Mar 20, 2023  
College Catalog 2022-2023 
    
College Catalog 2022-2023

GERM 316 - Reading Marx

Cross-Listed as PHIL 216  
For Marx, “private capital” is an oxymoron - a contradiction in terms, since by its very nature capital is social. And “philosophy” is really not a thing, at least not the way it’s always been defined, since the world of ideas has no existence independent of the material conditions of human existence. In this course, we will try to recover the revolutionary force of these arguments with a focus on what they show us about the illusory or fantastic character of modern life. From the early critique of alienation to the late analysis of surplus value, Marx showed over and again how the so-called rational world is not as rational as it seems: specters, fetishes, deceptive appearances, “false consciousness” are just some of the features of life under capital that Marx exposes and that continue to haunt our world (just think of how we appeal to the “magic of the market,” its “invisible hand” or to “creative destruction”). We will read selections from Marx’s early writings on religion and alienation through the theory of ideology, of commodity fetishism, and of primitive accumulation to his late programmatic texts in tandem with texts by 20th-century thinkers who critiqued and further developed Marx’s thought (Lukacs, Gramsci, Lefort, Derrida). Alternate years. (4 Credits)