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How would you describe the materialistic system of Karl Marx?

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Lynnette Wofford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Materialism in the sense in which it is used to describe the works of Karl Marx means that his philosophical writings assume purely material and naturalistic causes for phenomena, grounded in the observable physical world rather than in a belief in a spiritual or religious world. He sees religion as explained not by the reality of supernatural entities but as one of many abstract ideologies intended to distract people from the material realities of economic inequality and oppression.

While Hegel had explained social progress in terms of the march of the Idea through history, Marx was materialistic in the sense that his explanations were focused on economics and power and the relationship between them. He believed that people should look underneath expressions of beliefs or ideas to economic and power realities. This does not mean that he was "materialistic" in the sense of valuing material goods; in fact, he saw craving for certain types of luxuries and efforts to "keep up with the...

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