Marx on Alienation

1023 Words5 Pages
Marx: Alienation In The Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), Georg Hegel described a progression of historic stages by which humanity advanced from ignorance, towards self-understanding and self-consciousness. In response, Karl Marx replaced Hegel's poles of idealism (spiritual ignorance and self-understanding) with categories of materialism: "alienation" and the "species-essence". Marx's theory of alienation describes the separation of things which naturally belong together; he gave particular interest to the division of the essence and existence of human-beings. Alienation is the inevitable result from living in a society which is stratified into separate social classes. This is because being a mechanistic part of a social class estranges a person from their humanity. The basis of alienation in terms of a capitalist society is that the worker invariably loses the ability to determine their life and destiny when deprived of the right to think for themselves as the director of their actions. Although the worker is a self-realised human being, their lives are ultimately dictated by their employers and those who own the means of production as they try and extract a profit from the worker's laborious efforts. Thus the workers' alienation stems from the issue that they can only express themselves in terms of labor, which in itself devalues their humanity to the level of a mere instrument in a privately owned system of industrial production. Karl Marx identified 4 types of alienation that the worker endures under a capitalist regime: 1) Alienation of the worker from the product of his labour In capitalist society, there is a division of social classes which often results in the poor having to work for higher social classes. The laborers cannot work in the domain they choose or for themselves, but instead have to be incorporated into a system in which they must create

More about Marx on Alienation

Open Document