The Young Hegel

Lukacs, Georg. The Young Hegel, tr. Rodney Livingston. London, 1975.


The present analysis of Hegel’s economic views will confirm the accuracy of Marx’s observations, both in their positive and in their negative aspects. Hegel did not produce a system of economics within his general philosophy, his ideas were always an integral part of his general social philosophy. This is in fact their merit. He was not concerned to produce original research within economics itself (for this was not possible in Germany at the time), but instead he concentrated on how to integrate the discoveries of the most advanced system of economics into a science of social problems in general. Moreover – and this is where we find the specifically Hegelian approach – he was concerned to discover the general dialectical categories concealed in those social problems.

Needless to say, Hegel was not the first to attempt a synthesis of economics, sociology, history and philosophy. The isolation of economics from other areas of the social sciences is a feature of the bourgeoisie in its decline. The leading thinkers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries ranged through the whole territory of the social sciences and even the works of the outstanding economists such as Petty, Steuart and Smith constantly ventured forth beyond the frontiers of economics in the narrower sense. The real originality of Hegel’s exploitation of economic discoveries would only be determinable in the context of a history which sets out to explore the interplay between philosophy and economics in modern times (and even in Plato and Aristotle). Unfortunately Marxist historiography has entirely failed to make such a study, so that almost all the necessary groundwork still remains to be done. The pointers to such work in the writings of the classics of Marxism-Leninism have been largely ignored.

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