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From the 1857 Introduction to the 1867 Preface: Reflections on Marx’s method in the critique of political economy

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/12/2018
Issue number16
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)15-37
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In the preface to the 1867 issue of Capital, Marx noted that the beginning of research was difficult in any science. This text revealed Marx and Engels's view that there is only one science: history, which encompasses nature and society. As expected, the natural sciences have significantly influenced their work. The influence of Darwinism, thermodynamics, and cell biology on Marxian analyzes is reported in this paper, and the latter is examined in detail. When Marx opted for the notion of the form of the value of goods as the basis for writing Capital, he described it as the economic form of the cell of the capitalist mode of production, which reflected a new step in his critique of political economy. The reason for this attitude lies in the fact that, unlike the two previous methods described in the 1857 Introduction, his subsequent interest in cell biology hinted at a third method to replace them. Goods served him as the simplest, most obvious, and most immediate basic unit of capital relations, and as a presupposition in analysis and its possible outcome as all contradictory and dynamic implications for the logic of capital were revealed. This reflects his re-reading of Hegel's The Science of Logic, which also addressed the starting point in the study of organic totality. In this respect, the analogy with the cell has proved useful, since we have noted six connections between cell biology and Marx's analysis of the capitalist mode of production. But they remain merely analogies, since they did not direct either his key research or their presentation, reflecting the historical specifics of capital relations.

Bibliographic note

Based on presentation at University of Ljublana, September, 2018