Marx on Religion

Marx on Religion

Marx on Religion

Marx on Religion

Synopsis

Few people would ever expect that Karl Marx is the writer of the above statement. He not only wrote it, but he did so in the same breath of his more famous dictum that "religion is the opiate of the masses." How can one reconcile such different perspectives on the power and ubiquity of religion?In this compact reader of Marx's essential thought on religion, John Raines offers the full range of Marx's thoughts on religion and its relationship to the world of social relations. Through a careful selection of essays, articles, pamphlets, and letters, Raines shows that Marx had a far more complex understanding of religious belief. Equally important is how Marx's ideas on religion were intimately tied to his inquiries into political economy, revolution, social change, and the philosophical questions of the self. Raines offers an introduction that shows the continuing importance of the Marxist perspective on religion and its implications for the way religion continues to act in and respond to the momentous changes going on in our social and environmental worlds. Marx on Religion also includes a study guide to help professors and students-as well as the general reader-continue to understand the significance of this often under-examined component of Marx. Author note: John Raines is Professor of Religion at Temple University. He is the author of over a half-dozen books, including, most recently, What Men Owe to Women: Men's Voices from World Religions.

Excerpt

Karl Marx wanted to dedicate his masterpiece, Capital, to Charles Darwin. But the Darwin family prevented it because they didn't want their names associated with the famous social radical. Still, Marx shared with Darwin the same intellectual passion—to understand a world that had suddenly become mysterious.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, missionaries and naturalists were sending home to London and to Paris the most extraordinary descriptions of the diversity of life on planet Earth. It was an unintended effect of European colonialism. Their sketches and specimens had to be cataloged for eventual public display. The natural history museum was being born, and that meant an immense effort at sorting out this astonishing variety of life into some rational pattern, classifying and arranging specimens side by side so that they could be presented as a visual narrative on the museum floor. It required an understanding of what you were trying to display.

Simultaneously, the geologists were vastly expanding the notion of the length of time life had existed on Earth, making space in our intellectual imagination for the idea of gradual but enormous change. The fossil record was full of evidence of such change. While climbing in Chile, Darwin found at ten . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.