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ALIENATION IN HEGEL AND MARX Although its roots lie far back in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the concept

of alienation first gained prominence in the philosophy of Hegel, and particularly in his mature writings. There are signs of the idea in his earlier works, but it is not until the Phenomenology (1808), thought by many to be Hegel's most important work, that alienation occupies a central place in his writings. In the opening sections of the Phenomenology Hegel attacked the views of common sense and simplified natural science that the world consisted of discrete objects independent of man's consciousness. Truth, for Hegel, was not to be found in knowledge that was purified of any influence from man's own desires and feelings. Ultimately Hegel considered that there could be no truth that was not intimately linked with the ongoing process of human beings as thinking subjects; truth was their truth. The supposed objectivity of the world of nature was in fact an alienation, for man's task was to discover, behind these appearances, his own essential life and finally to view everything as a facet of his own self-consciousness. The same principle applied to the world of culture in which such spheres as art and religion, if viewed as independent of man, constituted so many alienations to be overcome by integration into the final understanding and recapitulation which was Absolute Knowledge. The central actor in this process for Hegel was Spirit. Hegel thought that reality was Spirit developing itself. In this process Spirit produced a world that it thought at first was external; only later did it realize that this world was its own production. Spirit was not something separated from this productive activity; it only existed in and through this activity. At the beginning of this process Spirit was not aware that it was externalizing or alienating itself. Only gradually did Spirit realize that the world was not external to it. It was the failure to realize this that constituted, for Hegel, alienation. This alienation would cease when men became fully self-conscious and understood their environment and

their culture to be emanations of Spirit. Freedom consisted in this understanding, and freedom was the aim of history. Hegel had created a system; and all his disciples agreed that it was the final one. However, when it came to applying the system to particular problems, they conceived their Master's system to be ambivalent. The fact that alienation seemed to them to be a challenge, something to be overcome, led them to put the emphasis on the concepts of dialectic and negativity in Hegel's system; and thus they challenged, first in religion and then in politics, the Master's view that the problem of alienation had, at least in principle, been solved. The foremost among these radical disciples of Hegel, Bruno Bauer, applied the concept of alienation to the religious field. Bauer, who lectured in theology and made his name as a Gospel critic, considered that religious beliefs, and in particular Christianity, caused a division in man's consciousness by becoming opposed to this consciousness as a separate power. Thus religion was an attitude towards the essence of self-consciousness that had become estranged from itself. In this context, Bauer promoted the use of the expression self-alienation that soon became current among the Young Hegelians. Like Bruno Bauer, Ludwig Feuerbach was also fascinated by the problem of religious alienation, but his concept of it was much simpler. Whereas Bauer considered that men's religious creations eventually adopted an inhuman form, Feuerbach saw in religion simply the projection of man's essential desires and capacities. Since what was ascribed to God were really attributes of man, man was separated from himself, and thus alienated. This idea was elaborated in Feuerbach's best known book The Essence of Christianity, published in 1841. Feuerbach described the fundamental idea of his book thus: The objective essence of religion, particularly the Christian religion, is nothing but the essence of human, and particularly Christian, feeling. The secret of theology is therefore anthropology.... The foundation of a new science is laid here in that 038

the philosophy of religion is conceived of and presented as esoteric or secret anthropology or psychology (McLellan [1969], p. 88). Feuerbach made an even greater impact through his Preliminary Theses for the Reform of Philosophy and his Foundations of the Philosophy of the Future, both published in 1843. Their major purpose was to point out that Hegel's philosophy was just as alienating a force as religion and needed to be reabsorbed in the same manner. Feuerbach began his Theses with the statement the secret of theology is anthropology, but the secret of speculative philosophy is theology (ibid., p. 98). In Feuerbach's view, the great deficiency in Hegel's philosophy was its negation of theology from the standpoint of theology. Thus Hegelthe German Proclusnever managed to break out of the circle of ideas and could not realize the true relationship of thought to being: being is the subject, thought the predicate. As a philosopher in his own right, Feuerbach was only of the second rank: basically he had one idea that he expounded in many different ways. As Marx said later: Compared with Hegel, Feuerbach is very poor. Nevertheless, after Hegel he was epochmaking because he put the emphasis on certain points, uncomfortable for the Christian consciousness and important for the progress of criticism, which Hegel had left in a sort of mystical twilight between clarity and obscurity (ibid., p. 113). It was in this atmosphere of rapid secularization that Marx evolved his own concept of alienation. Bruno Bauer had talked of alienation in religion; Feuerbach had carried this further by pointing out that Hegel's philosophy was itself the last bastion of theology; finally Moses Hessnicknamed the communist rabbihad transferred Feuerbach's ideas to the realm of economics, by analyzing, in his essay On the Essence of Money (1844), money as the alienated essence of man. Marx accepted all these accounts of alienation, considering economics to be fundamental inasmuch as work was man's basic activity. In all these fields Marx's common idea was that man had alienated to someone or something what was essential to his nature principally, to be in control of his own activities, to

