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Marx & Engels Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by

Summary of Marx and Engels and their mutual ideas and work for the first year course History of Modern Philosophy

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.

Background Info

Both Marx* and Engels were rich and hence privileged but shocked by the English poverty.
They mainly focused on "­putting Hegel back on his feet"
Both thought that real problems are material(= cannot be captured by ideas) and philosophy is limited
*Marx was a young Hegelian himself

Material ideas

Marx and Engels agreed with La Mettrie on the notion that ideas are material things of the brain.
They claimed that the brain and its ideas are formed by material circum­stances
-> resolving problems is thus not done by ideas which are themselves conseq­uences of proble­matic circum­stances
we should be changing our material circum­sta­nces, rather than ideas.


= the claim that ideas can make things better; it is every notion that consci­ous­nes­s/ideas are the first structure
It is supposed to form a distra­ction from material structures
-> But according to Marx and Engels that's impossible

the problem of ideology: it hides the real requir­ement for resolving problems
-> this problem rises from material circum­stances since material problems require material solutions

BUT: (genetic) empirical research can help us


main points of communism:
- one should be able to enjoy the fruits of their own labour
- personal good and common good align
- there should be freedom of self-e­xpr­ession in labour: one should have the freedom to have the job they desire
- strives for equality instead of differ­ences: "­eve­ryone is taken care of"
communism was sparked by the industrial revolu­tion:
In this new society philos­ophers (and scient­ists) were dependent on economic circum­sta­nces. which meant that only ideas that “survive the market” can be maintained and research was determined by economic struct­ures.
-> this caused philosophy and most science to be suspicious

Old/Right Hegelians

the old/right Hegelians were according to them politi­cally conser­vative.
These Hegelians think that the state is provably rational and thereby religion is validated. They also claimed that simple progre­ssion* doesn't understand itself
-> hence God is unfolded in and validates the Prussian state
they were mostly influenced by Hegel's metaph­ysics

Young/Left Hegelian

the young/left Hegelians are more humani­stic, as they were self-c­ons­cious. History is, according to them, revolu­tio­nary. Religion is only a pre-stage of real unders­tan­ding*

they try to exchange an idea with another idea; its not important whether that idea is God or the human being (mains­tream hegalians)

they claimed that doing philosophy as an exchange of ideas is meanin­gless, as ideas are not a condition but a conseq­uence of change (marx/­engels)
*they based this on Hegel's claims that God occurs in the cultural unders­tanding of Man and is part of the historical dialect.

Dialec­tical Materi­alism

Was a term by Engels.
It claims that:
1) history unfolds itself; unfolding by the develo­pment of means of production (rather than by logical contra­dic­tion)
2) matter is primary

-> They think that there is a necessary dialec­tical develo­pment of history based on our socio-­eco­nomic needs and develo­pment of techno­logy; the last stage of this develo­pment is communism and we know this by means of the empirical method

The problems of Hegelians

According to Marx and Engels, problems are (always) materi­al/­soc­io-­eco­nomical problems.

The problem of Hegelians, according to them, is they are too influenced and "­pos­ses­sed­" by ideas/­truths told to them by society (e.g. gravity).
-> if they were to get these notions out of their heads and be more sceptic they would be able to see clearer
“Once upon a time a valiant fellow had the idea that men were drowned in water only because they were possessed with the idea of gravity. If they were to get this notion out of their heads, say by avowing it to be a supers­tit­ious, a religious concept, they would be sublimely proof against any danger from water.”

The Human Being

They claim the human being makes itself.
and while animals are determined by their enviro­nment, human beings decide and produce our enviro­nments
-> this new enviro­nment allows the human being to determine their enviro­nment even further
in short, the world is changeable

According to Marx/E­ngels, the human being forms itself because it tries to sustain itself
-> this sustai­nment depends on other people (in the 1st place on sexual reprod­uction, but also other forms of produc­tion)
History is formed new forms of production

Emperical Knowledge

the problem with empirical knowledge is that it doesn't seem to be normative
-> normat­ivity seems ideolo­gical