Inadequacies of the Marxist interpretation of the Enlightenment

Karl Marx (1818-1883)

Karl Marx (1818-1883) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What, according to Outram, are the inadequacies of the Marxist interpretation of the Enlightenment?

The Marxist interpretation of the Enlightenment assumed that it was an ideology of the bourgeoisie, and argued that it was irrelevant to absolutism (Outram 29). Furthermore, this interpretation argued that the Enlightenment acted merely as “an ideological superstructure which was used to gloss over the ensuing contradictions of values and interests” (Outram 29). According to Outram, one of the inadequacies of this interpretation was that Marxism assumes that social groups are only influenced by programs that directly relate to their objectives economic interests (29). Furthermore, the idea that the Enlightenment is a superstructure perpetuates the distinction between deeds and thoughts, the idea that is “so central, paradoxically, to the older style of historiography of the Enlightenment” (Outram 29).

Outram, D. The Enlightenment. 2nd ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University. 2005. Print.

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