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By Rahel Jaeggi

The Hegelian-Marxist concept of alienation fell out of style throughout the post-metaphysical rejection of humanism and essentialist perspectives of human nature. during this ebook Jaeggi attracts on phenomenological analyses grounded in sleek conceptions of organisation, in addition to fresh paintings within the analytical culture, to reconceive of alienation because the absence of a significant dating to oneself and others, which manifests itself in emotions of helplessness and the despondent attractiveness of ossified social roles and expectations.

A revived method of alienation is helping serious social idea have interaction with phenomena, similar to meaninglessness, isolation, and indifference, that have extensive implications for problems with justice. by means of severing alienation's hyperlink to a not easy belief of human essence whereas conserving its social-philosophical content material, Jaeggi presents assets for a renewed critique of social pathologies, a much-neglected challenge in modern liberal political philosophy. Her paintings revisits the arguments of Rousseau, Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Heidegger, putting them in discussion with Thomas Nagel, Bernard Williams, and Charles Taylor.

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Additional info for Alienation (New Directions in Critical Theory)

Sample text

Alienation is itself a relation, even if a deficient one. The things we are capable of becoming alienated from are not merely alien to us in the sense of being unfamiliar, unrelated, or indifferent. ”3 Thus alienation denotes relationlessness of a particular kind: a detachment or separation from something that in fact belongs together, the loss of a connection between two things that nevertheless stand in relation to one another. Being alienated from something means having become distanced from something in which one is in fact involved or to which one is in fact related—or in any case ought to be.

While the remark “you look sick” does not need to be followed by “and being sick is bad (for you),” the self-evident character of this connection rests on (shared) background assumptions: for example, a certain conception of health and sickness, as well as the idea that health is preferable to sickness. One might ask whether the concept of alienation does not depend in a similar way on ethical background assumptions—on a conception of what is destroyed or unachieved in the alienated condition, of what is absent but nevertheless desirable.

Against this backdrop it is possible to characterize more precisely two aspects of self-alienation that can be formulated in Heidegger’s vocabulary: alienation means both making oneself into a thing and adapting oneself to others in what one does. In the one case someone fails to apprehend that she leads her life; in the other, that she herself has to lead it. ”24 Sartre (1991) has provided an illuminating (if chauvinistic) example of what it is to make oneself into a thing in his famous analysis of bad faith:25 a young woman responds to a suitor’s overtures by allowing her hand, which he has taken hold of, to remain in his grasp, but she does so passively and indifferently, as if she has not noticed the attempted overture.

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