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SOC207 Lecture 2.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Greg Bird

SOC207 Lecture 2 AlienationWork 1172012 80300 AM Alienation and workKarl Marxs essay on alienationpeople use this to measure weather or not work is alienating in societyMarx has four dimensions of alienation1 General Background on Alienationa Theoretical Influences HegelKey philosophical sources of Karl Marxs theory of alienation Hegelhe made the distinction between masters and slaves in societies Masters in society are the ones who perform the mental and intellectual work Hegel said in many circumstances its good to be a master because you own a lot of things youre wealthy you have extravagant feasts you consume a lot of products you make a lot of profit read fine literature speak multiple languages youre cultivated But theres one problem with being a masteryou dont know how the things you use workyou have no practical knowledge about the worldyou cant sow fix things when they break down you dont know how to make your own meals you cant even run a factory and if a machine breaks down youre stuck Masters on one side have a wonderful world but on the practical side theyre dependant on their servants to do the work for them To survive a master needs a servant He says this is a contradictionmaster is supposed to be someone who is completely independentbut in reality masters are dependant on their slaves or servantstheyre not self sufficient at alltheyre ignorant in many aspects of their lives A servant is responsible for manual physical labora servant has strong practical skillsthey know how the world worksthey know how to do things and get things donethey know how to look after themselves and also others and the servant has a practical and direct relationship with the surrounding world whereas the master has an intellectual relationship with the world In a sense being a servant has some positive sides to it but its not all positive like the master the servant is not independent servants in society are kept in state of underdevelopmenttheyre dependent on their masters to make decisions for themtheyre kept away from pursuing intellectual pursuits often in society when you think of servants you think of people as mere physical beingstheir bodies do work and they arent expected to think For servants in general theyre completely dependent intellectually on their masters and masters are dependent physically on their servants Juxtaposition between the two and the relationship between the twoGeneral conclusion from Hegel is that 1 Masters are not all powerfultheyre completely vulnerableif servants decide to revolt it would be disastrous for themthe masters are small in number and they control the systembut they depend on the servants to actually do the work behind their control If servants decide to go on strike the masters would not know how to survivehow to go get the food and make the foodtheir lifestyle would crumbleeven the smallest details in their lives have been performed by servants for them If this did happen and strike went on for a long time only servants would survive because they know how the system is run Therefore the masters are not really masters at all theyre slaves to the system they created and theyre completely dependent on the system theyve created and the people they call slaves and servants2 Servants are in a position of powering societythey control the basic operations of the worldfactories food supply transportation water supply etc If they stop working the system collapses Hegel and Marx argued that this system is mixed up and we need to find a way to fix itfind a system where everyone becomes a master and a servant you cant just be a master or just a servant There needs to be a master with intellectual skills and be educated but they should have practical skills too to understand the practical worldshould have skills like the servant As an ideal of mass democracy the system becomes harmonizedwe now live in the service economy
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