Marx: A Very Short Introduction

Marx: A Very Short Introduction

By (author) Peter Singer


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Peter Singer identifies the central vision that unifies Marx's thought, enabling us to grasp Marx's views as a whole. He sees him as a philosopher primarily concerned with human freedom, rather than as an economist or a social scientist. He explains alienation, historical materialism, the economic theory of Capital, and Marx's ideas of communism, in plain English, and concludes with an assessment of Marx's legacy. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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  • Paperback | 128 pages
  • 106.68 x 162.56 x 10.16mm | 113.4g
  • 18 Jan 2001
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford Paperbacks
  • Oxford
  • English
  • halftones
  • 0192854054
  • 9780192854056
  • 23,161

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Author Information

Peter Singer is Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University. He is best known for his books Animal Liberation and his other books include Practical Ethics, Rethinking Life and Death, and How are we to Live?.

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Review quote

"I always recommend that undergraduates should read Singer's book to get an overview. I find it a very useful introduction: succinct and sophisticated."--Professor Diana Coole, University of California, Irvine"[An] excellent brief presentation of Marx and his teachings, written with clarity and conciseness; up-to-date in its sources, dispassionate in its approach to [Marx] and balanced in its assessment."--Peter McConville, University of San Francisco"Clear, concise, insightful, and even-handed."--Susan Armstrong-Buck, Humboldt State University

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Review text

Confronted with the difficult task of trying to say something both introductory and meaningful about the prolific and world-shaking Karl Marx, philosopher Peter Singer (Monash Univ., Australia) has opted for a minimum of biography and a concentration on the "status" of Marx's writings. Focusing on the economic and historical theories of Marx, Singer notes that the claim for their scientific status rests largely with Marx himself-and he was using a notion of science which is not that of contemporary natural or social science: there is no room for "testing" in his theories, outside of history itself. By "science," Singer shows, Marx meant a more general idea about systematic knowledge, as had his mentor, Hegel. While the predictions Marx made based on the application of Hegel's ideas to history and economics have failed, Singer thinks it would be wrong to simply reject Marx's views as we would those of a scientist in the same position. Instead, Singer views Marx as preeminently a philosopher whose central concern is freedom, and whose great strength lies in his critique of the individualist notion of freedom prevalent in the English-speaking world. While Singer points out that Marx's own optimistic hopes for a collective propensity for freedom have thus far proved illusory, the hope nevertheless remains. More pointed than David McClellan's "Modern Masters" Marx, and more concerned with ideas, Singer's introduction manages to squeeze an argument into and around the exposition whereas McClellan attempts an impossible neutrality. Given the constraints imposed by the format, he has done a first-rate job. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Customer reviews

It is what it says it is.

It is indeed a very short introduction, but nonetheless is a good read. If you are like me and have had trouble deciphering the somewhat elusive and esoteric language of Karl Marx you will find this book to be of great help. It is worth remembering that the book is scarcely over a hundred post card sized pages, and it is not intended to be a comprehensive guide. It explains the ideas of Marx as they emerged and changed throughout the course of his lifetime and also passes comment on how his views have come to manifest in the twentieth more
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