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Additional info for Dialectics of Human Nature in Marx’s Philosophy
History must, therefore, always be written according to an extraneous standard; the real production of life seems to be primeval history, while the truly historical appears to be separated from ordinary life, something extra-superterrestrial. ”51 Humans have historical nature because they assert their powers to modify nature and themselves. They have natural history because history is a result of their actions, and the results of their actions constitute their nature as their existence. They have a historical nature and natural history because they have needs or are compelled by necessity.
This issue will be repeatedly discussed in the ensuing chapters. This comment on human labor as objective activity is an example of Marx’s “high levels of abstraction,” prevalent in Capital, Vol. 68 This activity is, in the first place, a process in which both man and Nature participate, and in which man of his own accord starts, regulates and controls the material reactions between himself and Nature. He opposes himself to Nature as one of her own forces, setting in motion arms and legs, head and hands, the natural forces of his body, in order to appropriate Nature’s productions in a form adapted to his own wants (needs).
The development of human powers and the use of such powers according to one’s own “sway” are uniquely human. Only humans develop and transform themselves in the conscious act of satisfying their needs. Marx claims that a human being in this process “changes his own nature”; this does not mean that humans have no general nature independent of any given society or material conditions. ” This general character of labor, since it is general, holds true in capitalism also. ”69 Nevertheless, the particular character 22 DI A L E C T I C S O F HU M A N NAT U R E I N M A R X ’S P H I L O S O P H Y of production changes throughout history, though only as a result of its general character.