From MARXISM-AND-SCIENCES@LISTSERV.CC.EMORY.EDU Tue Feb 6 07:56:14 2001
The Natural Science Note-Books of Marx and Engels: Middle of 1877 to early 1883
By Somnath Ghosh (AM-18210) and Pradip Baksi, 5 February 2001
[Publisher's note: Footnotes numbers largely missing in the orginal.]
It is customary to associate the names of Marx and Engels with the emergence of scientific socialism in the 19th-century Europe. Students of socialist literature also associate the name of Engels with the study of natural sciences of the last century, from within the socialist movement. However, the natural science studies of Karl Marx remain relatively unknown.
The present communication announces the publication of the 31st Volume of Section IV of the MEGA (Marx-Engels-Gesammtausgabe; Complete Works of Marx-Engels)1, on the 16th of December, 1999.2 This volume contains Marx's notes and excerpts on Inorganic and Organic Chemistry and Electricity. Together with Engels' excerpts and notes on parts of Physics and Ecology, related to his Dialectics of Nature. The present volume is of interest to the students of history of the 19th century on many counts: it provides new source materials for the study of the interrelationships of the history of natural and social sciences of that century, for Marx-studies and Engels-studies and, through these, for the study of the interrelationships of the sciences and the socialist movement.
Before we proceed with the contents of MEGA IV/31, a few words about the MEGA itself are in order3. Some 27 years after the death of Marx and, 15 years after the death of Engels, in the year1910, the plan for publishing the Complete Works of Marx and Engels, in the original languages of their texts, was discussed for the first time, at a meeting of some prominent Austro-Marxists, who, however, could not start the project. David Borisovich Rjazanov (Goldendach) (1870-1938), an émigré Russian revolutionary intellectual, present at that meeting began to realize this plan, with active support from Lenin and the Comintern, in the 1920's from Moskow, Frankfurt-am-Main and, Berlin. At that time the Marx-Engels archives were the property of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). They permitted the Russians to photo-copy the Marx-Engels papers. Thus began the first historical attempt to publish the MEGA. Subsequently, as the relations between the SPD and Rjanozov's sponsors * the Comintern - soured, the SPD leadership cancelled the arrangement, and the fate of MEGA was sealed. Events followed in quick succession: in Russia Rjazanov was removed from his responsibility; in Germany the Nazis came to power in 1933; the publication of MEGA came to a halt in 19354. In the face of the lawlessness of the Nazi regime, a large part of the SPD archives, including the Marx-Engels papers, were taken out of Germany. Subsequently, these papers were sold to a Dutch insurance company, which in turn gave them to the newly established Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis (IISG), at Amsterdam, in 1938. Some more papers were collected at Moscow, both before and after the second world war. As of now some 2/3 of the Marx-Engels papers are being preserved at the aforementioned institute at Amsterdam and, about 1/3 of them are being preserved at two Russian centres5, which grew out of the now defunct Institute of Marxism-Leninism of Moscow.
In the 1960's a new attempt to publish the MEGA was made by the Institutes of Marxism-Leninism (IML) of Berlin and Moscow. The IISG, permitted the IMLs to use the documents preserved at Amsterdam, but did not participate in the project. This attempt is now called MEGA(2) and, the earlier attempt is called MEGA(1). The Karl-Marx-House (KMH) of Trier in Germany also maintained close contact with the project.
In 1989, the fast unfolding political changes in GDR and USSR created uncertainities for the future of MEGA(2). IISG and KMH changed their earlier stand and, agreed to participate in the project, to ensure its further continuation. In the autumn of 1990, the International-Marx-Engels-Stiftung (IMES; International Marx-Engels Foundation) was established, with its office at IISG, Amsterdam, with the sole purpose of completing the MEGA(2). By that time, 43 volumes or parts thereof of the MEGA(2) were already published; work was in progress on 7 more volumes or parts thereof. These volumes were published by 1993. A new editorial policy was formulated in 19926. Since 1994 the IMES is publishing its house journal the MEGA-Studien7. It has been decided that under the new management, MEGA(2)will be completed in 114 volumes, grouped into the following 4 divisions : Division I * all the works, articles and drafts, other than those related to the Capital (32 volumes); Division II * the Capital and the work preparatory to it (15 volumes, many containing several parts); Division III * Correspondence(35 volumes);and Division IV * excerpts , notes and marginalia (32 volumes). The Akademie Verlag of Berlin8 are the current publishers of the MEGA(2).
