The passage from Spontaneous Philosophy to Philosophy of Praxis needs to be reiterated. We never fully transcend or go beyond the elements of Spontaneous Philosophy, but through material self-consciousness are able to place ourselves firmly in the common sense of the day and attempt to win both for ourselves and build a ‘moral’ historical bloc towards a “higher conception of life”. The Kamftplatz (place of struggle and war of position) is found in common sense. On page 366, Gramsci speaks to the term, catharsis. In a highly original and creative way. Catharsis is not an expurgation of fear and pity in the traditional Aristotelian sense, but an indication of the passage from the purely economic (egoistic) to the ethico-political moment, a necessary elaboration of objective into subjective, a passage from the realm of necessity into the realm of freedom (cf. the mature Marx in Capital). This could be considered for Gramsci, the Machiavellian moment in which passivity and acceptance is transformed into a new source of initiatives, an active” ‘man in the mass.” The cathartic moment becomes the starting point for a philosophy of praxis and although there is some backsliding into spontaneous philosophy (reformism is one example), on the whole there is newly found source and practice of transformation: in other words, a new dialectical tension, a new combination of syntheses that open grounds for new critical elaboration of objective forces, and a grasp of the Kantian nouemal realm hitherto unknown. Throughout this section, we see Gramsci’s Hegelian materialism playing out against the Kantian “thing in itself.”
We will return to the Kantian nouema when reading Lukacs on reification- and as, we move more into Marx’s Paris Manuscripts of 1844, the concept of estrangement is within this experiential realm of common sense and as a starting point for cathartic activity.
Marx’s manuscripts of 1844 (26 years old at the time) are considered part of the humanistic phase of his work. There is a philosophical anthropology at work here, full of anthropomorphic metaphors and signs and this has led one tendency in Marxist philosophy to consider this work as part of the early and somewhat traditional practice of Marxist philosophy, one still deeply indebted to and embedded in Hegelian terms. This is true to a degree yet something very open to debate – we again will see this in the work of Luckacs, and his main antagonist in Marxist philosophy on the notion of totality, Althusser. Of course, we can add Adorno here in his famous statement, “The whole is the false.”
For now, we will focus on the critique of the Hegelian dialectic from the early Marx and why Hegel is considered the first thinker of political economy and what that means for our reading of Capital today.