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Marx, Social Darwinism, and Freud. Effects on Education. Karl Marx. Founder of “scientific socialism” Influenced by Hegel, Feuerbach, and Henri Wrote Das Kapital and Manifesto of the Communist Party. Hegel. Believed all knowledge is human knowledge. Truth is subjective.

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karl marx
Karl Marx
  • Founder of “scientific socialism”
  • Influenced by Hegel, Feuerbach, and Henri
  • Wrote Das Kapitaland Manifesto of the Communist Party
  • Believed all knowledge is human knowledge. Truth is subjective.
  • His philosophy is a method for understanding the progress of history.
  • Thoughts are correct for you at a point in time. They might not be correct for everyone or for all time.
  • Truth and reason are dynamic.
  • History shows that humans are progressing toward greater rationality and freedom.
  • Dialectic process: A tension arises between two opposite ways of thinking; it is resolved by a third thought that accommodates the best of the other points (thesis, antithesis, synthesis).
          • (Gaarder, 1991)
  • “Feuerbach is the only one who has a serious, critical attitude to the Hegelian dialectic and who has made genuine discoveries in this field. He is in fact the true conqueror of the old philosophy”.Marx, 1844 (
  • Feuerbach is best known for his criticism of Idealism and religion, especially Christianity, written in the early forties. He believed that any progress in human culture and civilization required the repudiation of both. His later writings were concerned with developing a materialistic humanism and an ethics of human solidarity. These writings have been more or less ignored until recently because most scholars have regarded him primarily as the bridge between Hegel and Marx (
claude henri
Claude Henri
  • Founder of Saint Simonian movement, a Christian scientific socialism.
  • Social science should be seen as equivalent to natural science.
  • Identified industrialism in Europe and was concerned about laboring classes (
  • Economy: most important social structure.
  • Industrialism affected the entire society and all social structures, including education.
  • False consciousness versus class consciousness.
  • Workers will overthrow capitalists, and a classless society will emerge.
the marxist synthesis
The Marxist Synthesis
  • Social-conflict theory: The group in power struggles to maintain the status quo while the oppressed struggle to change it.
  • Capitalist-thesis
  • Workers-antithesis
  • Classless society: synthesis
  • Wanted workers to revolt.
marx and education
Marx and Education
  • Schools would change when the economic structure changed.
  • Values taught in school would change from individualism and competitiveness to egalitarianism and collectivism.
  • Neo-Marxism: schools are a source of class conflict.
  • What would Marx say about tracking?

