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Marx, the Body, and Human Nature

Marx, the Body, and
Human Nature
John G. Fox
College of Arts, Victoria University, Australia

© John G. Fox 2015
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Fox, John G., 1964–
Marx, the body, and human nature / John G. Fox, Victoria University,
pages cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.

1. Human body (Philosophy) 2. Marx, Karl, 1818–1883. 3. Philosophical
anthropology. I. Title.
B105.B64F69 2015
1289.6092—dc23 2015013977

Contents Acknowledgements vi 1 Introduction: Evading the Body 1 2 Early Influences: Pain and Promise 21 3 Spinoza’s Revolution 42 4 Hegel: Wrestling with Desire 75 5 Feuerbach: Embracing Limitation 106 6 Marx’s Objective Being 123 7 Marx’s Species Being 153 8 Marx and Species Consciousness 186 9 The Promise of the Body 206 Notes 230 Bibliography 236 Index 249 v .

I am grateful for the vision and commitment of those at Benedict College. This book is a response to that discovery. They include those people who shared their experiences and insights. I am conscious of the debt that follows from their trust. They showed me how little their difficulties involved any lack of will or commitment. and to those who have opened those possibilities for me. I began to dance for recreation but discovered so much more. notwithstanding the difficulties they faced. but not least. both the students and my fellow academics (especially Rob Watts. My debt extends to those who taught me about the centrality of our corporeality. who worked so hard to succeed. If I am to speak of joy. and how cruel dualist models of our humanity could be. They have taught me the meaning of selflessness and unconditional love. and Renay Taylor. especially through the support they lend to arguments that mind can always conquer matter. These include my fellow students. I am grateful. too. Kim Humphreys and Bob Pease). I want to acknowledge and celebrate the support and guidance of those who have worked with me in academic life. Terence Michael Fox and the late Margaret Mary Fox. I also want to acknowledge the gift my dance teachers passed on to me. I have also been guided for so many years by a great many teachers. Kate Hatfield. This book is a response to that debt. then I must speak of that which comes from sharing with them this life of reflection and debate. vi . I have been blessed with the support of my parents. Rose Hawas. who saw more in this Western suburbs boy than I saw in myself. Last. especially their testi- monies about poverty. From the very begin- ning.Acknowledgements This book reflects an extraordinary journey undertaken with the inspi- ration and support of many extraordinary people. for those who introduced me to the riches of the critical tradition at the University of New South Wales as an undergraduate student and those at RMIT University who allowed me to discover and develop a sense of how I could contribute to that tradition. whilst I worked in the community sector and then local government. especially Melanie Dacres.

he would have made him a biped who carried his soul in a bag around his neck. the body has often been neglected in the manner of West’s ‘biped’. In the course of that investigation.1 Introduction: Evading the Body In The Devil’s Advocate. This neglect is particularly true of much social policy in countries such as Australia. If the Almighty had designed him that way. There debates have long focused on questions of measurement – of the lines above which one is no longer in poverty. 97) However. poverty-stricken region of northern Italy. with some protagonists believing some neglect or discomfort – some small denial or cruelty – is necessary to provide a goad towards engaging in 1 . especially in rela- tion to income support. once passed. in those debates. the United Kingdom and the United States. at least in the West. with our essen- tial nature treated as somehow detached or distant from our bodies. debates about what makes for a fully or truly human life have long been preoccupied with the soul. Morris West wrote of a priest investigating the life of a man many considered a saint in a remote. or other non-corporeal aspects of the self. (West 1959. the priest questioned the bishop’s use of church lands to model new forms of agriculture. The bishop replied that: You can’t cut a man in two and polish up his soul while you throw his body on the rubbish heap. And. If reason and revelation mean anything they mean that a man works out his salvation in the body by the use of material things. or will. Just where that line should be drawn remains central to debate. renders the body a pliant instrument. this priest had one conversation that has long stood out for me. After briefing the local bishop on his work. Reams of text have been devoted to determining the appropriate level of intervention which.

with the return of the same forms of liberalism that Marx contested. enables social policy debates to treat our natures as largely independent of our bodies and the balance of the material world. To dance is to experience one’s humanity as expanded rather than limited by the corporeal. Marx’s critique of those ideas has a renewed relevance. too. ruggedly independent individual and emphasis on ‘austerity’ measures. I turned to Marx because of a shared opposition to liberal theory’s influ- ence on Western society (and particularly on social policy). and Human Nature paid employment. with their distinction between my ‘self’ and my ‘body’. He asked me how he should go about choosing between them. 196–7) considered a ‘conflict of implementations’: a debate in which the founding assumptions are not contested – only the manner or form of actions in response to them. It is an effort to move beyond dualist models which. with their vision of the self-reliant. This book also reflects other influences in my life. the Body. as I canvass below. This book is also a response to the testimony of so many lives that their disadvantage and suffering were not due to any lack of effort or commit- ment on their part. then. In dance I have found a sense of joy and fulfilment in my body and in bodily interactions that multiply those pleasures. I sought. displaying great courtesy. that better language in Marx’s works. and found. Marx (1975e. I have felt the expansiveness of my self in my body – and its independence and resist- ance – and seen it in others. draws on a deep- ening appreciation of the role of the materiality of my own self. it has been shaped and informed by my experience as a ballroom dancer. This book is an endeavour to challenge the founding assumption that our bodies have only an instrumental role in living a full or truly human life. This book. Through this book I hope to support a better response and to help provide the foundation for policies and practices that take into account something too often and too easily forgotten: the influence of the mate- rial or corporeal world. 390) considered our humanity in .2 Marx. Today. As these very words suggest. by treating our humanity as that of the ‘biped’ carrying ‘his soul in a bag’. One man. It reflects their stories and the hurt and humiliation they have suffered. While many others have considered the role of the body. I have also encountered the lack of an adequate language to express those experiences. explained to me how much money he received to support his family. We remain locked in what Michel Foucault (Dreyfuss and Rabinow 1982. But that is not all. He went on to show me the textbook list from the school his children attended and how he could afford to buy the books for only one child. I had no answer for him then (or now). One meeting with a group of refugees is still fresh in my memory. In particular. and the centrality of that materiality to human expression.

such a language would be felt to be begging. Introduction: Evading the Body 3 unambiguously material terms: he saw us as an ‘objective. manipulate. as Feuerbach pointed out. Lucretius and Spinoza (whose work I discuss in Chapters 2 and 3). in no small part. experi- ences of bodily limitation and the understandable desire to avoid them and. The comfort inspired by these beliefs suggests an explanation for the tenacity with which they are held and the sometimes still terrifying fury which their challenge can provoke. a response to genuine. want. what are these but directions for the use of the body: we are not our bodies. 33). as mere instruments to that end. Our bodies have long been treated as secondary – at most as obstacles to the realisation of our character. 39–40) and known as ‘the destroyer of all established religion and morality’ (Hampshire 2005. Marx drew on the long-standing materialist tradition and its understanding that those belief systems provide the means by which many are able to bear the ‘weight’ of the body (Bordo 2003) and material world. common.. and sell our bodies in order to get what ‘we’. The terms on which that transcendence is asserted may not now be as extreme.. In debates about what makes us human and what brings out the best of our humanity. we who are no longer repressed in sensual matters as were [our] benighted grandparents. Marx shared a similar infamy. It explains the infamy of prominent material- ists such as Epicurus. ultimately. (Howe 2003. matter – whether in the form of our bodies or the larger world – has not mattered. especially lately. He understood that: We would not understand a human language. the limits of mortality.. 97) To assert that our natures.. It could be used only with feelings of shame or . And yet. as human beings. Spinoza was described as ‘a freak (monstrum)’ (Klever 1996.. at the turn of the twenty-first century . imploring and hence humiliating. suffering being’... philosophy that privileges mind over body). . and often. are founded in our bodies and defined by bodily limitation has been to attract infamy. but we discipline. ridicule or casual dismissal. Marx understood the challenge of making the contrary argument. This desire to avoid or minimise pain – to somehow express its wrongfulness – grounds the long associa- tion between the devaluation of the body and religion (and. sensuous [and therefore] . but a common-sense instrumental characterisation of our bodies remains: As for us today. we congratu- late ourselves that we are no longer engaged in a flight from corpo- reality . From the one side. not our bodies. I also turned to Marx because he understood how the devaluation of the body is..

It became apparent to me only after long and sometimes diffi- cult close readings of Marx’s works. We are so estranged from our human essence that the direct language of man strikes us as an offence against the dignity of man. ‘realisation’ and ‘becoming’. From the other side. or the corporeal. has in it. I found myself sympathising with Pareto’s (cited in Ollman 1971. but their context suggested something else. I found him repeatedly using terms. I have found in Marx’s works not only a more ‘human language’. and most of those references were made in passing while addressing other issues. 3) complaint that that one could see ‘both birds and mice’ in Marx’s works. also evidence a keen interest in the influence of . Marx left few detailed expositions about human nature.. ‘power’. I had to consider the meanings of those. They sought to determine what composed the foundation of any being or thing and. On their face they held one meaning. and other. these included Epicurus. The pre-Socratic philosophers made it a central theme of their works. but one that suggests how the resistance to that language might be overcome. This book is the outcome of that search. philosophers have set out to say what reality is and what place matter. The flight from the body I am not the first to seek a better language with which to consider the influence of the corporeal on human nature or. such as Bacon and Hobbes. it would be received as an imperti- nence or insanity and so rejected. such as ‘objective’. ‘expression’. whether the foundation of being had to be unchanging). Democritus and Aristotle. Since that time. emphasis in original) Marx understood that the influence of the material world makes a mate- rialist understanding of human nature unattractive to many. (1975d. the nature of any thing or being. A preoccupation with ‘being’ (ousia in Greek). The works of later philosophers. terms. even in those express discus- sions. ‘capacity’. From the earliest traces of metaphysics. and Human Nature debasement. ‘substance’ (substantia in Latin) or ‘nature’ has proved to be a recurring motif in Western philosophy. the Body. indeed. 276–7. in the face of the volatility of matter. Reading Marx set me on a genealogical enquiry. Lucretius. I found that to discover Marx’s meaning. many others have wrestled with these questions.4 Marx. This is not to say that this more ‘human language’ is readily acces- sible. that sat uneasily in their context. considered the relationship between that foundation and change (i. However. one that embraces our corporeality. Moreover.e. Amongst the ancient Greeks.

“matter is”’ (Coole and Frost 2010. even evil. Most recently. long been overshadowed by those who assert that it is of little or no signifi- cance when it comes to understanding human nature. They highlight the unpredictable or disruptive effects of matter as ‘life within me’ but ‘so much “itself” that it is independent of the will’ and ‘a threatening force’ (Braidotti 2010. or ‘ideas’. who treated the flesh as the source of enslavement and shame. This recognition of the influence of the corporeal has. 10). maintained this emphasis. The preference for the non-corporeal aspect of our humanity has also lent its influence to postmodernist thought. intended as a corrective to the manner in which too many within that school of thought have neglected the centrality of the corporeal. They present matter as ‘a trans- formative force in itself’ (Tuin and Dophyn 2010. but passing. Plato presented the long influential identification of being with ‘forms’. reflecting the impact of Newtonian science on efforts to under- stand the world. post-humanist thinkers have renewed interest in the volatility and influence of the material world. however. These tendencies were amplified by Christian thought. More recently. 164): one that is engaged in ‘choreographies of becoming’ in which ‘“matter becomes” rather than . efforts to then recognise the influence of the corporeal produced the idealist philosophy of Fichte and Hegel and an endeavour to reduce the corpo- real to the terms of the non-corporeal. Gnostic and Stoic thought amplified this emphasis and presented the corporeal as defi- cient. for example. This book is. As long ago as Aristotle’s era. and demanding subordination. Throughout this perspective. More recently. with a writer such as Merleau-Ponty (1945. in part. burden upon that foundation. phenomenology has emphasised the centrality of the material world.. Judith . and classified the corporeal as a signifi- cant. perhaps most famously represented by St Augustine. with Foucault (1990a). Enlightenment philosophers. 208). Introduction: Evading the Body 5 matter. Herder and Schelling equally sought to capture the depth and breadth of its influence. such as Kant. Western philosophy gravitated towards a view that the foundation of being had to be unchanging and thereby dismissed the material world. Natural and Romantic philosophers such as Goethe. concentrating on the invasive intimacies of ‘biopower’. 1968) highlighting the central role of the senses in shaping human nature.. the foundation of human being has been located in the non-corporeal. Indeed. be that called the soul or some aspect of consciousness such as reason or will. 1948. The manipulation of our corporeality has also been a central concern of many postmodern writers.

the effect has been to treat the body as so plastic as to effectively erase it. present women’s experience of a much more resistant. such as Bordo (2003). Many women have presented a different sense of the corporeal and of the self. it is hardly representative of human experience. with her emphasis upon performativity and treatment of the human body as the passive and completely plastic means for the staging of those performances. to borrow Bordo’s (2003) expression. Martin (2001) and Shildrick (1997). Similarly. Shulman (2005). those with different corpo- real abilities (‘disabilities’) and different states of health do not experi- ence the ease of corporeal action that is assumed in this model. or requiring domination. and the need for its maintenance and care. To privilege the experience of the domesticated body is. Toynbee (2003) and Wynhausen (2005). too often. In particular. the Body. are regularly reminded of the assertiveness of their body. retains its place of privilege today.1 Whilst much attention has been given to embodiment and its variations in postmodern literature. as testified by writers such as Ehrenreich (2002). Further. who bear the mark of its resistance in their bodies. such as factory workers. Moreover. femi- nist and post-humanist traditions. Most women. Feminist writers. 57) emphasised in his review of the literature. Shipler (2004). from a young age. It does not reflect the lives of those who experience the corporeal as far more trou- bling. this perspective reflects the typically white. non-corporeal and corporeal. moreover. and Human Nature Butler’s Gender Trouble exemplifies this difficulty. In privileging the dominated body and disciplined material world. masculine. They experience a life in which the cycles of fertility assert themselves and regularly (absent intervention) contravene the imagined barrier of mind and matter. they have ‘[tended] to dissolve the mate- riality of the body’. and tends to render that policy an instrument of oppression instead of relief. The treatment of the body and material world as dominated. This preference for the non-corporeal gives insufficient recognition to the ‘weight’ of the body. ‘leaky’ body. and the material world as a thing to be dominated and used.6 Marx. ‘able-bodied’. we have not been provided with an . particularly those within the Marxist. bourgeois experience of the body as an instrument or tool. As Fracchia (2005. Grosz (1994). inevitably betrayed by the inescapable and universal ageing of the body. it does not reflect the lives of those who labour directly with the mate- rial world. it frames and limits the terms of social policy. as indicated above. a myth of eternal youth – a myth that is ultimately. With limited exceptions. It fails to account for the manner in which the corporeal both limits and enables all our actions in this world. of dominator and dominated.

‘nailed’ and ‘riveted’ to me . from which the soul. The dualism of Western philosophical thinking is almost always hierarchical. will.. as disruptive... the body is experienced as confinement and limitation: a ‘prison’.. 168) has pointed out. . We have not fully confronted the uncer- tainties and anxieties and pains that follow from the unstable. we have taught ourselves to ignore our bodies. We are not our bodies. It is ‘fastened and glued’ to me. or flee their influence so that we can realize our true nature as intellec- tual or spiritual beings. We have not abandoned the flight from our limitations. a ‘swamp’. (Howe 2003. influence (and so treated as wrongful and with hostility – as something to be subdued and excluded). has a profoundly somatophobic streak. ongoing .. As Shildrick (1997. as something we must struggle against and win control over. 97) Defining natures One key axis on which this treatment has turned.. from their pain and promise. when present: the body is experienced as alien. even contami- nating.. Introduction: Evading the Body 7 adequate way in which to treat the material world as an essential part of being human without still. has been the tradition of considering particular beings in terms of a feature that provided that being with its permanent. a ‘fog’ .. valuing the mind (or soul) above the body. awarding greater value to the non-corporeal.. but we make use of these unreliable and intractable instruments. as confining. volatile character of the material world. too often. in the ordinary course of our lives... The Western tradition has long treated the corporeal as having no influence on being (as absent) or as having inappropriate. a ‘cage’. despising the body as something wholly other. However. (Bordo 2003. deaf to its prompts: so much so that ‘the body is scarcely experienced . enabling us to flee our bodies and to see this flight as a celebration – rather than a denial – of our very being. nor its influence on what we commonly treat as the non-corporeal. or mind struggles to escape.. at all’. to some important degree. 194) It is a view of the body expressed in some of the oldest and most cele- brated works in the Western philosophical tradition and remains a defining feature in our time: [W]e [don’t] need to delve particularly deeply . These characterisations have persisted such that. to recognize that our culture . we have become.

undergirding character. Until the seventeenth century. the non- corporeal. unchanging quality that gave a being continuity and rendered that which is changeable – including the corporeal – ephemeral. until relatively recently. John Locke. Implied in that ‘condition’. Spinoza (2002b. but unknown support of those qualities. pathological. the Body. While avoiding the suggestion that a being’s nature was predetermined or fixed irrespec- tive of ‘external’ influences. the very idea of ‘condition’ maintained the suggestion of some contextual factor that remained sufficiently consistent as to be a significant... continuing influence on the nature of that being. if influential. the volatility and mutability of the corporeal has more often seen it characterised as a threat to that desired continuity and promoted its devaluation. ‘essence’ or ‘nature’. ongoing. was some equally contin- uous feature that rendered the being open to the condition’s influence in a significant way. including qualities like reason and the will (to say nothing . been considered as unfit to fulfil the role of humanity’s ‘substance’. without something to support them. As one of the greatest philosophers of that time. and Human Nature character. notwithstanding observable changes in its properties (Robinson 2004. which we imagine cannot subsist . The corporeal. (cited in Robinson 2004. ‘substance’ is: the supposed. the emphasis remained on some sepa- rate. has. 217) defined it as: that which is in itself and is conceived through itself. This remained the case even when ‘condition’ was coined as an alternative to ‘nature’. inessen- tial and.8 Marx. passing observable qualities.. the idea of ‘substance’ played an influential role in this debate (and provided the tradition of argument about human nature from which Marx subsequently drew). we call that support substantia. by virtue of its pervasive presence. that the conception of which does not require the conception of another thing from which it has to be formed. is in plain English. 12) ‘Substance’ assumes the existence of some quality that is separate to – and unaffected by – other. then. which . In its stead. Notwithstanding these changes in terminology. put it. the debate turned to focus on the idea of ‘essence’ and then. or matter. Instead. Its apparent volatility and changeability has disqualified it from providing the desired permanent. Following Spinoza. standing under or upholding.. within this tradition of debate. that is. we find existing. ‘nature’ and ‘condition’. 3).

Most recently. Moreover. and its resistance to regulation. 1990b. Hodder 2012. I argue that potential exceeds the extreme circumstances Marx imagined and. post-humanist theorists have further explored the disci- plines imposed by the material world itself and the manner in which the tendency of things to ‘fall apart’ (Hodder 2012. L1699) draws us. I suggest that this combina- tion of old and new can progress the contemporary interest in resisting the discipline that extends so deep into our bodies and our sense of self and provide the terms from which to create a more ‘human language’ (Marx 1975d. Introduction: Evading the Body 9 of an idea like the ‘soul’). and the depth to which that combination of material and social relationships affects individuals caught up in that system. in many unanticipated and sometimes unconscious ways. Marx’s theory of ‘species being’ This rejection of the corporeal has not gone unchallenged. openness and involvement hold emancipatory potential. 1995) and those working within his legacy. and others. Grosz (1994). drawing on contempo- rary literature. as famously considered by him in terms of the ‘mode of production’. Arguably one of the most striking challenges to the traditional debate about human nature was mounted by Karl Marx through his theory of ‘species being’. During those years a range of contemporary theorists. with the influence of the Enlightenment. I suggest that Marx’s contribution to this debate complements and extends the consideration of the body – and the broader material world – that has occupied much scholarly debate over the last thirty years. 1990a. Martin (2001). and Shildrick (1997). vulnerability and interdependence that follows from that influence. They. Marx’s theory focuses on the pervasive influence of the corporeal and the openness. L367). and I suggest that it provides a promising framework to explore and integrate these contemporary debates. have highlighted the intimate impact of this discipline. not least Foucault (1980. not only on the body and social relationships. Most of these themes are clearly established in Marx’s theory. into mutual and increasingly complex ‘entanglements’ of reciprocity and dependence (Barad 2007. . has been treated as human nature and. but on the very identity of those affected. as capable of subduing all that is ‘external’ to it. Marx’s model suggests that the same volatility. suggest that everyday bodily experience provides prompts towards a recognition of interdependence. 276–7). including feminists such as Bordo (2003). L19. including the corporeal. have drawn attention to the volatility of the corpo- real.

through his engagement with dialectics and emphasis on historical transitions. I argue that Spinoza and Hegel. Marx’s works have inspired rich and varied scholarship. Marx insists that philosophy was inadequate for the task of human emancipa- tion. even those expressly relied on by Marx in his earlier texts. such as Althusser and Balibar (1997) and Negri (2004. many. 2004b). have treated the dialectic as over- shadowed by Marx’s historicism. form part of a larger tradition. illuminate some part of this inheritance. and Human Nature Previous engagements with Marx’s theory To that end I address a few central questions in this book. Levine (2012). and how had that idea become central to a tradition of inquiry preoccupied with a concep- tion of a being’s ‘nature’? What kinds of challenges had philosophers before Marx mounted against this account? How did Marx appro- priate this alternative tradition and develop his own account of corporeality? Similar questions have been asked by others before me. much of which has considered his views on materiality and. What was the idea of some fixed feature or characteristic. Reuten (2000) and Smith (1999). As . This was. such as Althusser and Balibar (1997). 2011). Althusser and Balibar. as do those who. This. The long-standing (and ongoing) debate as to Hegel’s influence on Marx has played a significant role in this neglect. In Concerning Feuerbach (commonly referred to as Marx’s ‘Theses on Feuerbach’). too. Those asserting Hegel’s consistent influence on Marx. in no small measure. and this led many – such as Althusser (1996) and Colletti (1973) – to regard Marx’s earlier works as immature and outdated. 2004a. have regarded Hegel’s works as entirely tainted and of no help in explaining Marx’s thought. the product of Marx’s own express statements. As part of the idealist endeavour to render all the world explicable in terms of the non- corporeal. such as Arthur (2003. with regard to Marx’s critique of Hegel distorting experience to conform to his logic. change. the Body. whilst of great significance. have treated Marx’s later works as presenting an entirely new conception of dialectics. for example. this work generally considered Marx through the lens of his late works. is part of Marx’s legacy. However. This devaluation of Marx’s earlier works led many to disregard the works of previous philosophers. as well as others following them. Others. This characterisation has prevented many from fully appreciating Marx’s continued use of a range of philosophical terms throughout his works. highlight the Spinozan character of much of Marx’s analysis. However.10 Marx. and that Marx’s works need to be understood in the context of that tradition.

More recently. in large part. such as Archibald (1989). reflected the privileged view of matter as passive. where animation is supplied solely through human labour. Geras (1983). Foster and Burkett (2000) and Sheasby (2001. Markus (1978). in terms of transitions in modes of production as driven by those modes’ internal dynamics. A close reading of Marx’s works. They do not explore the consequences of environmental sustainability for Marx’s conception of human nature. 2004a. too. Given the controversy over the character of the dialectic in Marx’s works. Levine (2012). appear to have applied an Aristotelian model that locates that nature within individuals and have not been consistent with Marx’s dialectical approach. The implications of this exploration have not. have tended to focus on those aspects of Marx’s texts that directly address an issue such as needs rather than the founda- tions of human nature itself. McMurtry (1978). such as Gould (1980) and Schmidt (1971). Discussions of the material world have. this tendency has been contradicted. been considered in relation to Marx’s theory of human nature. These writers. Their works. is suggested in Marx’s works (1998. partic- ularly through Arthur (2003. Arendt (1958). Reuten (2000) and Smith (1999). reveals his continued use of a range of key terms developed as part of the long-standing endeavour . we have been left with limited express discussion of his understanding of dialectics. Those who have considered those founda- tions. and the older view of matter as active and volatile has been revitalised. 2004b). Heller (1984). Introduction: Evading the Body 11 he did not write his planned book on method. This neglect of Hegel’s influence has recently been opposed by the revival of Marxist scholarship in relation to Hegel’s works on logic. focus on whether Marx praised or criti- cised the industrial transformation and wastage of the non-human material world. Moreover. and acting only as a weight or obstacle to be borne and shaped. through the efforts of writers such as Castree (2000). 2004b). however. Scholars that do focus on Marx’s concept of human nature have also tended to neglect these issues. primarily in response to environmental politics. 1976) where change is principally presented as the consequence of human initiative. This emphasis. 1973. however. for example. Change has tended to be considered on the large scale. 2004a. most of those investigations were undertaken over twenty years ago and do not reflect the more recent engagements with the influence of Spinoza and Hegel. however. and Soper (1981). the significance of change has largely been considered through an historical lens. particularly through distinctions such as ‘living’ and ‘dead’ capital.

its corollaries: ‘substance’ and ‘essence’. Such a reading shows Marx to have directly or indirectly drawn on a range of philosophers whose influence is not well recognised in Marxist scholarship. given its vola- tility. It also requires a consideration of others involved in key points of transition and trans- lation of those concepts. can it be located in matter? How to explain change? In particular. An appreciation of Marx’s theory of human nature demands an engagement with their contributions. in particular. the Body. These convictions set loose a series of questions about which the history of the debate turns. to understand being in terms of change. and Human Nature to understand the influence of the material world and. Herder. which focus on two core ideas. the second is that uncertainty is to be avoided. Spinoza. situates Marx’s theory within a history of the debate about human nature and. Fichte and Hegel were key contributors. In what terms should a being’s nature be defined? Where is that nature located? In particular. A tradition of debate This book. .’ Marx’s works address the three ‘fundamental agreements’ that have founded the tradition of debate about human nature: the first is the idea that a good human life is one free of anxiety and pain. 12). namely ‘substance’ and ‘essence’. These questions constitute what might be called the ‘tradition questions’. the premise that this required some foundation for life that does not change.12 Marx. Epicurus. how can apparently fundamental changes in a being’s nature (such as the transformation of an acorn into an oak tree) be explained? How can changes in the ‘external’ or inessential parts or aspects of a being be reconciled with the continuity or repetition of their association with that being’s nature? How might the experience of limitation and pain be reconciled with the security and immutability of a nature? Can uncer- tainty. where he speaks of a tradition as an ‘argument extended through time’ based on some ‘fundamental agreements. Schelling and Feuerbach. It is these questions I first address in this book. anxiety and pain ever work towards the human good? Addressing these questions first enables me to locate Marx’s work and to show in what fashion he set out to resolve certain problems. and finally. Marx’s use of ‘essence’ places him at the heart of a debate in which Aristotle. It draws upon the history of that tradition in the sense that MacIntyre proposed in his Whose Justice? Which Rationality? (1988. such as Lucretius. then. Leibniz.

and . What critique did Marx make of the traditional debate about human nature (whereby the non-corporeal was treated as its foundation)? What alternative did Marx suggest (specifically... As noted above. acknowledged by all’.. contrasting. how did Marx seek to compre- hend corporeality as central to human nature)? What explanations did Marx provide for the appeal of treating the non-corporeal as that nature (and for the circumstances in which that appeal might be overcome and enable the adoption of a more ‘human language’)? Marx’s answers to those questions are founded within his charac- terisation of the ‘human essence’ as the ‘ensemble of social relations’ (1975g. which Marx described as the ‘absolute movement of becoming’.. the other as owner of the object of the other’s need. One rationale is theoretical. whilst there is an extensive literature from the 1970s and 1980s concerning Marx’s theory. through the experience of working together. unstable character. a series of interac- tions between elements that were interdependent.. gave this essence a dynamic. with those struc- tures serving to organise.. not only with those a worker directly encountered but with that larger ‘ensemble of social relations’ that composed their very essence. 570).. which has to do with the way a relevant body of scholarship has set out to make sense of Marx’s work and struggled with the questions I address. relate to one another .. Introduction: Evading the Body 13 The key questions Following this. [with] their common species being . Marx treated this essence as located in the structures of our society rather than in its individual members. there has been relatively limited . For Marx (1973. again. I turn to another series of questions centring on Marx. [and realise] that each of them reach beyond his own particular need . 488). would bring ‘each [worker to confront] . like a musical ensemble. I indicate only briefly here the theoretical rationale.. This experience would promote an awareness of interdependence. The foundations and terms of Marx’s theory of human nature require further examination. it was this experience of interaction and change that. 242–3. with the stable. moreover. These interactions. unchanging character traditionally ascribed to a nature. Why ask these questions? Why should we ask these questions and attend to these matters? As I indicated at the start.. there are several grounds for asking these questions.

continues to apply: ‘they have stalled [because] . an emphasis on independence and self-reliance as the essential character of our humanity. is central to the constitution of modern social policy. This approach supports and enables a long-standing emphasis on frugality. corporeal discomfort is treated as less important than the will. In contemporary social security policy in countries such as Australia. have an ecological interest and emphasise the interdependent character of the human/nature relationship.. the payment of inadequate benefits and denial of those benefits for several weeks (or more) on the ground that this denial will somehow crystallise the recipient’s motivation to secure work. One strand represents those who. with neglect of the corporeal. Contemporary social security policy locates the foundation of our humanity in the will and treats that ‘nature’ as independent of. The difficulty with this approach is that it denies recognition to those who bear the ‘stain’ of the corporeal and who cannot exhibit that . Finally. and Toscano (2010). made after a review of the literature. the United Kingdom and the United States. in large part. evidenced by works by Cerni (2007) and Fracchia (2005. like Castree (2000). 35).. 17–18). on ensuring that social security is ‘less eligible’ than waged work and on prescribed ‘activities’ as a test of will and deservedness (Beder 2000. the Body. 2008).14 Marx. the critical observation of Fracchia (2005. This has promoted a focus not only on the will. This book is founded on the belief that the literature still fails ‘to grasp Marx’ by those ‘roots’. oppressive effect. Though this is far from being self-evident. that engagement generally considered three kinds of issues. 2004a. there is also an emerging scholarship seeking to reassert the influence of the corporeal. neglect of the corporeal grounds the promotion of the transition from ‘welfare to work’. A second rationale for addressing these questions has a more ‘prac- tical’ dimension. by its corporeal roots’. revisit Marx’s critique of religion as part of an endeavour to understand its increasingly prominent and resilient influence in recent times and global conflicts. Overall.. Clark and York (2008). Another strand. respond to the manner in which so much postmodern thought tends to treat the corporeal as passive. if at all present.. exemplified by Foster. for example. Foster and Burkett (2000) and Sheasby (2001. 2004b). the corporeal. and Human Nature relevant scholarship in the years since. I believe that the neglect of the corporeal has a wide- ranging. and unaffected by. Here. in turn. but on the will as independent of all other influences and. regardless of its actual impact. When the theory has been addressed. the absence of the corporeal. which. they are not materialistic enough and have failed to grasp Marx’ [theory] .

and help promote policies that recognise both our interdependence and our corporeality. It is hoped that this book will demonstrate the inadequacy of concepts such as independence and self-reliance as the objectives of social policy. Accordingly. gives that policy an oppressive character. Introduction: Evading the Body 15 self-reliance founded on willpower untrammelled by its influence – children. It is an approach that oppresses them for revealing their – our – humanity. makes it an exemplar of MacIntyre’s idea of a tradition – a long-standing. women. to other aspects of those contributors’ works and context. Some limitations I should here indicate something of the limited scope of this book. I have been guided by Foucault’s genealogical approach to the history of ideas – that the engagement with potential influences on a particular body of thought be limited to those that are apparent on the ‘surface’ of the relevant works rather than determined by the ‘second guessing’ of the researcher. To that end. the ill. our humanity. e. Reference is made. in MacIntyre’s sense. however. My argument engages one aspect of the history of Western philosophy in order to understand Marx’s theory. such as the works of Plato and Heidegger. and the influence they have on any person’s capacity to act. Beder 2000).. I have not sought to capture the breadth of the entire system of the various contributors’ thought or of Marx’s thought.g. the connection of this failure to the debate about human nature is. This debate. where relevant. I do not engage some of the major contributions to the debate concerning the nature of being or. those with a disability. the aged. having been clearly established well before Aristotle. This book is also limited in the sense that it is not part of a history of philosophy per se. based on the traditional debate about human nature. justifies its consideration independently of such a comprehensive review. but the risk of the full meaning failing to be captured remains. it positions its supposed beneficiaries as the cause of its failure. Instead of shaping it towards the fullest recognition and flourishing of those excluded from participation in the life of the community. Given the founding role . Whilst this criticism of social policy as ‘blaming its victims’ is not a new ground of criticism (see. In this context. The adoption of a concept of human being (and of human agency) in social policy. those expe- riencing poverty and others. the character of the history of the debate about human nature as a tradition. clearly understood debate defined within a set of ‘fundamental agreements’ that cuts across a variety of systems of thought. specifically.

Chapter 2 considers the works of Aristotle. Epicurus and Lucretius. in many respects. the Body. It is necessarily an endeavour to illu- minate Marx’s words in the light of that debate in order to dispel the ambiguities that once led Pareto (cited in Ollman 1971. Moreover. the character of Marx’s theory can be well appreciated independently of its application to specific kinds of social formations. and the place of the corporeal within them. 3) to complain that they seemed like ‘both birds and mice’. To adequately engage with the influences on Marx’s views concerning ‘nature’ and the corporeal is a substantial undertaking in its own right. To indicate what this debate has been about. Epicurus and Lucretius as key contributors to the early debates concerning the nature of being. yet in developing his dualist model and incorporating matter into it.16 Marx. in turn. I touch upon their detailed application to contemporary capitalist society only so as to demonstrate their retention. Such was matter’s instability that Aristotle. one would also need to consider the economic and other political literature of Marx’s time. Outline of this book As I have indicated. To consider in detail the application of Marx’s theory of human nature to capitalism. the focus on economic and other literature has limited the appreciation of the general theory and. as well as key influ- ences on Marx. its consideration as a tradition suggests that it is one of the areas that can legitimately be considered in its own right. Nevertheless. placed it in the species rather than individual beings. notwithstanding arguments made to distin- guish the late or ‘mature’ works from earlier ones. that of human beings specifi- cally. he highlighted matter’s volatility and influence. Aristotle looked favourably on the traditional emphasis on separation as a means of promoting certainty. as some of the earliest materialist influences on Marx’s thought. is part of a history of debate about the character or foundations of being. any exploration of Marx’s critique of the tradi- tional debate about human nature. given that it forms part of the tradition of the debate about human nature. and of the circumstances in which the movement might be made from one to the other. and Human Nature of ontology in any system of thought. Having explored the foundations of those views. in seeking a secure location for human nature. limited the compre- hension of that theory as applied to capitalism. of the development of his alterna- tive model. also emphasised the activity and influence of matter and the manner in which it involved . which is beyond the scope of this book.

