In 1835, Karl Marx, age seventeen, enrolled at the law faculty at the University of Bonn, continuing in 1836 at the University of Berlin. While he studied jurisprudence there, he also pursued his interests in philosophy and history. In the end, those collateral interests won out, and the university granted his doctoral degree in philosophy. The rest, as they say, is history. Just as Marx's philosophical premises were never quite forsaken, even after his turn to political economy in the mid-1840s, so too did his jurisprudential training leave its mark on his mature work.

Together with his friend, collaborator, and fellow exile Friedrich Engels (1820–1895), Marx espoused a conception of law that we may broadly term materialist. Marx's writings crystallized the nineteenth century's regnant views of ...

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