species-being?

HANS DESPAIN HANS.DESPAIN at m.cc.utah.edu
Thu Aug 17 13:39:07 MDT 1995


Species-being is a termed employed from Ludwig Feuerbach.  It refers to a
naturalistic view of human nature.  Feuerbach used the term to express a
notion of universality of human beings.  It seems that Marx borrowed the
term in a very broad sense, but in an anti-natrualistic fashion.
Following the publication Max Striner's *Ego and Its Own*, Marx (and
Engels) explicitly differentiated themselves from Feuerbach's
naturalistic and anthropologic notion of man as species-being, in their
*German Ideology*.

Feuerbach's view is *naturalistic* in that he believed that human nature,
was not only universal as species-being, but further, *fixed* (both
finitely and infinitely).  If human's were to realize their own "essense"
as a species-being, Feuerbach believed that a "new" philosophy and "new"
theology could be constructed that would allow the potentialities of
human beings to grow.

It is *anthropologic* in that Feuerbach is disinterested in the thought and
idealistic notion of man, except as human's own 'fixed' infinite qualities
of love, juctice, mercy, etc.  Hence, Feuerbach maintained that
an analysis of man must always begin with the actual material conditions
of humans; not the idealistic notion of theology and philosophy.
Moreover, Feuerbach is especially concerned with a critique of both
religion as it has developed historically and (Hegelian) philosophy:
	
	For historically "religion [speculative philosophy] is not
	conscious that its elements are human; on the contrary, it places
	itself in opposition to the human ... The necessary turning-point of
	history is therefore the open confession, that the consciousness of
	God is nothing else than the consciousness of the species; that man
	can and should raise himself only above the limits of his
	individuality, and not above the laws, the positive essential
	conditions of his speicies; that there is no other essence which man
	can think, dream of, imagine, feel, believe in, wish for, love and
	adore as the *absolute*, than the essence of human nature itself"
	(Feuerbach 1989:270).

	"[M]an first unconsciously and involuntarily creates God in his
	own image, and after this God (Religion) consciously and
	voluntarily creates man in his own image" (Feuerbach 1989:118).

According to Feuerbach, God is simply the expression of human
potentiality raised to infinity.  Therefore, says Feuerbach:

	"Consciousness of God is self-consciousness, knowledge of God is
	self-knowledge.  By his god thou knowest the man, and by the man
	his God; the two are identical.  Whatever is God to a man, that
	is the manifested inward nature, the expressed self of man"
	(Feuerbach 1989 12-23).

Feuerbach's anthropologic and naturalistic view of human beings results
(according to Marx and Engels) in an ahistorical and asocial conception
of human beings.  Hence, their critique of Feuerbach is the
individualistic psychological result that Feuerbach comes to.  Whereby,
Max Striner argues that this individualistic analysis is taken to its
logical conclusion in his *Ego and Its Own*.

Marx and Engels distince themselves from the Feuerbachian species-being,
in their construction of historical materialism.  Significantly their
view is especially anti-individualistic.  That is that the nature of
human beings is dependent on a bio-psychological need from human
connectedness.

Although the term species-being is still widely employed to describe
Marx's concept of human nature, it should not be interpreted in the
ahistorical and asocial Feuerbachian sense.  Moreover, Marx did not again
use the term following *German Ideology*.

The term species-being, in a Marxian sense should be interpreted as the
nature of human beings as inherited from human acestors genetically,
including an innate bio-psychological (anti-individualistic) need for
human connectedness, with respect to *what human beings are*.  While with
respect to what they *can potentially be*, is both, in part bequeathed,
and expanded (in the unfolding of potentiality) by human will, reason,
and desire.  Both, to what human beings are and can potentially be are
however subject to material (social) conditions which they find
themselves inheriting and (usually unconsciously) transforming and
reproducing.

Hans Despain
hans.despain at m.cc.utah.edu
despain at econ.sbs.utah.edu



     --- from list marxism at lists.village.virginia.edu ---

     ------------------



More information about the Marxism mailing list