Biography Childhood and early education:
Science and materialism Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels are the creators of what they called "scientific socialism".
As you are reading this document try to work out what they thought made their theories scientific, and whether you agree with them. It seems to me that they thought their theory was scientific because of its content, because of the kind of theory it is.
This is what they focus on, rather than issues such as empirical method. The religious views of history they criticised were the Jewish and Christian accounts found in the Bible.
In the mid 19th century many people saw science as the opponent of religion. The idealism they criticised was mainly Hegel's philosophy of history.
Hegel argued that history is not meaningless chance, but a rational process - spirit or mind making itself real in history.
Marx and Engels thought the material world determines our ideas rather than our ideas determining the material world. To explore what this means, read the extracts from Hegel that illustrate his idealist view of history and compare them to the summary of historical materialism. Historical materialism was not the only materialist theory developed in the 19th century.
The other major one was Darwin's theory of evolution. Marx and Engels thought of their theory as complementary to evolutionary theory.
Alienation and class struggle Marx and Engels wrote about an enormous range of subjects including religion, politics, history, housing, economics, marriage, philosophy, sex and law. Some people argue that the key to all their writings is the idea of "alienation". Alienation is separation from what we really are.
According to Marx and Engels the social system makes us aliens or strangers to ourselves.
They thought people are stopped from being truly human by the stunting effect of a corrupt social system. The present system is called capitalism or the bourgeois order.
Like previous systems, it distorts our true being, but our full humanity will flourish in the communist future. Some marxists, notably the followers of Louis Althussersay that Marx only thought like this in the first part of his life.
Others, the Hegelian marxists or humanists, say this kind of thinking runs through all his work. In the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts ofMarx wrote about "estranged labour". This is labour that has been made a stranger to the labourer, he or she is no longer related to it.
This is the humanity we have been alienated from. The alienation took place very early in human history and was associated with the emergence of economic and social classes.
When early societies produced more than they needed to exist on, the surplus was set apart for special communal purposes such as investment, defence or religion. The groups that took charge of this surplus became the ruling class and, since then: Look at the chart summarising historical materialism as Engels saw it in one of his last books It shows how the economy, family structure and government are believed to be inter-related.
In the final analysis, the economy is believed to be decisive in determining what happens in history. Different periods of economic history have different classes. In Europe the great "epochs in the progress of the economic formation of society" were "the ancient, the feudal, and the modern bourgeois [capitalist] methods of production" Marx Under capitalism there are many classes, but according to the The Communist Manifestothey are polarizing into two: The proletariate are the class that own nothing but their labour power, the capitalists are the class who own the means of production.
The proletariat are the first class in history that can free everyone from alienation.Karl Marx, “Theses on Feuerbach” 2 of 2 VIII All social life is essentially practical. All mysteries that lead theory to mysticism find their rational solution in.
Theses On Feuerbach Written: by Marx in Brussels in the spring of , under the title “1) ad Feuerbach”; Marx’s original text was first published in , in German and in Russian translation, by the Institute of Marxism-Leninism in Marx-Engels Archives, Book I, Moscow. Science and materialism.
Karl Marx () and Friedrich Engels () are the creators of what they called "scientific socialism".
As you are reading this document try to work out what they thought made their theories scientific, and whether you agree with them. From 'Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy' by Frederick Engels. Out of the dissolution of the Hegelian school, however, there developed still another tendency, the only one which has borne real fruit.
I. The Notion of Atheism - II. Plato's Classification and the Materialistic Root of Atheism.
1. Plato's Philosophical Reflection on Atheism We are reproducing a slightly edited version of What is Marxism? by Rob Sewell and Alan Woods, last published in to celebrate the centenary of the death of Karl Marx.
The three articles on the fundamental aspects of Marxism, Marxist Economics, Dialectical Materialism and Historical Materialism were originally published separately in the s.