. all-embracing totality. No longer was being characterised in the traditional terms of stability. This chapter also considers the influence of Leibniz. improperly. They suggest. their interdependence and the incorpo- ration of their mode of relation into the foundations of those beings. It considers Spinoza’s contribution through his inversion of the tradi- tional approach – treating only nature as a whole. They made the concepts of being and of species in terms of an aggregate or ensemble common- place and gave them the character that Hegel. the trans- formative potential of this tension that Marx was to later locate in the extremities of alienation and the manner in which this potential was frustrated via their insulation from the material world through their institutions of slavery. uncertain aggregates that continue only so long as their dominant rela- tion – or ‘mode’ – continues to persist. in turn. His works provide a fresh approach to the character of particular beings. Chapter 3 addresses one of the great turning points in the debate. however. They illuminate Marx’s critique of religious thought. become ‘essence’: fragile. Through the work of idealist and Romantic philos- ophers. interdependent terms which directly influenced Marx’s thought. rather than individual beings. this chapter considers the outcomes of this inversion whereby individual beings. Introduction: Evading the Body 17 the experience of limitation and interdependence. following them. were to adopt. Spinoza demands attention as crystallising and exploring a profound shift in the tradition of the debate about human nature. In particular. as meeting the qualification of independence. being became equated with change and thereby able to accom- modate the instability of the corporeal that had long been excluded by the traditional debate. Feuerbach and Marx. with its images of lives without limitation – lives of godlike ease – undermining our capacity to live with limitation. Herder. having been denied this independence. however. the central place previously accorded to substance in discussing human nature comes to be occupied by the concept of essence. separation and independence and as only exceptionally. Their works. Fichte and Schelling. limitation and pain were not always antithetical to the good. dependent beings and Spinoza’s transcendent. They suggested that experiences of uncertainty. who placed Spinoza’s thought in the more organic. With Spinoza. tension and each other. disturbed by change. they illuminate Marx’s concepts of individual beings and the pivotal role of the mode of production in his works. provided a more radical development – even transformation – than the mere translation and expansion of Spinoza’s insights: they presented particular beings as active and brought out the movement between those incomplete.

His is an image of an uncertain being only achieving some stability. Marx reflected the criticisms made by Feuerbach before him. through imposing the confrontation with desire on others and enslaving them. there is a clear nexus between Feuerbach’s work and that of Marx.. In ‘inverting’ Hegel’s thought. In his exploration of ‘species being’ and of the character of human nature more broadly considered. some sense of freedom from the corporeal (from desire). the Body. This examination serves to highlight the influence of insecurity and uncertainty in Hegel’s work: goaded on by insatiable desire. 196). For Hegel. interde- pendence and becoming. in traditional approaches. Hegel’s exploration of partic- ular beings’ drive towards a greater unity within those relations – of the dependence of any being on its objects and its conscious experience of this feeling of incompletion. is treated as ‘external’ . of desire.. the realities of human misery . Marx drew on Feuerbach’s call for a philosophy that focused on ‘the realm of embodied. Marx drew on Feuerbach’s insistence on the limited. instability and anxiety were the norm. which I consider in Chapter 4.. The next three chapters focus on Marx’s theory. so as to give primacy to material experience. and Human Nature This is the movement – the dynamic universe – that became the focus of Hegel’s works. as a constant. troubling drive towards change – was central to Marx’s theory. I sketch Feuerbach’s critique of Hegel. It presents any being as ‘objective’ – as deeply dependent upon what.18 Marx. Hegel represented human nature not only as profoundly dependent on others but as bound up with an oppressive flight from the corporeal and fore- shadowing the links between the constitution of our being and relations of oppression that Marx was to highlight. anxious. and his emphasis on the importance of the corporeal encounter in Chapter 5. contrary to the traditional debate about human nature. and human language’ (cited in Wartofsky 1977. a human understanding. material character of our nature and on our ‘religious’ denial of and flight from that experience. Hegel’s Logic. particularly the manner in which being could be understood as the aggregate of and movement within a variety of relations. Chapter 6 outlines Marx’s rejection of the traditional debate about human nature and the manner in which Marx adopted key concepts from Hegel’s Logic so as to characterise being in terms of an ‘ensemble’ of relations. rejecting the traditional emphasis on independence and the source of the under- lying concepts applied by Marx. living spirits . Hegel’s humanity searched for a more secure sense of self. insecurity.. is considered in detail. Marx subsequently criticised Hegel’s idealism as an instance of that flight from the corporeal.

unstable. interde- pendent being and the revolutionary transformation of society. His work was founded on a recognition of interdependence: that our lives are punctuated by and organised around moments of separation and unity. interdependence and volatility of essence. So precarious was individual being in the face of nature’s resistance that maintenance of the indi- vidual’s mode of unification and. as favoured in the traditional debates about substance. the chapter also portrays the char- acter of individual or particular beings as radically insecure or anxious and examines the manner in which Marx. the shift from the independent. His theory embraces this breadth of experience. but the openness. is self-defeating and yet. Introduction: Evading the Body 19 and inessential and emphasises the neediness. located in the natural world (humanity’s ‘inorganic body’) and thereby in the social (as the mode of production is the means by which the relationship between humanity’s organic and inorganic bodies is mediated). drawing on these predeces- sors. It suggests the manner in which that flight. comprehended religious thought both as providing the reassurance demanded by that anxiety and working to exacerbate it. non-corporeal self to ‘species being’. interdependent character. I have argued that we need an approach to considering human nature that treats the corporeal as a central component and allows for its influence upon the non-corporeal – a way of thinking and talking that does not treat the two as separate and independent and is suffi- ciently open to comprehending the influence not only of our bodies but of the ‘external’ corporeal world. anxiety and oppression. hence. independent and separate. It explores the manner in which that character makes human nature extrinsic. pain and pleasure. by virtue of that failure. The character of our humanity was not fixed. Drawing on writers from Epicurus to Feuerbach. ensemble of relations. Chapter 7 builds on this presentation of being. however. of anxiety. Marx’s theory of ‘species being’ is a better approach. openness and instability of any such ‘objective being’. I argue that to that end. this mix of absence and presence. in terms of an open. Chapter 8 explores the connections between this unstable. It displays the links connecting the denial of our corporeal. rather than favour only one side. His theory is one that suggests a different ‘human language’ to that of the traditional . continuity was dependent on social cooperation – so much so that the ‘human essence’ was located in the ‘ensemble of social relations’ Marx described as the ‘mode of produc- tion’. capable of promoting a change in consciousness – the shift towards species consciousness.

these diverse experiences of the body testify to its centrality to our humanity and to its potential realisations. and Human Nature debate about human nature: one founded in relationships rather than separation. I explore the unrealised potential of this language in Chapter 9. With regard to the breadth and influence of the many ways in which we are called upon to discipline our bodies and the extent to which related bodily anxieties have featured since the middle of the twentieth century. I suggest there that the transformative potential of corporeal limitation and pain is not limited to the extremities which Marx thought necessary but extends to much more everyday occurrences. I seek to promote a more ‘human language’. as well as on the moments of joy and exhilaration we can experience in our bodies. oppressive relations. thus embracing the corporeal as central to our sense of self. the Body. Together. I also draw on his recognition of the coexistence of other. I suggest that Marx’s notion of ‘species being’ – as a collective mode of mediating between our organic and inorganic bodies – can equally apply to other experiences of the body. postmodern and post-humanist insights and on the experience of those suffering serious chronic illness. It is to recognise that absent the extremity of pain Marx anticipated. such as those shaped around gender. I argue that corporeal prompts towards a different sense of our selves are both imma- nent and promising.20 Marx. Through it. . To draw on that breadth of experience is also to soberly assess the influence of those varied corporeal experiences and to recognise the efficacy with which relations of domination continue to dampen and distort the eman- cipatory prompts of the corporeal. more than those prompts will be required to support any real change in the foreseeable future. one that will allow us to encounter and interpret our corporeality afresh and as the source of the best of our humanity. It is to that end this book is dedicated – the promotion of the terms with which those prompts might better be recognised and responded to. Whilst maintaining Marx’s emphasis on a dominant mode of production. less pervasive modes to explore the potential application of Marx’s model to those whose life experiences are more immediately affected by other long-established. These arguments draw not only on the Marxist tradition but on feminist. To consider other coexisting modes of being as part of a larger ensemble or symphony dominated by a particular mode of production is consistent with Marx’s views.

recognised and wrestled with the desire for certainty and secu- rity and the difficulties posed by the volatile. changeable character of matter (and especially the human body). lives of uninterrupted contemplation. we also find the influence of religious beliefs and practices that have been central to the Western consideration of human nature. Marx confronted these same tensions. ongoing character notwith- standing observable changes in its properties. He confronted the pain and suffering of the emerging proletariat and refused prescriptions. They. we find the longing for the certainty and tranquillity experi- enced by the gods. a life free of the limitations and uncertainties our humanity constantly confronts. which I call the ‘tradition questions’ in Chapter 1. Aristotle stands at a central point in this account. Here. His works clearly engage in the traditional debate about the concept of substance and display the tensions that have remained at the heart of the debate about the nature of any being or thing. one key approach that has devalued if not excluded our bodies from our conception of human nature has been the tradition of considering particular beings in terms of a feature that provided that being with its permanent. and pain ever work towards the human good? Epicurus and Lucretius also addressed these questions.1 In Aristotle and Epicurus. anxiety. or ataraxia. In all of their works we find a recognition of the inescapable demands of the corporeal – the practical demands of life – together with a longing for the life of an immortal. such as 21 . like Aristotle.2 Early Influences: Pain and Promise As I noted in Chapter 1. Those ques- tions include the following: How might the experience of limitation and pain be reconciled with the security and immutability of a nature or substance? Could uncertainty. with some of the earliest recorded reflections on the nature of a true or good human life.

unlike Hegel. Aristotle’s influence looms large here. too.22 Marx. sought to bridge a similar divide between certain and uncertain knowledge. and Lucretius all considered the definition and location of substance and its relationship to change. such as Aristotle. Aristotle addressed those questions by relying on the notion of potential awaiting actualisa- tion. who sought to naturalise poverty and abandon the pains of the poor and working class to extermination through starvation and disease. Aristotle. Epicurus. engaged with Hegel’s dialectic. and societies. He sought a language with which to demonstrate the impact of the corporeal as it resonated throughout individuals. He confronted and ‘inverted’ (Marx 1976. it involved an under- standing of substance as volatile. it marks his wrestling with this tension within Hegel’s works with the aid of these predecessors. placing it instead in the encounter with the material world. to that end. and Hegel and Marx (and Feuerbach). and Human Nature those of Malthus. Aristotle admitted that this goal could not be completely secured. He recognised the ongoing significant influ- ence of the corporeal. Marx rejected the normalisation of alienation promoted by classical political economy. the Body. Marx’s doctoral thesis on Democritus and Epicurus is not merely of biographical relevance. For each of them. Hegel. 103) Hegel’s idealism so as to place the corporeal at the heart of that dialectic and. Aristotle. drew on those who had previously emphasised the place of matter in human nature. An exami- nation of the former group’s works illuminates those of the latter. it involved a validation of desire coupled with a disciplining of its excesses. centuries later. particularly change as driven by the foundational elements of the world. on the other. For Epicurus and Lucretius. Epicurus. Epicurus. as somehow always unavoidably on the . like Hegel. particularly its strategies of abstraction that celebrated the formal freedom of the labourer and ignored the devas- tating impact of exhaustion and hunger in their lives. Epicurus and Lucretius gave this influence even greater scope: they challenged the association of certainty and reliability with the non-corporeal. However. in doing so. classes. and Lucretius. Aristotle looked to those who preceded him – the pre-Socratic philosophers – and confronted the tensions between certainty and change. all wrestled with the same questions that I present as central to the tradition of debate about human nature as explored through the concept of substance. and Lucretius. He sought to portray the extent to which corporeal pain was not restricted to one part of our being but resonated throughout it and. Both Aristotle and Hegel were dealing with the central issues concerning substance. Aristotle. on the one hand. discounted the corporeal’s influence and sought to exorcise its unpredictability to secure a certain understanding of the world.

and Lucretius highlights the centrality and difficulty of securing material needs and suggests why labour. A consideration of the works of Aristotle. moved in the opposite direction towards a more open conception of being. This is particularly so in relation to Marx’s materialism and his views on religion. The Western tradi- tion has long located the source of activity or agency outside of matter. drawing on key themes of Epicurus’s work. Epicurus. given his emphasis on ataraxia – freedom from disturbance and anxiety – but Lucretius. Considered together. The influence of Aristotle. however. It involved a grappling with the meaning of substance and the extent to which it should be characterised in terms of openness and interdependence rather than independence and separation. and Lucretius did not have so simple a view. with passive. Aristotle. and the solace provided by locating human nature elsewhere. Aristotle. whether in the immaterial or the immortal. Early Influences: Pain and Promise 23 brink of change. looms so large in Marx’s works. Like many others in nineteenth-century Europe. Epicurus also gravitated towards the latter. Their works suggest that religion was part of the broader flight from the experience of uncer- tainty and instability and reflect the powerful. It is quite easy to view the early debates on matter through the lens of a Newtonian physics. Their works suggest why beliefs in the non-material character of humanity continue to be so closely held and so vigorously defended. not as a mere footnote in the evolution of human industry but as an ongoing ontological necessity. Their emphasis on the volatility of matter was to profoundly influence Marx and his response to the suffering and oppression he witnessed in early industrial Europe. and Lucretius also cast Marx’s treatment of religion in a different light. the difficulties it presents. Each of these writers reflected on the instability of human existence and the accompanying anxiety. Marx drew on the works of the ancient Greeks to the extent that many of the key terms used by him came directly from their thought. Epicurus. and Lucretius on Marx goes well beyond a distant illumination. Epicurus. pervasive influence of that experience. and Lucretius highlight the instability of matter. Epicurus. a subject that inspired and continues to inspire vigorous debate about the character of our humanity. inert matter predictably following the dictates of some external activation. The works of Aristotle. . An examination of Epicurus’s and Lucretius’s thought is central to understanding Marx’s views as to how those beliefs might be overcome and replaced by a more ‘human language’. I argue here that Aristotle struck a balance in favour of the latter yet engaged with the volatility of the material world in ways that left that balance open to question. Epicurus.

Substance. and Human Nature Aristotle Aristotle was one of the earliest and most influential contributors to the debate about substance. Aristotle elevated matter to a necessary. but one that was bound to decay and dissolve. cited in Pike 1999. with the latter effecting only a temporary ‘dislocation’ of matter. change-laden dimension of being when combined with form.. Pike (1999. required the primacy of independence and separation – that the entity be that which underlay all else: ‘Things are called substances in two ways. was not so much dead weight as a volatile. He made matter potent – a force to be reckoned with. matter and form constituted one irreducible being. which neutralizes and obliterates. like a negative charge or a negative number. To be substance. 285).. a negative entity. 3. 118–19) described this decay (phthora) as the ultimate and inevitable successful resistance of matter to form. being this so and so is also separable’ (Aristotle. whilst non-substantial in isolation. Aristotle’s work was centrally concerned with the tensions of existence. 117. For Aristotle. matter (hyle) and form (morphe): hylomorphism. His consideration of the material and concrete brought the issue of change to the forefront. with the volatility and instability – and potential – of substance. in Aristotle’s eyes: matter is . and whatever. constituted an unhappy marriage: bound together.. productive role. saps and substracts from . 32). He cited Williams’s suggestion that. By incorporating matter into substance. he rejected the Platonic view of matter as the dross of a temporarily burdened existence. 11. He refused to accept the Platonic dualism and its dismissal of the significance of the mate- rial but still sought to recognise the regularities and repetitions that patterned the world: he sought a middle ground (Burns 2000.24 Marx. whatever is the ultimate subject which is no longer said of anything else. He challenged the foundational and traditional . in his eyes.. the Body. Aristotle gave change and stability equal weight. That middle ground was to consider substance as a composite of those competing models. then. It became the locus of its potential – of realising a being’s nature – as well as its decay and decline: its limitation. Instead of dismissing it as evidence of the inessential. Aristotle refused to dismiss the materiality of existence and yet held that substance was more than matter alone. form. Shields 2007. In this way. matter.

and pain could ever work towards the good – in the negative.. Aristotle’s preference for form over matter as the primary substance was founded on this demand for certainty. predictable substance. anxiety. was no longer a flaw to be discounted or dismissed. However. for this is necessary. The starting point for all such arguments [about the principle of non- contradiction] is not the demand that our opponent shall say that something either is or is not . He held that our capacity to reason depended upon the ability to distinguish between entities. it was this very characteristic – the volatility of matter – that led him to dismiss the atomistic materialists’ treatment of it as substance. if he really is to say anything. He answered the final tradi- tion question – whether uncertainty. understood as a known set of behaviours or functions. but that he shall say something which is significant both for himself and for another. resistance. Shields (2007. certain ground of some continuing. undefinable mass. identifiable substances: the two were mutually reinforcing demands and explanations (Politis 2004). book IV.. pursuing matter to its purest expression was to confront an amorphous. was the overriding concern of a number of Aristotle’s . either with himself or with another. and limitation. In the absence of certainty. in his view. His metaphysics sought the knowledge of this substance in general foundational terms. speech. a good life. at least in some essential. For him thought. It was to seek certainty in uncertainty. given that which was incapable of being known and incapable of definition. 124). Aristotle insisted that substance was this defini- tion. in Aristotle’s eyes. and action turned on the firm. such a man will not be capable of reasoning. In this regard. or a ‘flour- ishing’. For. unchanging respect: it demanded conformity with the principle of non-contradiction (that a thing could not be said to both have and not have the same characteristic in the same respect at the same time) (Politis 2004. if he means nothing. For Aristotle. 1006a19–24) held that neither thought nor speech was possible. for Aristotle. Rather. Early Influences: Pain and Promise 25 idea that substance was free of change. This certainty then – this form – was the point towards which change was. 259–61) emphasises that. The means by which a human being enjoyed eudaimonia. change. and dictated the ‘form’ of the entity. in characterising life in terms of tension. Aristotle (1984b. the capacity to reason and thereby to know the world was bound up with the existence of independent. directed: its ‘flourishing’ or full functionality in terms of those characteristics.

as David Ross (1995. Ultimately. 1178b20–3) However. This. The exercise of choice was central to acquiring and exercising those virtues. it was the one activity where human existence approached that of a god. This doctrine. To fail to discipline the corporeal – to be incontinent (akrasia) – was to be weak-willed. Aristotle (1984c) recognised that the volatile character of human life meant that enjoying this uncompromised contemplation was rarely enjoyed and then only temporarily. must be contempla- tive. what is left but contemplation? Therefore the activity of God. concerns. practical wisdom (phronesis). The option chosen was to be appropriate to the object.26 Marx. This made securing eudaimonia a question of character. For Aristotle. and still more production. As human beings. It was to live in non-conformity with our human nature (or substance). (1984c. 1094a1–3). of the acquisi- tion and living out of the virtues (Ross 1995). Shields 2007). the ‘avoidance of both excess and deficit’. and the development of character or the virtues (arete). including politics. not least of which were the Nicomachean Ethics and Eudemian Ethics. 202) describes it. it involved the control of feelings or passions (pathe) ‘by the “right rule”’ (Ross 1995. the Body. 213). and Human Nature works. therefore. With regards to the corporeal. It is generally accepted that efforts to that end consisted of contemplation (theoria). Aristotle’s consideration of eudaimonia began with his claim that all things are done with an end in mind (1984c. the domain. Meyer 2011) or in the ‘right way’ (Leighton 2011. To have character was to conform to the virtues: it was to successfully engage in an ongoing discipline. the highest human good was obvious: Now if you take away from a living being action. we had to deal with the exigencies of life through the exercise of practical wisdom. and of human activities. turned on some exercise of rationality as the feature that distin- guished humans from animals (1984c. . although the precise hierarchy of their relationship remains controversial (Lawrence 2006. whilst still the subject of continuing debate. 1098a4). and the overall circumstances (Leighton 2011). that which is most akin to this must be most of the nature of happiness. Just how those ‘appropriate’ decisions were to be made was the subject of Aristotle’s doctrine of the mean. 205. for human beings. once you sought that which was unique to humanity and not shared with other beings. which surpasses all others in blessedness.2 Founded in our rationality. Aristotle held out contemplation (theoria) as the highest form of human flourish- ing.

and move- ment at the centre of being. Early Influences: Pain and Promise 27 This discipline was not always successful. a significant influence remained for the ‘external’ to trigger the realisation of an ‘internal’ potential. tended to blur. becomes clear. However. notwithstanding his insistence that the ideal existence is one of contemplation. a consciousness of the underlying instability of human life. Rather (and this is the source of much of the controversy in current scholarship). substance. a person’s ‘internal’ capacity (or ability) resided only in its presence. this division between the essential and inessential. Change (metabole) occurred in expression rather than in substance. the pervasive influence of Aristotle’s notion of substance. Aristotle. at least until the final form was actualised: ‘something [was then] an acorn only as part of the process of the generation of a tree’. The actualisation of the form of a particular entity then became the actualisation or expression of a pre-existing but hidden feature – a poten- tial. recognised that life. the potential remained inert – something less than being. their presence only provided the conditions for the actualisation of the pre-existing potential. Aristotle recognised that our human condition – in particular. as experienced. As Politis (2004. came to subsist in process rather than stability. Substance. 36–7. In some cases. between the ‘internal’ and ‘external’. Notwithstanding Aristotle’s emphasis on contemplation. Once his Ethics is read together with his De Anima and Metaphysics. 58) and Waterlow (1982. our material needs – presented a real distraction from contemplation such that much of his work on ethics concerned the practical struggle to realise that desired state. Whilst Aristotle reserved a role for some ‘internal’ trigger (such as the will in ‘rational potentialities’). his works recognise the prominence of practice and the centrality of phronesis (practical wisdom). Aristotle placed the experience of incompletion. Delays in that actualisation did not alter the substance of the entity. it did not precede or exist independently . desired life of certainty and stability with the immanence of movement and change that characterises this life and reconciled the immanence of change with the demand for certain knowledge through the concept of poten- tial. Whilst change might occur only in the presence of certain external entities. Even those ‘rational potentialities’ – those in which realisation of the poten- tial required an act of will – depended upon the presence of the relevant object. remained present as independent and self-sufficient. whilst reconfigured in terms of process. 107) both point out. matter’s potential would be triggered – a change result – from the mere presence of the relevant condi- tion. instability. in particular. For Aristotle. was an insecure striving towards that end. Absent that object. for Aristotle. He sought to straddle the ideal.

Each particular being founded its character – its certainty – in its move- ment towards the exhibition of those behaviours or functions that were typical of a healthy or flourishing member of its species. Whilst not treated as forming part of the composite substance. Aristotle not only expanded substance to incorporate matter and thereby the processes of change but extended it beyond the individual instances in which it was actualised to include the broader processes of reproduction. repeated imprint on unformed matter. the absence of those necessary conditions was considered an intimate deprivation – one Aristotle described in terms of ‘privation’ and ‘suffering’(pathos) (Waterlow 1982. matter. into its core: change became an internal. This suggestion of a deep interdependence is particularly strong when Aristotle turns to consider what constitutes substance within the domain of biology. The substance of a biological being was located not in the sepa- ration and independence of its individual members but in the species. a being could not be its full self. however. not simply the realisation of potential but its imposition and the exclusion of other potential expressions.28 Marx. Aristotle’s middle ground made that substance intimately open to the influence of that presented as ‘external’ and inessential. That is. ‘form’ referred to a creature’s species. 168). That potential was not merely exercised through the use of the object – leaving it available and otherwise ready for use – but arose because of the object. it incorporated both stability and change. and Human Nature of the ‘external’ object. the Body. preordained characteristic. The continuity of the substance – of the species form – then turned on its conveyance through the reproductive acts of its species’ members. Despite his efforts to retain a sense of substance in terms of independence. a potential became actual in the pres- ence of its necessary object. other . as constituted and renewed constantly in those members. it depended on a process. Aristotle’s substance. For a biological being. It preserved a semblance of substance as inde- pendent and stable by its expansion so as to incorporate change and its source. was founded in a relationship of deep dependence: absent the requisite ‘external’ conditions. 119–20. with species-form- substance preserved through the cyclical. whilst presented in terms of independence. Form was. Aristotle’s treatment of these ‘external’ influences captured the defect that their absence entailed. It was only inde- pendent – substance in the strict sense – at the cost of its inadequate or incomplete enjoyment of its character. Matter was then the potential that moved towards the actualisation of form.3 Hylomorphism provided Aristotle’s middle ground. a way of living and making new life.

Unlike Plato and others who treated our corporeality as something inessential and contaminating. Aristotle presented its subordina- tion. Aristotle’s approach to our corporeality involved far more than a philosophical exercise. This discipline is equally apparent in Aristotle’s discussion of the good human life. Aristotle’s ideal life of contemplation was one that was changeless – one in which. there remains a kind of brutality in Aristotle’s work. In Loux’s (2005. He sketched a middle way. His vision of the happy or perfect human life as one of virtuous effort – the endeavour to secure one’s pleasures and pains within a modest ‘mean’ – remained founded in a devaluation of the corporeal. Aristotle’s theory of biological reproduction involved a process of subordination – that ‘natures impose a top-down organisation on the things that have them’. Because of this. He continued to privilege the non-corporeal as that which partook of the divine. It was an attempted reconcilia- tion with the demands of life that could be upheld only at the cost of . Aristotle’s composite category of hylomorphism remained a sleight of hand. His characterisation of good character or virtue implied the discipline of the pains and pleasures of corporeality to an appropriate ‘mean’. definition. however. His insistence on certainty as a precondition to thought or action made oppression characteristic of those thoughts and actions. Aristotle strove to recognise its inescapable influence. Substance and subordination became. His insistence on definition meant that relations of domination and subordination were the very threads by which there could be a fully human life. without qualification. Whether that expe- rience was. Hand in hand with matter’s volatility. one did not need to wrestle with the practical exigencies of life. He gave matter prominence and potency yet sentenced it to a lifelong discipline of form. however. Like his predecessors. It was this dimension of Aristotle’s works that Hegel and then Marx revisited and reworked. reflects the tensions that Aristotle addressed so directly in his work – the contest between what was to be valued in a human life and the role of the mate- rial world in it. Early Influences: Pain and Promise 29 matter/form combinations. notwithstanding his pragmatism. Moreover. for however brief a time. desirable: the stability of being came from form disciplining matter. one that relied upon a purported internalisation. superior to the dominant experience of life as preoccupied with practical demands or of equal status remains the focus of much scholarly debate. That very debate. and confinement of the tensions of being rather than an acceptance of their essential character. 121) view. in Aristotle’s hands. making the marriage of matter and form not only unhappy but unequal. he could not treat that corporeality as somehow bound up with what is best in us. Moreover.

the Body. I. Aristotle sought a more direct engagement with the influence of change within our world. To have truly embraced the interdependence of matter and form would have placed Aristotle on the path to challenging the institution of slavery – the very means by which he enjoyed freedom from necessity. Aristotle’s selection of form as substance closed off possibili- ties in order to ensure conformity to previously known traits. it assumed the original accuracy of that definition. fixed forms of Plato’s . it had the potential to normalise that which was. It converted difference and diversity into deficiency and defect or. It was this flaw that Hegel was to later criticise. a living but separated part of his bodily frame’ (1984a. Aristotle held that to be truly human and deserving of citizenship was to be free of necessity (1984a. as well as its demands. That a slave was less human made his subordina- tion. like that of matter to form. in fact. a part of the natural order. Equally. Depew (1992. For Aristotle. 1253b 25) eyes. I.. In Aristotle’s (1984a. 1260a13–14) that defined humanity. was devalued and in practice ignored through its imposition on others – slaves and women – together with a sustained denial of their claims on their beneficiaries (i.. a slave was ‘a living possession’ (1984a.. I. a mere living tool (an organon) that did not warrant equal recognition or valu- ation. as a slave lacked the ‘deliberative faculty’ (1984a. infancy. humans realised their potential only to the extent they were freed from concern with those ‘necessities’ (hence his idea that theoria was a pursuit only for scholiae or gentlemen). It limited what was recognisably good or virtuous in our humanity. but the substance of humanity was located in the latter (the dominance of reason). of those lists of features. 1253b15–23).30 Marx. 1253b32) and ‘a part of the master. In refusing to adopt the eternal. I. in seeking certainty. 1255b11–12). Moreover. Matter. 1278a8–11) and thus free to enjoy a life of contemplation and that this freedom was justly secured through the enslavement of others (1984a. I. In so doing. ‘no man [could] live . III. Hegel argued that Aristotle’s consideration of substance was limited and distorted by his acceptance of the practice of slavery. arriving (unsurprisingly) at the very place it began. it limited substance to what was already known. and those features were restricted to those perceived to be unique to the substance. 68) and others have argued that Aristotle could not reconcile the tensions between matter and form because his society and the way of life prized by him was founded on the suppression of the corporeal. at least. those who enjoyed the benefits of their labours). defective. unless he is provided with necessities’.e. and Human Nature an economy of the same and through the imposition of a hierarchical teleology. To be human was to be both matter and form.

well-defined. true to the character he gave it. Aristotle. The foundations of those emphases. such as Foster. As such. When considering the nature of a good human life. change. he grav- itated to the former. needing something alien yet intimate. it was the godlike stability and perfection of contemplation that he privileged. Matter. so long as we strove to live a human life. In his view. notwithstanding his recognition of the demands of life. retained its potency and its resistance to the neat confines he sought to impose on it via form. and Toscano (2010). Matter. in Aristotle’s hands. These stances arguably accurately reflected Aristotle’s own dependence upon the institution of slavery for the way of life he preferred and celebrated – one free of the demands of ‘necessity’. on the one hand and the uncertainties and volatilities of life. have been less fully exam- ined by those scholars who have studied Marx’s own consideration of religion. However. on the other. Epicurus developed far less ambiguous answers to the ques- tion of substance. as inadequate alone in his eyes yet still essential to existence. became goal oriented. change and interde- pendence to the very centre of substance. and York (2008). having brought matter. Epicurus By contrast. he recog- nised the fleeting enjoyment of contemplation – and its restriction to few people – but maintained the godlike status of contemplation. fixed substrata towards process. moving. and social beliefs were the source of troubling. Aristotle presented substance as involving an intimate interdependence but on unequal terms. matter was substance. shifting it from the firm. Aristotle brought matter and. when confronted with a choice between the desire for certainty and stability. matter. corporeality remained a compromise in our character: something. yearning. McKinnon (2005). Likewise. with form dominating matter. and uncertainty to the centre of the debate. left a legacy that Marx would avail himself of in developing his own vision of substance and of its ties to oppression. Early Influences: Pain and Promise 31 universals. in seeking to defend a stable. transformed the character of substance. Nevertheless. with it. certain substance. even if by imposition of its care and management on others. we also strove to restrict and resist. flux. and interdependence.4 In particular. . Clark. Epicurus’s emphasis on the character of substance (and hence humanity) as material and mortal and as part of a broader organising theme of limitation has not been actively explored. however. His emphasis on matter as substance and his critique of religion as one of the sources of harmful social beliefs were central to Marx’s own doctoral research. oppressive experience.

109). 144. which was expressed in the pursuit of an afterlife – in passionate. challenging character of corporeal expe- rience and desire – that suggests that anxiety and the temptation to flee the experience of limitation are and will remain a feature of our humanity. Believing these pleasures to be within their grasp. anxiety. unlike animals. human society had become obsessed and distorted by these empty desires and preoccupied with their . It is also this very same potential – this troubling. like animals. human beings sought to secure impossible goals – they invested in desires that were incapable of fulfilment. the objections to the influence of uncertainty. humans had come to value those pleasures that extended beyond those ‘natural’ limits. depended upon that very experience – the direct. He argued that the inability to accept our involvement in the natural world and.32 Marx. moreover. a life of ataraxia – freedom from disturbance and anxiety – was transformed into a troubled. For Epicurus and Lucretius. That flight. contrary to the traditional approach. oppres- sive one. anxious appetites and. 149–54. Epicurus argued that the failure to accept that all substance was composed of aggregates of material atoms was the foundation of much human suffering. with it. suggests an explanation for Marx’s confidence in the transformative potential of extreme alienation. However. with them. essential to the promotion of a good life. The Epicurean philosophy of living within these natural limits was a key theme: living within these limitations was the key to an anxiety-free life (Asmis 2008. and pain that are central to the debate about human nature were ill founded: those experiences were. Their vision of the significance of the corporeal encounter with pain. In Epicurus’s view. sought only objects that were ordinarily accessible to them. Nussbaum (1994. De Lacy 1969. self- defeating. status. 261) characterises these as pleasures that are extended over time – particularly the extension of human life. our mortal. Epicurus saw humanity as desiring beings which. 212. the Body. troubling experience of limitation whereby the senses not only challenged pre-existing beliefs but suggested better-grounded alternatives. which promoted a different. and Human Nature The social and religious beliefs that Epicurus and Lucretius criticised involved a flight from accepting limitation. limited character was the cauldron within which desires were transformed into insatiable. 106. As natural beings. The impact of corporeal pain suggests not only why Marx saw the promise of transformation in alienation but why that potential may be far broader and accessible than Marx himself appreciated. more interdependent sense of human nature. erotic love and in the acquisition of wealth. and power.

These atoms. Instead. sensation served to disrupt the circularity of rationalisation – the . it involved a form of social separation. Epicurus believed that atoms constituted the universal substance: all beings were ultimately composed of atoms. in Epicurus’s eyes. maintaining a [constant] vibration when they are locked into a compound. (Epicurus’ letter to Herodotus. Death was then not an end or discontinuity but a transformation. at its most basic. Early Influences: Pain and Promise 33 impossible satisfaction. in Epicurus’s view. Curing distorting social beliefs involved a move towards social self-sufficiency through the total immersion in Epicurean philosophy: it relied on making Epicureanism a way of life and the exclusion of different ways or philosophies of life. There was. ‘truth in the body’. This cure did not rely on rationality alone. 7–8) Understanding life – and death – relied on understanding this physics. That same discipline involved a removal from the social world as the source of false beliefs and of suffering. This freedom from anxiety about finitude was also expected to free humanity of other empty desires. In particular. 43). turned on an appreciation of atomistic physics. 115) presents Epicurean therapy as relying on ration- ality to dispel false beliefs and thereby to dissolve empty desires. status. This understanding of religion – as founded in an inability to accept our material. thereby. In short. 98). particularly through Feuerbach’s works. by contrast. some recoiling far apart from one another [following collision] and others. Understanding this physics and. 43. Nussbaum (1994. including the lust for love. A key element of this discipline involved the disproof of religious beliefs and other misconceptions so as to promote a sense of self – and substance – as part of the natural world. The appropriate strategy. This. death was Epicurus’s antidote to existential anxiety. The senses were the reliable point of access to our natural state – our substance – once freed from distorting social influences: ‘Every sensation [was] its own verification’ (Schafer 2006. Epicurus treated the senses as ‘heralds of the truth’ (cited by Schaffer 2006. anticipating the emphases of later materialists (including Feuerbach and Marx). 110) has put it. as mortal and limited. was to understand ourselves as part of nature: that is. in extremity. and power and the oppressions justified in their names. as Nussbaum (1994. wealth. mortal character and as the founda- tion for anxiety and oppression – was to be a key influence on Marx’s thought. were in constant motion and repeatedly collided with each other. and the atoms move continuously for all time. cited in Inwood and Gerson 1994.

