaginary representations of human
essence). "But the human essence" - Marx bluntly objects - "is no abstraction inherent in each single individual.
In its reality it is the ensemble of social relations." This seems to leave no other possibility than admitting that
"human essence" is indeed a necessary notion (even a fundamental one, indicating the primacy of the
anthropological question in philosophy), although it can be understood in different ways: a wrong way (attributed
to Feuerbach--"human essence is an abstraction (or an idea) inherent in every isolated individual"), and a right
way (claimed by Marx himself--"human essence is the ensemble of social relations," whatever the logical value
of "is"). Althusser, however, goes in a different direction: for him, the very use of the expression "human
essence" involves an equivalence of two notions, "theoretical humanism" and "philosophical anthropology," with
which a theory (i.e., a materialist investigation) of the "ensemble" (the system or articulation) of "social relations"
is incompatible, because such a theory refers to continuous historical transformations of what it means to be
"human" in relation (of cooperation, division of labor, domination, and class struggle) to other humans and thus
destroys the very idea of "universal" and "permanent" attributes that could belong to "every single individual" (or
subject). In short, a theory of the ensemble of social relations radically historicizes and de-essentializes our
concept of the human, dismantling both anthropology as a theory and humanism as an ideology. The important
expression in Marx's aphorism would accordingly be "in seiner Wirklichkeit ( in its reality)," signaling (as a
15 May 2014 Page 2 of 22 ProQuest
theoretical injunction or "poteau indicateur" within theory itself) that the discourse of the "essence of man" is no
longer tenable, and ought to be replaced with a different discourse that would analyze social relations. The
"social" opposes the "human" just as the "relations" oppose the "essence."
But if we return to Bloch's commentary, we observe two things. On the one hand, he clearly falls under this
critique, because he maintains that there are two successive anthropologies (just as there are two varieties of
materialism, and in fact two types of "humanism," one that is abstract and speaks of eternal attributes of "man,"
and one that - in Marx's own terms - is "real" and speaks of historical transformations of society that also create
a "new man").
6
On the other hand, he is able to connect Thesis Six with other Marxian writings which are nearly
contemporary, particularly the well-known critique of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen in Zur
Judenfrage, which leads him to emphasize that the anthropology of "abstract essence" is in fact itself
historically produced: it expresses the political worldview (or ideology) of the ascending bourgeoisie that
resumes the ancient philosophical tradition of "natural right" (Naturrecht) in order to give its own institution of the
national citizen a universalistic foundation. Thus Bloch not only indicates that "abstract humanism" has a class
dimension; he also indicates that it is difficult to radically criticize every humanism and anthropological discourse
while retaining a universalistic perspective (including a socialist or communist revolutionary perspective).
I find these crossed arguments particularly interesting now that debates about universalism (and different types
of universalism--not only bourgeois or proletarian, but also gender-based, Eurocentric, or planetary) tend to
replace the "dispute of humanism" as it was fought in continental philosophy (within and outside its Marxist
circles) in the 1960s and 70s. Perhaps we should say that the new "dispute," equally acute, partly continuing
and partly displacing the "dispute of humanism," is precisely the dispute of universalism.
7
My own position from
this angle is that "humanism" and "anthropology" are in fact two distinct notions or problems that ought to be
treated separately. A "non-humanist" or even "anti-humanist" anthropology, however paradoxical the expression
may sound to classical philosophers, could prove not only possible, but necessary. But in order to disentangle
the two notions, a fresh discussion of what Marx's Thesis exactly means proves illuminating.
8
I divide this
discussion into three parts: 1) a new discussion of the pars destruens in Marx's Thesis Six, namely the critique
of an "abstract essence" inherent in the "isolated individual," in order to elucidate which doctrines (beyond
Feuerbach himself) are implied in this categorization; 2) a new discussion of the pars construens, namely the
recommendation of an "equation" of human essence with "social relations," in which I focus on some oddities in
the wording of the Thesis; 3) a critical discussion of the "bifurcation" offered by Marx's thesis and an exposition
of which orientations his formulas open and which they close (or even prohibit) in a philosophical debate about
anthropology that predated his intervention and that continued or became renovated after it.
The negative statement: "the human essence is no abstraction inherent in each single individual."
A discussion addressing the semantics and grammar of Marx's statement must rely on the original German. To
translate (into English or French) is useful but insufficient, since Marx's words have no perfect equivalent and
involve a spectrum of meanings that becomes truncated in other languages. As we will see, it is also important
that Marx uses a Fremdwort or foreign term.
Let us begin with the crucial category Wesen. The usual translation, as we saw, is "essence," and this is of
course inevitable because Marx is discussing Feuerbach, who famously wrote Das Wesen des Christentums or
The Essence of Christianity, where, as I recall above, the thesis is held that "God's essence" is an imaginary
projection of human essence (i.e., nature). But a perfectly acceptable translation would be also "being," and in
fact the common understanding of "ein menschliches Wesen" in German would be "a human being." A
correlation of the two notions being and essence (in Greek, to on and ousia) has been effective since the
beginning of Western metaphysics, particularly in Aristotle; even today his legacy remains divided between, on
the one hand, empiricist-nominalists for whom the only "real beings" are individuals (or, in Aristotle's
formulation, "individual substances") and for whom general notions or essences (also called "universals")
represent intellectual abstractions that apply to a multiplicity of individuals bearing similar characteristics, and,
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on the other hand, essentialist-realists for whom the singular individuals "participate of" (or even "derive from")
general ideas (which can be conceived as essences, types, or species) that are themselves (hyper)real.
This general background (long predating "bourgeois" ideology) explains why Marx's critique cannot avoid
raising ontological questions. But there is also, I believe, a need to refer to a Hegelian background that was very
familiar to both Feuerbach and Marx: this is the passage in the Phenomenology of Spirit (1807) where Hegel
defines the essence of "spirit" (der Geist, which generically designates all the figures of consciousness that
have become intersubjective, therefore institutional, and therefore historical) as an "operation of all and
everyone" (Tun aller und jeder), so that a "spiritual essence" (das geistige Wesen) is also, as such, "the
essence of all essences" (das Wesen aller Wesen) (154; Ch. VI, "Spirit").
9
This is a remarkable formula that we
should not hasten to deem a mere product of dialectical jargon, because it contains the principle of a transition
from individual consciousness, where subjectivity and objectivity remain antithetic, to collective figures, where
subjectivity and objectivity emerge (even if through many contradictions) as complementary aspects of the
same historicity. This is indeed a problematic that Marx will never abandon. A discourse of "essences,"
however, does not capture all the connotations of the passage: if we translate it in terms of "a spiritual being"
and "the being of all beings," we discover another dimension of the same question - one that is not only
ontological but furthermore onto-theological, much in the sense that Heidegger will later define it as an
identification (a confusion, from his point of view) of the "being of being (Sein des Seienden)" with a "supreme
being." We are led to understand that all the "essentialist" formulas are inscribed in a semantic chain, where the
theological thesis (that the "being of beings" or "supreme being" is God) and the anthropological thesis
advocated by Feuerbach (that the "being of beings" is Man, who is also "supreme" in the sense that all other
beings are included in his representations) can be problematically subsumed under a third one: the "being of
beings" is Spirit (with the latter also serving as a historical transition between the first two, depending on
whether you understand "spirit" as a transcendent attribute of the Divine, or as a transcendental faculty of the
Human, synonymous with intelligence, representation, imagination, and so on). This elucidation adds important
connotations to the debate initiated by Marx and continued after him, because it shows that Marx (in spite of his
admiration for the critique of religion accomplished by Feuerbach) had a strong prescience that "anthropology,"
inasmuch as its key category is "human nature" or "the essence of man," could be simply another theology, and
"Man" or "Humankind" another name for God (or a Divine Name), provided it be endowed with sufficiently
eminent or transcendent attributes or powers (such as "self-consciousness," "self-emancipation," or "self-
creation") - which, after all, is a heretical but perfectly defendable thesis within a Christian discursive tradition.
10
It also shows that Marx could find himself caught in the same aporia, inasmuch as "History," "Society,"
"Revolution," or even "Praxis" could become instantiations of "Spirit" (in spite of or even because of all
declarations of "materialism"). These categories would then oscillate between an anthropological and a
theological understanding. We know that this was quite frequently the case in the Marxist tradition, and in fact
few Marxists are immunized against the (onto)theological recuperation of their concepts (Bloch and Althusser
being no exceptions). The question then becomes: would Marx be aware of such a possibility in the very
moment he uncovers the "metaphysical" content of Feuerbach's "materialism," when he suggests that
Feuerbach remains a "bourgeois theologian"?
