Descartes & Marxism: Selected Bibliography

Compiled by Ralph Dumain


This portion of value which is added by the machinery, decreases both absolutely and relatively, when the machinery does away with horses and other animals that are employed as mere moving forces, and not as machines for changing the form of matter. It may here be incidentally observed, that Descartes, in defining animals as mere machines, .saw with eyes of the manufacturing period, while to eyes of the middle ages, animals were assistants to man, as they were later to Von Haller in his “Restauration der Staatswissenschaften.” That Descartes, like Bacon, anticipated an alteration in the form of production, and the practical subjugation of Nature by Man, as a result of the altered methods of thought, is plain from his “Discours de la Méthode.” He there says: “If est possible (by the methods he introduced in philosophy) de parvenir à des connaissances fort utiles à la vie, et qu’au lieu de cette philosophie spéculative qu’on enseigne dans les écoles, on en peut trouver une pratique, par laquelle, connaissant la force et les actions du feu, de l’eau, de l’air, des astres, et de tous les autres corps qui nous environnent, aussi distinctement que nous connaissons les divers métiers de nos artisans, nous les pourrions employer en même façon à tous les usages auxquels ils sont propres, et ainsi nous rendre comme maîtres et possesseurs de la nature” and thus “contribuer au perfectionnement de la vie humaine.” [It is possible to attain knowledge very useful in life and, in place of the speculative philosophy taught in the schools, one can find a practical philosophy by which, given that we know the powers and the effectiveness of fire, water, air, the stars, and all the other bodies that surround us, as well and as accurately as we know the various trades of our craftsmen, we shall be able to employ them in the same manner as the latter to all uses to which they are adapted, and thus as it were make ourselves the masters and possessors of nature, and thus contributing to the perfection of human life.] In the preface to Sir Dudley North’s “Discourses upon Trade” (1691) it is stated, that Descartes’ method had begun to free Political Economy from the old fables and superstitious notions of gold, trade, &c. On the whole, however, the early English economists sided with Bacon and Hobbes as their philosophers; while, at a later period, the philosopher [. . .] of Political Economy in England, France, and Italy, was Locke.

— Karl Marx, Capital, Volume One; Chapter Fifteen: Machinery and Modern Industry, footnote 27


Adorno, Theodor W. Introduction (Excerpt) to The Authoritarian Personality, by T.W. Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel J. Levinson and R. Nevitt. Original publication: Sanford, Harper & Brothers, Studies in Prejudice Series, Volume 1, American Jewish Committee, 1950.  See remarks about Cartesian rationalism.

Adorno, Theodor W. “Valéry’s Deviations,” in Notes to Literature; Volume One, edited by Rolf Tiedemann, translated by Shierry Weber Nicholsen (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), pp. 137-173. See quote, pp. 151-152 (Adorno on Paul Valéry & Cartesian Rationalism & Irrationalism in French Philosophy).

Badiou, Alain. “The Adventure of French Philosophy,” New Left Review, new series, no. 35, September-October 2005.

Balaban, Oded. “The Constitutive Aspect of the Ontological Argument and Marx’s Critique of the Historical School of Law,” Wiener Jahrbuch für Philosophie, 22, 1990, 169-181.

Balaban, Oded. Subject and Consciousness: A Philosophical Inquiry into Self-Consciousness. Savage, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1990.

Chamberlain, Lesley. Motherland: A Philosophical History of Russia. London: Atlantic Books, 2004. See chapter. 8, Rejecting the View from Descartes.

Freudenthal, Gideon; McLaughlin, Peter (eds.) The Social and Economic Roots of the Scientific Revolution: Texts by Boris Hessen and Henryk Grossmann. New York : Springer, 2009. (Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science; vol. 278)

Göçmen, Doğan. “Adam Smith’s Common Sense Onto-Epistemology in the Context of Cartesian Scepticism and Humean Agnosticism.”

Göçmen, Doğan. “Descartes, Smith and the Theory of Subject,” Baykus (A Turkish Journal of Philosophy), no. 3, 2008.

Haug, Wolfgang Fritz. Critique of Commodity Aesthetics: Appearance, Sexuality, and Advertising in Capitalist Society; translated by Robert Bock (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), Chapter Two, Section 3, “Aesthetic Abstraction, Philosophical Foreplay,” pp. 48-49.

Horkheimer, Max. “The Rationalism Debate in Contemporary Philosophy," in Between Philosophy and Social Science: Selected Early Writings, translated by G. Frederick Hunter, Matthew S. Kramer and John Torpey (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1993), pp. 217-264.

Horkheimer, Max. (1939) “The Social Function of Philosophy,” in Critical Theory: Selected Essays, translated by Matthew J. O'Connell et al (New York: The Seabury Press, 1972), pp. 253-272.

Ilyenkov, E. V. [Eval'd Vasil'evich]. Dialectical Logic: Essays on Its History and Theory, translated by H. Campbell Creighton. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1977. See Chapter 1: Descartes & Leibniz—The Problem of the Subject Matter and Sources of Logic.

James, C.L.R., et al. Facing Reality (1958), by C.L.R. James, Grace C. Lee, Pierre Chaulieu [pseudonym of Cornelius Castoriadis] (Detroit: Bewick/Ed), pp. 67-68.

James, C.L.R., et al. State Capitalism And World Revolution (1950), by C.L.R. James in collaboration with Raya Dunayevskaya & Grace Lee, with a new introduction by Paul Buhle (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company, 1986), p. 128, in the chapter Philosophy & State Capitalism.

