Marxism and Ethics by Eugene Kamenka

By Eugene Kamenka

During this severe survey, the writer, who's the best educated and so much perceptive among Marxist students, examines either Marx's confident ethics of the really human guy free of alienation and Marx's materialist critique of moralities as class-bound ideologies. He considers the contributions of Marx's disciples, within the Soviet Union and the western international, and argues that Marxism has conflated a couple of moral positions -- the ethics of self-realisation, utilitarianism, moral relativism, evolutionary ethics and an unexamined ethic of self-determination and cooperation. no matter what its defects can be, Marxism has helped to indicate tips on how to a sociology of morals and to an figuring out of the relationship among guy and society.

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There is a clear assumption of a life 'proper to man', constantly appealed to but quite inadequately discussed. In spite of all the play with empiricism, there is the distinction - made explicit by Hodges - between men's true or rational interests and their apparent, diseased, limited interests which are not to be counted as providing moral norms. Allied with this is the distinction, common in Marxist propaganda, between real 'needs' and mere irrational desires. ) wants. This is as true 49 for the metaphysical Marxian humanist, with his rationalist conception of what is fitting for man, and his ultimately arbitrary singling out of some potentialities in place of others, as it is for the more empirical 'materialist'.

Thus the Austro-Marxist Rudolf Hilferding distinguished between Marxism, a science of society predicting the coming of a Communist society, and socialism, a moral outlook that welcomed this coming. Others, for example, Kautsky and Bernstein, were led to a 'moral supplementation' of MarxismKautsky by taking from Darwin an evolutionary ethic, Bernstein by appeal to the Kantian and neo-Kantian principle that all men must count equally and that man must never be used as a means. The Communists, concerned with revolutionary struggle and Party authority, tended to make their norms even more frankly imperative on the one hand but even more flexible on the other.

Engels confuses absolute truth in the sense of what is unambiguously so or not with 'absolute truth' in the sense of complete knowledge, the sum of all possible knowledge. He concludes from the fact that we cannot ever exhaust all possible knowledge and that we can find later that our knowledge was 'inadequate' (or false), that we cannot ever say ex is (absolutely and unambiguously) Y'. J, unambiguously, without a 'later-developing false side' but - he says - they are always trivial. Now, if propositions cannot in principle state an unambiguous issue, then we cannot talk or discuss at all.

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