At present 11 teams are working on the different yet-to-be-published volumes of the MEGA(2), in Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia and the USA. The first volume under the new management came out in December 19989. Two more volumes have been published in 199910.
So far, some of Marx's excerpts and notes on Geology, Agro-Chemistry and Soil Science have been published in MEGA IV/ 6, 8 and 9. Elsewhere, parts of his Mathematical Manuscripts have also been published11. A vast amount of his notes and excerpts on these disciplines and, on Physics, Technology, Agriculture, Geology and Physiology, still remain unpublished12.
The recently published MEGA IV/31 consists of two parts: Texts and, Text-critical Apparatus. The Text portion is subdivided into two sections. The first section contains Marx's excerpts and notes on Inorganic and Organic Chemistry and, Electricity. The second section consists of Engels excerpts and notes on parts of Physics and Ecology. The Text-Critical Apparatus contains a general introduction; introductions to the subsections of the texts; The inventories of variant readings, corrections and comments, which everywhere indicate the corresponding page and line number of the text ; name index; indexes of literature used in the apparatus; and a subject index. The technical standards of editing and production are veritable examples for other editors and publishers of similar works to follow. The introductions in the apparatus portion provide valuable historical data related to the topics of the texts; these may help the reader situate the texts in the history of the corresponding disciplines and, appreciate the specificity of the interests shown by Marx and Engels in the study of these sciences.
Marx's excerpts and notes on Chemistry, pertaining to the period 1877-1883, are distributed in 6 different notebooks. They appear in this volume as:
For these excerpts Marx used some earlier and contemporary literature on Chemistry, as well as some literature of the related sciences, like Physics, Geology and Physiology. The sources used by him are:
Lothar Mayer, Die Modernen Theorien der Chemie und ihre Bedeutung fur die Chemische Statik. 2., umgearb. und sehr verm. Aufl. (The Modern Theories of Chemistry and their Significance for Chemical Statics. 2nd revised and largely augmented ed.) Breslau 1872.
Henry Enfield Roscoe, Kurzes Lehrbuch der Chemie nach den neuesten Ansichten der Wissenschaft. Dt.Ausg., unter Mitw. des Verf. Bearb. von Carl Schorlemmer. 4., nach den neuesten Forschungen verm. und Verb. Aufl. (A Concise Textbook of Chemistry in the light of the Latest ideas of that Science). German ed. In collaboration with Carl Schorlemmer as author and editor. 4th ed., revised and improved in the light of latest research ). Braunschweig 1873.
Carl Schorlemmer, Lehrbuch der Kohlenstoffverbindungen oder der organischen Chemie. 2. Verb. Aufl. (A Textbook of Carbon Compounds or of the Organic Chemistry. 2nd revised ed.) Braunschweig 1874.
Henry Enfield Roscoe, Carl Schorlemmer, Ausfurliches Lehrbuch der Chemie (A Comprehensive Textbook of Chemistry). Bd.1 (vol. 1). Braunschweig 1877. Bd.2 (Vol.2). Braunschweig 1879.
Benjamin Witzschel, Die Physik fasslich dargestellt nach ihrem neuesten Standpunkte (Physics - Comprehensively interpreted according to its latest standpoints). 2. Ausg. (2nd ed.). Leipzig 1858.
6. Wilhelm Friedrich Kuhne, Lehrbuch der phygiologischen Chemie ( A Textbook of Physiological Chemistry). Leipzig 1868.
7. Ludimarr Hermann, Grundriss der Physiologie des Menschen ( Foundations of Human Physiology). 5., verm. und verb. Aufl. (5th augmented and revised ed.) Berlin 1874.
Johannes Ranke, Grundzuge der Physiologie des Menschen mit Rucksicht auf die Gesundheits-pflege. 3. umgearb. Aufl. (Essentials of Human Physiology, taking Health Care into Consideration ). 3rd. updated ed. Leipzig 1875.
Joseph Beete Jukes, The Student's Manual of Geology. 3rd. ed. Edinburgh 1872.
