What is Species-Being? Towards a Radical Reappropriation of the Concept of Alienation

When:4 Oct 2016, 12:30pm - 2pm
Venue:Morven Brown 209 (map ref C20)
Who:Bruin Christensen (Australian National University)
Bruin Christensen

Philosophy Seminar. All Welcome.


In her book Entfremdung—Zur Aktualität eines sozialphilosophischen Problems, Rahel Jäggi has sought to rehabilitate the concept of alienation. I would strengthen this claim: critical theory must recover this concept and, unlike Jäggi, it must construe alienation as bound up with the nature of work under capitalist relations of exchange, hence production. Alienation is first and foremost alienated labour. Recovering a notion of alienation in this strong sense is essential to identifying motives for the kind of social change needed if we are to find just solutions to environmental crisis. In this paper I take first steps towards this. I first provide a reconstruction of Marx’s claim that the human being is species-being “in that, practically and theoretically, he makes the species, both his own and that of all other things his object.” (MEW 40, S.515) Since this claim derives from the proto-existentialist Feuerbach, I use a reconstruction of Heidegger’s notion of existence to accomplish it. On this basis, I then briefly interpret the third of the four ways in which according to Marx workers are alienated under capitalism—alienation from their character as a species-beings.

About Bruin Christensen

Bruin Christensen completed a B.A. (Hons) in Philosophy at Latrobe University, then a M.A. at the Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. He completed his Dr. Phil. at the Goethe Universität under Apel and Habermas. He has taught at the University of Newcastle, the University of Sydney and the ANU. He works primarily on German philosophy of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with emphasis on the phenomenology of Husserl and Heidegger; and in the philosophy of technology and sustainability. He also a background in analytical philosophy and in Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Marx and Critical Theory, and Gadamer and hermeneutics. A crucial part of his work consists in building interdisciplinary links to other areas of the ANU relevant to sustainability, in particular, the Fenner School of Environment and Society. http://cbchristensen.net/

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