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praxis


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A term in use since Aristotle, to whom praxis is one of the three basic activities of human beings (the others being theoria or theory, and poiēsis, or skilful manufacture). Praxis in Aristotle includes voluntary or goal-directed action, although it sometimes also includes the condition that the action is itself part of the end, an action done for its own sake. In Kant, praxis is the application of a theory to cases encountered in experience, but is also ethically significant thought, or practical reason, that is, reasoning about what there should be as opposed to what there is. Kant's placing of the practical above the theoretical influenced the subsequent thought of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. But it is in Marx that the concept becomes central to the new philosophical ideal of transforming the world through revolutionary activity. The subordination of theory to practice is connected with the inability of reason to solve contradictions, which are instead removed by the dialectical progress of history. Praxis is also connected with genuinely free, self-conscious, authentic activity as opposed to the alienated labour demanded under capitalism. See also false consciousness.

Subjects: Philosophy


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