be the subject and initiator of the historical process. In the different forms of alienation some other entity had obtained what was proper to man: in religion it was God, in politics the State, in economics the market process and cash nexus. (A note is necessary on the German originals of the term alienation. Marx uses two words to express the concept of alienation: Entfremdung and Entusserung. His distinction between these two words is by no means as precise as that of Hegel. Often they appear to be synonymous and are used together for rhetorical effect. If anything, Entfremdung conveys the sense of alienation in which two people are said to be alienated from each other; while Entsserung has more the sense of making external to oneself with legal and commercial overtones. Neither of these words is to be confused with Vergegenstndlichung, that is, objectification, which, in Marx as opposed to Hegel, is a neutral process that can be either good or bad according to the particular circumstances.) Marx first worked out his ideas in detail with regard to political alienation in his Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right. Here Marx examined paragraph by paragraph Hegel's Philosophy of Right and claimed that the state, described by Hegel as productive of, and superior to, its own elements, constituted an alienation of man's essence. Applying to Hegel Feuerbach's reversal of subject and predicate, Marx wrote: The Idea is made subjective and the true relationship of the family and civil society to the state is conceived of as their imaginary activity. The family and civil society are the presuppositions of the state; they are its properly active elements. But in speculation the relationship is inverted. When the Idea is made a subject, the civil society, the family, 'circumstances, caprice' etc. become unreal objective phrases of the Idea and have a completely different significance (Early Texts, p. 62). The place where Marx wrote at greatst length on his concept of alienation and his debt to Hegel are two passages in the Paris Manuscripts. In the passage on alienated labour (ibid., pp. 133ff.), Marx deals with the relationship of the worker to his product. The

fact that the worker is related to the product of his labor as to an alien object means that the more the worker produces the more he approaches loss of work and starvation. Marx goes on to detail four types of alienated labor: the alienation of the product from the producer; the alienation of the act of production; the alienation of nature from men; and finally of man from his species-being (a term borrowed from Feuerbach meaning the common factors making up man's nature). This negative picture is complemented by the description that Marx gives of unalienated man in the notes that he made on James Mill at the same time as the writing of the Manuscripts. Put rather roughly, what Marx means when he talks of alienation is this: it is man's nature to be his own creator; he forms and develops himself by working on and transforming the world outside him in cooperation with his fellow men. In this progressive interchange between man and the world, it is man's nature to be in control of this process, to be the initiator, the subject in which the process originates. However, this nature has become alien to man; that is, it is no longer his and belongs to another person or thing. In religion, for example, it is God who is the subject of the historical process and man is in 039 a state of dependence on His grace. In economics, according to Marx, it is money and the processes of the market that maneuver men around instead of being controlled by them. The central point is that man has lost control of his own evolution and has seen this control invested in other entities. What is proper to man has become the attribute of something else, and thus alien to him. The second passage of importance in the Paris Manuscripts is the final section entitled Critique of Hegel's Dialectic (ibid., pp. 157ff.). Here Marx began by describing Feuerbach's great achievement which was to have demonstrated that Hegel's philosophy was merely a different form of the alienation of man's nature; Feuerbach had reestablished the primacy of man's social relationship to man. Marx readily acknowledged his own debt to Hegel. Therefore the greatness of Hegel's Phenomenology, he wrote, and

