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Alienation is a term used to describe a condition in which man experiencer a separation from nature; the word used in economics, social and philosophical aspects. As defined by Marx in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts (1844), alienation is a specific historical condition in which man experiences a separation from nature, other human beings and especially the products of his labour. Since man creates himself through labour, all these forms of alienation imply an alienation of man from himself.

Hegel’s view

  • Alienation for Hegel had been a philosophical concept expressing one aspect of the process of self-objectification: in the dialectical process, Spirit objectified itself in nature (a stage separated from itself) and then returned to itself.

Marx’s view

  • Marx regards alienation as a product of the evolution of division of labour, private property and the state: when these phenomena reach an advanced stage, as in capitalist society, the individual experiences the entire objective world as a conglomeration of alien forces standing over and above him. In this sense, alienation only overcome by the revolutionary abolition of the economic system based on private property.

Weber’s view

  • Alienation has also been a central concept in sociology, a centrality deriving in part from Max Weber’s recognition of the individual’s feeling of helplessness in a ‘disenchanted’ world governed by rational, bureaucratic and impersonal institutions. Existentialists, notably Heidegger and Sartre, have also centralised this concept, viewing it not as the symptom of given historical configurations but as a defining condition of existence. The concept of alienation has also reverberated widely through the various branches of psychology. See corporations, alter-globalization, Eco-Fashion Encyclopedia

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