• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Marx's views on the social function of religion

Extracts from this document...


Week 1 Question 1 What does Marx think is the social function of religion? What function must a critique of religion ultimately serve? Anna Lewis Z3189819 Due: 2 April, 2009 Word Count: 1891 Marx never wrote from a theologian or religious theorist's point of view, he was a humanist with an ideology that explained the alienation of man. Marx evolved a philosophy, which fitted in with working class ideas and added to it a prophecy, which suited working class aspirations.1 Marx's philosophy on religion is neither complete nor comprehensive; however, this essay intends to provide a broad overview providing a synthesis of his key arguments and analysis of the strength and weaknesses of his viewpoint. This essay will firstly analyse the functions of religion as contemplated by Marx, specifically considering the proliferation and development of religion, the relief it offered, it use in maintaining the status quo, and ultimately with the development of communist society religion would 'wither away.' Further, the functions of a Marxist critique will be considered including feeing alienated man from the repression of religion, the fulfilment of Marx's prophecy, whether faith existed before alienation and finally the effect of restricting the philosophy to the Western European community. The Social Function of Religion Marx asserted that forms of faith such as religion were not inherent or intrinsic to the human species.2 Rather, he argued that religion developed as a direct consequence of man's alienation for the output of his labour. ...read more.


An excellent example of an individual releasing man from religions dominating grasp was Luther of whom Marx wrote, "freed man from outer religiosity because he made religiosity the inner man".19 Upon putting these two observations together, along with his theory of alienation, Marx likely believed that he had found a solution to the ills of society. Namely the fall of capitalism which causes alienation, resulting an atheist communist state. His critique of religion although not essential to complete his philosophical ideas regarding alienation, may be considered as a reaction to his own familial experiences relating to religion, or more likely a convenient theory regardless of whether he had completely thought it through. Interestingly, Marx's critique of religion creates its own, no less warped, self-fulfilling ideology. Through Marx's observations alienation and oppression are forced upon men as a result of the state adhering to capitalist policies. These separate the individual from the fruits of their labour. Marx's ideology provides hope, albeit an 'economic truth' that the capitalist system will fall and suffering due to alienation will cease. In Marx's communist state all humans will be equally treated, work for the advancement of production and society as a whole, and man will become his own highest being. This prophesised state, which is only millimeters short of 'utopia' (from which Marx intended to stay well away), demonstrates many features of a quasi-religious state a crucial flaw of which does not restrict the inherent power driven ego of man. ...read more.


Jan 2008. Ollman, B. Alienation: Marx's Conception of Man in Capitalist Society, 2nd ed., Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1976. Pals, D. Seven Theories of Religion. New York, Oxford University Press. 1996. Portus, G. Communism and Christianity: Four Lectures. Morpeth, The St John's College Press, 1931. 1 Portus, G. Communism and Christianity: Four Lectures, p.35. 2 Hamilton, M. "Religion and Ideology", p.94. 3 Pals, D. Seven Theories of Religion, p.143. 4 Marx, K. The Communism of the Paper Rheinisher Beobachter p.83-4 in Pals, D, p.142. 5 Hamilton, M, p.94. 6 Marx, K. Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right in Marx, K and Engels, F. On Religion, p.42. 7 Lobkowicz, N. "Karl Marx's Attitude Towards Religion", p.320. 8 Lobkowicz, N, p.352. 9 Pals, D, p.142. 10 Ollman, B. Alienation: Marx's Conception of Man in Capitalist Society, p.223. 11 Ollman, B, p.223. 12 Pals, D, p.141. 13 Marx, K, p.42. 14 Marx, K. Das Capital I p.79 in McKown, D. The Classical Marxist Critiques of Religion: Marx, Engels, Lenin, Kautsky, p.12; and Ollman, B. Alienation: Marx's Conception of Man in Capitalist Society, p.223 15 Marx, K, p.42. 16 McKown, D, p.11; and Ollman, B, p.223. 17 Ollman, B, p.225. 18 McKnight, A, p.67. 19 Marx, K, p.61. 20 Hamilton, M, p.96. 21 McKnight, A, p.67. 22 Pals, D, p.147. 23 McKnight, A, p.69. 24 McKown, D, p.10. 25 McKnight, A, p.72. 26 Marx, K. Das Capital. 27 Levine, N, p. 287. Anna Lewis z3189819 2 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Miscellaneous section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Miscellaneous essays

  1. Critically assess the UK(TM)s attempts to curb money laundering.

    This will apply to a wide range of sectors including many large solicitors firms but must be followed in a banking relationship - if the transaction is not face-to-face, or is in a transaction with a politically exposed person. This approach does not do away with any 'box ticking'46 but

  2. critically the impact of the SOA 2003 upon the offence of rape, with particular ...

    Electronic Information: The Crown Prosecution Service: Sexual Offences Act 2003 www.cPs.gov.uIdlegal/section7/chapter a.html The Crown Prosecution Service: The New Sexual Offences Act 2003 www.cps.gov.uk/publications/communications/fs-sexoffences.html Sexual Offences Act 2003 www.sws/soa2003.htm Cases: DPP v Morgan [1974] 2 All ER 347 R v Watson [1992] Crim LR 434 R v McFall [1994] Crim LR 226 R v Kaitamaki [1985] AC 147 (pc)

  1. Why is defence afforded to a perpetrator of a criminal act whether he is ...

    that having killed in the heat of the moment are less culpable. 'The defence of provocation is for those who are in a broad sense mentally normal'[55] but who snap under the weight of very grave provocation.[56] Where a perpetrator feels anger and suffers loss of self-control to the provocation situation, he should be afforded a defence of provocation.

  2. Discuss legitimate expectation in relation to the problem.

    the policy representation or promise that has been made, explore the possible conflicts this will present and determine whether she is entitled to judicial review. Promises are generally more reliable than public policies due to only being aimed at a few individual people, and therefore having a moral aspect.

  1. In this essay I have been asked to answer questions regarding the Sporting events ...

    Sarah is also subject to Section (3) - this section applies to any article capable of causing injury to a person being struck by it being (a) a bottle, can or other portable container. (Such an article when crushed or broken which (i) is for holding a drink and (ii)

  2. The effect of the McKinnon Case

    the process since you end up paying regardless of whether you retrieve actual information of blanked out documents.xix He found that the sticking point for the first two requests was that they departments have the right to determine what the public interest is.

  1. Historical Background of the Concept of Rule of Law

    called it 'social contract'6 and its modern name is 'Rule of Law'. According to H.W.R.Wade, the 'Rule of Law' has different meanings. Its primary meaning is that every thing must be done according to law. Applied to the powers of Government, this requires that every Government Authority which does some

  2. If the public interest immunity was originally confined to such high affairs of state, ...

    Although most private interests must bow to the requirement of a fair and open trial, some are important enough. It is a major principle of litigation that parties should disclose all relevant evidence for inspection. This rule is based on the public interest involved in the proper administration of justice.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work