Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Empathy vs. Apathy in the Marxian View

A human being can be fundamentally empathetic or fundamentally apathetic. Marx's theories of alienation, self-estrangement, and estrangement from the species being, serve the purpose of explaining why human beings can be fundamentally apathetic. But where then does empathy come from? In Marx's view, every man, woman, and child in a capitalist society, such as our own, would be incapable, or unwilling to hold open a door for an elderly person, or help someone change a tire when they are stranded on the side of the road. I believe it would take quite a lot more than a monotonous job to separate a human being from their altruistic nature. Suppose a human being is so mindlessly occupied in their day-to-day labors that they do begin to see themselves as less man and more monkey. They may no longer be the "creative producer," but humans are also connected to their humanity through their empathetic relationship with other humans.

How would Marx argue that a communist society is better suited to the basic human tendency toward altruism?

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