Marx and the meaning of life

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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Abstract

Karl Marx’s work has important implications for understanding human suffering and so for the meaning of human life. Elementary analysis shows that even very excellent human comforts cannot excuse things like slavery and death. Marx charts four moments: the proletarian is alienated from the object she creates, from the activity she performs, from participating in creating the notion of human nature, and from other human beings. Suffering human nature, the natural world it responds to, and the possibilities for human society that it enables or refuses: all are illusory forms of thought that falsely define the limits of the possible and the impossible. Marx thought that alienation cut human beings off from one another, making us see one another as hostile competitors in a world of scarcity, allowing for little solidarity. Marx’s main criticism of this structure is its injustice: it produces great wealth, leisure, and beauty for some at the expense of hobbling, stunting, and torturing many others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Meaning of Life and the Great Philosophers
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Pages167-174
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781315385938
ISBN (Print)9781138220935
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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