Alienation and Identification

Alienation and Identification

Alienation and Identification

Alienation and Identification

Excerpt

Alienation and Identification is the second of two closely related books, the first of which is Justice, Human Nature, and Political Obligation. My basic position concerning ethics is stated there. The good is objective, but not independent of the purposive subject in actual and potential environments. Ethical rules, therefore, cannot be validated in abstraction from an examination of society, man, and nature. The subject matter of ethics primarily lies in the arena of praxis; and our beliefs about it are based on evidence that, for the most part, lies at the periphery of the field of knowledge, where the structure of the field is relatively weak and where different legitimate interpretations are possible.

There is another body of literature, however, that on the whole is scoffed at by professional philosophers as irrational or anti-intellectual. This is the literature on alienation that recently has been taken over by counterculture or pop culture enthusiasts. I do not disagree about the anti-intellectuality of much, if not all, of this literature, at least in its recent dress. And I reject its conclusions. But it has an honorable history that in modern times can be traced to Hegel and Marx.

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