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Karl Marx's work is often mistakenly criticized as constituting a framework that undervalues the importance of the individual - Essay Example

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Name: Course: Instructor: Date: Karl Marx’s Work and the Importance of the Individual Karl Marx is inarguably one of the most influential men of the 19th century. His socialist views have shaped the politics and social lives of thousands of people in many different parts of the world…
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Karl Marx's work is often mistakenly criticized as constituting a framework that undervalues the importance of the individual

Download file to see previous pages... His ideas regarding objectification and human needs only point out to the fact that he greatly values the potential and importance of man (Marx 10). On the other hand, Marx has an answer for the perceived undervaluation of the importance of the individual: capitalism. This paper looks at Marx’s ideas regarding objectification and his view of human needs, in the context of his discussion of alienation under capitalism. Marx’s opinion on the purpose of production is also an issue that is dealt with in this paper. These issues are examined in detail in an effort to indicate that Karl Marx’s work is often mistakenly criticized as constituting a framework that undervalues the importance of the individual. Marx on Objectification and Human Needs The alienation theory, according to Marx, is the separation of human beings from various aspects that characterize their human nature. In order to understand the concept of alienation in line with Marx’s opinion of human needs and objectification, it is important to understand what he meant by human nature. He describes human nature as the means by which humans are capable of shaping their environment or nature. Marx, in emphasizing the importance of the individual, argues against an abstract concept of human nature. Instead, he insists that individuals express their lives as they are (15). This is to say that one’ individualism is pegged on material conditions of his production. In his 1844 Manuscripts, Marx says that human nature is a “totality of needs and drives” which he says exerts some force on man. This is to say that human nature cannot be regarded in the absence of the need to satisfy certain needs. This is what he says about human needs and drives: “Man is directly a natural being. As a natural being and as a living natural being he is on the one hand endowed with natural powers, vital powers – he is an active natural being. These forces exist in him as tendencies and abilities – as instincts. On the other hand, as a natural, corporeal, sensuous objective being he is a suffering, conditioned and limited creature, like animals and plants. That is to say, the objects of his instincts exist outside him, as objects independent of him; yet these objects are objects that he needs – essential objects, indispensable to the manifestation and confirmation of his essential powers” (17). According to Marx, the needs of humans normally change depending on the way they change their environment. He says that “… producers change, in that they bring out new qualities in themselves, develop themselves in production, transform themselves, develop new powers and ideas, new needs and new language” (26). This shows that Marx was not entirely against the notion that individuals are very important. He was only trying to emphasize that that importance is pegged on the level of the individual’s needs. Marx differentiates humans from other animals in many of his writings. He gives examples of religion and consciousness as some of those things that can be said to be distinguishing factors between man and animals. Marx continues to say that as soon as they start producing their means of survival, human beings start distinguishing themselves from other animals. To further explain the difference between an individual and animals in terms of needs, Marx states that: “It is true that animals also produce. They build nests and dwellings, like the bee, the beaver, the ant, etc. But they ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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