The transcendental theory of history: “historical materialism”
The ultimate—although most often unobserved—presupposition of the dialectical conception of history is metaphysical; it is the presupposition that, in and of itself, history constitutes a reality in the literal sense of the word, namely, on the one hand, an actual, substantially existing reality defining a dimension of being and perhaps being itself and, on the other hand, precisely one reality, a unitary and ultimately unique reality, one single substance, one single essence, one single existence which unfolds itself and whose unfolding is thus nothing other than its self-unfolding, the unfolding of itself by itself, exhibiting by its own act its own reality. The origin of the metaphysical interpretation of history which can be found in the 1844 texts resides in the concept which serves, precisely, as a ground for these texts and which, in general, determines the humanism of the young Marx, that is, in the concept of Gattungswesen. The human species is this unitary reality which constitutes both the subject and the object of history, its principle and its content. History is the History of Man, the history of his ruin and his recovery, so that it is one and the same essence, the human essence, which is alienated and which overcomes its alienation. To the extent that history is the objectification of the human genus, its being is more or less the same as that of society. The 1844 Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts only made more precise the ways in which this objectification occurs in labor. The affinity between the concepts of “society” and “history” is obvious; both are part and parcel of a metaphysics of ideal universality or of its Feuerbachian counterpart; they are based upon the Hegelian ontology and simply reveal the essence that supports it.
In 1845 Marx’s anti-Hegelianism, which had secretly inspired the 1843 manuscript and, as we shall see, remained implicit in the 1844 texts, attains the level of thought, becomes explicit, and is formulated conceptually. This abrupt awakening may well have occurred through the contact with Stirner’s thought—it directly follows the reading of The Ego and His Own—nevertheless it simply brings out the initial and fundamental intuitions; or rather, for the first time, they are thought and this thought involves in the same stroke the deliberate and brutal rejection of the Hegelian concepts and of their substitutes. And first and foremost among these are the concepts of “society” and of “history.” The fact that this decisive conceptual mutation is not simply produced, without our knowing why this is, within an epistemological field but that it rests, on the contrary, upon ultimate ontological presuppositions in accordance with which the ideal universality of objectivity defines the sphere of existence and of reality—this can be seen precisely in the fact that henceforth, for Marx, neither “society” nor “history” “exists” as an ontological reality whose unity stems from the universal process of objectification and which is produced by it as unitary and substantive objective realities. Unable to display a reality which would be adequate to them, a reality whose actual existence would attest to itself and allow itself to be recognized as an actual and not merely a formal unity, the concepts of history and society allow us a glimpse of their vacuity, destroy themselves as simple concepts and show themselves to be no more than words.
In the Poverty of Philosophy (1847), Marx, engaging in polemics against Proudhon, who reproaches the economists with not having understood that society is a reality sui generis, a general and as such unitary reality, a “collective being” whose structure and whose laws would therefore have nothing in common with the determinations of the individuals who make up this generic reality but who are in fact determined by it, replies in these terms: “We have pleasure in confronting him with the following passage from an American economist, who accuses the economists of just the opposite: The moral entity—the grammatical being called a nation, has been clothed in attributes that have no real existence except in the imagination of those who metamorphose a word into a thing. . . . This has given rise to many difficulties and to some deplorable misunderstandings in political economy.’”1 This text is all the more remarkable in that it appears with reference to the problem of the surplus left by labor, at the very moment when Marx recognizes that the production of the “social individual,” of “associated individuals,” goes beyond that of the isolated individual, of nonassociated individuals. From this moment on, the collective productive force that plays a decisive role in Capital, as in every real society, has a clearly defined philosophical status, allowing no possible equivocation. The collective productive force, which is superior to the whole of the individual forces it comprises, does not as such constitute any particular being possessing stability or self-sufficiency. The “collective being,” the social as such, is not autonomous, or rather simply is not; the ontological dimension of existence is not constituted by it.
To confer existence in the sense of a substantive, unitary, and actual existence upon the collective being, upon the common being, upon the “social” as such independently of the individuals whom it comprises and whose own ontological reality constitutes the only possible reality of society, is to hypostatize the latter, to treat as a specific being something that does not exist. Marx said: “This is to treat society as a person.” The rejection of society as a person apart has a rigorous ontological meaning; it explicitly challenges the claim of the universal, the whole, the organism, the set, the structure, all the modes and all the declensions of the general as such to constitute reality in and of themselves. This rejection is so vehement in Marx that it constantly takes the form of a polemic, a polemic which in no way conceals but, quite the opposite, underscores the essential, metaphysical nature of the problem encountered. If there is a polemic against metaphysics itself in Marx, it is aimed precisely at the hypostasis of reality in a place other than its place of origin, in a dimension which no longer constitutes the condition for its possibility and in which it, consequently, is able neither to unfold nor to take shape. “Metaphysics” is the name for what is beyond reality, the site where reality can no longer be situated, where nothing that is actual can occur. This is the case for society, inasmuch as in it one sees something other than a word, something other, too, than the individuals who make it up and who indeed define the place of reality, inasmuch as one attributes to society laws that would not be the laws of these individuals themselves, laws that express them and that are grounded in them and in them alone, inasmuch as society is treated, on the contrary, as an original reality with its own determinations, with structures and determinations that belong to it alone, revealing its specific nature, revealing its reality precisely as an autonomous and unitary reality, as the unitary power of structuration and of determination.
It is in fact in a polemical manner, in the bluntness of the essential discourse, that the ultimate presuppositions of Marx’s thought burst forth, the metaphysical thesis which destroys all “metaphysics” and denounces the poverty of philosophy, the poverty of the philosophy of the universal, represented at that time by Proudhon as its French subproduct. In the passage that directly precedes the one we have discussed and that deals with the surplus-product, Marx writes, “To prove that all labor must leave a surplus, M. Proudhon personifies society; he turns it into a person, Society—a society which is not by any means a society of persons, since it has its laws apart, which have nothing in common with the persons of which society is composed, and its ‘own intelligence,’ which is not the intelligence of common men, but an intelligence devoid of common sense.”2 The fact that the hypostatization of society, “the fiction of the person, Society,”3 represents the claim that to society belong its own particular laws, which would not be those pertaining to the individual and, in the same motion, confers upon society a reality different from individual reality, this is unconditionally affirmed in the following text: “Surplus labor, he says [this is Proudhon speaking], is explained by the person, Society. The life of this person is guided by laws, the opposite of those which govern the activities of man as an individual. He desires to prove this by ‘facts’.”4 But precisely because the laws of the individual cannot be opposed to, or superimposed upon, the laws of society, Proudhon can only prove the opposite of what he wants to prove, namely “that the profits and losses of society are not in inverse ratio to the profits and losses of individuals.”5
The polemic against Proudhon simply takes up once more the critique levelled against Stirner, in which for the first time Marx presents his thesis that society does not in itself constitute a reality but instead is precisely the hypostasis of something that lies elsewhere, namely in individual existence. It is precisely for this reason that reality, because it is presented in every instance as the reality of an individual, is in its very origin a splintered, multiple, plural reality, a reality which can be formulated solely in a collective plural, and yet only in such a way that the unity of this formulation cannot fool us, in such a way that it does not name any actual, real unity but just the opposite of unity, an absolute diversity of monads. Stirner’s paralogism, the source of the metaphysical belief in society, consists in substituting for this indefinite plurality of individuals, through the effect of the illusion proper to language, a real and substantive unity, a determination of the universal. “Who is this person you call everyone?” asked Stirner, and he replied: It is “society.” And Marx comments on this assertion in these terms: “With the aid of a few quotation marks Sancho here transforms ‘all’ into a person, society as a person, as a subject. . . .”6
Marx’s critique is all the more radical, its interest all the greater, as it is aimed at Stirner, who claimed, precisely, to oppose the individual to society and to deny the latter the right to set itself up as a real or normative absolute confronting the individual, imposing its laws on the individual, and dictating to him its own prescriptions. Stirner indeed wants to reverse this relationship of dependency, to consider society merely as an instrument in the service of the individual and no longer as a superior moral reality which the individual should serve.7 But if Marx subscribes to the Stirnerian rejection of a hypostatized society, what could be the substance of his own critique of Stirner? It lies in the fact that Stirner, like the anarchists, brings about the hypostasis of society just when he believes he is combatting it. For Stirner initiates an opposition, the naïve opposition par excellence, between society and the individual; he considers the relation that he establishes between them a conflictual relation which is to be resolved no longer for the benefit of society but this time for that of the individual, by giving free reign to the egoism as a result of which the Unique will henceforth “make use” of society. But society does not exist. The opposition between the individual and society presupposes the existence of the latter outside of the individual and independent of him, that is to say, precisely, its hypostasis. Stirner does what he reproaches the socialists for doing. “Saint Sancho has quite forgotten that it was himself who transformed ‘society’ into an ‘ego’ and that consequently he finds himself only in his own ‘society.’ ”8
The hypostatization of society outside of the individuals who constitute its only possible reality is laden with consequences. Because society now exists as a reality in its own right in opposition to the individual, the problem of a relation between these terms previously posited as different inevitably arises. If this relation is no longer understood in Stirner’s sense, in a naïve and quixotic fashion, as the opposition of the individual to society and his refusal to allow himself to be determined by this sanctified society, by the “saint,” the relation is then simply reversed and becomes the determination of the individual by society. However, this “evident” determination presupposes along with the Stirnerian relation, of which it is the mere inversion, the mutual exteriority of the terms between which it is established. It is this exteriority that Marx challenges, rejecting in the same stroke the very possibility of an external relation between the individual and society, the possibility, to tell the truth, of any relation between them; and this is so for the further reason that society as such does not exist. For it is not only the status of society, its transcendence, for example, that Marx rejects; it is instead, as we have seen, the very reality of society as a unitary and actual reality. A relation between society and the individual is impossible in principle; the relation of individuals to themselves alone exists and alone can be rendered problematic . Such is the first decisive consequence of the radical critique of the concept of society.9 Long afterwards, in the general Introduction to the 1857 Critique of Political Economy, Marx will write: “To regard society as one single subject is, in addition, to look at it wrongly; speculatively.”10
No more than society is history a “single subject,” a universal reality possessing being and as such capable of acting, the source and principle of determinations. In 1844 Marx said: “History does nothing halfway.” A few months later he writes: “History does nothing.”11 The rejection of the conception of history understood as an ontological reality unfolding itself, integrating actual determinations as mere mediations in the process of its self-development, consequently, realizing itself, realizing its own aims through the apparent aims of the complex activity of individuals—this is expressed by the vocabulary already employed in the critique of society and which now translates the refusal to hypostatize “history,” the refusal to treat it as a person, as a particular character. Immediately after having said that history does nothing, the text we are discussing adds: “it ‘possesses no immense wealth,’ it ‘wages no battles.’ It is man, real, living man who does all that, who possesses and fights; ‘history’ is not, as it were, a person apart, using man as a means to achieve its own aims; history is nothing but the activity of man pursuing his aims.”
