Essence of alienation in the existential philosophy of the XXth century

  • V. V. Ivanchuk Donbass State Pedagogical University
Keywords: human, alienation, self-alienation, being, nothing, existentia, discourse


The theoretical transformations of the concept of alienation in the existential philosophy of the XXth century, the difference and interrelation of various interpretations of alienation have been considered. The concept of alienation has been analyzed in connection with the notion of a person, his/her essence and prospects. Alienation is presented as a fundamental anthropological characteristic that determines a person’s ability to achieve the integrity and harmony of his/her essential forces. The difference between the interpretations of alienation in modern philosophy is viewed as a consequence of the actual ambiguity in the understanding of man and the multi-dimensionality of his attitude to the world and to himself.The problem of alienation is one of the most important and most complex issues of concern to thinkers of the modern era. Many theoretical studies are devoted to this subject, not only in the field of philosophy, but nevertheless, this problem can be considered inexhaustible, since different schools, especially in different historical periods, differ substantially in its understanding.The urgency of consideration of alienation, among other things, is determined by the fact that, firstly, the person himself in our era appears and is interpreted as a completely alienated individual, and alienation increasingly takes on the most dangerous, most destructive forms. This circumstance involuntarily transforms even the most optimistic thinkers into alarmists. It is difficult not to notice the ever increasing negative outcome of the human stay in the world, moreover, it is difficult not to pay attention to the fact that a person found himself in a crisis situation solely due to his own natural development. Accordingly, there is a vague hope that people will also be able to overcome on their own the shortcomings of this development. Secondly, alienation, which will be considered in this article, is not at all a kind of single and unambiguously understood phenomenon, but it is a complex conglomeration of events, processes, assessments, trends, and finally of subtle mental characteristics that differ significantly in nature, having different structures and vectors of development.The purpose of this article is to examine the main features of the understanding of alienation within the framework of the existential philosophy of the XXth century, which transformed the alienation from the socio-economic and ideological concept into a fundamental ontological and anthropological concept that speaks about the very essence of man.The most principled and universal approach to the problem of alienation has been suggested by M. Heidegger, who speaks of various features of this concept as a fundamental ontological problem – the alienation of man from the very being by Dasein – the very presence of man in the world and the basic modes of this stay. In his key work of the early period, the philosopher points out two such conditions that accompany man and characterize this process. Despite the fundamental difference, one can hear the same concern with the unrestrained development from human technicality and another representative of German existentialism K. Jaspers.The most detailed picture of the alienation of man in all the main senses of the term can be found in J.-P. Sartre’s work, whose work is especially noteworthy as it combines academicism and the ability to strict discourse and literary talent, most vividly representing the personal-emotional aspect of alienation, without which any conversation about a person will be incomplete and insufficient.On the whole, an alarming assessment of the human situation by all existentialists is quite consistent with the assessment of representatives of other philosophical trends: psychoanalysis, neo-Marxism, religious philosophers, and many outstanding scientists.


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How to Cite
Ivanchuk, V. (2017). Essence of alienation in the existential philosophy of the XXth century. Grani, 20(6), 58-63.