34 Marx, the Body, and Human Nature

sensuous could force us to make different sense of our experiences and
overcome false, distorting, unsettling social beliefs. Nussbaum (1994,
199) describes these dramatic corporeal encounters as ‘moments of
truth’ with particular influence as the ‘force of [the] event’ strips ‘bare’
our life and penetrates our habits, leaving the ‘soul ... raw and unpro-
tected, simply perceiving itself’.
The measure of this good for Epicurus was the enjoyment of serenity, or
ataraxia, understood as freedom from disturbance and anxiety (Gillespie
2008, 140; Nussbaum 1994, 109). This was secured by the reduction
of the scope of our desires to those readily and quickly satisfied: for
Epicurus (Inwood and Gerson 1994, 29), ‘what is good is easy to get’.
Nussbaum (1994, 213) explains the Epicurean view of natural pleasures
as those which are immediately satisfied and not involving an extended
period of effort and time. They were not ‘vulnerable to interruption’
and to the ‘accidents of life’. This, however, was to seek to escape not
only the ‘empty desires’ prompted by false social beliefs but desire in
its totality. Epicurus’s insistence on living simply was to reduce desire
and its pains to some tame, domesticated experience that knew none of
desire’s demanding character.
Whilst not quite removed from our experience, Epicurus’s tamed
desires still spoke of a humanity enjoying a godlike existence. These
tamed desires evoked humanity in terms of the traditional debate about
human nature: as independent and separate from the world rather than
immersed within it. Instead of a full embrace of humanity, a full immer-
sion in nature, Epicurus preferred a society better characterised by self-
sufficiency than by interaction or interdependence. It was the world
Epicurus strived to create in his famed garden – one with limited social
interaction and certainly one removed from diversity and contradiction.
It was a world which, like Aristotle’s, sustained the practice of slavery
so as to free Epicurus’s community to enjoy labour’s fruits without its
difficulties (Baronovitch 1992, 169). In the face of the contradictions
within his thought between a life modelled on nature and one modelled
on a god, Epicurus’s reconciliation weighed towards the latter. Epicurus,
in the face of the experience of pain and limitation by virtue of social
relationships, still engaged in a flight much like that involved in reli-
gious thought. As Marx (2006b, 106; emphasis in original) was to later

Epicurus confesses finally that his method of explaining aims only
at the ataraxy of self-consciousness, not of knowledge of nature in and
for itself.

Early Influences: Pain and Promise 35

Epicurus relied on his physics as a means by which humans might pry
loose of the exaggerations of society. He promoted it as a means to return
to a more natural, limited life. His physics, with its emphasis on partici-
pation in nature, was a means to promote a withdrawal from society and
to secure that tranquillity of life commonly enjoyed by the gods.


Lucretius, a Roman follower of Epicurus in the first century BCE, whilst
adhering to Epicurus’s core directions, found less appeal in emulating the
lives of gods. He pursued Epicurus’s core themes but applied Epicurus’s
naturalism much more thoroughly, emphasising our participation in
and vulnerability to the natural world to a much greater extent. The
volatility of the natural world of atoms was one that Lucretius presented
as applying to our social world and, unlike Epicurus, as holding promise
in addressing our anxieties. The social world was not simply the exag-
geration or distortion of natural need. Rather, in just the same way that
Epicurus held that we could learn to live well by reference to the phys-
ical structure of the world, Lucretius suggested that we could learn by
paying attention to the most intimate of our social relationships. As
Asmis (2008, 144, 149) has pointed out, Lucretius merged his physics
and ethics so as to ‘transform Epicurean physics into an ethical system’.
For Lucretius, participation and limitation characterised not only the
physical but the social world: a true human life was not one of with-
drawal or self-sufficiency but of intimate, often painful, involvement. So
accurately and passionately did he portray the latter through his poetry
and so long has the West been troubled by the power of sexual desire
that it has been only relatively recently that his great work has not been
dismissed as the drunken or poisoned excesses of an erotically distorted
mind. Rather than focus on the distant and tranquil gods to gain insight
into our fullest humanity, Lucretius focused on the intimate dramas
of sexual and emotional intimacy. He drew us closer to embracing the
value and promise of our corporeality.
Lucretius developed Epicurus’s response to pain and limitation in a
novel direction. He embraced its difficulties and its delights and char-
acterised our humanity in terms of social interdependence rather than
self-sufficiency. Rather than treat desire as that which takes us outside
ourselves, as a force which, if not readily reckoned with, becomes
a threat, Lucretius presented desire as a source of unity and connec-
tion (Nussbaum 1994, 158–9). He gave it a larger, more constructive,
and enduring role in substance. Rather than treat limitation as mere

36 Marx, the Body, and Human Nature

restriction, Lucretius ‘transformed Epicurean physics’ and made limita-
tion ‘a unifying [and enabling] principle’ (Asmis 2008, 144).
This is not to deny the atomistic vision that Lucretius shared with
Epicurus. For Lucretius, all being was composed of atoms constantly
engaged in collisions and movement (Greenblatt 2011; Vitzthum 1995).
Moreover, there were no set forms or purposes driving those collisions
and occasional resulting combinations of atoms. Life involved ‘cease-
less creation and destruction, governed entirely by chance’ (Greenblatt
2011, L2960). The ‘swerve’ – the movement from the straight line or
direct fall – of atoms was the ‘most minimal’ and ‘unexpected, unpre-
dictable movement of matter’ (Greenblatt 2011, L2973 and 179). It was
the maverick element that denied any role for gods, for the sustained
experience of ataraxia, or escape from limitation and pain.
Lucretius’s characterisation of this instability as productive or enabling
also reflected the concern he shared with Epicurus as to the manner
in which social beliefs distorted human desires. As Greenblatt (2011,
L3029) has pointed out, Lucretius shared Epicurus’s vision of all human
beings as driven by a deep ‘craving for security’. Those anxieties fed
the delusions of flight from mortality – of projections of ‘images of the
power and beauty and perfect security that they would like to possess’
(Greenblatt 2011, L3049–53). Like Epicurus, Lucretius saw delusion, not
pain, as the principal obstacle to a good life (Greenblatt 2011, L3089).
It was the disastrous effects of fantasies of erotic love, however, that
featured centrally in De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things). Here
Nussbaum (1994, 173) has highlighted how Lucretius characterised
erotic love as demanding unity – a fusion of the lover and the beloved:

For e’en on the verge of consummation, with a vague unrest doth
shift the lovers’ passion, as they doubt what first with hands or eyes
they should enjoy. What they have grasped they tightly press, and
e’en give pain unto its body, and ofttimes clash teeth on lips as mouth
on mouth they crush, since tainted is their pleasure, and beneath lie
secret stings, that goad them on to hurt the very thing, whate’er it be,
whence spring these germs of madness. (Lucretius 2008, 4, 1079–89)

Lucretius understood this excessive love as driven by the lovers’ pain
and insecurity. The lover seeks to secure his position by what Nussbaum
(1994, 173–4) sees as the complete possession or control of the other.
This was a demand, however, that literally could not be met. Our corpo-
real condition limits the depth of fusion and unity that can be achieved

Early Influences: Pain and Promise 37

These same social beliefs, in promoting unrealistic expectations of
one’s lovers, also imposed demands that could not be met, absent deceit
and distance. They were demands for compliance with social standards
of beauty and desire. Lucretius understood them to involve fantasies
of perfection and the divine (Nussbaum 1994, 174–5). They were also
demands that required time apart, demands that if not satisfied often
extinguished desire. Nussbaum’s account of this loss of lust brings
home another of the key continuities between Epicurus and Lucretius:
the emphasis that the senses were ‘heralds of the truth’ and that in
certain circumstances the experience of pain was essential to the good.
Lucretius wrote of lust lost on encountering the beloved’s experience of

But let her be as fine of face as she can be and let the power of Venus
arise from all her limbs, still ... she ... reeks ... of foul odours ... the
tearful lover ... if he were ... let in, and if just one whiff of that smell
should meet him as he came in, he would think up a good excuse
to go away. ... Nor are our Venuses in the dark about this. That’s why
they are all the more at pains to conceal the backstage side of their
lives from those whom they want to keep held fast in love. All for
nothing, since you can still drag it all into the light of your mind, and
look into the reasons ... and ... overlook all this in your turn, and yield
to human life. (Lucretius, cited in Nussbaum 1994, 178)

This was, in the most direct terms, an encounter with the corporeal.
It was also, in Lucretius’s view, a prompt towards a different form of
love – a relationship that valued the person over the fantasy. It was a
difficult, sensual encounter that prompted a different view of ourselves
and others, one that prompted us to ‘yield to human life’. Not only did
that sensual encounter challenge our ordinary beliefs, but it intimated
the form of alternative beliefs. In the case of erotic love, it prompted a
greater recognition of one’s partner and the possibility of love founded
in a greater mutuality, a greater reciprocity of pleasure, than erotic love’s
calls for possession and incorporation. Here, in embryo, were ideas that,
nearly two millennia later, Marx would seize on in his account of how
human emancipation might take place.
This ‘yielding to our humanity’, however, complicated life and the
capacity to enjoy ataraxia. Nussbaum (1994, 187) has emphasised how

this new attachment to marriage and the family leads Lucretius to
defend as valuable a way of life that does not seem to be the one best

38 Marx, the Body, and Human Nature

suited for individual ataraxia, since it includes many risks and possi-
bilities for loss and grief ... by describing a marital relationship that
is, in effect, a form of philia, Lucretius ... considerably widened the
sphere of the good person’s need and interdependency.

Lucretius promoted a deeper embrace of our mortality and sensuality
than Epicurus. He suggested a more consistent recognition of the senses
as ‘heralds of the truth’ founded in a deeper integration into the natural
world than Epicurus imagined. His was a vision of the truly human life
as increasingly involved and interdependent – a life in which desire and
anxiety were permanent, difficult features that heralded the possibility
of a richer human life by virtue of those difficulties rather than their
It was a life that addressed the pressing fear of death and the attraction
of religious thought, an approach that reconciled the tensions within
Epicurean thought between a life modelled on nature and one modelled
on a god. Epicurean physics demonstrated that to be human was not
only to be a part of nature but to exceed it through gaining compre-
hensive knowledge of it. This knowledge did not change our material
character – our sensation of experience – but did enable a change in
the sense we made of that character. The experience and acceptance of
limitation – and of uncertainty, anxiety, and pain – provided, as Asmis
(2008, 144, 149) put it, ‘enabling conditions rather than constraints’.
This expanded sense of inter-relation, however, was no secure achieve-
ment. Despite his confidence in the revelations ‘heralded’ by the senses,
both Greenblatt (2011) and Nussbaum (1994, 264) see Lucretius as imag-
ining our existence as remaining unstable. Epicurean physics presented
that interdependence as a fragile unity, one that was not free of strife.
Asmis (2008, 148) emphasises here that atoms collided until some
pattern and stability emerged and continued, within that unity, to tend
towards some fresh conflict:

The fixing of boundaries brings a condition of stability. At the same
time, each created thing continues to be engaged in strife with its
neighbours. This competition is vital to the existence of each created
thing; for it receives reinforcement from its neighbours, just as it
gives up something of itself to them.

This was not a rigid, confining unity but a constitutive, enabling one.
Within its confines – its limits – variation, spontaneity, and freedom
were experienced: De Lacy (1969, 107–8) described this as ‘the domain

into competitive and hostile raging. sought a more direct engagement with the influence of change within our world. swerve’. then. recognised that. Limitation and interdependence were.. 92).. its shape should therefore be just as much grasped in its specific characteristic as the shape of life. his confrontation with desire led to an incomplete recognition. essential and promising. It is this emphasis that characterises Lucretius’s revision of his work.. when translated to social relationships. ‘The atoms’. However.. ‘wage war that started when boundless time began’ (cited in Vitzthum 1995.. Epicurus made its acceptance and its limitation the theme of his effort to secure an anxiety-free existence. This correlation of intimacy and tension. Marx (2006b. limiting the intimacy and compulsion of desire and asserting a freedom from adverse social influences. 275) and not the stable.. characteristics of substance. . For each new softening brings new fears and dependencies. from anxiety. like Aristotle. 268) This is the rub of desire: the experience of being incomplete and needy and the demand that we learn to live with it – we learn that ‘a human life is necessarily vulnerable and incomplete’ (Nussbaum 1994. Centuries later. It failed to recognise that the very character of desire was a source of social unity and of mutual recognition. Conclusion Epicurus and Lucretius. in his doctoral consideration of Lucretius’s work. 39). to more complex forms of interdependence – is without its cost. like Aristotle. self-sufficient entity that the traditional debate about substance imagined. for both Lucretius and Marx. and each new complex device of protection generates attachments that lead the soul into increasing anxiety for itself and its own – and. Lucretius insisted. that . founded Nussbaum’s final comments on Lucretius in The Therapy of Desire: It appears. Early Influences: Pain and Promise 39 of . Epicurus’s immersion in nature was a partial one. (2009. instead of immunity and continuity: Decay itself is prefigured in the living. The swerve of the atom emphasised by Epicurus and later noted as a key distinction from the atomism of Democritus suggests a form of enabling through interdependence rather than freedom from all limitation. others. no advance towards more responsiveness to . secure. Grasping desire more acutely than Aristotle. all too often.

and enable us – strays well beyond the boundaries of any individual. Their valu- ation of the senses. They presented human nature as more open.40 Marx. With the adop- tion of Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire in the third century. as the ‘heralds of the truth’ is also illuminating and suggests that confronting limitation was not merely the goad to a rational review of our sense of self but to the very transformation of our rationality. Within their works. The domi- nance of Christian thought throughout the West led to a near-complete suppression of works that valued the corporeal. where the incorporation of matter and. and Human Nature Together. rather than the freedom and immunity suggested by the traditional debate. the substance of our being – the relationships and boundaries that constitute. with their emphasis on the centrality of desire and of the material and on our intimate participation in the natural and social worlds. In Lucretius’s eyes. Like Aristotle before them. with it. the work of Epicurus and Lucretius. change into substance prompted an expanded boundary of substance – one that extended to the species – Epicurean thought prompted a vision of substance as exceeding the individual again and as deeply immersed in both the natural and social worlds. with their identification . In their critique of religious thought lie themes later developed by Feuerbach that greatly influenced Marx. Not only were we deeply immersed in nature but in each other. including their characterisation of that thought as the frustrated flight from limitation and their emphasis that a human life is one characterised by limitation. Substance could not be defined in terms of independence and separa- tion: it had somehow become transindividual. like Aristotle’s. more involved. the influence of Epicurean thought waned. and Lucretius considered them. In their works lie sugges- tions of the sources and meaning of Marx’s later musings. hence. or interdependence. and anxiety. The religious trends evident in Aristotle’s and Epicurus’s thought. define. both of and exceeding any particular being. uncertainty. The influence of these suggestions was not developed for centuries after Aristotle. Limitation and involvement. matter rose in prominence and influ- ence. Epicurus. in all the varied forms our societies conjured up. becoming a central feature of human nature if not defining it. The volatility and resistance of matter loomed larger too and. too. came to characterise Epicurean thought. the pervasive influence of uncertainty and anxiety and the repeated human efforts to evade it. and more vulnerable. particularly his reliance on the potency and productivity of our corporeal experience. the Body. laid down lines of thought which would prove to be central to Marx’s own conception of human nature. with Lucretius’s influence.

came to domi- nate Western Christianity. when Spinoza (whose work is considered in Chapter 3) lived and worked. Later that century. as exemplified by Augustine’s thought in the fourth and fifth centuries. It was not until the late-eighteenth century that one could safely refer to Epicurus in public. So deeply influential did Christian dogma remain that the same attempts at censure shaped much of Marx’s time and prevented many of his imme- diate influences securing academic positions. In 1632. the Catholic Church had considered placing Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura on the Index of Prohibited Books (Greenblatt 2011. Later that century. Early Influences: Pain and Promise 41 of the human substance with the non-corporeal divine. L3586). and even then it could attract severe and ongoing. Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake for defending its claims. L4019). In 1549. censure. That opposition and its savagery continued through the seventeenth century. the ordeals and trial of Galileo evidenced the continued extremity of the opposition and the consequences of challenging it. So deeply wrought are our anxieties about the instabilities and pains of life that the threats to our sources of comfort and security have and continue to provoke some of the worst in us. Greenblatt (2011) has traced the efforts through which the works of Epicurus and Lucretius once more entered broader debates and highlighted the ferocity with which they were opposed. the Society of Jesus condemned the doctrine of atoms (Greenblatt 2011. .

thereby possessing a specially close . as his equation of god and nature was understood by many as an assertion of reason to the exclusion of reli- gion and superstition...3 Spinoza’s Revolution Hegel claimed that ‘one must first be a Spinozist’ in order to engage in philosophy (cited in Beiser 1993. as he.. eliminates the traditional view that man consists of a separate substance . For Hampshire (2005. this made Spinoza one of the ‘children of Epicurus’. Spinoza’s influence. role as a key progenitor of the Radical Enlightenment’ (Israel 2009. like Epicurus and Lucretius. as it provides insights into the totalising concept of substance that subsequently shaped Hegel’s and Marx’s thought.. relation to God . is not immediately obvious. Equally impor- tantly. 42 . Spinoza led the modern challenge to the traditional debate about human nature and its equation of genuine being with independence in terms of the concept substance. located the attraction of false but ‘comforting supernatural beliefs’ in the fear of death. which had then been exacerbated by the contests between different religions.. For Jonathan Israel (2006. Spinoza had an ‘unparalleled . nature.. [and removing] the ontological gulf between man and .. Feuerbach (1986) and Hegel credited him with beginning modern philosophy. Spinoza’s: one-substance doctrine . For this reason... Spinoza’s work is central to my argument. it is through Spinoza’s work that the debate about human nature shifts from the concept of substance to that of essence – the term Marx used to consider human nature.. however. xxiv).. Spinoza did not merely seek to dampen this influ- ence but to remove it (Sharp 2011).. 4). 240). 46).

Spinoza had also shifted the locus of being. No longer was being founded in independence and self-sufficiency but in need. as Spinoza did. Rather. The risks of offending religious orthodoxy meant that the more immediate means by which Spinoza’s ideas could be transmitted was through Leibniz’s promotion of a ‘science of forces and powers’ (Hatfield 1979. We find the architecture Marx used to construct his vision of humanity. Negri 1991). This genealogy is also difficult to follow because Spinoza’s infamy made any public defence of his works dangerous. met that demand. each with its own unique substance. ultimately. This is not to claim that Marx drew directly on Spinoza. with its deep dependence on the mode of production. 115). god or nature. this is so because of the manner in which Spinoza drew on mathematical forms of argument that appear far from Marx’s more organic language. Leibniz reconfigured substance by transforming . Beings were no longer closed entities but radically open and dependent upon and vulnerable to each other. was no longer internal but external – bound up with its relations with other beings and the particular configurations or modes of those relations from time to time. He rigorously pursued its requirement of self-sufficiency and argued that only one entity. which characterised the natural world in terms of a pervasive interaction or flow of various ‘forces’. for particular beings. My argument is that Spinoza initiated the radical reorientation of the debate and provided the soil in which Hegel’s and then Marx’s ideas grew. Working within the concept of substance. Spinoza made interdependence the common feature of being. in part. and gave expression to it. Having acknowledged the authorship of the Christian god. as it challenged the common Christian (and Jewish) dogma that there was a creator god who was independent of his creation. Hegel. That locus. Spinoza’s challenge attracted extraordinarily vehement censure and vili- fication (Israel 2006. we find the vision of the totality that was to inform both Hegel’s and Marx’s works. Leibniz was free to incorporate scientific discoveries of his time. Spinoza still worked within the established understanding of substance. As noted in Chapter 1. but one totality with a range of entities that formed part of it. was fraught with risk. Spinoza’s Revolution 43 Radical as his views were. In Spinoza. Having inverted the location of substance. To baldly equate god and nature. Spinoza inverted it: no longer was there a multiplicity of independent entities. were dependent on it (and each other). I argue that Marx received these insights through a range of interme- diaries and. This transmission is not readily apparent.

Herder. however. the Body. their societies. and others as I argue that Marx’s dialectic is best under- stood by reading Hegel in light of his predecessors. This endeavour. Fichte and Schelling bridged that gap by equating the totality with the absolute ego. rather than matter. driving uneven and uncertain experiences of develop- ment and becoming. and ‘becoming’. such as ‘expression’. It involved an uncertain struggle to recognise or recover the interconnections that constituted their being. Confronted with this vision of incompletely realised interconnection and with the chasm drawn by Kant between noumena and phenomena. Having appreciated the openness of being. vulnerable interdependence to consider the deep interaction between individual people. It illuminates the terms Marx used to comprehend being. For Fichte. Having shifted the focus from the totality. This analysis brings us to the point from which many have commenced Marx’s story. agonistic. prompting constant revisions of that consciousness towards a recogni- tion of the absolute ego. and Human Nature matter from the stable units of atomic and mechanical thought to more dynamic relations of attraction and resistance. a leading figure of the Radical Enlightenment and a pioneer of key themes in Romantic thought. He drew out the insecurity and anxiety that characterised such an existence and its influence as a goad to action. Herder made force. He drew out the importance of ‘belonging’ and the damage that followed from the loss of those constitutive connections. Herder. Herder explored Spinoza’s vision of vulnerability in relation to individual beings and societies. the ground of all things and thereby gave Spinoza’s open interactive under- standing of substance a more organic character. I traverse the foreground constructed by Spinoza. unending struggle. Herder expanded Spinoza’s consideration of the notion of ‘expression’. with its emphasis on separa- tion. 168) and drew on Spinoza’s vision of an open. involved no easy transformation: this process of development and becoming involved an uncertain. All beings ‘expressed’ the totality. They presented the movement of ‘expression’ as one of conscious- ness. was constantly goaded by an intuition of a greater involvement. and their environment. This exploration also reinforces the productive . He transformed nature into a ‘system of forces’ (Lamm 1996. This is the struggle that then featured in idealist thought. drew on Leibniz’s ‘science of forces’ to enliven Spinoza’s substance. ‘develop- ment’. Hegel drew on Fichte’s and Schelling’s thought to develop the dialectic that features in his works on logic and the struggle to realise absolute consciousness that is one of the most famous features of his Phenomenology of Spirit. Leibniz.44 Marx. but their experience of that activity was an uneven one. individual consciousness.

For Herder. For Novalis. a Cartesian Spinoza. 1). Spinoza was ‘a god-intoxicated man’ (Garrett 1996. Vardoulakis 2011). 24. and Schelling. Sharp 2011. During Spinoza’s lifetime. The responses to his work have been diverse and passionate. his reputation was somewhat rehabilitated. Come the eighteenth century. one of the most prominent (and controversial) theologians in eighteenth- century Germany. Such contemporary writers as feminists Susan James and Moira Gatens refer to a ‘real fascination’ and ‘something awe- inspiring’ (Colebrook 2000. Marxists such as Negri. Sharp 2011. Norris 2011. Gatens 2000. Fichte. with Althusser and Balibar (1997. Norris 2011. a materialist-atheist-determinist Spinoza. As Hampshire (2005. Vardoulakis 2011). 6) has pointed out. Notwithstanding this variety. notion of substance (Negri 2011. 26). Schleiermacher. that experience prompted the recognition of the interdependent character of being. they all recognise Spinoza’s unbending commitment to a non-dualistic. The . Their recognition of its diffi- culty – that reason alone could not effect that transformation – is also central to understanding Hegel’s Phenomenology and Marx’s anticipation of the productive impact of alienation and immiseration. Spinoza There have been many conflicting interpretations of Spinoza’s works (Hampshire 2005. described Spinoza’s works as providing a ‘middle way’ between atheism and an anthropomorphic understanding of god (Lamm 1996. the Cartesian and atheistic characterisa- tions dominated in large part because Spinoza could not safely contest those views. Spinoza’s Revolution 45 role of matter and of the experience of limitation and suffering. ‘there have been a Parmenidean Spinoza. from a philosophical standpoint’. Althusser revived interest in Spinoza by drawing on his work to promote a ‘structural’ Marxism. Vardoulakis 2011). Balibar. Althusser sought to suggest a less determinist conception of the influence of the economic on other social structures. More recently. and Althusser have also been inspired by Spinoza. [and] a mystical pantheist Spinoza’. Deleuze and others have expanded on the more open character Spinoza gave to substance through his equation of god and nature. in contrast to the tighter causal relationship he claimed characterised interpretations based on Hegel’s and Lukac’s works (Althusser and Balibar 1997. 42). so much so that some embraced Spinoza as providing a more credible understanding of the Christian god. 102) describing him as ‘Marx’s only direct ancestor. or monist. James 2000. In the twentieth century.

129) suggested the foundation for this interest when he observed that ‘writers. by virtue of Aristotle’s insistence on self-sufficiency. Once this appeal is highlighted. painters too . and Human Nature equalising effect this equation had on being – doing away with a hier- archy of being – has founded a great interest in Spinoza’s vision of being as a ‘plane of immanence’ (Deleuze 1988. Spinoza (2002a. musicians. it is not surprising that Spinoza greatly influenced the development of natural and Romantic philosophy in the eighteenth century. Spinoza’s God or Nature’ (cited in Casarino 2011. I argue that Spinoza’s thought. 122) or an ‘ontological horizon of surfaces’ (Negri 1991. Bal and Vardoulakis 2011). film- makers . has described him as an early theorist of globalisation. one that does not consider human beings separately from other beings – have also drawn heavily on this ‘plane’ as a means to better consider the inti- mate interdependence of humans and other beings. perhaps more than any other philosopher (Uhlmann 2011. There remains. Spinoza’s inversion of the Aristotelian idea of substance turned on the location of the source of change. However. 2002b) held that only one being could satisfy that definition – god or nature (which he treated as iden- tical). including from those working within the Marxist tradition. as Hampshire (2005.. Spinoza. having sought that independence. Casarino (2011). whilst of direct influence on Hegel and Marx in relation to logic or dialectics. think in terms of speeds and slownesses.46 Marx.. More recently. 168). the Body. Aristotle set out to make that location internal to being – something independent of its surroundings. . could not locate it in the majority of beings: only the totality. Drawing on Aristotle’s definition of substance (Spinoza 2002b).. 40) has pointed out. Frederic Jameson has described the current form of capitalism as ‘the absent totality. Sharp (2011) and others seeking to promote a post-humanist point of view – that is. Spinoza’s works have also been of lasting interest to artists and writers. particularly the works of Herder and Goethe. Deleuze (1988. ‘God or nature’. which. L2327). Spinoza did not challenge the focus of the established understanding of substance – only the breadth of its application. in this century. a continuing creative engagement with Spinoza. Susan James and Moira Gatens have drawn on Spinoza as part of the long-standing feminist commitment to chal- lenging the mind/body dualism. could ‘be described as “cause of itself” (causa sui)’ and of its modifications. had previously supported the recognition of a range of beings. was at least equally influential (albeit indirectly) through its effect on natural and Romantic philosophy. poets. again drawing on Spinoza’s ‘plane of immanence’.. of frozen catatonias and accelerated movements’.

and not outside him. from the moment of their inception. on the one hand. did not involve any sense of incompletion or creation. for Spinoza. that is. proposition 10) All beings then reflected the universal substance and were composed of its attributes. is identical and simultaneous (1990. The consideration of one attribute expressed – mirrored – all of substance as did other attributes. God. as dependent on this substance. None existed independently of each other. corollary. and involves ‘a kind of [unavoidable. 51). Hampshire 2005) argued that all other beings were merely limited or subordinate modes of that universal substance: Particular things are nothing but affectations of the attributes of God. was perfect and completely realised in existence. as they were all part of the one substance. his pre-existing and unchanging perfection. 60. God. in itself expressive’. The connec- tion to and interdependence on other beings and on the substance was not something acquired or secured by those beings in a process of change. ‘Expression’ suggested not any coming to be but rather the radical and pervasive depth of interconnection. this meant that ‘God’s nature is .. part II. ever-present] unfolding’ such that the expression of god. 249. as substance. and that of the world. For Spinoza. 99 and 175–6). however. (Spinoza 2002b. just like a mirror held up before god. modes wherein the attributes of God find expression in a defi- nite and determinate way. that which was always immanent.. All were. was the immanent and not a transient cause. All particular beings each gave ‘expression’ to the one substance. all things were dependent on god and reflected. part I. 50. There was no previous state in which those particular beings were not involved in and dependent upon the substance and upon other beings. proposi- tion 25. because there is nothing outside him (2002a. ‘Expression’ referred to the pervasive immanent presence of this god. Particular beings. All being was a reflection of . ‘expressions’ of the substance and would remain so. Spinoza’s Revolution 47 Spinoza (2002a. 232. revealed part of that substance and discov- ered other parts in their encounters with other beings. which Spinoza described in terms of thought and exten- sion. on the other. Expression involved the revelation of or encounter with that which already existed. For Deleuze. This ‘expression’. since all that he produces is within himself.

each and every being was constituted by virtue of its relations with others. too. one characterised by activity and instability. For Spinoza. One could comprehend a particular being only by reference to its relationships with others rather than by reference to some underlying. 45–6) describes this as the ‘first foundation’ of Spinoza’s thought. All beings always were and always would be dependent on each other and that substance. No being – other than god (or nature) – was independent and sepa- rate. paralleled or corresponded with but did not cause each other. or mode. for Spinoza.. was of a common ‘plane’ of existence. Through it. As Deleuze has pointed out. of ideas or thought (Phemister 2006). the Body. Being was now founded in matter and interdependence rather than in form and independence. Having inverted substance. one in which change was ‘immanent’ – a vision of intimate. Negri (1991. they were parts of the larger ensemble of god/nature and dependent on it (Phemister 2006. ‘the ontological totality is the endpoint of the spontaneous expression of reality’.48 Marx. part 2. as with Lucretius. there was diversity – a range of attributes. Only in substance – god or nature – did they exhibit identity. limitation is treated as both constituting and enabling rather than antagonistic. Spinoza had converted the character of particular beings. This is the ‘relation- ship between liberation and limit’ that Negri (1991. The human mind. whether by virtue of some absolute character or the potential realisation of some characteristic. inter- dependence. part 2. [as] bodies and modes of thinking’. no single attribute constituted a superior realisation of that substance. 177. 122). Outside that. axiom 5) described the character of these beings in terms of modes of extension or thought – we could only know ‘individual things . Spinoza laid ‘a common plane of immanence [and] “inter- section”’ (1988. Woolhouse 1993). The Spinozan vision. Any particular being was to be defined in terms of divergence or negation or ‘negation of negation’. Having equalised the attributes or expressions of the one universal substance. to borrow from Deleuze’s (1988. Spinoza had also equalised its attributes. An identifiable aggregate of the attribute of extension – a mode of extension – Spinoza called a ‘body’ (2002b/1675.1 Spinoza (2002b. Here again.. definition 1). 180) ‘insisted’ was a feature of Spinoza’s work: ‘liberation as the continual conquest . Thought and extension. However. Within that substance. was also an aggregate. was not divided – it did not have a dualist character or hierarchy. considered in relation to a particular being. as both Hegel and Marx were to later characterise it. and Human Nature god. dynamic. unalterable character or substance. all were already intimately involved with others. 122) description. Being.

Spinoza’s treatment of the majority of beings as dependent involved no such godlike security. ‘Singularity’. To consider a being outside of its defining relations was to consider an incomplete. Rice (cited in Lamm 1996. It is not to suggest that there is no distinc- tion from the balance of existence – only that such distinction does not require separation. It concerns only how they are understood. No being existed in freedom from limitation (as it would then be substance). Spinoza’s Revolution 49 and construction of being’. and vulnerable existence – separa- tion and continuity were not taken for granted but were instead seen as . It is a function of communication’. 7) For Spinoza. not as a part. to draw on Balibar (2008. For Spinoza. all beings depended on one or more others and enjoyed a contingent. then. if it is determined by another thing to exist and to act in a definite and determinate way. In place of the robust security and continuity of substantive being. definitions. freedom was born of necessity: That thing is said to be free which exists solely from the necessity of its own nature. and it would regard each individual particle of blood as a whole. A thing is said to be necessary or rather. (2002b. This is not to deny the particular nor the individual. constrained. distorted picture. Rather. and it could have no idea as to how all the parts are controlled by the overall nature of the blood. an individual could be distinguished as the focus of ‘a network’ but not in terms of abso- lute separation or independence. 849) made when referring to a worm living in a person’s blood: That worm would be living in the blood as we are living in our part of the universe. indefinite. ‘is a transindividual function. Spinoza made being vulnerable and bound up with change. This was to criticise the consideration of a being in isolation – as abstracted from those relations that determined. This was the point Spinoza (2002c. For Spinoza. It was to consider an image that assumed independence and approximated that being’s life to that of a god. and is determined to action by itself alone. 33) has emphasised that Spinoza’s point concerns how individuation occurs. and consti- tuted it. part 1. 108). we live not in some internal sanctuary occasion- ally interrupted by some external alien influence but by virtue of our borders and boundaries: it is those encounters that frame and found and define us. defined.

243. was one ‘mode’ of existence. The particular form those relationships took. as it was with the traditional approach to substance.50 Marx. the Body. In Spinoza’s works and in the work of those who followed him (including Marx). as those various parts could form different relationships. Each such mode was an ensemble or aggregate held together by a dominant relation but not in such a way that each participant in . and vulnerability a part of being. there was a tension between the pres- ervation of the aggregate that constituted a particular being (its essence) and the ongoing threat that the other. then. Having placed interdependence or relationships at the centre of the constitution of any particular being. For Spinoza (2002b. This ‘essence’ assumed the role previ- ously reserved for the concept of substance – it was to determine the definition and location of the character and continuity of a particular being and to reconcile that continuity with the experience of change and pain. which is distinguished from other things through this union of bodies. this led to a radical reconfiguration of the responses to these issues. This ensemble – which was called the being’s ‘essence’ (Deleuze 1990. and Human Nature exceptional and of uncertain duration. Spinoza had also made fragility. these bodies are said to be united with one another and all together form one body or individual thing. as that essence was expressed or realised only so long as the relationships between those parts endured (Hampshire 2005). 253). The continuity of any particular being was no longer located in some internal location. or if they are moving at the same or different rates of speed so as to preserve an unvarying relation of movement among themselves. In Spinoza’s terms. 249) – provided for a very open concept of being. but in the continuity of that mode of relating that had constituted it. Being came to be seen as an uneasy tension between the internal and the external. the continuity of a being was deter- mined by an ensemble of relationships: When a number of bodies of the same or different magnitude form close contact with one another through the pressure of other bodies upon them. In his view. external relationships in which its aggregate parts participated might come to exert an irresistible attrac- tion. precariousness. any being comprised the parallel or corresponding existence of particular modes of the attributes of thought and extension (respectively. Being was limited not only in the sense of being carved out of existence and constituted by its rela- tions with others but also in terms of duration by them. mind and body).

was a process of interaction and exchange rather than the separation and independence enjoyed by substance.. with the efficacy and continuity of any being the product of a shifting balance between the ‘internal’ (or distinguishing) aggregating relation and extrinsic. That the relations constituting the entity or body changed. any body was best understood as a form of ‘configuration’ and of varying levels of complexity. that is . as Deleuze (1988. not to some ‘internal’ characteristic. (Hampshire 2005. however. preserves the form of the human body. brings it about that the human body can be affected in many ways . 65.. even in the case of so apparently well bounded a being as the human body: The human body needs many other bodies for its preservation. from combinations of ‘elementary .. 98–9).. Negri (1991. It constituted a dynamic process of aggregation and disaggregation.. Spinoza’s Revolution 51 that relationship – each body or idea – could be isolated from external influences. disaggregating attractions – a tug of war. But that which constitutes the form .. The finite life of any body was due.. This coexist- ence of change and continuity is the contradiction Heraclitus pointed to in saying that one cannot step in the same river twice. . 66) In this way. but because the very character of any body meant that it was ‘necessarily open to the exterior’. The changes in the river’s constitution are continuous but.. its very enmeshment in the world – its very constitution – also made it vulnerable to encounters with other. 42) describes this as the ‘savage aspect’ of Spinoza’s thought... The essence of any being. . whatever effects a change in the proportion of motion-and-rest of the parts of the human body . and. 222. According to Hampshire (2005. did not mean that all those relations would change or that they would do so at the same time or in such degree as to prevent recognition of that being over time. consequently . that its parts communicate their motions to one another in a certain fixed proportion. not sufficient to make it unrecognisable.. Rather. the ‘interior’ of a body was not privileged over its ‘exterior’: rather. damaging bodies. This same recogni- tion was apparent in Spinoza’s works. 100) put it. Therefore. it causes it to be destroyed. of the human body consists in this. causes the human body to assume a different form... The continuity of a being was understood to be the product of partic- ular forms or processes of exchange. each part of an ensemble could potentially be part of another ensemble of the same attribute (Hampshire 2005). for Spinoza.. whatever is conducive to the preservation of the proportion of motion-and-rest .. at least for short periods of time.. 42. 2004.

