Topic: Karl Marx’s Doctoral Dissertation
In part two of Marx’s doctoral dissertation (beginning on page 26 of the above link), the central message is that Epicurus’ historical importance resides in the way he develops the concept of the atom. What may seem like the “arbitrary vagaries” of Epicurus’ thought—like random additions to Democritus’ notion of the atom—are, according to Marx, necessary moments in the development of the concept. Discuss this aspect of Marx’s reconstruction of Epicureanism. Be sure to include a treatment of the following: the assertion that Epicurus’ development of the concept of the atom is the development of an inherent contradiction within the concept (a contradiction between form and matter, or essence and existence), and the claim that the true principle of Epicurus’ philosophy is self-consciousness as abstract individual self-consciousness.