Alienation, Human Nature and Freedom, Nancy Holmstrom

Alienation, Human Nature and Freedom, Nancy Holmstrom

Nancy Holmstrom Alienation, Human Nature and Freedom mp3

Abstract

Alienation, Human Nature and Freedom: This paper will address the interconnections of alienation, human nature, and freedom. It rests on an understanding of alienation that is consistent with both Marx’s early and later writings, according to which alienation is an objective phenomenon, but with subjective aspects, and is rooted in capitalist social relations. The central focus of the paper is on what Marx calls, in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, the third aspect of alienation: alienation from human nature. It is this aspect that has been most controversial among Marxists and which is alleged by some commentators to have disappeared in his later writings. The central question the paper will address is how to understand two seemingly inconsistent Marxist claims. On the one hand, Marx speaks of alienation from human nature, but on the other hand, he says that human nature changes. Given the latter, how shall we understand the former? Why give priority to certain forms of human nature and identify them as more truly human nature; why isn’t the alienated state just another form of human nature? My proposed solution to this apparent inconsistency rests on the importance of freedom and control to understanding all aspects of alienation.

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