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History[ edit ] The term alienation has been used over the ages with varied and sometimes contradictory meanings. In ancient history it could mean a metaphysical sense of achieving a higher state of contemplationecstasy or union—becoming alienated from a limited existence in the world, in a positive sense.
Examples of this usage have been traced to neoplatonic philosophers such as Plotinus in the Greek alloiosis. There have also long been religious concepts of being separated or cut off from God and the faithful, alienated in a negative sense.
The New Testament mentions the term apallotrioomai in Greek—"being alienated from". Ideas of estrangement from a Golden Ageor due to a fall of manor approximate equivalents in differing cultures or religionshave also been described as concepts of alienation. A double positive and negative sense of alienation is broadly shown in the spiritual beliefs referred to as Gnosticism.
Alienation has also had a particular legal - political meaning since at least Ancient Roman times, where to alienate property alienato is to transfer ownership of it to someone else.
The term alienation itself comes from the Latin alienus which meant 'of another place or person', which in turn came from alius, meaning "other" or "another". An alienus in ancient Roman times could refer to someone else's slave.
Another usage of the term in Ancient Greco-Roman times was by physicians referring to disturbed, difficult or abnormal states of mind, generally attributed to imbalanced physiology.
In Latin alienatio mentis mental alienationthis usage has been dated to Asclepiades. In medieval times, a relationship between alienation and social order has been described, mediated in part by mysticism and monasticism. The Crusades and witch-hunts have been described as forms of mass alienation.
In the 18th century, Hutcheson introduced a distinction between alienable and unalienable rights in the legal sense of the term. Rousseau published influential works on the same theme, and is also seen as having popularized a more psychological-social concept relating to alienation from a state of nature due to the expansion of civil society or the nation state.
In the same century a law of alienation of affection was introduced for men to seek compensation from other men accused of taking away 'their' woman. In the history of literature, the German Romantics appear to be the first group of writers and poets in whose work the concept of alienation is regularly found.
Around the same time, Pinel was popularizing a new understanding of mental alienation, particularly through his 'medical-philosophical treatise'. He argued that people could be disturbed alienated by emotional states and social conditions, without necessarily having lost become alienated from their reason, as had generally been assumed.
Hegel praised Pinel for his ' moral treatment ' approach, and developed related theories. The former camp has had a more lasting influence and, among them, Feuerbach differed from Hegel in arguing that worship of God is itself a form of alienation, because it projects human qualities on to an external idea, rather than realising them as part of the self.
Marx's theory of alienation Marx was initially in the Young Hegelian camp and, like Feuerbach, rejected the spiritual basis, and adapted Hegel's dialectic model to a theory of historical materialism. Marx's theory of alienation is articulated most clearly in the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of and The German Ideology The 'young' Marx wrote more often and directly of alienation than the 'mature' Marx, which some regard as an ideological break while others maintain that the concept remained central.
There is generally held to be a transition from a philosophical- anthropological Marxist humanism concept e. Marx believed that alienation is a systematic result of capitalism. Essentially, there is an "exploitation of men by men" where the division of labor creates an economic hierarchy Axelos, His theory of alienation was based upon his observation that in emerging industrial production under capitalism, workers inevitably lose control of their lives and selves by not having any control of their work.
Workers never become autonomous, self-realized human beings in any significant sense, except in the way the bourgeoisie wants the worker to be realized.
His theory relies on Feuerbach's The Essence of Christianitywhich argues that the idea of God has alienated the characteristics of the human being.
Stirner would take the analysis further in The Ego and Its Owndeclaring that even 'humanity' is an alienating ideal for the individual, to which Marx and Engels responded in The German Ideology Alienation in capitalist societies occurs because in work each contributes to the common wealth but they can only express this fundamentally social aspect of individuality through a production system that is not publicly social but privately owned, for which each individual functions as an instrument, not as a social being.
Kostas Axelos summarizes that for Marx, in capitalism "work renders man an alien to himself and to his own products. The worker only feels himself outside his work, and in his work he feels outside himself Its alien character emerges clearly in the fact as soon as no physical or other compulsion exists, it is avoided like the plague.
Marx focuses on two aspects of human nature which he calls "historical conditions. Secondly, Marx believes that after satisfying these basic needs people have the tendency to develop more "needs" or desires that they will work towards satisfying, hence, humans become stuck in a cycle of never ending wants which makes them strangers to each other.
The former means specifically interpersonal estrangement, while the latter can have a broader and more active meaning that might refer also to externalization, relinquishment, or sale alienation of property.Explanation of the famous quotes in Black Boy, including all important speeches, comments, quotations, and monologues.
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