Lenin, V. I. “Notes on Shulyatikov’s Book,” in Collected Works, vol. 38: Philosophical Notebooks (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1972), pp. 484-500. Review of:

Shulyatikov, V. The Justification of Capitalism in West-European Philosophy (From Descartes to E. Mach). Moscow, 1908.

Marcuse, Herbert. “The Affirmative Character of Culture,” in Negations: Essays in Critical Theory, with translations from the German by Jeremy J. Shapiro (Boston: Beacon Press, 1968), pp. 88-133.

Marcuse, Herbert. "The Concept of Essence,” in Negations: Essays in Critical Theory, with translations from the German by Jeremy J. Shapiro (Boston: Beacon Press, 1968), pp. 43-87.

Mikhailov, F. T. [Feliks Trofimovich]. The Riddle of the Self (1976), translated from the Russian by Robert Daglish. Moscow: Progress Publishers; New York: International Publishers, 1980. See Chapter 1 (Clear Approaches and Dead-Ends), section 2 (Something About "Something").

Negri, Antonio. Political Descartes: Reason, Ideology and the Bourgeois Project, translated and introduced by Matteo Mandarini and Alberto Toscano. London; New York: Verso, 2007. (Radical Thinkers; 2)

Nizan, Paul. "The Tricentennial of a Manifesto," L'Humanité, May 22, 1937. Translated by Mitchell Abidor.

Parsons, Howard L. "Theories of Knowledge: A Dialectical, Historical Critique," in: Dialectical Perspectives in Philosophy and Social Science, edited by Pasquale N. Russo et al (Amsterdam: B.R. Grüner, 1983), pp. 1-35.

Plekhanov, Georgi. “On Mr. V. Shulyatikov’s Book,” in: Selected Philosophical Works (Volume III) (Moscow: Progress Publishers 1976), pp. 299-304.

Politzer, Georges. “The Tri-centennial of the Discourse on Method,” La Correspondance internationale, no. 23, 1937. In Ecrits 1: La Philosophie et les Mythes, edited by Jacques Debouzy, Éditions Sociales, Paris, 1969; translated by Mitch Abidor.

Rée, Jonathan. Descartes. London: Allen Lane, 1974. (New York: Pica Press, 1975.)

Reiss, Timothy J. “Descartes’s Silences on Slavery and Race,” in Race and Racism in Modern Philosophy, edited by Andrew Valls (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005), pp. 16-42.

Robinson, Guy. Philosophy and Mystification: A Reflection on Nonsense and Clarity. London; New York: Routledge, 1998. Publisher's description.

Swain, Dan. “Reasonable Ideology? Negri's Descartes” [Review of: Antonio Negri, Political Descartes: Reason, Ideology and the Bourgeois Project], International Socialism, no. 114, Spring 2007.

Van Parijs, P. “Nozick and Marxism Socialist Responses to the Libertarian Challenge in Descartes,” Revue Internationale de Philosophie Bruxelles, vol. 37, no. 146, 1983, pp. 337-362.


Marx on Capital, Machinery, Universality, Descartes: From Worship to Instrumentalization of Nature

Marx & Engels on Skepticism & Praxis

C.L.R. James on the (Post)Modern Intellectual & the Division of Labor (1950)

C.L.R. James on Descartes & the Division of Labor

The Concept of Essence (Excerpt: Descartes) by Herbert Marcuse

Herbert Marcuse on Descartes, Kant, Hegel: Soul, Mind-Body Duality, & Affirmative Culture

Introduction to The Authoritarian Personality (Excerpt) by Theodor W. Adorno

Adorno on Paul Valéry & Cartesian Rationalism & Irrationalism in French Philosophy

Some Thoughts of Paul Valéry on Philosophy

The Watchdogs: Bourgeois Philosophy in Action (Excerpts)
by Paul Nizan

Aesthetic Abstraction, Philosophical Foreplay (Descartes) by W. F. Haug

Descartes' Dualism (Extract) by Albert William Levi

"Philosophy's Historic Fate: Museum Pieces, Messages, and Classics" by Albert William Levi

"Theories of Knowledge: A Dialectical, Historical Critique" by Howard L. Parsons

Scepticism & Fideism by Richard H. Popkin

"Doubt and Atheism" by Evlogi Dankov

"Putting Descartes Before the Horse" by Dave Berg

Descartes (Analytical Contents, Excerpts, Quotes) by Jonathan Rée

Hegel, Marx, Goldner, C.L.R. James, Enlightenment & the Philosophical Dichotomies
by Ralph Dumain
See section Marx's Third Way

Descartes to Mersenne, 20 November 1629

Descartes to Mersenne, 25 December 1639

Cogito Ergo Sum de René Descartes, tradukis Albert Goodheir

Letter to Simon Foucher (1675) by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Spinoza & Marxism (with Basic Spinoza Web Guide)

Leibniz & Ideology: Selected Bibliography

Popularizing Philosophers: A Selected Bibliography

Doubt & Skepticism: A Directed Minimal Bibliography & Web Guide

Philosophy and the Division of Labor: Selected Bibliography

The Philosophy of Theory and Practice: Selected Bibliography

Theodor W. Adorno & Critical Theory Study Guide

Positivism vs Life Philosophy (Lebensphilosophie) Study Guide

Salvaging Soviet Philosophy (1)

Marx and Marxism Web Guide


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Uploaded 27 March 2010
Last update 18 March 2014
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 11 July 2013

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