its final product, the dialectic of negativity as the moving and creating principle, is that Hegel conceived of the self-creation of man as a process, objectification as loss of the object, as externalisation and the transcendence of this externalisation. This means, therefore, that he grasps the nature of labour and understands objective man, true, because real man, as the result of his own labour (ibid., p. 164). Nevertheless, Hegel's conception of labor was of abstract, mental labor and he only succeeded in overcoming alienation in the realm of consciousness. Although Hegel said that man suffered from economic and political alienation, it was only the thought of economics and politics in which Hegel was interested. The whole process ended in Absolute Knowledge, with the result that it was the philosopher who judged the world. In other words, Hegel had confused alienation and objectivity. Thus, according to Hegel, What is supposed to be the essence of alienation that needs to be transcended is not that man's being objectifies itself in an inhuman way in opposition to itself, but that it objectifies itself in distinction from and in opposition to, abstract thought. The appropriation of man's objectified and alienated faculties is thus firstly only an appropriation that occurs in the mind, in pure thought, i.e. in abstraction (ibid., pp. 162f.). Marx's central criticism of Hegel, therefore, was that alienation would not cease with the supposed abolition of the external world. The external world, according to Marx, was part of man's nature and the point was to establish the right relationship between man and his environment. Marx therefore rejected Hegel's notion of Spirit and replaced its supposed antithesis to the external world by the antithesis between man and his social being. In his early writings, therefore, Marx sketched a notion of alienation which, taking the analyses in reli gion and politics of his contemporary Young Hegelians as models, had its roots in the socioeconomic situation of the worker in capitalist society. Yet in the 1930's and '40's, alienation did not play any part in the many discussions of Marx's thought. In the 1960's, however, it was accepted that it is the major theme running

through the whole of his writings. Those who wish to maintain that there is a break between the young and the old Marx usually maintain that alienation is a concept that was entirely restricted to Marx's early thought and later abandoned. However, these statements can be shown to be incorrect. The term itself occurs much more frequently, even in Capital, than is commonly realized. In Capital Marx writes, for example: The character of independence and estrangement which the capitalist modes of production as a whole give to the instruments of labour and the product, as against the workman, is developed by means of machinery into a thorough antagonism (I, 432). Yet it is not only a question of terminology: the content, too, of Capital is a continuation of Marx's early thoughts. The main discussion of Volume One of Capital rests on the equation of work and value that goes back to the conception of man as a being who creates himself and the conditions of his lifea conception outlined in the Paris Manuscripts. It is man's nature, according to the Marx of the Paris Manuscripts, to be constantly developing, in cooperation with other men, himself and the world about him. What Marx in Capital is describing is how this fundamental role of man, to be the initiator and controller of the historical process, has been transferred, or alienated, and how it belongs to the inhuman power of Capital. The counterpart of alienated man, the unalienated or total man of the Manuscripts, also appears in Capital. In the chapter of Volume One on Machinery and Modern Industry Marx makes the same contrast between the effects of alienated and unalienated modes of production on the development of human potentiality. He writes: Modern industry, indeed, compels society, under penalty of death, to replace the detailworker of today, crippled by the life-long repetition of one and the same trivial operation, and thus reduced to the mere fragment of a man, by the fully developed individual, fit for a variety of labours, ready to face any change of production, and to whom the different social functions he performs, are but so many modes of giving free scope to his own natural and acquired powers. The fact that, in Capital, the conclusion is

supported by a detailed analysis of the effects of advanced technology, should not obscure the continuity. The section of Capital that most recalls the early writings, is the final section of Chapter One, entitled Fetishism of Commodities. The whole section is reminiscent of the passage on alienated labor in the 040 Paris Manuscripts and of the notes on James Mill that Marx composed in 1844. Marx writes: A commodity is therefore a mysterious thing, simply because in it the social character of man's labour appears to them as an objective character stamped upon that labour; because the relation of the producers to the sum total of their labour, is presented to them as a social relation, existing not between themselves, but between the products of their labour (I, 488). However, the writing that best shows the centrality of the concept of alienation to Marx's thought is the Grundrisse. This manuscript is the thousand-page draft that served Marx as a basis for Capital but remained unpublished until 1941. The Grundrisse, of which the Critique of Political Economy and Capital are only partial elaborations, is the centerpiece of Marx's work. It is the basic work which permitted the generalizations in the famous Preface to the Critique of Political Economy. For Capital is only the first of the six volumes in which Marx wished to develop his Economics, the title by which he referred to his magnum opus on the alienation of man through Capital and the State. The scope of the Grundrisse being wider than that of Capital, Marx's thought is best viewed as a continuing meditation on themes begun in 1844, the high point in which meditation occurred in 1857-58. The continuity between the Manuscripts and the Grundrisse is evident. Marx himself talked of the Grundrisse as the result of fifteen years of research, thus the best period of my life. This latter was written in November 1858, exactly fifteen years after Marx's arrival in Paris in November 1843. He also says, in the Preface of 1859:

