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MATERIALISM, MARXISM, AND ANARCHISTS

What is the origin of materialism, Marxism, and anarchism in the modern era?

Intellectually, they were all reactions against Hegelianism. In society, as political movements, they represented a natural historical progression from the French Revolution, and a reaction against the industrial revolution in Europe, as well as against feudalism in Russia.

What is materialism?

In a general philosophical sense, materialism is the doctrine that only physical, material things are real. In a political Marxist sense, materialism is the doctrine that economic conditions and transactions determine the course of history.

What is Marxism?

Marxism is the doctrine attributed to Karl Marx (1818-1883) that human society is divided into social classes and that the material or economic struggles among classes are the most important events on the big stage of history.

Karl Marx viewed human history in terms of a continuing struggle between economic classes (iStock).

Karl Marx viewed human history in terms of a continuing struggle between economic classes (iStock).

What is anarchism?

Anarchism is the political doctrine that human happiness and well being are best served without powerful political structures. Anarchists seek the decentralization of power, into small units, controlled by the people.

Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach

Who was Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach?

Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach (1804-1872) criticized German Idealism as a form of theology, or a rationalization of religion. His project was to invert Friedrich Hegel's (1770-1831) relationship between the individual and the Absolute. Whereas for Hegel, the individual was an effect or expression of the Absolute, for Feuerbach the Absolute was an effect or expression of the individual. Feuerbach's main works were: Toward a Critique of Hegel's Philosophy (1839), The Essence of Christianity (1841), Principles of the Philosophy of the Future (1843), and The Essence of Religion (1846). He collaborated with Karl Marx (1818-1883) and was active in the late 1840s revolutionary period, but then retired from public life and died poor.

What kind of a materialist was Ludwig Feuerbach?

Feuerbach was an historical materialist. He sought to bring out the implicit Hegelian assumption that "truth, reality, and sensibility are identical." But Feuerbach thought that by locating reason and consciousness in the Absolute, Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) had alienated man's essence from him. He asserted that "only a sensible being is a real, true being," and that thought is the product of this human being, and not the other way around. God or the Absolute is no more than the appearance of ourselves to ourselves. The work of philosophy was to begin with man, in his situation. Man was neither mere matter nor consciousness alone.

How were Ludwig Feuerbach's ideas received?

After his early publication of work critical of Christianity, Feuerbach was dismissed from a teaching position at Erlangen University, where he had gotten his doctorate in philosophy; after that, he could not secure further academic employment. His ensuing criticism of Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) did not help his situation.

What influence did Ludwig Feuerbach have on others?

Feuerbach directly influenced Karl Marx (1818-1883) and many others. His philosophical starting point of the existing individual predated existentialism. His ideas of

What did Ludwig Feuerbach conclude man was?

In his Principles of the Philosophy of the Future (1843) Feuerbach wrote the rallying cry for many vegetarians: Der Mensch ist, was er isst, or "Man is what he eats." However, his full thought on this was not merely dietary. The preceding sentences, written in 1850, read:

The doctrine of foods is of great ethical and political significance. Food becomes blood, blood becomes heart and brain, thoughts and mind-stuff. Human fare is the foundation of human culture and thought. Would you improve a nation? Give it, instead of declamations against sin, better food.

Feuerbach struggled with how "human fare" became human thought. His solution was to convert "the essence of religion into the essence of man," but Marx criticized him for his location of abstractions in the individual, preferring to understand the individual as a collection or intersection of social and economic relations.

how religion should be studied made possible sociologies, histories, and other non-religious studies of religion.

 
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