Title

The Face and Economics: How the Modern Economy has Alienated Us from the Other

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Campus where you would like to present

Ellensburg

Event Website

https://digitalcommons.cwu.edu/source

Start Date

16-5-2019

End Date

16-5-2019

Abstract

One of society’s greatest and most complex inventions is our modern global economic system which enriches the lives of people worldwide. However, it is also one of the great instruments through which our alienation from others becomes amplified. Trade has evolved from a direct peer-to-peer exchange into a modern system of exchange where people are separated via complex electronic and physical intermediaries. Karl Marx would attribute this alienation to the competition of workers exacerbated via our relations to production. While worker and economic competition are part of the alienation problem, this is not the whole picture. The modern economy utilizes digital transactions and other complex economic interactions that rarely involve physical contact with other humans. This lack of intimate human interaction is also one of the main causes of alienation. Emmanuel Levinas believes that when we are confronted with the face, we owe something to that person as another that makes a demand upon us. Without the face or physical presence of the other in modern economics, this demand upon the other is weakened and becomes easier to ignore. In this paper, I show that modern economics and trade has caused us to become more alienated from the other through an analysis of the stages of economic trade, the philosophy of Levinas, Marx’s theory of alienation and commodity fetishism. The paper also addresses the points where Levinas and Marx converge and diverge on alienation and provides possible Levinasian solutions to start mending our alienation from others in modern economics.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Cynthia Coe

Department/Program

Philosophy and Religious Studies

Hanke_Seth_TheFaceandEconomics.pptx (1753 kB)
Slides for SOURCE 2019 presentation Hanke

Additional Files

Hanke_Seth_TheFaceandEconomics.pptx (1753 kB)
Slides for SOURCE 2019 presentation Hanke

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May 16th, 12:00 AM May 16th, 12:00 AM

The Face and Economics: How the Modern Economy has Alienated Us from the Other

Ellensburg

One of society’s greatest and most complex inventions is our modern global economic system which enriches the lives of people worldwide. However, it is also one of the great instruments through which our alienation from others becomes amplified. Trade has evolved from a direct peer-to-peer exchange into a modern system of exchange where people are separated via complex electronic and physical intermediaries. Karl Marx would attribute this alienation to the competition of workers exacerbated via our relations to production. While worker and economic competition are part of the alienation problem, this is not the whole picture. The modern economy utilizes digital transactions and other complex economic interactions that rarely involve physical contact with other humans. This lack of intimate human interaction is also one of the main causes of alienation. Emmanuel Levinas believes that when we are confronted with the face, we owe something to that person as another that makes a demand upon us. Without the face or physical presence of the other in modern economics, this demand upon the other is weakened and becomes easier to ignore. In this paper, I show that modern economics and trade has caused us to become more alienated from the other through an analysis of the stages of economic trade, the philosophy of Levinas, Marx’s theory of alienation and commodity fetishism. The paper also addresses the points where Levinas and Marx converge and diverge on alienation and provides possible Levinasian solutions to start mending our alienation from others in modern economics.

https://digitalcommons.cwu.edu/source/2019/Oralpres/185