The Problem of the Natural and Social Factors in Man before Marxism and in Marx and Engels
(Original title: Problém prírodného a spoločenského faktora v človeku pred marxizmom a u Marxa a Engelsa)Filozofia
, 26 (1971)
Type of work: Papers and Discussions
Publication language: Slovak
The author points out in her paper the historical roots of the fact that Marx and Engels distinguished in man the social and the natural (biological) factors, having elaborated only the problem of the social factor. They reacted thus upon mechanistic materialism and Hegelian idealism. The mechanistic (French) materialists considered man only as a beast endowed with intellect and as a machine controlled only by the rules of mechanics. In contrast to them Hegel emphasized that man with his spiritual creations advances above nature, he is being denaturalized, that his spirit (as manifestation of the world spirit) is subject neither to the rules of mechanics nor those of biology. His spiritual creations are specific, they are manifestations of his non-natural substance. Feuerbach re-valued Hegel materialistically, but he had also emphasized that man was a specific creature. Man’s specific substance, however, was considered by Feuerbach as a creation of society and not that of Hegel’s world spirit.
Marx and Engels reassumed the problem of the social factor in man that Feuerbach had discovered and they pointed out the substance of man as social creature. It is the work, the social work that man separated himself out of the animal realm with, and by means of which he demechanized and partly de-biologized himself. Social life is controlled by specific laws, economic relations are reflected in the branches of the superstructure that express the human non-natural, social substance.
Engels himself pointed out that too much emphasis on economic conditions should not be applied at explaining human activity. The author of this paper supports this opinion and thinks that there is still in the social activity of the present civilized man something of animal activity; she considers the solution, of the mutual relation of the natural and social factors in man as an important question of the marxist theory of man.