According to Ludwig Feuerbach’s philosophy, species-essence refers both to the nature of each human and of humanity as a whole. Assuming that Karl Marx was right, if conception of human nature is formed by the totality of “social relations” and that the species essence is always determined in a specific social and historical formation, with some aspects being biological, where does it leave the idealist who believes in a permanent and universal theory of human nature?
Geras shows that, while the social relations are held to ‘determine’ the nature of people, they are not the only such determinant. While Marx continues to argue about the changability by stating that human nature will condition the way in which individuals express their life and while history involves ‘a continuous transformation of human nature’, this does not mean that every aspect of human nature is wholly variable; what is transformed need not be wholly transformed.
How do we design to transform aspects of human nature we see as detrimental to the vision of an ideal society? Ideally we’d want to live in a world where people should be more generous. Immanuel Kant and Thomas Hobbes argue that humans are naturally selfish. Now this could have been a factor in humans developing a sense of self identity, an aspect of human nature which industries have exploited since centuries and won’t stop any time soon. (I’ll elaborate on this next time) Now these industries have a large impact on the global economy- can’t live with them and definitely can’t live without them.
No problem is in total isolation so how do we look at this web we’ve woven for ourselves since we came into existence and decide what shift human nature needs or are we just satisfied with observing and analysing what it’s getting to and calling it a trend?