If the parts of an individual thing become greater or smaller.. Spinoza argued that if all beings were open and interdependent. a matter of how to live: it is by speed and slowness that one slips in among things. and lemma 5) insisted: Bodies are not distinguished in respect of substance.. lemma 4. as enduring so long as its particular ‘relation of motion-and-rest’ continued... As to the ‘distribution’ of activity.. A composition of speeds and slownesses on a plane of immanence. But this union . each living individuality. one takes up or lays down rhythms The constitution of a being was profoundly dependent upon the way in which its constituent parts related to each other.. . As Spinoza (2002b. meaning its tendency or momentum to endure. In the context of Western philosophy. but so long as the total activity remained roughly constant over the entire configuration. That which constitutes the form of the individual thing consists in a union of bodies... 254. proposition 13.. that one connects with something else. a way of life. the Body. the individual thing will likewise retain its own nature as before without any change in its form. enters in the middle. but as a complex relation between differential velocities. 123) demonstrated just how readily that endurance can be thought of in terms of a particular habit or way of life: [T]o be in the middle of Spinoza is to be on this modal plane – which implies a mode of living.. and Human Nature particles’ through to ‘configurations of configurations of configura- tions’. one slips in.. He called this the being’s ‘essence’ or ‘conatus’. proof.. then the assumption of permanence underlying the conventional under- standing of substance (or a nature) ceased to be credible. but so proportionately that they all preserve the same mutual relation of motion-and-rest as before... One never commences. 122. not as a form . . one never has a tabula rasa.2 In the twentieth century. It is . Deleuze (1988. it could be considered to main- tain a continuous identity..52 Marx. . That constellation of . . .. The important thing is to understand life. is retained in spite of continuous change of component bodies.. . Spinoza presented a particular being as an aggregate or ensemble. Spinoza ended the traditional divorce between the character or substance of a being and change. changes could occur within any such configuration..

As Gatens (2000. It was no longer sufficient to seek to comprehend a being in isolation or by reference to some internal foundation: the essence of any being comprised the mode by which its various parts related to each other. are themselves founded in the adoption and reworking of Spinoza’s key ideas by the Romantic movement and the philosophers of nature. For Spinoza. 122) meant that the character of any being was never finalised as it was in a ‘constant interchange’. mathematical style of Spinoza’s works and by the criticisms made of their apparently rigid character by Hegel and others. or outcome of that change predetermined. then. provided much of the mate- rials from which Marx worked. Leibniz Leibniz provided a key contribution to the transition of Spinoza’s thought from mechanistic. 61) has noted. for Spinoza. form. stability. Spinoza’s Revolution 53 relations was not merely an expression of its life but the basis on which that life was constituted. Spinoza. This ‘plane of imma- nence’ (Deleuze 1988. ‘becoming’. through Hegel and Feuerbach. however. In place of some underlying substance. being was immanent – always on the cusp of change but without the direction. the locus of being became ‘external’ and unstable. and duration. Their emphasis on a more organic. Those criticisms. interactive world was explicitly developed in reliance upon Spinoza’s works – and that very reworking also served to obscure their influence. Revisiting them provides the means to illuminate and explain much of Marx’s key works. Whilst Spinoza’s infamy restricted the adoption of his works in his lifetime. Those connections are in part obscured by the formal. rationalist terms to those of natural philos- ophy and thence to the terms that Hegel and Marx adopted. With Spinoza. a multiplicity’. Marx was to construct his vision of our humanity from this very locus – a being driven by need and deeply dependent on the various ‘modes’ of production (and hence of life) by which those needs were met. This reworking was also profoundly influenced by the revolu- tions occurring in scientific thought at this time. Spinoza inserted the mode of relationship as the source of character. mode became central to being: that which defined its character and its continuity. Leibniz’s accommodation within religious . The character of being was. Leibniz made it possible to speak of nature in terms of a fluid interaction by giving a central place to the emerging concept of ‘force’ (Kraft) in explaining substance. ‘the body [was] a nexus of variable intercon- nections. For Spinoza.

‘Expression’ by a monad referred to a profound interconnection. added to Spinoza’s challenge to the established understanding of substance: whilst still internally located and apparently separate. the world was ‘internal’ to – and imma- nent within – each being. the transcendence and omnipotence of the one all-powerful god needed to frame their works if they were to avoid controversy and potential expulsion from their communities. and Human Nature orthodoxy made it possible to revise the notion of substance without attracting religious or political censure. in Leibniz’s hands. In this view.54 Marx. 51–2). sought to make matter active and to do so within the theological strictures of their time. pre-existing intercon- nection as established by god: a ‘pre-existing harmony’. Nevertheless. was active and productive – it was no longer simply a negative or restric- tive influence. Leibniz. substance. With Leibniz. like Spinoza. However expressed. like Spinoza. Leibniz avoided the suspect taint of pantheism – and its suggestion that god was not transcendent – by presenting a more distant. A being was only itself by virtue of a deep-seated. passive world of mech- anistic thought. This gave Leibniz a wider breadth to draw on contemporary science as it was then only ever a revelation of god’s pre-existing plan. However. that was coming to dominate the sciences of his day and to provide the means by which . He considered that the entire potential of being resided within these monads and that this potential included all its various relationships with other monads. was intimately involved in the world and bound to express that world – to change. Leibniz located the source of change within these monads. as with Spinoza. the term ‘expression’ gave substance a radically different character to Aristotle’s potential – one founded on interdependence and on immanence. Leibniz. Leibniz preserved the emphasis on the independence of substance through his assertion that the funda- mental. rejected the lifeless. Matter. the Body. Drawing on the Aristotelian tradition (Jolley 2005). on the revelation or unfolding of that which already existed rather than on the creation or emergence or the realisation of some previously unexpressed potential. The consideration of any single monad enabled the exploration of the totality because each monad (by virtue of these ‘internalised’ relationships) ‘mirrored’ or ‘expressed’ the world (Jolley 2005. It was on that basis that Leibniz was able to adopt the new concept of force. uninvolved god. or Kraft. in emphasising this dynamic. 49. indivisible components of all being were atomlike ‘monads’.3 Leibniz. composed of monads. Leibniz’s use of the concept of ‘expression’ gave the realisation of the Aristotelian potential a radically different sense. expressive character.

the forces were independent of matter. This same debate extended to biology and the notion of an organism. 383) described it as possibly the one concept that captures the overall character of eighteenth-century science. chemistry. Spinoza’s Revolution 55 others could adopt and expand on Spinoza’s work without themselves attracting censure. however. the concept of an organism was that of a self-organ- ising and self-preserving entity. For others. the location of that organising principle – the char- acter of an organism’s substance – was vigorously debated. The location of those forces was widely debated and in many ways paralleled the philosophical debates concerning substance. force formed a substitute for the inter- ventions of the unknowable distant god in what remained closer to a mechanistic and mysterious view of the world. particularly . New developments in physics. reflecting the traditional approaches to substance. Force. In this view. Broadly speaking. for Leibniz. particularly the forces of attrac- tion and repulsion. was an all-pervading influence and the ground of the monads. too. For some. they animated or vitalised other- wise dead matter. So influential was this new unitary theory that Neuser (cited in Petry. Any object or part thereof could be represented as the unity of opposing forces of attraction and repulsion. ‘dead force’) (Meld Shell 1996. when active – that is. Mechanistic terminology failed to adequately capture the continuity of organic life: the manner in which so much of life did not appear to be the haphazard aggregation of component parts but the unfolding of a pre-existing pattern. Here. Leibniz used this new concept to radically recon- figure the mechanistic science of atoms into a ‘science of forces and powers’ (Hatfield 1979. 22). and biology pointed to a higher degree of interaction and interdependence between objects than previously appreciated. This language of ‘force’ had become one of the defining themes in eighteenth-century science. Matter. were widely influential and became key descriptive and explanatory terms. 115). forces were not foreign to matter but were the very stuff of matter and of empirical science. typically presented by analogy to the forces tied up in a magnet. in motion – was called ‘living force’ (and matter without motion. It marked a shift from the Newtonian emphasis on mechanistic notions of motion and impact between objects with firm boundaries to the more fluid. much in the sense suggested by Aristotle’s notion of potential. geology. porous interactions suggested by biology and chemistry. The language of force presented a greater sense of interconnection and reduced the apparent impermeability of the boundaries suggested by the monads’ atomlike character.4 The discoveries in relation to magnetism. 1993.

or Kräfte. His influence was substantial and far reaching. including some generated within the external environment (Beiser 1987. who advocated preformation. thought reproduction was effected by means of previously formed genetic-like material or factors. organic model of being and substance. ‘development’. reason could found not only the science of universal laws of physics but of animate substances. Herder Herder made Spinoza’s ideas accessible and relevant to his generation. These changes in scientific thought supported the transition from rationalist. and Human Nature in relation to the continuity of a species. had squarely fitted with the rationalists’ vision of a world founded in reason and could be discovered and applied with the same confidence as mathematics. like Kant. drew on notions of force and argued that reproduc- tion involved the interaction of various forces. were grounded in Herder’s application of the notion of force to a Spinozan concept of substance. These terms. he made a critical contribution to the manner in which the terms ‘expression’. whilst effective at some level of generalisation. and ‘becoming’ were understood by Marx and his contemporaries. In particular. including human beings. more- over. As such. That debate turned on whether reproduction was dominated by an internal substance in the traditional sense (preformation) or was intimately affected by the ‘external’ envi- ronment (epigenesis). the exten- sion of the concept of force to animate beings.56 Marx. initially borrowed from the mechanical Newtonian sciences. Those. The notion of force. he promoted a much more dynamic. the early considerations of force also reflected the Enlightenment confidence in the power and universality of reason. The endeavour to understand and regulate the world by means of reason was. As apparently illustrated by the notion of force. whereby forces present within matter spontaneously ‘adapt and react to [those in] their surroundings’ (Beiser 1987. the Body. challenged by the increasing recognition of the diversity of the world. He formed part of a well- connected group which included those with key interests in natural philosophy. Drawing on contemporary scientific debates. involved the recognition of a greater sense of diversity in the world. 155). however. such as Forster and Herder. including Goethe (Berlin 2000) and Schelling (Seigel 2005). As indicated above. Johann Gottfried von Herder was instrumental in responding to that challenge. . Reill 2005). whilst proponents of epigenesis. The latter was described as ‘spontaneous generation’ by some of its advocates. mechanistic concepts to more organic ones.

Leibniz’s ‘dynamic. such as Schleiermacher. Herder’s exploration of the concept of expression was a negotiation of the tension between the scientific views of a unified world and the broadening experience of estrangement and alienation. 349). 228). in the chaotic. 336. all segregation is deplorable’ (Berlin 2000. 372). 142. . together with the Napoleonic wars and civil reforms. self-developing . Those events had. undermining long-established agrarian ways of life and promoting a more mobile urban society. must spring from all his powers combined. 347. 332. The driving issue was no longer the relationship between substance and the divine but. subjective emphases of the eighteenth century. maintained much of the instability of the preceding century. for example. 163. describing Herder as one of ‘the two foremost figures of the German Radical Enlightenment’ (Israel 2009. Herder represented Kraft as providing the universal connecting dynamic (Barnard 1969). secure part of it.. the manner in which particular beings and societies retained – or re-established – a sense of belonging. 334. Their task became reconciling the conflicting experiences of dissociation and of belonging. 128. like Herder. with his pantheist theology. The instability and excesses of religious wars had largely been replaced by those problems arising through the social and economic restructuring of society.. however. It was a tension that became a key concern of Romantic thought. By the eighteenth century. Herder’s work was one of the original and groundbreaking endeavours in the movement towards Romantic thought. The wide- spread impact of the emerging capitalist system had added to this experi- ence. Goethe. Jonathan Israel has gone further.. held that ‘every- thing that a man sets out to achieve . entities’ and Spinoza’s insistence on ‘rigorous interconnection’ (Berlin 2000. Spinoza’s Revolution 57 and extended to others sharing an interest in Spinoza’s thought. The key themes of his works – including his contribution to thought concerning substance – became key themes of that movement and helped undermine the confidence in universal reason. 15. 70). 163). uprooted world of that time. Drawing on the Aristotelian tradition (Beiser 1987. Herder’s preoccupation with particular beings and societies reflected the secular. had reduced the authority of religious thought. of being ‘at home’ in the world and an integral. grounded and drove all change (Berlin 2000). Beiser 1987. see also 231–2.. 239–40. It contained a range of forces that through their varying interactions. the experience of the French Revolution and the Terror. Seigel 2005. Herder’s influence was such that Beiser characterised his ‘vitalistic pantheism [as] the inspiration for Schelling’s and Hegel’s Naturphilosophie’ (Beiser 1987.

as Sloan (1986. Spinoza’s ‘god or nature’ incorporated the creator’s dynamic within the universe. Herder’s innovative engagement with the concepts of force and organism did. as it were. suggests the basis of some of its appeal. and Human Nature Herder ‘translated Spinoza’s substance into substantial force’ (Lamm 1996. 163) notes: This synthesis of Leibniz and Spinoza – a pantheistic vitalism or vitalistic pantheism . This synthesis. ‘Herder portrayed the whole of existence as “a colossal organism”’. Lucretius had insisted on the ‘swerve’ of the atom.. Herder’s work.. It constituted a clear movement towards the interdependent organic totality that was to profoundly shape both Hegel’s and Marx’s work. seemed possible to combine one’s scientific natu- ralism and one’s . Herder overcame the tensions between Spinoza’s dynamic presentation of .. Herder gave the open. foundational. 21). enable him to effectively address some of the key tensions arising within the debate concerning substance. Herder enlivened Spinoza’s vision of particular beings as aggregates through substituting the fluid language of force for the fixed rigidities of mechanistic thought. however. made Spinozism into an appealing doctrine. as against Democritus’s atom’s passive fall. unalterable atoms. Instead of matter. Aristotle had conceived of matter as dynamic but in a destructive or negative way. It marked the change that was to rehabilitate Spinoza..58 Marx. ‘an almost pantheistic vitalism’. 410) argues. was only a partial solution. the Body. This amalgam of mysticism and contem- porary science. 335). however... which I discuss in the next section. It possessed. religious beliefs. which had previously only been hinted at. Insofar as Kraft was given a mystical character. . whilst providing the foundation upon which the latter problem would be addressed. Beiser (1987. expansive relations of Spinoza’s substance an organic character. Kraft was not directly observable and so retained a deeply mystical character in Herder’s treatment. however. reintroduced the problem of dualism ‘by the back door’... with its residual suggestions of substancelike fixed. he made Kraft the ground of all things and thereby made explicit its active or dynamic character. Applying Leibniz’s system of powers and forces. In Seigel’s words (2005. It . it reflected the epistemic problems empha- sised by Kant and the manner in which Kant’s solution had. Leibniz’s monads worked through a system of forces to realise the ‘pre-existing harmony’ stored up within them. left the resolution of that problem to the work of Fichte and Schelling.

Spinoza’s works had begun with and been overshadowed by an emphasis on the underlying totality and retained much of the ration- alists’ language. emphasised how Herder came to regard our humanity as only fully realised in ‘belonging’ to a . Berlin (2000. But just as there is no such thing as an isolated faculty of reason. Seigel 2005). Spinoza’s Revolution 59 individual beings and their dependence on the originating and under- lying immanent. together with the manner in which Spinoza had limited his discussion of substance’s attributes to thought and extension and the formal mathematical model by which they were presented. Inspired by Spinoza’s reflections on particular being and by contem- porary science’s notions of force. and the philosopher. including that concerning substance. as he is wont to imagine in the dream of his life. independent of the senses and organs. 239). perfect substance of god or nature. (Barnard 1969. with its emphasis on an atomic. 311) Building on Montesqieu’s works and their emphasis on the variation of human societies with local geographies and climates (Berlin 2000. Herder held that any being was an aggregate of forces: ‘Whenever and whoever I shall be. from interdependence.. a force in a system of forces’ (Herder. cannot but recognise that the whole chain of human develop- ment is characterised by man’s dependence on his fellows. Herder adopted the notion of force to present this inter- dependence as intimately tied to the climate and culture of a place and its history. cited in Berlin 2000. there was no single distinguishing feature or element that freed any being. The latter’s influence. including humanity. Herder explored the implications of Spinoza’s inversion of substance. The essence of any being was an aggregate of forces. others external. from the world of fantasy to the world of empirical reality he. however. . largely disconnected universe. some genetic or internal. Contrary to the traditional debate about the nature of a being. I shall be what I am now. so there is no man who has become all he is entirely by his own efforts. dynamic character of Spinoza’s universe.. Herder’s contribution was to emphasise this aspect. in this regard. 223). had tended to obscure the open. absolute. Herder and many of his contemporaries effected the transla- tion of Spinoza’s relatively abstract model into one that better reflected the sciences of their day and the realms of individual and social experience. Herder pointedly objected: Philosophers have exalted human reason to a position of supremacy. Upon returning.

and climate. It also provided the ground for Herder’s emphasis on belonging. Herder (Barnard 1969. stood those institutions and ways of life – those habits – by which the . and institutions continued. geography. So deep was the influ- ence of the ‘external’ that it moulded the forms in which the ‘internal’ was expressed: it made the character of each particular being diverse. so. The influence of each particular environment was so fundamental and so unique that one could not consider human capacities independently of it. This openness amplified the variety of forms in which particular beings and particular societies developed. 170) described as one of Herder’s ‘cardinal and influential’ ideas and a major departure from traditional approaches to substance: plurality. There they might well be very different people with very different capacities. A human being removed from her community would also be diminished. the Body. points out that. too. Bridging the gulf between particular beings and substance. constituting and stabilising particular beings and societies. Moreover. the plurality of humankind made belonging – the deep attachment to the ‘external’ in the form of one’s society and environment – constitutive rather than contextual. culture. The variety of forms of climate and society and particular beings made each being intimately attached to its usual context or environment. So significant was the influence of Klime. Beiser (1987. with that culture intimately influenced by its envi- ronment (Klime). for Herder. it could not be assumed that someone from Europe could replicate the same conditions elsewhere. 143–4). This made for what Berlin (2000. Just as Spinoza’s beings continued so long as their particular constellation or mode of formative relations continued. A plant taken from its usual environment would wilt. The continuity of any particular being was then dependent upon that of the climate and institutions that constituted its habitat.60 Marx. 295) warned that it should ‘not be thought that man can by the sheer power of his will and by the application of his skills arbitrarily turn any foreign region into a second Europe’. did Herder’s individuals and societies continue so long as their formative climate. in stark contrast to the traditional assertion that each kind or species of being was unique and distinct. The actualisation of any particular being required that being to ‘be at home’. there was no universal or ‘absolute’ human nature and that the one consistent feature of our humanity was our ‘plasticity’ and openness to the influ- ence of local culture. Whilst Europe’s climate may have supported a form of human development of one kind. for Herder. and Human Nature particular culture.

Herder saw the reproduction of the species as occurring at and being perpetuated by particular communities through their characteristic form of activity. openness. poetry itself was activity: ‘words. For Herder. Contrary to the traditional debate about substance. Spinoza’s Revolution 61 particular and the absolute were mediated and maintained and by which this mediation became foundational to their being. So varied were the different expressions of human plasticity that the human species could be consid- ered only in terms of an aggregate of individual beings. actions [were] aspects of a single experience’ (Berlin 2000. The ‘incar- nation’ of society – indeed. treated this activity linguistically. this activity preserved not only each individual being but her community. 195). Over the longer term. 194). 191. Contrary to traditional approaches to an individual being’s substance. drawing on Hamann. for Hamann and Herder. human beings’ fundamental constitutive activity – was. Herder. those institutions. Herder not only shifted the character of being from matter to activity by the notion of force but expanded its bounda- ries by emphasising the person’s deep dependence on and openness to her habitat (and habitus and history). The species was as much a product of environment and culture as it was genetics or some other underlying unique substance. 189. Whereas Spinoza’s aggregate of bodies depended on the rela- tively limited bundle of relationships constituting that aggregate for its continuity. ways of life. Herder located the essence of any person in a much wider range of relationships. arguing that the rhythms and demands of a way of life were enacted by giving the formative and preservative influence to action words (verbs) rather than contemplative words (nouns) (Berlin 2000). and habits were them- selves only relations and were maintained only so long as they were enacted: Herder’s belonging or unity was the product of and preserved by activity. and integration of being with what would ordinarily be regarded as the ‘external’ world also made the concept of a ‘species’ much more open. Hegel and Marx would likewise emphasise activity as primary and constitutive rather than secondary to some other ground or foundation of being. rhythms. speech: it provided the founda- tions for consciousness and for social solidarity and made ‘anthropology the key to understanding humans’ (Berlin 2000. activity rather than stability had assumed a central place. This link between corporeal activity and language was particularly clear for Hamann: he saw the rhythms of Livonian poetry as clearly derived from their work (Berlin 2000). Herder’s emphasis on the plasticity. . However.

one finds a parallel interdependence through the original inscription of the universe of interrelationships in a harmony pre-established by god. acting and acted upon.. It involved no movement towards a more complete expression or existence.. substance was already immanently expressed. and on their experience and char- acter as incomplete. all things. and ‘becoming’. by the harmony of the forces surrounding him. its components – particular beings – were changing.. It also suggested. ‘development’. This focus gave ‘expression’ a different character – it suggested the experience of some characteristic coming into being.. developed over time but not in terms of a smooth progression to a predefined end: [M]an is not an independent entity. In nature. and Herder presented that history in terms of a deep.62 Marx. formed and changed with the help of the universe around him. both human and the natural world. and Human Nature Herder’s emphasis on interdependence meant that all of being. For Spinoza. contributes towards its change . And whilst he is . Like the monotheistic visions of god. No individual or group thereof could ever become the totality.. his approach differed to that of Spinoza and Leibniz. who considered ‘expression’ under the shadow of substance – that is. he. the Body. of the individual and his particular society coming to a comprehension or consciousness or recognition of the breadth and depth of their interconnection. (Herder in Barnard 1969. was historical. by virtue of its focus on a particular being or beings. . he continually interacts with the elements of his environment.. at rest or in motion. a multiplicity and a unity. Herder saw this development as a movement of consciousness and of culture towards a recognition of interdependence – the establishment or realisation of . . Herder shared the emphasis on interconnection but focused on particular beings. reflected it. interdependent beings. open-ended involvement through his use of the concepts of ‘expression’. Man constitutes a multitudinous harmony. then.. it was already complete and perfect. However. of a transcendent. that their realisation of that interconnec- tion would always remain incomplete. being dependent on that one substance. For human beings. omnipotent god. In Leibniz. 282) All being. caught in a process of development towards the full recognition and enactment of their universal interconnection. in turn.. However. on individuals and societies. with his living self. whether he be awake or asleep. Berlin (2000) described the concept of expression as one of Herder’s key concepts. All elements of nature are connected with him.

development. already. It was a key concern of the Romantics. They constituted an expression or revelation. a recovering. and expression of a particular being as one with the totality was an expansive movement. On the one hand. the Spinozan emphasis on a pre- existing. in the sense of the totality. or co-recognition – and seeming contra- diction – of both individuality and interdependence and of continuity and change. a part of the particular being. It was for this reason that Herder held that any action involved. An object altered or created by a person already necessarily expressed his entire character. and his ability to better and more fully be that character – to better express himself as part of the totality – involved a necessary. coincidence. non-negotiable dependence on those objects. and Marx. Expression. reflected. The realisation. It replaced the haphazard or accidental interactions of the various aggregates of Spinoza’s universe and gave the relationship between a person and his object direction as a movement towards the whole or totality. then. for a particular being involved some kind of move- ment towards the totality. Herder’s emphasis on particular beings made their engagement with apparently ‘external’ objects necessary. not a fresh creation or change. the language of ‘expression’ sought to combine the two different emphases given by Spinoza and Herder. ‘expression’ spoke of the connection between a being and an ‘external’ object as a dynamic intimacy. Spinoza’s Revolution 63 what he called the Humanitat. This theme of recognition – of the ‘many’ coming to comprehend their participation in the ‘one’ and in each other – revived the Aristotelian emphasis on the actualisation of a pre-existing potential. of objects that were always. ever-immanent interconnection remained. like the actualisation of Aristotle’s potential. Expression. an interaction with what. Yet freed of the constraints of an omnipotent god and concerned more with the experi- ence of individuality. notwithstanding the movement or expansion . in which all sense of division and sepa- ration was overcome (Berlin 2000). A particular being could not be understood in the traditional stable sense of substance but only in terms of activity that was both already founded in being. appeared separate and ‘external’. the idealists. and yet still striving towards fully or accurately reflecting or giving effect to that totality. at an earlier stage of that movement. With Herder. It involved the co-location. involved a recognition. However. of having always. Any being was defined by activity and becoming. been a part of the totality. or expressed the whole being of the actor and extended to his objects. already. then. the changes this expression brought shared the character of continuity.

In those days there was unity of theory and practice. inessential objects (Berlin 2000) but part of that person. A person’s arte- facts were not ossified. described this as involving an internal relationship.64 Marx. detachable. However. legislators. it was constitutive and went to the root of our being. in explaining this feature of Marx’s dialectics. one that was an ‘inner-action’ rather than an inter-action. more accurately. identical to the absolute or total consciousness. The negotiation of this tension – of an immediate yet unrecognised interdependence between parts and whole – was to become the defining feature of Fichte’s and Hegel’s works. 17). musicians. a human being uprooted from his social and material environment would. a unity that the division of labour destroyed. wither and possibly die. in actu- ality. like a plant removed from its traditional environment. A person or group denied its ‘roots’ experienced a profound sense of being undermined. 230). It helped generate the idealist school of thought. Herder’s emphasis on belonging gave the sense of dislocation or disease – anxiety – a central place. of man and citizen. Marx. 229. All particular beings were immersed in nature/substance. remembered or recovered by humanity. Herder made ‘being at home’ more than a question of comfort. Rather. It was a doctrine founded in treating interdependence as an existing reality and yet one incompletely experienced. philosophers. and Human Nature apparently involved. the ‘originator of the doctrine of the unity of art and life. making much of modern life characterised by a deep sense of frustration and a search for the means to assuage it. theory and practice’ and a key influ- ence on Fichte. whether consciously or not. there had been a closer identification between people and their objects Men ‘were all things: poets. Previously. 16. Schelling. This unity did not need to come to be – to come to exist – but only to be recognised or. that iden- tity came to be appreciated or recognised only through the efforts of the particular consciousness to comprehend that which initially appeared to be ‘external’ to it. together with Hamann. Herder’s response to this dilemma made him. land surveyors. Ollman (1976. where each particular consciousness was seen to be. the Body. All of their actions expressed that immanent interconnection. warriors’. For Berlin (2000. In Herder’s view. 227). modern society had interrupted that unity. after that men became ‘half thinkers and half feelers’ (Berlin 2000. Whilst Herder focused on how this experience provided an obstacle to . and others. Herder’s works focused upon the latter – on better comprehending how central a sense of interconnection or ‘belonging’ was to our being. For him. Hegel.

never able to fully effect the desired ‘expression’. and we have never been men until we have lived our life to the end. by virtue of its character as a particular being. and pain a productive potential: more than that.. (Barnard 1969. for Herder. or evolves from. for example. and Marx. 138). drawing on both Spinoza and Herder. restless and dissatisfied. even when it appears to us as an individual. Similarly. . the foregoing. following him – was of an incomplete being. . always in motion. it still remains an assembly of living independent essences’ (Reill 2005. involving ‘an antag- onistic and perpetual struggle’. rather he is always in a state of development. Goethe. The species as a whole goes through a ceaseless metamorphosis’ (Barnard 1969. Here. but continuous becoming. Schleiermacher. 282–3). see also 171–2. This experience of becoming. Herder’s vision of expressive being – and that of Fichte. held that ‘Each living thing is not a singu- larity. limitation. Change was no longer antithetical to characterising a being but central to it. Contrary to the long tradition of treating anxiety in purely negative terms. he also indicated that it could act as the very driver to secure the desired sense of expression and belonging. the Romantic and idealist engagement moved anxiety to a central place and role. Being... was not a smooth or trouble-free one. 201–2) catalogued as ‘strife’ in ‘a garden of mixed delights’. . moreover. On this basis. Schelling. Herder’s emphasis on the individual as a composition of various forces – the organism as an aggregate – became a common model in his time. but a majority. Herder’s sense of being was of a process of uneven development and uncertain becoming: At no single moment can he be said to be the whole man.. The essence of our life is never fruition. of becoming.. ‘a man’s life is one continuous series of changes. builds upon. Hegel. was an endless process of becoming – of moving beyond the particular to better ‘express’ the totality and yet. One activity is increased by another. of progress. a being deeply engaged in efforts to engage in the totality. We are always growing out of childhood .. Herder expressed what was to become one of the central themes of Romantic thought: that becoming was both beautiful and a burden. the different poles of experience canvassed by the concept of ‘expression’ gave anxiety. involving what Richards (2002. 262–3) This remained true even for those who retained their ‘roots’. which would always necessarily be incomplete. 156–7. Spinoza’s Revolution 65 the realisation of a particular being.

as both Reill (2005) and Richards (2002) have emphasised. But this certainty was founded on a set of propositions which could not be tested – propositions suggested by reason as to how it worked but which remained ultimately unknowable noumena. clearly borrowed from this revision of the definition and location of substance. the Body. Bowie 2003). Here. also challenged our capacity to know the world with any certainty. Yet upholding this perspective demanded the contradiction of one of the tenets of experimental science – the supposition of a conscious- ness independent of those senses.66 Marx. those works were to influence the Romantic challenge to the . held that reason had to be exercised by some capacity or consciousness that preceded experience. whilst lending weight to the universality of reason. In his time. was a shared fascination with the natural world and science. in responding to the threats to reason’s central status. Experimental science. the identical combination of forces of a certain measure at a single point’ (Lamm 1996. Fichte and Schelling Herder first expressed many of those themes that were to characterise the Romantic movement. Another of those themes. 34). Kant’s contribution set loose a debate that continues today. Nevertheless. when he asserted that the human essence was an ‘ensemble’ of relations. the growing influence of those promoting reason over religion meant that this controversy enabled Spinoza’s rehabilitation (Vardoulakis 2011). Absent the discipline of reason. There could be no knowing or ‘representation’ before some ‘I’. Kant. experi- mental science repeatedly demonstrated the deceptiveness of our senses. one in which our senses gave us some access to the phenomenal world and in which reason could judge and assess and provide us with some certainty. in suggesting an underlying foundation that provided certainty. then. Working from this distinc- tion. princi- pally through the controversy surrounding Jacobi’s claim that Lessing had admitted being a ‘Spinozist’ (which continued to be identified with atheism) (Beiser 1987. Those sciences reinforced the dubious status of our senses and direct empirical knowledge. and Human Nature characterised an individual entity as ‘nothing other than the cohesion. Marx. it led to the reinvigoration of interest in Spinoza’s works. particularly the organic sciences and their challenge to the notion of a universal reason. Kant effectively reintro- duced the dualism that troubled the traditional debates about the nature or substance of a being since before Aristotle’s time. Perhaps ironically. Kant projected a dualist approach into the world.