11
And by what "strategy" could Marx not repeat (or "iterate") the
onto-theological effect, when he keeps referring to the issue of "human being/essence" in his criticism of the
anthropological reduction of theological discourse? Such expressions as "social ontology" or "historical
anthropology" are not sufficient answers, but the solution also cannot reside in cancelling the anthropological
framework from the outside.
A further indication that the conceptual tensions underlying every choice of a word or a propositional form in
Marx's text are not to be understood without a close comparison with Hegel also results from discussing the
antithesis between "abstraction" ( Abstraktum) and "reality" (Wirklichkeit, probably better translated - jargon
permitted - as "effectivity" or "effective reality"). There is a direct source for this opposition in the same crucial
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passage from the Phenomenology: when reaching the level of the "spirit," which (anticipating later
developments of his political philosophy) he identifies with the "ethical life of a people," Hegel explains that
singular entities (figures) or individual subjects (consciousnesses) are only abstractions or abstract moments of
the "effective" spirit itself. This explains why, in the great antithesis forming the core of the critical argument of
Thesis Six, Marx can at the same time vindicate a "nominalist" point of view la Stirner, for which a general
notion or idea (e.g., that of a species or kind, such as Humankind or Mankind) is only an abstraction, and reject
as equally "abstract" the notion of isolated individuals themselves (such as they are imagined, with the help of
metaphysics, by bourgeois political or economic theory): because both the collective essence and the singular
"egoistic" individual are abstractions when they are "isolated" from the Wirklichkeit, which is much more than
"reality" (i.e., more than a de facto existence or observable "being there") insofar as it is an operation or a
process of realization (Wirklichkeit comes from Werk and wirken, the German equivalents for opus and operari
). Hegel had defined this process as Spirit, and Marx himself will identify it with an ensemble of historical
processes of transformation affecting social relations. Thus Marx retains Hegel's simultaneous rejection of the
antithetic "essences," which are all the more "abstract" since they claim to represent the negation of abstraction,
but he also radically subverts the "logic" of that rejection in terms of a "spiritual" operation. How radically, that is
the question. But before we consider his definition of a process that is as "effective" as Spirit while not being
Spirit, we must reflect on another term used by Marx that has remained hitherto undiscussed.
This is the (negative) formula: "...kein dem einzelnen Individuum inwohnendes Abstractum." Up to now,
following most commentators, we have been focusing on the antithetic terms Individuum or Abstractum, the
individual or the abstraction (easily identified with an idea or "universal idea"). But we have neglected to discuss
the (present participle) verb inwohnend, which translations usually render as "inherent in." It was slightly altered
by Engels, who transformed it into "innewohnend," a modern term whose main use refers to "possession" and
"being possessed" (by some magic force, a god, or the devil, etc.), but that is also etymologically close to the
name Einwohner, meaning "inhabitant" (or resident, dweller) of a country, place, or a house, etc. Actually the
original "inwohnend" (with the same etymology) does exist in German, but it is an archaic form found in
theological contexts (for instance in Meister Eckhart, whence it passes to Jakob Bhme) :
12
it corresponds to
the (church) Latin inhabitare, Inhabitatio (which Thomas Aquinas distinguished from the simple habitatio,
habitare).
13
Returning to this etymological and theoretical background (with which Marx, as a perfect student of
German Idealism, may have had a direct or indirect acquaintance) is of course not sufficient to support an
interpretation, but it provides a symptom of the complexity of the articulations between an "individual" and an
"abstraction" (or abstract essence) that may be falling under Marx's critique. These articulations broadly obey
two very different models, whose convergence in the end accounts for the construction of the modern
transcendental subject (as defined by Kant and his followers): the (post-)Aristotelian and the (post-)Augustinian
models of individuation.
14

The "metaphysical," post-Aristotelian model (which includes a permanent oscillation between a "nominalist" and
a "Platonist" or "essentialist" interpretation), is better known and more frequently invoked in philosophical
discussions of Thesis Six. It refers to an understanding of the essence as a "genre" or "species" (in this case
Humankind or the Human species) of which the individual beings are "instances" or "cases" who participate of
the attributes of the same essence or, alternatively, whose analogous characters lead to the formation of a
single idea of their common type (a "general idea"). Hence the importance of Feuerbach's use of Gattung
(genre), which, in the classical discourses of natural history and anthropology, names the common type, and
becomes now turned against him by Marx. Each individual is a representative of the type, or can be conceived
as separately "formed" or "created" after the type: as a consequence, all the individuals "share" a similar
relationship to the type, but they remain isolated from one another in this similarity, since each of them (more or
less perfectly) partakes of the complete type, which indeed can be a moral or a social type. It is only a posteriori
, when they already exist as typical individuals, that they can relate to one another in various ways: this variable
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relationship is "accidental" and does not define their "essence." From Kant to Feuerbach himself, however, a
correction is made to this: in the case of the "human species" - which is not any species - individuals possess
an additional "essential" character: they consciously relate to the (common) species, and they rely on this
consciousness to build a moral community. In that sense, their "being in common," or "community-forming-
essence" (Gemeinwesen) is already present in potentia in their "specific essence" (Gattungswesen).
15
But with
this teleological understanding of the nature of Man, we already lean in the direction of a second, equally
traditional model that is symptomatically indicated in Marx's Thesis through the use of "inwohnend."
Anybody who has some acquaintance with Augustinian theology knows the statement from De vera religione
(On true religion): "Noli foras ire, in te ipsum redi: in interiore homine habitat veritas (Do not go outside, [but]
return to yourself: truth inhabits the internal man)" (29, 72). This echoes many other formulas in his work
(notably in the Confessions and the De Trinitate) suggesting that what lies at the heart (or the most intimate:
interior intimo meo) of the human soul, and therefore expresses a "truth" that is not only the truth of man's
condition but also a truth for him (destined for his redemption), is also what infinitely surpasses him (superior
summo meo), i.e., his singular relationship to God or God's "presence." I argue this is the second model
underpinning Marx's formula in Thesis Six, allowing us to better understand in which sense the idea of "social
relations" subverts classical representations of the "essence of Man." Within this tradition there are many
variations, ranging from reiterations to interpretations to transformations (and particularly secularizations).
16
The
latter can be "psychological," but they are more interesting when they rise to a "transcendental" point of view,
because this is the deepest way to confront the tensions of verticality (or sovereignty) and interiority, or
transcendence and immanence, that adhere to the problematic of the "subject." Indeed, it is only against the
background of this second, traditional model that the "subjective" dimension of Marx's discussion can be fully
grasped. From the originary theological point of view, the guiding idea is a unity of opposites, since the vertical
relationship between the Sovereign figure (God, or God's Word, or God's Idea) and the individual "subject"
(Man--or better, a singular Man, "each one") must be read from both sides: as a creation, injunction, visitation,
or revelation arising from God's power and grace, and also as a call, demand, recognition, or act of faith
expressing the subject's individual dependency.
17
But from the secularized, anthropological point of view, the
guiding idea is displaced by the fact that there is no longer any "verticality" or "sovereignty" governing Man's
subjection (or "subjectivation," as more recent philosophers would say) other than effects of authority (which
can also be read critically as domination) arising from human representations and activities themselves. A good
example (in fact, much more than that) is Kant's notion of the categorical imperative, which is also interpreted
as the "inner voice" of reason expressing the dependency of the human subject with respect to a moral
community of rational beings that renders him autonomous or produces his "emancipation" by virtue of its
essential universality.
Marx seems to be discarding this genealogy when he objects to "Feuerbach" that his conception of human
essence as "Gattung (genre)" remains "mute (stumme)" and tries to "relate" or "unite" (verbinden) many
individuals (subjects) only through a natural universality. Why, then, would he use the term "inhabiting" instead
of simply "informing" or "shaping (bildend, formierend)"? Apart from the theological connotations suggested by
Feuerbach himself (to which I return below), we could think of another violently ironic interpretation (rather close
to the critical discourse of On the Jewish Question), namely, the idea that what "possesses" the "abstract
individual" (or the individualized individual) from inside is nothing else than the "idea of [private] property," which
in the era of bourgeois (metaphysical) materialism has been substituted for God as the "inner truth" of Man.
18

The positive statement: "In its reality it is the ensemble of social relations."
The decisive moment is of course the next one, when Marx moves from indicating what "human essence"
cannot be to defining what it actually is, thereby providing the critique with a determinate orientation and
content. As as we know from the commentaries and transpositions, however, this is also where Marx's formula
proves ambiguous and open to contradictory interpretations. Not forgetting that these are "improvised" personal
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notes (but also that they are endowed with a kind of "geniality," as suggested by Engels, or, in Benjaminian
terms, have the quality of an "illumination"),
19
we can try to clarify the issue by making as much as possible of
the writing itself.
