Human nature and historical materialism
in The Norman Geras Reader
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It is remarkable that many have discerned, with the emergency of the materialist conception of history, a dismissal by Marx of the idea of human nature. The German Ideology, expressly criticizes the mistake of those who, ignoring what it terms the 'real basis of history', thereby exclude from the historical process 'the relation of man to nature', create an 'antithesis of nature and history'. At one point it echoes a passage from The Holy Family just in emphasizing nature's internal and external dimensions. In this chapter, Geras shows how the materialist usage of 'powers of human nature', 'natural desires', 'natural character' plays an important role in the formulation of Marx's theory of history, showcasing the concepts and arguments placed in these two works and the Theses on Feuerbach. The Holy Family is an 'early' work; it antedates historical materialism, while The German Ideology itself proposes the theory of historical materialism.

The Norman Geras Reader

‘What’s there is there’

Editors: Ben Cohen and Eve Garrard

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