the total material lies before me in the form of monographs, which were written at widely separated periods, for self-clarification, not for publication, and whose coherent elaboration according to the plan indicated will depend on external circumstances. This can only refer to the Paris Manuscripts of 1844 and the London notebooks of 1850-52. Marx constantly used, and at the same time revised, material from an earlier date: for instance, he used his notebooks of 1843-45 while writing Capital. The content of the Grundrisse only serves to confirm what is plain from the external evidence: the beginning of the chapter on Capital reproduces almost word for word the passages in the Manuscripts on human need, man as a species-being, the individual as a social being, the idea of nature as, in a sense, man's body, the parallels between religious and economic alienation, the utopian and almost millennial elements, etc. One point in particular emphasizes this continuity: the Grundrisse are as Hegelian as the Paris Manuscripts and the central concept of both of them is alienation. Aided by the publication of Marx's early writings, the increasing complexity and anonymity of capitalist society, and the gap between ideology and reality in many socialist ones, the concept of alienation has become very topical. Its very topicality, however, is in danger of rendering the concept of alienation vacuous; for often it seems merely to be used to designate any state of affairs that is considered unsatisfactory. However, Marx's description of alienation, particularly as contained in the Paris Manuscripts, is by no means as vacuous as many of its contemporary interpretations. For it contains both an account of the relationship between socioeconomic conditions and psychological states that is, to some extent at least, testable, and also a far from vague view of human nature. Because it contains both of these it is also a concept in which facts and values are inextricably bound together, and so one which runs counter to the prevailing demand for a sharp distinction between evaluative and descriptive statements. Thus, although Marx was always writing with certain initial value judgments presupposed, empirical criteria are, up to a point, applicable to his

hypotheses. Marx's concept can be further clarified by asking what he would consider as nonalienation. This positive side of Marx's critique is less well-known. But the passage on alienated labour in the Paris Manuscripts should be read in close conjunction with his description of production in a human manner contained in his notes on James Mill, and with the conception of the future communist society outlined in the Grundrisse. The metaphysical and ethical elements of the concept of alienation that originated with Hegel and Feuerbach still persist to some extent in Marx, but they are given a socioeconomic context that makes them all the more interesting to the modern mind. BIBLIOGRAPHY H. Arvon, Ludwig Feuerbach, ou la tranformation du Sacr (Paris, 1957). S. Avineri, The Social and Political Thought of Karl Marx (Cambridge, 1968). H. Barth, Wahrheit und Ideologie (Zurich, 1945). J.-Y. Calvez, La Pense de Karl Marx (Paris, 1956). L. Dupr, The Philosophical Foundations of Marxism (New York, 1966). L. Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity (London, 1853). J. Findlay, Hegel: A Re-examination (London, 1958). E. Fromm, Marx's Concept of Man (New York, 1961). G. Hegel, Phenomenology of Mind (London and New York, 1910). J. Hyppolite, Gense et Structure da la phnomnologie de l'esprit de Hegel (Paris, 1947). E. Kamenka, The Ethical Foundations of Marxism (London, 1962). W. Kaufmann, Hegel (New York, 1965). A. Kojve, Introduction la lecture de Hegel (Paris, 1947). J. Loewenberg, Hegel's Phenomenology (La Salle, 1965). H. Marcuse, Reason and Revolution (London, 1941). K. Marx, Capital, 3 vols. (Moscow, 1961-62); idem, Selected Writings in Sociology and Social Philosophy, ed. T. Bottomore and M. Rubel (London, 1956); idem, The Early Texts, ed. D. 041 McLellan (Oxford, 1971); idem, Writings of the Young Marx on Philosophy and Society, ed. L. Easton and K. Guddat (New York, 1967). D. McLellan, Marx before Marxism (New York, 1970), with extensive bibliography on the early Marx; idem, Marx's Grundrisse (New York, 1971); idem, The Thought of Karl Marx (New York, 1971), with extensive bibliography on Marxist thought as a whole; idem, The Young Hegelians and Karl Marx (London, 1969). B. Ollman, Alienation: Marx's Concept of Man in Capitalist Society

(Cambridge, 1971). J. Plamenatz, Man and Society, Vol. 2 (London, 1963). S. Rawidowicz, Ludwig Feuerbachs Philosophie (Berlin, 1931). R. Tucker, Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx (Cambridge, 1961). DAVID McLELLAN [See also Alienation in Western Theology; Economic History; Economic Theory of Natural Liberty; Hegelian Political and Religious Ideas; Historical and Dialectical Materialism; Marxism; Socialism.] previous section Dictionary of the History of Ideas next section