This is a post asking for clarification/commentary/explanations/intuitions for two of Marx's writings from The Marx-Engels Reader: "To make the world philosophical" (from Marx's dissertation, 1839-41) and "For the ruthless criticism of everything existing" (letter to Arnold Ruge, September 1843).

My understanding of the two works is as follows.

"To make the world philosophical" is about the necessity of overcoming/transforming philosophy, but makes much more sense if one read Korsch's essay "Marxism and Philosophy" here. One reads this to frame one's engagement with philosophy and as an introduction to the idea that ideology has a role in changing the world, contra the idea that Marx is making a base/superstructure argument. This essay also makes some of Marx's writings about German idealism more intelligible.

For "For the ruthless criticism of everything existing", the part where Marx says "reason always exists but not always in reasonable form" is key. Marx distinguishes himself from utopians in this piece by talking about his method of immanent dialectical critique. On a more basic level, this letter of Marx is seen as outlining something similar to modern day Left "projects", though in very different circumstances.

Well, that's my incomplete understanding of the two works. I would appreciate any added clarification/commentary/explanations/intuitions to what I have above.

Thank you all for your time!

  • "To make the world philosophical" is about the necessity of overcoming/transforming the world
    – John Am
    Mar 13, 2017 at 18:58

1 Answer 1


Α general reply to the questions without being able to deal in depth.

"To make the world philosophical" means to develop the social relations at the level of science and philosophy where reason rules.

For the "ruthless criticism of everything existing", means that parts of our social existence or our social relations which look like "holy beings", inaccessible to criticism, "sanctified", having taken the form of divine figures, we ought to be able to look them into the eyes, stripped of any social conventions, and to exercise a fundamental criticism to them so our world to be free to evolve and break the bonds that hold it back, like the effects that the past social relationships hold on the contemporary reality.

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