philosophical writings

Die Relation zwischen Entfremdung und Entäußerung im Kontext von Hegel und Marx

This is the first thesis I wrote as annual examination in a seminar called Hegel und Marx. Ausgewählte Texte. It was led by Prof. Dr. Dieter Birnbacher and was one of the most inspiring and insightful experiences I had at the university in Düsseldorf. Mr. Birnbacher has an impressive way of explaining such sophisticated things as Hegels Phänomenologie des Geistes in a vivid manner. My text tries to work out the difference between the form and usage of the terms „Entfremdung“ (alienation) and „Entäußerung“ (externalization) in the writings of Hegel and Marx. It generally comes to the result that „Entfremdung“ for Hegel has a more positive connotation mostly occuring as a generator for dialectical progression in the world. Marx describes it as a symptom of capitalistic labor conditions of mass production, in which the worker is alienated from the products he produces and his co-workers. „Entäußerung“ occurs in the theory of Hegel mostly in it’s juristic form. For Marx this term is deeply connected with his conception of „Entfremdung“. While reading the texts for the thesis I was strongly excogitating about the relationship and characteristics of these two conceptions. I was fascinated by the fact that Marx transformed Hegel’s vocabulary into something very different. The whole dialectical process of historical progression is reshaped into socio-economic developments heavily depending on the marxist notion on materialism. Confronted with this huge programm of theories and thoughts I needed to focus onto the subject in another creative way. Approaching the text just by reading and reformulating it was too passive considering the result I wanted to produce. For another more ludic way of acquiring the material I was inspired to create a painting for the front page of the thesis showing my way of understanding the relationship between Hegel and Marx. Each philosopher is represented through one color that occured to me while reading the texts. Hegel is royal blue, a color that I link also to other persons of that time, for example also while listening to some of Beethoven’s works. Regarding the propagandistic use of this color in the soviet union and china it seems a little bit dull, but while reading Marx I had a kind of red impression, so I used this color for representing him and his work. However this concept of the painting may be received, I won’t call myself synaesthete. I don’t have stable connections of colors with concrete things or their position in space, it’s more that in some situations I get a feeling of a certain color. The moving lines coming from the right and left side are a visualization of the dialect movement inside the theories of Hegel and Marx. The blue lines that are woven into the dialectical web of Marx’s conception are the terms he adopted from Hegel into his own system. (For the full text in german language please send me a request via mail.)


Richard Rortys These der Unbrauchbarkeit von Friedrich Nietzsches Schriften im politischen Kontext. – Eine Untersuchung

Also being an annual examination in my third semester, this text deals with Richard Rorty’s critics on Friedrich Nietzsche. In his work Contingency, Irony and Solidarity Rorty differentiates between authors that can be used to describe one’s individuality in a private context and authors that can be used to reduce cruelty and build up solidarity in a public context. Regarding the private context, he finds the works of Friedrich Nietzsche and also Martin Heidegger very useful. Their critcal view on the self that is radically breaking with the tradition of the greek philosophy is fitting for Rorty’s anthropological conception of the liberal ironist. His understanding of liberal in this case is borrowed from Judith Shklar who defines people as liberal who think that cruelty is the worst thing human beings are able to do. Irony, as Rorty defines it, means that an individual is fully aware of the contingent conditions of her or his existence. From Rorty’s point of view Nietzsche and also Heidegger were important pioneers for this kind of nominalistic self-conception. On the other hand, their theories are useless and sometimes even harmful for liberal goals in politics. In other words, using their theories to critically reflect on concepts of the individual can be insightful but they are not useful for trying to reduce cruelty in the world. This lies within the fact that a radical self-description is based on distinction or even exclusion of other beings. Against this risk, Rorty sees a solution not in political works  generally referring to solidarity, but in novels that are describing explicit forms of cruelty and solidarity from a particular point of view. For this attempt, Rorty puts emphasis on the utility of such works as George Orwell’s 1984 and Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. A fundamental distinction in Rorty’s theory is needed for his way of reading books. The parts of society, which he calls sphere of the public and sphere of the private can never be reduced into one theory or term. An unrealistic mixing of disparities would be the consequence. My study concludes that through this distinction Rorty’s way of organising books into different sections of society can also be seen as a cruel way of deconstruction. Especially an author like Friedrich Nietzsche can not only be seen as an public and political philosopher. Even works like Jenseits von Gut und Böse are full of general and also Nietzsche’s own problems on individuality. Especially noteworthy in this case is Also sprach Zarathustra, that has a huge amount of biographic references hinting at Nietzsche’s personal life. In that way I value Rorty’s theory as a useful way of organising conceptions but particulary in the case of Nietzsche it is obvious that this way of treating his whole work is too reductive and as a consequence from that also cruel. (For the full text in german language please send me a request via mail.)