A first point to examine is the semantic value of the opposition "In seiner Wirklichkeit," translated as "In its
reality." A "weak" interpretation reads it as simply marking a reversal: leaving aside what the human essence
was only in a speculative-imaginary-abstract (and therefore wrong) representation provided by philosophers like
Locke, Kant, and Feuerbach, we will now indicate what it really is. "Really" then means "truly" or "true to the
facts," as logicians like to say. In a post-Hegelian context, however, it seems advisable to take into account the
logical difference between "reality (Realitt)" and "effective reality" (or "effectivity [Wirklichkeit]"), and this means
not only to indicate what the human essence effectively is, or what it becomes when it is "effectuated" (i.e.,
produced as a result of material and historical "operations," which is the point on which Marx continuously
insists in the Theses, under the heading of such concepts as Ttigkeit and Praxis), but even more than that: this
means to indicate what identifies the "essence" with an effectuation or an "actual process." The concept of
being/essence is nothing else than the concept of an activity/process, or a praxis.
20
This is a "stronger"
interpretation, but I believe that it must be pushed to an even more cogent level to suggest that the
"effectuation" affecting at the same time the human essence and the concept of human bein /essence (Wesen)
must also be understood as its dialectical Aufhebung or realization-negation. Thus what the critique is targeting
is not only an "abstract" representation of human essence, but also the notion of "human essence" itself as
"abstraction." Althusser is right on this point, but it is Bloch who provides the clue by systematically referring the
invention of the category praxis in the Theses to the contemporary motto that "philosophy must be realized (
verwirklicht)," but cannot be realized (or become "real") without also being "negated" (aufgehoben) as
"philosophy" - the reverse also being true: philosophy cannot be negated without being realized.
21
My personal
complement to this is that, in the context of Thesis Six, the typical form of "philosophy" or philosophical
discourse is precisely anthropology, which leads us to the conclusion: anthropology as a discursive figure (or,
as Althusser would say, a "problematic") must be realized-negated (aufgehoben and verwirklicht) and, since
"human essence/being" (das menschliche Wesen) is the category from which the very possibility of a
philosophical anthropology derives, it also must become negated-realized. But the concept that crystallizes this
dialectical operation is "the ensemble of social relations": we must interpret it from this point of view, beginning
with "social relations" ( gesellschaftlichen Verhltnisse).
It is important here to keep in mind a triple philological fact: 1) that Marx's formulas are situated historically in
the wake of a crucial event in the history of ideas (affecting philosophy as well as politics), namely, the
"invention" of "social relations" (as a concept, and originally in French as les rapports sociaux);
22
2) that
"relation" belongs to a complex paradigm that is never fully translatable (German Verhltnis and French rapport
having partly different scopes) and whose philosophical use immediately raises the issues of active versus
passive, subjective versus objective, and internal versus external oppositions (what Kant called the
"amphibologies of reflection"); 3) that any discussion of a Marxian formula involving die gesellschaftlichen
Verhltnisse (and granting them an "essential" function) is inevitably polarized by Marx's later uses of
Produktionsverhltnisse ("relations of production" and subsequent economic and non-economic derived
"relations") and Klassenverhltnisse ("class relations," with subsequent description of their "antagonistic"
character and their entailing different forms of social "domination"); what is striking in the Theses, however, is
the absence of this more precise determination and the indeterminate use of the category "relation" except for
the attribute "social." The question for Marxist readers was thus inevitably posed whether they should read
"social relations" as implicitly directed towards a (historical-materialist) notion of the determining function of
production and class struggles in human history, or whether they should associate the Theses with a (potentially
more general or generic) notion of "relation" that, in turn, would betray a continuity with the tradition of
philosophical anthropology (in its very "realization" or "secularization") or that would open the possibility of a
15 May 2014 Page 7 of 22 ProQuest
broader (social) ontology based on the categorical equivalence of the two key notions ( relation and praxis or
transformation). All these questions are linked, of course, and I can clarify them here only partially.
To begin with, in English a "relation" tends to indicate an objective situation, whereas a "relationship" specifically
indicates a relation between persons that has a subjective dimension; but "relation" also has a logical and
ontological meaning (whereby relations are opposed to forms or substances). French distinguishes between
relation (which commonly means a person to whom one relates) and rapport, which means both a proportion
and an objective structure, but can also be used to indicate an active intercourse among persons, as in "rapport
sexuel" or "rapport social" (especially in the sense of an intercourse that takes place in a "social" environment or
follows "social rules"). The German Beziehung is reserved for logical contexts but also to qualify persons,
whereas Verhltnis essentially means a quantitative proportion or an institutional correlation of situations (e.g.,
the Hegelian and Marxian complex formula "Herrschafts- und Knechtschaftsverhltnis," a relation of domination
and servitude/subjection). All these terms partially overlap, of course, but each time in a different way. It is
important to recall, finally, that each of the three languages has another term of very broad application,
especially in the early modern period, namely "commerce" in French, "intercourse" in English, and Verkehr in
German.
In the early 19
th
century, in the wake of the industrial revolution and the French revolution, which totally
transformed the perception and discourse of politics, a (mainly French) generation of historians and social
theorists invented (as we would say today retrospectively) the concept of "society" in a new sense that went
beyond the classical notions of political/civil association, or normative rules for the education and interaction of
individuals with different statuses, to indicate a system or totality whose transformations and institutions confer
roles on individuals (and shape or challenge their sentiments and ideas), but also follow certain objective laws
or display tendencies that are not reducible to individuals' intentions. It is in this general framework that the
conflicts were fought among the newborn "ideologies" of the post-revolutionary era (such as "conservatism,"
"liberalism," and "socialism") and that the idea of a new "science," called sociology, was born.
23
The key notion
for the political ideologies and the sociological discourse was precisely rapport social--i.e., a distribution of roles
and a pattern of interaction among individuals and groups marked by reciprocity or domination--, as that which
belongs "organically" to the construction (or "fabric") of a society and characterizes its difference from others in
history or geography (and thus makes central the issues of transformation and comparison in the social
sciences).
There is no doubt that this epistemological breakthrough also has affinities with the Hegelian notions of
"objective spirit" and "civil society (brgerliche Gesellschaft)," within which Hegel's phenomenological concept of
"recognition (Anerkennung)" becomes integrated as a subjective (or better, inter-subjective) moment to account
for the permanent tension of individuality and institution in history. But an important difference is that the
Hegelian notions are more "deductive" (or even speculative, in spite of their important realistic content that
attests to Hegel's reading of Montesquieu's social history, Adam Smith's political economy, or the German
school of positive Law), because they are meant a priori to justify a construction of the bourgeois constitutional
monarchy as the historical achievement of "rationality" in politics. And there is also no doubt that - in the
Theses on Feuerbach and in the immediately subsequent work (written with Engels and Moses Hess), the
German Ideology, where the "French" concept of "rapport social" is translated and pluralized as die
gesellschaftlichen Verhltnisse-- Marx is beginning to offer his own contribution to this epistemic change by
combining a "communist" perspective of radical social transformation with a specific way of "dialectically"
analyzing conflicts as immanent forces of development and change in the social structures that historically
"frame" human character.
The specific modality of this contribution in the Theses is what interests us here. It is both very speculative itself
(even when fiercely attacking "philosophical" speculation) and, as I already noted, largely indeterminate - which
also means that several potential developments remain latent in the formulations. It was certainly inevitable that,
15 May 2014 Page 8 of 22 ProQuest
trying to overcome pure speculation (or an abstract critique of abstraction), Marx needed to reduce the
indetermination of his concepts. As we know (and most commentators agree), this is already well under way in
the German Ideology (to which I will have to refer again). But in order to understand why the Theses produced
such an echo in philosophy, and remain a key text if we want to "problematize" Marx's thought and choices, we
must pay attention equally to what is already there of the coming "historical materialism" and to what still differs
from the latter's axioms. I believe that two elements are especially important here: one is the articulation of the
two attributes "human (menschlich)" and "social (gesellschaftlich)"; the other is the enigmatic use of a (French)
Fremdwort to name the sum total (or combined effect) of the social relations "equivalent" to a new definition of
the human essence--das Ensemble der gesellschaftlichen Verhltnissen--, when so many categories would be
available within the German philosophical tradition.