Like Spinoza’s substance and its various attributes. The very act of self-recognition. the obstacle that this discomfort or anxiety presented to the enjoyment of the good. however. involved a contra- dictory experience of separation from the world. however. Kant’s emphasis on incomplete knowledge was retained but without presupposing some insurmountable duality. He recognised. With Fichte. encounters with what appeared to be external and distinct from our being became the goad to better realise the identity between those obstacles and the particular ego and. 366–7). Seigel 2005. then. subjectivity and substance were made of like kinds. For Fichte. over time. this evoked a sense of inadequacy and frustration so much so as to make self-consciousness . Spinoza’s works also inspired many to seek to fulfil Kant’s work by char- acterising that singular nature or substance in terms of subjectivity. there was no capacity for self-recognition. With Fichte. Fichte presented the movement from the finite and limited to the infinite as a movement of consciousness. consciousness. he asserted an original unity but founded this in subjectivity. Thought was both constitutive and limiting. ongoing unity. 364). or ‘absolute ego’. That very creation. In addressing this. thought involved the creation of objects. expressed in different modes. like Herder. Seigel 2005. between that ego and the absolute ego. All particular beings or entities were attributes or creations of that ego. There remained an original. Fichte argued that such a unity had to be presupposed as. The very experience of consciousness. an epistemic endeavour. or thought (Bowie 1993. The realisa- tion of the identity between a particular consciousness and the abso- lute or totality then became. including one’s self (self- consciousness). in effect. Fichte sought to allow humanity to recognise itself in – to feel at home in – the world. Fichte’s ‘absolute ego’ was expressed to varying degrees in particular egos or particular individuals and societies. In distinguishing one aspect of that unity from another. the original unity. In Fichte’s hands. in defending a monist model of being. However. consistently with the tradition concerning substance. involved some extraction from. 18–19. Any thought about anything involved some determination or limitation – some sepa- rating out from the original unity: ‘thought itself instantiates limits’ (Richards 2002. With Fichte. in its absence. or division of. with a distinction between partic- ular subjectivities or egos and the underlying all-embracing substance. involved some limitation or diminution of one’s self – of one’s original unity and of one’s substance. 151. Drawing on the debates concerning expression. the universal became the absolute ego. Spinoza’s Revolution 67 universality of reason.

visible mind. an endless striving’. Schelling was at pains to point out that this equilibrium was no peaceful balance but involved ‘a continuous exchange of resistance and strife’ (Richards 2002. He took Fichte’s idea of the ‘absolute ego’ and transferred it to nature. an incitement to further action’.68 Marx. 148) Schelling translated Fichte’s dynamic of absolute ego and devel- oping forms of self-consciousness into an idea of nature as unlimited . and continuity but the uncertain striving of becoming. He charac- terised nature in terms of tension. making ‘nature . 364). the polarities in the exploration of ‘expression’ became those of conscious- ness. incompletion. the totality) or from the perspective of particular beings.. making ‘its being . repeatedly prompting a move- ment or process that could never be complete.. The tension central to considering being. a ‘meeting point’ or equilibrium of these forces (Bowie 1993.. The character of being was no longer the stable serene security of separation. which Fichte called the ‘intellectual intuition’ (Bowie 1993. and pain. contrary to the traditional debate about the nature of a being.. cited in Bowie 1993. All of nature was composed of forces. drawn on by an underlying sense of an unrealised unity. and striving by use of Herder’s concept of force and supported that by an extensive engage- ment with the science of his time. The experience of change and of anxiety. Any particular body was a ‘concatenation’. 23–4). and of uncertain duration. In so doing. Schelling ‘synthesised materialism and vitalism’ (Richards 2002. With Fichte.. limitation. But this necessity is felt .. [and] mind invisible nature’ (Schelling.. in constant flux and developing. 293) – all of being came to be composed of forces of attraction and repulsion and characterised by the tensions and dynamism that pervaded Spinoza’s works. were internalised in the striving of consciousness to recognise itself. 310). Schelling expanded this vision.e.. in the same way Herder had treated the self (Seigel 2005). as Herder had. be thought of as an endeavour of matter to escape from the equilibrium and yield to the free play of its forces. these encounters acted as ‘a spur. were confirmed as essential and as productive. it can . independence. In Seigel’s words (2005. 37.. It involved a life of tension: In every individual body attractive and repulsive forces are necessarily in equilibrium. the Body. of revisiting and revising one’s self- definition and constitution. whether from the iden- tification of god and nature (i. Richards 2002. Fichte treated the ego as active. 39). (Schelling 2007. and Human Nature a lifelong process of self-revision. 143).

that no single indi- vidual could represent a species – one approximated the character of a species only by considering an aggregate of those individuals (Richards 2002). Substance. 48) – that very resistance was essential to the realisation of its inadequacy. This expe- rience of limitation. Whilst consciousness was initially ‘unconscious’ – simply a response to the resistance of the natural world (Bowie 1993. then. in Schelling’s work. being was in the process of constant recreation. 301) put it. the self constituted through limitation. That history might be said to include the debates concerning the nature (or substance) of a being – that. was unambiguously productive. made the notion of expression central to nature and thereby gave nature the char- acter of a subject. This was the self as an abstrac- tion from the whole. 36) suggested that we [t]hink of a river which is pure identity. A being did not enjoy a relatively stable. Philosophy. and pain. where it meets resistance an eddy is formed. He made that fragility purposive – part of the endless striving of the absolute ego to express itself. for Schelling. anxiety. was equated with nature. philosophy’s insistence that the character or nature of a being was independent and free of uncertainty. Schelling heightened the sense that being was interdependent and fragile and gave that fragility a dynamic character. however. all products are still. Schelling (cited in Bowie 1993. In nature nothing can be originally distinguished. The forms or expansiveness of consciousness varied throughout the world. then. as it was for Spinoza. for Schelling. substance in the form of nature had become perma- nent activity. 152). however. driven by the experience of limitation and resistance to assertions of independence. this eddy is nothing fixed but disappears at every moment and reappears at every moment. was transformed. was a history of developing levels of self-consciousness – a development of expanding concepts of the self in the face of and in response to the resistance of this process of objectification (Bowie 1993). . Spinoza’s Revolution 69 ‘productivity’ and a variety of ‘products’ (Richards 2002. again drawing on Fichte. together with Hegel. Nature was productive of self-consciousness – or what Schelling called the ‘objective self’ (Richards 2002. However. The resistance of the world was such. This meant. as Taylor (1989. He. dissolved and indivisible in the universal productivity. as to promote uneven development. 143). as it were. albeit vulnerable existence for any duration: instead.

385) has suggested. whilst necessary for the fuller realisation of being. whilst productive. the insights of the traditional debates concerning a being’s character or nature and the recognition of the difficulty of dealing with uncertainty. As Seigel (2005. It demanded the very denial of the substance or essence of the self and called for a form of expression that exceeded the self. This self-surrender demanded an act that challenged self-preservation and expression. Here. the real difficulties they posed were explored. so much so that Schelling described the realisation of freedom – that is. 26). the Body. Sensuousness and self-transformation This process of becoming. contained endless striving and endless becoming – approximations to the absolute which are always limited and experienced in terms of suffering and frustration (Bowie 1993. rather than independently constituted and maintained. Self-consciousness. accessible form but expresses meanings exceeding those of the artist who created it (Bowie 1993). Schelling only imagined one arena in which expression could take this form: art. It was not the product of some aloof. the expression of the absolute ego or totality – as requiring the ‘destruction’ or ‘absorption’ of the individual. and Human Nature This resistance also grounded the unavoidable experience of desire and its frustration. effort- less transition. Human nature. meaning is expressed in a concrete. They recognised that it required a surrender of one’s self – of one’s stance in the world. dispassionate. at least in the form of that individual’s then current understanding of himself. To be conscious of the absolute would be to think without the limitations that comprise thought – it would be thought without determination or limitation or distinction – and thus not thought at all (Seigel 2005). by its very character. Richards 2002). So open is a work of art to interpretation that what is expressed in it might be said to approach the absolute. Romantic philosophers like Schelling appreciated that intel- lectual intuition. Those experiences. it was not possible for an individual to fully express or manifest the totality. detached analysis but an intimate agonistic experience.70 Marx. was no simple. were no small obstacle: rather. whilst it could not be satisfied in any particular objec- tification or form of consciousness. In art. then. Outside that arena Schelling considered the process of becoming – of ever broader. and pain were respected and explored. was intimately bound up with limitation. more . anxiety. ‘actually requires the surrender of that consciousness’ (Bowie 1993.

189). and proceeded to suggest that the encounter with nature was central to securing some sense of reunification (Seigel 2005). and pain was not foreign to the character or continuity of being but the means by which we could understand it. the encounter with ‘finite things’ was potentially transformative. cited in Lamm 1996. (Schleiermacher. in broad terms. this discovery was not the product of reason or even of individual effort but followed from the encounter with finite objects and their resistance – hence. notwithstanding the critiques made by both Hegel and Marx of his work. which Schleiermacher understood as god. I argue that this sense of transition through trauma was to become central to the work of Hegel. or ‘feeling’. Hence. suggested by Fichte and Schelling. It was central to the work of Novalis. through its encounter with limitation. Sensuousness. 98) explains this encounter as creating a ‘state of sheer openness’ because the shock of the encounter ‘strips’ us of our ability to think or act. He recognised that this path to self-recognition involved the experience of self-surrender. he held that ‘we are conscious of such a unity: for we are conscious of being in a perfect state of health when we sense the whole and not its parts’ (cited in Richards 2002. a shared solution. even destruction. we also lose the sense of distinction from the natural world. Schleiermacher provides some useful illumination of what was a shared concern and. In that state. if not a reflective awareness of it’ (Richards 2002. as Schleiermacher termed it. Feuerbach. enabled one to become conscious of one’s ‘immediate existential relationship’ with god. This concern was shared by many of Schelling’s contemporaries. Having lost the initiative as subject. discovered a sense of ‘absolute depend- ence’ on the absolute. the absolute or objective character of this dependence (Thandeka . 184) This was to experience ‘absolute dependence’ – to be conscious that one is ‘posited’ (Lamm 1996. the ‘feeling of finite things’ enabled the ‘feeling for being’ to arise (Lamm 1996. Moreover. 455–6). and Marx. we share the passivity usually associated with the external world. For Schleiermacher. For Schleiermacher. 96. anxiety. Spinoza’s Revolution 71 encompassing forms of consciousness and hence of philosophy – as an endless task. the encounter with the objective world promoted a sense of interdependence with other beings and of ‘absolute depend- ence’ upon god as the ground of being. Thandeka (1995. 32). who argued that the self. 54) – the experience of limitation. For Schleiermacher. It was explored at length by Schleiermacher. who ‘detected a feeling of depend- ence on the absolute ego. It was central to Goethe’s works too.

with it. as accessed through our senses (Lamm 1996). Knowledge of being was insepa- rable from knowledge of nature. By means of a strict application of the emphasis on independence or self-sufficiency. Lamm (1996) explained that. . that experience of limitation and restriction. the Body. Substance. Substance – including materiality – became immanent throughout all beings. with all beings origi- nally and always interdependent and yet varying in the manner and form in which that interdependence was exhibited or expressed. The experience of a pre-rational consciousness. as conceived of in terms of substance. one founded in the encounter with the world and in the experience of desire. of the corporeal. solitary god of Judaism and Christianity. for Spinoza and the many influenced by him. made the prompts towards a different sense of our substance or nature (a recogni- tion of interdependence and absolute dependence) immanent in life. of need for the world. with that expression varying and shifting in its particular instantiations whilst remaining constant as a whole. Conclusion Spinoza’s inversion of substance made a radical departure from the consensus that had dominated debates concerning human nature stretching back to Aristotle. It was an encounter born of interaction with the world – an ‘exis- tential encounter’ (Thandeka 1995. also founded Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit.72 Marx. was the point of Spinoza’s work – of determination by negation – from which the key elements of Hegel’s work in logic proceeded. from particular beings to the aggregate of all beings or nature. became the ‘one and the many’. This made the potential for trans- formation something possible in everyday experience. Spinoza transposed the site of that nature. The ‘I’ that reasoned was not separate from the sensuous self but born of struggle by and with it. Hegel made this theme of encounter central to his work. building on Fichte’s and Schelling’s work. the feeling of absolute dependence or interconnection could arise only through the experience of the resistance of the natural world. Hegel sought to resolve Kant’s dualism. Sensuousness made this capacity to encounter the world a central part of the human condition and. 13). The expe- rience of an encounter with another. There. So elevated did the mate- rial world become in Spinoza’s vision that it attracted the language ordi- narily reserved for the absolute. and Human Nature 1995). Hegel reasserted a non-dualistic model of human nature by founding the rational ‘I’ in the experience of corporeal need. immediately and diversely expressed by those beings. for Schleiermacher.

It made for being as endless striving – a becoming that could never cease. a profound trauma. a constant re-enactment and reconstitution. That very act of creation. It suggested the difficulty and tragedy of . and in the process matter ceased to be the stuff of foundations as traditionally conceived and became pure process – activity – itself. and ‘becoming’. then. made desire and its frustration – anxiety and pain – central to all being. Spinoza’s inversion. eternal. No longer was a particular being rooted in its own ‘internal’ solid foundation but an aggregate or ensemble of elements. but it made that craving an expression of that being and its satisfaction of that craving – the overcoming of the lack or limitation – its self-destruction. To satisfy desire and move towards substance required the loss of the very self that founded that momentum. It shifted that being’s foundation from ‘internal’ to ‘external’. of an immanent. Marx’s works. however. it became activity itself. Spinoza’s Revolution 73 The inversion of substance. They reflected the tensions inherent in Spinoza’s inversion of substance: of the coincidence of experiences of deep interconnection. These terms became central to the Romantic and idealist movements and. as well as one that was yet to be. any particular being exists only as a limitation of the all-encompassing substance – as some subset of relations carved out from the whole. Being had become ‘external’. ‘development’. made change for particular beings (now known as ‘essence’) of far greater consequence: they were not only interdependent but also vulnerable. whether that being was an individual or a group of like individuals such as a species. existing reality. All beings resonated with movement – a movement oriented outwards towards those interconnec- tions and distant foundations – that was described in terms of ‘expres- sion’. They reflected desire as a defining characteristic of being – a defining experience of incompletion as both a source of frus- tration and a goad towards action. Being became less the changeless. through them. It made becoming an act of self-sacrifice. as well as tension and conflict. It made particular being the site of the coincidence of forces. a nexus of tension and oppositions rather than harmonies. Not only did it make the very constitution of being the instantaneous transition from the fullness of constitution to the emptiness of craving. however. fixed stuff of the universe and more the mainte- nance of this ensemble. a giving up of being. On this view. simultaneously made it an incomplete being – one torn apart from its roots – and bound to experience that act of limitation/constitution as its inadequacy. enduring only so long as that combination continued. or equilibrium. mode. held together as an ensemble of compo- nents or forces through some shared mode or manner of being.

74 Marx. and Human Nature becoming – and of the depth of difficulty involved in giving up limited forms of self-understanding or self-consciousness in order to achieve richer ones. It suggested the reasons why Hegel relied on the confronta- tion with death and Marx on the extremities of alienation as the means by which we moved towards a more human and more interdependent existence. it suggested the need for an act that exceeded the capacity of that particular being – an act of self-realisation that could not be enacted by that being. . In doing so. and pain as obstacles to the good. anxiety. It finally thoroughly addressed the very credible founda- tions for the traditional treatment of uncertainty. limitation. It made not only particular being but also becoming deeply dependent on the ‘external’ and made the experience of pain and trauma central to that transfor- mation. the Body.

4 Hegel: Wrestling with Desire For Lenin (cited in Fine 2001. 423) are best understood with reference to Hegel’s concept of being. as evidenced by the works of Althusser (1996). 390) and to an ‘ensemble of relations’ in the theses on Feuerbach (1975g. a more interdependent understanding of the self). I argue that key passages in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit – namely. the ‘master/servant’ dialectic and the ‘unhappy consciousness’ – suggest the foundations for Marx’s confidence that the experience of alienation would promote ‘species conscious- ness’ (i. I argue that an exploration of Marx’s theory of human nature necessarily involves a consideration of Hegel’s work and that Marx drew on Hegel’s thought throughout his life in two respects. Levine (2012). and Reuten (2000). the extent of this influence has been and continues to be the focus of much debate. appears to have closely read Marx’s approach with regard to those parts of Hegel’s works. Colletti (1973). Scholars such as Arthur (2003. No one. Marx’s references to ‘objective being’ in his early works (1975e. In the second instance. where Hegel reviewed the traditional arguments regarding substance. Marx’s dialectic was founded in Hegel’s works on logic: in particular. I also place Hegel’s works in the context of the 75 .. Hegel’s influence on Marx was so obvious that he claimed ‘it is impossible completely to understand Marx’s Capital . Arthur (2004b). I survey these two aspects of Hegel’s works in prepara- tion for a detailed consideration of their contribution to Marx’s thought in Chapters 6 and 8. Hegel’s emphasis upon corporeal experience has attracted little attention. excepting Ollman (1976. However. 2004a. 72)... 2004b) and Levine (2012) have only recently concentrated on the influence of the earlier parts of the Science of Logic.. without having thoroughly studied and understood the whole of [Hegel’s] .. Whilst the extent to which Marx drew on those passages has been debated. Firstly. Logic’.e. In this chapter. 2003).

platonic characterisation. . as that has the greater relevance to Marx’s understanding of human nature. This. sought to resolve the difficulties posed by Kant. to both thwart particular expressions of the self and prompt the development of others. however. and others. Hegel’s Science of Logic directly considered the debate about the nature or substance of a being or thing. this scholarship also features much that is contested. however. like Fichte. Hegel. Beiser (2005) and Stern (2002) adopt a similar approach. and Human Nature debate concerning the nature or substance of a being. Other writers. 2) describes as a more ‘epistemological’ reading. gave Hegel’s works what Glazer (2011) and Pinkard (2004) describe as a metaphysical. My interpre- tation places Hegel squarely in the Spinozan monist conception of substance and as challenging Kant. both in terms of the longer-term debate and in relation to the more immediate prompts for Hegel’s work with regard to relevant scholarship. a ‘mythic confron- tation’ for a process internal to consciousness. In partic- ular. treat that passage as involving the external conflict of distinct combatants. such as Taylor (1975). For the purpose of my argument. they refer to the manner in which desire serves as a key influence in the development of a more social self. Pinkard (2000b and 2004). On the other hand.76 Marx. Almost all the key commenta- tors highlight the key role of desire in Hegel’s works. prominent scholars such as Honneth (2008). I have mostly drawn on the meta- physical or logical argument. the Body. even with their neo- Kantian reading. for example. This has been accompanied by what Heidemann (2008. who. and Pippin (1993 and 2011) place less emphasis on that characterisation and present Hegel as having continued and supplemented Kant’s work rather than oppose it. the master/servant passage in the Phenomenology is read as a metaphor or. L237) put it. Honneth (2008) and Pippin (2011). As noted in Chapter 3. 23). 1) has described as a form of ‘conceptual realism’ and gives a greater weight to Aristotle’s influence on Hegel. with a greater emphasis on textual context. More recently. is not as far a departure from other interpretations of Hegel as it may suggest. That argument suggests the ready ‘inversion’ Marx wrote of. had reinvigorated that debate. for example. thereby the power of something external to self-consciousness. given its greater consistency with Marx’s materialist argument. albeit with varying outcomes. whilst writing within the Spinozan tradition. With McDowell (cited in Pippin 2011). Schelling. It is what Heidemann (2008. The interpretation I present here is that which appears to have most influenced Marx. as Pippin (2011. Unsurprisingly. in claiming that ‘an “I think” must be able to accompany all my representations’ (cited by Bowie 2003.

423). then developed out of the subjective’. particularly his ‘ensemble of relations’ (1975g. It did not precede that expe- rience (Bowie 2003). challenged the primacy of self-consciousness by presenting all consciousness as dependent on its interaction in some way with some other. Hegel. For Hegel. Fichte. 170–1) characterises this starting point of the Phenomenology as a rejection of the ‘isolated subject’. Those passages explore key moments of transition and recognition as the products of extended periods of pain and suffering. was necessarily incomplete and deter- mined only by negation.. Kant’s claims insisted on the independ- ence of being – or at least its non-corporeal aspect – from the balance of nature. the starting point had to be an ‘already shared world’. or body. following on the initiatives of Fichte and Schelling. In Chapter 6. Whilst couched in terms of the quest for certain knowledge. To know itself – to develop its self-consciousness – was dependent on an encounter with an other. Hegel claimed that all being was mediated such that no being existed inde- pendently of others (Bowie 2003). Hegel rejected the treatment of being as independent: he argued that being was composed of an aggregate of properties or relationships. I argue that Marx’s conception of human nature. He argued that Kant. Rather than assume a certain unconditioned starting point. Hegel argued that the completion of that critique revealed that no concept or knowledge was complete until the system as a whole was revealed – that the determination of any concept. as Spinoza had insisted. as characterised by tension or pain in much the same way that Herder. Drawing on the Spinozan inversion of substance. only the totality satisfied the core criteria of substance: all other beings were intimately bound up with and dependent upon other beings so much so as to make being identical with activity or labour. Hegel: Wrestling with Desire 77 Kant insisted that the ‘I’ of self-consciousness had to precede our knowl- edge of every other thing (including our bodies) in order for there to be some capacity to make those observations. treated . no being was self-sufficient. in failing to consider the logic of concepts themselves. For Hegel.. had not gone far enough with his critique (Beiser 2005). drew directly on this aspect of Hegel’s work. This recognition shapes Hegel’s master/servant dialectic and unhappy consciousness. Those same works present that aggregate. with ‘knowledge of the objec- tive . Hegel identified the self with activity and with engagement with the ‘external’ world. Pinkard (2000a. and Schelling had understood the difficulty with which being could be fully expressed or realised. through the Phenomenology of Spirit. Hegel. including that of an individual. Rather.

desire repetitively challenged that sense of self founded in separation from the world and in a rationality distinct from our corporeality. In this chapter. Hegel suggested some of the attraction of those efforts and the tenacity with which they were pursued. Instead. he confronted the difficulties in responding to those experiences. the central theme of the Phenomenology of Spirit. Here again. Building on his pred- ecessors’ insights.78 Marx. 379). it ended only when extreme ascetic disciplines failed to still the experience of desire within one’s own body. I look to highlight the significance of those corporeal struggles to Hegel’s understanding of the fullest realisa- tion of self and prepare the ground to suggest later in this book how readily that understanding supported Marx’s materialist ‘inversion’ of Hegel’s work. This was. an embodiment so profound that Hegel described it as the ‘ethical substance’ (Taylor 1975. stable expression of one’s self. what has been less recognised is that Hegel’s wrestling with the demand for self-sacrifice did not end with that account. However. as tradi- tion had it. with its demand for the sacrifice of one’s previous sense of self. incompleteness. This chapter focuses on those two key passages of the Phenomenology as key points of transition from ideas of a self based on separation – the independent self – to a realisation of a more interdependent and social sense of self. that is. in many respects. and pain and the popular investment in their evasion. For Hegel. In particular. It drove that search through states of denial – states in which others were enslaved in order to evade that uncertainty and instability and states in which efforts were made to subordinate desire through ascetic disciplines. and Schelling before him. that Hegel argued one would sooner impose that cost on another. and Human Nature the foundation of this movement – the sensation of being incomplete or of desire – as a defining characteristic of being rather than. So fraught was the acquisition of a certain. Hegel founded the develop- ment of self-consciousness and rationality in desire rather than treat it as foreign to rationality. Hegel respected the traditional emphasis on the troubling experiences of anxiety. The master/servant dialectic is Hegel’s famous and widely debated account of the lengths to which some people go to avoid bearing that cost. some contagion or pathology. Hegel recognised the driving influence of desire and anxiety and made it a central theme in his Phenomenology. The Phenomenology also served as the justification and introduction . for Hegel. like Herder. Fichte. the Body. where the repetitive experience of desire was seen to obstruct a certain stable sense of self and to drive a search for a more secure foundation for identity. one based on mutual recognition and its embodi- ment in a range of social practices and institutions.

the recognition and development of the social or ‘ethical’ character of our being. which he detailed in his Logic and Science of Logic. It is for this reason that this chapter focuses on this particular selection from Hegel’s works. Hegel: Wrestling with Desire 79 to Hegel’s dialectic. Hegel’s account highlights the profound influence of desire as an expression of the limitation of any particular being. The acceptance of our corporeality was the catalyst enabling the acceptance of interdependence as fundamental to our nature and. expanded the concept of ‘essence’. I argue they provided the direct foundation for Marx’s own version of the dialectic and for the interpretation of key terms used by him. Building on Spinoza. These works distilled Hegel’s argument that the constitution of any particular being depended upon the continuity of its relationships with other beings. particularly those of ‘development’ and ‘becoming’. the very place to which Feuerbach and Marx were to return. we find a continued application of the concept of expression and a reconciliation of the differing perspectives offered by Spinoza and Herder. revealing his project as one of rational freedom. and provided the immediate materials from which Marx developed his own concept of human nature. which assumed the existence of some unique . Hegel went further. and pain held the promise of transformation through our inability to deny our corporeality and our eventual surrender of a claim to independence in the face of its resistance.1 In these works Hegel also featured the impact of limitation and pain. Hegel on being The Phenomenology served as a prologue to the Science of Logic. arguing that the experience of anxiety. In the Logic and in his lectures on the history of philosophy. however. It was. Hegel elaborated the critique of the emphasis on independence. reflecting their central importance to the tradition of argument about the nature or substance of a being. with consequences like alienation and pain – costs so profound and so troubling as to found ways of living built on their denial and avoidance and oppression of others and of the self to that end. limitation. desire left Hegel’s stage. from there. we also find a detailed exposition of other concepts that are central to Marx’s theory. and it is here and in the Logic that Hegel directly addressed the debate about the nature of being. From that point. Throughout these works and the Phenomenology. Hegel also emphasised the costs incurred when denying those desires. Hegel’s project is best understood as a critique of the traditional debate about nature or substance.

might very well exist without the sun. being something else than the sun.. (1975. 162). but an other as well.80 Marx. Nor. the Body. ... an Other was present and co-located because of their mutual reliance. and that the quality of being another attaches to it only from outside considerations. Hegel held that when a being was so defined. 128) On this criticism. it was to equate it with nothing: The distinction between Being and Nought is . again. Being. its Other (1975. necessarily involved a relationship with something else as the property of a thing consisted only in its difference to others. The Other was a negation of the conventional idea of being or substance because it contradicted the assumptions of independence and separation. 409). Like Spinoza. Hegel referred to this relationship between being and its Other as ‘essence’.. When we say ‘something else’ our first impression is that something taken separately is only something. Father is the other of son. 406. as a something. For every being. and each only is as this other of the other’. only implicit .. Essence was ‘Being coming into mediation with itself through the negativity of itself’. is the other of such a nature that we can think something apart from it. 263) later characterised . there could be only ‘determinate being’ – being with some particular character (1969. Thus we suppose that the moon. . and so is Nought. A distinction of course implies .. 441) illustrated this implicit Other using the idea of iden- tity as relational: ‘The most trivial examples.. that one of them possesses an attribute that is not found in the other. This character or property was identical not with the idea of a pure being but an Other to it – a negation or contradiction of this presumed state of separation: Given something. Hegel built an understanding of the world and life that did not rely upon on an assumption of separation. z136) Hegel (1969. It provided a way of envisioning the self that Seve (1978.. and up starts an other .. no distinction. a something is implicitly the other of itself. Hence the distinction is .. Being however is an absolute absence of attributes. and son the other of father.. has its other implicit in it.. we know that there is not something only. (1975. and Human Nature quality that was both separate from – and unaffected by – other passing qualities. then. Hegel proposed that once the idea of a property-free being or substance was abandoned. they only ought to be distinguished... But really the moon.

(Taylor 1975. [as] external to them.. their relation to one another [as] a non-relation. they do not appertain to knowl- edge and to the living organism. the organism is apprehended from the abstract side of lifeless physical existence: so taken. according to which the essence of things was the atom and the void’. They are .. and they are only insofar as they reciprocally negate one another. ..... whereas in reality.. Hegel discusses ‘the domain in which we see things not just by themselves. Democritus’s atomism was seen to offer an inadequate notion . the manifestation of a thoroughgoing systematic web of necessary relations’ (Taylor 1975... holistic account of the self.. and force.. on the contrary.. systems . to its own self. The traditional emphasis on separation was not only inadequate in rela- tion to inanimate objects but also to animate objects: [T]he organism .... 246) The ‘atomistic principle.. “immediately”. affirmative being [and] . .. It provided. In [those] .. the basis for Marx’s more open.. and hence encounter others. as we will see later... is not exhaustively expressed . In the chapter ‘Essence’ in the Logic. repulsion. 170) However. the one which excludes the ones relates itself to them.. because it conceives [the] relation [of the atoms] . their combination. but as founded on an underlying basis . an external bringing of them together. in the way anatomy analyses [it]. that is... The actual expression of the whole . This is not only a relating of them by us. treated the many [atoms as having] . as purely contingent . . 170–2.. 258). some atoms ‘swerve’.. Hegel (1969. .. emphasis in original) viewed this as an inadequate explanation: The [atoms’] repulsion is their common relation. the [atoms] can only exist in relation to each other.. Hegel illus- trated this with reference to both Democritean atomistic theory and contemporary concepts of attraction.. 166. repulsion is itself a relating.. to the ones. Hegel: Wrestling with Desire 81 as Hegel’s version of a ‘Copernican revolution’ – shifting the centre of being outwards and transforming the status of a relationship from mere accident to foundation.. its moments are elements of a corpse .. (Hegel 1969.

What is considered as one thing can equally be ... one part of a being did not exist without the other.. 68) However. ‘sweet’ and the rest coexist in a certain way.. . contrary to the traditional emphasis on some underlying unchanging foundation or characteristic. lies solely in its properties.. a mere collec- tion... This salt is a simple Here and at the same time manifold: it is white. This ‘essence’ was ‘the truth of being’ (Hegel 1969. and also pungent. 490–1) Properties – ‘external’ features – are what constituted a ‘thing’ and were not merely incidental aspects of it. this connexion of having no connexion alone constitutes the thing. and so on. A book is a thing and each of its leaves is also a thing. and again of others. 493–4) A being was thus composed of its contextual (or coinciding) properties – that is. It is.. which we can call Thinghood . of course. . (1969. also of a quantum of another.... that is surely the secret of the thing. Its properties were its relations with other beings: [T]he property is this reciprocal relation itself and apart from it the thing is nothing. therefore. ‘hard’. the thing itself which is white .. also cubical. 389): The thing as ‘this’ is .. is nothing else than . (Bradley 1959. and Human Nature [of an organism is] . the Body.. its relationships with other things: This abstract universal medium. running throughout the various parts. 16) .. then their difference is merely indifferent.): Sugar is.. etc. The determinateness through which one thing is this thing only. size. really found only as a process and a movement. .... their ‘also’. their merely quantitative relation. the separation or union of them is external... then . It consists of some quantum or other of a matter. one is speaking of a thing or things in general without any determinate property. Hegel’s being was not any random combination of properties but precisely those properties in relevant quantities (its specific weight. a simple togetherness.. 64... tart. but why should it be more than its properties in relation? When ‘white’. (Hegel 2003. (Hegel 1969. cubical . (Hegel 2003. not the mere plurality of its different adjectives. 157) In Hegel’s view (1969). considered as several things.82 Marx. like the mode which organised Spinoza’s aggregates. . If.

. at the very site at which the tradi- tion of debate about the nature of a thing thought it to reside. was an incomplete state because the Other was both part of and yet outside it. Its continuity – its essence – was constituted in that rela- tional dynamic. still implicit in the sphere of being.. rather than need per se. however. was always both an exception and temporary. Essence. for Hegel. Essence was ‘a still imperfect combination of immediacy and mediation . 770). too. Its ‘truth’ lay in the mediation of these relationships. 179–80) This unity. 165). its being depended upon an involvement with others that expanded towards the totality. the sphere in which the contradiction.. Constituted by a variety of relations. ‘the living being is for itself this disharmony and has the feeling of this contradiction. (1975. It is this ontological lack. in short. to understand a particular being demanded that one recognise the contradiction that resided within it. It was to posit an essential defect – an ontological lack – at the heart of being. are co-relative... it was defined against those situated outside the arena carved out by those relations. and form a world of recip- rocal dependence and of infinite interconnection. For Hegel (1969.. 179) – Hegel called it ‘existence’: It follows from this that existence is the indefinite multitude of existents . there is nowhere a firm footing to be found: every- thing bears an aspect of relativity. which is pain’. which. is made explicit’ but not resolved (1975. that provides the foundation . Life as pain It was out of this account of essence as becoming that Hegel under- stood the nature of pain. It was both founded in – and against – the totality of relations. Hegel: Wrestling with Desire 83 For Hegel. To penetrate to the ‘essence’ of being was to see that it was both complete and incomplete absent those ‘extrinsic’ relations.. a being or substance could not exist or act outside or inde- pendently of those relationships. Once a being achieved unity with its Other – ‘completed the circle of intermediation’ (Hegel 1975.. In this motley play of the world . The combination of this being and its Other – the stage at which the negation or contradiction of being by its Other was itself negated or resolved (the ‘negation of the negation’) – was the outcome of action. conditioned by and conditioning something else. by a particular locus or intersection of those various relations. For Hegel. Yet constituted. .

and pain. and it is the privilege of the sentient nature to feel pain. just because the sentient creature has the feeling of its self. It was to found being in desire and change: Animal wants and appetites .. Hegel (1969. is the urge to overcome this limitation and it does overcome it. (Hegel 1975. Being was to be discovered in the expansionary movement from a narrow to a comprehensive set of relations. energy.. 439) everything is inherently contradictory . These are characteristics that crop up everywhere in Aristotle. which is the totality that transcends this determinateness.. and pass into the activity of negating this negation which mere subjectivity still is. secondly.. It ....84 Marx. that of actuality or. Seve 1978).. which exists within the living subject.. that of potency . are the felt contradiction. it would not feel its nega- tion and would feel no pain. The satisfaction of the want or appetite restores the peace between subject and object. Appetite is . movement. Hegel understood being as contradiction. 235–6) drew on Aristotle’s concept of potential to capture the immanent... In this fashion. the Body. more precisely... 135) insisted that this experience of incompleteness need be neither disabling nor disheartening but rather act as a goad to action: The sentient creature. namely. . thirst. and.. (emphasis in original) Here Hegel (2006. no more adequate than the objective. cancels the antithesis between the objective . effervescent character of this drive: [T]here are two principal forms.. etc. it is only in so far as something has a contradiction within it that it moves. and the negation is determined as a limitation in its feeling. and Human Nature for Marx’s understanding of human agency (Hegel 1967. For Hegel (1969. 269) However. . It was found in the movement from an incomplete or inorganic unity to an internal organic unity and in the movement from the contradictory state of essence towards the totality. has an urge and activity. It feels pain. in the limitation of hunger. If it were not above and beyond the determinateness. the conviction that the subjective is only a half-truth.. contrary to the traditional debate about a nature or substance. and the subjective. it is a nega- tion in its self. and we must . contradiction is the root of all movement and vitality.

is on its own account an absolute process of permutation and transposition. exter- nalise itself. in other words. The inner life of God in itself is this very development. ‘capacity’ or ‘potentiality’.... the relation of inciting and the relation of the opposed determinate content. Each of these two sides. we have not yet posited activity. ie. ‘potency’ is not ‘force’ but rather .. In saying ‘essence’ . this other cancels its external expression. Hegel: Wrestling with Desire 85 be familiar with them in order to grasp his meaning. the plant is developed from its germ.. It was the movement . this other comes forward soliciting or inciting it to reflect into self.. because every- thing living. Development is the movement or vitality . while it drew on Aristotle’s work (Hegel 1994. through them. from the feeblest to the noblest.. or setting forth.. to turn the pseudo-external factor into a factor of itself. drove that being to repeatedly open itself to the ‘external’ through the very process of its self-expression: Since of necessity it has to be this subsistence. they expressed their existing dependence on the one universal substance: The concept of development is a wholly universal concept.. The concept of essence described a bundle or ensemble of relations with a variety of objects and. 84) This process was ‘development’: the ‘positing of what it is in itself . was indebted to Spinoza. . a range of contradictions that were experienced as pain or disease. This.. Hegel held all beings were founded on and deeply involved in the totality. in turn. (Hegel 2003. Whereas Aristotle sought to present particular beings as independent. Specifically. .. No ‘pure’ being existed – only beings bound up with others. a coming forth. of nature. as an utterance or expression.. 214).. 224z) This concept of development.g.. for God . (Hegel 1975. It made change central to rather than the contradiction of continuity. by which that only is explicit which is already implicitly present. . its expression takes the form that the other approaches it and incites it . Thus e. is development.... a coming- out-of-self’ (Hegel 1970. to express... posits . All beings were engaged in a movement of deepening engagement with the ‘external’ world as the only means by which to express their own essence – and in so doing. 78.. 24z).

