The Comparison of Karl Marx and Matthew Arnold

Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, UndergraduateA, January 1996

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Through their writing, Karl Marx and Matthew Arnold show their opposing views on the importance of internal and external functions of culture. In the first chapter of Culture and Anarchy, 'Sweetness and Light', Arnold describes culture as being responsible for the progress of politics and society and as 'the best knowledge and thought of the time' (19). Matthew Arnold's culture is based on two main aspects, religion and education. Karl Marx, however, strongly contrasts Arnold's ideas. Marx views culture as being derived from the advancement of the sciences.

Matthew Arnold's definition of culture comes from 'a mid-nineteenth-century Germanic notion of culture which is founded upon his study of Goethe and Schiller' (19). He believed many other cultures are based on the thought of curiosity and on scientific expansion. Arnold believed culture was based on the expansion of the individual's mind; only through education can a perfect culture be reached.

In his writings, Arnold stated that for a man to be cultured he has to be versed in both religion and classic literature. Although Arnold's culture sought the advancement of the human mind; he did not want people to get wrapped up in technology. 'Faith in machinery is, I said, our besetting danger; often in machinery most absurdly disproportioned to the end which this machinery' (23). Arnold believes his culture is 'more interesting and more far-reaching than that other, which is founded solely on the scientific passion for knowing' (21). Arnold believed that culture dealt with perfection; as he stated in 'Sweetness and Light', 'Culture is then properly describe not as having its origin in curiosity, but as having its origin in the love of perfection; it is a study of perfection' (21). Arnold also says that culture is the endeavor to make the moral and social characteristics...