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DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631207535.1997.x


As defined by M arx in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts (1844), alienation is a specific historical condition in which man experiences a separation from nature, other human beings, and especially the products of his labor. Since man creates himself through labor, all of these forms of alienation imply an alienation of man from himself. For H egel , alienation was a philosophical concept expressing one aspect of the process of self-objectification: in the dialectical process, Spirit objectified itself in nature (a stage in which it was alienated from itself) and then returned to itself. Marx regards alienation as a product of the evolution of division of labor, private property, and the state: when these phenomena reach an advanced stage, as in capitalist society, the individual experiences the entire objective world as a conglomeration of alien forces standing over and above him. In this sense, alienation can only be overcome by the revolutionary abolition of the economic system based on private property. Alienation is also a central concept in sociology, a centrality deriving in part from Max Weber's recognition of the individual's feeling of helplessness in a “disenchanted” world governed by rational, bureacratic, and impersonal institutions. Existentialists, notably H eidegger and S artre , have also centralized this concept, viewing it not as the symptom of given ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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