Monday, November 9, 2015

Twofer

"It is true that under the heading of human nature there often reside what one might call projects of deification; attempts precisely to unshackle humanity from nature, to liberate human beings from, or elevate them above, their own biology and indeed the corruption of materiality itself, by recourse to free will, the soul, notions of pure creativity, the spark of divinity within each person, and so on. Yet it cannot be an appropriate materialist response here simply to assert that, on account of man's social and historical formation, there is no human nature. On the contrary, this risks being but a covert form of the very idealism it purports to challenge. By setting up an absolute distinction between society/history and nature, it divorces humanity from the natural world - in particular from other species, which for their part are never denied to possess an intrinsic nature - and functions in this respect exactly like the theological conceptions just mentioned. Against these, any genuine materialism must insist rather that human beings, for all that is distinctive about them as a species, and for all of their traits, activities and relationships which can only be explained by specificities of society and history, are nevertheless, like all other species, material and natural beings; 'irredeemably' rooted in a given biological constitution; absolutely continuous with the rest of the natural world." - Norman Geras, Marx and Human Nature

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