Volume 45, 2008
Philosophy of Religion
Kevin M. Brien
Marx and the Living Flower
This paper is aimed at a rethinking of the spiritual in relation to Marx. Drawing from Marx’s own formulations, it makes clear that Marx made an important distinction between religion and the spiritual, and that he did indeed speak of the spiritual in positive ways. Much of the discussion centers on Marx’s famous passage speaking about religion as “the opium of the people.” Therein Marx writes that: “Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers from the chain, not so that man will wear the chain that is without fantasy or consolation but so that he will throw it off and pluck the living flower.” This paper attempts to make clear what
Marx means by the “imaginary flowers” and also by the “living flower”; and in so doing helps to clarify what Marx means by “the spiritual”.