chapter  II
The Human Essence
Pages 15

In Chapter I, I have tried to defend the proposal that in the context of Marx’s philosophy we should understand alienation as the condition of people who either experience their lives as meaningless or themselves as worthless, or else would do so if they were not duped by consoling illusions. But Marx also holds, as we have seen, that alienation is real or practical, that it is not an illusion or state of mind, but is rooted in people’s actual conditions of life. Apparently, then, if we are to understand the causes of alienation, we must both know in at least a general way what men and women require in order to lead meaningful lives, and also see what it is about existing social conditions that frus­ trates these requirements. It will be the business of the next three chapters to investigate Marx’s views on these points.