Study/Discussion Questions on Marx (1)


1. The "Introduction to a Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right" is concerned with religion. What does Marx take the meaning and importance of religion to be? What role does the (philosophical) critique of religion play in world history? What is the task of philosophy, and what can philosophy achieve?

2. Marx is famous for saying that religion "is the opium of the people." What does he mean?

3. In the essay entitled "Estranged Labor," Marx maintains that history has seen the increasing alienation of labor, which rather than mainly an effect of private property is originally its cause. What does Marx mean by "alienation" or "estrangement"?

4. Marx maintains that workers are estranged or alienated from five different things. Name them.

5. Marx maintains that man is a "species being". Can you figure out what he means? What is it to be alienated from his species being?

6. For those of you who are familiar with Kant, can you see any connection between Marx's views in "Estranged Labor" and Kant's views?

7. What (if any) connection can you see between Marx's comments on religion in his "Introduction to a Contribution" and his views on alienation in "Estranged Labor"?

8. Marx hints that political economy makes a methodological mistake in its examination of private property and exchange. What is that? Is Marx's discussion of economic relations more or less individualistic than is Smith's?

9. Study the first, third, and sixth thesis on Feuerbach. Is Marx espousing or rejecting empiricism? What methodological mistake does he see in previous political philosophy? What role does philosophical analysis have and what are its limits.