On ‘Essence’ and ‘Appearance’

Marx once observed that ‘alle Wissenschaft wäre überflüssig, wenn die Erscheinungsform und das Wesen der Dinge unmittelbar zusammenfielen’ – that all science would be superfluous if the form of appearance and the essence of things coincided directly. If accepted as true, the remark would suggest that what science is is that which is necessary to bridge this non-coincidence of the essence and appearance of things (it should be remembered that the context of Marx’s comment is a scabrous criticism of ‘vulgar’ political economy for its inability to escape the ‘estranged world of appearances’ of economic conditions). But this definition of ‘science’ is of course in turn dependent on how we understand the terms ‘essence’ and ‘appearance’, and therefore on how we might conceive of how and why their non-coincidence might come about should it do so.

More (pdf: 110KB): essence and appearance


2 thoughts on “On ‘Essence’ and ‘Appearance’

  1. Pingback: Essence and Appearance – The Capitalist Cycle

  2. Hmmm, 4 years without a comment!
    Hope you know that only shows how far ahead you are. As the crisis develops there will be an audience!
    Well anyway, it inspired me to write my first substantive post on Maksakovsky’s The Capitalist Cycle, by recommending yours as preliminary reading to understand the Introduction and Chapter 1.
    Hope you have already got started on Maksakovsky – it is quite short (skip the long translator’s introduction until later – given your philosophical understanding of Marx and Maksakovsky’s method you should just dive straight in).

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