Surrender as a Response to our Crisis

  • Kurt H. Wolff
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 51)


Many commentators on our time (dimly remembered fellows who are receding) have spoken of our alienation. Alienation may be of the essence of our crisis — but not only in the traditional meanings of alienation. It cannot only mean, as in Hegel, the Opposition between the institutions we create and the frustrations we receive back from them. Nor as in Feuerbach, only the reification of man’s religious ideas that confront him as nonhuman objects; nor, finally, as in Marx, a human phenomenon indeed, but one that is anchored in the relations of production. Today, it means our alienation from history itself. It did not for those thinkers, who were not alienated from history as we are. Had Hegel been, he could not have afforded what may strike us as the luxury (if not outright potlatch) of locating alienation in the history of the spirit, thus intrinsic to the dialectic of history; and he could not have made his peace, uneasy as it may have been, with Prussia. Had Feuerbach been alienated from history as we are, he would not have stopped at the plea to Substitute anthropology for theology. And had Marx been, he would not have been driven to what to us now may appear as the transcendence of alienation by eschatology. These men must have been deeply convinced — more deeply than knew probably and than we can feel unless we make an extraordinary effort — that history would go on, even though, as Marx believed, through a revolution whose consequences could not be anticipated, because we have experience with life in freedom only with life under necessity.


Total Experience Traditional Meaning Ordinary Mode Extraordinary Effort Secret Police 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kurt H. Wolff
    • 1
  1. 1.Brandeis UniversityWalthamUSA

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