It could be useful to discuss each single use of the words "human" and "social" in the Theses. For the sake of
brevity, I shall concentrate on the implications of Thesis Ten in relation to the anthropological question: "The
standpoint of the old materialism is civil society (die brgerliche Gesellschaft); the standpoint of the new is
human society (die menschliche Gesellschaft), or social humanity (die gesellschaftliche Menschheit)." Again,
we find here one of these beautifully symmetric formulas invented by Marx that nevertheless remains difficult to
interpret! Engels's "corrections" are revealing, because they bring to the fore an only latent political content at
the risk of blurring the analytical implications. Apparently he was worried that the apposition "die menschliche
Gesellschaft," "die gesellschaftliche Menschheit" amounted to a tautology. Therefore he introduced a more
explicitly "socialist" content by transforming the latter into "die vergesellschaftete Menschheit" or socialized
humanity: a society (or a "world") in which individuals are no longer separated from their own collective
conditions of existence and thus forced into an "abstract" form of existence that paradoxically makes
individualism the "normal" form of social life and that "alienates" humans by isolating them from the relations to
others on which their "practical" life depends (or that lends those relations a coercive, inhuman form--a
"separation" leading to a "split of the self [ Selbstzerrissenheit]" that religious communal feelings then seek to
heal in the imaginary) (Thesis Four). To complete this clarification, Engels also puts quotation marks around the
adjective in "brgerliche" Gesellschaft, which is a way of indicating that the term retains its technical value in
Hegelian philosophy (usually translated today as "civil society," as opposed to "State" or "political society"), but
also a way of suggesting that this civil society has a bourgeois character, in which social relations are
dominated by the logic of private property generating individualism and an alienated form of society. The full
argument then becomes explicit: "ancient Materialism" (to which Feuerbach still belongs) will not be able to
overcome the alienation that it loudly denounces, because it is still a "bourgeois" philosophy assuming an
individual "naturally" separated from others (or separately referred to the essence of the "human"), whereas a
"new Materialism" - whose key categories are "social relations" constituting the human and praxis, or a practical
transformation already at work in every form of society - is able to explain how humanity returns to its essence
(or its authentic being) by acknowledging (not denying, repressing, or contradicting) its own "social"
determination. The human, in other words, was always "social" from the point of view of its material conditions
(or never consisted in anything else than "social relations" in itself), but it was for itself split and alienated,
contradicting this essence in its ideology and its institutions, with the modern "civil-bourgeois" society pushing
the contradiction to the extreme. And it is necessary now that the contradiction be resolved, with society
practically eliminating its own alienating "products" and becoming reconciled with itself, which is to say,
becoming both fully "human" and effectively "social."
This is a reading fully compatible with some of Marx's most explicit statements about the various stages of
human emancipation as they were enunciated in his contemporaneous writings that proposed a "dialectic" of
the reversal of alienation (or the separation of human beings from their own essence).
24
But it also too easily
resolves the philosophical tensions involved in Marx's permanent double use (quid pro quo) of the terms
"human" and "social" by distributing their moral (or ethical) uses and their historical (or descriptive) meaning into
15 May 2014 Page 9 of 22 ProQuest
different categories, thereby transforming the strong performative dimension of Marx' s writing (which is also at
the core of his "practical humanism" or "real humanism") into a political syllogism. Marx was in fact suggesting
that an authentic relationship of subjects to their own being/essence (Wesen) would inevitably transform our
interpretation of what it means to be (a) "human," because it would reveal that the human is essentially "social"
and that the "social" is both a condition of possibility for every individual life ("man is a social animal," as the
post-Aristotelian tradition registered it) and an ideal realization of man's ethical aspirations (in other words, a
"communist" form of life); whereas Engels now suggests that a process of socialization is to take place
historically for the conditions to emerge that make it possible to transform "human nature" in a revolutionary
manner. But this redistribution of the ethical and historical sides of the two categories among the
complementary realms of "ends" and "means" also effectively injects into Marx's formulas a "social ontology"
that is not necessarily there (or not literally present). And, as a result, while reducing the indetermination of
Marx's statements, it also reduces their potentialities.
25
We find confirmation that this reduction has been taking
place when we examine the other enigmatic stylistic effect in this part of Thesis Six, namely the use of the
"French" word ensemble.
I submit that we cannot just explain it "weakly" through a reference to circumstances and conditions of writing:
the fact that Marx (who in any case wrote and spoke fluent French) was living in Paris at the time, and would
quite naturally insert French words into his personal notes when they came to his mind quicker than German
concepts (he did the same later with English). This may be true, but it blurs the fact that certain crucial
semantic oppositions are at stake here. In fact "ensemble" is, I would suggest, an aggressively "neutral" or
"minimal" term, which makes sense if we see it as an alternative to such speculative notions, central to Hegelian
dialectics (but also to the emergent "sociological" discourse with its obsession for "organicity"), as das Ganze,
die Ganzheit (or Totalitt), or die gesamten (gesellschaftlichen Verhltnisse), i.e., the whole, the (organic)
totality of social relations. What Marx is carefully avoiding here is a category that indicates completeness, in the
very moment in which he seems to follow exactly the Hegelian movement of privileging the "concrete
universality" against "abstraction" (since the concrete and the complete are synonyms in Hegel).
26
Therefore he
is departing from Hegel in the moment in which he also comes closest to him. To put it more provocatively, it is
as if Marx were reversing the Hegelian choice for the "good (or real) infinity" (meaning an infinite that becomes
integrated in the form of a totality) in favor of the "bad infinite" (an infinite that is only "indefinite" and that is
identical with a mere addition or succession of terms that remains open). This hypothesis is supported by a
single symptomatic word, but it has the great interest of making it possible to combine all the logical, ontological,
and even onto-theological elements of the debate in one single critical operation.
I believe that three positive connotations can be attached to the apparently negative preference for das
Ensemble instead of das Ganze, in other words for the use of a Fremdwort that performatively deconstructs the
totalization-effect or (to borrow from Sartre) indicates that the "new" category of being/essence (Wesen) only
works as a "de-totalized totality" (or perhaps even as a "self-de-totalizing totality"). The first is a connotation of
horizontality: "social relations" are interact or interfere with one another, but they are not to become vertically
hierarchized (with some social relations being more decisive or more essentially human, and one type of
relation determining the others "in the last instance").
27
The next is a connotation of indefinity or seriality,
meaning that social relations constitutive of the human form an open-ended network for which there is neither a
conceptual closure (no a priori or empirical demarcation between what is human and what is not) nor a historical
one (no limits ascribed to the developments of social relations/activities that open new possibilities for the
human, whether constructive or even destructive). Finally we can evoke a connotation of multiplicity in the
strong sense, i.e. heterogeneity: not only are there in fact several "social relations" that "form" the human, but
they belong to many different realms or genres (or, as Bloch would say, they form a multiversum) and not to a
single one that would confer upon them the "human" quality. Thus it is not like in the Aristotelian polis--with
which Marx's conception seems to share so many "anti-individualistic" axioms--, where there is a multiplicity of
15 May 2014 Page 10 of 22 ProQuest
social relations, symmetric or dissymmetric but always attributed to the human by virtue of their use of language
(or discourse-- logos); it is, rather, more like in Aristotle's metaphysics, where different, heterogeneous genres
of being are called that by analogy and distributively, but are not emanations of a univocal supreme genre that
would be "Being as such."
If we assume these connotations together (and carefully avoid imposing at a more generic level something like
an "ensemble of the ensembles"), we finally understand why the internal critique of the very notion of "essence,"
the dissolution of "abstract" representations of the Human (or "humanist" notions inherited from the
metaphysical tradition and appropriated by bourgeois philosophers to reconcile economic individualism with
moral and political notions of the community), and a contradictory use of Hegel's concept of "effective reality"
are imbricated in this complex manner. To write that "in its reality ( Wirklichkeit) the human being/essence (
Wesen) is not an abstraction inhabiting the single/singular/isolated individual, but the (open, indeterminate)
ensemble of social relations" is a performative gesture that simultaneously transforms the meanings of all the
key terms it uses. As "essence" becomes applied in a "materialist" manner to the anthropological problem, it
also acquires a paradoxical (anti)ontological meaning whereby its accepted consequences are reversed:
instead of "unifying" and "totalizing" a multiplicity of attributes, it now opens an indefinite range of
metamorphoses (or historical transformations) inasmuch as individuals are essentially "modes" (as Spinoza
would say) of the social relations they actively produce, or they collectively interact with others and with natural
"conditions." This critique reveals that there can be a single alternative to the apparently antithetic notions of
individuality and subjectivity inherited from Western metaphysics - an alternative that also tentatively avoids
creating a new figure of the "supreme being."
The bifurcation: rival "ontologies" and "anthropologies"
Drawing lessons from these philological and semantic considerations, and returning to the central difficulty,
which concerns a "transformative" or "performative" relationship of Marx's thought (and conceptual choices,
expressed through words) to the issue of "anthropology" (for which antithetic interpretations in the history of
Marxism testify), I would summarize my conjectures in the following manner:
1. a. There is no way we can discuss the tensions in the idea of a philosophical anthropology, and its relations
to the ideal of "humanism," without bringing in an ontological issue, which in fact forces us not only to locate the
debate about anthropology in its immediate modern or "bourgeois" context, but also to return to the broader
realm of the "history of metaphysics," its "revolutions," and its problematic "end." I have suggested as much in
the past when proposing that Marx's "early" materialist philosophy be referred to as an "ontology of the relation,"
where the basic notion is not "individuality" but "transindividuality" (or a concept of the individual which always
already includes its relation to - or dependency on - other individuals).