That the aims of man, and by this one must now understand the multitude of individuals—”the activity of real mankind is nothing but the activity of a mass of human individuals”12—have nothing to do with the aims of history can be seen in the fact that, whereas these individuals pursue the achievement of their own plans, consequently obeying motivations included within their individual phenomenological life and inscribed therein as actual lived determinations, needs, desires, etc., the history at issue here, Bauer’s history just as that of Hegel, of which it is but the pale reflection, aims at the advent of truth which, precisely, defines the finality proper to it. History is nothing other than, as it were, the process through which truth is realized, the movement of its becoming, a movement inseparable from its essence and constituting this very essence. It is against this conception of history as essence and as the history of the essence of truth that Marx now consciously commits himself. To Bauer’s question: “What would be the purpose of history if its task were not precisely to prove these simplest of all truths. . . ?” Marx supplies the following commentary: “. . . history exists in order to serve as the act of consumption of theoretical eating—proving. Man exists so that history may exist, and history exists so that the proof of truth may exist. In this critically trivialized form is repeated the speculative wisdom that man exists, and history exists, so that truth may arrive at self-consciousness.”13 That, for Marx, it is not simply a question of denying the teleology of history that is situated traditionally in theology but of going back to the ground which makes this teleology possible, to the metaphysical conception of a universal reality whose self-unfolding in the form of objectification is its becoming for itself as truth, to the hypostasis of this historical essence of truth which takes the place of the real “subject,” that is to say, of living individuals who themselves are cast in the role of a mere mediation—posited mysteriously—of this absolutized essence, this is what Marx explicitly states: “That is why history, like truth, becomes a person apart, a metaphysical subject of which real human individuals are merely the bearers.”14
The critique of history understood as a substantive and autonomous reality paves the way for Marx’s thesis according to which the reality of history is to be sought outside of it, outside of the unitary process which is represented in its concept, according to which history admits of presuppositions. What these presuppositions are is stated outright: living individuals. Here and now a crucial evidence becomes apparent with respect to the essential philosophical problem of the evolution of Marx’s thought: Marx’s abandonment of the Feuerbachian concept of genus, of the human species, of the universal as the subject of history and as progressively realizing itself through its objectification in history, the abandonment of the Gattungswesen in no way means the correlative abandonment of the concept of the individual but, quite the contrary, its emergence, its conscious, deliberate, and explicit situation at the center of the problematic as the guiding concept of the search for and, above all, of the understanding and the elaboration of the concept of history.
Marx refers to the founding premise of history in an insistent, repetitious, and apparently monotonous fashion: “The first premise of all human history is, of course, the existence of living human individuals.”15 And further on: “This manner of approach is not devoid of premises. It starts out from the real premises and does not abandon them for a moment. Its premises are men. . . ”16And again: “The premises from which we begin are not arbitrary ones, not dogmas, but real premises from which abstraction can only be made in the imagination. They are the real individuals. . . ”17 Pursuing his systematic examination of the presuppositions of history, Marx distinguishes three; the last two, however, can be carried back to the first and serve merely as its explanation. They are: (1) the activity by which the individual satisfies his needs; (2) the production of new needs; and (3) the reproduction of the individual himself in the family.18
Referring history to its founding presuppositions is not as simple as it seems. It means that the succession of events formed by the multitude of diverse human actions, the interplay of the complex connections to which they give rise and in which they are caught, is not only a “succession” which takes place before our eyes and which we would have only to witness, but instead something which has to be explained. And the principle of this explanation, the ground of history, resides precisely in “living individuals.” Is not this sort of “explanation” a pure tautology? Does it not designate as the condition for the development of individuals these individuals themselves? Or does it not rather pose the tautology to which all alleged positivity is confined, the simple hypostasis of the succession of events and of what occurs? By presenting living individuals as the presupposition of history, Marx explicitly situates the principle of all economic, social, political, and cultural phenomena which “occur in the world” and which we call “history” in individual phenomenological life and in the necessity proper to it, consequently, in what this life is and in its essence, in life which wants to live and which in order to live must satisfy its needs and which in order to satisfy them must work. Individual phenomenological life, all these lives or, to speak as Marx does, “living individuals,” although they enter into history and are determined by it, themselves, on the contrary, determine history in an ultimate sense: not because each life in its own modest way, in its own infinitely small way as it were, shares in producing the course of the world and in fashioning its physiognomy as a whole, but because these lives constitute its necessary condition, that without which history would not exist. Inasmuch as it constitutes the necessary condition for history, life, although it belongs to history, does not belong to it and must be understood as metahistorical and as that heterogeneous ground with respect to the positive nature of the development it founds, that is, as metaphysics. There is no such thing as history; there are only historical individuals. Moreover, individuals are historical in two ways: first, insofar as they belong to history and as their actions constitute its course; and second, insofar as they do not belong to it, insofar as, subordinated to the power of life in them, they found history. “Historical” has, therefore, two senses designating in turn the infinitely varied content of history but also, and above all, its ground. The second meaning, where it is no longer a question of factitious history but of its a priori necessary condition, is the essential meaning; it aims at a “reality” which is not what occurs but which brings it about that “what occurs” can occur, must occur, and actually does occur. It is to this essential meaning that the “presupposition” of history which Marx has in mind refers, that which denotes the radical concept of the “historical fact” as an originary founding fact (fait proto-fondateur) of history, as opening the field of history in its prior possibility. After having stated that life as the presupposition of history implies drinking, eating, and the production of material life, and after having designated this production as the “first historical act,” Marx adds, “and indeed this is an historical act, a fundamental condition of all history.”19
That life constitutes the fundamental condition of all history, its a priori necessary condition or, as we may again say, its transcendental condition, that it is, consequently, to be understood as a metahistorical condition, in no way signifies that it is situated outside of history. Transcendental condition signifies a condition immanent in everything it makes possible, an internal condition, an essence, and, finally, a substance. Life, the transcendental condition for history, enters in at every point of this history and in every instance makes it possible. Right after having asserted that the production of life is “indeed . . . an historical act, a fundamental condition of all history,” Marx’s text adds, “which today, as thousands of years ago, must daily and hourly be fulfilled merely in order to sustain human life.” The originary founding nature of life, however, characterizes all of its determinations, need, production—precisely— and labor. “The labor-process ... is human action with a view to the production of use-values, appropriation of natural substances to human requirements; it is the necessary condition for effecting exchange of matter between man and Nature; it is the everlasting Nature-imposed condition of human existence, and therefore is independent of every social phase of that existence, or rather, is common to every such phase.”20 The determinations of life, however, as transcendental determinations of history, do not determine it indiscriminately; they prescribe for it their own proper order of determination as an order which is itself transcendental. It is because in life need precedes activity that, on the level of factitious history, this precedence itself takes on an historical form, the form of an actual succession. Still in Capital, Marx says: “. . . ever since the first moment of his appearance on the world’s stage, man always has been, and must still be a consumer, both before and while he is producing.”21
What, precisely, is the meaning of the immanence in history of its metahistorical necessary condition? How can life at one and the same time belong to history and not belong to it? For life, belonging to history means being in every instance in it, at every moment or rather in every individual the condition for an effective production, a production made necessary by this life and for it. Not belonging to history means: this condition for all history is not something that could be submitted to history, carried along and finally abolished by it; it is not an historical state, that is to say, precisely, a state of things in the process of transformation, slated, finally, to disappear. The repetition alike unto itself, against the background of its own proper essense, of individual phenomenological life and of its fundamental determinations, the indefinite repetition of desire, of need and of labor—this is what, as the always new and always present condition, allows there to be a history. That the necessary condition for history is individual phenomenological life, this means further that this condition is not a formal condition, which would be incapable of displaying reality in itself, compelled to find reality outside of itself and to receive it, tracing out no more than the empty form of this possible reception. Quite the opposite: the necessary condition for history is already a real condition, it is reality itself in its most elementary and most essential determination, namely, to be specific, life in the positivity of its phenomenological actuality. More real than history is that which makes it possible. It is against the background of the absolute ontological reality of its necessary condition that history is itself real.
