Marx and Wittgenstein on Religion

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On the face of it Marx and Engels have a radically different account of religion to that offered by Wittgenstein in the 1930s and 1940s. Marx and Engels accepted Enlightenment criticisms of religion and thought of religion as being in direct conflict with science whereas Wittgenstein thought that religion and science involved very different kinds of activities and different kinds of belief, such that they could not come into direct conflict. It seems likely that Marx and Engels’s account would be viewed as scientistic by Wittgenstein. However, there are many commonalities between the understanding of religion found in the work of Marx and Engels and the understanding of religion found in Wittgenstein’s later work. Neither the Marxist account nor the Wittgensteinian one is wholly rationalistic. Both stress the role of practice in religion. Both stress commonalities between religious believers and those who are not religious. By combining insights from Marx, Engels, and Wittgenstein we can give an account of religion that overcomes problems found in the work of recent thinkers, such as the New Atheists. If we combine their insights we will be more likely to attend to things like power and oppression and to do justice to the oppressed and we will also be more sensitive to differences between the practices of scientists and those of religious believers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWittgenstein and Marx
Subtitle of host publicationMarx and Wittgenstein
EditorsFabio Sulpizio, Gabriele Schimmenti, Moira De Iaco
PublisherPeter Lang
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)978-3-631-85393-1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2021

Publication series

NameTreffpunkt Series
PublisherPeter Lang


  • Wittgenstein
  • Marx
  • Religion
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Feuerbach
  • Engels


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