How do I go about explaining Marx's argument about the development of consciousness?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In "The Premises of the Materialist Method" from Marx's The German Ideology, he writes that "the first premise of all human history is, of course, the existence of living human individuals." He goes on to write, "Men can be distinguished from animals by consciousness, by religion, or anything else you like." This consciousness emerges individually and collectively. It emerges when people start to produce the means of their own survival. They are not just producing their physical means of survival (food, shelter, etc.); they are also producing their mental modes of life. This translates into who they are and what they will become. So, for Marx, how and what people produce will determine who they will become. This is why he says that consciousness comes from the material conditions of history. In short, the stuff we do informs who we become. 

That which a group or nation produces becomes a basis for its economy. That economy creates a division of labor. Such economic and political...

(The entire section contains 584 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team