Towards a “Given Philosophy”: The Critique of Political Economy Deepened Marx’s Philosophical Revolution

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No. 5, 2022


Towards a “Given Philosophy”: The Critique of Political Economy Deepened Marx’s Philosophical Revolution



Xi Ge


The internal driving force of Marx’s philosophical revolution was chiefly the development of his critique of political economy. This critique allowed him to construct a new kind of philosophy in the form of a specific social science that conformed to “the given reality of modern times. The historical materialism in The German Ideology as well as the historical materialism constructed in a given social form in Capital and Economics Manuscripts 1857-1858 cannot be understood as a kind of extension from general to specific cases or the application of deductive reasoning. Instead, they should be understood as a process of intellectual synthesis in which the general form of historical materialism was elevated to a more concrete and profound specific form of historical materialism. The intellectual logic of Capital reveals the generative process of the essential core of modern capitalist society as it unfolds in a superficial expression that can reproduce the synchronic structure and diachronic process of essence and phenomenon as a whole, and is thus a given social ontology. This kind of given social ontology focuses on the specific ontological question of how various forms of social existence are historically possible, and implies the general ontological question of how “social ontology in general” is possible as an abstract link, so it still falls within the domain of philosophical thought. Marx’s critique of political economy opens up the dimension of the given nature of history and openness for historical materialism, and truly grasps the historical dialectics of the past, present and future based on changing times and social differences. His critique of political economy comes itself to the fore as a new “given philosophy” that goes beyond the horizon of the whole of traditional philosophy. It thus provides crucial theoretical inspiration for the construction of contemporary Chinese Marxist philosophy.