Carl asked me to include the comment I am responding to, so here it is: "I'm happy to hear that you're thoughts have turned to this, as this is something we in literature deal with all the time, both in texts and criticism. I am curious about why you seem to value this style in Marx, when you seem to detest it in others (say Hegel, for whom similar arguments have been made, I believe). Not that I would ever try to force someone into loving Hegel, but as someone who deals in a tradition of scholarship that is often torn between a desire to write in beyond the mystification of the everyday (taking its cue from Foucault, Althusser, Butler, etc.) and a desire to express ideas clearly and lucidly, I'm curious to pick your brain on the issue further."
[See the comments on my previous post]. Yes, of course. I pointed out to my students, but neglected to mention in my post, that the mode of interpretation I was adopting, while almost unheard of in Economics, is, as Eliza Doolittle might say, mother's milk to literary critics. Questions such as "whose voice is it?" or "what is the relation between what an author is saying and how he or she says it?" are standard fare in literature courses. That is why I told my students that I would be combining, in my course, economic theory with history, sociology, philosophy, and literary criticism.
But your later remarks call for me to say something methodological or systematic about how I do philosophy. I was trained as a teenager by several of the leading analytic philosophers of the mid-twentieth century: Willard van Orman Quine, and Nelson Goodman, when I was not yet old enough to drive, as well as rigorous logicians like C. I. Lewis and Hao Wang. The two great philosophers who first engaged my energies were David Hume and Immanuel Kant. Educated in that tradition, I acquired a life-long commitment to clarity, precision, and an unwillingness, if I may put it this way, to use a metaphor that I could not, if necessary, cash in with a literal explication.
At the same time, I was distressed by what seemed to me the thinness of much analytic philosophy, its tendency to confuse one-dimensionality with rigor. To choose just one example among many, John Rawls writes A Theory of Justice without, so far as I can tell, ever having read Freud, relying on an old-fashioned moral psychology that is utterly inadequate to an understanding of human motivation. Thus, I have striven during my entire career to embrace the insights of thinkers far from the analytic school while finding ways to render those insights in a fashion that would, if I may put it subjectively and personally, pass muster with Quine or Lewis. If one were to go back and look at some of my earliest writings, such as the essays in The Poverty of Liberalism, one would find evidences of this effort. My interpretation of Capital is my most sustained of these efforts.
When I read Hegel, I do not find sharp, powerful insights that can be rendered in a fashion that will pass the test of rigor and clarity that has been, for me, the touchstone of good philosophy. Hence my rather scandalous expressions of revulsion, which should perhaps be taken simply as an old man's crotchets.