Karl Marx’s ‘The German Ideology’
An overview and analysis of Marx’s work `The German Ideology`, especially in relation to Hegel’s philosophy.
This paper gives an overview of The German Ideology, written by Marx and Engels. The paper discusses Marx’s reaction to Hegel’s theory and the foundation for his material conception of the proper human orientation. There is a questions and discussion section at the end of the paper which raises points to further explore or to stimulate conversation of Marx and his work.
Marx and Engels wrote The German Ideology in 1845-45 in response to the Hegelian (and like-minded) philosophy prevalent in the writings of Bruno Bauer, Max Stirner, Karl Grun, as well as the intellectual fervent of the Young-Hegelians. Marx felt that such reliance on pure thought and absolute spirit fell within the realm of religion more so than a concrete theory of history. His conception, ‘[i]n direct contrast to the German philosophy which descends from heaven to earth, ascend[s] from earth to heaven, wherein [l]ife is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life (Marx 1972: 154-155). Within The German Ideology Marx elucidates perhaps the most comprehensive statement of his theory of history in what he refers to as the materialist conception of history; yet, one can only accurately represent people as a function of the context in which they live. For Marx, production is the critical context of human activity and existence.”