Posted: December 25th, 2022
The contributions of Karl Marx in the field of philosophy have often been described as exemplary and outstanding due to the angle adopted when it comes to logical and rational reasoning. The prowess and proficiency demonstrated by Marx when it comes to dissecting troublesome issues in society is one of the aspects that makes this individual an exceptional scholar. The theory of alienation is one of the academic concepts that is synonymous with this philosopher where he attempts to explain how the human race finds itself distanced from the world of reality. The viewpoints and opinions of Marx are known to be purely philosophical where he adopts the common teachings in society to pass across a valid point. The massive influence that these teachings have on most people is evidently conspicuous since most of them are contained in academic syllabuses and teaching curricula. This paper is a philosophical essay that evaluates the first manuscript of Marx and how it talks about the theory of alienation for the human species alienation for the human species by karl marx.
Marx in the 1844 first manuscript explains the concept of being alienated from one’s species being. What is species being and how are we alienated from species being as a consequence of living within a capitalist system of production? How in particular do you experience this alienation?
The concept of estranged labor forms the foundation of the philosophical topic of the first manuscript where Marx endeavors to show that the society is mainly divided into two main factions. The first one is comprised of people who are opulent such that they own the massive share of property within their respective society. Alienation for the human species by karl marx the opposite is true for the second category that is actually made up of workers and laborers who work for the people that own the property
(Fluxman, 378). Marx argues that the people who do not own property or the “property-less” group are the ones that suffer from alienation and estrangement within the society that they inhabit.
This isolation often occurs because the individual who does not own any property or assets feels that the work that they do is the only thing that makes them relevant such that they objectify it throughout their lives (McGuigan, 323). What’s more, this laborer, begins to associate their entire life with the work that they do such that all their efforts are invested into the object that makes them work in the first place. Despite this hard work, the person does not actually get to have ownership rights for the fruits of their labor and this is where the principles of capitalism begin to manifest. The first manuscript in the words of Marx asserts that the “property-less” worker begins to become alienated as he or she continues to become indulged and engaged in their daily routine (Marshall, 2).
This is because they often feel that everything that they are doing forms a significant contribution to the external world. Secondly, there is another form of alienation that Marx describes in his philosophical writing of the first manuscript. This estrangement revolves around the process of becoming distant from one’s species and individual identity. Marx explains that work forms a very fundamental and integral part of human life such that any person often associates it with their overall purpose in life (Ouellet, 23). The concept of being a species simply describes what it entails to be human from a philosophical and sociological perspective. Marx’s manuscript clearly outlines how the intellectual ability sets a vivid distinction between human beings and other creatures.
It is through the process of being able to transform abstract or inanimate matter into something useful that constitutes a critical part of the human race (Archibald, 119). In fact, the human species is most known for being able to convert and later objects in the natural world into a practical activity in the form of work. However, the modern system of owning property actually leads to alienation because the worker in this case tends to lose their purpose in life and even their identity of self.
Marx’s manuscript continues to assert that the human being is a living species not because he is able to survive through his instincts, but also because he can express himself in different ways (Renault, 702). Further, the human species is able to treat themselves in a universal manner that makes them a free spirit as well. This quality is largely interfered with when the issue of alienation and estrangement sets in because it prevents the normal human from living as a free spirit. Instead, the person becomes caught up in the web of work, profession and careers such that it is objectified as a means of survival (Archibald, 119).
The capitalist system of production is described by Marx as the reason why man is constantly working in order to satisfy an urgent need in their lives. This need is what adds significant meaning to their physical existence in the first place. The theory of alienation according to Marx is an important concept in philosophy that demonstrates how forces of impersonation dominate the contemporary society. It is the innate desire to improve one’s life that makes the human species obsessed with making the most out of their lives such that they become entangled in the process (McGuigan, 325).
The notion of species-being actually centers on showing how humans unite themselves with work, nature and also with one another. It is also through all of these spheres that the process of alienation often takes place where a person can be distanced from the object of production or also from the activity itself. In the view of Marx, the element of labor largely contributes to the process of being estranged in the sense that this activity does not only lead to production, but is also makes the worker to become a commodity as well (Marshall, 2).
This simply means that it is possible for the human species to become objectified once they become immersed in the world of production.
The process of being alienated as a result of the capitalist system of production highly manifests itself even in the present world. The “property-less” group who form the larger proportion of workers are the ones who are constantly working in order to try and improve their lives (Ouellet, 24). This is regardless of the fact that they do not have the liberty or freedom to own the fruits of their labor or even become a partial owner to it. On the contrary, the capitalist minority get to enjoy the fruits of production because they are the ones who own a majority of the assets and property in society.
It is through the constant efforts of the worker to upgrade their lives and standards of living that makes them become obsessed with the idea of objectification in production such that they end up being visualized as a tangible item in the end (Ouellet, 24). The manner in which a worker becomes stripped of their own species-being when the capitalists system is in play takes center stage in the current society. From a personal perspective, I believe that most people in the society actually become entangled in the process of work because it is their only ticket to survival. They do not work because of the end product they create or the activity that they engage in on a daily basis, but instead, they only remain connected because they are able to sustain themselves through it (Fluxman, 379).
Marx clearly explains that the human species simply works because it is the only way they know how to live. In the process, they get to alienate themselves from who they truly are and it becomes even more difficult to live as a free spirit. Further, I have also observed that the connection between nature and humanity is terminated when a person becomes too much immersed in the workplace. In fact, it sometimes gets to a point where a person begins to feel like a slave such that they believe that their employer only values their output and not their individuality (Fluxman, 379) alienation for the human species by karl marx. This phenomenon occurs in virtually most organizations where most staff members feel that they are more of a laborer and less of an autonomous being and this makes them forget their values as a species-being.
In a recap, the first manuscript according to Marx presents a valuable and vital concept on the topic of alienation and how capitalist thoughts in production have contributed to worsening the situation. The existence of two main groups of the property owners and the “property-less people is what Marx believes is the genesis of the alienation and estrangement in among the human species.
Archibald, W. Peter. “Using Marx’s Theory of Alienation Empirically.” Theory & Society, vol. 6, no. 1, July 2008, p. 119. EBSCOhost,
Fluxman, Tony. “Marx, Rationalism and the Critique of the Market.” South African Journal of Philosophy, vol. 28, no. 4, Nov. 2009, pp. 377-413. EBSCOhost,
Marshall, Peter. “A Marxist Theory …What Goes Around….” Human Resources Magazine, vol. 10, no. 2, June 2005, p. 2. EBSCOhost,
McGuigan, Jim. “Creative Labour, Cultural Work and Individualisation.” International Journal of Cultural Policy, vol. 16, no. 3, Aug. 2010, pp. 323-335. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/10286630903029658.
Ouellet, Maxime. “Revisiting Marx’s Value Theory: Elements of a Critical Theory of Immaterial Labor in Informational Capitalism.” Information Society, vol. 31, no. 1, Jan/Feb2015, pp. 20-27. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/01972243.2015.977628.
Renault, Emmanuel. “Three Marxian Approaches to Recognition.” Ethical Theory & Moral Practice, vol. 16, no. 4, Aug. 2013, pp. 699-711. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s10677-013-9413-8 alienation for the human species by karl marx.
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