Spring 2014: Phl 357 – Karl Marx


General information


Here is more information about Prof. Lotz

Class Meetings

Days: MW
Time: 10:20 AM – 11:40 AM
Place: 041 Kresge Art Center


Phone: 517.355.4490 [dept.])
Place: 518 S. Kedzie Hall
Hours: M (9am-9:30am); W (2:30-3pm) , and by appointment

Other Contact

E-mail: lotz@msu.edu
Home Phone: please ask
Webpage: https://christianlotz.wordpress.com


You will find my box in the front office of the philosophy department (and in front of my office)



Jan 6
Class cancelled (weather)

Jan 8, introduction

Jan 13, introduction: Marx to Ruge, May 1843 (online), Marx to Ruge, September 1843 (online); Towards a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, 71-82
please print these letters out and bring them to class

Jan 15, Critique of the Gotha Program, 610-629; Feuerbach Theses, 171-174; Free Individuals in Communist Societies, 207-208

Jan 20
Martin Luther King Day


Jan 22, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, 83-95 (Joel)

Jan 27, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, 83-95 (Michael C.)

Jan 29, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, 83-95 (Barbara)

Labor, History, Society

Feb 3, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, 95-104  (Colin)

Feb 5, German Ideology, 175-184; Letter to Annenkov, 209-211 (Dan; Ian)

State and Classes

Feb 10, German Ideology, 184-200 (Ray; Graden)

Feb 12, German Ideology, 184-200 (Joseph, Isaac)
Reaction paper assignment


Feb 17, Communist Manifesto, 245-273; On Bakunin, 606-610 (Mark; Andrew)

Feb 19, Civil War in France, 584-604; On Democracy, 33-36

Dialectics and Method

Feb 24, Grundrisse, General Introduction, 380-395 (Rafael; Max)

Feb 26
cancelled (sickness)

Mar 3
Spring Break

Mar 5
Spring Break

Mar 10, Grundrisse, General Introduction, 380-395 (Michael K., Connor)

Capital, Volume I

Mar 12, Capital, chapter 1.1-1.3 (Maxwell; Bailey)

Mar 17, Capital, chapter 1.1-1.3 (Timmy)

Mar 19, Capital, chapter 1.4 (Nathan; Elaina)

Mar 24
Class cancelled

Mar 26, Capital, chapter 1.4 (John E.; Mitch)

Mar 31, Capital, chapter 3 [focus on chapter 3.2.a-b; chapter 3.3.a+c] (Joshua)

Apr 2, Capital, chapter 4-6 [focus on 4+6] (John B.)

Apr 7, Capital, chapter 4-6 [focus on 4+6] (Geoff; Allison)
Reaction paper assignment

Apr 9, Capital, chapter 7 (Anthony; Lindsay)

Apr 14, Capital, chapter 8 (Diana; Michael M.)

Apr 16, Capital, chapter 10  (Vincent)

Apr 21, Capital, chapter 12-13

Apr 23, Wrap up; film: Marx Reloaded
Final paper assignment

Apr 30 (day of final exam)
Final paper due by 2pm

Course Description

kapital_lesen_01In this class we will discuss central aspects of Marx’s philosophy and social theory. We will focus on his conception of society and the role of labor, on a few political aspects of his philosophy, as well as on the first volume of his main work, Capital, which still is a fascinating, but very difficult book. We will exclusively deal with primary texts and exclude broader historical questions, such as the development of socialist philosophies in the 19th Century, or 20th Century developments within the great tradition of Marxism. As such, this course presents Marx as a systematic thinker who wants to be studied again and is often reduced to a historical figure. As to reading Marx’s massive work Capital, wewill try to to break through the following circle of ignorance: “Capital is a tough nut to crack, opined Ignacy Daszynski, one of the most well known socialist ‘people’s tribunes’ around the turn of the 20th century, but anyhow he had not read it. But, he said, Karl Kautsky had read it, and written a popular summary of the first volume. He hadn’t read this either, but Kelles-Krausz, the party theoretician, had read Kautsky’s pamphlet and summarised it. He also had not read Kelles-Krausz’s text, but the financial expert of the party, Hermann Diamand, had read it and had told him, i.e. Daszynski, everything about it” (I. Deutscher)

This site is a great resource: www.marxists.org


This is a 300-level course in philosophy and, as such, contains difficult material and requires mature students. If you are not willing to study dense written material, listen to unusual lectures, and discuss ideas in an organized fashion, then you should not take this class. This class though can be taken by students without prior knowledge in philosophy. You should not take this class if you are not an avid reader.