. nor the bare process of this form.. the first unity of opposed characteristics. resolves its own devel- opment. and at the same time there is absolute identity with self – an absolute movement that is at the same time absolute rest. By ‘becoming’ we understand arising and perishing . . for becoming contains the identity of the two. subsisting form.. In this determinate being there is the eternal creation of the world . the life of God or of spirit.. . my emphasis).. .. the conti- nuity of a movement: ‘The object is in its essential nature the same as the process’ (Hegel 2003. and Human Nature a distinction and brings himself to determinate being.. This series is not to be represented as a straight line but as a circle.. . to being for another. 100. Hegel (2006. in effect. 92.. The entire circuit of this activity constitutes Life. then. Here. a series of developments. infi- nite movement’ and the self as ‘this very unrest’ (2003. my emphasis) This process.Absolute development. 74–5) reached back to Heraclitus to present this being-in-flux as ‘becoming’: Heraclitus says that everything is becoming. it is the whole which develops itself.. of being and non being. (Hegel 1994. and in this movement simply preserves itself.. ‘expres- sion’ and ‘development’ – require that ‘we . This process and the terms Hegel used to grasp it – namely. It is a great thought to pass over from being to becoming. 63). It is neither what is expressed to begin with. . (Hegel 2003. the setting up of individual forms lying apart and undis- turbed in the universal medium of independent existence.. is simply a process .. 12. and the process of life – collapse into one another. think pure flux’ as ‘the substance of the independent forms’. .. that is. This is contained in the expression ‘Being no more is than is non-being’ – this is precisely becoming. the Body. 84.. nor the stable. the discrete individual which exists on its own account. 52. It is none of these.. it is still abstract. moreover. for it . 101–2) The preservation of any particular being. a return into itself. the immediate continuity and concrete solidity of its essential nature.. that we regard life as ‘endless.86 Marx. viz. This unity is what is true... could not be understood in isolation nor could particular beings: Thus both the sides of the entire movement which were before distin- guished. they are identical. The latter are thus restless in this relationship. but at the same time it is also the first concrete element. was.

One can understand the potential of a thing to be central to what that thing is: in its own strength it overcomes the limitation and attains a being beyond it. 172) All beings. Hegel (later Marx. engaged in these processes of expression. of being and objects. of being blossom. to move towards a fuller expression of the totality even when that conflicts with the movements of other things. and becoming. All beings had part of their essence located ‘outside’ their selves and were driven to unify their ‘internal’ and ‘external’ aspects – to organise themselves more securely or completely (1975. too) described as the relationship between the individual’s ‘organic’ and ‘inorganic’ body. and dependence: It is an ancient proposition that the one is many and especially that the many are one . The nature of a living being was best understood as activity. relation- ship. In like fashion. a repulsion and attraction – not as being.. Spinoza had already highlighted the tensions then immanent in life.. development. . development. which in the case of human beings. This made the experience of limitation and resist- ance an ordinary and unavoidable feature of development in the combi- nation of subject and object. only as becoming.. On Hegel’s terms. and that realisation can clash with the move- ments of other beings affected by it. (Hegel 1969. however.. 134) insisted that even a stone. The thing can be expected to move towards the unification of essence. It may equally aptly be considered in terms of resistance – of the contradiction posed by one particular being to another’s expression. ‘transcends its limitation’. all beings engaged in their own movement. 135. 766). leaf. Hegel emphasised the central role of contradiction. this truth is to be grasped . Everything has some potential to be realised. which . Hegel (1969. animate and inanimate. fruit. as a determinate being. has the character of a stable unity.. The objects of each being’s expansionary movement were themselves engaged in movement. or movement. This principle of motion itself is becoming. 134. as a process. 135) In his Science of Logic. simi- larly. Hegel: Wrestling with Desire 87 contains the principle of vitality. development. . The plant transcends the limitation of being a seed.... expres- sion. (Hegel 1969. and becoming.

the singularity of the “plastic individual” becomes an essence a posteriori’ (Malabou 2005. Rather than the pre-existing. however. to live was to experience ‘this disharmony’. then. Habit makes it possible to retain the changes that occur and to expect that they will recur. Hegel treated the experiences of uncertainty and pain not as exceptions or pathologies but as inherent to being itself. Standing against the traditional approaches to a nature or substance. 75) The open character of being – as intimately involved in the ‘external’ and perpetually engaged in becoming – made any particular being ‘plastic’ (Malabou’s term). The relative independence of other beings and their potential resistance to the movement towards unification that mark the stages of becoming made all beings contingent. Some sense of secure stability could be experienced by ignoring the call of contra- diction and desire – by dampening and denying the dual tensions of expression which. the Body. for a kind of inherent restlessness. Hegel. To be was to expe- rience this tension and to not feel ‘at home’ in the world. 64. was always vulnerable to the character of being as ‘becoming’. Continuity was no longer secured by a stable unity but by a process or habit that. formed the foundation of the character and continuity of any being. It made it difficult for a being to find its ‘home’ in the world. this ‘feeling of contradiction.. as the stability preferred in the traditional debate about nature or substance always remains a state to be achieved. One response to this pain was to impose its management on others or to deny its claims on one’s self and pursue some kind of ascetic disci- pline. even precarious achievement: ‘Effected by habit. Hegel explored these evasions in the Phenomenology. whilst tending towards repetition. 770). to deny one’s self – to .88 Marx. made particular being an uncertain. [It] is the process whereby the contingent becomes essential. The tension and productivity – the volatility in the sense of some imminent transformation – that characterised any particular being made.. (Malabou 2005. As Hegel emphasised (1969. . predefined certainties suggested by the traditional debate about a nature or substance. which is pain’. for Hegel. and this Hegel calls the ‘impression of selfhood’. like Spinoza. This was. 73–4). and Human Nature Hegel used the category of habit to refer to the regular ways in which this process of unification occurred: Habit is what gives a being the impression of its existence as some- thing continuous.

Taylor 1975). The Hegelian man is above all a man of habits. some nature or substance. consciousness and will. a disappearing subject. In this sense. The Phenomenology It is for this reason that the Phenomenology has been described as the prologue to the Logic (Stern 2002. paradoxically. Contrary to tradi- tional approaches to characterising the nature or substance of a being. Hegel: Wrestling with Desire 89 engage in a self-defeating act. It was an identity that. of one’s immersion and participation in the totality. A stable sense of being. where those realities. Moreover. by virtue of the movement immanent throughout all being. win their force through a kind of self-absenting. again in the sense of separation and boundaries. it was an effort to explain and reconcile the two different dimen- sions of expression. however. 75) could draw on Hegel to conclude that Man does not have a substance. however. . it was a pathway that was destined to fail until the demand for separation or independence was abandoned – until being was reconceived in the nontraditional terms of involvement and dependence and one could feel at home in the world through feeling an identity with all the world. under the influence of repeated practice. and that means. was both dependent upon and pained by limitation. the more it becomes clear that human subjectivity is constituted in self-forgetting. A being could secure some stability. as Taylor (1975. The more closely habit is studied. Malabou (2005. that revealed the foundations of the Logic. by imposing limits on its self – a habitual separation from the world and from others. It involved a certain self-concept and encounter with ‘realities on which [that particular person] depends’. drawn from the experience or phenomena of being. founded on a notion of separation.. . a denial that was bound to fail because the very nature of one’s being was constituted by that involvement. was bound to be undermined and disrupted. Limitation here. 137) has pointed out. do not meet the requirements of that dependence but contradict it.. It remained. It was an argument. a denial of one’s essence. forcing one from pain to pain and from one grasp of self and identity to reaching for another. This was the pathway Hegel explored in his Phenomenology. was central to the constitution of a particular being or self.

Self-consciousness is thus unable by its negative relation to the object to abolish it.. in the sense emphasised by Herder. was central to Hegel’s project. one that embraced rather than excluded the corporeal. as well as the desire. It is an account of the effort to experience a nature or substance. temporary satis- factions. however. in order that this cancelling may be effected. culture. only assured of itself by sublating this other. in part. rather than limitation by. or ‘spirit’. of the forced surrender of those ambitions. No sooner did one satisfy a desire and affirm one’s sense of independence than desire arose anew to contradict that sense of self. whereby the rational is treated as the foundation of human nature and as freed from corporeal influence.. for the certainty exists through cancelling this other.103) highlights the character of self-consciousness prompted by corporeal experience – desire – and the failure to subordinate that desire: [S]elf-consciousness is . 148) put it. which were addressed. the realisation of this goal – of experiencing an identity with. 102. It was a movement in which the corporeal (or matter) played a central part. Desire and the certainty of its self obtained in the gratification of desire. are conditioned by the object. the external world – could occur only when one saw oneself as an ‘emanation’ of that world. of their failure. Hegel (2003. and so. it has experience of the independence of its object. and practices of a society – when the expression of being.. which is presented to self-consciousness as an independent life: self- consciousness is Desire.. No sooner did one secure a sense of stability and independence than the . . institutions. It was the movement through which the immanent interconnection. becomes iden- tical with that of Spinoza. the Body. and Human Nature The Phenomenology narrates a search for a world that reflects or provides a ‘home’ for a particular understanding of one’s self. In [the] state of satisfaction. because of that it rather produces it again. as tradition- ally understood in terms of separation. The embodiment of this Geist. It made the Phenomenology an account of the redefinition of the rational. Life turned on the experience of painful contradictions. captured in Spinoza’s approach to expression. through an endless cycle of empty.90 Marx. It is an account of an effort to secure a world that is free of desire and its uncertainties and demands and of the productivity of those efforts. As Taylor (1975. ultimately. 101. becomes embodied in the thought. there must be this other. In the Phenomenology. of the civilisations they established.

38) argues.. and ‘it is just this unrest that is the self’. which he called reason.. [and] dismemberment . This is the ‘tremendous power of the negative’ which underlies the very ontology of human selfhood. Hegel was engaged in a radical critique of a central strand of the traditional debate about the nature of being. Hegel’s Phenomenology is an account of the attempt to assert the traditional char- acterisation of human nature as separate and independent in the face of the challenges posed by matter. the experience of change. and thus. As Berthold-Bond (1998. but rather the life that endures it and maintains itself in it’. In doing so. universal pre-existing rational capacities. keeps itself untouched by devastation . . Central to that critique was one of Hegel’s most striking and influential ideas: the master/servant dialectic.. it details the journey of self-discovery of consciousness. Throughout the Phenomenology. substituting a social founda- tion for individual.. abstract.. . and the depth to which they challenged the desired sense of stability and security. . This partly reflects its role as one of the most significant responses to Kant’s arguments.. the desire for self-unification... The various shapes consciousness takes on this voyage are each attempts to respond to . as Beiser (2005) and Jenkins (2009) put it. it is always incomplete.. The self is never able to achieve a lasting satisfaction . The master/servant dialectic The interpretation of this dialectic. always .. remains one of the most complex and contested aspects in the literature on Hegel and on the Hegel-Marx relationship. however. inherent. such that ‘the life of spirit is not the life that . separate individual to that dependent on the universal. the fundamental experience of discord which is the dynamic element of all life.. Hegel charted the basis for a change in self-consciousness – from the particular... Hegel: Wrestling with Desire 91 sensation of incompletion and need returned to undermine it.2 Hegel saw that corporeal experience repeatedly provided such a sense of contradiction in one’s self that it drove a search for other forms of certainty and stability – for other means to enjoy the sensation of a secure nature or substance... .. becoming... the overcoming of disparity between our actual situation in the world and our possi- bilities. Yet unity is a perpetually vanishing achievement: again and again the tantalizing possibility of security and certainty is lost. ever restless in desire.

(Hegel 2003. It was an effort to secure ‘a standing negation. some of which are open to dramatically varied translations. So intent was each on proving its independence or freedom from nature. Hegel (2003. 107) It demanded the demonstration that one conformed to the traditional emphasis on separation or independence. 107) argued that self-consciousness required the recognition of another self-conscious- ness and that the dialectic was based upon the effort to sublate all others so as to reveal the self as ‘a pure abstraction of existence’. Unlike other objects of desire. and Human Nature These difficulties are exacerbated by the ambiguity of many of the terms used by Hegel. which contains the dialectic. Springing from the experience of contradiction.92 Marx. as amounting to a completely different work to the preceding chapters (Dudley 2008). 106. The brevity of text (less than nine pages) has added to these difficulties. another human being had the capacity to meet the desire for recognition without himself having to change. these characteristics of the text limit the extent to which surrounding materials can aid its interpretation. The latter has promoted ‘patchwork’ interpretations of the Phenomenology. consists in showing itself [self-consciousness] as a pure negation of its objective form. The Herrschaft-Knechtshaft dialectic was one stage in the search for a certain. each one bent on proving its ‘abstract existence’. Nevertheless. Whilst contemporary research (such as Pippin 2011) favours a more inte- grated interpretation. with some treating chapter 4. that it is not bound at all by the particularity everywhere characteristic of existence as such. where desires could be met without the loss of the other. and the effort to evade the influence of the corporeal was central to it. the Body. It is on the basis of such an attentive reading that I argue that there needs to be a greater emphasis on the role of the corpo- real in understanding the master/servant dialectic. This was potentially available ‘in other men in so far as they recognise him as a human being’ (Taylor 1975. it led . Securing this recognition as a free rational being. stable sense of self defined in terms of rationality. as the later research emphasises. whose otherness could be negated without its being abolished’.3 That dialectic was founded in the search for certain knowledge of one’s self. these very difficulties make a close reading of the text necessary. however. as does the apparent change in focus in the chapter. This search ultimately involved the encounter between two self-con- sciousnesses. and is not tied up with life. 152). or in showing that it is fettered to no determinate existence.

in Hegel’s presentation. the literature has only recently begun to give due recogni- tion to the corporeal in Hegel’s overall project. and its essential nature is to be for itself. I am not the first to make this point. The struggle here was a fiercely physical one. being forced to act for the other and thereby assume consciousness ‘in the form and shape of thinghood’: The one is independent. However. the influence of the corporeal is surpassed by rationality. Hegel was well versed in politics and could readily have presented this encounter as a negotiation. which is the sense conveyed by the widespread focus on the conflict as one of social or normative recognition. in the service of a further elaboration of the possibility of intentional consciousness’. 149). independent of the perceived corruptions of corporeal desire – is a vital. for example. However. 82). The former is the Master. sees Hegel’s use of ‘desire’ as a reference to ‘corpo- real activity’ and the subject’s ‘own biological nature’. the servant. That struggle concluded with one.. including McDowell (1996). The subordination of the servant in this dialectic initially appears as the master successfully asserting freedom from the corporeal and its uncer- tainties. Hegel presents the subordination of the servant as . A number of writers. Whilst. histor- ical. Corporeal desire drove them to and fuelled that fight as well as its resolution. The more recent emphasis on a close reading of the text has led to a number of writers highlighting the influence of the corporeal. Hegel’s works provide a powerful argument that desire – notwithstanding our most determined efforts to assert our freedom as pure rational beings. 79. 108) The master could secure his sense of identity – his sense of self as inde- pendent – only through oppressing another.. inseparable part of us. (Hegel 2003. the latter. I promote a better appreciation of that role. notwithstanding others’ criticisms of him. I think Pippin (2011. so desperate had the protagonists become. 107). Honneth (2008. understate the corporeal character of this encounter. or Lord. Proof of their self-con- cept – that their character or substance was distinct from the natural world – led them to place their lives at risk. l. I show that these were not the terms used by Hegel.4 best captures Hegel’s approach in stating that Hegel deals with ‘a corporeal. That corporeal subject features throughout the first four of the Phenomenology’s eight chapters. the [Servant]. the other is dependent and its essence is life or existence for another. labouring subject . Through this chapter. Hegel: Wrestling with Desire 93 to a ‘life and death struggle’ (Hegel 2003.

It is not an independent. by virtue of his acceptance of limitation and restraint and surrender of a demand for independence – experiences a profound change..94 Marx. Here the effort to confirm a sense of the self as separate and independent revealed its flaw – absent some permanent resistance. it was only with the substitution of a social form of certainty – mutual recognition – that the Sisyphus-like trial of corporeal experience could be escaped. It would be only through restraint that this cycle could be stilled (Hegel 2003).. uncertain grip of desire (Kojève 1980).. the extremity of that experience – the confrontation with death – provided the possibility of developing an even stronger sense of independence: [B]ecause [the Servant] .. The master’s willingness to struggle to the death did not secure his own certainty or freedom from desire. rather than confirming his independence. 152).. has trembled . his concept of himself as free and independent was overturned through subordination to the master. Stern 2002). Instead of a stable experience of recognition. [he] felt the fear of death. he really finds that something has come about quite different. and Human Nature inadequate to provide the master with certainty. by virtue of his subordination and its continuation in corpo- real labour – that is.. has experienced this reality within [himself] .. The capitulation of the servant did not provide the required ‘standing negation’ (Taylor 1975. alike. [his] entire being. it left the master in the unstable. but rather a dependent consciousness that he has achieved. 110) Here.. The master himself degraded the servant from an equal. the sovereign master . [he] . (Hegel 2003. . rational being (at least potentially) to a mere instrument of the master’s will no different from the other objects used to satisfy his desires and so unable to provide the desired stable experi- ence of recognition (Beiser 2005.. the outcome of the struggle ‘degraded’ the master’s ‘status as a rational being’ and ‘regressed’ him back to his ‘animal desires’ (2005... nor for this or that moment of time.. was afraid for .. Indeed. 189). . However. In the first instance. not in peril or fear for this element or that. in that experience [he has been] melted to .... the person who gained most from the confrontation is the servant. The servant. In Beiser’s words. For Hegel. the master returned to the cycle of desire. the Body. [his] inmost soul. notwithstanding the failure to uphold his self-concept.

Hegel insisted that this transformation was equally dependent upon the experience of fear being protracted over time in an intensely intimate way – through the restraint of desire (Taylor 1975. ultimate nature of self-consciousness’.. are necessary. 111–12) However. in serving and toiling the [Servant] actually carries this out . (2003. its substance has not been through and through infected thereby. It had brought being and non-being together in unity: the idea of the self as absolutely free. ‘the prospect of death shakes them loose’.... In addition. [his] entire substance. the master was unable to participate in this ‘negative dialectic’.. . [his] every fibre.. This protracted confrontation ensured the comprehensive dissolution of the servant’s former sense of self: [T]his [Servant]’s consciousness is not only this total dissolution in a general way [following from the fear of death]. Notwithstanding his dominion. (Hegel 2003. but merely some slight anxiety. as it enabled the servant to better experience the resistance or ‘independence’ of the objects of his labour (2003. unlike the master. as contrasted with essence). fear and service in general .6 In Taylor’s words (1975. the negative reality has remained external to it. It forced the servant to consciously confront ‘the simple... [him]. it is still inherently a determinate mode of being... . 155). Since the entire content of its natural consciousness has not tottered and shaken.... this thoroughgoing restraint and discipline simultaneously provided the basis for the development of a stronger sense of self. 110. together with the experience of absolute servitude (being for self contrasted with being for another – nature or substance. For the servant the ‘transitoriness of life’ is ‘brought home’ (Stern 2002.. If it has endured not absolute fear. [his] stability into fluid continuity.. [the] absolute dissolution of all . fear remains formal and does not spread over the whole known reality of exist- ence. pure self-referent existence’ (2003. and all that is fixed and steadfast has quaked within .. Jenkins 2009. 110)5 This is the experience – the trauma – Hegel thought to be central to the transformation of consciousness. 84). Stern 2002). Without [their] . which was ‘absolute negativity. was able to sublate the objects he worked on. traditionally understood in terms of separation and independence..7 The servant.. discipline . He could annihilate their . Hegel: Wrestling with Desire 95 throughout . [He experienced the] complete perturba- tion of . 109).. 110)..

my emphasis) put it. [that] this consciousness of the [Servant] comes to itself. The conscious- ness that toils and serves accordingly attains by this means the direct apprehension of that independent being as its self. more was needed. the Body.. ‘The ‘Unhappy Consciousness’. This negative mediating agency. calculation. into something that is permanent and remains. Moreover. this passage provides even stronger suggestions of a collective social experience than a prac- tical. remained enslaved. .. with its central refer- ences to Stoicism. the [Servant] becomes aware. Labour . the sense of self – of essence – acquired by the servant in ‘cancelling’ the form of an object remained inadequate. and consciousness. Hegel considered this in the following section. because it is just for the labourer that the object has independence. scepticism.. which Honneth (2008. however. corporeal one. and this finds.. and Human Nature form and substitute a new one. The servant. ‘The Unhappy Consciousness’ continues Hegel’s account of the master/servant relationship. His experience of freedom was ‘merely stoic independence. As Hegel (2003. My argument. . delibera- tion. including awareness. cognition. is at the same time the individual existence . is desire restrained and checked. which now in the work it does is exter- nalised and passes into the condition of permanence. through this rediscovery of himself by himself. for Hegel. . 110–1. 77) describes as ‘the transition from a natural [or animal] to a spiritual [or rational] being’. of having and being ‘a mind of his own’. The unhappy consciousness The interpretation of this passage is as complex as the master/servant dialectic.. The negative relation to the object passes into the form of the object.8 However. sense. knowledge. and Christianity... this activity giving shape and form. As such. The unhappy consciousness (das unglückliche Bewusstsein) is equally difficult to translate. it was only [t]hrough work and labour.96 Marx. It remained a stage in the movement towards a sense of the self rooted in universal reason. Thus precisely in labour where there seemed to be merely some outsider’s mind and ideas involved. is that close attention to the text demonstrates that this remains a stage of the intimately corpo- real experience explored in the foregoing parts of the Phenomenology. having secured a stable sense of self. with Bewusstsein suggestive of a diversity of meanings. however.. the independence of thought.

one that was ‘indifferent towards natural existence’ and thus ‘merely the notion of freedom. constituting the unhappy consciousness (2003. was that of ‘desire’. Hegel: Wrestling with Desire 97 by passing through the process of scepticism. the lord and the [servant]. As a result. experienced a stoic sense of freedom. saw that painful experience as essential to better comprehending our nature or essence. Here again. here. The inability to resolve the contradictions of being produced this experience. 124). 119) explored the experience of alienation as ‘the Unhappy Consciousness. a doubled and merely contradictory being’. was where Hegel saw the potential for a different sense of the self to emerge. Jenkins 2009). This constituted a ‘triple process’ (2003. This. rather than ‘grasping [their] real nature’ (2003. the Alienated Soul which is the consciousness of self as a divided nature. in Hegel’s view. The first activity of this triple process dealt with ‘pure consciousness’ in the form of ‘pure emotion’ and ‘infinite yearning’ (2003. In the same section. Moreover. just as in the master/servant dialectic. scepticism and Christianity – references not only to systems of belief but to ways of life. Hegel (2003. This consciousness involved a heightened effort to elevate itself beyond corporeal life by engagement with the ‘unchangeable’ – an account of the influence of Christianity (2003. Hegel (2003) emphasised the central role of corporeal resistance in transforming those senses of the self. the contradiction previously ‘divided between two individuals. This condition. As a result. one that Berthold-Bond (1998. 115). which is determinate and tied to corporeal life and paralleled the position of the master (only now within the one consciousness). 116). not living freedom itself’ (Hegel 2003. Hegel presents the continuing effort to secure an independent. 440). That consciousness ‘merely [felt]’ its objects. like Herder and those following him. its ultimate truth in that form we called the “unhappy self-consciousness” – the soul of despair’ (Hegel 2003. subject to domination.9 For Hegel (2003. 123). free self with reference to Stoicism. [was] concentrated into one’. Hegel explored a set of senses of the self – of substance and essence – that treat the non-corporeal as essential and the corpo- real as inessential (Beiser 2005. scepticism progressed beyond this through the recognition of this contradiction and the assertion of the full freedom of thought in negation as ‘thinking which wholly annihilates the being of the world’. 118–19). 122). 48) described as the ‘deepest descent into the anguish of self-division’. This first process . Hegel. Contrary to the traditional negative characterisa- tion of anxiety and pain. however. The servant. it turned back on itself and became mere ‘self feeling’. 120–2).

that it is precisely its desire itself which is the source of despair. So critical was this issue. the self became conscious that ‘its actual performance . the unchange- able’ (2003. finds itself merely desiring and toiling . becomes a doing of nothing at all’ (2003. in ‘appearance’. or nature.. This prompt. addressed the manner in which the tradition of debate had pathologised it. Here. the object of Christianity – ‘the unchangeable’ or god – cannot be cancelled and so cannot provide the parallel experience of confirmation of independence: The unhappy consciousness . That is. which it seeks to destroy’. remained superficial in Hegel’s view because a sense of division from ‘the beyond’ remained (2003. the Body. in the literature.98 Marx. however. In this condition. my emphasis). Matter had long been the ‘enemy’ in traditional debates about the substance or nature of a being. the source of its wretchedness. is. therefore. 126).. this rejection of tradition.. [are] an external gift [from] ..... renounced the ‘satisfaction of its self feeling’ but had not done so in actuality (2003. In a setting where desire and subordination coexist and contradict each other... It remained subject to the instability and uncertainty of desire. that Hegel presented it as again another ‘fight to the death’ (although. It was the source of the contradictions to the stable continuity that was seen as the ‘truth’ of a being’s character or nature. it has not attracted any of the attention given to the more overt struggle presented in the preceding dialectic). which similarly parallels the experience of the servant in dealing with objects. personal essence. that confir- mation of its own existence which it would receive through work and enjoyment. In this withdrawal from corporeal labour and activity. the self was ultimately forced to become conscious of itself ‘in the functions of animal life’ (2003. 126).. as Berthold-Bond (1998. ‘the condition of desire and labour’ (2003. The experience of alienation prompted the develop- ment of a sense of self that was profoundly dependent upon the ‘external’ rather than some internal. 127). secure. substance. its inner life really remains still a shattered certainty of itself. and Human Nature thus turns to the second.. just as tottering and insecure (2003. Here Hegel. 127).. in imagining a confrontation with matter. The despairing soul thus comes to see its desire as the “enemy” lurking within it. ‘the self [discovered] . The self then. 48–9) put it. 124–5. 124). however. Hegel presented the assertion of independence in the form of passive resistance to the .. the effect of alienated labour is to promote a sense of one’s exist- ence and abilities as a gift from ‘the unchangeable “beyond”’ – a sense that one’s ‘faculties and powers . . 125)..

nonetheless had the potential to move beyond a sense of one’s self as independent to one grounded in a sense of ‘gratitude’ and interdependence. as Martin Heidegger puts it in another context. 128) thought that ‘both the feeling of its misfortune and the poverty of its own action [were] points of connection . in the face of failure. with ‘fastings’ and ‘mortifications’ (2003.. In effect. enabled the develop- ment of a universal consciousness. and become precisely the most important consideration. It is precisely through the torment of experiencing the self as an utterly torn and divided nature that. 127) This ‘attempted immediate destruction of its actual existence’. (2003.. 128) This failure to overcome the corporeal. promoted . however... is of no significance . Berthold-Bond (1998. [and thereby] put off its unhappy condition’ (2003.. conscious- ness.. having failed again but on so intimate a level. and at the same time was forced to ‘[disclaim] all power of independent self existence’ and to ‘[ascribe] this power as a gift from above . with the unchangeable’. was destined to fail: Since. are rather an object of strenuous concern and serious occupation.. (2003... The experience of alienated labour. 129) directed against its own bodily functions: These latter. torn consciousness is open to admit the Absolute’ . really never gets away from him and finds itself constantly defiled.. there is what might be called a narrative rift through which a therapeutic resolution of despair is admitted. however. This experience of nega- tion drove the dialectic of becoming. unable to dominate the corpo- real. by giving the enemy a fixedness of being and of meaning . Hegel (2003. the self was ‘stripped . instead of being performed unconsciously and naturally as something which .... The extremity of corporeal pain – like the sharp extremities of desire or fear – confronted in the effort to embrace ascetic discipline. the self experienced itself as a gift with ‘gratitude. Hegel: Wrestling with Desire 99 corporeal as an ascetic-like discipline.. 50) presented this experience as providing the possibility of resolution. 129). ‘through the rift [of division]. of its Ego’ and of its self ‘deception’. however this enemy creates itself in its very defeat. Here again. including one’s own body.

. (Hegel 2003. It disrupted the narrative in which the sense of self as independent. independent. 440) Those ‘cruel words’ were drawn from a prominent theme in medieval mysticism: god (as Christ) had to die bodily in the world so as to be reborn in spirit. 104) referred to in ‘The ‘Unhappy Consciousness’. the common objective of that and the preceding ‘Lordship and Bondage’ passage. several elements were essen- tial to enable that change: the consciousness of the other and depend- ence upon that other to secure a sense of self (mutual recognition). loss of essential being.. Only so and only then is it self-consciousness in actual fact. and capable of domination. in the traditional terms of a nature or substance – was revised. 106).... For Hegel.. The phrase ‘God is dead’ pointed to the period between death and rebirth – a time of transition born of ‘alienation. It is consciousness of the loss of everything of signifi- cance . Whilst. . is the experience of what mind is – this absolute substance. [and] meaninglessness’ (Von der Luft 1984. this experience did not complete the process (its full development is detailed in the balance of the Phenomenology).. 130).. it is the bitter pain which finds expression in the cruel words ‘God is dead’. . It provided an account that respected the attrac- tion and resilience of this sense of self but suggested the circumstances in which change might still occur. and Human Nature a ‘rift’ or tear in that sense of self founded in the traditional emphasis upon separation. Ego that is ‘we’. Hegel’s discussion of lordship and bondage and the unhappy conscious- ness offered an account of the process by which a sense of self as sepa- rate and independent – that is. 103.. the Body. he thought it was the necessary catalyst for the ‘idea of Reason’ to ‘arise’. the need for some profoundly traumatic experience to negate one’s sense of self as separate. loss of self-certainty. for Hegel (2003. the need for . It was the tragic fate that befalls certainty of self which aims . a plurality of Egos and ‘we’ that is a single Ego. What conscious- ness further has to become aware of. It had brought separate self-consciousnesses to the state in which ‘they could recognise themselves as mutually recognizing one another’ (2003.100 Marx. 265.. the loss of substance as well as of self. intolerable pain . at being self-sufficient. 266). non-corporeal rationality was grounded. loss of substance . the objective Hegel set out immediately before the latter passage commenced: A self-consciousness has before it a self-consciousness.. This was the ‘gift’ Hegel (2003..

perfect god. it suggests how the experience of corporeal pain can overcome that sense of self defined in terms of non-corporeal rationality (and in freedom from the corporeal). Hegel’s account recognised both the ambiguity of those prompts and the capacity of ideas of separation to resist the contradic- tions they provide. In Hegel’s eyes. Hegel’s consideration of the Greek religions. This transformation was not only considered in the Phenomenology. This approach. In doing so. that is. . one that provokes a deeply painful experience of ‘pining’ and ‘loss’ (Taylor 1975. 502). Nevertheless. ‘The Unhappy Consciousness’ also demon- strated how the very character of self-consciousness repeatedly produces these prompts – how a human existence regularly and necessarily contra- dicts our concepts of independence. Hegel’s account in chapter 4 of the Phenomenology suggests how alien- ated corporeal labour. Hegel also considered it in his account of religion. leaving man with a profound sense of incompletion and ‘absence’ (1975. sees humanity face a world that is ‘no longer in unity with him’. promoted both pain and the potential for transfor- mation. ‘Prompt’ is used deliberately here to suggest a catalyst or possibility but not a certainty. In particular. 159) emphasised how the corporeal. Taylor (1975. In considering this point. His consideration of Judaism. unsurprisingly. The periods spanned by both the Phenomenology and Hegel’s account of religion suggest the resilience of the notion of the separate self. Hegel: Wrestling with Desire 101 prolonged servitude to thoroughly effect that negation. he continued to emphasise the transition from a sense of identity founded in separation and independence to one founded in interdependence and the central productive role of pain and loss in effecting that transition. Judaism so emphasised the ‘sublimity of God’ as to deny any possibility of reunion. Judaism exaggerated the absolute character of god and thereby the distinction from the balance of life. independent self and prompts recognition of a more interdependent sense of being. Hegel’s account of reli- gion suggests a similar trajectory. producing a sense of ‘oscillation’ between contrasting experiences of independence and interdependence and forcing a repeated process of redefinition. 498). It is an ‘alien land’ with no prospect of securing unity. ‘returns unceasingly and inescapably’. has clear parallels with Spinoza’s emphasis on the immanent. In Taylor’s words. like those of the Stoics and sceptics. despite its rejection. contradicts the idea of the separate. in extremity. a human existence is one in which the potential to realise our interdependence is immanent. where the gods took on familiar human forms and faced familiar human limitations. and the resistance of the corporeal to prompt the development of a new sense of self.

would make forcefully. Taylor (1975. The tension between a sense of involvement with the world. Hegel’s description of the ‘ethical life’ in the Philosophy of Right suggests the risk that this identity might support a society as oppressive as that of ancient Greece. then Hegel’s ‘ethical life’ might evidence a low regard for individual life. constituted spirit’s ‘objective’ body or what he described as ‘objective spirit’ and ‘ethical substance’ (Sittlichkeit). However. In his lectures. It is but a short step to then wonder. 191) considers Hegel’s identification of the individual with his or her society to demand a ‘willingness to sacrifice rights’ beyond those of even a conservative ‘communitarian renewal of classical polit- ical philosophy’. together with the institutions and practices that gave effect to them. on the one hand. the mutually recognised norms. with its central reliance on slavery. Siep (2008. The loss experienced by the Greeks. There. If Hegel had adopted that interpretation of substance where its ‘incidents’ are treated as inessential. drawing on Hegel. the central and express use of the language of substance suggests another interpretation. Hegel (1967. Hegel’s ‘identity’ of individual and society. for example. ¶152) also claims that. he presents the individual as ‘an accident to substance’ (1967. or of ‘incidents’ and . did not prompt a change in the Greeks’ understanding of the world. and separation from it.102 Marx. However. ¶145). This risk of oppression remains a central concern in the literature today. my argument is that Hegel was firmly and deliberately entrenched in a different understanding of substance – one that emphasises inter- dependence and mutuality rather than independence and subordina- tion. and Human Nature Indeed. whether the enslavement of others insulated the Greeks from the very corporeal experiences that were essential to their transformation. under conditions of Sittlichkeit. on the other. Hegel (1994) repeatedly described the Greeks’ practice of slavery as evidence of their limited understanding of spirit because they had failed to understand the universal freedom of humanity. with regard to the clear parallels with the master/servant dialectic. ‘the self-will of the individual has vanished. the Body. Rather. together with his private conscience which had claimed independence’. it is part of the human condition as each of us is born into and progresses to some form of self-consciousness in a particular way of life. These were conclusions that both Feuerbach and Marx. the centuries-long span of Hegel’s account is more sugges- tive of our ability to ignore those corporeal prompts notwithstanding their immanence. For Hegel. 382) points to the ongoing tension between the pre-existing character of those norms and their dependence upon their continued adoption for their sustenance. is not unique to some distant past.

of more comprehensively inhabiting those relations and thereby moving towards expressing the totality and ‘becoming’ its reflection. 570). on securing one object. Instead. given Marx’s substantial drawing on Hegel’s logic. My argument is that this person is not the independent Kantian individual that appears to be assumed in the literature. was not an exhaustive or comprehensive one but one which allowed considerable room for movement within its borders. but both are also equally known for the lives of individuals who worked within and against that pattern. This was the central theme of the Phenomenology: the search for a world that reflects a particular . Marx’s concept of the self allows room for considerable diversity and resistance. was. called ‘essence’) and in a constant state of ‘development’. For Hegel. The breadth of that movement is suggested by the broad historical periods that Hegel presented as representing a particular ‘ethical substance’. a fiction. like Spinoza. 185). it is that person constituted by an ‘ensemble of relations’. there is more than sufficient common ground. To regard the substance or nature of a being in that atom- istic sense. in Hegel’s mind. Any being was always in the process of – labouring towards – becoming. Hegel regarded that of particular beings as radi- cally incomplete: to always be confronted with needed objects and to always. A more fulsome response to these concerns requires some careful consideration of the definition of the self or individual living this ‘ethical life’. properly under- stood. Whilst I do not claim that Marx and Hegel had an identical definition. be confronted afresh with another needed object. then. Substance was revealed to be a combination of relationships (which he. this made contradiction central to being. Hegel: Wrestling with Desire 103 ‘substance’. Rather than the stability and self-sufficiency preferred in traditional debates about a nature or substance. The tension between the different dimensions of expression was made transparent and reconciled in Hegel’s works. and I will demonstrate that. rejected the traditional emphasis on separation and independence. to return to this issue in that context. like Spinoza. with its relations to other entities as contingent and accidental. he insisted on the centrality of the interaction and interconnection that characterises organic life. such as the ancient Greek and Roman civilisations (Siep 2008. Conclusion Hegel. Both civilisations provided a recognisable dominant or habitual way of life. Rather. to use Marx’s words (Marx and Engels 1998.

