Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Talk at Boğaziçi: Jakub Mácha (Masaryk University), “On the use and misuse of opium. Is religion the opium of the people, or maybe for the people?” (31/07/2018)

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On the use and misuse of opium. Is religion the opium of the people, or maybe for the people?

Jakub Mácha (Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic)

July 31st, 17:00, JF 507

Abstract: Religion is the opium of the people, at least as maintained by Marx and Lenin. Yet, although in the same wording, they used this metaphor in different contexts. In this paper, I provide two interpretations of the religion as opium metaphor within Marx’ and Lenin’s thinking. I am going to argue for the following claims: In the Kantian tradition, the praxis of worship is primary, the existence of the object of belief and worship is dependent on it. In contrast to Kant, Marx as well as Lenin thought that historical religions did not acknowledge the true moral law. For Marx, the opium metaphor expresses a certain ambivalence of religion. Religion is an expression of social oppression and kind of consolation. But this is an illusionary happiness. A fight against religion is, indirectly, a fight against this oppression. For Lenin, religion is a kind of spiritual oppression. Religion is a tool being used by the ruling class to keep the oppressed classes submissive. A fight against religion is directly a fight against this oppression. For both, the first step in the abolition of religion is to get rid of its outer manifestation, i.e. of the praxis of worshiping. Religion has to be declared to be a private affair stripped of its political power, while the freedom of belief (in transcendent entities) can be preserved. Yet, if the praxis of worship is primary, getting rid of this praxis will eventually lead to abolishing religion entirely.

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Written by Lucas Thorpe

July 30, 2018 at 1:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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