Karl Marx and Humanity

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Karl Marx, a modern German philosopher, forever altered our perception of who we are by offering a description of human nature that differs from traditional thinking. Although Marx’s theories were groundbreaking, they do not escape criticism. More specifically, differing views are offered for both the importance of labor and how our society shapes our nature. In this essay, I will be addressing these two opposing views and arguing for Marx’s description of human nature. Marx rejects the idea that human nature consists of any certain, particular activity. He instead puts forward the idea that our human nature is a product of the society we live in (Wall, 2005). Marx accepts the notion that humans are rational, thinking things and expands upon this idea to say that humans are also creative, productive beings at their core (Sayers, 2005). Humans exercise this creativity through the productive activity of labor, which is the inspired, fulfilling means through which humans become self-actualized. Self-actualization is the process by which, “man reproduces himself not only intellectually, in his consciousness, but actively and actually, and he can therefor contemplate himself in a world he himself has created” (Wall, 2005, p. 297). Marx sees man’s ability to use his labor to carry out actions as consciously planned as what distinguishes man from other beings (Wartenberg, 1982). For example, while animals carry out productive actions, such as building nests, through natural instinct, man is productive through his own conscious planning. It is important to understand that Marx is less concerned with answering the metaphysical questions of existence and more concerned with uncovering how society, more specifically economic forces, sha... ... middle of paper ... .... Marx offers a refreshing, clear view to human nature that can and should be considered by all. Works Cited Marx, K. (1970). The German Ideology (Arthur, ed.). New York, NY: International Publishers. Rachels, J., & Rachels, S. (2011). The Elements of Moral Philosophy (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education. Sayers, S. (2005). WHY WORK? MARX AND HUMAN NATURE. Science & Society, 69(4), 606-616. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/216124500?accountid=7113 Wall, T. F. (2005). On Human Nature: An Introduction to Philosophy (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Wartenberg, T. E. (1982). “Species-Being” and “Human Nature” in Marx. Human Studies, 5(2), 77-95. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20008832 Wilson, J. R. S. (1977). The Basis of Plato’s Society. Philosophy, 52(201), 313-320. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3749586

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