Nietzche and Marx's Views on Human Potential

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Trying to pursue the maximum human potential mirrors the futility of counting to the largest number. Human potential is unbounded as if it were a numerical value. The moment a summit appears to be within reach, a greater one surfaces with the same unattainable glare the conquered once held. Man prides himself in dominating new heights and although the biggest number will never be counted, he will never stop counting. The limitless potential of humans stems from an instinct to continually desire more.

Regardless of how unbounded human potential may be, the rate at which it grows relies on the quality of humans that wish to maximize it. Friedrich Nietzsche in the book On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life and Karl Marx along with Frederick Engels in The Communist Manifesto comment on what qualities are necessary for the improvement of human life. They all clearly believe in the cultivation of human ideas and progress, however, they maintain significant differences in their approaches to identifying the vital from the superfluous. Nietzsche has faith in the power of the individual while Marx and Engels believe it is social interactions and the masses that control which qualities are essential to maximizing human potential.

As social commentators, these authors look at society and history to draw very different conclusions. Essentially every person contains the ability to maximize his or her potential yet a relatively small number ever do. Something has to set these individuals apart from the rest of the population and the qualities that Nietzsche cites responsible are distinctly different from those of Marx and Engels.

Habitual defender of the individual, Nietzsche states that "there will come a...

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...d Engels differ drastically in their opinions as to which human qualities have the greatest potential to improve human life. Nietzsche is steadfast with strong individuals capable of limiting their horizons and holding themselves masters over history. Marx and Engels naively surrender the individual to a socialist paradise where the individual is sacrificed for the good of society. Ironically Marx's distrust of humanity, specifically the bourgeoisie, led him to write The Communist Manifesto but it is his trust of humanity that leads to the downfall of Communism in practice.

Humanity has always had a certain amount of power, whether that is the power to manipulate the environment, flora and fauna, or other humans. The qualities described by the authors can easily be found anywhere in society today, even the sacrifice of the individual for a greater good.
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