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To what extent does Webers account of the spirit of capitalism represent a challenge to Marxs view of history It is often contended that Weber is debating with the ghost of Karl Marx and this is no less true than on their views of history Marxs view of history arose in opposition to the philosopher Hegels view of history who was interested in the history of ideas so Marx developed what is now known as historical materialism Writing around half a century later Weber accounts the spirit of capitalism developing the belief that unlike Marx ideology does have a function in the development of history rather than being independent of existence of any political or religious nonsense 1 In order to see to what extent Webers account of the spirit of capitalism challenges Marxs view of history I will be focusing on the emergence of modern capitalism and the differing views of Marx and Weber I will first be portraying how Marx viewed history followed by showing how with the use of the specific ideology of Protestantism by Weber challenges Marxs view In order to determine the extent that Weber challenges Marxs view of history with his account of the spirit of capitalism we must first gain an understanding of Marxs view of history Marx has often been labelled a historical materialist but what is historical materialism The basic idea of historical materialism can be found in the sentence it is not the consciousness existence of men that determines their existence but on the contrary their social existence that determines their consciousness2 Man is defined by his mode of production his life-process determining what he thinks This principle means that the procession of history and changes in society is determined by changes in the economic superstructure through changes in the productive forces and thereby changes to the production relations The productive forces being the way people organise themselves in order to gain
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