Chapter

Alienation and reification

Stephen Eric Bronner

in Critical Theory

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199730070
Published online September 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199365777 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/actrade/9780199730070.003.0004

Series: Very Short Introductions

Alienation and reification

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‘Alienation and reification’ explores the concept of alienation and reification in Karl Marx's Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, and how this affected 20th century Western Marxism. Alienation is not a uniquely Marxist concept, but Marx defined it as an inability to grasp the workings of history and subject them to human control. In the capitalist system, alienation occurs through the lack of working class consciousness, and their transformation from people into objects — their reification. The Frankfurt School saw alienation and reification as philosophical and experiential problems, but believed that trying to remedy them in the current system is pointless, and a new framework is needed to cultivate autonomy.

Keywords: alienation; class; consciousness; Marxism; reification

Chapter.  4209 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: 20th-Century Philosophy

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