It is therefore reality itself, absolute ontological reality which, as the necessary condition for history, is and must be understood as metahistory. Metahistory, consequently, is the theory of this reality, the theory of the necessary condition for history. The theory of the necessary condition for history is not history, the factitious science of the events that constitute the course of the world, historical science (Historie) which has historical reality (Geschichte) as its object. The theory of the necessary condition for history is the theory of history itself, it is Philosophy. As the a priori theory of the a priori necessary condition for history, philosophy considered here as the philosophy of history, is itself metahistorical; it has, precisely, nothing to do with history, whether history is understood as historical reality or as the science of this reality. The implicit confusion of philosophy and history or, again, the explicit attempt to identify them is meaningless a priori. Consequently, it is meaningless to reduce philosophy to an ideology, that is, to a moment of history, to a theoretical ensemble which itself is part of a factitious historical formation and which can be explained in terms of it. It is equally meaningless to identify philosophy with historical science; for example, consider this statement by Gramsci: “The identity of history and philosophy is immanent in historical materialism.”22
Because the production of life is the condition for all possible history, it is not an historical condition in the ordinary sense of the word, that is, a condition for a particular historical event, a condition which itself would belong to history and be situated within it preceding this event and determining it as its cause, a cause of the same nature as the effect and like it destined to occur and then to disappear. Thus when Marx says that “the capitalist mode of production—its basis being wage-labor . . . can assume greater dimensions and achieve greater perfection only where there is available in the country a quantity of money sufficient for circulation,”23 it is obvious that such a “condition” for capitalism is itself a product of history, that this cause is also an effect. The capitalist system presupposes a good many other conditions, all of which, however, are found to be with respect to history in the same situation as the growth of a sufficient money supply, that is, in the situation of belonging to history, of being historical conditions and not conditions for history. For example, the capitalist system still presupposes the separation of the worker from the means of production. The worker’s appearance on the market as an exchangeable commodity, the fact that he offers himself indeed implies that he has nothing else to offer, that he lacks any instrument of production. This situation, which constitutes the most important historical premise for capitalism, is, however, no more than an historical situation which itself is the result of earlier conditions. It results from the seizure of land by the large landowners who, by taking it away from the peasants, forced them out—proletarians with neither home nor hearth—onto the labor market. This rural exodus itself resulted from replacing cultivated fields with grazing land, which brought a greater profit and which necessitated the consolidation of large domains and required fewer laborers. All of these “conditions” for capitalism, which Marx describes at length, are obviously merely historical conditions which, once again, determine the course of history but in no way constitute the necessary condition for history itself. This is why, just as these conditions belong to history, make up historical reality, the study of these conditions, their analysis, and the evaluation of their role and their importance is part of historical science, of the science that studies this reality but not of the philosophy of history which studies the necessary condition for this reality. It is not historical materialism, it is history as science which thematizes the “historical premise” of capitalism, for example, and Marx, to the extent that he pursues this thematics, is doing the work of an historian.
Other, more general, conditions which, moreover, seem to escape history insofar as they comply with the fundamental law of reiteration which defines the a priori are still, in reality, simply historical conditions. This is the case, for example, of the condition that is thought under the title of “class struggles.” “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.”24 “All hitherto existing society”: it happens that if we take a backward glance at the actual history of past societies, we are led to think that this history is dominated by conflicts between the groups which make up these societies. To this factitious history belongs class struggle as a character which is itself factitious. In “all hitherto existing society” it has been so. There is nothing to prove that this must be so. There exists no a priori condition which would make it have to be so. Marx intends, precisely, to show that factitious history commits itself to a different path. The statement “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” is an assertoric proposition which states a property of completed history and which, as such, belongs to the empirical science of this factitious science. It is external in relation to the apodictic content, which defines the necessary condition for all history in general. The theory of class struggles is foreign to “historical materialism.” Likewise, all the more specialized theories that relate to the more general theory—the theory of the proletariat, of revolution, etc.—even if these were correctly understood and were no longer considered in the light of the mythological conception of history which we have denounced, would nevertheless continue to lie outside the domain of the philosophy of history and of the thematic proper to it. It is, precisely, the hypostasis of history as a universal reality, the comprehension of opposition and, finally, of struggle as belonging to the process of self-development of this universal and as required by this process, which have made people believe that opposition—precisely—struggle, class struggles were inscribed in the very possibility and in the essence of becoming and of “history” as such.
The opposition between history as science and the philosophy of history, between the history of historians on one side and, on the other, historical materialism, whose fundamental premises are indicated by Marx at the start of The German Ideology, becomes obvious if we compare the propositions, or rather the types of propositions which belong to these different “sciences” and which determine them. To the assertoric character of the propositions of history is opposed the apodicticity of the theoretical content of “historical materialism.” To the observation concerning class struggles in the history of past societies is opposed the thesis that history, all possible history inasmuch as it is grounded in individual phenomenological life, in a life which exists as need and as activity directed toward satisfying this need, is found necessarily to be a history of production and of consumption. And so, consequently, is any possible society. Of course, the radical opposition of the philosophy of history to history itself as science does not mean that such a philosophy has no relation to this history. This relation resides precisely in the fact that the philosophy of history elucidates the necessary conditions for history, opens the ontological dimension in which this history will unfold, marking out at the same time the thematic object of historical science. The determination of history a priori as the history of production, for example, belongs to the constitution of the field defining historical reality and, therefore, the theme of history as science. As a result, historical materialism does not simply impose upon the science of history a particular style of research, a type of problem, etc.; by defining its object a priori, at the same time it defines it in its specificity and constitutes it as the particular science that it is. Even before historical science becomes involved in its varied and, moreover, infinite investigations, it receives a share of the a priori belonging to historical materialism, the transcendental element which underlies each of its endeavors and which, removing it from the basic indetermination of an inquiry lacking any ground and any particular object, makes it efficacious and, above all, possible. The transcendental grounding of history both as reality and as historical science, this is finally what is meant by Marx’s thesis that history allows presuppositions.
Marx’s conception of history loses its apparently naïve character when it appears as the prior refutation of the Heideggerian interpretation of historically. It is true that an “historical” object—for example, a piece of furniture in a museum—can be understood only in relation to an historical “world” in which it once belonged.25 It is, however, the nature of this “world” that causes a problem. Does it allow itself to be reduced to the whole ensemble of projects, to the projects common to those who were the “inhabitants” of this world? But the specificity of these projects, which defines the specificity of a given historical world, can in no way be explained on the basis of the formal structure of the “project” in general, on the basis of the formal structure of historicality which is, in fact, reduced by Heidegger to the structure of time itself. What is involved is the movement by which existence, understood as transcendence, ecstatically moves beyond itself toward the finite horizon of the future in order to return, having run up against this horizon, from it back upon itself in such a way that this act of “returning back upon” opens up the dimension of the past in which existence discovers itself, an existence handed over to the world in order to die there. However, if in every instance the untiring activity of this movement ahead-of-itself toward the horizon of its death and of this return back-upon-itself uncovers a world, it is nevertheless incapable of founding the content of this world. The reason why the form of time is powerless to account for the content of history or, rather, for history itself must, however, be shown. It is precisely the initial presupposition of the project, the definition of existence as ekstasis, which renders incomprehensible the actual determinations which this existence always presents in reality and by virtue of which it engenders a determinant history, irreducible indeed to the colorless schema of self-projection and self-understanding. Only a philosophy which from the start makes a place for the positivity of life can account for both the possibility and the positivity of history, a philosophy which recognizes that what is at the origin is not a project but hunger, need, life as it is experienced in the actuality of the living present, in affectivity. Only that which is affective can have and, above all, can actually found a history. There is no history of the object, there is no history of the mind. Thus, before the project of feeding oneself, before the project of clothing oneself, there is cold, the subjective experience of discomfort; after the project, the concrete subjective activity through which life attempts to abolish its negative determinations, its “suffering.” Afterwards? To tell the truth, affectivity immediately determines action and is continued in it; the “project” as such is never more than a mediation which intervenes in accordance with the conditions of experience. In any case, it is in the determination of life that preoccupation finds its own determination; the possibility of defining an historical world by repeating the projects of those whose world it was necessarily refers back to the immediate prescriptions of life in them.
The irreducibility of existence—which founds history—to a project, the irreducibility of life to the transcendence of an ekstasis, puts into question the secret homogeneity which is established in Heidegger between historical reality and history as science and makes it impossible. According to the teaching of Sein und Zeit, in fact, it is because the Dasein of the historian is historical, permeated by the work of temporality, it is because, returning back upon itself starting from its finite future, Dasein in this “returning back upon” opens up the ontological dimension of the past that it is able, precisely, to enter into a relation with this past, to discover itself and to discover the other Dasein as having-been-there. The structure of having-been-there, “having been present,” is itself, however, nothing other than this projection toward a future and this return upon the self. This is why in understanding men of the past the historian understands their projects and the way in which they understand themselves in light of these projects. The ontological structure of the Dasein of the historian is homogeneous with the structure of the Dasein that he discovers. Ekstatic self-understanding defines both history as science and historical reality. But, for Marx, one cannot understand a society in light of the understanding which that society had of itself, and this is so not primarily because this understanding would be falsified or mystifying but for the more ultimate reason that the original life of the men who formed this society was not an understanding and does not permit itself to be defined in terms of one. It is because the life of the men who form a society, the life that produces history, insofar as it produces itself in the immanent movement of affectivity and of action, is not reducible to self-understanding in the development of temporal ekstasis that real history, which is this production of life, is not reducible to history as science, to the ekstatic understanding of oneself in the transcendence of the temporalization of temporality.
