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By Rahel Jaeggi

The Hegelian-Marxist inspiration of alienation fell out of fashion through the post-metaphysical rejection of humanism and essentialist perspectives of human nature. during this booklet Jaeggi attracts on phenomenological analyses grounded in glossy conceptions of business enterprise, besides fresh paintings within the analytical culture, to reconceive of alienation because the absence of a significant dating to oneself and others, which manifests itself in emotions of helplessness and the despondent recognition of ossified social roles and expectations.

A revived method of alienation is helping serious social conception interact with phenomena, comparable to meaninglessness, isolation, and indifference, that have large implications for problems with justice. by means of severing alienation's hyperlink to a challenging belief of human essence whereas keeping its social-philosophical content material, Jaeggi offers assets for a renewed critique of social pathologies, a much-neglected obstacle 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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Additional resources for Alienation (New Directions in Critical Theory)

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On the one hand, Rousseau (and especially “Rousseaueanism”) represents the continually recurring form of alienation critique that turns away from the “universal” and, embracing an ideal of unfalsified nature or primitive self-sufficiency, regards sociality and social institutions as inherently alienated. On the other hand, he is the inspiration not only for the Kantian idea of autonomy but also for Hegel’s conception of the social character of freedom. 2. ” Although for him, too, modernity is characterized by alienation—the fragmentation of modern consciousness, the coming apart of “particular” and “universal” in relationships within a civil society threatened by disintegration—he locates the core of the problem in the cleavage between individual and society rather than in the individual’s loss of self through society.

An alienated relation is a deficient relation one has to oneself, to the world, and to others. Indifference, instrumentalization, reification, absurdity, artificiality, isolation, meaninglessness, impotence—all 6 THE RELATION OF RELATIONLESSNESS these ways of characterizing the relations in question are forms of this deficiency. A distinctive feature of the concept of alienation is that it refers not only to powerlessness and a lack of freedom but also to a characteristic impoverishment of the relation to self and world.

It is the complexity of these interrelations that has made alienation into the key concept of diagnoses of the crisis of modernity and one of the foundational concepts of social philosophy. As an expression of a crisis in contemporary consciousness (as Hegel might have regarded it), the modern discussion of alienation stretches from Rousseau and Schiller, via Hegel, to Kierkegaard and Marx. Elevated to the “sickness of civilization par excellence,”8 alienation became, from the eighteenth century onward, a cipher used to communicate the “uncertainty, fragmentation, and internal division” in humans’ relations to themselves and to the world that accompanied the growth of industrialization.

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