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Thinkers And Identity Essay

2360 words - 10 pages

Explain how the four thinkers discussed in term one understand the notion of identity
Hegel understands identity through the notion of self-consciousness, which he argues “exists in and for itself when, and by the fact that, it so exists for another; that is, it exists only in being acknowledged” (Hegel:p111). So Hegel believed in order to know who we are we need the recognition of another, we therefore need to be acknowledged to have an identity. He then goes on to talk about the struggle for recognition, which takes place when the self and the other come together, in doing so making self-consciousness possible (OnlineSparknotes:2011). Hegel explains the realisation of self-conscious as a ...view middle of the document...

..the bondsman becomes conscious of what he truly is” (Hegel:p.118). Here Hegel is saying that the bondsman is able to free himself though his labour, as he is able to recognise himself through his work “he becomes for himself, someone existing on his own account” (Hegel:p.118). The lord however does not work and so he denies himself the same self-consciousness that the bondsman gained through his labour, effectively the lord has become dependent on the bondsman as that is where he attains his satisfaction and therefore he is not “being for-himself”.
Marx argues that identity in a capitalist society is alienated through the process of labour, which he claims is essential to a person’s identity and sense of place in the world. He believed therefore that in a capitalist society, where products are constantly being produced workers lose their identity because “the worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he produces” (Marx:p3). Marx believed like Hegel that the worker relates to the product he produces, and becomes alienated because he doesn’t get to keep that product once it’s completed “Therefore, the greater this product, the less is he himself” (Marx:p4). Marx claimed that estrangement and alienation extends further than just the estrangement of the worker from the product of his work, stating the worker can also feel a sense of estrangement from the activity of production itself. The work that the worker performs does not belong to him, but instead is a means of survival “it is, forced labour” designed to be of profit to someone else. As such the working activity does not come about in a spontaneous way as a result of creativity, but rather that exists outside of the worker and so signifies a loss of himself (OnlineSparknotes:2011). The third type of alienation Marx refers to in his work is the alienation from the “species-being” (Marx:p5) by this he means human identity. Work for Marx amounts to life purpose for human beings because “the fashioning of inorganic nature, is proof that a man is a conscious species-being”. In a capitalist system however the worker does not get to keep the object of his production, therefore the worker becomes estranged from the essential source of his identity and life purpose. This Marx argues reduces man to little more than animals. The last form of alienation for Marx is the estrangement of man from man because in a capitalist society we are raised to look at each other as commodities instead of human beings “each man therefore regards the other in accordance with the standard and the situation in which he as a worker finds himself” (Marx:p7). So because the object of the workers production is owned by someone else “alien, hostile, powerful, and independent of him” (Marx:p8) this according to Marx will lead to the worker feeling alienated from and therefore resentful of the system of private property whereby the capitalist appropriates the objects of his production for himself at the...

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