The radical heterogeneity of historical reality and of history as science includes the heterogeneity of the ultimate structure of being and expresses it. By relating history to its real presuppositions, to immanent life, Marx makes inevitable a radical mutation of all the concepts that are tied to it. Because history is no longer time, the development of original exteriority,26 it no longer signifies what this sort of development would satisfy, the birth of phenomenality, the unfolding of truth understood precisely as objectivity and as world—it is no longer the history of this truth, the history of mind. To say that history is not time, the ekstasis of a horizon, this also means that it no longer stands beyond the real as the empty place of its manifestation, beyond the living individuals who live it and who make it, who are this history; this means that history is no longer foreign to them. The reference of history to individual phenomenological life and to its concrete determinations finds its expression in the terminology employed by Marx, and this is all the more significant as it is the same terminology used at the same epoch—and not by chance—by Kierkegaard in The Concept of Anguish: history is no longer that of the mind; it has become the history of generations.27
The genealogy of the classes
The critique of the hypostatized social totality endowed as such with its own reality and specific effectiveness, the critique of the person, Society, takes the form in Marx of a reduction of that society into the classes that compose it and that constitute its real and determinant elements. In his polemic against Proudhon, who “gives the person, Society, the name of Prometheus, whose deeds he glorifies,” Marx said: “What then, ultimately, is this Prometheus resuscitated by M. Proudhon? It is society, social relations based on class antagonism.”28 Such is therefore the reality of society, the reality of the classes which compose it and which form at one and the same time its anatomy and its physiology, so that the “movement of society,” just like that of “history,” is in reality only a process resulting from the prior existence of these classes and of the struggle that sets them in opposition, a struggle which at times exists in a latent state in the background of “society” and at times manifests itself in an obvious fashion in a conscious and brutal confrontation.
However, to the extent that they enter into conflict, the classes do not explain only the structure of societies and their history. If, as has been stated, this history is always that of living individuals, the classes can determine history only if they first determine the individuals, so that it is not, in reality, these individuals who “make history,” who are its true “premise,” but instead, precisely, the classes, the individuals if one prefers, but in the situation and the determination conferred upon them by the class to which they belong.29 Such, then, is the concept of class, that of an ensemble, of a totality which alone is concrete and real, capable of being a principle of determination with respect to the vaster ensemble in which it is inscribed, namely a given society, but above all with respect to the individuals of which it is the class. This determination of the individual by the class to which he belongs is rigorous and, in a certain manner, radical; it signifies that an individual is what he is only in and through his belonging to a class, which class confers upon him the whole of its features, its social features at any rate. The latter, however, are essential; they concern and define his concrete and everyday existence as well as his way of thinking.
It was in an abrupt, biting, and, one might have thought, decisive manner that Marx had rejected the well-known concepts which we have just recalled and which together constitute one of the major themes of both traditional Marxism and its alleged renewal under the banner of “structuralism.” In the margin of the manuscript of The German Ideology Marx wrote: “With the philosophers pre-existence of the class.”30 Who are the “philosophers” who so absurdly affirm the primacy of the class in relation to the individuals who compose it? The context clearly indicates who they are. There is Stirner, there are all those whose thought constitutes the “German ideology” properly speaking, and the neo-Hegelians in general. And indeed the concept of class is an Hegelian concept, not because it is in fact found in Hegel,31 in particular in the Philosophy of Right on which Marx meditated at length, but because it presupposes in general an Hegelian-type ontology in which actual existence is defined by the objective totality and the participation in this totality. The objective totality which defines existence, the concrete totality out of which the individual draws his being is, doubtless, no longer the State, the unitary and homogeneous essence in which universal life circulates and is gathered together, nor is the individual any longer the citizen. But the determination of the “concrete” individual by the class which confers upon him its own proper characteristics and now constitutes his being, so that one must understand the individual on the basis of the class, is analogous to the determination of the citizen by the Hegelian State. In all cases an objective totality in which the ontological weight of reality is concentrated ordains with respect to the elements “which comprise it” but which are, in reality, simply its exemplars, not only the structure which governs their properties but, first and foremost, these properties themselves. This is what is explicitly denied by Marx’s text which lies opposite the marginal notation that we have just quoted: “The statement which frequently occurs with Saint Sancho that each man is all that he is through the state is fundamentally the same as the statement that the bourgeois is only a specimen of the bourgeois species; a statement which presupposes that the bourgeois class existed before the individuals constituting it.”32 This decisive affirmation by which the concept of class is dismissed along with that of the State and for the same ontological reason, namely the refusal to define reality as general, that is to say, as transcending individual reality, does not turn up here by chance in Marx’s writing. It can also be found in the polemic against Stirner, where it is a question of showing, this time with respect to private property, that it is impossible to explain an individual determination on the basis of anything other than individual life itself, on the basis that is of an alleged generic reality, whether it be that of the State or of the class. Against Stirner, Marx writes: “The transformation of private property into state property reduces itself, in the final analysis, to the idea that the bourgeois has possessions only as a member of the bourgeois species, a species which as a whole is called the state and which invests individuals with the fief of property. Here again the matter is put upside-down.”33
To set things back on their feet—to use an image of which Marx was fond—to reestablish reality and the true order of foundation of the determinations which are produced starting from reality is to provide a genealogy of the class as well as of the properties that define it. In the passage following the text we have just quoted, this genealogy is presented with the simplicity of a discourse that eliminates any possible equivocation: “In the bourgeois class, as in every other, it is only personal conditions that are developed into common and universal conditions. . . . .”34 And, still in The German Ideology: “. . . personal relations necessarily and inevitably develop into class relations and become fixed as such. . . .”35 The genealogy of the class does not simply reverse the traditional Marxist formulation according to which the class determines the individuals. By affirming on the contrary that the properties of the class are nothing other than those of the individuals that constitute it, than “personal conditions,” under its apparent simplicity, a metaphysics is concealed. In accordance with this metaphysics the reality of a social class is not proper to it, is not, strictly speaking, its reality, a generic reality. The reality of a social class is constituted by a set of determinations; the reality of these determinations lies in individual phenomenological life and here alone finds its possibility and its effectiveness. Social determinations are not simply “borrowed” from monadic subjective life, they are the determinations of this life, their substance is its substance, their particularity is its particularity, they are precisely its determinations, the modalities of its fulfillment or its nonfulfillment. Social determinations are determinations such as “getting up early or late,” “performing this or that action,” “doing this or that work”—a pleasant or disagreeable work—”being able to read, to learn” or “not being able to do so,” “feeling one way or another,” etc. Determinations such as these are not individual simply in the sense that they are comprehensible solely on the basis of the subjective life of an individual but for the further reason that they can “exist” only within this life, within an essentially monadic life, that they are in every instance the determinations of a given particular individual. Social determination is not possible unless there exists an individual, not so much to “incarnate” it, to be its “bearer,” its “exemplar,” or even to provide it with the place of its “possible realization”— this would be, precisely, to reestablish the ideological”preexistence” of the class—but rather in order to constitute the original ontological reality of this determination, in order to be, as this “determinate” individual, the living, singular and concrete, existing and actual determination, for which the “social” determination is just another name.
The fact that a social determination is always in reality that of a given individual, a singular determination situated within a monadic flow and belonging to it as “its own” does not, of course, signify that it therefore is or can be the determination of a single individual. Quite the opposite, a determination is social, belongs to a class, defines it and constitutes it only if it is lived by several, by “many individuals.” “Personal conditions,” said Marx, “have simply become common and general conditions.” What does “general,” “becoming general,” signify here? For a personal condition, becoming general in no way signifies changing oneself, modifying one’s being; the status of this condition is not transformed because of the fact that it henceforth appears as the lot of “several.” A personal condition does not cease to be personal at the moment it becomes general; this becoming is completely external to it and in no way affects it, in no way changes the monadic structure of experience with which it is fused, nor does it change the specific content of this experience. Nor could one say, at least if one wishes to speak with any rigor, that such a content is found in several individuals because, precisely, this is not “the same”; the contents of experience which belong to a “living individual” are as unique as his very life. To say that personal conditions become general therefore means that similar contents of experience are produced in individuals placed in similar circumstances.
