Malte Fabian Rauch (Hg.), Reiner Schürmann, ...: Reading Marx

Reiner Schürmann, Malte Fabian Rauch (Hg.), Nicolas Schneider (Hg.)

Reading Marx
On Transcendental Materialism

Broschur, 160 Seiten

PDF, 160 Seiten

In this lecture course, Reiner Schürmann reads Marx’s work as a transcendental materialism. Arguing that what is most original in Marx is neither his political or sociological nor his economic thinking, but his philosophical axis, Schürmann shows that Marx conceives being as polyvalent praxis. With patient rigor, Schürmann delineates this notion of praxis from the interpretations proposed by Louis Althusser and the Frankfurt School, as he traces Marx’s move beyond the dualism that has governed ontology since Descartes. Stepping out of this dualism, however, Marx does not espouse a monism either—be it an immobile one as Parmenides’, or a dynamic one as Hegel’s. On the problem of universals, Marx’s transcendental materialism is nominalistic: being as action is irreducibly manifold.


Extending his highly original engagement with the history of philosophy, Schürmann in the course of these lectures draws out the philosophical axis in Marx’s work, which determines and localizes his theories of history, of social relations and of economy. On this view, Marx’s unique place in philosophy stems from the fact that the grounding of phenomena is seen by him not as a relation that produces cognition, as in Kant; nor as a relation of material sensitivity, as in Feuerbach; but the grounding occurs in labor, in praxis, in the satisfaction of needs. Whereas the Marxist readings of Marx conceive history, classes and social relations as primary realities, Schürmann brings out a radically immanent understanding of praxis in Marx that introduces multiplicity into being.


Following Schürmann’s own suggestion, this edition is complemented by a reprinting of his Anti-Humanism essay, in which he reads Marx alongside Nietzsche and Heidegger as spelling out the dissociation of being and action. This rupture puts an end to the epochal economy of presence and returns principles to their own precariousness. As a whole, this volume brings out one of the less appreciated facets of Schürmann’s work and offers an interpretation of Marx that resonates with the readings of Jacques Derrida, Michel Henry, Antonio Negri and François Laruelle.

  • 7


  • 9–11

    List of Abbreviations

  • 13–22

    Lecture 1: Introduction: Marx as Transcendental Philosopher

  • 23–31

    Lecture 2: A Double Problematic in the Early Writings

  • 33–39

    Lecture 3: The Ambiguity of Marx’s ‘Humanism’

  • 41–49

    Lecture 4: The Reversal of Problematics in 1845

  • 51–59

    Lecture 5: Practice as Motive Subjectivity of the Concrete Individual

  • 61–69

    Lecture 6: Reality as the Production of Material Life

  • 71–81

    Lecture 7: The Representational Status of Regional Theories

  • 83–90

    Lecture 8: The Categorial and the Creedal Concepts of Ideology

  • 91–95

    Lecture 9: The Heterogeneity between Being and Consciousness

  • 97–114

    Conclusion: Anti-Humanism. Reflections of the Turn Towards the Post-Modern Epoch

  • 115–129


  • 131–147

    Afterword: On Transcendental Materialism. Reiner Schürmann’s Reading of Marx

  • 148

    Plan of the Course

  • 149–157

    Tentative Chronology of Reiner Schürmann’s Courses at the New School for Social Research

  • 158–159

    Lecture Notes of Reiner Schürmann at the NSSR—Pierre Adler’s Inventory (1994)

  • 160

    Editorial Statement

  • Karl Marx
  • Politische Ökonomie
  • Philosophie
  • Politische Theorie

“Reiner Schürmann’s as yet unpublished Marx lecture course—whose originality we are now allowed to explore thanks to Rauch and Schneider’s edition—is in line with a series of remarkable phenomenological readings of Marx from the 1970s (Michel Henry, Gérard Granel). These readings share the opposition to the dominant historico-epistemological fixation of their time and possess a topicality and momentum that we must finally comprehend for the understanding of our own contemporaneity. Instead of Althusser’s Marx who as an anti-philosopher founds a new science, Schürmann rehabilitates a philosophical Marx who inaugurates a new ontology. Its basic equation is that being = praxis. Schürmann develops in extenso a reading of Marx that is only hinted at in From Principles to Anarchy (1982), a reading which doubtlessly figures as a center piece in his critique of modernity.


On this reading, the central axis of Marx’s endeavor reveals itself to be transcendental—a transcendentality, however, with an entirely new sense, brought to light by Marx in a singular fashion. Instead of knowledge, Schürmann argues, in Marx concrete individual praxis is disclosed as the ground of history, social relations and economy. With this, a completely novel understanding of the transcendental ego is articulated: no longer the knowing, but the working subject. Situated within the framework of Heidegger’s destruction of Western metaphysics, Marx’s historically significant operation then appears as the radical termination of a certain type of philosophy of the subject, but at the same time as the last bastion of the transcendental program, which in the interlacing of Marx’s and Heidegger’s text remains to be deconstructed towards a different thinking of finite practices.”


Erich Hörl, Professor for Media Culture and Media Philosophy, Leuphana University Lüneburg

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Malte Fabian Rauch

is a Berlin based writer and editor. His work focuses on recent continental philosophy, contemporary art and aesthetics, as well as media and design theory. After studying in Hamburg, London and at the New School in New York, he currently works in the interdisciplinary research project “Cultures of Critique” at the Leuphana University Lüneburg.
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Nicolas Schneider

teaches philosophy and cultural theory at Humboldt University Berlin. He holds a PhD in Philosophy from the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University London, and an MSc in European Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
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Reiner Schürmann

Reiner Schürmann

wurde 1941 in Amsterdam geboren und ver­brachte seine Kindheit und Jugend in Krefeld. Ab 1960 studierte er Philosophie in München, unterbrochen durch einen Aufenthalt in einem israelischen Kibbuz. 1961 trat er als Novize bei den Dominikanern in Frankreich ein und studierte von 1962–69 Theologie im Saulchoir, Essonne, bei Paris, unterbrochen durch einen Studienaufenthalt in Freiburg i. Br. bei Heidegger. 1970 wurde er zum Dominikanerpriester ordiniert, verließ den Orden 1975 jedoch wieder. Seit den frühen siebziger Jahren lebte Schürmann in den USA und wurde 1975 von Hannah Arendt und Hans Jonas an die New School for Social Research in New York berufen. 1993 starb Reiner Schürmann an Aids. Sein umfangreiches philosophisches Werk verfasste Schürmann in französischer Sprache.

Weitere Texte von Reiner Schürmann bei DIAPHANES