Lecture 9 - Marx's Theory of Alienation

author: Iván Szelényi, Yale University
recorded by: Yale University
published: June 24, 2012,   recorded: September 2009,   views: 2970
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)

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Marx begins his intellectual life as a Young Hegelian, in the company of Bruno Bauer and others. The Young Hegelians, a radical group of scholars, intended to subject Hegel's theories to critical scrutiny. Eventually, Marx breaks with this tradition altogether by saying that alienation does not come from thoughts and therefore cannot be solved by ideas alone. Alienation comes from material conditions and can only be addressed by changing those conditions. Due to his radical, revolutionary ideas, Marx was forced to move around Europe quite a bit. In his lifetime, he saw his predictions about the uprising of the working classes come to fruition in some places, but he also saw these revolutions fail, including the short-lived Commune in France. Next time, we see how the young Marx who is occupied with Hegelian thought and the concept of alienation transitions to a more mature Marx with the concept of the capitalist mode of production.

Reading assignment:

Marx, Collected Works, vol. 3. "Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844," pp. 231-282

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