28

But then a perilous ambiguity may arise. We could believe that - just like Bloch and others for whom the
distinction of Marx's invention was not a gross suppression of the anthropological problem, but rather its being
transferred from bourgeois/metaphysical abstractions to historical social determinations - the whole issue has to
do with inventing a social ontology. We can see now that this is an ambiguous formula. It could mean that we
are "ontologizing the social," which in turn means either that "society" as a whole (as a system, organism,
network, development, etc.) is installed in the place of "being," or that the emergence of the social (as opposed
to the biological, the psychological, etc.) is "essentially" attributed to some quasi-transcendental instance that
has a "socializing" quality (such as language, labor, sexuality, or even "the common" or "the political"). Or,
twisting the previous representations, as it were, it could mean that we are "socializing ontology": not in the
sense of subjecting ontology to some preexisting, "more fundamental" social principle (which is not very
different from installing "Society" where "God" used to be in classical metaphysics), but in the sense of
"translating" every ontological question (e.g., individuation/individualization, the articulation of "parts" and
"wholes," the imbrication of past, present, and future, etc.) into a "social" question in the most general sense,
that of the conditions or relations that prevent human individuals from the possibility of isolation, whatever the
15 May 2014 Page 11 of 22 ProQuest
"matter" or "substance" and the modalities or functions of these relations. "Relating to" and "being related to"
would thus be considered the constitutive ontological mark of the human.
This is indeed what I had in mind when, some years ago, I interpreted in this sense Marx's statement that "in its
reality, the human essence/being is the ensemble of social relations." But something disturbing remains to be
clarified here, namely, that once again we have been forced to make use of the adjective "human" in the very
formula that withdraws "humanism" from our discourse, i.e., that prevents us from any possibility of
identifying/defining "the human" prior to the (forever incomplete) discovery of the multiplicity of other ways of
"relating humans" or of "relating to any human." I see only one possibility for overcoming this difficulty: this is to
radically draw the conclusions from the fact that "humans" (or "men," in classical language) only exist in the
plural. This is not only to say that a plurality made of irreducible singularities (or "persons") is an originary
condition of being-human (Arendt's thesis), perhaps not even only that "multitude" is the originary figure of
human existence in society and history (Negri's thesis), but also that social relations in the strong sense are
those that, while bringing humans together or preventing their "isolation," also make their differences irreducible
, particularly through distributing them among various "classes" in the widest possible sense - which is not to
say that such distributions are stable, eternal, or coherent among themselves.
29
In other words, "social relations"
are always internally determined as differences, transformations, contradictions, and conflicts that are radical
enough to leave only the heterogeneity that they create as "the common" (or, in more jargonesque philosophical
terminology, the "being-in-common" or Mitsein) without which individuals "relating" to one another would return
to essential isolation or ontological "individualism."
30
But this is not really different from explaining that social
relations are "practical" (or that the essence of society is praxis, as Marx powerfully enunciated in the Theses).
The distinctive feature of relations (and also the reason why, to a second degree, they must be articulated with
one another or influence each other without becoming fused in a single "whole") is, in other words, the way they
make it possible for some "individuals," "groups," "parts" (or even "parties") to transform others, be transformed
by others, and perhaps in the end transform the modality of the relation itself. As Marx was suggesting,
"relation" and "praxis" become strictly correlative terms (and the second is no less metamorphic or vernderbar
than the first) as soon as a notion of "effective reality" is cut from the (theological, spiritual) ideal of
"completeness" and is associated instead with a scheme of "open infinity."
31

2. b. But an even greater amphibology still "inhabits" such an attempt at identifying how we must understand the
subversive philosophical operation in Marx's re-definition/de-construction of "human essence": this is the
amphibology about whether the "relations" and their intrinsic process of "transformation" (or change--
Vernderung in the terminology of the Theses) should be interpreted as "external" or "internal," i.e., as inscribed
in a (changing) distribution of conditions and forces, or implied in a (decisive) effort (perhaps just a deviation) on
the part of subjects that then constitutes them as makers of their own relations.
32
This is indeed a very old
discussion in philosophy. Here we are interested in why such seemingly "metaphysical" aporias never cease to
return within a "dialectical" discourse that, officially, exposed their purely "abstract" character (first in Hegel, but
also in Marx). Many a brilliant "Marxist" discourse has been elaborated to philosophically resolve the dilemma of
externality versus internality by transposing onto a different plane the Hegelian notion of subjectivation as the
dialectical interiorization of external relations. Let us simply recall (in opposite directions) Lukcs's "ultra-
Hegelian" notion of the Proletariat as a "subject-object" of history, whose class-consciousness involves the
negation of the "totality" of the social relations already transformed by capitalism into commodity-relations, and
is therefore an immanent, active reversal of these "reified" relations themselves. Or Althusser's "Spinozistic"
(and radically anti-Hegelian) suggestion that the same "overdetermined" historical process could become
analyzed in terms of its "external," objective, and necessary conditions as well as in terms of its intrinsic,
"aleatory," transindividual actions or agencies (which he calls "encounters").
33
In these concluding remarks, I
want only to describe how the amphibology surfaces in the "moment" of the Theses (and of the German
Ideology--, in short, in the year 1845).
15 May 2014 Page 12 of 22 ProQuest
I believe that the aporias in Marx's text are interesting not only as objects for "Marxologists," but also because
they form a whole new episode of the age-old philosophical controversy concerning the possibility (or
impossibility) of "internal relations," which in a sense (from Plato to Russell) redoubles the controversy among
nominalists and realists concerning "universals." Hegel is indeed a privileged example of a philosopher who
defends the idea of the existence of "internal relations" (i.e., relations that are not only contingently and
externally binding for those "terms" like individuals or substances that remain independent of their relations, but
that are furthermore mirrored in the constitution or disposition of their bearers themselves)
34
; but he also
defends the much stronger idea that relations are "real" only if they are, precisely, internal or internalized--
which, in his case, can only mean that they are "spiritual" relations or have become moments in the
development of the (objective) Geist, i.e., are realized in the form of historical institutions endowed with the
consciousness of their cultural value, their political function, and so on. How to criticize this "spiritualistic" (and
also teleological) construction of the internality of relations without simply returning to what it was meant to
overcome, namely, a mechanistic and naturalistic representation of external relations (i.e., primarily non-
subjective relations) whereby the supporting terms (be they "individuals," "nations," "cultures," "classes," etc.)
are passive and autonomized from their "common" element? But also: Why avoid the privilege of externality
(space, matter, dissemination, contingency, etc.) that, precisely, every spiritualism abhors and every
materialism a contrario vindicates and tries to build into its own conception of "agency" or even "subjectivity"?
Why should "subjecthood" become equated with "interiority"?
35

If we project these interrogations onto our reading of Marx's thesis of the Wirklichkeit of the "ensemble" of social
relations, it seems to me that what we uncover is a permanent oscillation between two possibilities of
interpretation: one more "externalist," the other more "internalist," and neither ever entirely separated from the
other. One way of reading the "ensemble" identifies it with what became later known as a structure, and insists
on the "logical" fact that processes of subjectivation accompanying the passivity or the becoming active (even
revolutionary) of the social agents are interdependent and are formally dependent on the relations forming their
"conditions." (Anti-capitalist movements, for instance, are dependent on the transformations of capitalism, which
affect their ideologies or consciousness, their forms of organization, and so on). But another way of reading it is
to bring back the great Hegelian model of intersubjectivity or "conflictual recognition" (as exposed primarily in
the Master-Slave dialectics of the Phenomenology): this model avoids all risk of ontologizing the relationship in
the form of a formal or abstract structure overlooking the actions of historical subjects, because it suggests that
the institutional dimensions of social relations are essentially crystallizations or materializations of the
dissymmetry affecting each subject's perception of the other (the mutual inability of the Master and the Slave to
"perceive" what renders the other's worldview irreducible to his own, for instance: sacrificing one's life for
"prestige," or cultivating labor as a progressive value). But this model also produces the illusion that, in a given
social conflict, anything taking place "in the back" of the conscious subjects (or remaining bewusstlos, as Hegel
puts it) can ultimately become reintegrated or "interiorized" within consciousness, so that antagonistic (or simply
different) subjectivities are mirror images of a single "spirit." Using a different terminology, we could say that
there is an element of "transindividuality" in each of these possibilities.
