• 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.

    The third EU Directive on ML replaces and repeals both the directives before it and places more emphasis on the managing ML risk44 where appropriate. This is the legislating of what the private banks had done after Abacha, whereby they placed more stringent checks on individuals that hold a higher risk of ML.

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

    Smith and Hogan imply that it would be lawful to open a dike, drowning the half-dozen inhabitants of a farm if that were the only way of saving a dam from bursting and inundating the whole town.[26] In the American case Holmes[27], Baldwin J: "it is better that some should live than that all perish."

  1. Durkheim's views on criminal law

    An example of restitutive laws that are punished with criminal sanctions include incarceration for failing to pay a pecuniary fine, thus representing a change in the Durkheimian classification of the law. Alternatively, in some situations a strict definition of restitutive or repressive is impossible such as the current anti-terrorism laws,

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

    in litigants who rely on such documents to use them to prove facts in issue.17 In time, the term 'Crown privilege' became a misnomer for two reasons: (i) in most of the cases the Crown did not initiate the proceedings but intervened to claim the privilege; and (ii)

  1. According to a sophisticated reading of Marxs theory of historical materialism to what extent ...

    The concept of the basis expresses the social function of the production relations as the economic basis of social phenomena that are outside the sphere of material production. While they are a form of the productive forces, the production relations at the same time determine the content of the superstructural forms5.

  2. The effect of the McKinnon Case

    * Documents that are prepared for possible responses to questions in Parliament should remain confidential because there exposure would threaten the Westminster system of government, id est responsible government.x So from the legal side, McKinnon's case was able to clarify the review powers of the AAT, and also what are

  1. Historical Background of the Concept of Rule of Law

    This, however, does not mean that there is no agreement on the basic values which it represents. The term 'Rule of Law' is used in contradiction of the rule of man. In the system in which 'Rule of Law' prevails, it is the law that rules even though through the

  2. Lessig argued that those who assume that cyberspace is by its nature immune from ...

    The following definition was given by Lessig during a conference in Taipei in 1998[6] : By code, I simply mean the software and hardware that constitutes cyberspace as it is?the set of protocols, the set of rules, implemented, or codified, in the software of cyberspace itself, that determine how people interact, or exist, in this space.

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