Marx’s Challenge to the Good Life in Modern Societies

Institution: Roanoke College

Department: Public Affairs

Course-level: Undergraduate course

Format: Seminar

Position: Assistant Professor

Description: This course is designed to ask several questions: What is the good life? How can we live the most meaningful life? How can we fulfill our highest potentials? For Karl Marx our ability to answer these questions has a direct bearing on our ability to understand ourselves as participants in a shared social world with others. People fulfill and realize their humanity through meaningful work or creative activity, which allows them to contribute to a wider community. In capitalist societies most people are denied such a work activity, which leads to dehumanization and alienation from the social world. Marx proposed a system of production, which is based on cooperation rather than acquisitiveness and self-interest to counter the negative consequences of capitalism. We will follow Marx’s search for the good life to get a deeper understanding of key concepts, such as ideology, alienation, exploitation, exchange- and use-value and class antagonisms.