It is very interesting to see that, in the German Ideology, whose writing accompanies the framing of the Theses
on Feuerbach or immediately follows it, Marx tries to "mediate" the amphibology of the "internal" and "external"
understandings of the category "social relation" (its fluctuating either towards an objective structure or towards a
pure intersubjectivity) through an almost ubiquitous use of the term Verkehr ("commerce" or "intercourse"),
which could be read from both angles (or on both registers). Soon, however, the duality will return with different
ways of explaining the alienation characterizing the relations within capitalism (and more generally bourgeois
society)
36
: either as an estrangement of the subjects from their own collective "world," as a splitting of that world
into antithetic life-worlds--one utilitarian and individualistic, the other imaginary and communitarian (the
explanation clearly privileged by the aphorisms in the Theses describing the ideological "redoubling" of the
15 May 2014 Page 13 of 22 ProQuest
social world)--, or as a more strategic pattern of domination, conflict, and political struggle among "classes"
(what Capital calls the Herrschafts- und Knechtschaftsverhltnis or political relationship that "directly" arises
from the "immediate antagonism" in the production process between exploited laborers and proprietors of the
means of production [Book 3, Ch. 47]). In both cases, however, the initial multiplicity (and heterogeneity) of the
"social relations" has been subsumed under (and in fact reduced to) the absolute privilege of the labor relations
, which bring back a "social ontology" because they confer upon "labor" the unique capacity of really
"socializing" subjects in a "division of labor," and because they tend to represent society as a "productive
organism," however complex one might conceive the system of other instances (later called "superstructures [
berbau]") deriving from the material function of labor or ideologically covering it. Social alienation in all its
forms (psychological, religious, artistic, and so on) is essentially a development of the alienation of labor. And
political conflict is essentially an antagonism among classes that are either laboring classes or propertied
classes living off other men's labor, as the Communist Manifesto states right away.
3. c. After the fugitive moment of the Theses, Marx may have had very good reasons to accomplish this
anthropological reduction to alienated labor cum ontologization of the indeterminate statement in Thesis Six
about "human essence" (and let us once again repeat that this is not so much a "betrayal" of the philosophical
radicality expressed by the 1845 aphorisms than a continuation, in a given conjuncture, of the risky speculation
they initiate): there was the huge extent of social phenomena, ranging from everyday life to the constitutional
transformations of the State and the new forms of mass politics, produced by the industrial revolution and the
ascendency of capitalism - which was probably even more decisive in its negative form, namely, the
"materialist" imperative to counter the bourgeois suppression of the active social role of laborers and working
classes, and the intellectual denial of the "productive" forces and activities. Without this equation one-sidedly
asserted by Marx (social relations = relations of production, or their consequences), we would perhaps still
identify a "society" with a spirit, culture, or a political regime. We must, however, take the full measure of the
anthropological consequences (I am tempted to say the anthropological price) involved in this reduction, first of
all in the sense of a "reduction of complexity.".
Perhaps the best way to measure it, within a discussion of the Theses on Feuerbach, is to indicate which
distorting consequences it produced for the reading and interpretation of Feuerbach himself. Marx's main
objection in the Theses against Feuerbach is that his conception of materiality/sensibility (Sinnlichkeit) remains
"abstract" or "inactive" (which interestingly means that it lacks at the same time a "subjective" and an "objective"
dimension: see Thesis One). Feuerbach, accordingly, would keep subsuming single human beings under a
human essence that is only an idea, however "concrete" or "empirical" it was proclaimed to be. By contrast,
Marx's own materialism identified social relations with activity ( Ttigkeit), but this activity would become all-
encompassing when (in the next step) it was defined as a continuous collective process that is both poisis and
praxis, ranging from elementary productive activities to revolutionary insurrections and making the collective
worker qua laborer/producer a potential revolutionary (and, conversely, the revolutionary subject a conscious,
organized, and indomitable worker). This is the basis of the communist great narrative. But is it a correct
reading of Feuerbach himself? Not quite, obviously, and for one good reason: it could not be said without
qualification that Feuerbach's concept of human essence only refers to an "abstract notion of genre" where the
"relational" dimension is absent (and that consequently imagines the genre as separately "inhabiting" every
individual, conferring upon them all a "human" quality in the same manner). Feuerbach's genre (Gattung) is in
fact profoundly relational itself, because it is conceived in terms of a "dialogue" between subjects distinguished
as "I" and "You." What remains questionable, of course, is whether the kind of dialogic "relationality" that,
according to Feuerbach, is inherent in the human essence can be called "social." Probably it is existential rather
than social. But is there not in turn a risk that Marx's denial of a "social" character in what Feuerbach calls a
"relation" (or, more precisely, a "relationship"--Beziehung rather than Verhltnis) arises from the former's
arbitrary decision to identify certain relations and practices (linked to production and labor) as social relations
15 May 2014 Page 14 of 22 ProQuest
and as socializing practices at the expense of all others?
Let us be more specific. Thesis Four is a good guide here: in The Essence of Christianity, Feuerbach does
"demystify" the mysteries of theology by reducing theological notions (the concept of God, to begin with) to
anthropological notions and "human realities." But he is more precisely concerned with an interpretation of the
Christian dogma of the Trinity in terms of a double transposition: a transposition of the "terrestrial" institution of
the family into the ideal image of the "Holy Family," followed by a transposition of the Holy Family itself (as an
imaginary community) into a more speculative communication of divine "persons" ( hypostases) who are
supposed to be One in Three (i.e., fully "reconciled") - the Father, the Son (incarnated Word), and the Spirit
instead of the Father, the Son, and the (virgin) Mother. From there it is not a long way to explain that the
"secret" of Christian theology is a projection of sexual relations among humans (marked by desire, imperfect
love, and sensual pleasure) into an ideal, perfect love (that celebrated passages of the Bible straightforwardly
identify with "God").
37
With this doctrine, we see another possibility of interpreting such a statement as "The
human essence is not an abstraction... in its reality it is the ensemble of (social) relations" that would not be
directed against Feuerbach, but would rather support his position: it would suggest that what "inhabits"
individuals and makes them "humans" is the sexual relation with its affective dimensions (love) and its
institutional realizations (the family). Therefore individuals are constituted in and by relations. This is also a way
to emphasize a Verkehr (in the sense of "intercourse") as the producing-reproducing structure of the human.
38

What would Marx possibly object to this Feuerbachian defense? Probably what is latent in Thesis Four and
slightly more developed in the German Ideology, namely, that Feuerbach's vision of the "terrestrial family" is not
very "real" itself, because it removes the contradictions through its (romantic) emphasis on "love," while
nevertheless trying to locate the source of religious "alienation" in the imperfection or finitude of human
sexuality. In the German Ideology, Marx (and Engels) will explain that sexual difference (as a difference of
human "types") results from "a division of sexual labor" (sic) among men and women. And in the Communist
Manifesto (1847), borrowing from Saint-Simonian "feminist" criticism, they will explain that marriage and the
bourgeois family are a form of "legal prostitution" (in perfect agreement with the statement in Thesis Four that
the "contradiction" inherent in the terrestrial "basis" of religion can be resolved only through the "theoretical and
practical annihilation" of the family). This is a powerful argument, which amounts to explaining that
"metaphysical" notions of human essence are not only inherited from an ideological past, but also permanently
reconstituted through processes that "sublimate" social contradictions of all kinds. But it also confirms the
Marxian tendency to eliminate some of the potentialities of his own "theses" in order to avoid "opening" the
"ensemble" of social relations towards an unlimited range of heterogeneous modes of socialization (and
therefore also modes of subjectivation), and instead reinstate a quasi-transcendental equivalence of the "social"
(and the "practical") with the specifically (or essentially) human attribute of "labor" (and work). It is through a
revolution in the division of labor that human agents may transform their own constitutive relations (which
makes them human), not through a "revolution" in any of the subordinated or accidental relations that form so
many fields of application for the same general division of labor. And in this way, the powers of the One (of
unity, uniformity, and totality) are even more forcefully imposed, because they become the very powers of the
novum, the emancipation to come.
39

Étienne Balibar
tienne Balibar is Professor Emeritus of moral and political philosophy at Universit de Paris X - Nanterre and
Distinguished Professor of Humanities at the University of California, Irvine, and is currently Visiting Professor at
Columbia University in the City of New York. He has published widely in the area of Marxist philosophy and
moral and political philosophy in general. His many works include Lire le Capital (with Louis Althusser, Pierre
Macherey, Jacques Rancire, Roger Establet, and F. Maspero) (1965); Spinoza et la politique (1985); Nous,
citoyens d'Europe? Les frontires, l'tat, le peuple (2001); Politics and the Other Scene (2002); L'Europe,
l'Amrique, la Guerre. Rflexions sur la mediationeuropenne (2003); and Europe, Constitution, Frontire
15 May 2014 Page 15 of 22 ProQuest
(2005).
