• 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...

Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

    However the biggest change to regulatory architecture in the UK came at the start of the decade in the form of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.30 It gave the Financial Services Authority (FSA) wide ranging powers to complete its objective of 'reducing financial crime'31 and among other things,

  2. Discuss legitimate expectation in relation to the problem.

    Coughlan1, in which the claim of a substantive legitimate expectation was upheld due to the representation having only been made to a few individuals. On the other hand, a policy is made to an unspecified amount of people and as policies are liable to change, the representation attached to it cannot be sufficiently relied upon.

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

    an excuse deals with cases in which an important interest of the actor was about to suffer a serious injury and out of fear and under the pressure of the circumstances, the actor acted in a way that normally constitutes a crime, in order to prevent the injury to himself or to the other person.

  2. The effect of the McKinnon Case

    He said, "the first any answer might be that this was a Sir Humphrey Clause: 'This was put in to give the appearance of having this high level tribunal with judges and others to review but really, Minister, it gives them nothing to do.'"xii However even if McKinnon did win,

  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. 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,

  1. Critical context

    Hence claims have succeeded against schools for failing to safe guard pupils against injury. The second part of the test becomes somewhat difficult since the harm done is by a third. In Smith Lord Goff said a special circumstance in which an omission could give rise to a liability case

  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