After reading this article you will learn about the influence of Moses Hess and Ludwig Feurbach on Marx.
Influence of Moses Hess on Marx:
The family of Moses Hess was Jew and he was brought up in a strict Jewish orthodoxy. In his younger age he was influenced by Rousseau who held the view everyone must be allowed to enjoy natural equality. Not only this, Moses Hess was attracted to the socialist ideas of his time.
In the middle of the nineteenth century in Germany capitalism had developed leading to the growing inequality between workers and capitalist class and he apprehended that this would lead to antagonism between the two classes.
His conclusion was that only socialism could save society from this danger or crisis. In order to disseminate his socialist thought Hess wrote articles and pamphlets. This made him closer to Marx. Needless to say that both Hess and Marx in their young age were influenced by Hegel.
From 1830s, Moses Hess began to publish books and articles about socialism. In these works he portrayed a clear picture of communist society “and attempted a deeper analysis of the economic causes of contemporary ills of capitalist society. He remained convinced that the perfect society was simply the realization of the essence of humanity”.
His firm belief was that re-distribution of wealth and property is the only or primary precondition of ensuring peace and goodwill among various classes of society.
In his opinion socialism is a social movement and the working class through revolution must build up a socialist society. He thought that if there were no glaring inequality in society there would not arise the necessity of socialism. Hence socialism can be treated as product of poverty.
Kolakowski says,“Moses Hess was the first writer to express certain ideas which proved especially important in the history of Marxism”.
The simple fact is that Marx borrowed some of his ideas from Hess and he expressed his indebtedness in unequivocal terms in several places of his works. In Germany there was socialist movement and Hess was in various ways associated with them. There was a personal relationship between Hess and Marx and a meeting was held between then in 1841.
Influence of Ludwig Feurbach on Marx:
Ludwig Feurbach (1804-1872) was another German philosopher whose influence upon Marx is quite discernible. Feurbach was older than Marx. In the socialist movement of Germany Feurbach’s involvement was positive and deep and this encouraged Marx. In his various analyses Ludwig Feurbach applied materialism. For instance he strongly criticized the idea of eternal life or the life beyond this world.
His chief concern was the reality of the world in which people live. It is said that Ludwig Feurbach did not give very much importance to the concept—materialism. But whatever he has said is stark materialism.
In every analysis he adopted materialist standpoint. An important aspect of Ludwig Feurbach’s materialism was—he was opposed to God and all sorts of religious activities. He frequently said, “Man is nothing but object”.
The objectivity is the essence of everything. He propagated several formulae and one such formula is – Man belongs to the essence of nature and nature to the essence of man.
A very important part of Feurbach’s materialism contains in his approach to religion and God. He said that God is the product of man’s imagination. When man loses his faith on his own capacity and on the importance of his surroundings he lays faith on any supernatural power like God and religion. Hence God is nothing but the product of man’s imagination.
It has no importance in reality. It is said that man’s knowledge of God is an attempt to perceive himself in the mirror of exteriority. Both God and religion paralyze the creative faculties and intellectual capacity of man.
He is not assertive of his own ability. Feurbach also says the religion destroys the feelings and even the reason which a man possesses. Religion creates a type of alienation and this alienation is evil and dangerous and it is even poisonous – All these evils are the products of religion and abnormal affinity to God. In his noted work The Essence of Christianity he vehemently criticized the various bad aspects and effects of religion and God.
His idea about religion can be explained in the following words:
“Religion is an ersatz satisfaction of human needs that cannot be met in any other way men seek to compel nature to obey them by using magic or appealing to divine goodness”.
According to Ludwig Feurbach, “Religion was the source and epitome of all the evils in history; and he expected that public enlightenment, sweeping away religious prejudice, would at the same time eradicate social servitude”.
This type of devastating attitude to religion considerably inspired Marx. Before Ludwig Feurbach no other thinker took or adopted such type of clear attitude to religion. Feurbach rejected not only Hegel’s idealism as religious fiction, but also of Fichte and other German philosophers.
He had no faith in Absolute Idea or Spirit material world was of primary importance. Feurbach’s view on religion and other matters provided the main stimuli that enabled Marx to reject Hegelian Categories in his own thinking. He also owed much to Ludwig Feurbach as regards knowledge of history.