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Lecture 4

SOAN 2111 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Ludwig Feuerbach, Social Alienation, Labour Power


Department
Sociology and Anthropology
Course Code
SOAN 2111
Professor
Linda Hunter
Lecture
4

Page:
of 2
WEEK 4 READINGS PART I: ZEITLIN CH. 13 AND CH. 14 SOC 2111/2
CHAPTER 13: THE PHILOSOPHICAL ORIENTATIONS OF KARL MARX (1818-
1883)
- revolution = transformation of the social system
- Marx had a conception of ‘natural man’ – the individual human being, his
needs, and his potential for development
- Man is infinitely perfectible
- Man’s essential powers – his latent and potential human powers are
unlimited in their capacity for development
- Man’s latent creative powers were stifled and repressed under the social
conditions of all class societies.
- Capitalism, was not only preventing the fulfillment of his potential, it was
even depriving hum of his animal needs fresh air, food, sex, and so on
- Marx thus condemned the capitalist system for its effect on individual human
beings
- The workers’ needs were now at the ‘barest and most miserable level oh
physical subsistence’ and their activity for the better part of their waking day
was a tedious and repetitive mechanical movement
- For instead of developing his essential human powers, man was being
debased and deformed and thus becoming something less than an animal
- The dehumanization of a man was viewed by Marx as a consequence for
alienation
- Ludwig Feuerbach - Religion as an illusion God was simply a symbolic
expression of humanity’s yearnings for perfection.
- Marx believe religion is the product of social alienation.
- Humanity has been divided against itself by the social-class cleavages of
society. It is the domination, oppression, and exploitation of man by man that
has given rise to religion. Religious ideas are an expression of human
suffering and a protest against it as well.
- Marx concluded that a demonstration of the illusory character of religion was
not likely to have liberating effects. So long as oppression and sharp
inequalities prevail, people will continue to create comforting illusions.
- Religion is an ‘opium’ because it so often leads people to seek meaning and
happiness not in the human world but in the divine here-after
- Men are alienated from their property and therefore compelled to sell their
labor power to the capitalists entrepreneurs awaiting them. The two parties,
capitalist and laborer, thus enter into an essentially instrumental
relationship with each other
- The more he produces, the poorer he becomes.
- The worker puts his life into the object; but now his life no longer belongs to
him but to the object.
- The alienation of the worker from his product means not only that his labor
becomes an object, an external existence, but that it exists outside him.
- His labor is an alienating activity, not only because he loses the product in
which he has reified a part of himself, but because the whole productive
process in external to him and his human needs
WEEK 4 READINGS PART I: ZEITLIN CH. 13 AND CH. 14 SOC 2111/2
- Marx says man has the ability to make his life activity the object of his will
and consciousness.
- The establishment of what Marx called ‘communism’ was not an end but a
means to man’s greater freedom and hence to man’s great humanity
CHAPTER 14: MARX’S RELATION TO HEGEL AND FEUERBACH
- the realm of the ‘is’ must always be challenged to reveal the possibilities
within it
- men must strive to change that order
- Marx, like Hegel at least up to a given point in the latter’s system – refused
to limit truth to a particular ‘given’; he firmly believe ‘that the potentialities
of men and things are not exhausted in the given forms and relations in
which they may actually appear…”
- Marx he was always conscious of the transient character of any given facts,
which are but negative moments in a ceaseless historical process
- The proposition that the ‘relations of production’ tend to determine the
character of men, including their consciousness, is regarded by Marx as a
socio-historical fact; but that fact is precisely what he regards as man’s
alienated condition
- Precisely what Marx meant by leaving the domain of ‘necessity’ and entering
the domain of ‘freedom’ was that men would not begin consciously to
determine their future
- His main criticism of class society: it is a situation in which an individual’s
entire fate tends to be determined by his class position and the function
assigned him in the system of production
- ‘for as soon as labor is distributed, each man has a particular, exclusive
sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot
escape’
- ‘while in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of
activity, but each man can become accomplished in any branch he wishes,
society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to
do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the
afternoon, rear cattle in the evening…”
- Marx took negative critical thinking which he integrated into his
intellectual consciousness
- Marx dialectical thinking is not only critical and revolutionary but empirical
and sociological as well.
- Marx worked out his own theory of the relationship between social existence
and social consciousness the so-called materialist conception of history in
direct opposition to Hegel’s idealistic conception of that relationship
- In Hegel, the ‘existing state of things’ appeared as an expression of the Idea or
Spirit; he had held to an inverted conception of the relationship between
existence and consciousness
- Marx repudiates all previous materialist philosophies, including Feuerbach’s,
for treating humans as if they were no more than passive, determined
objects.