Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Marx and Nietzche on Free Will

Jonathan Murray
Section 4
Final 1
Marx and Nietzche on Free Will
            When it comes down to debates of whether the actions of man are determined by an outside force or by the will of man itself, religion is, no doubt, almost always going to be brought up. An interesting point of view to seek out in such a theistically-infused topic would be that of two philosophers who are famous for their atheistic views: Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche.
            Perhaps the most famous quote of Karl Marx is that religion is “the opium of the people.” Karl Marx was a revolutionary, believing that everyone should be able to eat and drink regularly and not have to go without shelter. His beliefs are what sparked the Communist revolution in Russia and impacted the course of 20th century history drastically. The beliefs he held were largely based off of his beliefs as an atheist. To Marx, history is composed entirely of a system of class struggles, the proletariat struggling against the bourgeoisie, and once the proletariats united and overthrew the bourgeoisie there would no longer be any need for religion, as it was simply a tool of the upper class to suppress the lower class. With beliefs such as these, it is without a doubt that Marx believes that humans have free will. With both his denial that any sort of otherworldly force is controlling the people and his theory that the people have the ability to rise up when they wish, it is obvious to see that Marx was not a determinist.

            Next is Nietzsche, another man who has a famous one-liner about religion. It was within Nietzsche’s belief that, by the time of his life, “God is dead.” With a claim as bold as that one, there is no denying that Nietzsche holds not sort of theistic view. It was Nietzsche view that the world no longer needed the concept of a god to guide its actions. Without a God, there would be far less moral restrictions on people’s actions and they would be free to set their own goals and standards, as opposed to having a god determine what was the right and wrong things for them to do. From this idea that Nietzsche put forth, it is obvious to see that he too was a believer in the free-will of humans. With both the idea that there is no God and that humans are now, and really always have been, free to do whatever it is they desire, Nietzsche’s views are most definitely in the field of free-will.

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