Value in Capitalist Society

Rethinking Marx’s Criticism of Capitalism


Marx’s analysis of the commodity results in his conception of Capital as substance in the form of alienation. While Hegel claims that substance can be understood as the realization of freedom, Marx shows this freedom to be alienated labor: abstract labor, which Marx identifies as the capitalist conception of value. The book clarifies why Marx’s so-called materialist criticism of Hegel can be conceived of as an immanent criticism of Hegel: Marx’s criticism explicates that the realization of freedom in the Philosophy of Right contradicts Hegel’s basic point of departure. The adequate realization of freedom not only leads to an alternative (non-alienated) conception of value, but also explains why this conception of value is fully compatible with the free market.


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Biographical Note

Paul Cobben, Ph.D. 1988, University of Amsterdam, is Professor of Philosophy at Tilburg University (The Netherlands). His publications focus on practical philosophy, combining a systematic and historical approach. Among his books: The Nature of the Self, Berlin/New York (De Gruyter, 2009).

Table of contents

Value in Capitalist Society. Rethinking Marx’s criticism of Capitalism
Chapter 1: Marx’s analysis of the commodity and the Phenomenology of Spirit
Chapter 2: The Realm of Culture and the historical process in which the proletarian becomes self-aware
Chapter 3: Marx’s analysis of the commodity and Hegel’s Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts
Chapter 4: Hegel’s determination of value at the level of Abstract Right in the light of Marx’s criticism
Chapter 5: The System of Needs in the light of Marx’s criticism
Chapter 6: Wage Labor and the Corporation: obstacles for the free market?
Chapter 7: Capital as Community of Value
Chapter 8: Modern Society and the ongoing Revision of the Good Life
Chapter 9: Mediating Institutions between Market and State
Chapter 10: The identity of the sustainable state and the adequate determination of value


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