What subset of Hegel should a person know to understand Marxist philosophy?

In political alignment i'm a Marxist, and mostly subscribe to social and political positions of the kinds like Slavoj Žižek or István Mészáros. However in philosophy i was always a logical positivist and was never interested in continental tradition. For example, i'm not interested in Žižek's philosophical insights.

Lenin said on Hegel:

It is impossible completely to understand Marx's Capital, and especially its first Chapter, without having thoroughly studied and understood the whole of Hegel's Logic. Consequently, half a century later none of the Marxists understood Marx!!

What absolute minimum of Hegel should a person deeply entrenched in analytical camp know and comprehend? Can you please recommend an introduction to Hegel's thought from Marxist perspective?

  • Meh, Lenin's notes claims he didn't really understand dialectics (e.g., pp. 103, 108, and 117 and pp. 175 and 229 for example). I wouldn't both with Hegel before reading Capital, instead read David Ricardo's Principles of Political Economy. It'll actually help. – Alex Nelson Jun 29 '13 at 21:54

You might be interested in Alexandre Kojève's Introduction to the Reading of Hegel. The first chapter is available on the site DBK recommended (www.marxists.org). Kojève has a few other works of note (though only the Introduction and Outline of a Phenomenology of Right have been translated into English--though The Concept, Time, and Discourse is supposed to be released soon). He is probably the most influential interpreter of Hegel. (He was also a Marxist.)

As far as Hegel goes, I'd suggest reading, at the very least, the Master-Slave Dialectic in the Phenomenology of Spirit. The Philosophy of History is also worth reading (it's quite a bit easier than the Phenomenology, and is a good introduction to Hegel's historicism).

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    I was going to suggest the Kojévé as well; I'll only add Jean Hyppolite's The Genesis and Structure of the Phenomenology of Spirit. – Michael Dorfman Nov 3 '12 at 14:06

The site you link to (marxism.org) has lots of freely available material:

In particular you might want to have a look at these real classics:

Marx and Engels wrote copiously on Hegel themselves.

Also, it might be of interest to you that most logical empiricists in Vienna and Berlin were, politically, left-leaning socialists and some saw themselves as acting within the marxist tradition. The most interesting example is Otto Neurath, who thought of marxism and logical empiricism as convergent theoretical and practical efforts. Some relevant writings are reprinted (in German) in

  • Rainer Hegselmann, Wissenschaftliche Weltauffassung, Sozialismus und logischer Empirismus, Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp 1979.

I liked Reason and Revolution: Hegel and the Rise of Social Theory by Herbert Marcuse.


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