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Rahel Jaeggi

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231151986

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231151986.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 06 July 2022

The Structure and Problems of Alienation Critique

The Structure and Problems of Alienation Critique

(p.22) 3 The Structure and Problems of Alienation Critique

Rahel Jaeggi

, Frederick Neuhouser, Alan E. Smith
Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the structure of the concept of alienation as well as the problems associated with its critique. Three important points are discussed. First, alienation is tied to the problem of a loss of meaning; an alienated life is one that has become impoverished or meaningless, but it is a meaninglessness that is intertwined with powerlessness and impotence. Second, alienation is (therefore) a relation of domination, but of a kind that is not captured by standard descriptions of unfreedom and heteronomy. Third, alienation means disconnectedness or alienness, but an alienness that differs from simple relationlessness. The chapter also considers alienation as a diagnostic concept and some problems to which the theory of alienation is vulnerable. In particular, it explores alienation in relation to objectivism, perfectionism, and paternalism, along with poststructuralism and its critique of the subject. Finally, it analyzes Michel Foucault's rejection of essentialist appeals to human nature and the very idea of subjectivity that appears to underlie the critique of alienation.

Keywords:   alienation, meaninglessness, relationlessness, objectivism, perfectionism, paternalism, poststructuralism, Michel Foucault, human nature, subjectivity

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