Marx 1845 or the Fateful Rejection of Anschauung

Martinon, Jean-Paul. 2019. Marx 1845 or the Fateful Rejection of Anschauung. CR: The New Centennial Review, 18(3), pp. 73-96. ISSN 1539-6630 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

One of Marx’s most damning condemnation is that of Feuerbach’s intuitive-contemplative materialism in his Theses of 1845. This condemnation famously leads him to an understanding of human activity as purely objective (gegenständliche) and of “revolution” as praxis, that is, as a “practical-critical” activity exclusively based on reason and reason alone. The question that is rarely asked about this condemnation is this: what is lost in this abandonment of the intuitive on the way to historical materialism? The aim behind this question is purely speculative. It does not intend to provide yet again a historical reading of this famous turning point in Marx’s move away from Feuerbach. It simply intends to see whether something could be gained from revisiting Feuerbach’s understanding of the intuitive and/or contemplative and whether this could allow us to move beyond the 21st Century deadlock of Marx’s “rational praxis.” This essay offers a new reading of Marx’s Theses, explores key aspects of Feuerbach’s understanding of intuition/contemplation, and critically appraises the key readers of this major turning point in history, especially those in the French Marxist tradition such as Bloch, Henry, Althusser, Macherey, and of course, Balibar. The essay is published in the well-known US journal CR: The New Centennial Review. The essay’s originality consists not only in reappraising Marx's early materialism, but also, more broadly, in questioning the trend in today's materialisms to dismiss all forms of intuitive-contemplative approaches to matter and reality. As such, the essay has the capacity to alter the way realisms and materialisms are formulated today.

Item Type:



Marx, Feuerbach, Praxis, Intuition, Anschauung, Materialism

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


27 November 2018Accepted
18 December 2018Submitted
16 February 2019Published

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Date Deposited:

13 Feb 2019 11:41

Last Modified:

18 Mar 2021 11:19

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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