The Abolition of Morality (1845–1856)

Philip J. Kain

in Marx and Ethics

Published in print March 1991 | ISBN: 9780198239321
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191679896 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

The Abolition of Morality (1845–1856)

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  • History of Western Philosophy


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In the book German Ideology, Karl Marx's views on ethics begin to turn in a different direction. He abandons his earlier concept of essence and develops a doctrine of historical materialism. He rejects Kantian ethics as well as the notion that freedom can be understood as self-determination. His historical materialism leaves no room for moral responsibility or moral obligation. Morality becomes ideology and it will disappear in communist society. Looking back at the writings of 1843–1844, Marx's arguments for communism and revolution appear to be more arguments for the moral necessity of communism and revolution than empirical studies of how they might actually occur.

Keywords: Karl Marx; morality; essence; ethics; historical materialism; freedom; communism; revolution

Chapter.  20926 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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