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Karl Marx (1818–1883) has never ceased to be controversial. Often said to have lost their relevance, his ideas again attract attention as the capitalist system faces new crises in the 21st century. His presence across philosophy, economics, and politics remains unique, and the power of his critique of modern Western society is seen in debates over the aims and functions of public education. This entry focuses on Marx himself rather than on “Marxism,” a broad and diverse tendency that often departs considerably from its sources in Marx’s writings. It outlines his ideas on education and locates them within his thought as a whole.

Marx’s origins provide few predictors of his life’s work. Born in Trier to a Jewish family recently converted to Christianity, he received ...

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