An Introduction to Karl Marx by Jon Elster

By Jon Elster

A concise and accomplished creation to Marx's social, political and fiscal proposal for the start pupil. Jon Elster surveys in flip all of the major topics of marxist inspiration: method, alienation, economics, exploitation, historic materialism, sessions, politics, and beliefs; in a last bankruptcy he assesses 'what resides and what's lifeless within the philosophy of Marx'. The emphasis all through is at the analytical constitution of Marx's arguments and the method is instantaneously sympathetic, undogmatic, and rigorous.

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Marxist Methodology more likely the more similar the background of the members and the more stable the composition of the group. We know that the effect of these remote "macrovariables" must be mediated by their impact on individual motives and beliefs, but we may be unable to specify the mechanism. In such cases the search for microfoundations may lead to barren speculation. The principle of methodological individualism says only that the search is not inherently sterile, although, in any given case, it may well be pointless in the present state of knowledge.

Second, it ought to be emphasized that the theory says that the person will choose the action which he thinks is best suited to his purposes, which is not to say that it is the best in a more objective sense. Rational-choice explanation embodies a claim about the relation among action, motives, and beliefs. It differs in this respect from evolutionary explanation in biology, which asserts that organisms end up having the features that are objectively best from the point of view of their fitness.

Marx's models of self-realization are the artist, the scientist, or the preindustrial artisan, not the industrial worker. Although he always insisted that there was no turning back from industrial production, he did not really explain how there could be room for creative work in the modern factory, except for some remarks about the increasing importance of science in production. We need to distinguish, however, between the obstacles to selfrealization that stem from the nature of industrial production and those that derive from the capitalist organization of industry.

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