Unfamiliar Familiars: On Non-human Alienation



  • Toni Johannes Koivulahti Doctoral candidate, University of Helsinki


alienation, slow violence, Marxism, Tillich, animals


The article focuses on Karl Marx’s notion of alienation and its application to questions of ecology. By contrasting this notion with its existential critique made by Paul Tillich, as well as to Rob Nixon’s concept of slow violence, I demonstrate how the notion of alienation can be applied to non-human species as well. I will first describe the structure of alienation by examining the theory that Marx provided originally in the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844; by relating alienation to slow violence, I will then show how alienation can be applied to various environmental and non-human spheres. Reflecting on this through Paul Tillich’s critique of Marx’s theory of alienation will enable me to consider the possibility of using theology to traverse teleology. By using Tillich’s nonteleological conception of theology, I will reconsider the idea of alienation from a standpoint which takes the existential condition of both humanity and non-humanity into deliberation. Finally, I will briefly bring Tillich and Marx into dialogue with contemporary thinkers, who have recently examined similar questions. This shows how the application of the theory of alienation allows us to re-examine various current dilemmas of inter-species encounters.

Articles (peer-reviewed)



How to Cite

Koivulahti, T. J. (2019). Unfamiliar Familiars: On Non-human Alienation: -. TRACE ∴ Journal for Human-Animal Studies, 5, 32–54. https://doi.org/10.23984/fjhas.78053