By Rahel Jaeggi

The Hegelian-Marxist inspiration of alienation fell out of style in the course of the post-metaphysical rejection of humanism and essentialist perspectives of human nature. during this ebook Jaeggi attracts on phenomenological analyses grounded in sleek conceptions of organisation, besides contemporary paintings within the analytical culture, to reconceive of alienation because the absence of a significant courting to oneself and others, which manifests itself in emotions of helplessness and the despondent reputation of ossified social roles and expectations.

A revived method of alienation is helping severe social idea have interaction with phenomena, similar to meaninglessness, isolation, and indifference, that have huge implications for problems with justice. via severing alienation's hyperlink to a complex notion of human essence whereas preserving its social-philosophical content material, Jaeggi presents assets for a renewed critique of social pathologies, a much-neglected situation in modern liberal political philosophy. Her paintings revisits the arguments of Rousseau, Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Heidegger, putting them in discussion with Thomas Nagel, Bernard Williams, and Charles Taylor.

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Extra resources for Alienation (New Directions in Critical Theory)

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Now the connection between these two themes is not self-evident. Is it not possible to be immersed in a meaningful world without having power or control over what one does? Is it not possible, more generally, to be unalienated in a relation that is determined by something or someone other than oneself? These are questions about the relation between freedom and meaning and about whether self-determination and self-realization stand in a constitutive relationship to each another. The underlying thesis could be formulated as follows: only a world that I can make “my own”—only a world that I can identify with (by appropriating it)—is a world in which I can act in a self-determined manner.

Being alienated from something means having become distanced from something in which one is in fact involved or to which one is in fact related—or in any case ought to be. 4 Only if one presupposes a logically, ontologically, or historically prior relation is it possible to understand alienation as the loss of a relation. It is crucial for the structure of the concept that the relation or connection underlying alienation ought to exist, even if it ostensibly no longer does. When we speak, for example, of someone having become alienated from his family, we not only presuppose that she was not always foreign to it; it is also suggested that she in some way still belongs to her family or even that she belongs to it regardless of whatever real (actually lived) relation she has to it.

These ideas capture the idea of inauthenticity and a subtle form of heteronomy that consists (according to this interpretation) in a conformist orientation to others. The “mode of being of the ‘They’” (Seinsweise des Man) is the source of the loss of self that Heidegger calls inauthenticity. Insofar as this can be understood as a pejorative description of the sphere of sociality in general,29 it refers to a social interrelatedness characterized by, at once, conformity and anonymity—that is, a situation in which decisions and evaluations are not made explicitly but as if it were simply self-evident how one should decide and evaluate.

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