Footnotes
1. Marx himself had died in 1883. Engels explained that Marx was so secretive about the Theses that he did not
share them with him, even though the two men were already cooperating and cowriting. Some of Engels's
corrections, meant to improve a "hasty" redaction and clarify the Theses' intention, are far from innocent. This is
particularly the case with the famous Thesis Eleven, which in Marx's original formulation reads: "Die
Philosophen haben die Welt nur verschieden interpretiert; es kmmt drauf an, sie zu verndern." It was
corrected by Engels like this: "Die Philosophen haben die Welt nur verschieden interpretiert; es kommt aber
darauf an, sie zu verndern." By changing the mode of the verb and adding the word aber in the second
sentence, Engels imposed the idea of a relationship of mutual exclusion between "interpreting" and
"transforming" that was not necessarily there in Marx's version. With the help of other formulations in the
Theses, the Eleventh was understood subsequently as positing a general opposition between (revolutionary)
praxis and (mere) theory. As we will see, Thesis Six also contains a correction that deserves discussion.
2. "For the same thing is thinking and being" (Poem III). See the new edition and commentary - in French - by
Barbara Cassin.
3. For Ernst Bloch, see Das Prinzip Hoffnung (Vol. 1) and "Keim und Grundlinie. Zu den Elf Thesen von
Marxber Feuerbach." For Althusser, see "Marxism and Humanism," chapter seven of For Marx. Althusser
returns to the interpretation of the Theses on Feuerbach in a much more critical manner in "Sur la pense
marxiste," written in 1982 and published posthumously.
4. The Principle of Hope was written in the war period when Bloch was in exile in the US, but published only
after his return to Germany (the GDR) between 1954 and 1957.
5. This scheme is very different from the traditional idea, inherited by Hegel from Leibniz, that the present time
is "pregnant with" the future to which it will give birth. In fact it is the opposite. It would be interesting to relate
this scheme to both Bloch's and Althusser's (independent) insistence on the "non-contemporaneity" of the
present as its typical structure.
6. The notion of "real humanism" is above all used by Marx in his immediately preceding work (with Engels),
The Holy Family (1844); see the beginning of the foreword:
Real humanism has no more dangerous enemy in Germany than spiritualism or speculative idealism, which
substitutes "self-consciousness" or the "spirit" for the real individual man and with the evangelist teaches: "It is
the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing." Needless to say, this incorporeal spirit is spiritual only in
its imagination. What we are combating in Bauer's criticism is precisely speculation reproducing itself as a
caricature. We see in it the most complete expression of the Christian-Germanic principle, which makes its last
effort by transforming "criticism" itself into a transcendent power."
7. I borrow the expression "dispute of humanism (la querelle de l'humanisme)" from Althusser himself, who
projected a book (left unfinished) under this title. I coin "dispute of universalism" on the same model.
8. In the following argument, which partly rectifies my oral presentation at the conference "The Citizen-Subject
Revisited," I do not attempt a complete reading of the Theses (even if I draw some illumination from Marx's
other aphorisms). Therefore I leave aside the issue of the "order" or "structure" of the Eleven Theses, which I
had touched in passing. Both Bloch (in his essay) and Althusser (in his oral teaching) had specific "thematic"
suggestions about how the theses should become "divided" and "regrouped" in order to highlight the latent
construction of their argument and concepts. A very interesting subsequent explanation is offered by Georges
Labica; see his Karl Marx. Les Thses sur Feuerbach.
9. I leave aside the other great reference: Hegel's Logic (Wissenschaft der Logik), divided into three Books: the
Doctrine of Being (Sein), the Doctrine of Essence (Wesen), and the Doctrine of Concept (Begriff). In the 1840s,
Marx, who was certainly not unacquainted with the Logic, was mainly focusing on the Phenomenology and the
Philosophy of Right.
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10. The idea that God's true essence is a self-creating or self-emancipating Man runs from ancient Gnostic
doctrines to modern Protestantism to the positivist idea of substituting the superstitious "religion of the
transcendent Deity" with a rational or affective "religion of Humankind," notoriously defended in the Romantic
era by Auguste Comte in France, but also by Feuerbach himself. See Decloux and Sabot.
11. The answer must be yes, also for the following reason: when Marx drafted the "Theses," he may have been
already affected by the Stirnerian critique of every "essentialist" (or non-nominalist) category, in The Ego and Its
Own (Der Einzige und sein Eigentum), which was published the same year (1845) and which particularly targets
both Feuerbach's notion of Man as "generic being" (Gattungswesen) and the doctrine of communism based on
the idea of Man as "community being" (Gemeinwesen).
12. See Bhme 3-1.5 and 3-7.4.
13. It is common in the philosophical and theological tradition to explain metaphorically that the soul "inhabits"
(habitat) the body, or that the body forms a "house" for the soul. Inhabitare/inwohnen would indicate a more
intimate and more intense relationship, such as the "presence" of God within the soul of the faithful Christian. Its
use is especially associated with developments of the Trinitarian doctrine; see Lehmkuhler.
14. This presentation is strongly indebted to Alain de Libera's work on the genealogy of the "subject" between
scholasticism and modernity ; see his contribution to our common entry "Subject," and his Archologie du sujet.
15. An essential link between Kant and Feuerbach on this point is indeed Hegel, in his Encyclopaedia of the
Philosophical Sciences (1817 and 1830), where, however, the concept of Gattung as "species" is limited to the
animal life.
16. Augustine's formula is famously quoted by Husserl at the end of his Cartesian Meditations from 1929, in a
way that has been criticized by eminent phenomenologists who claim that he retained only one side of the
Augustinian motto (asking the philosopher to "abstract from the world" in order to investigate an inner truth, but
failing to understand that this inner truth also represents the place "inhabited" by man's "visitor" from heaven,
i.e., Christ himself, and therefore deprives man from his own mastery, or "dis-possesses" him from inside). See
Jean-Luc Marion (139).
17. This typical unity of opposites is well preserved in Descartes's transposition of the Augustinian argument
into the language of ontology: "I exist with such a nature that I possess an idea of God in my mind" and
therefore as a finite substance (or "essence") harboring an infinite substance (or "essence"). See my
commentary in "Ego sum, ego existo. Descartes au point d'hrsie."
18. This suggests an emphasis other than Kant's on the secularized form of the truth "inhabiting" the individual:
the one provided by John Locke in his theory of personal identity: the subjects who "own themselves"
separately are isolated because what makes them identical humans is not only the power of an "abstract idea"
(private property), but the power of the idea of "abstraction" itself. This is a very acute understanding of the logic
of the "ontology" that we can call, after C.B. MacPherson, "possessive individualism." See my essay "My Self et
My Own. Variations sur Locke."
19. It is of course fascinating to search for echoes between the Marxian Theses on Feuerbach and Benjamin's
Theses on the Concept of History (1941), which consciously try to follow the tracks of the former (and therefore
provide an interpretation that is also a transformation!)
20. It is also on this point that quasi-simultaneous texts, particularly The Holy Family, pay an explicit tribute to
Hegel.
21. This motto is especially insisted upon in Marx's essay from 1844 (published in the Deutsch-Franzsische
Jahrbcher), "An Introduction to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right," where das Proletariat is used for
the first time to name the revolutionary "subject" (see my "Le moment messianique de Marx" in Citoyen sujet).
Interestingly, borrowing again from the theological tradition haunting the Theses, the two notions
"Verwirklichung (realization)" and "Verweltlichung (secularization, literally becoming-world)" are used by Marx
here in a quasi-synonymous manner.
15 May 2014 Page 17 of 22 ProQuest
22. This is an important subject to which several discussions have been devoted. I give here only one
reference: Pierre Macherey. Macherey highlights the importance of works by Louis de Bonald (a conservative),
Franois Guizot (a liberal), and Comte Claude de Saint-Simon (a socialist, whose influence on Marx's
intellectual formation can hardly be underestimated).
23. See Wallerstein. A key analytic notion - perhaps the single central one - arising from the constitution of
sociology was that of individualism (first introduced into French by Tocqueville) as distinct from moral egoism to
describe the behavior of persons who are detached from their social affiliations (status groups, family, and
religious confessions), which of course different ideologies valued differently. In his Jewish Question (1844),
Marx keeps using "egoism," but in a sense rather akin to "individualism," i.e., to denote a contradiction between
the social conditions and their own result.
