This text is taken from my slightly expanded edition of the essay I shared with you published in March in OPITW. The expanded edition was for translation and publication in Farsi in Iran. Here a link to the Farsi edition.
In Theses on Feuerbach Marx (1845) writes: “ [T]he human essence is no abstraction inherent in each single individual. In its reality it is the ensemble of the social relations.” He also distinguishes his own materialist philosophy by privileging “social humanity”: “The standpoint of the old materialism is civil society; the standpoint of the new is human society, or social humanity.” (The tenth thesis). In The German Ideology (1845), Marx and Engels expand on these ideas: “This mode of production must not be considered simply as being the production of the physical existence of the individuals. Rather it is a definite form of activity of these individuals, a definite form of expressing their life, a definite mode of life on their part. As individuals express their life, so they are. What they are, therefore, coincides with their production, both with what they produce and with how they produce. The nature of individuals thus depends on the material conditions determining their production.” (Marx and Engels, 1945)
"...human nature is the sum total of our social relations shaped by the prevailing mode of production."I think Norman Geras refuted the idea that this was Marx's view in his book Marx and Human Nature (Verso 1983).I gave a talk on capitalism, socialism, and human nature a few years ago. It certainly isn't the Marxist view, but it is a Marxist's view:On Tue, Jul 14, 2020 at 2:30 PM Mandi Smallhorne <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Dear Kamran and all,
I am not going to critique Sapolsky’s views, but you spark a memory.
I adore his Primate Memoirs. “I never intended to be a savannah baboon,” it begins.
I share with him a deep love of baboons, and simply ate up this wonderful, funny, moving and compassionate memoir of his many years studying a baboon troop on the East African veldt. His comparison of himself, as a gawky young researcher, a bit uncomfortable with girls, with the young baboon Benjamin, whose hair was always untidy and wild and who plainly yearned just to be near one of the coolest young females in the troop, had me howling with laughter and smiling with affection and recognition.
Primate Memoirs came out at least 15 years ago, maybe more, and he has pointed out in subsequent videos and writing that the troop went on to become a different, gentler group, for very interesting reasons. But when the book closes, you fear it is the end of the troop: the baboons pick up TB from a safari lodge’s dump, and he watches as one by one, many of the characters he has loved, and followed for most of their lives, die. “And Benjamin… my Benjamin…” I have reread the book several times, and never failed to feel tears well in my eyes when I read that.
Freelance science journalist
From: Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Kamran Nayeri
Sent: 14 July 2020 03:01 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Robert Sapolsky: Behave: The Biology of Human at Our Best and Worst
I have been reading Behave and watching lectures and interviews by Robert Sapolsky. He is a fascinating speaker and has obviously a depth of knowledge in his field of study.
I wonder if anyone on this list is familiar with his work and has opinions about it and can share any critique of the view of the biological nature of humans.