Discussion Questions on the German Ideology and Theses on Feuerbach

1. Marx writes in the third thesis, "The materialist doctrine that men are products of circumstances and upbringing, and that, therefore, changed men are products of changed circumstances and changed upbringing, forgets that it is men who change circumstances and that the educator must himself be educated." What is the significance of this remark?

2. Marx writes (German Ideology, p. 3), "[Men] begin to distinguish themselves from animals as soon as they begin to produce their means of subsistence, . . . By producing their means of subsistence men are indirectly producing their actual material life. . . . This mode of production must not be considered simply as being the production of the physical existence of the individuals. Rather it is a definite form of activity of these individuals, a definite form of expressing their life, a definite mode of life on their part. As individuals express their life, so they are." How does this view compare to Rousseau?

3. What does Marx mean when he writes (German Ideology, p. 5) "Morality, religion, metaphysics, all the rest of ideology and their corresponding forms of consciousness, thus no longer retain the sem­blance of independence. They have no history, no development; but men, developing their material production and their material intercourse, alter, along with this their real existence, their thinking and the products of their thinking. Life is not determined by conscious­ness, but consciousness by life"? Is this claim true? What does it imply concerning political philosophy?

4. Marx maintains (German Ideology, p. 9) that "The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas." Is this true? Is there a ruling class today? In what sense are some ideas "ruling ideas"? In what sense can ideas be the ideas of the ruling class?