Marx

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Group Members: Leslie-Ann Bolden, Michela Bowman, Sarah Kaufman, Danielle Jeanne Lindemann Selections from: The Marx-Engels Reader Karl Marx’s broad theoretical and political agenda is based upon a conception of human history that is fundamentally different from those of the social, and especially the philosophical, thinkers who came before him. Most importantly, Marx develops his agenda by drawing on and altering Hegel’s conception of the dialectical nature of the human experience. As Marx describes in his essay, “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right,” and again in the “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844,” Hegel did little to base his ideas in the “real” history of man.1 Instead, Hegel’s theory of the nature of man is a “mystical” one. Hegel sees history as a story of man’s alienation from himself. The spirit (Geist, God), is the “true” nature of man, and man must bring the spirit (God) back into himself through the powers of thought (most specifically, philosophy). Drawing on this idea, and also on Feuerbach (see The German Ideology), Marx constructs his conception of history by “standing Hegel on his head.” Unlike Hegel, Marx regards God or spirit as the projection of man’s “true” self. To understand the true self of man, Marx argues, one must understand his “real,” social, material conditions. He states: “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness” (4). From this idea, Marx proposes to understand the alienated state of man through an understanding of what he terms “historical materialism.” By understanding the material conditions of man through history, Marx argues, man can come to understand his social and political conditions. As he states, “The sum total of these [material] relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on

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The word ‘man’ is used here as a generic term to

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