Is the class nothing but the sum of determinations whose reality lies in each instance in a given individual? Is its unity limited to the formal and empty unity of a mere collection, in the external assembling together of a multiplicity of elements which, in the insurmountable dispersion, concentrate in themselves all possible ontological actuality? Is what is real, therefore, simply a scattering of individuals of whom one knows only that they do and think more or less the same thing, but in such a way that this knowledge exists only for us, for an outside observer, while each “member,” so to speak, of this class lives as if buried in his activity, lost in thoughts that are but his own? The very interesting theory that Marx develops concerning the French peasant class during the first half of the nineteenth century replies explicitly to these questions. Within the framework of a general analysis of the political situation in France at this time, it is a question of understanding the causes that make the December 2 coup d’état possible, and it appears that the peasant class constitutes, precisely, the principal force supporting Napoleon III. In what, then, does this force consist? Precisely in a scattering of individuals without any tie among themselves: peasants owning small portions of land. Without any tie, that is, other than similar individual living conditions, namely the fact that each family farms a portion of land by its own means, without any division of labor except that which arises spontaneously among the family members—that, consequently, “each individual peasant family is almost self-sufficient . . . and therefore obtains its means of life more through exchange with nature than through intercourse with society.”36 Between these families as a result there exists no relation which is not strictly local and limited, no relation on the national or political level. . . the identity of their interests fails to produce a feeling of community, national links, or a political organization.”37 The original reality of the class is thus neither a community, nor an organization, nor a unity; it cannot be understood as a totality, as a general reality that is concrete and real by itself, autonomous, internal with respect to the members of the class; on the contrary, it is reduced to the individuals that already compose it despite their absolute dispersion. The historical description of small peasant proprietors in France in the nineteenth century resembles an eidetic analysis;* it strikingly confirms the ontological theory of the genealogy of the class as finding its reality in the isolated and determinate individuals who, properly speaking, constitute it.38
One finds in Marx, it is true, a second concept of class, in which the latter is defined, on the contrary, by its unity, its true unity, which is no longer the simple adding together of dispersed and independent elements. This sort of unity is produced when the various individuals living under similar conditions become conscious of the similarity of their conditions and represent this to themselves. The representation of similar subjective conditions is at one and the same time that of common objective characteristics, of objective characteristics which together form the concept of a class.39 The second concept of class that arises in Marx’s thought expresses the moment when a real class attains its own concept. The unity of the class which then appears and which can serve to define it is actually itself defined with the utmost clarity; this is the ideal unity of a concept. Rather than being substituted for the original reality of the class, this sort of unity presupposes, on the contrary, the radical multiplicity of living individuals and their concrete determinations. The objective unity of the class rests upon its subjective reality for the reason that it can neither found nor determine the latter but instead is itself determined by it. The theory that the foundation of the objective unity of the classes is to be sought in their original subjective reality is part of a general theory of ideology, which will be presented later. Let us simply say here that the theory of ideology will show that the possibility for a class to become conscious of itself as such resides in a potentiality included within and belonging to subjective life, the potentiality for producing a self-representation. The concepts of the various classes are not a priori elements given to reflection; they do not fall out of the heavens, nor can one understand them as ideal variations of an ideal reality—society, structure, any organized complex, etc. It is rather the individuals themselves who form the concepts of their own existence; “class consciousness,” consciousness of a given “class” is their own consciousness, the consciousness that they have of themselves. Naturally, this process of becoming-conscious takes place gradually and is subject to a wide range of circumstances. Because it remains, nevertheless, a continuing possibility of subjective life, the complete concept of class necessarily includes, in addition to the concrete determinations of this life, a process of becoming-conscious at the end of which the class then exists as an ideal reality.
The theory of the genealogy of the classes must therefore make a very clear distinction between: (1) the original ontological reality of the class as an ensemble of subjective determinations, and (2) based upon the latter, the representation of these determinations, “class consciousness.” This consciousness alone confers upon the members of the class a true unity, an ideal unity, one which, nevertheless, is intended and desired by them. Marx explicitly distinguished between the original concept and the complete concept of class when he wrote in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte: “In so far as millions of families live under economic conditions of existence that separate their mode of life, their interests and their cultural formation from those of the other classes, they form a class. In so far as these small peasant proprietors are merely connected on a local basis, and the identity of their interests fails to produce a feeling of community, national links, or a political organization, they do not form a class.”40 The question of knowing whether the class is a political or simply a social concept can be elucidated only in light of the distinction that has just been made. The complete concept of class, which implies the class’s becoming-conscious of itself, develops into a political concept when this becoming-conscious reaches its term, when the class thinks of itself and intends itself as a unity, when it thinks and acts as such.
The distinction between the original concept and the complete concept of class explains the rhythm of history; more precisely, it explains the difference that arises between the history of real classes and that of political classes. Although its possibility lies in principle in subjective life, there is no properly political form, no form which gives rise to the thematic intention of a general interest, except under certain conditions, for example, when life becomes “unbearable,” but this intervention can be quite sudden and brutal. The process of becoming-conscious offers a striking contrast with the slow formation of real classes; there then occurs an acceleration of history which is simply that of these classes which have become political. In The Class Struggles in France, Marx writes: “. . . the different classes in French society had to count the epochs of their development in weeks as they had previously counted them in half-centuries.”41
The distinction between the original concept and the complete concept of class, however important it may be, must not give rise to a misunderstanding. By becoming political a class does not change its nature; its reality is not transformed into an ideal reality but continues to be constituted by individual subjective determinations. To say that a class acquires a political signification means: among all those determinations which by their essence are individual, one must now recognize the existence of a new determination, namely the intention of the general as such, the consciousness of a class interest, but in such a way that intending the general in this way is in each case the subjective intention of a specific individual. The coherence of the class, its concrete unity, is in no way constituted by the ideal unity that is intended but by the fact that all the individuals who constitute this class—at least a certain number among them—realize this intention and act as a result in compliance with what it prescribes, acting with the aim of this ideal unity which they represent to themselves, with the aim of the “general interest.”
As the 1843 manuscript has decisively shown, not only does the notion of the general imply a reference, that is to say, not only can the general interest be defined solely on the basis of all of the individuals of whom it is the interest, the individual interest, but the consciousness of this interest and the action aimed at realizing it are in every instance those of these individuals themselves. The coherence of a class—whether with respect to its original coherence, that is, the similarity of its living subjective determinations, needs, work, etc., or with respect to its political coherence, that is, once again, the concordance of the actions which aim thematically at the common interest and are ordered on the basis of the representation of its ideal unity—is in all these cases the coherence of the individuals who constitute it, and this is why the class unceasingly makes and unmakes itself. Finally, the determinations which form the ontological reality of a “class,” including the intentionalities that are directed toward the universal, whose transcendence is never other than that of a correlate, the correlate of an intention which is of its very essence subjective, are precisely all subjective determinations that are immanent to the flow of individual life and belong to it.
Is not the ontological interpretation of the reality of the social determinations of a class—considered originally and of their essence subjective—rendered problematic when it appears that the class, on the contrary, is what is set over against the individual, what is made autonomous before him, what stands before him only to place constraints upon him and to determine him? There are numerous texts to this effect. After having declared, decisively it is true, that “individuals have always proceeded from themselves,” Marx corrects this by adding: “But in the course of historical development . . . social relations inevitably take on an independent existence.”42 And again: “The illusory community in which individuals have up till now combined always took on an independent existence in relation to them. . . .”43 That this “independence” is another name for objectivity is still evident when, in the same passage, Marx speaks of “the transformation . . . of personal powers (relations) into material powers. . . .” This objectivity of the class presupposes, in its turn, the dependence of the individual in its regard: “On the other hand, the class in its turn assumes an independent existence as against the individuals, so that the latter find their conditions of life predetermined, and have their position in life and hence their personal development assigned to them by their class, thus becoming subsumed under it.”44 In the Preface to Capital Marx goes so far as to treat individuals as “the personifications of economic categories”: “My standpoint, from which the evolution of the economic formation of society is viewed as a process of natural history, can less than any other make the individual responsible for relations whose creature he socially remains, however much he may subjectively raise himself above them.”45
As we find once again here the themes which were to become classic in Marxism, it is important to recall Marx’s central intuition, namely that economic and social structures find their actuality and their law in individual subjectivity. This is why, in order to dispel any misunderstanding, it is advisable at this time to cite, in contrast to the passage from the Preface to Capital that we have just quoted and which is too often quoted out of its context, a context that is none other than Capital itself, along with other similar texts—for example, the following: “Every individual capital forms . . . but an individualized fraction, a fraction endowed with individual life, as it were, of the aggregate social capital, just as every individual capitalist is but an individual element of the capitalist class”46—this other passage, also taken from Book Two of Capital. This text, however, is located on a more essential level, no longer on that where economic structures are already constituted and hence presupposed so that one is able to represent to oneself the “relation” these structures maintain with the individuals which they subsume, but on the deeper level of reality for analysis, where it is a question of the genealogy and of the essence of these structures themselves: “That which is true of a commodity produced in some individual industrial establishment by any individual laborer is true of the annual product of all branches of business as a whole. That which is true of the day’s work of some individual productive laborer is true of the year’s work set in motion by the entire class of productive laborers.”47 However, these decisive indications, in which the socioeconomic configurations of the whole are unequivocally carried back to the particular activity of an individual considered in isolation as if this were the source of their structure and their history, are premature.
With respect to the problem with which we are more directly concerned here, that of knowing how the determinations which are held to be those of the individual himself can indeed be imposed upon him by an “objective power,” let us first of all note that the formulation of this problem cannot be ascribed to the inadequate set of postulates presented by a philosophy of subjectivity; this problem is Marx’s very problem, it is formulated by him, and the problematic that recognizes this problem as its own confirms its fidelity to the thought proper to Marx and to its implicit or avowed presuppositions: “How is it that personal interests always develop, against the will of individuals into class interests, into common interests which acquire independent existence in relation to the individual persons. . . ? How is it that in this process of private interests acquiring independent existence as class interests the personal behavior of the individual is bound to be objectified [sich versachlichen], estranged [sich entfremden], and at the same time exists as a power independent of him and without him, created by intercourse, and is transformed into social relations. . . ?”48
Let us now make a second remark which has a decisive ontological bearing on our problem: the fact that determinations must finally appear as independent of the individual, as “opposed” to him, as powers that determine him and place constraints upon him, in no way signifies that such determinations cease to be his own, cease to be the modalities of his own life, that they cease to belong to the sphere of subjective existence. Despite the fact that it is his own, is not this very existence, the existence of the individual, independent of him in general and in principle? It is true that Marx is not concerned with the metaphysical thesis which recognizes the groundlessness of life, the fact, which constitutes its essence and which may serve to define it, that life never acts as its own ground but experiences itself, on the contrary, in its radical passivity with respect to itself, experiences its own coming into itself and its growth as something that does not depend upon it. Marx is concerned with social determinations such as “going to work in the factory,” “performing certain specific gestures,” etc. Although they are imposed upon the individual, these sorts of determinations are nonetheless modalities of the individual’s own life and, like it, are subjective. The idea that the independence of social determinations with respect to the individual can signify their objectivity in the philosophical sense of the word, in its proper and strict sense, in the sense of a reality transcending the immanent flow of phenomenological life and, as a result, belonging to the outside world and finding in it its power and its constraining force—this is an absurdity. If they were situated in the objective universe, social determinations would constitute no more than a spectacle spread out before the individual; far from being able to affect him, they would leave him totally indifferent. It is precisely because social determinations are subjective that they strike the individual at the center of his life.