The selection of sources mirrors Marx's interest in Inorganic, Organic, Physical, Physiological and Geological Chemistry. As a rule Marx worked with many sources on a single topic.
The excerpts titled 'On the Atomic Theory' - his notebook  - contain a discussion of the: (1) atomistic principle as propounded by John Dalton (1766-1844), (2) related stoichiometric laws of chemical combination of elements and, (3) determination of atomic and molecular weights of elements and compounds - wherein the doctrine of Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac (1778-1850) and, the principle of Lorenzo Romano Amadeo Carlo comte di Quaregna e Ceretto Avogadro (1776 -1856), together with the follow up corollaries like the relation between 'vapour density' and 'molecular weight', have been discussed with various illustrations.
The repeatedly excerpted tables of Inorganic and Organic Chemistry - in his notebooks  - -- contain tables for Non-metals and Metals; the Periodic System of Julius Lothar Meyer (1830-1895); discussion of Quantitative Valency, Oxides, Hydroxides, Acids and Salts; tables of the various groups of Organic compounds, like the Paraffins, Carbohydrates, Aromatic Compounds, alkaloids, Uric Acid and related substances, Carbonyl and Sulfocarbonyl Compounds, Etheric and Anhydride substances, Ammonia and its derivatives, Organic Acids etc.
Marx's chemistry-excerpts are followed by his excerpts from: Edouard Hospitalier, La physique moderne. Les principales applications de l'electricite 2. ed. (Modern Physics.The Principal Applications of Electricity. 2nd ed.) Paris 1882. It contains discussions on: (1) the sources of electricity, like the 'Voltaic Piles' or 'Galvanic Batteries'; the physical nature of their functioning; (2) the characteristics of current electricity - Ohm's Law and related issues; and (3) lists the units for measuring Electrical Current, Voltage, Resistance etc. The first section of MEGA IV/31 comes to an end with these excerpts.
The second section of the volume contains Engels' excerpts from:
William Thomson, Peter Guthrie Tait, Treatise on Natural Philosophy. Vol.1. Oxford 1867.
Carl Fraas, Klima und Pflanzenwelt in der Zeit, ein Beitrag zur Geschichte beider. (Climate and Plant World in Time, a contribution to the History of Both). Landshut 1847.
Hermann Helmholtz, Ueber die Erhaltung der Kraft, eine physikalische Abhandlung, vorgetragen in der physikalschen Gesellschaft zu Berlin am 23. Juli 1847 (On the Conservation of Force, a physical treatise, presented at the meeting of the Physical Society at Berlin on the 23rd of July 1847). Berlin 1847.
Jean Baptiste Le Rond d'Alembert, Traite de dynamique - .. (Treatise on Dynamics -.) Paris 1743.
Gustav Wiedemann, Die Lehre vom Galvanismus und Electromagnetismus (The Doctrine of Galvanism and Electromagnetism). 2. neubearb. und verm. Aufl. Bd. 1.2 (2nd revised and augmented ed. Vol.1.2 ). Braunschweig 1874.
A note on Heat.
A note on the Units of Measureing Electricity.
Engels made use of these excerpts and notes in several articles of the Dialectics of Nature13 -- titled 'The Measure of Motion - Work', 'Tidal Friction. Kant and Thomson - Tait'.'
The Share of Labour in the Apes becoming Human Beings' (Anteil der Arbeit an der Menschwerdung des Affen': usually rendered in English as 'The Part Played by Labour in Transition from Ape to Man'), 'Electricity', and 'Heat'.
In view of the fact that Engels' study of the natural sciences has received the attention of interested scholars for quite some time14, in the remaining part of the present paper we shall concentrate on Marx's natural science studies.
