Religion is the Opium of the People: An Investigation into the Intellectual Context of Marx's Critique of Religion

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    Marx is notorious for his claim that religion is opium of the people and thus become famous as one of modern thought’s most uncompromising critics of religion. In this article I look deeper into the philosophical connotations of Marx’s opium metaphor by presenting and discussing other prominent thinkers’ employment of similar metaphors. Thus, the article follows the trail of opium imagery in connection with different approaches to the criticism of religion. This leads to a discussion of the influence on Marx by G.W.F. Hegel, Bruno Bauer, Moses Hess, Ludwig Feuerbach and emphasises the influence of Heinrich Heine and Immanuel Kant. The ensuing analysis of Marx’s opium metaphor establishes that Marx’s thinking in A Contribution to a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Introduction is at a cross road. His dependence on German philosophy in 1843 is highlighted as the contextual background for Marx’s shift from 1845 and onwards to focus on economic theory. The interpretation also underscores that even though Marx thought the criticism of religion was in the main complete within German philosophy he continued to make use of religiously coloured language in order to further the revolutionary agenda in his writings.
    TidsskriftHistory of Political Thought
    Udgave nummer2
    Sider (fra-til)354-387
    Antal sider33
    StatusUdgivet - maj 2015


    • Marx critique of religion
    • history of philosophy

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