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Marx’s Criticism of Idealism

December 6, 2010

Edmund Burke idealistically promoted the maintenance of the ideals that were currently established in society, claiming that we can determine the best way to do things but examining what customs are and what has been done before.  These ideals partly found some of the basic tenets of modern conservatism, and are best recognized by the term “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

John Stuart Mill concurred that if it were certain that the established customs and traditions were in place in order to promote common interest and that there was definitely no better method of handling things, then it would be acceptable to live by custom.  However, Mill questions whether or not we have examined our practices well enough to determine that they promote the best courses of action. Of course, we can never truly examine every facet of our lives, as this would just be impractical and would inconvenience us more than it would benefit us.

In examining Marxism as a method, we find that it entails criticism of idealism. Idealism promotes the use of only a certain few ideas in order to understand the world. Burke’s view on how the world should be handled could be characterized as idealism, because he believes that only a certain few ideas are needed to run things in an effort to make everyone happy and do the best possible thing. In examining ideology, the main criticism is that certain beliefs, especially those that are at possibly partly untrue and unexamined, are used to subordinate people and hold them down. I would have to say that Marx and Mill and I agree that conservative idealism has significant drawbacks when it comes to keeping a free and open mind.

One Comment
  1. cwatson872 permalink
    December 7, 2010 12:43 AM

    I agree with your last statement, but I think Marx was a huge idealist. I don’t know if he saw his ideals realized, but much of his political position comes from hopeful ideals of fairness and equality – as well as an appreciation for hard work, with worthy reward.

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