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Previous Seminars 2018

16 January

Gareth Stedman Jones (London)
History and Nature: Marx, Engels and Darwin

At Marx’s funeral Engels stressed the close parallels between the work of Darwin and that of Marx. But Marx’s idea of history contradicted the Darwinian idea of nature. This lecture will distinguish between Engels’s idea of Marxism and Marx’s inheritance from the German Idealist tradition and consequently his distance from Darwin’s idea of nature.

Gareth Stedman Jones is Professor of the History of Ideas, Queen Mary University of London, Director of the Centre for History and Economics, University of Cambridge, and a Life Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. His latest work is a study of Marx in the nineteenth century, Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion (2016).

23 January

Ben Fine (London)
Marx Versus Economics: Which is Fit for Purpose?

Marxist political economy, let alone Marx’s own political economy, has negligible if not zero presence in mainstream economics. In this respect, there is a sharp difference with all other major social sciences in which Marx is seen not only as an important source for understanding the history of its constituent disciplines and subject matter, but also as a vital part of continuing debate and scholarship. Why should Marx be present in other disciplines but absent in economics, and at whose and what expense?

Ben Fine is Professor of Economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His books include Marx’s Capital (with Alfredo Saad-Filho, 6th edn, 2016), From Political Economy to Economics: Method, the Social and the Historical in the Evolution of Economic Theory (with Dimitris Milonakis, 2009), and From Economics Imperialism to Freakonomics: The Shifting Boundaries Between Economics and Other Social Sciences (with Dimitris Milonakis, 2009).

6 February

Mike Savage (London)
Karl Marx and the Twenty-First Century Analysis of Social Class

The much discussed growth of top incomes and wealth across many nations has led to a new interest in whether Marx’s emphasis on the prime class divide between bourgeois and proletarian has renewed relevance today. This lecture will review the critical arguments of economists such as Piketty, Stiglitz, and Milanovic to consider whether we can usefully detect a ‘global capitalist class’. It will further consider how we can use Marx’s concept of accumulation to give analytical insights into the nature of contemporary class formation.

Mike Savage is Martin White Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics, where he is Co-Director of the International Inequalities Institute. He has long-standing interests in the analysis of social class, and his co-authored book, Social Class in the 21st Century (2015), which draws on his research on the BBC’s Great British Class Survey, has been a best-seller.

27 February

Christoph Henning (Erfurt)
Marx’s Critical Theory and its Absence in Contemporary Social Philosophy

Karl Marx started his career as a philosopher, and philosophical topics remain visible even in Capital. Twentiethcentury philosophers such as Sartre, Adorno, and Negri were often inspired by Marx, but in the twenty-first century there is not much ‘Marxism’ left in social philosophy, even in the midst of an intensified debate about capitalism. This lecture will suggest some reasons for this disappearance, such as the ‘normative’ misreadings of the later Frankfurt School. It will also present an alternative reading of Marx’s philosophy, reconstructing his work as a Critical Theory that is still impressive as a social philosophy of contemporary society.

Christoph Henning is Junior Fellow for Philosophy at the Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies at Erfurt University. His research interests lie in social, cultural, and political philosophy, critical theory, and the history of thought. His books include Philosophy after Marx: 100 Years of Misreadings and the Normative Turn in Political Philosophy (2015), Theorien der Entfremdung zur Einführung (2015), and Marx und die Folgen (2017).


Seminars — Spring 2018 — "Capital — 150 Years on: Karl Marx and the Social Sciences Today"  (PDF file)