The Enlightenment Karl Marx and Max Weber

Topics: Sociology, Max Weber, Émile Durkheim Pages: 9 (3150 words) Published: October 13, 2010
The Enlightenment
The 17th century was torn by witch-hunts and wars of religion and imperial conquest. Protestants and Catholics denounced each other as followers of Satan, and people could be imprisoned for attending the wrong church, or for not attending any. All publications, whether pamphlets or scholarly volumes, were subject to prior censorship by both church and state, often working hand in hand. Slavery was widely practiced, especially in the colonial plantations of the Western Hemisphere, and its cruelties frequently defended by leading religious figures. It was inevitable that sooner or later many people would begin to grow tired of the repression and warfare carried out in the name of absolute truth. In addition though Protestants had begun by making powerful critiques of Catholicism, they quickly turned their guns on each other, producing a bewildering array of churches each claiming the exclusive path to salvation. It was natural for people tossed from one demanding faith to another to wonder whether any of the churches deserved the authority they claimed. People lived in rural areas only producing what was needed to survive. As scientific thought emerged, more influence on people’s ideas and social norms expanded, the way of thinking and living changed and people moved to urban areas to work and live. The Enlightenment consisted, in essence, of the belief that the expansion of knowledge, the application of reason, and dedication to scientific method would result in the greater progress and happiness of humankind. Although the intellectual movement called "The Enlightenment" is usually associated with the 18th century, its roots in fact go back much further. This is one of those rare historical movements, which in fact named itself. Certain thinkers and writers, primarily in London and Paris, believed that they were more enlightened than their compatriots and set out to enlighten them, they believed that human reason could be used to combat ignorance, superstition, and tyranny and to build a better world. Their principal targets were religion (embodied in France in the Catholic Church) and the domination of society by a hereditary aristocracy. Interestingly, it was among those very idle aristocrats that the French Enlightenment philosophers were to find some of their earliest and most enthusiastic followers. Despite the fact that the Church and State were more often than not allied with each other, they were keenly aware of their differences. Even kings could on occasion be attracted by arguments, which seemed to undermine the authority of the Church. The fact that the aristocrats were utterly unaware of the precariousness of their position also made them overconfident, interested in dabbling in the new ideas partly simply because they were new and exciting. In short the world was turned upside down, Science replaced religion as the main source of knowledge, people’s ideas replaced religion and the monarchy as the main platform of government and industrial production and urbanization transformed previously agricultural, rural societies.

Karl Marx 1818-1883
Karl Marx saw society as being made up of two classes (the bourgeoisie and the proletariats), which were in permanent conflict. "Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labor of others by means of such appropriation” (Engels, Marx 86)." The bourgeoisie were the class of modern capitalists/ruling class, these were the owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labor controlling income, living conditions and lifestyles and the proletariats the wage laborers, who had no means of production (no land machinery or property) had to sell their manual labor in order to survive, this in turn caused conflict between the two classes due to the vast inequality between employers and workers, the workers were barely able to feed themselves and...
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Karl Marx and Max Weber Essay
  • Essay on Karl Marx and Max Weber
  • Karl Marx vs Max Weber Essay
  • Stratification Theorists
  • Essay about Karl Marx and Max Weber Different Views on Capitialism
  • analysis of class, status and power, Karl Marx and Max Weber Essay
  • Comparing the Ideologies of Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber Essay
  • Karl Marx and Max Weber Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free