Charles Darwin and Karl Marx were the revolutionary thinkers of the 19th – early 20th centuries. Karl Marx formulated his ideas about class struggle on the scientific basis of Darwin’s theory. Marxism is connected with Darwinism as both of them express the same progressive ideas relating to change, dynamism, and conflict. Darwin’s evolution of species prepared the grounds for the social revolution. Both of them provided new visions of nature and human society. Charles Darwin created a new theory that observed species, while Karl Marx spent a great portion of his life explaining the instability of capitalism. Darwin’s scientific discovery greatly affected Marx’s ideas of the working class movement. Both thinkers provided a revolutionary scientific basis for new movements in the history.
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The Formation of Darwin’s Ideas
The formation of Darwin’s ideas started in his youth, when he studied medicine, and later enrolled in Cambridge because he was unsatisfied with his medical studies. There, he met many experts in different fields of study who had a significant impact on his views (Spielvogel, 2011). At Cambridge, he obtained a degree in geology and started his voyage to North Wales and to the southern coast of England. He observed geographical distribution of species and tried to understand where they came from. Later, he began to make notes of transmutations and produced the 200-page sketch of his theory. In 1859, he printed his famous work The Origin of Species (Spielvogel, 2011). This research made Darwin one of the three famous thinkers of the 19th century alongside with Marx and Freud (Obeyesekere, 2012).
Darwin’s ideas and his psychology were applied to human behavior and became the most valuable studies since the 19th century. Spielvogel (2011) admits that Darwin was worth the prize for the best idea that anyone has ever had. His idea of evolution by natural selection suggests a sense of life and explains the notions of space and time, the mechanism of natural law, its cause and effect. Generally, Darwin provided a naturalistic answer to the two questions that were of the greatest interest for generations: where did human come from, and what is the purpose of their stay on Earth. The answer to the first question is: a long line of primates, mammalians, and animal ancestors, who were the first organisms. The answer to the second question is: genes are able to make copies of themselves.
The Formation of Marx’s Ideas
Karl Marx was one of the thinkers who accepted the Darwin’s scientific concepts that displayed the diversity of life. Darwin helped Marx develop his views concerning the purpose of human life and fundamental reorientation of understanding of society, biological nature, and the human mind. Spielvogel (2011) assumes that the influence of Darwin on Marx is obvious because Darwin helped the latter understand the human condition in relation to biological, psychological, and sociological perspective. Natural sciences played a great role in the formation of Marx’s concepts and the relationship between the natural sciences and Marxism. The Marx’s work The Dialectic of Nature is the evidence of his attempts to organize his views on the natural sciences. Many findings reveal that a great portion of economic, political and social ideas known today belongs to Marx (Obeyesekere, 2012). He developed a method of socioeconomic analysis in cooperation with another German philosopher Engels. In his works, Marx placed a big emphasis on societal conflict and class relations observed from the angle of a materialist interpretation.
Karl Marx is famous for his theory of class struggle, which is able to lead to economic change. Marx believed that class conflict appeared because of the disproportion between proletariat and private ownership that privatized surplus value. Spielvogel (2011) proves that Karl Marx was the greatest thinker of the 19th century who spent the greatest portion of his life analyzing the causes of instability of capitalism and development of a working class conflict with the bourgeoisie. The working class movement gave birth to the revolutionary communist activity. He believed that transformation of capitalism to socialism would improve the status of the working class.
The Implication of Darwin’s and Marx’s Ideas for Modern Times
In spite of their substantive philosophical differences, these two thinkers shared a common intellectual orientation: they understood that human beings should be observed from historical and developmental perspectives (Obeyesekere, 2012). Darwin’s ideas changed the scientific approach to natural sciences, the existence of human on the Earth, and initiated new sciences relating to genetics. Their achievements continue to have a significant impact on the modern culture. Contemporary thinkers realize the importance of their findings on behavioral and biological adaptation, human psyche, and class conflict. Darwin’s theories influenced the people’s conceptions of the inner world and their place in it. Marx’s theories had a substantial influence on the conception of the changing the capitalist society into socialist one that became the main reason of Socialist Revolution of 1917 in Russia.
Obeyesekere (2012) believes that people who analyze Darwin’s and Marx’s studies can rely on their theories to learn more about themselves. Their works had a great impact on ethical theory, and many other thinkers drew the moral implications from the Marxian and Darwinian perspectives. Although neither Darwin nor Marx constructed an ethical theory, they showed great concern for social and political issues that had profound consequences for human. Marxism is connected with Darwinism as they express the same progressive ideas relating to change, dynamism, and conflict. In spite of their theoretical differences, they provided a scientific basis for new revolutionary movements in Europe and other parts of the world.
Charles Darwin and Karl Marx were the greatest thinkers of the 19th – early 20th centuries that had a great impact on the economic, social, and cultural changes that occurred in Europe and in the rest of the world. Both thinkers contributed to human behavior that became more progressive and led to social and political changes. Darwin’s evolution of species and Marx’s views on class struggle prepared the grounds for future European revolutions and social changes thanks to new revolutionary ideas.