Marx is famous for apparently dismissing the practical role of philosophy. Yet, as accumulating empirical knowledge of growing life-crises proves, the simply availability of facts is insufficient to motivate struggles for fundamental change. So too manifest social crisis. The economic crisis which began in 2008 has indeed motivated social struggles, but nothing on the order of the revolutionary struggles Marx expected. Rather than make Marx irrelevant, however, the absence of global struggles for truly radical change make his early engagement with the role of philosophy more important than ever. This engagement suggests a conception of philosophy as a uniquely practical discipline distinguished from empirical science by its unique capacity to synthesise values from the facts of life. The article examines the development of this conception of philosophy in Marx’s early work and concludes with the outlines for a new critical philosophy capable of generating a new set of universal values necessary to motivate anti-capitalist struggles today.
Noonan, Jeff. (2009). Philosophy at the Service of History: Marx and the need for critical philosophy today. Socialist Studies, 5 (2), 17-35.