Alienation

Rahel Jaeggi and Frederick Neuhouser. Translated by Frederick Neuhouser and Alan E. Smith

Columbia University Press

Alienation

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Pub Date: September 2016

ISBN: 9780231151993

304 Pages

Format: Paperback

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Pub Date: August 2014

ISBN: 9780231151986

304 Pages

Format: Hardcover

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Pub Date: August 2014

ISBN: 9780231537599

304 Pages

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Alienation

Rahel Jaeggi and Frederick Neuhouser. Translated by Frederick Neuhouser and Alan E. Smith

Columbia University Press

The Hegelian-Marxist idea of alienation fell out of favor after the postmetaphysical rejection of humanism and essentialist views of human nature. In this book Rahel Jaeggi draws on the Hegelian philosophical tradition, phenomenological analyses grounded in modern conceptions of agency, and recent work in the analytical tradition to reconceive alienation as the absence of a meaningful relationship to oneself and others, which manifests in feelings of helplessness and the despondent acceptance of ossified social roles and expectations.

A revived approach to alienation helps critical social theory engage with phenomena such as meaninglessness, isolation, and indifference. By severing alienation's link to a problematic conception of human essence while retaining its social-philosophical content, Jaeggi provides resources for a renewed critique of social pathologies, a much-neglected concern in contemporary liberal political philosophy. Her work revisits the arguments of Rousseau, Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Heidegger, placing them in dialogue with Thomas Nagel, Bernard Williams, and Charles Taylor.
Through a compelling combination of acute analysis and rich phenomenological description, Rahel Jaeggi brings alienation back to the center of political philosophy. She argues alienation concerns a failure to appropriate oneself in the right way, a problem with how one comes to be what one is, rather than an inability to realize some pregiven identity. Jaeggi is not only thoroughly learned in both the continental and analytic traditions. She does what is quite rare: she brings these traditions into a highly productive synthesis. A very impressive achievement. Daniel Brudney, University of Chicago
With this masterful reconstruction of the concept of alienation, Jaeggi opens fruitful new avenues for critical theory. She also claims her place as a powerful exponent of social philosophy and a thinker of the first rank. Her book is a tour de force of cogent argumentation and rich phenomenological description. Nancy Fraser, The New School
Alienation, the concept Hegel and Marx made so central to European political and social thought, has receded in importance in recent political philosophy. Like self-deception and weakness of will, it is extremely resistant to analysis even though it continues to be a major theme of modern life and accounts for the features of contemporary life. Jaeggi's great accomplishment is to provide the outlines of a new theory of an old term and thereby show its linkage to major ethical and political concerns. With this book, an entire tradition of political and social philosophy receives a new lease on life. Terry Pinkard, Georgetown University
Jaeggi's scholarship and writing in this book is excellent, and the resuscitation of the concept of alienation in critical social theory is a welcome event in the literature. Matthias Fritsch, Concordia University
Alienation is one of the most exciting books to have appeared on the German philosophical scene in the last decade. It not only rejuvenates a lagging discourse on the topic of alienation; it also shows how an account of subjectivity elaborated two centuries ago can be employed in the service of new philosophical insights. Frederick Neuhouser, Barnard College
This insightful and learned book will appeal to anyone interested in social philosophy. Library Journal
Rahel Jaeggi's Alienation is an important contribution to – and rejuvenation of – the philosophical literature on the phenomenon of alienation. Marx & Philosophy Review of Books
[A]n excellent representative of the work of a new generation of German philosophers who...seem well positioned to reanimate Western philosophy. Frederick Neuhouser, Review of Metaphysics
Foreword, by Axel Honneth
Translator's Introduction, by Frederick Neuhouser
Preface and Acknowledgments
Part 1. The Relation of Relationlessness: Reconstructing a Concept of Social Philosophy
1. "A Stranger in the World That He Himself Has Made": The Concept and Phenomenon of Alienation
2. Marx and Heidegger: Two Versions of Alienation Critique
3. The Structure and Problems of Alienation Critique
4. Having Oneself at One's Command: Reconstructing the Concept of Alienation
Part 2. Living One's Life as an Alien Life: Four Cases
5. Seinesgleichen Geschieht or "The Like of It Now Happens": The Feeling of Powerlessness and the Independent Existence of One's Own Actions
6. "A Pale, Incomplete, Strange, Artificial Man": Social Roles and the Loss of Authenticity
7. "She but Not Herself": Self-Alienation as Internal Division
8. "As If Through a Wall of Glass": Indifference and Self-Alienation
Part 3. Alienation as a Disturbed Appropriation of Self and World
9. "Like a Structure of Cotton Candy": Being Oneself as Self-Appropriation
10. "Living One's Own Life": Self-Determination, Self-Realization, and Authenticity
Conclusion: The Sociality of the Self, the Sociality of Freedom
Notes
Works Cited
Index

Read Axel Honneth's foreword to Alienation:

About the Author

Rahel Jaeggi is professor of social and political philosophy at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Her research focuses on ethics, social philosophy, political philosophy, philosophical anthropology, social ontology, and critical theory.