Specialists in Marxist thought are still debating the question, whether Marx really was an economic determinist, someone who believes that when all is said and done, the economic relations are always the most important ties between human beings. In many paragraphs, Marx sounds like a determinist. But, here and there, he and also his friend Engels seem to be a little bit less outspoken. But, whatever the outcome of that debate, it can not be denied that Marx in the middle of the 19th century, took a direction that was very far removed from, well for example, Auguste Comte. In Comte, as you may remember, the driving force of history is after all the transformation of ideas, the shift from religious thinking towards scientific thinking. And Comte was not the only philosopher who believed that history is essentially driven by the rise and fall of intellectual interpretations of the world. Now Marx is completely opposed to that idea. Often he is characterized as a materialist, someone who did not agree with that kind of idealism. An idealism that he, Marx, associated with one of the heroes of his own student years, the German philosopher Hegel. And by pointing at the rather trivial, everyday necessity for human beings to make ends meet by hammering mercilessly on that argument again and again and again, Marx helped to push the social sciences into a new direction. He forced the sociologists who came after him to take a hard-edged view. Max Weber, for example believed that Marx was too one-sided in stressing how economic factors determined religious imagery. And he, Max Weber, tried to show there is also an arrow of causal influence pointing just the other way. That is, from religious convictions towards economic ideas and practices, which is an interesting criticism indeed. But after 1890, nobody could look away anymore from what Marx had said. His impressive body of work was there to stay. And everybody now was forced to take at least a position vis-a-vis the theory of Marx. Against it or in favor of it. Marx's stress on economic ties has deep roots in his philosophy, in his image of men. For Marx the human animal is essentially a worker. It is in his labor that he unfolds his innermost possibilities. That he develops his talents to his fullest. That he leaves his very personal imprint on the face of the earth. Marx favors a very peculiar image of human nature. Man is homo faber, a working, laboring, productive, constructive being. It has been said that this conception of man reflected the failures of his own middle class family where hard work was considered a virtue. And yes it's true that Marx as a person was actually, you could say a workaholic. A man who sometimes neglected his family and his friends because he was completely immersed in the task of writing what he considered to become a very important book. And you know today many people will agree of course with Marx that work is what gives human beings their dignity. But as we shall see, this image of man as being essentially ennobled by his ability to express himself in his work is one, and only one, way of looking at human beings. There are other views of human nature, and the one that Marx favors is just one of many possibilities. But starting from this vision of man, Marx begins to worry, to worry that labor, the activity par excellence, in which man realizes his deepest potential, is perverted. Is turned into something ugly, just a commodity. A thing to be sold. It may be helpful here to refer to the famous distinction in Marx between use value and exchange value. Gebrauchswert and tauschwert in German. All the goods that we find on the market have a certain use value, they satisfy human needs. But when a commodity is brought into the marketplace, nobody cares about its use value, the intrinsic possibility to satisfy human beings. Everybody is focused on its exchange value, how much money can you make with it, what do you get when you sell it? Now I think I should skip here Marx's very interesting, but rather antiquated, labor theory of the exchange value of commodities. That is something you can look up on the internet. But what is important here is that Marx says that not only objects, like breads or watches can be exchanged and have certain exchange value. But that human labor can also be turned into a commodity, something that you can buy and sell in the marketplace. Marx is appalled by the fact that this most beautiful potential that all human beings share, their ability to express themselves in their work, is defiled, is polluted when it is turned into just a commodity, with a price tag attached to it. An object that you can sell in the marketplace. In his youthful manuscripts, many of which, by the way, were published only after the author passed away, Marx referred to this as the outcome of a process of alienation. And in what follows, I will dig a little deeper into that concept of alienation.