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    Hai guyz.

    I'm writing an essay, and a part of it is talking about Marx's conceptions of ideology. Is this a fair and accurate summary (struggling a little to understand it/make sure I'm 100% right).

    1) Humanist Marxism; ideology is our superstructure; laws, politics, religion, law... and these are what form our material reality. Our conciousness/superstructure derives from our material existance. Also, our ideology skews how we see the World, ie, it makes us see it like a 'camera obscura'.
    Example:
    Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life

    *Epistemological break*

    2) More scientific Marx; commodity fetishism shapes our ideology. Ie, we give these objects magical properties so they get out of hand etc... and then we see all social relations through this screen.

    What I don't understand is a few things:

    1) I read that the first conception was Hegelian; but doesn't Hegel say that human conciousness shapes the material world. Or have I made that up?

    2) Does the first conception link to historical materialism; historicism means that it was the way humans responded to their material needs that determined the rest of society right?

    3) What's the difference between the first and second conception? Afterall, both are simply saying that objects and the material World shape human relations and our ideology. I don't see the big difference, although it seems like there's meant to be one.

    Help in clarifying would definitely be appreciated.

    (Original post by Oswy)
    ..
    You seem like someone who might know something. :p:
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    Might as well just PM Oswy. He lives and breathes Marx
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      (Original post by Bubbles*de*Milo)
      ...

      What I don't understand is a few things:

      1) I read that the first conception was Hegelian; but doesn't Hegel say that human conciousness shapes the material world. Or have I made that up?

      2) Does the first conception link to historical materialism; historicism means that it was the way humans responded to their material needs that determined the rest of society right?

      3) What's the difference between the first and second conception? Afterall, both are simply saying that objects and the material World shape human relations and our ideology. I don't see the big difference, although it seems like there's meant to be one.

      Help in clarifying would definitely be appreciated.

      You seem like someone who might know something. :p:
      Hegel was among what we call the 'idealist' philosophers, i.e. among those who saw the mental realm as the driving force of human action. To this extent Marx's 'materialism' is a reversal of Hegel, where the material world, that is the physical circumstances of human existence are the ultimate source of the mental realm. While for Hegel (and idealists more generally) it is human consciousness that determines material existence, for Marx it is material existence that determines human consciousness. One way of putting Marx's position is to state that a brain can exist without a mind (i.e. the brain of a dead person), but a mind can't exist without a brain. Marx's arguments were way more subtle and practical than that, but the principle is the same.

      As I see it, what Marx took from Hegel were primarily two things:

      a) Hegel's idea that human civilisation appeared to pass through various stages, with each one something of a development from those that came before. It's not that Marx embraced Hegel's specific, and specifically Eurocentric, model, but more was impressed by the idea that there were patterns of development to be seen in how one form of human civilisation replaced another.

      b) Hegel's 'dialectical' approach to analysis, the idea that there is a 'unity of opposites' in which phenomenon are conceptualised as a totality divided by opposing elements; understanding light means understanding darkness or understanding the lives of the advantaged means understanding the lives of the disadvantaged, and so on. I'm simplifying here, but I'm sure you get the idea.

      'Historical materialism' is the name given to Marx's theory of history. From a materialist starting point we expect human conceptions about their lives as strongly shaped and ultimately derived from their past and present physical circumstances or forces acting on them. To give one example, humans who live as hunter-gatherers and whose day to day existence is vitally connected to nature, invariably conceive of their world, and their place in it, in a way consistent with those material circumstances. This might be in the form of worshipping animal spirits or regarding places of vital resources, like water, as sacred, or it might mean a highly developed sense of social interconnectedness and interdependency within their community (these things can all be understood as aspects of human 'ideology' emerging through, and being maintained by, material forces). When Marxists think about the realm of consciousness and ideas in any given society, they are always, hopefully, thinking about the kind of material life which drives, that is 'determines' that realm. There's much more to historical materialism, of course, but the starting point is for analysis to see developments in a given society, or from one kind of society to another, as always, ultimately, being grounded in material forces.

      'Historicism' is a term I tend to avoid because it seems to be used in very different, even contradictory, ways. Sometimes the term is used to indicated the distinct differences between past and present societies and to claim the 'autonomy' of the past; understandable only in terms of its own values. This approach is associated with the era of the 'Romantic' historians around the beginning of the nineteenth century. Elsewhere 'historicism' is used to suggest a theory of history as if being subject to law-like logic (presumably in materialist or idealist contexts). Sorry, I can't say too much about 'historicism'.
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