Marx sharply criticized the contemplative materialism of the Young Hegelians, viewing "the essence of man" in isolation and abstraction , instead arguing that the nature of man could only be understood in the context of his economic and social relations.  Marx argued that understanding the origins of religious belief were not enough in moving towards its elimination; instead declaring that it was the underlying social and economic structure which gave rise to religious belief and that it was a transformation of this which was a necessary precondition to the elimination of religion. 
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