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Alienation According To Marx

What does one mean by alienation? Alienation is said to be the misperceived separation of essence from the object that it characterizes.1 In 1844 Karl Marx wrote and published The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, better known as The Paris Manuscripts. This was Karl Marx’s first work, where he writes a study about alienation of workers. Alienation manifests itself in many different forms. Marx argues that;

“One must understand, there are three types of alienation. The first type of alienation is alienation from oneself. The second type of alienation is alienation from his fellow human beings. The third type of alienation is alienation from the world as a whole. These three forms of alienation are interconnected.” This is the core of his approach to the problem of alienation.

However, Alienation has also been associated with early theological writings to refer to the estrangement of a person from God as well.2 Therefore it is without question that Alienation can be extremely harmful as its principle action is to cause people to feel isolated and alone.

The recognition of man as a “species” becomes important to the theory of Alienation, which is central to Marx’s work and vital in reiterating the human essence of man.3 Alienation for Marx was a consequence of the conditions within systems of mutual production, which caused man to lose his identity as a species being and fall into an alienated state through the production of capital.4 Subsequently, he became detached from his conscious life activity causing him to be detached from himself, from others and the product of his labor. Essentially man comes to lose all his traits that identify his recognition of himself as human, causing him to become de-humanized. In the Paris Manuscripts Marx identified four specific ways in which alienation pervades capitalist society.

The product of labour: The worker is alienate

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