It remains the case that these social determinations, insofar as they are, for example, the determinations of a line of work, are imposed upon the individual.49 Marx attempted to think of the determination of the social activity of individuals on the level of reality and not on that of ideological verbiage. That this determination is grounded in the individuals themselves, in what they do in order to produce their life and in the way in which they do it, that social activity is nothing other than this immediate living activity,—this is what is explicitly stated by the thesis according to which the production of social relations can be carried back to the production by individuals of their own life and is identical to this. “Monsieur Proudhon has very well grasped the fact that men produce cloth, linen, silks, and it is a great merit on his part to have grasped this small amount! What he has not grasped is that these men, according to their abilities, also produce the social relations amid which they prepare the cloth and linen.”50
The hypostasis of social relations and the alleged explanation of individual activity in terms of the latter are no longer possible when the genealogy of these relations is explicitly supplied by and carried back, precisely, as to its place of birth, to individual activity itself. To the extent that individuals produce their social relations, which at every moment of their history constitute the essential part of “historical circumstances,” the individuals are the cause of these relations. After having stated that the conditions under which individuals relate to one another are conditions belonging to their individuality, Marx added: “. . . conditions under which alone these definite individuals, living under definite relations, can produce their material life and what is connected with it, are thus the conditions of their self-activity and are produced by this self-activity .”51
The fact that social conditions are produced by the activity of individuals does not, however, prevent them from being presented at the same time as the conditions for this activity, as the forms in which this sort of activity is realized. Does not the latter, after having been presented as the cause of these forms and social conditions, ever appear as their effect? Can the difficulty be dispelled by declaring that individuals are at one and the same time the cause and the effect of the conditions in which they live, or yet again, as Marx does, that “circumstances make men just as much as men make circumstances”?52 In the same way, in reference to the historical genesis of the bourgeois class, Marx said: “The citizens created these conditions insofar as they had torn themselves free from feudal ties, and were in their turn created by them insofar as they were determined by their antagonism to the feudal system which they found in existence.”53
Does one escape from the circle of the reciprocal causality of individuals and conditions by declaring that individuals first of all instituted these conditions—for example, the bourgeois in their struggle against feudalism—and that they were then determined by them? But how is one to conceive of this subsequent determination of individuals by social conditions if the myth of their objectivity has been rejected, if they are nothing “external” to individuals, if all causal relation is abolished along with the exteriority of its terms? Does the schema of reciprocal causality indeed suffice to exorcise an exteriority of this sort? Is it not instead the final expression of this exteriority? The sense of the texts that conform, whether explicitly or not, to this schema of reciprocal causality is clear at any rate. The aim of the problematic is always the same, whether in the case of the polemic against Stirner which we have discussed, or of that levelled at the true socialists, who cannot help but establish an external relation between society and individuals, or whether, more generally and more conclusively, in the case of the critique of eighteenth-century materialism, of the naïve belief that one must first change the whole of social conditions, that is to say, change the education given to individuals so that they are themselves changed—a critique which musters its full strength in the third thesis on Feuerbach: “The materialist doctrine concerning the changing of circumstances and upbringing forgets that circumstances are changed by men and that it is essential to educate the educator himself. This doctrine must, therefore, divide society into two parts, one of which is superior to society.” By rejecting the transcendence of social conditions, that is, precisely, their exteriority—and doing so in order to think their immanence, “the coincidence of the changing of circumstances and of human activity or self-changing,” as the third thesis continues—does one not in the same stroke reject the concept of causality, of which reciprocal causality is only the most recent variant?
This rejection is effective when the determination of the social life of individuals is no longer presented as the effect of an external cause—even if this cause were itself an effect—of an objective power which does not exist, but as a synthesis which takes place within individual life, a passive synthesis, analogous to that which can be found, for example, in all perception. The individual finds the conditions for his activity, he finds his activity itself as an activity already performed by others and which offers itself to him so that he can engage in it in his turn; he finds it precisely inasmuch as he performs it himself, inasmuch as it is his own life, and so inasmuch as it would be nothing outside himself, nothing that would determine him from outside. Marx attempted to conceive of a situation such as this when, as we have seen, he represented history as a succession of generations within which each generation, and consequently each individual, receives the conditions of its social existence, conditions which result from the activity of the preceding generation and yet which are nothing but the activity of the present generation, an activity to which it is submitted but which is, nevertheless, its own activity.54 The fact that in this transmission from one generation to the next of the social conditions of existence which constitute the “circumstances” what is in question is always the concrete activity of individuals, an activity which is repeated by those belonging to the succeeding generation, so that in this way the reality of these conditions never ceases to be that of the individuals themselves, is confirmed again in the text of the letter to Annenkov, dated December 28, 1846: “Because of this simple fact that every succeeding generation finds itself in possession of the productive forces acquired by the preceding generation, which serve it as the raw material for new production, a coherence arises in human history, a history of humanity takes shape. . . . Hence it necessarily follows that the social history of men is never anything but the history of their individual development. . . .” 55
Conceived of in the light of the succession of generations and as “transmitted” from one to the next, social conditions have lost all possible objectivity, since at whatever level they are grasped in history, in every instance they disappear completely within the immanence of individual activities. One must not believe, therefore, that the first generation creates the social conditions to which the following generation is then subjected. In the first place, this cannot be so because no generation creates social conditions, as if it were not itself in the position of finding existing social conditions, as if “creating” these conditions were to mean positing them outside oneself in the exteriority of a thing existing in itself, as an objective structure which would determine the following generation. There is not a before of causality and an after of passivity, but instead every generation finds itself in the same situation as all the others, and so does every individual: each is the creator of social relations to the very extent to which he suffers them, to the extent to which he performs the activity that is his own. The social condition is a heritage; there is no break in the process, no transcendence by which to reintroduce causality but only, as has been said, a repetition in which each life re-creates the social relation to the extent to which it realizes once again the activity that was once that of another life. Here again Marx’s text shines with the light of philosophical evidence: “. . . it was, therefore, precisely the personal, individual behavior of individuals, their behavior to one another as individuals, that created the existing relations and daily reproduces them anew ”56
Beyond the conception of history as the succession of generations and as repetition, an essential problematic in Marx will now establish that the social determination of individuals must be conceived of on the basis of the individuals themselves, on the basis of subjectivity and of the structure proper to it, that is, the structure of the division of labor.
The division of labor
If classes are produced, if, far from being an ultimate principle of explanation, they must first themselves be explained, and if this explanation can be nothing other than the theory of their production and, consequently, of their disappearance as well, the theory of their genealogy, then the division of labor presents itself precisely as the ultimate sphere upon which this genealogy can be based, as the ground of all social classes, past, present, and, possibly, to come. This is why the critique of the division of labor has nothing to do with a simple ethical or existential “critique,” because it is the unveiling of the origin of the fundamental determinations in their very being, determinations which, in their turn, constitute social determinations, the “classes.”
First of all, Marx explicitly situated the origin of social classes in the division of labor, an origin which is not, of course, historical but which is to be taken in the sense of an essence and a ground. The first division of labor, properly speaking, is that which occurs between material labor and intellectual labor.57 Now, it is precisely this division which founds the first great social distinction, that between town and country.58 Stressing the importance of this opposition that dominates history, placing on one side the concentration of the population, of needs, of production, and of capital, and on the other side, dispersion and isolation, Marx declares: “The antagonism between town and country ... is the most crass expression of the subjection of the individual under the division of labor, under a definite activity forced upon him.” But this is not all: the division of labor spreads little by little, and along with it begin to appear a wide number of social distinctions and oppositions, the separation of production from commerce with the formation of a particular class of merchants, a separation which, in turn, brings about a specialization in production among the various towns, followed by a greater division of labor within each production branch, the organization of activities within the shop, within the factory, and, finally, within heavy industry. The great types of society—patriarchal society, caste society, feudal society, corporative society, etc.—are defined on the basis of the forms that the division of labor takes in each one.59 It is due to the division of labor that the personal conditions of activity take on the aspect of objective conditions forced upon the individual.60 And, finally, it is this division of labor that determines the various forms of ownership, so that the latter can be abolished only by suppressing the division of labor.61
If the division of labor constitutes the origin of all social formations, of their distinctions and of their determinations, if it founds ownership and along with it, as Marx again states, the contradiction between private interest and the general interest and, on an even more essential level, the possibility of exchange, that is to say, of the market economy, and, finally, of capitalism, and if socialism has as its principal goal the suppression of the division of labor, then the question arises: what then is the division of labor; in what does this decisive and ultimate phenomenon consist?