Evolution, Social Darwinism & Education

theory of evolution life on earth evolved through processes of natural selection
Theory of EvolutionLife on earth evolved through processes of natural selection.
  • Developed through observation, experiments, & insight.
  • 1831: Darwin sailed on the Beagle, spent 5 years in the South Atlantic & Pacific collecting, classifying, and studying a wide variety of life forms.
  • bred domestic plants & animals in England.
  • His conclusion: Originally simple life forms had grown increasingly differentiated through a long progression of purely natural steps.
  • Darwin saw nature as a dynamic process
  • Within it exists natural selection – favorable individual differences are preserved & injurious variations destroyed.
  • Survival of the fittest an optimistic and positive process.
social darwinism
Social Darwinism
  • Struggle for existence
    • Key argument of the social Darwinists
      • Justified economic & social competition between individuals
      • Condemned interference with natural laws as socially disruptive.
social darwinists
Social Darwinists
  • Ernst H. Haeckel (1834-1919)
    • German biologist and a leading Darwinist on the Continent.
    • Asserted that natural law made progress necessary, inevitable, and irresistible.
    • Claimed that the developing organism was reliving its evolutionary history as it passed through stages that recapitulated those of its ancestors.
  • Thomas H. Huxley (1825-1895)
    • Man’s Place in Nature
  • James Anthony Froude (1818-1894)
    • Historian
    • Wrote 12 volume History of England
    • “superior people have a natural right to govern their inferiors”
  • Nicholas Danilevsky (1822-1885)
    • Saw history as a record of particular racial groups, governed by natural laws, passing through different stages of development.
herbert spencer 1820 1903
Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)
  • From childhood he had strong feelings of individualism that opposed any restrictions on freedom by church or state.
  • Tutored by his father William who believed existing schools were ineffective.
    • Stressed basics -- reading, writing & arithmetic. Greatest attention given to science an math.
    • Latin, Greek, ancient history & classical literature virtually ignored.
  • Spencer was encouraged by his father to discuss and analyze all manner of current issues.
  • Tutoring featured skeptical questioning of conventional assumptions about knowledge and society.
  • Civil engineer age 17 to 21
    • Read widely in sciences during spare time
  • Gained popularity as a journalist and critic
    • turned to lecturing.
  • His book First Principles of a New System of Philosophy attempted to apply biological evolution to society.
  • Essays, Scientific, Political, and Speculative reaffirmed his belief in the importance of science and the need to limit government regulation.
  • Operation of the universe involves a constant distribution of matter and motion.
  • Evolution
    • Progressive integration of matter
      • Accompanied by the dissipation of motion
  • Dissolution
    • Disorganization of matter
      • Accompanied by the absorption of motion.
  • Homogeneous societies develop into more complex social systems characterized by an increasing variety of individual roles.
  • Asserted that the pressures of subsistence were beneficial.
    • Fittest of each generation survive by their skill, intelligence, diligence& ability to adapt to change.
      • The more intelligent & adaptive will inherit the earth & populate it with equally intelligent & effective offspring.
spencer cont d
Spencer cont’d
  • Supported British liberalism
  • Opposed
    • government privileges for any church and
    • Classically oriented education
  • Built his philosophy on the principle of persistence of force manifested by matter & motion.
spencerian social darwinism
Spencerian Social Darwinism
  • Rationale used by those opposed to
    • Legislative alleviation of poverty &
    • State-supported education, housing, medicine, banking & postal systems.
  • Spencer saw capitalism as culminating in human prosperity. Marx saw it as a predatory stage in history.
    • Both believed social change is produced by inevitable universal patterns over which people have little on no control.
  • Spencer opposed those who thought social ills are the result of some environmental malfunction.
    • Saw sociology & allied social sciences as having both a descriptive & a prescriptive function.
spencerian education
Spencerian Education
  • Conventional schooling seen as impractical, ornamental, and irrelevant to the needs of an industrial society.
  • Spencer opposed to government control of education
  • Wanted a curriculum putting emphasis on science.
  • People need to perform a number of life-sustaining activities effectively.
supporting human life
supporting human life
  • Activities directly related to self-preservation
  • Activities indirectly related to self-preservation that secure the necessities of life
  • Activities related to the rearing of children
  • Activities related to the proper maintenance of social & political relationships
  • Activities related to leisure time that gratify taste and feelings.
spencerian education methodology
Spencerian Education Methodology
  • mental discipline and evolutionary development
    • Instruction should follow developmental stages
      • Simple to complex
      • Concrete to abstract
      • Empirical to the rational
  • Education should allow the learner’s self-development
victorian era
Victorian Era
  • Age of political ideologies, characterized by clashes between liberals & conservatives.
  • Intellectual ferment
    • Rise of natural science had challenged religious orthodoxy and theology.
  • There was a clash between scientific and humanist attitudes.
    • Thomas Huxley (1825-95) ----scientific education
    • Matthew Arnold (1822-88)----human nature remains the same
social darwinism in america
Social Darwinism in America
  • Social Darwinism provided a scientific explanation for industrial capitalism.
    • Natural laws of supply & demand & open market
  • Calvinist Puritans
william graham sumner 1840 1910
William Graham Sumner (1840-1910)
  • Professor of political & social science at Yale University
  • Education as a process of inducting the immature individual into the knowledge, skills, and values of the group.
  • Social change – gradual evolutionary process caused environmental changes that are induced by natural causes or technological innovation.
    • Discounted revolution as an instrument of major social changes.
reassertion of social darwinism
Reassertion of social Darwinism
  • Neo-Conservative revival (1980s) had Spencerian content.
    • Resurgent individualism
    • Economic deregulation
    • Reduction of social programs
    • More science & math in curriculum
  • Neo-Conservative policies also implemented in England at the same time
  • Soviet Union and its satellite states – similar policies adopted.
  • Psychoanalytical theory
  • Jewish
  • Socioeconomic changes
  • Influenced by Feuerbach, Brentano, Brucke, Clause, and Charcot
freud s vienna
Freud’s Vienna
  • Emperor Franz Josef was tolerant of Jewish community and helped decrease discrimination against them. This allowed the Jewish people to be successful.
  • Physiologist
  • Could study human behavior through empirical method.
  • The scientific method should be applied to medicine.
  • Specialized in mental illness
  • One of the most famous neurologists of all time
  • Discovered and described a variety of neurologically-based diseases.
  • Was among the first to match specific anatomical lesions to a variety of neurological disorders (
id ego and superego
Id, ego and superego
  • Id: primitive, instinctual drives such as sexuality and aggression. The id is present at birth and requires immediate gratification.
  • Ego: finds balance between primitive drives and morals. The ego is concerned with person’s safety.
  • Superego: internalization of cultural regulations. The superego is a person’s conscience (
freud and education
Freud and Education
  • Early childhood is important to adult mental health.
  • Education served to teach culture.
  • Education can help children control their instincts.
  • Child’s instincts should be lead to constructive expression; they should not be suppressed.
  • Teachers should be aware of individual differences.
freud and education37
Freud and Education
  • To avoid harming a child psychologically, schools should find ways to liberate the child while conforming to cultural standards.
  • A child’s instincts should not be denied but adapted to social reality (
anna freud
Anna Freud
  • Founder of child psychoanalysis
  • Focused on the importance of the ego.
  • Was important in the field of child development (
  • Gaarder, J. (1991). Sophie’s World. New York: Berkley Books.