Why Didn’t Marx Finish Capital?

Several scholars have suggested that Marx never finished his planned volumes on Capital due to his recognition of unsolvable problems with his theory, in particular the so-called transformation problem of labor values and the law of the falling rate of profit. However, the ultimate culprit for Capital remaining unfinished seems to be the combination of such theoretical riddles – theories he continued to work on but never abandoned – with Marx's perfectionism and his insatiable appetite for knowledge. Marx’s perfectionism and severe self-criticism repeatedly led him to the latest scientific findings in many fields, but it also prevented the finishing of the manuscripts. This is most clearly evidenced by Marx reading frantically about the newest economic and social developments in the major capitalist countries in fields ranging from agriculture to financial panics.