Marx's interest in Chemistry coincides with the period of his intense preoccupation with political economy. Since the 1850s he noticed that there are connections among: ground rent, soil fertility, use of fertilizers in agriculture, plant nutrients and, changes in the science of Chemistry15. He studied some of the works of James Finlay Weir Jhonston (1796-1855)16, Justus Freiherr von Liebig (1803--1873)17; Attended the lectures on modern chemistry delivered by the Director of Royal College of Chemistry at London, August Wilhelm von Hofmann (1818-1892)18. He was also aware of some of the works of Christian Friedrich Schonbein (1799-1868)19, Auguste Laurent (1807-1853)20, Charles Fre/de/rick Gerhardt (1816-1856)21, Charles Adolphe Wurtz (1817-1884)22, and, Friedrich August Kekule/ von Stardonitz (1829-1896)23. His friend Carl Schorlemmer (1834-1892) - a student of Robert Wilhelm Bunsen (1811-1899), Heinrich Will (1812-1890) and Hermann Kopp (1817-1892) - greatly influenced his study of Chemistry.
The then developments in Chemistry were governed by the introduction of atomic and molecular theories, the theories of structure and bonds and, the periodic systems. Marx's extracts and notes on Chemistry partly mirror these developments. In the case of periodic system, it appears that Marx was acquainted with the work of Julius Lothar Meyer (1830-1895), but not with that of Dimitry Ivanovich Mendeleev (1834-1907).
Marx's interest in electricity also dates back at least to the 1850s. In July 1850 Marx observed that steam was going to be superseded by electricity as the source of energy for industrial technology24 In May 1851 he discussed with Engels and Daniels the possibility of use of electricity in agriculture25, in the light of an article published earlier in The Economist26. The excerpts from Hospitalier's book indicate a rekindling of his interests in the progress of theoretical and practical knowledge about electricity.
MEGA IV/31, thus documents only a phase and some aspects of Marx's intensive pre-occupation with the natural sciences. Students of history of science, and of socialism in the 19th century,eagerly Await the publication of his notes and excerpts on Physics, History of Technology, Geology, Soil Science, History of Agricultural Plants,,Agricultural Chemistry, Physiology of Plants, of Animals and of Human Beings, parts of Mathematics and, on the interrelationships of the Natural Sciences and Philosophy27.
The editorial work on MEGA IV/31 began in GDR, after the publication of MEGA I/26, in 1985. It continued within a decaying East German state, under conditions of managerial incompetence, staff reduction, underpayment, and political perfidy. After the unification of Germany and, take over of the MEGA by a new management, the entire work had to be comprehensively revised according to the stipulations prescribed in the new rules for editing (see : n.2 above). But never mind, as they say in Persian: Der aayad, durust aayad ( It came late, but it has been delivered well)!
We express our heartfelt thanks to Prof. Dr. Manfred Neuhaus of the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften and, to the Akademie Verlag of Berlin, for kindly sending us a copy of MEGA IV/31 and, the response to it in the German press. Thanks are also due to Sri Nilay Bhattacharya for helping us with the German texts and, to Mrs. Suparna Ghosh for providing similar help in respect of the extracts in French. The usual disclaimers apply everywhere.
1. Karl Marx/Friedrich Engels: Gesamtausgabe (MEGA). Herausgegeben von der International Marx-Engels-Stiftung. IV Abteilung: Exzerpte, Notizen, Marginalien. Band 31: Naturwissenschaftliche Exzerpte und Notizen Mitte 1877 bis Anfang 1883. Bearbeitet von Anneliese Griese, Friederun Fessen, Peter Jaeckel und Gerd Pawelzig. Akademie Verlag. Berlin 1999. 1055 S. in Zwei Halbbaender. DM 298. ISBN 3-05-03399-1.
2. Arnold Schoelzel, "Universaler" bookstall": Zwei neue Baende der Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe sind erschienen, Junge Welt, Berlin vom 29. Dezember 1999.
3. For a description of the MEGA and its history see Juergen Rojahn, "Publishing Marx and Engels after 1989: the fate of the Mega...Critique, no. 30-*31 (Glasgow, 1998) pp. 196-207 and, a Bengali tr. of the same: Euergen Roiyahan, "1989 Saler Par Marks-Engels-Rachanasamagra" (Tr. Pradip Baksi), Anustup (Calcutta), XXXIII: Summer-Rainy Season Jt. No. 1406 (1999), pp. 40-76.
