Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and the Implications of Religion
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This paper compares how Marx and Durkheim relate to religion through their writings. It shows how in his "Selected Writings," Karl Marx devotes much of his early text to the study of religion, essentially regarding it as a false notion which contributes to the alienation of man from himself. On the other hand, Emile Durkheim's "The Elementary Forms of Religious Life" approaches religion from a more purely sociological perspective, examining religion as a tool which may endow individuals with a means for conceiving of and relating to the society in which they live.
From the Paper:"Marx's conception of religion surely does not flatter theology. To be sure, his examination of religious life is highly critical in nature, revealing himself to be a true atheist. Marx presents religion as a symptom of a man and indeed a society that is lost; it is the "self-consciousness and self-awareness of a man who either has not yet attained to himself or has already lost himself again"(Mc Lellan 63). In this sense, religion is a formidable hindrance to any human progress in society. Religion is an illusion, an "illusory happiness of the people"(Mc Lellan 64) in that it works on levels outside of the world of man. Therefore, it is an imaginary pastime; Marx insists that "Man is the world of man, the state, the society"(Mc Lellan 63), he is not to be bound up in some abstract thing like religion. And yet the horrors of religious suffering are very real indeed, and also very unnecessary (Mc Lellan 64). Thus, Marx establishes religion as a paradox; it is an illusory happiness, and yet with tangible sorrows. This conception leads Marx to denounce religion as "the sigh of the oppressed creature, the feeling of the heartless world, and the soul of soulless circumstances. It is the opium of the people"(Mc Lellan 64)."
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Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and the Implications of Religion (2003, May 06) Retrieved August 06, 2020, from https://www.academon.com/comparison-essay/karl-marx-emile-durkheim-and-the-implications-of-religion-26497/
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