It should be noted that when he approaches thematically the problem of the nature of the division of labor—and this is the case in his polemic against Proudhon—Marx rejects straightaway the idea that this division of labor might be likened to a law, a category, that is to say in the final analysis, to a structure capable of determining reality, of accounting, precisely, for its determinations. The division of labor does not exist. The reduction of what is called the “division of labor” to the unity of a category or a law is identified by Marx with its reduction to a concept, to an idea, and, finally, to a word. To the ideal and ultimately verbal unity of the division of labor is opposed its reality. The reality of the division of labor, which Marx conceives of in opposition to its concept, is presented in the form of an actual plurality—the forms of the division of labor are multiple and diverse—and, in the same stroke, in an historical form. It is this plurality of the concrete forms taken by the division of labor throughout the course of history which Marx opposes to Proudhon’s conceptual interpretation.62
In The Poverty of Philosophy, as in all of Marx’s subsequent works, the reference to history signifies, generally speaking, the reference to reality. For, in accordance with the way in which its concept is divided, history is no longer the self-development of an autonomous totality but that of individuals. The reality of the concrete historical forms of the division of labor is that of the individuals themselves. It is starting from the reality of the individual that the specificity of the division of labor is defined. Doubtless, Marx’s analysis may seem here to follow that of Proudhon, who envisaged the “advantages” and the “drawbacks” of the division of labor. Advantages and drawbacks for whom? For the individual, no doubt. But this is precisely a consequence of the division of labor, the effect of a law, of a system, and the individuals—what they are—represent, precisely, this effect. The reversal of the Proudhonian concept is radical in Marx because it is no longer the division of labor which, as a preexisting law or even as a structure, would determine the reality of the individuals subjected to it; it is, on the contrary, the reality of these individuals which defines, which is the division of labor, so that the analysis of the latter amounts to the phenomenological elucidation of individual subjective activity and is henceforth indistinguishable from it. It is no longer a question of the ethical or practical consequences for the individuals of a given society of a phenomenon which, of its essence, is different from them. It is the essence of a phenomenon which, in reality, is exhausted in monadic subjectivity and in the determinations proper to it. The analysis of the different forms taken by the division of labor is in every instance that of a given subjectivity.
Let us consider the division of labor in manufacture. It replaces that observed in the workshop, which consisted essentially in assembling together in the same spot a wide number of workers with different skills. This is why the division of labor in the workshop only reproduced that which preceded it in the organization of the guilds; this means that the activity of each individual remained what it had been in the exercise of his specific craft. Thus it is the nature of this individual subjective activity that defines the nature of the division of labor in the workshop. And it is precisely because this individual activity is changed when the workshop becomes a factory, manufacture properly speaking, that the industrial division differs from the division of labor in the workshop as such. In what does this difference consist? It consists in the fact that the individual worker, who up until then performed in the exercise of his craft a whole series of diverse and coherent activities leading to an intended result, now sees his personal task limited to just one of these activities. The task of performing the other activities is now the job of other individuals, each of whom is, however, placed in the same situation, each specialized in performing one small operation and, finally, in making one single and self-same monotonous and indefinitely repeated action. When one speaks of the “division of labor,” one is, in fact, thinking today of the division of the manufacture, to the situation in which labor that was originally synthesized as a result of the aim pursued and which is nothing other than the unity of the object produced is, on the contrary, divided, broken up, parceled out so that in place of this synthetic labor one henceforth finds “piecemeal labor.” In what, exactly, does this division consist?
It has no objective meaning. Objectively, the labor required to manufacture a product still consists in a plurality of different activities which contribute to the intended result; it naturally divides itself among these various activities. Objectively, labor has always been divided. Thus it is not this objective division of labor, its decomposition into different processes, which is intended by the concept of the division of labor, of its industrial division, for example. The division of labor concerns the fact that the diverse activities that constitute synthetic labor are no longer performed by the same individual but by different individuals, in such a way that, as has been said earlier, one individual no longer performs any more than one of these partial activities. It is only at this moment that labor is divided. The division of labor is its division among different individuals. In what does this new division consist?
It has in itself no objective meaning. Of course, if one places oneself in the superficial perspective which consists in looking at things from outside, one can easily imagine that the division of labor in the sense in which it is now understood as the fact of entrusting to different individuals the different activities of a global work is itself something objective, a fact to be precise, and one which is, moreover, observable by all. But this illusion is dissipated if one actually considers the reality of the labor “objectively” divided in this way. This reality is exhausted in the reality of the partial activities that constitute it, in the reality of the individual subjectivities of which these activities are the concrete determinations. It is within each of these subjectivities that one must place oneself if one is to grasp the reality of divided labor, the reality of its division. It then appears that the reality of the division of labor is nothing other than the division of this subjectivity, than the division of the individual himself.
Marx explicitly posited: (1) that the division of labor has nothing to do with the simple decomposition of an objective process into partial processes of the same nature and with respect to which it would be the recomposition, the synthesis; (2) that this decomposition of global labor into the sum of the partial activities of which it is composed is a division of labor only inasmuch as these partial activities are performed by different individuals; and (3) that, as a result, the intended phenomenon designates nothing other than the state of a given subjectivity, which henceforth is forced repeatedly to perform a “fractional operation,” and that in this fundamental reference to a determinate subjectivity, the division of labor, stripped of any objective meaning, unrelated to the milieu of exteriority, definitely irreducible to any “objective law,” in fact signifies and presupposes the division of this subjectivity itself, the division of the individual. This is what is stated in this exceedingly dense text: “Not only is the detail work distributed to the different individuals, but the individual himself is made the automatic motor of a fractional operation. ”63
How exactly could the individual, who is undivided and indivisible, be broken up, divided? And certainly Marx understands the division of labor as harming the very being of the individual: “it converts the laborer into a crippled monstrosity”;64 it “cuts down the laborer”;65 “it attacks the individual at the very roots of his life.”66 The division of labor is an illness befalling life, and this illness is so serious that it necessarily, or so it seems, leads to death. And Marx takes as his own these words of Urquhart: “To subdivide a man is to execute him, if he deserves the sentence, to assassinate if he does not. . . . The subdivision of labor is the assassination of a people.”67
Generally speaking, to divide is to break the unity of a prior totality; division can be comprehended only on the basis of this totality, which it presupposes before the “elements,” thereafter “separated out,” are given. But, as we have seen, in Marx the division of labor has no objective meaning, and neither does the totality to which it is applied. The totality that constitutes the ontological presupposition of the “division” of the division of labor is monadic subjectivity itself. Let us therefore consider subjectivity, not the subjectivity of idealism, which includes no more than thought or “consciousness,” but the concrete subjectivity of the individual. It presents itself to us phenomenologically as a totality to the extent that it carries within itself, in the form of potentialities, a multiplicity of possible activities and intentionalities. Marx calls these subjective potentialities “personal powers.”68 Subjectivity as individual subjectivity is the subjective unity of these powers, which are themselves subjective, which define its original being and which are willed by it, which are its needs. To live is necessarily to develop these possibilities. In Capital Marx speaks of the “free-play of . . . bodily and mental activity.”69
Restored to the milieu in which it develops and from which it draws its ontological possibility and its actuality, elaborated within the framework of a phenomenology of subjective life and inscribed within it, the central phenomenon sighted by Marx’s analysis becomes crystal clear: in the division of labor the actualization of the subjective potentialities of individual life comes about in such a way that only one of these potentialities is found to be realized. The realization of one potentiality signifies at one and the same time the nonrealization of the others. This, it is true, is the situation of the life of subjectivity in general, but in life potentialities imply one another; the actualization of one brings about, leads to, the actualization of all the others, so that, as it follows its spontaneous course, life takes the form of the gradual unfolding of all its powers, even if this unfolding is necessarily in the form of a succession. In the division of labor, on the contrary, the actualization of one potentiality does exclude, not just in the instant but decisively and definitively, the realization of other powers of life instead of awakening them or giving rise to them. In life the positive character of an actualization resides not solely in the positive nature of the phenomenologically lived experience that it brings into being but also in that of the actualizations to come, whose realization is nevertheless directly tied to the living present, so that if we consider corporeal life, performing an action, for example, has its continuation in the unfolding of the powers that are connected to it by a series of correlations, which together constitute the very nature of the subjective body in such a way that it is the entire corporeal nature that comes into play, the entire body that is alive. In the division of labor these natural correlations play no role; the actualization of a potentiality is limited to reiteration, and this repetition prevents rather than brings about the realization of these potentialities, in the rigidity of an activity that is henceforth isolated from its living context, which is nothing but absolute subjectivity along with the totality of its potentialities. It is through this reduction of subjective life to the actualization of a single one of its potentialities that the division of labor in manufacture mutilates the worker to the point of reducing him to a portion of himself.70
What this division of labor signifies now becomes clear in the phenomenology of monadic life, and in it alone. However, does not the category of objectivity inevitably arise in connection with the essence of the division of labor when the question of the actualization of potentialities arises, the question of those potentialities that are not realized in a given individual but only outside him and, consequently, in exteriority? Marx strikingly described how in the manufacturing workshop all the forces of life and, in particular, its superior powers are lost by the worker and are now massed together as if to confront him, assuming a monstrous solidity in the form of a vast machine which contains within itself and seems to constitute the realization of the synthesis of which the workers are but mere elements determined by it. “The knowledge, the judgment, and the will, which, though in ever so small a degree, are practiced by the independent peasant or handicraftsman . . . these faculties are now required only for the workshop as a whole.”71 This paradoxical hypothesis concerning intelligence outside of the subjective life to which it originally belongs appears in a text by Thompson, quoted by Marx, in which knowledge becomes an instrument capable of being separated from labor and set in opposition to it.72 The fact that this hypostasis of the synthetic power of the intelligence outside of the individual locates the synthesis, precisely, in objectivity and in the mechanical form of the workshop is affirmed in this text of Fergusson, which is assumed by Marx for his own purposes: “Ignorance is the mother of industry. . . . Manufactures, accordingly, prosper most where the mind is least consulted, and where the workshop may ... be considered as an engine, the parts of which are men.”73 And this is why, as Marx himself notes, one seeks to employ “half-idiotic persons.” How this transfer of the power of synthesis into the mechanical process of the workshop, becoming one and the same with it, signifies an objectification would seem to be stated in the following text: “What is lost by the detail laborers, is concentrated in the capital that employs them. It is a result of the division of labor in manufactures, that the laborer is brought face to face with the intellectual potencies of the material process of production, as the property of another, and as a ruling power.”74 Objectivity, now understood in its ontological sense as exteriority, does in fact signify domination. Hegelian mastery finds its concrete expression when it designates, precisely, the exteriority of a power which is situated outside of individual subjectivity and which the individual has lost when this external power takes on the form of a gigantic machine: “The separation of the intellectual powers of production from the manual labor, and the conversion of those powers into the might of capital over labor, is, as we have already shown, finally completed by modern industry erected on the foundation of machinery. The special skill of each individual insignificant factory operative vanishes as an infinitesimal quantity before the science, the gigantic physical forces, and the mass of labor that are embodied in the factory mechanism and, together with that mechanism, constitute the power of the ‘master’.”75
It is not surprising that the problematic here encounters the question of the status of social determinations, of their “objectivity,” if it is true that the division of labor constitutes the ground of these determinations. The hypostasis outside of the individual of the subjective powers which, consequent upon the division of labor, are no longer realized in him, is precisely the formation of the social forces that are apparent in the workshop. “In manufacture, in order to make the collective laborer, and through him capital, rich in social productive power, each laborer must be made poor in individual productive powers.”76 A little farther on Marx says, still speaking of the division of labor, that “it increases the social productive power of labor . . . for the benefit of the capitalist instead of for that of the laborer.”77 Does not the objectivity of the social forces which are unequivocally situated outside of the individual subjectivity of the laborer, and this as a result of the division of labor, call into question in the most thoroughgoing way the radically subjective interpretation of the “division” that has been proposed?
