- 8:00 p.m.
Human Nature and Freedom
This paper will address
the interconnections of alienation, human nature, and freedom. It rests on an
understanding of alienation that is consistent with both Marx’s early and later
writings, according to which alienation is an objective phenomenon, but with
subjective aspects, and is rooted in capitalist social relations.
The central focus of
the paper is on what Marx calls, in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts,
the third aspect of alienation: alienation from human nature. It is this aspect
that has been most controversial among Marxists and which is alleged by some
commentators to have disappeared in his later writings. The central question
the paper will address is how to understand two seemingly inconsistent Marxist
claims. On the one hand, Marx speaks of alienation from human nature, but on
the other hand, he says that human nature changes. Given the latter, how shall
we understand the former? Why give priority to certainforms of human
nature and identify them as more truly human nature; why isn’t the alienated
state just another form of human nature?
My proposed solution to
this apparent inconsistency rests on the importance of freedom and control to
understanding all aspects of alienation.