Course Goals

This lecture class should students introduce to

  • the concept of labor as the central concept for social-political philosophy
  • how to think about labor and society
  • Marx’s political ideas
  • basic concepts of Marx’s Capital, such as surplus value, value, money, and labor power


marxsunglassesStudents should be aware of the fact that this course is based on difficult texts. Accordingly, this class requires self-responsible learners and an intense confrontation with the primary text. Accordingly, if you are not excited about the prospect of a daily confrontation with abstract and historical reflections, then you should not take this class. This class is not based on a set of fixed knowledge and, as such, is not based on a behavioral idea of education; rather, we will try to learn together and critically examine the material. The instructor of this class does not have anything to teach, but much to learn.

Required Texts (Bookstore)

  • McLellan, Karl Marx Selected Writings
  • Marx, Capital, Volume I (Penguin edition)

Course Requirements

  • Daily reading and studying (around 5-10 pages, up to 50 per week)
  • 2 shorter reaction papers
  • 1 thesis statement (short assignment, systematic summary of the readings)
  • 1 final paper
  • participation


The class and my lectures are solely based on the texts selected for class and require a thorough study and preparation of the material. I will primarily lecture on the readings, which will help you to more fully understand the texts. Therefore it is not sufficient for students to come to class without having prepared the texts. And indeed, in the assignments you have to demonstrate whether you have appropriately prepared the readings selected for each lecture.


Every academic misconduct, such as plagiarism, will – without exception – lead to a failing grade in class. Check the Ombudsman’s page (see also note below on plagiarism):  https://www.msu.edu/~ombud/


Make-Up Assignments

Students who need to miss assignments for excusable reasons, such as a death in their families, MSU related business, emergency weather conditions, or medical reasons, must inform me ahead of time, and will be permitted to make up assignments. I will only accept official doctor notes (no faxes, no emails) or letters from other professors. Unfortunately I am unable to accept any other reasons than those mentioned.


To get a good grade in this class, regular attendance is required. I will not call roll. Hence, it is up to you to come to class or not. However, if you do not come to class on a regular basis and participate in the class discussion, it is impossible for you to achieve a good grade in this class; so coming to class is your responsibility and your call. If you choose to attend class, please come on time, turn off cell phones and other electronic devices that interfere with your (and others’) concentration, have the reading prepared and be ready to participate. If you are not prepared, do not bother showing up. It is a sign of disrespect to your peers and the instructor to attend class unprepared. If you miss class, it is your responsibility to obtain class notes from a fellow student and to catch up on reading. Nevertheless, please be aware that you should not make me responsible for a failure that results out of your decision. You should be aware that chances to master this class are minimal, if you do not show up for class or if you do not prepare the readings (=studying).

Thesis Statement (brief overview of assigned reading)

Each student has to prepare one thesis paper for class. The thesis paper should contain [a] a list of main points and claims, [b] concepts that are unclear, [c] intelligent questions about the readings. Students who prepare the thesis paper need to send their thesis papers by 8am per email on the due date to me, bring copies for everyone to class and be prepared to briefly present their paper (this will not always happen). The thesis paper is limited to two pages and you must use the following prepared document:

Download thesis paper form

Reaction Paper

Each student has to write two 3-page (no more than 900 words) reaction papers in reaction to one of the readings or YouTube material (depends upon the assignment). The reaction paper should contain a systematic thesis about a selected aspect of the material. Assignments will be passed out in class. Note: you should work with the following online resources (or other resources in the library): Oxford Dictionary of PhilosophyRoutledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyEncyclopedia of Continental Philosophy (e-book) – The Oxford Companion to Philosophy

Final Paper

In order to intensify and improve your understanding of the material, you will turn in one final research and academic style paper, in which you analyze a specific topic (4 pages, double spaced, no more than 1200 words). Assignments will be passed out in class (check schedule).

Unnanounced Assignments

There will be – from time to time – unannounced reading quizzes, homework-assignments, and group assignments. Students who do not attend class (and have no medical documentation) will lose all points. Reading quizzes and group assignments cannot be made up.

Class Response Sheets

Every student is asked to submit up to 5 class response sheets during the semester. Please download the form here (plus: print it out five times and add it to your class folder). Response sheets must be submitted at the end of a class session. I do not accept late turn ins or turn ins by email.

Download response sheet (I will only accept answers that are given on this form)


Students are not allowed to turn in response sheets during the last week of class!

