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Lecture 5

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Dan Silver

Classical Soc – October 19 – Lecture 5 AGENDA - Marx: Biography Ideology Critique Alienation - Marx biography o Born in 1818, worked and lived in the time of social upheaval (after the French revolution), although he’s about 20 years younger than Comte. o Did not believe that science would provide a new center for social order. Did not believe that ideas or social concern held or broke societies together or apart. o Our religions our breaking down, society’s not functioning.  The reason why everything’s in chaos is capitalism. The most important task for any social thinker is to understand how deformation gets expressed in capitalism, and bring consciousness to that situation (how is capitalism deforming humanity). o Father was a prominent lawyer; parents came from a long line of rabbis (very educated Jewish family). When Jews lost all their rights, the family converted to Christianity. o Wanted to be in the middle of action; moved to Berlin. Here he fell into radical circles, especially one that was dedicated to Hegel, a prominent philosopher at the time. They were interested in seeing how societies could become great over time; the human mind changes over history. o The group he hung out with only followed some of Hegel’s ideas. They wanted to take his ideas to new extremes. He graduated from school and was too radical to get a job. Managed to get a job in a magazine, got himself kicked out of the country for writing something negative about Russia, and he got married and moved to Paris. o Read Adam Smith and Ricardo. Met the lead anarchists of the day. At the same time, he met Engles, who became his co-writer. ENgles was the son of a textile manufacturer- he knew the real ins and outs of how factories worked. Through him, Marx met many of the radicals and leaders of the workers movement. o Everyone believed that there was going to be another revolution. It was a moment of expectation. This is the environment that he wrote his book in. o Was forced to leave paris and moved to Belgium. They met the Communist League, who asked them to write “the Communist Manifesto”. He formed his basic idea: “class rules the world”. o In 1848 revolutions broke out across Europe. The students and workers united against big business owners and the government. But this revolution failed. o Marx moved to London and got a job in a library. His writings got more analytical. During that period in his life, he was rereading Adam Smith and Ricardo and pouring over reports from factories. Got really poor and never got a real job. During this period, three of his children died of malnutrition, and the rest were very sick all the time. o Joined “Communist International”, and when his book came out it was a must read for any radical. He eventually formed a new group that took over Paris for a few months before their downfall in the form of a bloodbath. o His death was barely noted in the public eye, despite the fact that he is now considered one of the most important men in history. - Ideology Critique o Ideology  Marx thought that one his most important contributions to social sciences is that it’s not ideas, but social practices that make the world go round. What is real is what is most fundamentally decisive for everything else.  Religious teachings and philosophical ideas are in a way covers for what is real (our material lives). Marx thought he needed to show that religious is an expression of social tension by starting from a very important author named Ludvic Feureroach. He had just written a very controversial book called the essence of Christianity. He made the proclamation that God isn’t real, and that human needs are real. It’s because of those needs that we create gods. The irony is that we then make ourselves dependent on God. God is those ideals we have that we can never fully live up to (ie. Loving, fearless). Once we created those gods, we think a lot about what they think about us, and we’re afraid of casting a negative opinion about ourselves. o Marx makes a general key movement within his thesies. There’s a general shift:  Theology  anthropology  Traditionally, if you want to think about religion you think about theology (the truth of God, what god wants, what god is etc.; when you understand all this, you’ll understand what humans need to do- if gods wants us to be pure, we’ll be pure etc.  Conclusions about anthropology are dependant on conclusions about god.  Feureroach wanted to reverse this (Anthropology  Theology) o Start with the truth about human beings (what is basic structure of humanity). Once you understand that, you’ll understand where religions come from and what God is. ( ie. If humans are insecure, you’ll have an image of god that is wholesome)  Marx agrees with this, but he doesn’t think that it goes far enough because it stops with a general understanding of human beings. You need to go from Anthropology  Sociology. The sources of alienation, why people believe they have to project an image of a higher being, are social. They’re caused by the social world we live in and the kind of work you do in that social world. In certain kinds of worlds, your work makes you feel separated from everyone else. If you understand the basic structures of societies, then you’ll understand what human beings want, and then you’ll understand theology. AS you change the way the society is, so will theology.  Marx is an advocate of materialism.  Idealism is Materialism.  Idealism  ???  Materialism  the physical, what people do, what they have.  Interpreting the world versus changing it.  If theology is the most important variable driving the world, then you’ll see why the world is the way it is, If you want to change the world, you change the ideas by reinterpreting them. If you’re trying to cha
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