Marx's theory of human nature

species-beingGattungswesencriticized Feuerbach's conception of human naturehuman natureKarl Marx's theory of human natureMarxMarx's conception of "human naturetheory on human nature
Some Marxists posit what they deem to be Karl Marx's theory of human nature, which they accord an important place in his critique of capitalism, his conception of communism, and his 'materialist conception of history'.wikipedia
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Human nature

humanitynaturehuman
Marx, however, does not refer to human nature as such, but to Gattungswesen, which is generally translated as 'species-being' or 'species-essence'.
Since the early 19th century, thinkers such as Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, structuralists, and postmodernists have also sometimes argued against a fixed or innate human nature.

Marx and Human Nature

Marx and Human Nature: Refutation of a Legend
Norman Geras's Marx and Human Nature (1983), however, offers an argument against this position.
Marx and Human Nature: Refutation of a Legend is a 1983 book by the political theorist Norman Geras, in which the author discusses Marx's theory of human nature with reference to Marx's Sixth Thesis on Feuerbach.

Karl Marx

MarxMarx, KarlMarxist
Marx, however, does not refer to human nature as such, but to Gattungswesen, which is generally translated as 'species-being' or 'species-essence'.
For Marx, the human nature – Gattungswesen, or species-being – exists as a function of human labour.

Marx's theory of alienation

alienationtheory of alienationalienated
(Marx says 'semblance' because he believes that capitalists are as alienated from their human nature under capitalism as the proletariat, even though their basic needs are better met.)
Karl Marx's theory of alienation describes the estrangement (Entfremdung) of people from aspects of their Gattungswesen ("species-essence") as a consequence of living in a society of stratified social classes.

Louis Althusser

AlthusserAlthusser, LouisAlthusserian
Both of these pieces date from 1844, and as such were written by the young Marx; some analysts (Louis Althusser, etc.) assert that work from this period differs markedly in its ideas from the later work.
His essay "Marxism and Humanism" is a strong statement of anti-humanism in Marxist theory, condemning ideas like "human potential" and "species-being", which are often put forth by Marxists, as outgrowths of a bourgeois ideology of "humanity".

Capitalism

capitalistcapitalistscapitalistic
Some Marxists posit what they deem to be Karl Marx's theory of human nature, which they accord an important place in his critique of capitalism, his conception of communism, and his 'materialist conception of history'.

Communism

communistcommunistscommunist ideology
Some Marxists posit what they deem to be Karl Marx's theory of human nature, which they accord an important place in his critique of capitalism, his conception of communism, and his 'materialist conception of history'.

Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844

Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844Economic and Philosophic ManuscriptsEconomic and Philosophical Manuscripts
According to a note from Marx in the Manuscripts of 1844, the term is derived from Ludwig Feuerbach's philosophy, in which it refers both to the nature of each human and of humanity as a whole. In the 1844 Manuscripts the young Marx wrote:

Ludwig Feuerbach

FeuerbachLudwig Andreas FeuerbachFeuerbachian
According to a note from Marx in the Manuscripts of 1844, the term is derived from Ludwig Feuerbach's philosophy, in which it refers both to the nature of each human and of humanity as a whole.

Theses on Feuerbach

11th Thesis11th thesis on Feuerbachphilosophers have only ''interpreted'' the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to ''change'' it
However, in the sixth Theses on Feuerbach (1845), Marx criticizes the traditional conception of human nature as a species which incarnates itself in each individual, instead arguing that the conception of human nature is formed by the totality of social relations.

Social relation

social interactionsocial relationssocial interactions
However, in the sixth Theses on Feuerbach (1845), Marx criticizes the traditional conception of human nature as a species which incarnates itself in each individual, instead arguing that the conception of human nature is formed by the totality of social relations.

Norman Geras

Norman Geras's Marx and Human Nature (1983), however, offers an argument against this position.

Das Kapital

CapitalCapital: Critique of Political EconomyKapital
In Capital, in a footnote critiquing utilitarianism, he says that utilitarians must reckon with 'human nature in general, and then with human nature as modified in each historical epoch'.

Utilitarianism

utilitarianutilitariansutilitarian ethics
In Capital, in a footnote critiquing utilitarianism, he says that utilitarians must reckon with 'human nature in general, and then with human nature as modified in each historical epoch'.

Immanuel Kant

KantKantianKant, Immanuel
Some people believe, for example, that humans are naturally selfish - Immanuel Kant and Thomas Hobbes, for example.

Thomas Hobbes

HobbesHobbesianHobbes, Thomas
Some people believe, for example, that humans are naturally selfish - Immanuel Kant and Thomas Hobbes, for example.

Commodity fetishism

fetishism of commoditiesfetishizedcommercial fetishism
(Both Hobbes and Kant thought that it was necessary to constrain our human nature in order to achieve a good society - Kant thought we should use rationality, Hobbes thought we should use the force of the state - Marx, as we shall see, thought that the good society was one which allows our human nature its full expression.) Most Marxists will argue that this view is an ideological illusion and the effect of commodity fetishism: the fact that people act selfishly is held to be a product of scarcity and capitalism, not an immutable human characteristic.

The Holy Family (book)

The Holy FamilyThe Holy Family'' (book)
For confirmation of this view, we can see how, in The Holy Family Marx argues that capitalists are not motivated by any essential viciousness, but by the drive toward the bare 'semblance of a human existence'.

Young Marx

mature Marxyoung Karl Marxearly
Both of these pieces date from 1844, and as such were written by the young Marx; some analysts (Louis Althusser, etc.) assert that work from this period differs markedly in its ideas from the later work. In the 1844 Manuscripts the young Marx wrote:

Grundrisse

Outlines of the Critique of Political Economy
In the Grundrisse Marx says his nature is a 'totality of needs and drives'.

Michel Foucault

FoucaultFoucauldianMichael Foucault
Michel Foucault's definition of biopolitics as the moment when "man begins to take itself as a conscious object of elaboration" may be compared to Marx's definition hereby exposed.

Biopower

bio-powerbiopoliticsimposed
Michel Foucault's definition of biopolitics as the moment when "man begins to take itself as a conscious object of elaboration" may be compared to Marx's definition hereby exposed.

Homo faber

It is often said that Marx conceived of humans as homo faber, referring to Benjamin Franklin's definition of 'man as the tool-making animal' - that is, as 'man, the maker', though he never used the term himself.

Benjamin Franklin

Ben FranklinFranklinFranklin, Benjamin
It is often said that Marx conceived of humans as homo faber, referring to Benjamin Franklin's definition of 'man as the tool-making animal' - that is, as 'man, the maker', though he never used the term himself.

Tool

toolstool usagedevice
It is often said that Marx conceived of humans as homo faber, referring to Benjamin Franklin's definition of 'man as the tool-making animal' - that is, as 'man, the maker', though he never used the term himself.