Course Evaluation


1 final paper (up to 1200 words) 20 points
2 reaction papers (up to 900 words) 20 points
unannounced assignments 25 points
1 thesis statement (use form) 10 points
participation 10 points
response sheets (use form) 15 points
100 points


4.0 (=A) 100 – 93
3.5 92 – 87
3 (=B) 86 – 82
2.5 81 – 77
2 (=C) 76 – 72
1.5 71 – 65
1.0 (=D) 64 – 60
0.0 < 60

GENERIC SYLLABUS (might not be applicable to each class)

Laptop/Cell Phone Policy

You are not permitted to use laptops and cell phones in class. Please do not text under the table. Cell phones should be removed from tables. Failure to follow this policy will lead to unannounced assignments in class or loss of points (at the digression of the instructor).

Class Attendance

As mentioned above, I do not employ in my classes a class attendance policy. Having said this, you should be aware that class attendance is very important. When engaging in a philosophical and humanistic dialogue it is necessary to be an active and present participant in the ongoing discussion. If you miss class please do not email me asking if you missed anything important. Every class is important. You should get a study buddy for the class; a student in class who will inform you of what you missed. If you miss a class you can come to my office hours or make an appointment to discuss the material, providing you have read the material and you simply want to see if your understanding of the material is on target. Time in office hours will not be used to repeat the class lectures.

Grading Criteria + Paper Writing Tips

Check out this page for grading criteria, example of assignments, etc.

Online Research Sources

Unfortunately, some people think that the internet as such is a reliable source of information. If you decide to use online sources for additional information or your paper then do not just use one of the common internet search engines, such as Google; rather, use reliable academic sources, such as Britannica Online, or the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The Internet Ecyclopedia of Philosophy isn’t very good, but still acceptable. Check out MSU’s library resources! And, as with other sources, you must cite any online sources to which you refer in your essay.

Writing Center Information

MSU’s writing center offers excellent help on all matters regarding writing and learning. Check the website at http://writing.msu.edu for an overview and hours. For more information, please call 517.432.3610 or send an e-mail to writing@msu.edu.

Integrity of Scholarship and Grades (Plagiarism)

The following statement of University policy addresses principles and procedures to be used in instances of academic dishonesty, violations of professional standards, and falsification of academic or admission records, herein after referred to as academic misconduct. [See General Student Regulation 1.00, Protection of Scholarship and Grades.]

Academic Honesty

Article 2.3.3 of the Academic Freedom Report states that “The student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards.” In addition, the (insert name of unit offering course) adheres to the policies on academic honesty as specified in General Student Regulations 1.0, Protection of Scholarship and Grades; the all-University Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and Grades; and Ordinance 17.00, Examinations. (See Spartan Life: Student Handbook and Resource Guide and/or the MSU Web site: www.msu.edu) Therefore, unless authorized by your instructor, you are expected to complete all course assignments, including homework, lab work, quizzes, tests and exams, without assistance from any source. You are expected to develop original work for this course; therefore, you may not submit course work completed for another course to satisfy the requirements for this course. Students who violate MSU rules may receive a penalty grade, including but not limited to a failing grade on the assignment or in the course. Contact your instructor if you are unsure about the appropriateness of your course work. (See also https://www.msu.edu/~ombud/)

Plagiarism, from the Ombudsman’s page

Plagiarism (from the Latin plagiarius, an abductor, and plagiare, to steal) is defined by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on Misconduct in Research (take that!) as “ . . . the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit.”

Accidental or Unintentional
One may not even know that they are plagiarizing.  It is the student’s responsibility to make certain that they understand the difference between quoting and paraphrasing, as well as the proper way to cite material.

Here, students are well aware that they are plagiarizing.  Purposefully using someone else’s ideas or work without proper acknowledgment is plagiarism.  This includes turning in borrowed or bought research papers as one’s own.

Turning in the same term paper (or substantially the same paper) for two courses without getting permission from one’s instructor is plagiarism.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities should contact the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities to establish reasonable accommodations. For an appointment with a counselor, call 353-9642 (voice) or 355-1293 (TTY)

Drops and Adds

The last day to add this course is the end of the first week of classes. The last day to drop this course with a 100 percent refund and no grade reported is (see Academic Calendar). The last day to drop this course with no refund and no grade reported is (see Academic Calendar). You should immediately make a copy of your amended schedule to verify you have added or dropped this course.

Note on Attendance

Students who fail to attend the first four class sessions or class by the fifth day of the semester, whichever occurs first, may be dropped from the course.

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