The epistemic foundations of injustice: lessons from the Young Marx

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This article intends to show to what extent the early Marxian categories of alienation, ideology and proletariat can serve to better understand current forms of epistemic injustice, as well as, conversely, how the latter can illuminate some unclear aspects of such concepts. In the first part, it will be explained the extent to which Marx’s concept of alienation accounts for the experience of an individual in a world to whose norms she is subject, but which she cannot recognise as her own. It will be shown that Marx finds the answer in a form of emancipatory praxis linked to a transformative appropriation of social reality. In order to deepen the understanding of this idea of emancipation, the second part will analyse the Marxian concept of the proletariat. It will be argued that taking up some considerations about the Hegelian figure of the rabble, Marx distinguishes a “liberal” from a “human” form of emancipation. In the third part, a contemporary example will be used to show the usefulness of the young Marx’s analyses concerning this dimension of emancipation struggles. In the fourth part, these ideas will be developed further through the concept of epistemic injustice, which has gained great importance in the recent studies that Critical Theory carries out of the different socio-epistemic blocks of an ideological nature that prevent articulating, communicating and overcoming negative experiences that hinder individual self-realisation. In this sense, it will be shown the importance of the Marxian categories of alienation and ideology to theoretically address current forms of epistemic injustice, and, in relation to this, it will be explained the transformative and constitutive function of the excluded in the creation of new sectors of reality through which their demands can be met.

Original languageEnglish
Article number136
JournalHumanities and Social Sciences Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


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