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Sheltering Singularity Marx, Heidegger and the Question of Alienation

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Description: My dissertation, entitled Sheltering Singularity: Marx, Heidegger, and the Question of Alienation, begins by examining the writings of Karl Marx in order to trace the trajectory of the notion of alienation in his work. Commentators on Marx are generally divided into two camps, according to whether or not they hold that alienation continues to be an important theme in Marx's later writings. Those who contend that alienation remains important generally read the later material as continuous with Marx's earlier, humanistic writings, whereas those who downplay the importance of alienation in the later work often identify a break or discontinuity between the earlier and later Marx. I agree with the assessment that there is a break in Marx's work, at which point he largely abandons the humanism of his earlier writings. However, I maintain that alienation remains a central concern throughout Marx's writings. In order to make this argument, I identify a non- humanistic notion of alienation in the later Marx. My argument is that the later Marx has an existentialist notion of alienation, using this term in a broad sense to mean a kind of thinking that is concerned with existents or, to say the same thing differently, singular things. Having determined that Marx is concerned with singularity, I nevertheless concede that a robust philosophical notion of singularity is largely missing from Marx's corpus. I argue that one way in which it is possible to arrive at such a notion is by turning to the work of Martin Heidegger. The second half of my dissertation is devoted to an interpretation of Heidegger that demonstrates that thinking singularity is the central concern of the later Heidegger. I argue that, despite interpretations of Heidegger that identify an abstract or transcendental notion of "being" as his primary subject, Heidegger's later thinking is first and foremost concerned with allowing singular things a free field of action. Ultimately, I claim that an understanding of the discord between these two thinkers reveals a genuine historical aporia. The most profound alienation, it turns out, is that between actions and words, the confluence of which is what is generally called politics. In a world in which genuine politics has become impossible, the question of a transition becomes aporetic to the extent that it has to presuppose what it seeks to bring about, a reconciliation of words and action, in other words the return of politics.
Language: English
Format: Degree Work