"Roughing It": The "German ideology" "main manuscript"

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The so-called 'German ideology' 'mainmanuscript', editorially fabricated into a 'chapter' 'I. Feuerbach' in the 1920s, has been a canonical source for Marx scholars intent on resolving the problem of 'the materialist interpretation of history'. Its presentation in various editions as a 'text of the last hand' suited this particular interpretive framing, but relegated the more interesting features of these discontinuous manuscript pages (themselves abstracted from different draft critiques) to the status of textual 'variants', unhelpfully located in notes or lists. This article begins the work of interpreting these uniquely rough passages and debates, penned in Marx's and Engels' separate hands, within a wider frame of reference of more general interest to political theorists. Marx and Engels grapple, in tentative and exploratory fashion, with the nature of humanity, the character of social activity, what makes generalizations plausible, truthful and persuasive, and how political thinking can possibly make a difference. Thinking polemically, and therefore politically, Marx and Engels can be seen in selected passages, newly translated and presented in a 'variant-rich' format, working towards an anti-philosophy. That 'outlook' conceives of the world in the first instance as thoroughly humanized and historicized in experience, rather than as something to be observed through a timeless conjunction of mind with matter.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)700-725
Number of pages26
JournalHistory of Political Thought
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015


  • Karl Marx
  • Friedrich Engels
  • German Ideology
  • Bruno Bauer
  • Ludwig Fuerbach
  • interpretation of history
  • materialist
  • matter-consciousness dichotomy

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