Mathematical manuscripts of Karl Marx

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The Mathematical manuscripts of Karl Marx consist mostly of Karl Marx's attempts to understand the foundations of infinitesimal calculus, from around 1873–1883. A Russian edition edited by Sofya Yanovskaya was eventually published in 1968, and an English translation was published in 1983 (Marx 1983).

According to Hubert C. Kennedy, Marx "[...] seems to have been unaware of the advances being made by continental mathematicians in the foundations of differential calculus, including the work of Cauchy." In the same text, Kennedy says "While Marx's analysis of the derivative and differential had no immediate effect on the historical development of mathematics, Engels' claim that Marx made "independent discoveries" is certainly justified. Marx's operational definition of the differential anticipated 20th century developments in mathematics, and there is another aspect of the differential, that seems to have been seen by Marx, that has become a standard part of modern textbooks—the concept of the differential as the principal part of an increment.", implying that Marx's apprehension and interpretation of calculus was far from short-sighted. This may have contributed to an interest in nonstandard analysis among Chinese mathematicians (Dauben 1998).


  • Dauben, Joseph W (1998), "Marx, Mao and mathematics: the politics of infinitesimals", Proceedings of the International Congress of Mathematicians, Vol. III (Berlin, 1998), Documenta Mathematica, III, pp. 799–809, ISSN 1431-0635, MR 1648209, archived from the original on 2019-01-30, retrieved 2011-09-25
  • Kennedy, Hubert (1978), "Marx's mathematical manuscripts", Science and Nature, 1: 59–62, ISSN 0193-3396, MR 0515991
  • Kennedy, Hubert C. (1977), "Karl Marx and the foundations of differential calculus", Historia Mathematica, 4 (3): 303–318, doi:10.1016/0315-0860(77)90058-1, ISSN 0315-0860, MR 0441649
  • Kennedy, Hubert C. (1982), "Marx, Peano, and Differentials", Science & Nature, 5: 39–42, ISSN 0193-3396
  • Marx, Karl (1968), Yanovskaya, Sofya (ed.), Matematicheskie rukopist, Moscow, Nauk

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