Objectification and Disobjectification

Objectification and Disobjectification


categories in Marxist philosophy that express the opposition, unity, and interpenetration of objective human activity.

Objectification is the process by which human capacities are transferred to an object and embodied in it; owing to this the object becomes a sociocultural or “a human object” (K. Marx, in K. Marx and F. Engels, Iz rannikhproizvedenii, 1956, p. 593). Objectification always results in an ideal (semantic), as well as a real, signification, so that every product of objectification has a cultural and historical intentionality directed toward individuals or social groups.

Disobjectification is the process by which the properties, the essence, the “logic,” of an object become human achievement, human capacities. As a result of this process, human capacities develop and are enriched by an object-related content. Man disobjectifies both the forms of past culture and the natural phenomena that he thereby includes within his social world. Objectification and disobjectification reveal the inner dynamism of material and spiritual culture as a living whole that exists only in the uninterrupted process of its own production and reproduction through human activity. Thus, these categories focus on the elementary cell of activity through which human beings become part of historically determined existence. Through the processes of objectification and disobjectification each human being relates in a particular way to present, past, and future culture. The categories of objectification and disobjectification are least discernible in goods of a utilitarian kind and most apparent in the products of spiritual culture.

Marx’ discovery of the categories of objectification and disobjectification is of fundamental importance for studying the philosophical problem of man and for the proper understanding of the principles and goals of communist education.