Today we cover the transition from the young Marx, with his emphasis on change and action, to the mature Marx who turns toward positivist science and determinism, arguing that capitalism will have to fail. Through a closer look at Marx's "Theses on Feuerbach," we discuss different theories of truth with attention to the questions of where truth resides (in the subject, in the object, or some combination), how we know it, and how we know when we know it. Arguing for his conception of materialism, Marx argues that truth is not simply the reflection of the object in the mind of the subject; we must access truth through our senses and through activity. And we discuss two of Marx's historical materialist claims: life determines consciousness and the ruling class always determines the ruling ideas of a people.
Marx, Collected Works, "Theses on Feuerbach" vol. 5. pp. 6-8
Marx, Collected Works, "The German ideology" vol. 5. pp. 27-37; 59-62
This course provides an overview of major works of social thought from the beginning of the modern era through the 1920s. Attention is paid to social and intellectual contexts, conceptual frameworks and methods, and contributions to contemporary social analysis. Writers include Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Marx, Weber, and Durkheim.
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Fall 2009.