2. Karl Marx

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Book Chapter

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With the 1840's the socialist heritage underwent profound changes. Most significantly, these may be attributed to the influence of Karl Marx, (1818-1883), in whose person were joined both the intellectual critic and the practical revolutionary. The import of his life, if any one meaning can be drawn from it, lay in the works to which he gave himself with single-minded devotion. All else was assigned lower priority: material comfort, personal welfare, respectability. Even the poverty and suffering of his family, though bitterly and painfully experienced, were not permitted to sway the concentration he felt compelled to bring to his study, writing, and organizational activities. This triumph of will, indeed, was aided by the forbearance and equal dedication of his wife, as well as by the intellectual and pecuniary support he derived from his close friend, Friedrich Engels (1820-1895). In the end, the impact of Marx far transcended the bounds of socialist development, affecting a significant portion of subsequent political, economic, and social thought and action, in both the East and West. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section XVI: Developments in Socialism, (1848-1914). The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.