Can Marx's Theory of History Be Truly Scientific?

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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 ...

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...ntific it is possible that it may be proven wrong when the theory is actually correct, just that the experiment chosen to test the theory is wrong. As I have already mentioned, I feel that too look at the theory in terms of science is damaging to a theory which doesn't need scientific backing to justify it. I feel that it is just as important to discover truths by observation and deduction as it is to do so in a strictly scientific manner.


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Marx, K and Engels, F (1992) The Communist Manifesto. Oxford University Press.

Eagleton, Terry (1997) Marx. Phoenix

Popper, K (1934) The Logic of scientific discovery.

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