24. Most important in this respect are the developments in On the Jewish Question, an essay best known for its
critique of the "abstract" distinction between "rights of man" and "rights of the citizen" as an expression of the
bourgeois reduction of "man" to the private-property owning individual (which includes the Lockeian notion of
the "proprietor in one's person"). Just as "religious emancipation," which liberates individuals from their
subjection to imaginary transcendent powers, is not yet "political emancipation," which allows for the juridical
equality and freedom of every individual (within the limits of the Nation-State), political emancipation (however
progressive in the history of mankind) is not yet "social emancipation," which liberates individuals from their
alienating isolation and from the iron laws of competition that make everyone a "wolf" for everyone. And it is
only a social emancipation that can be considered a fully "human emancipation."
25. What allows Engels (before many other Marxists) to carry out this rectification is, of course, the fact that he
has become familiar with Marx's later "historical materialism" and the analysis of the relations of production with
their internal contradiction, as explained in Capital: there, Marx would describe the structure of material
production (including exploitation and class domination) as a matrix that generates transformation in the
historical character of the human type, and would argue that capitalism relies on an increasing degree of
"socialization (Vergesellschaftung)" of the labor process (including cooperation, industrialization, and
polytechnic education) that must become incompatible with the rules of private property. An interesting
intermediary formulation is offered in the German Ideology, where Marx emphasizes the determining function of
labor in "producing" human "nature" and equates the development of productive forces with a succession of
modalities in the division of labor that first generates private property and then communism (famously defined
as the "real movement that abolishes-overcomes - aufhebt - the existing social state"). Instead of using the
technical terms "relations of production" and "modes of production" to make this argument, however, he makes
extensive use of the terms Verkehr and Verkehrsformen (intercourse/commerce and its forms).
26. Remember the motto in the Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit: "das Wahre ist das Ganze" (the true is
the same as the whole, truth and totality are synonyms ; 15).
27. One is reminded of Michel Foucault's explanations in The Order of Things (1966): anthropological
definitions of the Human essence in the 19th century, after the Kantian revolution that cuts it from its theological
dependency or confers upon it a "constitutive finitude," relate alternatively to three "quasi-transcendental"
categories: "labor," "language," and "life." It is widely assumed (by Foucault himself as well) that the "Marxian"
paradigm chooses the first possibility when it comes to addressing the anthropological question (which is
exactly what Arendt and others reproached Marx for having done: chosen a definition of Man as animal
laborans). But we are concerned here with the modalities, hesitations, and suspensions of that "choice."
28. See my The Philosophy of Marx, chapter two. On this basis I had also proposed a discussion of the affinities
between Marx and, particularly, Spinoza and Freud (with all their differences). Other names could be added of
course, if it is true that there is hardly any great philosopher to whom the issue of transindividuality did not occur
and who did not consider, at least hypothetically, the possibility of viewing "relations," not "terms" [change
"terms" to "forms"?] or "substances," as the prime category for understanding the real. In his very instructive
15 May 2014 Page 18 of 22 ProQuest
commentary on Feuerbach's theses (Marx 1845, 137-160), Macherey elaborates on this idea with a thesis
about Marx transforming an "essence" into a "non-essence" that is quite compatible with what I have tried to
explain in this paper.
29. There are some important affinities between this formulation and what Maurice Blanchot, in a famous and
very abstract essay, not without relation to his almost contemporary meditation on "Marx's words," calls "Le
rapport du troisime genre (relation of the third type/kind)," where one also finds the equation "L'homme, c'est-
-dire les hommes (Man, that is men)" (101). I shall return to this comparison elsewhere.
30. This also explains, in my view, why it is insufficient to relate the primacy of "social relations" to the
emergence of a historical (or, for that matter, cultural) anthropology: because such an anthropology (whose
almost unsurpassable prototype lies in the Hegelian description of the "epochs" of world history as constructions
of successive "spiritual" ideas of the human) only relativizes (chronologically and geographically) the validity of
any definition of the "human essence," while insisting that such a definition must be common to everyone in the
considered society or must subordinate all the oppositions and differences within itself.
31. In his little book Elments d'autocritique, Althusser credited Spinoza for "inventing, almost alone in the
history of philosophy, the notion of a totality without a closure." He was apparently not aware that a similar
distinction formed the core of Emmanuel Lvinas's masterwork Totalit et infini: Essai sur l'extriorit (1961),
also directed against the Hegelian legacy in philosophy.
32. I take the category "amphibology" in the strict sense used by Kant in what is arguably the most remarkable
development of the Critique of Pure Reason, the "Amphibology of the Concepts of Reflection," but I assume that
it can apply not only to the cases listed by Kant (unity vs. diversity, adequation vs. inadequation, interior vs.
exterior, matter vs. form), but also to others that matter especially in "practical" matters: activity vs. passivity,
subjective vs. objective, etc.
33. I collapse indications from the "early" and the "late" Althusser, who are certainly not completely
incompatible; see Emilio de Ipola, Althusser, L'adieu infini, Paris: PUF, 2012, and Warren Montag, Althusser
and his contemporaries: Philosophy's Perpetual War, forthcoming from Duke UP, 2013.
34. A classic example for this discussion concerns the issue of paternity: does "fatherhood" connote an
"external" relationship between individuals who then become socially recognized as "father" and "child," or an
"internal" quality of each (as a result of their personal history, including birth, etc.)? How about a "mother"? a
"son," or a "daughter"?
35. To be sure, there is a third traditional possibility of overcoming this kind of amphibology: invoking a
generalized concept of "life" (or organicity, systematicity, etc.). I observe here only that classical concepts of
"organic life" tend precisely to preserve interiority at the expense of psychology, consciousness, and
subjectivity.
36. And let us note in passing that the single English or French term "alienation" renders two German concepts
used by Hegel and Marx: Entusserung or "externalization," projection "out of oneself"; and Entfremdung or
"estrangement," subjection to an "alien power," the power of the other.
37. The phrase from John's Epistle I, "God is Love," plays a central role in mystical developments of Christianity
as well as in "anthropological" interpretations of Christianity ever since Spinoza; the two influences converge in
Hegel, who transforms the phrase into a symmetric equivalence (Gott ist Liebe, die Liebe ist Gott). See my
essay "Ich, das Wir, und Wir, das Ich ist. Le mot de l'esprit" in Citoyen Sujet.
38. It would also retain the etymological proximity of the German name for "kind" or "genus" (Gattung) and the
names for "spouses," "husband," and "wife" (Gatte/Gattin). This proximity is used extensively by Hegel to push
sexuality back into the "animal" dimension of Man, and by Feuerbach to emphasize the "typically human"
dimension of the sexual, which a "spiritualist" discourse euphemizes and sublimates. On all this, see Sabot.
39. The reference to Saint-Simonian sources are crucial historically (although the critique of bourgeois marriage
as "legal prostitution" ultimately derives from earlier feminists such as Mary Wollstonecraft) but above all
15 May 2014 Page 19 of 22 ProQuest
politically and theoretically. As we know, there is nothing simple in applying a single concept of "social relation,"
"social movement," and "emancipatory politics" to both the emancipation of women from patriarchy and to the
the emancipation of workers from capitalism, though this formed the core of Saint-Simonian "utopian" socialism
and other romantic doctrines. This is also a problem of historicity, as clearly illustrated by the opening sentences
of the Communist Manifesto, where Marx and Engels borrow a list of successive "class dominations" directly
from the Exposition de la doctrine saint-simonienne (1829), while eliminating the "domination of women by men"
from the list; this may be due to their male chauvinist prejudices, but there is also no way for this other form of
exploitation-domination to be inserted into the chronological succession that leads from "primitive communities"
to capitalism and to communism according to transformations in the regime of property. See tienne Balibar,
Franoise Duroux, Rossana Rossanda, Communismo e femminismo, Einaudi editore, Torino (forthcoming).
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Subject: Philosophy; Anthropology; Capitalism; Ontology;
People: Parmenides
Publication title: Postmodern Culture
Volume: 22
Issue: 3
Publication year: 2012
Publication date: May 2012
Year: 2012
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Place of publication: Baltimore
Country of publication: United States
Publication subject: History, Sociology
Source type: Scholarly Journals
Language of publication: English
Document type: Journal Article
ProQuest document ID: 1429542754
Document URL: http://0-search.proquest.com.library.uark.edu/docview/1429542754?accountid=8361
Copyright: Copyright Johns Hopkins University Press May 2012
Last updated: 2013-09-10
Database: ProQuest Research Library
15 May 2014 Page 21 of 22 ProQuest
Bibliography
Citation style: APA 6th - American Psychological Association, 6th Edition
tienne Balibar. (2012). From philosophical anthropology to social ontology and back: What to do with marx's
sixth thesis on feuerbach? Postmodern Culture, 22(3) Retrieved from http://0-
search.proquest.com.library.uark.edu/docview/1429542754?accountid=8361

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