But as the problematic of the classes has sufficiently shown, social determinations, the social forces of labor for example, do not for one instant cease to be individual. This decisive fact is seen to be evident in the ontological condition of the social as such, in the analysis of the division of labor. The subjective potentialities that are not actualized in the individual are realized outside of him. Of course. But just where is this realization to be located? Is objectivity as such the sphere in question; does it constitute the region of being in which this actualization is produced and in which it attains, precisely, being? This is just not so. The potentialities that are not actualized in a given individual are realized in another individual; a subjectivity is in every case the place of this realization. The division of labor does not signify the projection of certain activities into the inert milieu of objectivity in which no activity can take place, but instead their insertion into different monadic spheres. This essential passage from The German Ideology deserves our reflection: “The division of labor implies the possibility, nay the fact, that intellectual and material activity, that enjoyment and labor, production and consumption, devolve on different individuals.”78 The division between labor and rest, between labor and nonlabor, is only one consequence and, finally, only a particular case of the division of labor itself: in all cases, that which is external with respect to one subjectivity is internal with respect to another from which it draws its reality. The exteriority of the potentialities that are realized outside of an individual has no ontological signification. It is only for the individual, in his representation, that what is not realized within him is realized “outside of him.” The exteriority of the realization is simply that of its representation.
Can the objectivity of social forces be reduced to the appearance of a representation which is not of the same nature as the reality of these forces? Is the industrial mechanism of the workshop, with its multiple cogwheels and its complex assemblies, really simply a subjective representation? Does it not stand there facing the laborer inside the shed which is filled by its irrefutable mass? From this it would then follow that the various activities which are separated, but also unified, by the division of labor are, precisely, unified and coordinated in the objective process which is the result of the interplay of the machines, a process in which each participates in his modest way, performing that share of the work allotted to him by the mechanism as a whole. This is Proudhon’s thesis which is explicitly refuted by Marx. Indeed, according to Proudhon, the machine would be the recomposition of divided labor, its synthesis as opposed to its analysis. To which Marx replies: “Nothing is more absurd than to see in machinery the antithesis of the division of labor, the synthesis restoring unity to divided labor.”79 What makes this absurd? The fact that the machine is objective, as are its parts. The machine is the combination of a certain number of instruments of labor which, when joined together, permit the execution of complex processes—these processes, these instruments and the machine, which is indeed their synthesis, all belong in and of themselves to the dimension of spatial objectivity and find their being there. If we hold that global synthetic labor cannot be identified with the machine, any more than the fragmented elements of labor can be identified with the instruments that constitute the various parts of the machine, this is because labor in general, regardless of the way in which it is performed—whether it be the realization of one subjective potentiality or whether it imply a synthesis of these potentialities—is in itself and of its essence subjective. It is for this reason that the nature of divided labor, of the detail operations which set in motion the various elements or instruments that compose the machine, has nothing at all to do with these instruments or with the machine itself; nor does the relation which is established between these partial operations performed by different individuals or by the same individual have anything to do with the objective relations between the instruments themselves and their connection within the machine, which itself is this very connection. “The machine,” Marx says, “is a unification of the instruments of labor, and by no means a combination of different operations for the worker himself.”80 The machine does not work.81 The problematic of labor and of its different modalities, the problematic of the division of labor takes its place within subjectivity. Confusing the subjective determinations of fragmentary labor with the instrumental division of the industrial apparatus understood as an organization of the ensemble and as an objective totality results from the total disregard of the decisive ontological categories that compose Marx’s thought and make a philosophy out of it.
It is indeed the idea of an objective totality that is challenged—radically challenged—by the problematic of the division of labor. If, in fact, one affirms the primacy of the Whole or of the universal, totality and universality transcending the individual and in this sense radically “objective,” then the critique of the division of labor no longer has any sense. From the viewpoint of the Whole and regardless of the way in which it is conceived—whether it be thought of as the totality of the organism, of the structure, or even of an historical world—each part or element is in its proper place, performs its function, plays its role within the economy of the whole. The division of the potentialities and of their effectuation among the various members of the organic totality signifies harmony, constitutes, precisely, the organic character of this totality, and defines both its essence and its internal finality. It is with good reason that Agrippa obligingly explains to the plebeians that a body is made up of the head and the members, which must live and work together, while their separation, the secession of the plebeians, means death. We know Marx’s furor concerning this fable,82 which, in a word, advised everyone who had a hand and a foot to reduce himself to that alone and to do without a head, realizing in this way the situation of the detail laborer in the mechanical workshop. But in Marx this indignation is not first and foremost of an ethical nature; it reveals a metaphysics. In fact, it is only if the part, the element, is posited as absolute and the individual himself as the whole, that all that is realized outside of him directly signifies an infringement of his own being and so represents something of which he has been deprived. In this way, the fulfillment of all the potentialities of life, the realization of the universal, can no longer take place through the mediation of diverse individuals, the one actualizing one of these potentialities, the other another, each being integrated in this way in a totality as one of its members, as an organ in an organism. Different existences no longer complete one another and no longer find beyond themselves, in a whole greater than themselves in which they would be integrated, in a world in which and of which they are held to live, their realization as a moment of the realization of this great Whole, as a moment of a reality that supersedes them. The beautiful ideal of the ancient city has seen its day.
This is why the situation that is created by the division of labor must at last be understood. In this situation, let us say, the actualization of the potentialities of life takes place in such a way that only one of these potentialities is realized in a given individual, the effectuation of other potentialities occurring in different monadic spheres. But the life which bears all these potentialities within it and which constitutes their synthesis is not, as in Hegel, a universal essence transcending the individual, the current of life which would be indifferent to the nature of the wheels it causes to turn; this life is the individual as such, and the totality, as has been said, is identified with the monad itself. What keeps all the realizations from being dispersed indifferently among the individuals in which they are realized in accordance with the division of labor, composing in this way a satisfying objective totality, is the fact that these realizations all belong to one and the same subjectivity, at least inasmuch as they are virtualities willed and ordained by it. This is why whatever is not realized within the individual is not simply realized outside of him (that is, in fact, to say, as we have seen, in another). It is in him that what is realized “outside of him” is not realized; the “not realized in himself” of that which is realized outside of him is a mode of realization of his life, his lived experience, his need, his lack, and his suffering. The objectivist interpretation of the division of labor according to which what is not realized here is realized elsewhere, in another, is totally incapable of accounting for the single thing that has any importance for Marx—“lack,” need. There is no objective lack but only lack for a subjectivity and within it. This is why Marx demands, assuming an attitude that would appear to be sheer lunacy, that everyone be hunter, fisherman, shepherd, painter, sculptor, critic, because his analysis is a phenomenological analysis of absolute subjectivity.83 The reduction of totalities, which has just been presented, is only the effect of this problematic of subjectivity, which appears in Marx’s work beginning with the 1843 manuscript and leads to the decisive turning point in the “Theses on Feuerbach” and The German Ideology. This problematic is at one and the same time that of reality. It is to the movement of taking hold of reality that we must now return in order once again to live its unfolding in the essential philosophical act of repetition.
*Eidetic analysis is to be understood in its customary phenomenological sense as an essential analysis.—TRANS.