4. See Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels: Historisch--Kritische Gesamtausgabe. Werke, Schriften, Briefe. Im Auftrage des Marx-Engels-Instituts Moskau hrsg. Von D. Rjazanov bzw. V. Adoratskij, Erste Abteilung: Samtliche Werke und Schriften mit Ausnahme des Kapital . Bd. 1-7; Dritte Abteilung: Briefwechsel. Bd. 1-4. Frankfurt a. M. bzw. Berlin 1927-1935. Sonderausgabe: Friedrich Engels: Herrn Eugen Duhrings Umwalzung der Wissenschaft. Dialektik der Natur. 1873-1882. Sonderausgabe zum Vierzigsten Todestage von Friedrich Engels. Moskau, Leningrad 1935.
5. Rossiiskii nezavisnyi institut sotsyal'nykh i natsional'nykh problem (e-mail: email@example.com) and, Rossiskii tsentr khranenija i izucheniya dokumentov noveischei istorii (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
6. See: Editionsrichtlinien der Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe. Berlin, 1993.
7. Contact address: Juergen Rojahn, Executive Editor, MEGA-Studien, IMES, IISG, Cruquiusweg 31, 1019 AT Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Phone: + 31/20/668 5866, Fax : +31/20/665 4181, e-mail : email@example.com).
Contact address : Akademie Verlag, Muhlenstr. 33-34, Berlin, Germany (Phone : +49/30/478 89355, Fax : +49/30/478 89357, e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org). MEGA IV/3. Karl Marx, Exzerpte und Notizen, Sommer 1844 bis Anfang 1847. 1998. IX, 866p., ill. 18. DM 298. ISBN 3-05-003398-3. One of these two is the topic of this paper (see n.1 above). The other one is : MEGA IV/32. Die Bibliotheken von Karl Marx und Friedrich Engels. Annotiertes Verzeichnis des ermittelten Bestandes. Vorauspublication. 1999.738p. DM 298. ISBN 3-05-003440*8.
11. See: Karl Marx, Mathematical Manuscripts. Ed. and Tr. Pradip Baksi. Calcutta: Viswakos Parisad, 1994, p.404. A Bengali tr. of these MSS have also been published in 1994, by the same house.
See: Pradip Baksi," Karl Marx's Study of Science and Technology", Nature, Society, and Thought (Minneapolis), 1996, IX, 3, pp. 261-296. Anneliese Griese, Hans Joerg Sandkuehler (Hrsg.), Karl Marx - Zwischen Philosophie und Naturwissenschaften. Frankfurt/M etc. 1997 (Review in: MEGA-Studien, 1998/2, pp. 107-110).
See: MEGA I/26. Friedrich Engels, Dialektik der Natur (1873-1882). 1985. LVI, 1,111. DM248. ISBN 3-05-003363-0.
At least since 1925. See: Friedrich Engels, "Dialektik und Natur" ("Dialectics and Nature"). Hrsg. David Rjazanov, in : Marx-Engels-Archiv. Bd.2 Frankfurt/M 1927, S. 117-395.
Friedrich Engels, "Natur Dialektik. Dialektika Prirody" ("Nature Dialectics. Dialectics of Nature"), Podred. i s Pridisloviem D. Rjazanova, Archiv K. Marksa i F. Engelsa, Km. 2. Moskva i Leningrad, 1925, S. 2-440.
See also: Bonifati Mikhailovich Kedrov, " Polveka raboty nad tekstami i zamyslami F. Engelsa" (" Half a century of work on F. Engels' texts and plans"), in : Filosofiya i estestovoznaniya. Moscow 1974. Bengali tr. in: Marksbad O Bijnan samuher Dwandikata. (Marxism and the Dialectics of the Sciences) Ed. and Tr. P. Baksi, Calcutta 1986, pp. 86-107. Anneliese Griese, Gerd Pawelzig, "Friedrich Engels' "Dialektik der Natur": eine vergleichende Studie zur Editionsgeschichte" ("Friedrich Engels' "Dialectics of Nature" : a comperative study of the history of its editions"), MEGA-Studien, 1995/1, pp.33-60.
Marx's letter to Adolf Cluss, 5 October 1853; Marx-Engels, Collected Works (henceforth MECW), Moscow 1975. Vol, 39, p. 382. Marx's letters to Engels, 13 and 20 February 1866; MECW, Vol.42, pp. 227, 232. Karl Marx, Capital I, in MECW, 35, p.313, n.2.
