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Essay on Philosophy: Marxism

Updated on December 12, 2015


"The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it." I have found Karl Marx to be one of the most interesting philosophers that we have discussed, mainly because I think his thoughts were incredibly unique and sincere. He made striking observations about the importance of art and its function society, and had a great impact on the transformation of traditional truths by forming new ways of thinking about sociology, economics, history, religion, and philosophy. Was he a revolutionary thinker? One of the greatest.

From each man...

"From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." What does this mean? In order to understand this idea, it is best to view it as a two-part formula, each element inseparable and as important as the other. "From each according to his abilities" meant that work should be viewed as an individual need, rather an obligation, intending that society would no longer have use for compulsive labor. This was based on the notion that only sick or abnormal people would be unwilling to work. "According to their needs" means that goods would to be distributed to all people, ensuring that everyone's basic needs were met. This would eliminate inequality of social classes altogether. Doesn't it sound nice? But herein lies the problem: the harder working individuals would lose incentive if the "lazier" or less considerate individuals received equal reward. This seems unfair, but couldn't we do something about it? You know, like reprimand lazy workers for inefficiency? I guess that's when we start backtracking to the need for compulsive labor. Regardless, I think this formula works perfectly in its concept-- it just fails in its expectations.


Marx dismissed religion as "the sigh of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people." Even though Marx was hostile towards religion, this particular statement was not necessarily meant to indicate that religion was a tool for control. He believed that religion was man's way of convincing himself that life was worth living-- a delusional response to the lack of control over and ignorance to the real causes and solutions of their own suffering. In other words, “Religion is the impotence of the human mind to deal with occurrences it cannot understand.” What are my thoughts? The latter is something I can't help but acknowledge. I have also noticed other obstacles: many religious folks have the tendency to mistake or dismiss problems within society as "evil" or "sin," either propagated by Satan or born into-- rather than examining the issues with an understanding of social inequality and conflict, and using this insight to make appropriate adjustments.


What is the true function of art? Marx was persuaded that it should serve as a "revolutionary instrument," enabling a deeper understanding of the problems with society, their own relationship to that society, and consequently, their own lives (Magee 171). If art did not accomplish this, but rather, upheld existing values and deceived viewers into acceptance of those values, it should be condemned as "bad art." What a view this is! In all of the years that I have been exposed to different purposes or reason behind the creation of art, no one has proposed a particular vision more functional than this-- or at least, so clearly identifiable. I have always had similar feelings on the subject, but never quite put it into words. Art is a powerful means of both stimulating and discouraging the progress of society.


Magee, Bryan. The Story Of Philosophy. A Dorling Kindersley Book, 2001.

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