Can Marx's Theory Of History Be Truly Scientific?

2959 words - 12 pages

Karl Marx is one of the most influential figures in history. Since his death and the widespread distribution of his works, his legacy has affected almost everybody alive on the planet today. He has had a huge influence on the arts: Literature, art, theatre, film and even music. Peter Singer, in his book about Marx likened his impact on the world to that of Jesus or Mohammed. His biggest influence, however, has been on the world of politics. One very small example of this could be the Welfare State which exists in the UK; we owe the idea such institutions as pensions, free education, health care and social security benefits to Marx. If he didn't suggest these institutions directly, his writings have affected their emergence in some way.

The first question is why do we need to know if Marx's theory is scientific or not? In today's context, science is important. It seems like every human progression made, is now has a basis in science and technology. We tend to find facts more believable if we hear at the beginning "recent studies have shown that..." Although Marx strove for scientific standards he wrote in a time when science wasn't as strictly definable as it is today. Therefore, I would argue firstly that to see Marx's theory of history in terms of science is wrong. The title asks: can it be scientific, my personal opinion is that we should not try to bring the theory into the modern day by asking if it is scientific. Marx used his theory to argue certain points about capitalism, (I will mention more about this later) science doesn't set out to do this. Granted, its results can be interpreted to argue a point, but normally science is used to discover more about the world surrounding us.

Despite my own opinions, I shall look at Marx's theory in terms of how scientific it is and about the possibility of it being made scientific in the future.

I will draw upon the work of other philosophers to try and establish what makes a science and then see how Marx's theory fits in with these ideas.

The debate of whether or not Marx is a scientist is an important factor in how reliable some people view his works. As I have just mentioned, today we tend to see science as the main area of discovery. We believe what scientific studies tell us because things can be proved. E.g. If I assert that drug A cures this disease. We give 100 patients the drug; if they are all cured we prove our hypothesis. We believe things that we see, this is how we have come to view science as so important.

There are many definitions of what makes something scientific; many people have tried to write about it. According to the Collins English Dictionary, something is a science when a systematic study gives knowledge of natural or physical phenomena.

To see or not if Marx's theory is or can be scientific we need to look at, firstly at a fuller definition of science, and then at how much scientific method Marx used to formulate his study.

Karl Popper provided one of...

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