James Finlay Weir Johnston, Catechism of agricultural chemistry and geology. 23rd ed. Edinburgh 1842. Id., Lectures on agricultural chemistry and geology. Edinburgh 1847.
Id., Elements of agricultural chemistry and geology. 4th ed. Edinburgh 1856.
Justus von Liebig, Die organische Chemie in ihrer Anwendung auf Agrikultur und Physiologie (The Organic chemistry in its application to agriculture and Physiology ). 4th ed. Braunschweig 1842. New ed. 1862. Id., Herr Doctor Emil Wolff in Hohenheim und die Agrikultur-chemie ( Dr. Emil Wolff in Hohenheim and Agricultural chemistry ). Braunschweig 1855.
Out of these lectures grew: August Wilhelm von Hofmann, Einleitung in die moderne Chemie (Introduction to Modern Chemistry). Braunschweig 1866.
Christian Friedrich Schoenbein, " Neue Beobachtungen ueber voltaische Stroeme, erregt durch chemische Tendenzen" (" New observations on voltaic currents, excited through chemical tendencies in: Annalen der Physik und Chemie. Leipzig. (Bd. 43.) Reihe 2. Bd. 13. 1838. S.229-241.
Id., "Electrochemische Untersuchungen" ("Electrochemical investigations"), in: Ibid. (Bd. 56.) Reihe 2. Bd.26.1842. S.135-150. Id., "Uber die Sauer-Wasserstoffsaule" ( " On the Acid-Hydrogen Column") in: Ibid. (Bd. 58.) Reihe 2. Bd. 28.1843. S.361-375.
Id., Beitrage zur Physikalischen Chemie (Contribution to Physical Chemistry). Basel 1844.
Auguste Laurent, Methode de chimie (Methods of Chemistry). Paris 1854.
Charles Frederic Gerhardt, "Recherches sur les acides organiques anhydres" ("Researches on the organic acid anhydrides"), in: Annales de chimie. Paris T. 37. 1853. S. 285.
Charles Adolphe Wurtz, Lecons de philosophie chimique (Lessons of chemical philosophy). Paris 1864.
Friedrich August Kekule' von Stardonitz, "Ueber die sogenannten gepaarten Verbindungen und die Theorie der mehratomigen Radikale". (" On the so-called coupled compounds and the theory of multi-atomic radicals"), in Annalen der Chemie und Pharmacie. Heidelberg, Leipzig. Bd. 104. 1857. S.129-150.
Id., "Ueber die Constitution und die Metamorphosen der chemischen Verbindungen und uber die chemische Natur des Kohlenstoffs" (" on the constitution and the metamorphoses of chemical compounds and on the chemical nature of Carbon"), in Ibid. Bd. 106. 1858. S. 129-159.
Id., Lehrbuch der organischen Chemie oder der Chemie der Kohlenstoffverbindungen (A Textbook of Organic Chemistry or of the Chemistry of Carbon Compounds). 3 vols. Erlangen 1861-1867.
See; Wilhelm Liebknecht, "Reminiscences of Marx", in: Marx and Engels through the eyes of their contemporaries. Moscow 1978, pp. 64-65.
See: MECW, 38, S. 344-45, 350-51 (Marx to Engels, 5 May 1851 and, Engels to Marx, 9 May 1851) and, Voprosy Filosofii, No. 5, 1983: pp. 109, 115-116 (Roland Daniels to Karl Marx, 12 April and 25 May 1851).
" Remarkable Discovery - Electricity and Agriculture". The Economist, Vol III, Nos. 17 and 18, of 26 April and 3 May 1845.
See: " Chronologischer und inhaltlicher Ueberblick uber die naturwissenschaftliche Exzerpte von Karl Marx" (" A chronological and contentwise overview of the natural science excerpts of Karl Marx"), in: Peter Jaeckel und Peter Krueger, " Aktualisierte Uebersicht ueber die naturwissenschaftlichen Exzerpte von Karl Marx (1846 bis 1882)" [" An updated survey of the natural science excerpts of Karl Marx (1846 to 1882)"], in : Griese, Sandkuhler (Hrsg), Karl Marx - Zwischen Philosophie und Naturwissenschaften, l.c. (n.12), pp. 95-98.