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Class in a Capitalist Society - Essay Example

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Class in a Capitalist Society

Hegel (1770-1831) and Ludwig Feuerbach (1804 -1872) are two theorists who affected Marx very strongly.
The concept of Historical Materialism: In his 'Introduction to Theses On Feuerbach' (1845), Marx commences his own distinctive posit on Materialism, based on Feuerbach's critique of Hegel's 'Theory of the Right' (1821).His view of history is very different from the others. Marx, states that "it is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness (Marx and Engels, 1859: pp 503-504). According to Hegel (1821), God created everything from Him, thus 'God' was the 'Absolute Idea'. Then, due to the nature of the material world opposing God, the 'negation' or 'alienation' from God occurred; this was a dialectic or a clash of opposite forces; until a third stage of the growth of man's consciousness, would reconcile with the 'Absolute Idea' and return to a state of original consciousness. It had at its centre that all events are predetermined by God. Feuerbach (1841) argued that, the faculty of thought, which is the property of human beings, was the ruling principle of existence, and not God, as theorized by Hegel, and love was what united them. Marx, while agreeing with Hegel in part by accepting the 'clash of opposing forces' notion, he rejected Hegel's view of the 'Absolute Idea'. Marx posited that 'labour' was the 'essence of man'; which unites him as a 'social being' and determined his 'Consciousness'. According to Marx, the processes of life, such as 'social, political and intellectual,' are in general, determined 'by the mode of production of material life' and specific stages - social and historical, and these prevented people from seeing the material conditions of their lives clearly. Marx felt that, history did have a definite pattern; though was not merely 'the progress of the human mind' (Callinicos, 1983), as viewed by earlier theorists. Marx's starting point of history is not thought but 'the real individuals, their activity and the material conditions of their life, both those which they find already existing and those produced by their activity' (Marx & Engels, 1847: p 31).

According to Marx, Production, involved people working together and labour was a social activity. Labour involves "a twofold relation: on the one hand as a natural, on the other as a social relation" (Marx & Engels, 1847: p. 43). Thus, explains Callinicos (1983), in "The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx", the analysis of history is based on Marx's distinction between the means of production. To put it simply, a) Human beings are a part of nature and must produce and reproduce in order to survive. b) Only 'Conscious life activity' differentiates man from animals. c) While animals are limited by their genetic makeup in their range of activities, Man has the 'power of reflective thinking' d) With the help of this ...Show more

Summary

Introduction: Three great scholars belonging to the second half of the nineteenth century have a special place in the study of Sociology viz. Karl Marx (1818-1883), Max Weber (1864-1920), and Emile Durkheim (1858-1917). Because they were the very first to put forth such distinctly sociological analyses (Zuckarman, 2004), which influenced several nations like Russia and China to adopt an entirely new way governance, and economic development, indeed, they are called the "trinity" of Social Theories (Hurst, 2000; Giddens, 1971; Hadden, 1997; Altschuler, 1998; Pampel, 2000; Gane, 1988)…
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