It was only by the fixing and repetition of particular processes of unification of subject or being and object – through habit – that it gained some sense of continuity of self. rather than the then existing world. that ends only with the surrender of that self-image and the insistence on stability and security. The effort to deny those demands. It was.104 Marx. and Human Nature self-image. however. is resumed in ‘The Unhappy Consciousness’. however. the Body. and yet those self-constituting acts were also acts of alienation. It was only by the assertion of some separation from the world and its demands that a being secured some continuous sense of self. It is a search. and ultimately. from other human beings. Contrary to the traditional debate. a search for a world in which that being could be ‘at home’. It did not relieve the servant of the demands of desire. This was the foundation of Hegel’s master/servant dialectic: so desperate were two men to evade the demands of the corporeal that they were willing to risk their lives in the effort and even more ready to enslave others to serve that end. These processes of denial. as the servant confronts the experience of desire in his own body. from itself. The sensation of this need – desire – repeatedly worked to destabilise each constitution or limitation of self. They involved the suppression and denial of those relation- ships in which that self was founded and on which it relied to secure its necessary objects. To live was to be engaged in this expansive movement to incorporate new objects and new relations. temporarily stilled in the master/servant’ dialectic. even the most direct endeavour to conform to the traditional emphasis . So driven were they by desire and their need to still its demands that violence and systematic oppression became institutions of expression of the core concerns of the traditional debate about substance – of securing some stability and identity for some at others’ cost. A particular being was both constituted and frustrated by limitation. However. It involved processes of alienation from nature. so. one founded in independence. He made the themes of limitation and pain central to his work. Hegel made this tension and its pains and the efforts to subdue or avoid it defining characteristics of life. too. Hegel presented an image of life in terms of tension and of pain and in terms of the efforts to avoid that pain. however. was that of the servant’s domination of the material he worked on. were bound to fail. this very subordination and the sacrifice – in part – of the servant’s former sense of self that provided the greater experience of stability. efforts that became so desperate that they coloured the relationships between like beings and drove the effort to transfer the burdens of desire onto others. In just the same way that the master’s domination of the servant was insufficient.

Hegel systematised Spinoza’s radical inversion and further explored its conse- quences. provided Marx with some of the key terms he used to present his own understanding of human nature. The substitution of the material for the ideal. including ‘expression’. It focuses on the issues that were central to the tradition concerning the nature or substance of a being and on the three questions directly addressing Marx’s work. the influ- ence of pain. One final major influence on Marx’s thought needs to be considered first: Feuerbach. and the oppressive means by which it was avoided were central to Feuerbach’s work. this chapter explored the manner in which Hegel’s treatment traces the themes of desire. limitation. as the balance of that pathway concerns the application of Hegel’s identification of universal reason as the substance or ground of the world. In particular. a limited portion of the Phenomenology as that portion was of the greatest influence on Marx. ‘develop- ment’. It was only in the intimacy. limitation. Hegel: Wrestling with Desire 105 on separation and to dominate matter through ascetic disciplines then failed. and subordination. and non-negotiability of the resistance of one’s own body – another fight to the death. separation. in detail. It was a pathway that. taking the master/servant struggle to the internal – that one was finally forced to surrender one’s concept of one’s self and its constitution through limita- tion. It was also an approach that this chapter incom- pletely explores. immediacy. particularly through Hegel’s Logics. In terms of this tradition of debate. This chapter explores. . He explored the troubling character of matter and of the need or desire for it. what explanations did he provide for the appeal of treating the non-corporeal as the human substance (and for the circumstances in which that appeal might be overcome and enable the adoption of a more ‘human language’)? Those influences on Marx are canvassed in the rest of this book. and ‘becoming’. and pain. It was also through Feuerbach’s work that Marx ‘discovered’ the term he used to describe human nature – ‘species being’. albeit with the unity of Hegel’s reason replaced by that of the material world. It was a pathway retraced in key ways by Marx with his application of the dialectic. thereby crystallising the difficult yet productive influ- ence both of matter and of anxiety. and pain considered earlier and suggests a response to the third of the questions this book addresses to Marx – that is.

Since that time. I demon- strate here that Feuerbach addressed some of the essential questions Marx also addressed and shaped the development of Marx’s thinking. As a consequence. they ‘read [Feuerbach’s philosophy] as a chapter in the book called Karl Marx’. 205). proclaiming the short- comings of Feuerbach’s thought. Marx.. holding that ‘there is no other road . in 1845. notably Breckman (2001. 2006). and Leopold (2007). xix). Brudney (1998). 41–2). in more recent scholarship. he should be treated ‘seri- ously’ for the originality of his insights. 1) position: whilst weaknesses in both style and substance detract from Feuerbach’s work. more attention has been paid to Feuerbach’s works. as Hans Kung emphasised. Like them. many have approached Feuerbach through Marx: as Hanfi (1972. if by this we mean that Feuerbach gave expression to the radical freedoms promised by the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. previously ‘terra incognita’ (Johnston 1995. Feuerbach is rarely treated as having a serious contribution to make to our understanding of Marx.5 Feuerbach: Embracing Limitation Friedrich Engels. 1) put it. In the early 1840s. However. Marx wrote his theses on Feuerbach. Johnston (1995). wrote. Marx enthusiastically wrote of and corresponded with Feuerbach. ‘we were all Feuerbachians then’ (Wartofsky 1977.. Engels. and many others were all ‘Feuerbachians’. looking back on the early 1840s. Caldwell (2009). Writers such as Althusser and Balibar (1997) and Meszaros (1970) have treated Marx’s engagement with Feuerbach as merely a transitional ‘period’ and look to the theses and The German Ideology as a ‘break’ or ‘rupture’ from which the true or mature Marxism emerged. Kung is one of those who called for 106 . to truth and freedom except that leading through the Fire-brook [the Feuer-bach]’ (cited in Hanfi 1972. He covered ground that was. Yet a few short years later. I share Wartofsky’s (1977.

in the second half of the Essence. Much more than just a transition to Marx. Feuerbach understood his task to be the ‘overthrowing from its throne the ego. Feuerbach is also well known for his rejection of Hegel’s idealism in favour of his theory of ‘sensuousness’. it needs to be understood. in subsequently criticising Hegel’s works (particularly his ‘inversion’ of subject and predicate). cited in Breckman 2001. Whilst Feuerbach’s works do lack depth in some instances and fail to adequately address some key issues. Feuerbach argued persuasively that those beliefs. He argued that Feuerbach had progressed past the Enlightenment position in treating religion as ‘man’s self-worship’ rather than merely a ‘fraud’ or ‘illusion’ (1995. drew that method of ‘inversion’ from Feuerbach: Hegel’s Absolute. Feuerbach’s . instead. was a projection of human attributes. This aspect of Feuerbach’s work is also one of the most widely recog- nised connections with Marx’s thought. as they reveal Feuerbach’s long-standing objection to abstract understandings of human nature. been seen as a transi- tional influence on Marx’s road to a more credible materialism. Marx. have no doubt contributed to the lack of interest in this part of Feuerbach’s work. Feuerbach is best known for his work on religion. and both understood its appeal in the comfort its beliefs provided. together with Marx’s criticism of their ahis- torical character. Both criticised religion as distracting its adherents from a better understanding of experience. projected (and exaggerated) human characteristics on an imagined divine being. which both preceded and followed his more famous works on religion. independent of some cognitive mediation. rather. as an engage- ment with the character or substance of ‘man himself’. that the genuine human impulses expressed in religion were distorted and betrayed by the artificial abstractions of theological thought. they are worthy of a more detailed examination. xix). Feuerbach’s work needs to be taken seriously. widely regarded as a tour de force. He also cogently argued. whilst expressing genuine desires. Feuerbach’s perceived claims to some form of immediate knowledge through the senses. Feuerbach: Embracing Limitation 107 the originality and insight of Feuerbach’s work to be recognised. Having surveyed a range of key Christian beliefs. like the gods Feuerbach considered. Even whilst adhering to Hegelian thought. They have. that made Engels and others ‘all Feuerbachians’ (Wartofsky 1977. the self in general’ (letter to Hegel in 1828. 205). This is particularly the case with his work in relation to philosophy. it was Essence of Christianity. having begun his assault anonymously with Thoughts on Death and Immortality. 1). However.

towards recognition of our interdependence and of our character as ‘species beings’. Feuerbach. together with a vigorous application – and critique – of Hegel’s dialectics. drawing on Hegel. much as in Hegel’s Phenomenology. it stymied and defied development. It trapped humanity within circles of fantasy and denial – fantasies of lives of godlike ease. and how might they be replaced? Feuerbach’s most original contribution arose from his consideration of the relationship between the substance or nature of our humanity and the experience of pain. trapping humanity in a prolonged adolescence. emphasised the ontological lack that stands at the root of the human condition and again. Above all. the inescapable. Here. Those tensions and pains. this was the illusion that constituted religious thought. namely. For Feuerbach. not the pain. but only the asserted solution. how to understand the human substance or essence and how that better understanding might come to be accepted. Feuerbach’s work attends to some key elements of Marx’s thought. As such.108 Marx. that made Feuerbach’s work intensely interesting to Marx. It is this insistence on our material character. as they provided a consistent prompt towards change. I want to address the first two of the questions. free of limitation and pain. I consider the third question: why have the terms of the traditional debate about nature or substance proved so resilient. some- times with oppressive results. . was illusory. however. it enables me to address those questions about Marx’s work posed in Chapter 1 rather than continue to explore those broader questions concerning the tradition of debate about nature or substance that have been the focus of the preceding chapters. like Hegel. Those questions addressed to Marx’s thought were What critique did Marx make of the traditional debate about nature or substance and its application to humanity (whereby the non-corporeal was treated as the human essence)? What alternative did Marx suggest (specifically. unavoidable character of our corporeal tensions and pains provided a goad towards action. This pain could not be surpassed or sublated in the course of development. and it goes a long way in illuminating that third question. also bore promise. and Human Nature work addresses those foundational issues that were Marx’s concerns throughout his life. how did Marx seek to comprehend corporeality as central to human nature)? What explanations did Marx provide for the appeal to treat the non- corporeal as the foundation of human nature (and for the circumstances in which that appeal might be overcome to enable the adoption of a more ‘human language’)? In regard to Feuerbach’s works. understood the pain it caused so many. the Body.

colourless. working out from Hegel. and nameless’ but as ‘satu- rated with the blood of man’. As Feuerbach had wrestled so intimately and earnestly with Hegel’s thought. as for Hegel. For Feuerbach. was soon abandoned. If reason was to be treated as the foundation of our humanity. He called for a more ‘human language’: The philosophy of the future has the task of leading philosophy out of the realm of departed spirits back to the realm of embodied. Feuerbach (1986. would enable a better appre- ciation of human limitation and suffering as essential characteristics of our being that were not subordinated to demands and expectations of mastery through willpower or imagination. self-reliant ‘self’ would ultimately be replaced by one grounded in interdependence. in his Principles of the Philosophy of the Future. However. however. This was not to be reason as affected by perception – a non-corporeal reason – as it was for Hume. The resistance of the corporeal loomed large in Feuerbach’s works. no adequate recognition for its influence and immanence. as it had in the early portion of Hegel’s Phenomenology. Feuerbach. Feuerbach’s critique of religion Feuerbach. Feuerbach’s efforts began within the idealist tradition and worked towards the rational reconciliation imagined by that tradition. Feuerbach argued. wrestled with the ‘material’ and thereby limited character of human being and developed the category of ‘species being’ which Marx adopted to refer to human nature as both limited and constituted by an ‘ensemble of relations’. . but a form of reasoning that included bodily sensations. 67) insisted that it be understood not as ‘beingless. That kind of reason. as it provided no adequate place for that suffering. Feuerbach’s work also goes far in suggesting why that prejudice has proven so resilient and difficult to replace. his turn to materialism provided much support to Marx’s own turn in that direction. railed against the idealists’ privileging of the non-corporeal. the contradiction the corporeal presented to conventional ideas of the self made pain or at least a profound discomfort or estrange- ment endemic to existence and a goad towards efforts to overcome it. these aspects were not Feuerbach’s only influence on Marx’s thought. That approach. Feuerbach: Embracing Limitation 109 It is in this last respect that Feuerbach’s works contribute most to understanding Marx’s confidence that the long-standing prejudice in favour of a separate.

[d]eath is the manifestation of the fact that you are not a being without determination . 285) suggests. 162).. the resistance and limitations of our corporeality meant that the continuity of humanity was not to be found in its individual specimens. however. It was not simply that the god category was an anthropomorphic projection. however. rather. This challenge. and human language. The organic body itself is the species. it is an immortal. (cited in Wartofsky 1977. it is the manifestation. the organic body itself is absolutely without lack . he also chal- lenged almost every other core article of the Christian faith. lacking. his ‘materialism asks us to accept with maturity our finite existence and the limitations of our existence in the world’. As Johnston (1995. 196) For Feuerbach (Johnston 1995. the essence. the organic body in the determi- nate singleness of its existence. the affirma- tion of your limit. Instead human being. without limitation. . and continuity were located in the species: Your determinate individual body. substance. back to the realities of human misery. as distinguished from the organic body in its species and essence. went much further. For this purpose. mistaken though it be. the confirmation. In his Essence of Christianity. (1980. is a mortal. 94) Feuerbach rejected any claim to individual immortality and challenged the Christian belief in resurrection. and Human Nature living spirits. the philosophy of the future requires no more than a human under- standing. As death negates you.. the Body. was not simply a claim that Christianity was wrong or a delusion. Feuerbach secured both his notoriety and his attractiveness to Marx in making this point. divine body. and. thus.. 63).110 Marx.. the experience of particular beings was not the idealists’ unlimited freedom nor the independence claimed in the traditional debate but. out of the godly felicity of a world of thought without neediness. Feuerbach argued that the roots of this belief in a transcendent god and in the capacity to transcend mortality lay in a desperate flight from limitation and that. finite body . Death was the ultimate confirmation that the individual was unable to independently exist – and so could not be substance in the traditional sense.. In Feuerbach’s view. For Feuerbach (1980. His engagement with religious belief. limitation..

was not limited to religion. transforming a truthful acknowledgement of human limitations into an independent being where the subject of the acknowledgement became god rather than the world. Feuerbach: Embracing Limitation 111 the religious impulse was a meaningful response to the human condi- tion. limitation. Feuerbach asserted. and dependence. and Hegel. Feuerbach thought all religions were open to this charge. are abstracted forms.. For Feuerbach (1989. and inescapable movement towards greater involvement. but bodies from which the limitations and difficulties of the human body are eliminated. in Feuerbach’s eyes. with all their living strength and likeness to man. . All real existence. on the one hand. and of incompleteness. they have bodies. The Divine Being .. 15). Unable to accept this condition. determinative existence’ (1989. Like Spinoza. 86) – the continuation of the religious projection of human characteristics onto a superhuman being (the Absolute Idea rather than god). It was the expression of and flight from corporeality. all existence which is truly such. like men. Feuerbach’s Essence of Christianity characterised all religion as the projected human fantasy of absolute subjective freedom.. 40–1). of complete freedom from the restrictions of the natural or corporeal world. together with the ability to grace humanity with that same freedom. It was a response to the experience of limitation and of our being somehow bound up with something that was both immanent and tran- scendent. Religion was. however. Herder. 207). It was another form of religious thinking. . Even the Homeric gods. ie. As Feuerbach put it.. on the other.. He traced that evasion back to idealist philosophy. ‘dread of limitation is dread of existence. It was in this process. in which ‘thought over- stepped itself’ (1986. as the fantasy grounding substance traditionally understood. human beings constructed a fantasy about freedom from that condition and ascribed it. Feuerbach tried to capture the tensions between the contradictory experiences of immediate participa- tion in the totality. yearning. that we abandoned our recognition of the world and our limitations and projected human characteristics onto an imagined deity. This impulse. to the divine: All religions . ‘the secret of theology was none other than anthropology’. a characteristically human response to the experience and uncertainties of life. He argued that idealist or speculative philosophy was merely a ‘rational mysticism’ (1972a. is qualitative. Feuerbach charted the flight from limitation from Neoplatonic philosophy and across the tradition of debate about the nature or substance of human beings.. rest on abstraction.

and Human Nature is the human being glorified by the death of abstraction. the Body. is .. which made nature an object of ‘horror’ and stigmatised any association with nature as diminishing human dignity. and where there is matter there is weight and resistance. 136).. the Christian god as an extramundane being.. (Feuerbach 1989. subjectively. thou annihilatest the world.. the consciousness of the power to abstract oneself from all that is external. 30). nothing else than the nature of man withdrawn from the world and concentrated in itself. The dominant ..’ For Feuerbach (1989. making itself free from all dependence on nature. In the inmost depths of thy soul thou wouldst rather there were no world. of thy desire. affects him repulsively... which knows nothing of the painful bonds of matter. the subjectivity or soul which enjoys itself alone. obstructs him.. this fantasy was developed to its greatest extreme by Christianity. was also an expression of the human desire to escape limitation and pain: When thou sayest the world was made out of nothing. [was] therefore the essential aim of Christianity.. despite the impact of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment and the debates that continued to rage in his own time. .112 Marx. for where the world is. from matter. ie. 45) Moreover. Feuerbach asserted that Western philosophy retained this character and that it reached its extreme exaggeration in idealist thought. limita- tion and necessity. which needs not the world. The divine being is the pure subjectivity of man. particularly as the creator of the world from nothing. space and time. . . see also 2004. In reli- gion man frees himself from the limits of life. there is matter.. ‘Separation from the world. The religious construction of god. For Feuerbach (1989. 99. Thus. from the life of the species.. he here lets fall what oppresses him. (Feuerbach 1989. for the world is the limita- tion of thy will. will. 161) put it. 98. 66).. 97.. see also 2004. feelings . 109–10. thou thinkest God by himself. absolutely unlimited subjectivity. thou conceivest the world itself as nothing.. thou clearest away from thy head all the limits to thy imagination . freed from all worldly ties and entanglements . he is nothing else than the personal nature of man positing itself out of all connection with the world.. and to live for and with oneself alone. As Feuerbach (1989. freed from all else ..

He saw it as the ‘wish’ for a heaven in which all limits and all necessity of Nature are destroyed and all wishes are accomplished. insisted that we are not divine and that the reli- gious aspiration to happiness was an illusion because we are and always will be limited beings. the influence of religious thought was readily apparent in German philosophy during his time and extended to the concept of ‘happiness’. as Feuerbach pointed out. a God . indescribable happiness. such as the . however.. a determined enjoyment. without appellation. In this sense.. This idea is central to Feuerbach’s criticism of Hegel’s Logic and Phenomenology of Spirit. For Feuerbach.... no disturbances. a fantasy of humanity as divine – as not limited by the profane and earthly.. light and shade. the enjoy- ment of an infinite. Feuerbach on human being For Feuerbach. because the object of their wishes is not a named. one outside control and subject to ‘hap’ (the hazards of nature and god) (McMahon 2006. Happiness and divinity are the same thing. finite. 10–13). unlimited. Feuerbach (1972a) assumes that we need to start with a determinate rather than fantastic or speculative . joy and pain . ongoing character. Feuerbach says that Hegel’s concept of ‘nothing’ – as the contradiction to ‘Being’ – assumed that any being had to have some qualities in order to exist. in its essence – was free of all corpo- real (or other) limitations.... purest form – that is. was another expres- sion of the flight from limitation. but . earthly happiness. a heaven in which there exist no wants. as distinct from the long-standing belief that happi- ness was a fleeting state. (2004. no struggles... limitation is synonymous with having qualities. no change of day and night. Feuerbach. notwithstanding observ- able changes in its properties. enjoyment of beautiful music . no wounds. unspeakable. Feuerbach: Embracing Limitation 113 ‘language’ applied to describe humanity – that of freedom and independ- ence – continued the trajectory of religious thought and of the tradition of debate about substance or nature of a being in terms of a feature that provided some permanent. no sufferings. a transcendental [enjoyment] . the idea that one could secure a consistent state of happiness. emphasis in original) It was a wish for the experience of a pain-free existence in terms that resonated strongly with traditional approaches to conceiving of the nature or substance of being human. It was based on the idea that humanity in its truest. It was. no passions.. 71.

but through itself as a corporeal being. it means to have so many senses. Contrary to the separation and purity of a nature or substance (as traditionally understood). ‘internal’. In relation to the abstract ego. in a determinate element. but. but. as the fence around a field. and unavoidable.. limitation goes beyond the sense of external boundary its ordinary usage suggests.114 Marx. because of the determinate proportion. the Body. the limit does not exist as externally circling... 142–3) The character of any particular being.. the limit that determines and includes everything that exists in it.. ie. this . The body is nothing but the porous ego. determinateness. rather. dwells in everything. The very constitution of an interdependent being makes relationships with others – and so the experience of limited control of one’s self – essential. everything in nature is what it is. [and] ‘open to the world’ by no means ‘through itself’ as such. not in any water. ... water. can live only in this and no other water.. (Feuerbach 1972b. To be embodied is to be in the world. that is. depends on the nature of its constituent relations in just the manner Spinoza had thought several centuries before: Being. only nothingness is without limitations.. manner of unifica- tion. being is to include those relationships with others and so conceive of any determinate or concrete being as open and in flux.. However. To understand being as interdependency is to understand limitation as a thoroughgoing aspect of being... not because of the matter out of which it is constituted. for such an interdependent being. so many pores and so many naked surfaces. the body is the objective world. determines everything. . This made [t]he ego . then. It is through the body that the ego is not just an ego but also an object. and degree of mixture of the matter .. because. corporeal . measure . through the body. relation- ships. it is the middle that is proper and central to a reality. This also assumes the limitations of corporeal or material being. river or sea. 74–5) indicates. again. Thus. penetrates everything. as Feuerbach (1980. but in a determinate spring. just because it can never escape the limit that is the centre of its nature. and yet this fish. There is only one .. and Human Nature being: a being that is a bundle or ensemble of qualities – that is. [A fish] lives in a determinate climate. Ocean water is just as much water as that which flows in a river. limitation are posited together with one another.

. it is thinkable only through the predicate on which the essence of the object is based.. a pathway to continued existence in their absence. . the only bulwark of its being . manner of unification. To consider their absence as a goad to action. a single being. (Feuerbach 1980. sepa- rate its essence from this being [i. It is one with that which exists. They are. however. and this weapon is the limit.. Feuerbach’s coupling of being and ‘nothingness’ is intended to convey the absence of any such choice in just the same way Hegel presented . not because of the matter out of which it is constituted. like Hegel before him and Marx after. Feuerbach: Embracing Limitation 115 weapon against nothingness. The fish exists in water. then the thing itself changes. (1986. and degree of mixture of the matter.. 42) It is with this sense that Feuerbach (cited in Wartofsky 1977. the character of any particular being was bound up with its various objects and constituted by that being’s relation- ships with them. then. if this determinate mode changes together with the proportion of the elements that are limited by this determinate mode. asserted that ‘the physiologist has to violate life . you cannot. to make it an object of his inquiry and his observation’.. In his view ‘all abstract sciences mutilate man’ (cited in Hanfi 1972. a particular being was not independent of the ‘external’ objects to which its predicates (or properties) referred but was fundamentally bound up with them: Being is not a general notion that can be separated from objects. like Hegel. rather. my emphasis) It is for this reason that Feuerbach (1986. 408). . If the mode of unifi- cation of those realities that are called the elementary constituents of a thing changes. . it is the only stable point of a reality. 24) credited Spinoza with beginning modern philosophy.. For Feuerbach. in that sense..e. It is thinkable only through mediation. Feuerbach’s anthropology provides for a mutual openness between a being and its objects so much so that it can be said that the object itself can enter into the being. the water]. but. because of the determinate proportion. Each being’s very existence is bound up with its relationships with its objects and the limitations that follow from them. 285).. Being after its removal from all the essential qualities of the objects is only your conception of being – a being that is made up and invented. 74.. every- thing in nature is what it is. because of the limitation of the inde- terminate matter. As Zawar Hanfi (1972) has pointed out. is potentially misleading – it suggests a choice. Contrary to the traditional debate..

It was to suggest that the defining character of our humanity is not control – secure confidence in our ability to render this world in our image and serve our comfort – but as irretrievable.. anaesthetises one to the contradictions. and pains of existence. 68). by the institutions and practices of habit). cited in Kamenka 1970. As such. but a method of dealing with it’ (Kamenka 1970. As Feuerbach and Marx (and others) recognised. because they provide a means by which man acquires emotional comfort not only [in terms of a] simple fantasy. like Freud’s ‘intoxicants’ and the ideologies criticised by Marx. 66). ‘not only an escape from reality. a body of fundamen- tally human truth embedded within religion which must be recov- ered if men and women are to live fully human lives (emphasis in original). They act as an ‘opiate’ which. they have a profound and widespread therapeutic effect.. 127) has described this recognition as the ‘positive core’ of The Essence of Christianity: Feuerbach takes religion seriously [and saw] . anxieties. however. the state towards which we gravi- tate (muted. Feuerbach understood religious belief to be popular and addictive because it meets the human need to negotiate the uncertainties and openness of being. the Body.1 These beliefs ‘relieve intolerable stress . however. Feuerbach. like Hegel. and Human Nature that interdependence in his Logics. but by shaping the whole of his knowledge into an ordered scheme [upon it].. intended to convey the depths to which all being is shaped by that desire and the depth to which any being is denied comfort in this world absent its placation. They help to make sense of and live within a painful world. rather than stability and control. 67) . (Kamenka 1970. The character of the human condition – as a being in flux – makes uncer- tainty. To be is to never be ‘free’ of the external. Feuerbach’s view entailed a consistent experience of insecurity and uncer- tainty.. It is to never enjoy the security and independence of substance. It was not only to place this ontological lack or insecurity at the core of our character but to reveal that character as unavoidably conscious of. Understood as a flight from the experience of limitation. these ‘religious’ beliefs are.116 Marx. Johnston (1995. that absence. even obsessed by. [and] overcome the feeling of helplessness’ (Malinowski. inescapable anxiety. as the very composition of the self is such that it is never completely stable or subject to ‘internal’ control.

astrology. are demonstrative of the resilience of these beliefs. . concrete experience of being with all its contradictions. These beliefs were embraced so deeply because they were grounded in the immediate. and all that this entails. with the growth in both traditional and non-traditional. the soil in which all human consciousness arises and is thereafter expressed and confirmed. and magic. would be ‘intestinal’. Yet as Johnston (1995. Feuerbach argued that the need of a limited. human beings. . and control but because the experience of separation upon which they rely was. Feuerbach: Embracing Limitation 117 Our notions of being or substance provide the foundations of all our thought and all our engagements with the world. They are the founda- tions on which we build and order our knowledge of and actions in the world. Its visceral sensitivity is well conveyed by Feuerbach’s imagined reaction of ‘horror’ to the perceived reduction of human dignity that would follow any compromise of the privileging of mind over body. he said. pains. interdependent being for stability is so funda- mental. that to describe the forms in which it is secured as merely ideas can fail to convey the strength of the grip with which they are held. Feuerbach on the limitations of critique At the least. Its rejection.. for Feuerbach. or ‘new age’. This was so not only because these ideas provide a sense of stability. Feuerbach’s work is valuable for the insight he provided into the resistance likely to occur when criticising these ‘religious’ ideas. so central to its very sense of being. [In his view] by refusing to accept our finitude and our limitations. we deny ourselves the opportunity to develop and realise our full potential as mortal. They are experiences that. and tensions.. 286) has observed. The ‘re-enchantment’ of the world witnessed since the late twentieth century. Feuerbach does not so much deny the therapeutic or edifying potential of Christianity (or any other transcendent religion). as refuse to accept that this edification is valuable. These experiences are part of the human condi- tion and are repeated and reinforced daily. this flight and its comforts comes at a cost: The materialist disenchantment of the world also demands that we accept the finite. the prominence with which local and international conflicts have been associated with religion. continuity. together with the popular interest in the occult. limited nature of our human being. forms of religion and spirituality.

they cannot be dislodged by mere critical thinking or efforts at ‘consciousness-raising’. As such. It is how we gain a sense of our self – a universal or constitutive experience. 67) has called ‘an ordered scheme’ of things. the flesh. 144) described this as the original and most essential antithesis. Rather. This suggests why the separatist approach to the world has been both so resilient and so popular. are as fundamental and unquestionable to our mode of life as the very ground beneath us. it reflects ‘real’. and in all sensation. an antithesis necessarily connected with the ego. metaphysical one. the Body. taught. It reflects a ‘common’ sense. For Feuerbach. no more ego than non-ego. how we make sense of that experience. Our ideas about the self are not derived either from abstract universal reason or from objective science reflecting some kind of empirical reality. [the antithesis provided by] the body. She asserts that the range of concepts with which we make sense of the experience of corporeal contradiction are negotiable and diverse. As contemporary beliefs and practices – habits and ways of living – they are copied. are ‘externally’ sourced. It also indicates why the potential resistance to a non-dualist model is . unavoidable. if you prefer. this was to experience being as contradiction. They provide what Kamenka (1970. They. It was the experience of intersection – of discovering the self as a site of contradic- tions – and of the body as the inescapable locus of any engagement with the world (as a part of our essence). For what else is the body if not the passivity of the ego? And how are you going to deduce even the will and the sensation from the ego without a passive principle? The will cannot be conceived without something striving against it. Feuerbach (1972b. it is the secret of creation and the ground on which the world rests. However. They are drawn from the world around us. and Human Nature once rendered comprehensible. they and the tradition of debate upon which they rest express a phenomenology based on a very human experience of the world as reinterpreted through a distorting idealist and mechanical lens. too. as Margaret Archer (2000) has pointed out. however spiritual. and imposed upon each infant by the society into which she or he is born.118 Marx. This is the insight provided by Feuerbach’s focus on human belief. The conflict between the spirit and the body alone is the highest metaphysical principle. but essentially a speculative. no more spirit than flesh. That is. it is not. Indeed the flesh or. there is no more activity than passivity. universal human experiences. the body has not only a natural-historical or empirico-psychological meaning.

. Pain could produce a confrontation with being itself: There are more philosophy and reason in your pains and sighs than in your whole understanding. Any such attempt is likely to be denounced as nonsense. of infinity. In the experience of uncertainty. and his ‘true being’ was ‘determina- tion’.. the actuality of which you deny in your understanding . But the nothingness. undeniable limitation. For Feuerbach (1980. Species being Feuerbach saw those foundations in the all-too-human experience of extreme pain and death. was not limited to the time of death: ‘death [could] be conquered before death’ through the experience of limitation and pain (1980. The experience of a nature or substance – traditionally understood as separation – was experienced only once: You exist as pure I. 126). the realisation that there is no individual infinity – each human individual is faced with the location of conti- nuity. (1980. In the feeling of determinate lack. The absolute limit of any particular being – mortality – was. the catalyst by which we discover that our nature or substance did not reside in our separate selves but in the species. 132).. in Feuerbach’s eyes. you possess . In confronting death – that is. you exist only for yourself but once. as pure self. . Its rejection will draw on vestigial primal roots such that the effort to replace it will need to draw on equally profound and common founda- tions. You really philosophize only when you moan and cry out with pain.. is the revelation that you can only exist with and in the object.. Pain. . was the means by which we moved to realise our character as ‘species beings’. however. in confronting death. of death.. 126) This revelation. those elements that constitute our ‘species being’. For in your pain. the absolutely perfect universal.. a person faced absolute. the death of the self at the moment of isolation. in the species (Feuerbach 1980) rather than in its sepa- rate self. in Feuerbach’s eyes. and pain we do not confront a pathology or flaw so much as our very essence. the species.. not-being and being all at once. Feuerbach: Embracing Limitation 119 and will be so strong and why the effort to critique and replace it will be substantial. you assent to and affirm the essence. and this moment is the moment of not-being.. limitation.. you expe- rience pain . because you experience limit and absolute. at the moment it wishes to exist without the object .

an abstraction. and anxiety at the foundation of our humanity and to thereby reveal so much of the Western traditions in theology and philosophy as a response to that foun- dation. the contradictions that Hegel named as the essence of being. was no mere illusion: it was grounded in a real human need. 95). It suggested that the pains of this world. It is in extreme ‘pain.120 Marx. and Human Nature at once the feeling of the nothingness of the totality of your single being on its own and the feeling of sole lordship and reality of the substance that is perfect in itself. 95) Extreme pain tears and strips away the layers we have constructed about the self until all that remains is a remnant. Religious thought. the absolutely perfect universal. honest engagement with that dimension of our experience and our being. encompassing. Instead of a flight from our materiality and its pains and tensions. including tradi- tional approaches to the concept of a nature or substance. It dismissed. however. Feuerbach’s great contribution was to ‘invert’ that order and to place that experience of pain. Feuerbach and Marx share their witness and response to the experi- ence of pain – to the misery in which so much of humanity seems to be mired and resigned. and comforting comprehensive rationality. Pain. uncertainty. the Body. for Feuerbach. (1980. [that we] assent to and affirm the essence. called for a mature. was central to the human essence. the species. and in the dependencies and vulnerabilities it entailed. This commitment resonates in strains of anger and grief and compassion that run through their works and in their railings against the false comforts of ideas that deny the influence of that pain and legitimate and accommodate the practices that cause it. It is in pain that we discover that our founda- tion lies outside our will. in its varied and continuing forms. the actuality of which [we] deny in [our] understanding’ (1980. were destined to pass and merge into the order of a rational universe. It reflected the tensions between transcendence and immanence others had explored in terms of expression – the sense of a self that exceeded . and diminished the lives of those who remained mired in that pain. Echoing the critiques Epicurus and Lucretius made of the false needs and unnecessary conflicts thereby generated. like his Roman predecessors. devalued. Feuerbach. in the grappling with that need. That sublation discounted and devalued the impact of pain through merging it in some gradually emerging. Feuerbach also called for a way of life grounded in experience rather than illusion. It was this integrity to lived experience – this commitment to responding to the experience of pain – that made Hegel’s sublation of corporeal experience intolerable for Feuerbach.

