Marx's Alienated Labor Essay

1322 words - 5 pages

PHIL 184 Essay #2 11/11/14 PHIL 184 Essay #2; Question 2 11/11/14
Marx's Alienated LaborMarx's Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 outlines the problem of alienation and critiques Hegel's previous arguments on the nature of alienation. Alienation is the process in which people feel foreign to the world they are living in. Alienated labor is labor that manifests itself outside of the worker, is removed from him, and thus creates the division between subject and object. Marx explains that, under the economic system of capitalism, the class system is being divided into two parts: the property owners and property-less workers. These workers not only live in poverty, but in alienation. Marx outlines this estranged labor in four parts: the worker and the product of labor; the worker and the labor process; the worker and his "species being"; and finally, the worker and other humans (pg. 74-77). This essay will examine each of these arguments in detail as well as discussing Marx's criticism of Hegelian philosophy.The first piece to Marx's concept of estranged labor is about the way that the product of that labor alienates the worker. Marx states that "the worker is related to the product of his labour as to an alien object" (pg. 72). This alienation stems from the fact that the worker's life and labor is invested in the product of his work, but since the worker does not own the fruits of his labor, he becomes more alienated the more he produces. Since capitalism appropriates the product from the worker, the more estranged the worker becomes the more he produces. In other words, everything he works for contributes to a world which he does not belong.The activity of the work also alienation the worker. Since the worker is engaged in a work that he cannot say that he would have chosen freely, the production is a type of forced labor. In other words, if it had not been for capitalism's requirements for acquiring money in order to make a living, the worker would not have chosen that work. The process of labor does not belong to the worker but rather it is a means of survival forcing the worker to produce for someone else. So, rather than being a source of inner creativity and fulfillment this work exists outside himself. Just as the product of the worker's labor appears alien, Marx sees the process of labor to exist in the same vein considering that the "product is after all but the summary of the activity of production" (pg. 73).The third part of alienated labor is what Marx refers to the worker and his "species-being". Marx views people as being as "species being" since, first, they are social creatures and, secondly, they are able to reflect upon themselves (pg. 75). For human beings, work amounts to a life purpose, in that it expresses the human capacity for "free, conscious activity" (pg. 76). The process of working on and transforming "the other" (to borrow a phrase from Hegel) to create things is essential to human identity. Our work...

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