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Compare And Contrast Marx And Weber Essay

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During the nineteenth century, Karl Marx and Max Weber were two of the most influential sociologist. Both their views on the rise of capitalism have various similarities and differences. They believe that capitalism is relatively new to the modern world. Their views differ on the rise of capitalism. Regardless of Marx and Weber's differences, both theorists agree that capitalism is a system of highly impersonal relations.

Karl Marx was born on May 5, 1818 to the father of a Jewish lawyer. As a young student Marx often read works written by Hegel. From school, Marx wrote to his father of his feelings on Hegel. He had found a disliking for those Hegelians who sought to "draw atheistic and revolutionary conclusions from Hegel's philosophy" (Granat Encyclopedia, pg.153) In order to better understand the views of Marx we must look at the philosophy of Hegel.

German philosophy in the nineteenth century was dominated by the ideas of Hegel. Hegel's philosophy was based on the concept of idealism. By looking at prior philosophers one will see that Hegel's philosophy was similar to that of Immanuel Kant. Kant was interested in the study of knowledge. Kant had argued, that ideas or concepts are apriori. Apriori ideas are one which exist before one's knowledge of the world, that is ideas are not empirical.

Hegel's philosophy was an expansion on the philosophy of Kant. Hegel believed that apriori knowledge came from "geist" or the holy spirit. History, according to Hegel, consisted of a set of ideas or a thesis. For every thesis there was an opposite set of ideas or an antithesis. It is through this contradiction that a new set of ideas or a synthesis are born. The synthesis of the thesis and the antithesis forms Hegel's theory of the dialectic. History was a set of arguments or a "dialectic" which would then define a new era in history.

Between Hegel and Marx came Ludwig Feuerbach who believed that Hegel was upside-down. Ideas, he contended, should be thought of more in the material and less in the non-physical. Ideas do not come from "geist" but rather from other humans. Feuerbach had seen language as a shared phenomenon. It is with this ability for humans to speak the same language that ideas are developed. Since ideas can only come from other ideas they are dependent on the language of society. Hence, ideas can only come from society. Feuerbach viewed history as consisting of an "epoch" of ideas. An "epoch" was a set of ideas that that defined a period in history.

The nineteenth century was also the era of Darwin who tried to answer questions using scientific reason. Darwin had also exposed his theory of evolution during this era. Looking at the philosophy of Marx one sees that he takes into account the philosophy Darwin, Hegel and Feuerbach. Marx felt that Feuerbach had focused to little on Hegel, and had lost the dialectic. Marx had seen history as consisting of both the dialectic and materialism. He called this "Dialectic Materialism." History, in the view of Marx, was a dialectic materialism which evolved through time.

Marx's dialectic was not based on the conflict of ideas, but rather on the dialectic of classes. This conflict results in a societies new mode of production. Each era of history consists of a mode of production. Throughout history, these modes changed through the dialectic. The dialectic would lead to a new mode of production and a new era in history. According to Marx, history would consist epochs of modes of production. Marx states that these modes of production are primitive communism, slave society, feudalism, mercantilism, capitalism, and then socialism and communism.

In studying the rise of capitalism one is concerned with the epochs of primitive communism, slave society, feudalism, mercantilism and how they led to the rise of capitalism in western society. In society the mode is production is dichotomous to the means of production. If there is a slave society there must be slave owners as well as slaves. Capitalism consists of those who own the means of production and those who are the means of production, but to understand how society reached this level one must look at the progression of society starting from primitive communism.

In primitive society the mode of production is communal. This is due to the fact that in primitive society there is no privately owned property. This is a society who's means of production is based on hunting and gathering. What is not consumed in the hunting becomes surplus and must be stored. This is where Marx found instability in this society. Those who have control over the surplus have the power. Herein lays the concept of the chief. The chief or leader is the one who has the power over the surplus. There are different chiefs for each of the communes. These communes are then in competition for who will gain the greatest surplus.

The different communes are in competition with each other. The communes come to ...

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