A brief analysis of some of the difficulties encountered in this translation may help to provide an orientation for the reader as he or she begins Michel Henry’s Marx.
(1) Along with problems of a general nature related to translating a philosophical work coming out of a tradition quite distinct from that of English-language philosophy, it becomes apparent early in this text that the French terminology is itself as if superimposed on an underlying current of German philosophy. In the present work reference is frequently made in particular to Hegel, to Husserl, and to Heidegger, as is not uncommon in contemporary French philosophy. The author’s broad familiarity with these philosophers allows him to incorporate their thought into the discussion, assuming on the part of the reader some knowledge of their work and of the implications of their terminology when applied to the philosophical problems treated in this book. So that, while at times these philosophers become the explicit object of the discussion (this is the case, in particular, for Hegel), in many other instances they provide the implicit backdrop against which the author’s own arguments are formulated and developed. The latter case is more characteristic of references to Husserlian and Heideggerian terminology. For example, in coining the term “historial” to contrast with “histoire,” reference is made to the Heideggerian meditation on history and to the collusion there between the terms Geschichte, Geschehen, Geschick; for Henry, then, “historial” is an internal history as opposed to the external science of history, an essential history, which also involves the notion of destiny. Husserl’s phenomenology underlies a great deal of the discussion, and readers familiar with Husserlian terminology will find that it is at once borrowed and transformed by Henry in this work. Notions such as eidetic analysis, the role of evidence, intuition, and the constitution of the object, and the overwhelming preoccupation with revealing the ground of true experience assume at once a specific reference to Husserl and, in the context of Henry’s study of Marx, an implicit critique of the idealist elements retained in his phenomenology.
Of course, notes and parenthetical remarks are insufficient to establish the full context within which the author is working. Nevertheless, as an aid to the reader, terms appearing in the text which, in French, are obvious references to German counterparts will be accompanied by a short explanatory note and, when necessary, by the original German term.
(2) The second series of difficulties concerns Marx’s texts themselves. The major problem here is the discrepancy between the “standard” translations of Marx in English and in French. Often the differences are minor and do not affect the overall import of the passages that are quoted. At times, however, the divergences are so great as to change the point of the text cited by Henry, and in these cases the translation has been checked against the original and, when the author has deemed necessary, the text has been modified. Any such modification has been indicated in the corresponding note. Most often, the German expression in question has been added, either directly in the text or, if some explanation is required, in a note.
The following editions of Marx’s major works are referred to in the text:
Early Writings, trans. Rodney Livingstone and Gregor Benton (New York: Vintage Books), 1975. This volume includes, among other texts, Critique of Hegel’s Doctrine of the State (1843); A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Introduction (1843-44); Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts (1844).
Surveys from Exile (New York: Vintage Books), 1974. This volume includes, among other texts, The Class Struggles in France: 1848-1850, trans. Paul Jackson; The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte , trans. Ben Fowkes.
The Revolutions of 1848 (New York: Vintage Books), 1974, including Manifesto of the Communist Party, trans. Samuel Moore.
The Poverty of Philosophy (New York: International Publishers), 1963.
A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, trans. S. W. Ryazanskaya, ed. Maurice Dobbs (New York: International Publishers), 1970.
Marx and Engels, The Holy Family, trans. Richard Dixon and Clemens Dutt (Moscow: Progress Publishers), 1975.
Marx and Engels, The German Ideology (Moscow: Progress Publishers), 1976 (3rd ed.).
Capital, trans. Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling, vols. 1, 2, 3 (New York: International Publishers), 1967.
Grundrisse, trans. Martin Nicolaus (New York: Vintage Books), 1973.
In quoting from these translations, American spelling has been retained throughout.
(3) In general, whenever an English translation of works quoted by Henry exists, reference has been made to this edition. In the absence of an English translation for other texts cited, I have translated the passage. In keeping with the French text, references to The Critique of Hegel’s Doctrine of the State also include page references to the German text, Marx, Engels, Werke (Berlin, 1961), vol. I.
I should like to thank Michel Henry, who, in the course of preparing the text for the English-language edition, went over the work with me in great detail with regard to matters of terminology and, more generally, with respect to his reading of Marx, of Hegel, and of Feuerbach. I also want to thank Tom Rockmore for his careful reading of my translation. His comments and suggestions contributed a great deal to the readability and consistency of the final version.
In striving to respect the specific nature of this work, its philosophical viewpoint and its literary character, and at the same time to make it a book that can be read and appreciated by an English-language audience, I am, of course, alone responsible for any and all shortcomings that may appear.
Kathleen Blamey McLaughlin