The Info List - Theses On Feuerbach

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The "THESES ON FEUERBACH" are eleven short philosophical notes written by Karl Marx as a basic outline for the first chapter of the book _ The German Ideology _ in 1845. Like the book for which they were written, the theses were never published in Marx's lifetime, seeing print for the first time in 1888 as an appendix to a pamphlet by his co-thinker Friedrich Engels . The document is best remembered for the epigrammatic 11th thesis and final line: "Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it."


* 1 History

* 1.1 Background * 1.2 Content * 1.3 Publication history * 1.4 Uses of the text

* 2 See also * 3 Footnotes * 4 External links



In February 1845 Karl Marx was deported from France at the behest of minister of foreign affairs François Guizot . Marx found sanctuary in Brussels , where he was joined for a number of months by his political compatriot Frederick Engels beginning in April of that same year. It was in Brussels that Marx first began to shape the concept of historical materialism — the idea that underlying fundamental changes in political history was a corresponding economic struggle between ruling and oppressed classes which was at root of these structural transformations.

Marx began work upon a book detailing his new philosophy of history, entitled _ The German Ideology ._ In connection with this project, Marx wrote a terse 11-point set of observations and epigrams regarding the ideas of Ludwig Feuerbach , a fellow Young Hegelian philosopher regarded by him as the most modern exponent of materialism , albeit one whom Marx believed had failed to draw fully satisfactory political conclusions from his philosophical insights. These "theses" were initially written as a raw outline for the first chapter of _The German Ideology_, and most of these were developed at greater length in that work.


Marx sharply criticized the contemplative materialism of the Young Hegelians, viewing "the essence of man" in isolation and abstraction , instead arguing that the nature of man could only be understood in the context of his economic and social relations. Marx argued that understanding the origins of religious belief were not enough in moving towards its elimination; instead declaring that it was the underlying social and economic structure which gave rise to religious belief and that it was a transformation of this which was a necessary precondition to the elimination of religion.

The "Theses" identify political action as the only truth of philosophy, famously concluding: "Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it." While the text wishes to retain the _critical_ stance of German critical idealism, it transposes that criticism into practical, material, political terms.


The iconic 11th thesis on Feuerbach as it appears in the original German manuscript.

Despite their best efforts to find a publisher, _The German Ideology_ was not published