Marx, Karl


Queen's University, Canada

DOI: 10.1002/9781118989463.wbeccs161

Born in Trier, Germany's oldest city, located closer to Paris than Berlin, Karl Marx (1818–83), the eldest surviving son in a family of nine children (five reached adulthood), grew up in an environment saturated with the spirit of the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and a republican worldview. Encouraged to become a lawyer like his father, Marx entered the University of Bonn in 1835, spending time writing romantic poetry to Jenny von Westphalen, his future wife, engaging in student hijinks, and studying law and philosophy.

Transferring to the University of Berlin in 1836, Marx joined the Doktorklub – a group of left-Hegelian students, writers, and academics – and intensively studied Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's philosophy. Considering an academic career, Marx completed a dissertation at the University of Jena in 1841 comparing Democritean and Epicurean philosophies of nature. Marx's professorial ambitions diminished when Bruno Bauer, a potential advocate, lost his position over a satire the two wrote that portrayed Hegel as the Antichrist.

With few academic prospects, Marx joined the liberal-oriented Rheinische Zeitung in 1842, quickly becoming its editor. Embroiled in the real, practical issues of Prussian life, Marx tired of left-Hegelian speculative philosophy and turned to French socialists for new perspectives. Following the newspaper's government closure in 1843, Marx relocated ...

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