Feuerbach rejected the conven- tional emphasis on ‘separation’ and ‘independence’ and asserted the priority of interdependence. and pain so much so as to treat them as central and promising rather than as a pathologies or compromises. Feuerbach. Feuerbach made limitation a central category and a thematic focus. Drawing deeply on Hegel. as a goad to action and a search for some place or way to be ‘at home’ in the world. Unlike those others. their continuity. but the very essence of our character. it grounded his claim that the substance of our humanity was located in the material rather than the ideal world. as Hegel treated them. and on terms that resonate with the convictions expressed by Epicurus and Lucretius before him. reaching back to Aristotle. Fichte. the prompts by which the pains and uncertainties and anxieties of corporeal existence reveal the limitations of our ideas of the self and our nature and remind us of our intimate inescapable interdependence. could reside only in their species. The pains and tensions of material. Like Hegel. Limitation marked the boundary between being and non-being. however. They remind us of our ‘species being’. and Schelling. limitation. Feuerbach appreciated the discomforts of material being and the endless strivings its desires seemed to burden us with. Like those others. Conclusion Feuerbach’s consideration of ‘religious thought’ was in large part an engagement with the traditional debates concerning a nature or substance. Working within the long-running debate concerning substance. Feuerbach located the potential to resolve those tensions and pains and discover that sense of ‘home’ in our corporeality itself. found that the limitations of particular beings meant that their essence. Fichte. to the long-standing tradition of treating matter as volatile – as the source of unpredictable. So insistent was Feuerbach on recognising the significance of pain. . often trans- formational change – and believed that it gave a more truthful expres- sion of Hegel’s dialectic. Feuerbach understood these tensions as both painful and productive. Like Hegel. however. corporeal being were not to be resolved by dismissing and devaluing that aspect of our being but by means of the disruptions and contradictions it makes of our illu- sions. The contradictions and movements driven by desire were not exceptions or passing phases. Feuerbach: Embracing Limitation 121 the forms of its current or at least conscious deployment. In this respect he emulated Epicurus and Lucretius before him. Feuerbach respected the long-standing objections to the experience of uncertainty. He was true. and others before him.

122 Marx, the Body, and Human Nature

Limitation, for Feuerbach, as it had been for Fichte, was both constitu-
tive and yet somehow simultaneously a betrayal of being. It made being
and pain co-terminous. Pain was endemic to the human condition so
much so that much of human life was engaged in responding to it. This
was the central theme of Feuerbach’s works on religion: that religious
thought and practice was an effort to deny – and a hope to eventually
flee – the experience and pain of lives that were defined by limitation.
This, for Feuerbach, was the essence of religion – the effort to evade the
confrontation demanded by being – and the basis for its failure.
Marx, in later demanding that the focus of political debate shift from
religious to political (and thence economic) thought, developed and
expanded Feuerbach’s critique. Likewise drawing on Epicurus, Lucretius,
and Hegel, Marx developed the conception of humanity as both limited
and open, as bound up with others and other things to such depth as
to make the tensions in those relationships an intimate goading pain.
Drawing more deeply on Hegel to better envisage our humanity as
labour – as the ongoing endeavour to reconcile those conflicting rela-
tionships – Marx better understood the breadth and intimacy of that
interaction as it had changed over time. He took Feuerbach’s emphasis
on corporeal limitation and pain and amplified it and, in so doing,
anticipated a greater potential for that pain to realise a revolutionary

Marx’s Objective Being

Ludwig Feuerbach called for ‘a more human language’: one concerned
with ‘the realm of embodied, living spirits’ and responsive to
‘neediness ... [and] the realities of human misery’ (cited in Wartofsky
1977, 196). Like Feuerbach, Marx’s early works were concerned
with the search for such a ‘human language’ and reflected a keen
awareness of the difficulty of the task. In 1844, Marx (1975d, 276–7)
complained that

[w]e would not understand a human language ... it ... would be felt to
be begging, imploring and hence humiliating ... an offence against the
dignity of man. (emphasis in original)

However, the difficulties in understanding this human language – at
least as presented by Marx – go deeper than mere offence.
Plamenatz (1975, 118) went so far as to describe Marx’s works as
seeming, to the ‘common-sense reader’, a ‘sheer abuse of language’.
Leopold, with regard to ‘the young Marx’, highlighted the difficulties
and attractions of Marx’s work. For him,

the writings seemed ... to possess two signal properties: ... they gave
the impression of containing ideas worthy of further consideration;
and they were opaque, that is, their meaning was far from trans-
parent ... [particularly] Marx’s account of human emancipation.
(Leopold 2007, 1, 183)

These reactions arise in part because those writings are fragmented,
‘abbreviated and opaque’ (Leopold 2007, 183) and often located in
manuscripts that were not intended for publication. They also reflect


124 Marx, the Body, and Human Nature

the way Marx drew on the tradition of debate about the concept of
substance, and few have recognised this.
Ollman is one of the few modern writers who have done so. He
captured the challenges anyone reading Marx (without reference to the
traditions Marx drew on) faced:

The most formidable hurdle facing all readers of Marx is his ‘peculiar’
use of words. Vilfredo Pareto provides us with the classic statement of
this problem when he asserts that Marx’s words are like bats: one can
see in them both birds and mice. (1976, 3)

In this chapter, I begin to spell out my argument that Marx worked
within a ‘peculiar’ tradition – that his approach to understanding the
human condition drew upon and contributed to the tradition of argu-
ments concerning the concept of substance and its corollary, essence.
Like Ollman (1976, 3), I argue that ‘without a firm knowledge of what
Marx is trying to convey with his terms, one cannot properly grasp any
of his theories’.
This is not readily apparent from Marx’s works. In part, as indicated
above, this is so because of the ‘peculiar’ ways in which Marx used words.
This is also why many of those who have considered Marx’s thought
in this area have not done so with reference to the tradition of debate
about substance. Leopold, for example, claimed that ‘Marx’s use of the
term [“species being”] appears largely straightforward and intelligible’
(2007, 184) but made no reference to debate concerning substance.
Finally, one possibly greater obstacle to my claims is the status of those
‘early’ works in which many of the relevant discussions are located.
Many writers, foremost amongst them Althusser (1996) and Colletti
(1973), have argued that those works were overshadowed or superseded
by Marx’s later, more ‘mature’ works. However, I think that Marx’s works
evidence a remarkable continuity. This is not to claim that Marx’s views
did not change. Rather, it is to argue that the issue he sought to resolve
and consider in relation to the nature or substance of human beings
remained consistent. Marx rejected the traditional characterisation in
terms of independence in favour of one based on a profound interde-
pendence and openness to other people and the world.
This is a controversial position. Since Althusser (1996) first claimed
that there was an ‘epistemological break’ in Marx’s thought, evidenced
in the theses on Feuerbach and in The German Ideology, the argument
has been made that Marx’s earlier works are fundamentally flawed. The
‘break’ or ‘rupture’ argument as made by Althusser was essentially that

Marx’s Objective Being 125

Marx’s later works, beginning with The German Ideology, abandoned the
humanist, idealist elements said to characterise his previous works in
favour of historical materialism. Althusser treated Marx’s use of ‘essence’
in those early works as a ‘universal attribute’ and hence a form of
idealism (1996, 228).1 Moreover, he argued that Hegel’s methodology
could not be adopted without being tainted by idealism’s influence, as
it was part of the same ‘ideological field’. In its stead, Althusser (1996,
82) held that Marx applied ‘a logic of actual experience and real emergence’
(emphasis in original).
However, the difficulty with these claims is that they provide little
recognition of Marx’s own words. Marx (cited in Fraser 1997, 82) empha-
sised how Hegel’s Logic had assisted him in developing the Grundrisse.
In relation to Capital, Marx (cited in Fraser 1997, 101) explicitly praised
Hegel and held that he had discovered the ‘rational kernel within the
mystical shell’ of Hegel’s thought. Nevertheless, as Arthur (2004a,
2) has recently pointed out, Marx’s words were ‘cryptic’ and provide no
straightforward resolution of the debate.
Moreover, the core of Althusser’s argument – that the theses on
Feuerbach and The German Ideology marked a significant change in
Marx’s focus and key concepts – has some merit. The degree to which
they depart from his previous works, however, has been exaggerated.
This was also the conclusion reached by Fromm, who, while insisting on
‘continuity’, noted that Marx’s works did evidence ‘changes in concepts,
in mood, [and] in language’ (2004, 23, 64). Meszaros similarly argued
that Marx’s works demonstrated ‘the most remarkable continuity’, and
rejected the ‘rupture’ argument as a ‘highly undialectical separation’
(1970, 220, 217; 2008). Nevertheless, he still recognised ‘Marx’s intel-
lectual development’ over time (1970, 232). Lucien Seve considered this
issue in detail. While rejecting Althusser’s arguments for a radical ‘break’
and agreeing there were ‘ruptures’, Seve (1978, 71) held that

at the same time, it is unquestionable that ... the succession in these
ruptures ... marks out a continuous effort to master an unchanged
domain of the real with transformed concepts ... [such that] throughout
his life Marx never stopped ... reincorporating the pre-1845 mate-
rials ... by reworking them.

Rather, Seve argued for a ‘transmutation’; that is, a shift from an internal,
natural essence seemingly determined by its concept to an external,
changing essence determined by the historical, changing ‘ensemble of
social relations’. For Seve, ‘It must be said ... that what defines Marxism

126 Marx, the Body, and Human Nature

is the inversion of the speculative relation between the human essence
and social relations’ (1978, 80, 99). His conclusion was ‘it is therefore a
case not of an abandonment but of ... transfiguration’ ... (1978, 119–20).
However, Seve, like Meszaros, Wood (2004), and even Althusser, did
not consider Marx’s use of ‘essence’ in the light of the broader tradition
of arguments concerning substance. Instead, these writers tended to
equate ‘essence’ with the traditional emphasis on separation and conti-
nuity, treating it as having the unchanging character of a ‘nature’. They
failed to consider the manner in which Marx drew on the broader tradi-
tion to understand ‘essence’ in far more open, interdependent terms.
The argument for continuity is even stronger for those who have
considered that broader tradition. Those writers, such as Arthur (2003,
2004a, 2004b), Levine (2012), Reuten (2000), and Smith (1999), who
have considered Hegel’s engagement with that tradition, particu-
larly through his works on logic, reject Althusser’s claim that Hegel’s
method cannot be separated from its content or his ideology. They hold
that Hegel’s method – that is, the demonstration as to how ‘a given
whole ... reproduces itself’ (Arthur 2004a, 64) – is independent of the
subject matter of its application. In Marx’s hands, it consisted of, in
Levine’s (2012, 31) words, the ‘isolating [of] the core social relationships
which sustained and preserved a social totality’. Arthur (2003, 2004a,
2004b), Carver (1976), Reuten (2000), Smith (1999), and Williams (2003)
hold that Capital (at least) is a clear application of that method. Levine
(2012), Van Leeuwen (1972, 1974), and Williams (2000) go further,
claiming that the application of Hegel’s logic is a consistent feature of
Marx’s works, including his doctoral dissertation.
It is my argument that Marx’s works, at least from his doctoral disserta-
tion, evidence a continuous effort to critique the abstract, independent
concept of human nature promoted by political economists and to
replace it with a much more concrete, corporeal, interdependent vision.
Here and in Chapter 7, I argue that Marx consistently pursued this
project across the three broad stages in which his works have commonly
been considered. The first stage began with his doctoral dissertation and
ended with the 1844 Manuscripts. It concerned Marx’s consideration of
‘objective being’ – that any being was so intimately involved with its
necessary objects as to make them part of its very constitution. These are
often referred to as Marx’s ‘early’ or immature works. The second stage
embraced Marx’s theses on Feuerbach in 1845 and the preparation of
The German Ideology in 1846 and is read as part of Marx’s supposed ‘turn’
to a historical materialism. My argument, however, is that these works
were developed from his previous work. In particular, I point out the

separate. by reference to previ- ously established and more open concepts. Marx then drew on that framework to analyse the then current capitalist mode of production. I want to illu- minate his characterisation of being in terms of an aggregate of relations and becoming. As such. and determined all other aspects of a being yet was unaffected by those other aspects. In doing so. in the second stage of his work. drew on Feuerbach and others to ‘invert’ this framework (to ground human nature in the corporeal rather than the non-corporeal and in the dominant mode of production) is considered in Chapter 7. I also address the question of what alter- native Marx suggested (specifically. for example. of treating one aspect of a being as determining its character independ- ently of the influence of all other aspects of that being. how did Marx seek to comprehend corporeality as central to the human essence) by setting out the frame- work within which he was positioned to treat the material as part of the human essence. The final stage concerns those works subsequently produced by Marx – in particular. independent characteristic. substance. the human body and the balance of nature). which Marx called ‘objective being’. it was a critique of the core premise of the traditional debate about a nature or substance – that there was some singular. here I focus on the first stage of Marx’s project: his rejection of the traditional characterisation of a nature. Marx’s critique of abstraction Marx consistently criticised abstraction – the practice. I suggest that these ‘mature’ works are an application of the framework developed over the two preceding stages: having determined that the human nature or essence is that ‘ensemble of social relations’ (1975g. particular quality or feature that lay under. Marx’s Objective Being 127 important unrecognised continuing consistencies between Feuerbach’s and Marx’s works. Here I detail the critique Marx made of the traditional debate about a substance or nature and its application to humanity. The manner in which Marx then. that varying mode of production that mediates the permanent relationship between human- ity’s organic and inorganic bodies (namely. As such. or essence in terms of some fixed. 423). supported. The Grundrisse: An Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy and Capital. In short. I argue that Marx never abandoned the concept of being that was central to his early works – ‘species being’ – and its largely unrealised potential remains available to us today. this chapter sets the foundations for a more detailed exploration of ‘species being’ and the centrality of the corporeal in Chapter 7. .

Marx rejected the characterisation of the atom as independent and self-sufficient (Stanley 1995). exists only in a range of relations (in a network of attractions and repul- sions). like any particular being. In it is expressed the atom’s negation of all motion and relation by which it is deter- mined . 158). In doing so. Marx argued that being was not simply defined in terms of determination and still enjoyed some freedom – that the movement of the atom was best understood in terms of the ‘swerve’ rather than the ‘fall’ and as constituting some ‘pregnant vitality’ (Schafer 2006. it served as a mechanism to promote a Hegelian model of expressive being over more mechanistic models. 86–7). This. in which he rejected treating the atom as completely independent of other atoms. every atom. Some. On the face of it. the atom. Marx’s dissertation interrogated the competing mate- rialist theories of Democritus and Epicurus and demonstrated a prefer- ence for the latter. This is represented in such a way that the atom abstracts from the opposing being and withdraws itself from . There he rejected Democritus’s determinism but also qualified the asserted ‘freedom’ of the atom by means of his critique of Epicurus. In the earlier portion of his dissertation. Rather. . I claim that the dissertation evidences Marx’s lifelong opposition to any understanding of being founded in abstraction. In his thesis. was only part of Marx’s argument. As Schafer (2006) has noted. 53–4): We now consider the consequence that follows. This critique is. in one respect. 15). like Stanley. by another being. was realised only in the midst of its relation to the ‘external’ (Schafer 2006. the Body. Marx’s dissertation has been treated as having only historical relevance and certainly not as a source of illumination for his ‘mature’ theory. go so far as to claim that ‘the same qualities that contemporary critics are so anxious to bestow upon the Eleven Theses are largely present in Marx’s first work’ (1995. For Marx (2006b. It was not the mechanistic object moved solely by external influences but somehow self-sufficient. At the very least. however. it has appeared to fit squarely ‘within the limits of Young Hegelian thought’. he proceeded to criticise the one-sidedness of Epicurus’s model and its emphasis on abstract individuality. and Human Nature This position was central to Marx’s doctoral dissertation.. 112) ‘the motion of falling [was] the motion of non-self- sufficiency’. as noted by Burns (2000) and Kolakowski (2005.. a number of writers have recognised the ‘germ’ or ‘embryo’ of Marx’s enduring interests in the dissertation.128 Marx. clearly Hegelian: Marx asserts that every particular being... However. On this basis.

presupposed as abstractly individual and complete. many atoms. self-sufficient. not freedom in being. the atom. doctors. but real premises from which abstraction can only be made in the .. essential and pernicious’ feature of capitalism. Insofar as it proceeds to reality. and. since it itself is directly determined.. Marx’s critique of abstraction also featured strongly in the 1844 Manuscripts. as a human being. In the first manuscript. annihilated nature. In Marx’s words: The premises from which we begin are not arbitrary ones . (Marx 2006b. as nothing more than a worker. he must receive enough to enable him to work. It leaves this to the criminal law. Marx (2006b.. 130–1) rejected any conceptualisation of being in independent. it sinks down to the material basis which. landed property and labour’ as a ‘necessary. external to it . In like fashion. in his discussion of the abstract character of political economy. hence equally an atom. it informed Marx’s criticism of idealist thought in The German Ideology. cannot actualise itself . as bearer of a world of manifold rela- tions. 116. namely. its existence is empty space. or abstract terms: If the atom is considered as pure concept... must be realised. 288) This critique continued throughout Marx’s life and figured prominently in the second and third stages of his works.. abstract approach: It goes without saying that political economy regards the prole- tarian . ‘Wages of Labour’. Marx’s Objective Being 129 it. statistical tables.. This can only be done if the being to which it relates itself is none other than itself. Marx characterised the ‘separation’ of ‘capital.. He criticised political economists for treating that separation as ‘natural’ or justified as a result of their narrow. during the time when he is not working. But what is contained herein. It can therefore advance the thesis that. positively established. its negation of all relation to something else. It does not consider him.. Abstract individuality is freedom from being. (1975e. emphasis in original) On this basis.. The repulsion of the many atoms is therefore the necessary realisa- tion of the lex atomi [law of the atom]. never exists but in forms which are . politics and the beadle. like a horse. religion.

their activity and the mate- rial condition of their life. but expresses the sum of interrela- tions. The recovery of these lost or neglected relations was central to Marx’s discussion of his method. the difference between capital and product does not exist. .. They are the real individuals. abstracts from just the specific difference on which everything depends. the relations within which these individuals stand. not only a social animal. but an animal which can develop into an individual only in society. This once attained.. have no value whatsoever... begins real . . directly addressing polit- ical economy’s reliance on the fictitious... 43) In the Grundrisse. Where speculation ends .130 Marx.. (Marx and Engels 1998. we might start on our return journey until we would ... and Human Nature imagination. This so-called contemplation from the standpoint of society means nothing more than the over- looking of the differences which express the social relation.. . independent – or substantial – individual: The .. In the Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy. for example . Marx (1975h...... 264–5) criticised both economists and socialists for making the same error in regard to the relationship between society and economic conditions: Proudhon. Marx (1975h. . abstractions in themselves. . 36–7. Marx (1973. isolated hunter or fisher who forms the starting point with Smith and Ricardo.... divorced from real history... Proudh on .’ Thus he calls subjective precisely what is social. .... is the very one in which the interrelations of society . abstract. This difference is entirely subjective . belongs to the insipid illusions of the eighteenth century. the Body. there ... and he calls society a subjective abstraction... science . becomes prevalent. Man is in the most literal sense a zoon politikon. [states that]: ‘For society.. Society does not consist of individuals. 16) sketched his own method: [W]e shall proceed from the imaginary concrete to less and less complex abstractions until we get at the simplest conception. 2) continued to expound the same critique. [T]he period in which this view .. In the course of criticising the methodology of political economy in the Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy. have reached the highest state of development.

The critique of abstraction – and. That character was not founded in some sepa- rate. an other or object was present and co-lo- cated because of their mutual reliance. in considering the argument for ‘pure’ being. Schelling. suggest a concept of human nature that is the opposite of a nature or substance as traditionally understood. and these. together with a range of key terms (such as ‘expression’). Marx’s Objective Being 131 finally come back to [the concrete]. Just as Hegel. Smith 1999). for Marx. I then demonstrate how Marx understood corporeality as central to being human. Fracchia 2004. the essential character of a being was not independence but interdependence. was an ‘objec- tive being’. and others had argued. as an abstraction that neglects central features of our humanity. Herder. by implication. Goethe. a living being. what alternative did Marx suggest? I argue that Marx considered being as the composite or aggregate of its various relations. I consider the alternative approach applied by Marx and map out what Marx considered to be a more comprehensive framework to capture all that constitutes being. Following this. A living being. Just as Spinoza. in the first stage of his work. but this time not as the chaotic notion of an integral whole. Marx. that is. contin- uing emphasis in Marx’s works and forms part of the answer to the first key question of this thesis: what critique did Marx make of the tradi- tional debate about human nature (whereby the non-corporeal was treated as its foundation)? Marx’s critique of abstraction implied a view of the traditional approaches to human nature as incomplete. unchanging dimension of that being but constituted the aggregate of its relationships with other beings. Beginning with what appears to be an example of substance in the form of a commodity – a thing that exists independently – Marx then proceeded to draw on Hegel’s logic to explore each of the multiple relations that gave it its character (Arthur 2004a. Revealing and contesting the distortions following from this process of abstraction profoundly shaped the architecture of Capital. the traditional approach to the concept of a nature or substance – was a central. a being that had no object was not. Objective being: incorporating the ‘external’ The second key question is. In the balance of this chapter. 2004b. held that a being with no object – no . For every being. adopted the foundational terms of Hegel’s Logic. but as a rich aggregate of many concep- tions and relations. For Marx. in Marx’s eyes.

A being that existed independently of any other thing was a fiction: Man lives from nature.. because it is fundamentally nature. and Human Nature relationship to another being – was the equivalent of nothing. For Marx (1975e. my emphasis) This connection was not the relationship found between two sepa- rate things.. natural being. to be a living being was to be so intimately involved in and so dependent upon the ‘external’ or independent world of objects as to blur the borders between the ‘internal’ and ‘external’: An objective being acts objectively. real. or that he can only express his life in real.. Marx’s use of ‘essence’ here places him directly in the tradition of argument initiated by Spinoza and devel- oped by Hegel. To be a living being was. To say that man’s physical and mental life is linked to nature simply means that nature is linked to itself. the Body. 267). means that he has real. on the contrary. (Marx 1975e. he rejected conceiving of a being’s nature in . living. ie nature is his body.. A non-objective being is a non-being. sensuous objects as the object of his being and of his vital expression. and it would not act objectively if objectivity were not an inherent part of its essential nature. sensuous.132 Marx. 389). Like them. objective being . for Marx. To be objective. 390) argued that [t]o say that man is a corporeal.. its objective product simply confirms its objective activity. and he must maintain a continuing dialogue with it if he is not to die. nature and sense outside oneself. sensuous objects. natural and sensuous and to have object. existence and to realise essence’ (Marx 1975d. . It creates and establishes only objects because it is established by objects. In the act of establishing it there- fore does not descend from its ‘pure activity’ to the creation of objects.. It was to be profoundly open to and dependent upon objects that are ordinarily considered to be separate and external – it incorporated ‘external’ objects as part of its self.. 328. A being which does not have its nature outside itself is not a natural being and plays no part in the system of nature. . Marx (1975e. for man is a part of nature.. to have its nature or substance located ‘outside’ itself. Objects were not separate from but were part of our nature as human beings – they were needed ‘to complete . its activity as the activity of an objective.

it can be readily appreciated that Marx’s 1845 char- acterisation of human nature in his sixth thesis on Feuerbach as ‘the ensemble of social relations’ suggests an essential continuity between the first and second stages of his work. including human beings. that he is not the particular being as he imagines. 170) has emphasised this point: [A] being’s nature is not some mysteriously hidden ‘essence’.. In 2008. and Hartsock came to the same conclusion. Arthur.. then. 67. Marx’s Objective Being 133 terms of substance – no being.. but . the need for them. the necessary relations of the objective being to its objects. as with Hegel.. These relationships are not the aloof. . shows each owner . was independent. each thing consists of the totality of its relations. From this. hardy independence of the tradi- tional approach to a nature or substance but that of essence – of being constituted by and open to its relationships with what. irrefutable proof that that thing is part of my essence. 68) put it. my underlining) This concept of ‘objective being’ was central to Marx’s concept of human nature. (1975d. . but a total being and as a total being his needs stand in an inner relation to the products of the labour of others – for the felt need for a thing is the most obvious. Foster. were interdependent. Meszaros (1970. in traditional terms. To be human.. was one of internal relations.e. An ‘objective’ being was one composed of a range or aggregate of relation- ships.. that he stands in another essential relation to the objects . For Marx. As Foster (2008. all other beings.. in Marx’s eyes was indistinguishable from the various relationships any person has with his various objects – those objects were not in an ‘external’ relation to it but an ‘internal’ one. 267. outside of the totality or all of nature. Marx’s basic ontological scheme for understanding the world.. This made the relationship between humanity and its objects an ‘inner relation’: The longing for these .. objects.. Rather. Just as Hegel held that no ‘pure’ being existed – only in relation- ship with its various objects – Marx’s ‘objective being’ did not exist sepa- rately from its objects. i. Ollman pointed this out in 1976. are seen as separate.

as integral elements of what they are. All three emphasise the role of social relations in Marx’s works and tend to treat them as distinct from the indi- vidual-nature relationship. etc. 14) Ollman points out that for those who start ‘with a conception of factors as logically independent’. possibly reflecting Aristotle’s influence on Marx. 328. commodity. . 328). Plamenatz’s dismissal of Marx as ‘speaking absurdly’ (1975. as I argue in Chapter 7. the Body. Here. whose subject matter is not simply society but society conceived of ‘relationally’. 35). Contrary to its dismissal by Wood as ‘highly metaphorical’. whereas for Marx interaction is. This interpretation of Marx is not uncontested: Gould (1980). 82) and the arguments made by some ‘green’ or ecolog- ical writers. ‘inorganic’ recog- nised some degree of separation but not a profound or ontological one. their interaction is then an ‘intrusion’. which. Schmidt (1971). Capital. In my view. 329). and ‘exaggerated’ (2004. Gould and Schmidt appear to rely on traditional concepts of substance. whilst physically separate from his ‘inorganic body’. labour. Nature – man’s ‘inorganic body’ Marx’s approach made human being so open that he treated nature as humanity’s ‘inorganic body’ (1975e. ‘hyperbolic’. 17). and Wood (2004) argue that Marx posited a greater division between a being and its objects. 16. value.. Whilst Wood does not consider this issue in any detail. Richard Levins has similarly emphasised that the relation between the parts ‘is not mere “interconnection” or “interaction” but a deeper inter- penetration that transforms them’ (2008. it also presents one of the major obsta- cles to understanding Marx’s work: This is really the nub of our difficulty in understanding Marxism. they do not consider how the social may be seen as generated out of the individual-nature relationship. their accounts fail to explain the strength of the connection that Marx placed between those various relations and exhibit a form of abstraction. 177). those parts with which we tend to see them externally tied.134 Marx. was functionally so dependent on the latter as to make them a unity. is central to Marx’s account. are all grasped as relations. inneraction’ (1976. (1976. such as Clark (2001). and Human Nature Ollman has stressed how this emphasis on externality and separation was the focus of Marx’s critique. containing in themselves. properly speaking. man’s organic body. In particular. For Marx (1975e. however.

Marx’s use of ‘organic’ and ‘inorganic’ needs to be understood with reference to Hegel’s works and their influence upon him. and he must maintain a continuing dialogue with it if he is not to die.. and any given entity is the summation of the relations of which it is a part. As Foster and Burkett (2000. Marx’s Objective Being 135 [t]he universality of man manifests itself in practice in that univer- sality which makes the whole of nature his inorganic body. as both Hegel and Marx recognised.e. one body – the .. This extended inorganic body does not resemble the independent self- contained entity featured in the traditional debate concerning a nature or substance. the word organ (organon) also meant tool. Nature is man’s inorganic body. [i]n Marx’s dialectical understanding. 411) have argued.. Marx’s use of ‘organic’ together with his reference to nature as the ‘tool of his life activity’ suggest that he was drawing on the classical Greek understanding of ‘organ’ as an integrated extension of the body: In ancient Greek usage. it represents the depth and breadth of involve- ment explored by Spinoza and those who worked within his legacy – a view of being as open and interdependent. consisted of both its organised internal or ‘organic’ dimension and its disorgan- ised external or ‘inorganic’ dimension. in which he was heavily influ- enced by Hegel. i. (Foster and Burkett 2000. It is. A living body. because they were both part of the general process of species adapta- tion to natural conditions. Instead.. In this sense the organic body of humanity (like all species) includes within itself the inorganic conditions of its existence. all of reality consists of relations. Here. . Characteristic of the natural-dialectical worldview of the ancient Greeks was the recognition of a close relationship between tools as extensions of human beings and the organs of animals. the object and the tool of his life activity. 408) Moreover. nature is his body. . and organs were initially viewed as ‘grown-on tools’ of animals – whereas tools were regarded as the artificial organs of human beings. that is to say nature in so far as it is not the human body. however. then. (1) as a direct means of life and (2) as the matter. Man lives from nature. which may at first appear (in a society characterised by the alienation of human beings and of nature) as mere ‘external’ things.

To do otherwise is to consider the being in the abstract – as Marx (2006b. It imports the vulnerability of Spinoza’s aggregates .. so to speak. 485. but rather the separation between these inorganic conditions of human existence and this active exist- ence. In the Grundrisse. 490. (1973. as Hegel argued in his Logics. the Body. 285). as presupposed along with his own being.. Even in Capital. vulnerable human being However. 488. his extended body. Marx’s most ‘mature’ work. adding stature to himself in spite of the Bible’ (1976. as his. 474. the first form. and hence their appropriation of nature. 474). For the worker. not freedom in being’. nature-given inorganic body of his subjectivity’ (1973. Marx presents a history of the relationship between man’s organic and inorganic body in the course of considering the changing character of property. and Human Nature dependence of the organic on the inorganic for its realisation is so inti- mate. 489. Marx insisted that [i]t is not the unity of living and active humanity with the natural. my emphasis) What was ‘unnatural’ was the form of property which was sustained within the capitalist mode of production and its separation of the indi- vidual from his inorganic body. to consider a living being as an aggregate or ensemble of rela- tions goes further. but also the subject of this inorganic nature’ (1973. which only form. to consider ‘freedom from being. ‘nature becomes one of the organs of [man’s] activity. relations to them as natural presuppositions of his self. Property thus originally means no more than a human being’s relation to his natural conditions of production as belonging to him. 491.136 Marx. which he annexes to his own bodily organs. Suffering. 473). that of the family or ‘natural’ community. inorganic conditions of their metabolic exchange with nature. . This description remained unchanged even with the emer- gence of the second form of property – that evolving with towns – with ‘the earth in itself’ described as the ‘inorganic nature of the living indi- vidual’ (1973. 488). 131) put in his doctoral dissertation. For Marx. made property appear for the indi- vidual as ‘the objective. which requires explanation or is the result of a historic process. ‘he himself is not only the organic body. that the two cannot be considered as distinct. see also 473. The continuing salience of this understanding is clear in Marx’s later works.

and the idealists – to be profoundly. he is a passionate being. 389. Man as an objective sensuous being is therefore a suffering being. sensuous.. anxiety.. unfixed limitation or setting off against the relations within which that self was positioned and yet to experience that limitation as some form of self-sacrifice.. a sensuous object. Marx (1975e. I argue that Marx’s conception of human nature in terms of an aggregate of relationships made the experience of uncertainty.. are not merely anthropological characteristics . as ‘a continuous exchange of resistance and strife’ (cited in Richards 2002.. 269) placed at the heart of being together with the goad or ‘urge to overcome this limita- tion’ (1969. conditioned and limited being . ‘external’. In contrast to the independence and self-sufficiency of a nature or substance traditionally understood. i. troubling feature. Passion is man’s essential power vigorously striving to attain its object. but . indispensable to the exercise and confirmation of his essential powers.. passing moments of change. whether animate or inanimate. Marx (1975e. vulnerable being in the terms suggested by Spinoza. objects of one’s sense perception. corporeal. as Schelling put it.. and to experience those relations. essence (nature)’.. and because he feels his suffering. but these objects are objects of his need. and pain a persistent. the Romantics. Marx’s adoption of a . 310). Objective being was constituted out of a range of varying relations. 375) emphasised that these ‘feelings . to be real. and thus to have sensuous objects outside oneself. objective being he is a suffering. in traditional conceptions. inescapably bound up with what was. It was to have its centre of gravity located in the ‘external’ and in the tensions that. Contrary to the long-standing effort in traditional approaches to a nature or substance to exclude the volatility and uncertainty of material existence. 135).. Marx’s Objective Being 137 to the depths of every being.. To be sensuous. unset- tled. 390) envi- sioned a fundamentally contradictory. . unstable being passionately – and painfully – dependent upon needed objects: [A]s a natural. It was to experience the constitution of the self by some uncertain. It makes being precarious. essential objects. To be sensuous is to suffer (to be subjected to the actions of another). in traditional terms. the objects of his drives exist outside him as objects independent of him. It was to experience the ‘felt contradiction’ Hegel (1975..e. is to be an object of sense. truly ontological affirmations of . had been located in the subordinated volatility of matter and the inconse- quential.. ‘incidental’. To be an objective being was to be an open.

some- thing ‘internal’ and opposed to the ‘external’ world: a distinguishing feature. and potential of human being. and ‘becoming’ to describe this process. ‘Power’ and ‘capacity’ here should be understood in terms of Aristotle’s concept of ‘potential’. just the kind of ‘peculiar terms’ Ollman (1976. I argue. and ‘drives’ despite frequent reference to them. as discussed in Chapter 2. I argue. ‘expres- sion’. Marx’s expansive approach – his treatment of nature as man’s ‘inorganic body’ – located that nature in the very process of change. he is an active natural being. (Marx 1975e. ‘capacities’.138 Marx. however. that Marx’s use of ‘powers’ and ‘capacities’ is better understood as accentuating the instability and dependence of objec- tive being. ‘dispositions’. Powers. ‘development’. as Marx envi- sioned it. as few writers have given sufficient attention to these words. It made activity central and reinforced why still life – abstracted studies of isolated individuals – cannot capture the nature of our humanity: the unity of being – the aggregation of organic and inorganic bodies – is a state of perpetual striving. the openness. have been overlooked. the Body. 3) had in mind when referring to Pareto’s complaint that one could see both ‘birds and mice’ in Marx’s words. They are. with vital powers. Most discussions of Marx’s works – such as those by Wood (2004) – have read them as suggesting a pre-existing ability. ‘capacities’. 389) However. ‘appropriation’. and Human Nature more open conception founded human nature in the movement from the contradictory state of essence or inorganic unity towards an internal organic unity. fragility. Contrary to the traditional emphasis in locating human nature in the unchanging. ‘realisation’. and the . capacities and Kraft For Marx. as drives. Marx used terms like ‘powers’. Marx does not elaborate on what he means when he talks about ‘powers’. these powers exist in him as dispositions and capacities. They provide a rich description of being in such open. However. the unification of our organic and inorganic bodies depended upon the use of a person’s ‘powers’ and ‘capacities’: As a natural being and as a living natural being he is on the one hand equipped with natural powers. interde- pendent terms as to render Marx’s rejection of the traditional approach to a nature or substance unambiguous.

The categories of ‘power’. as ‘secret forces which are still slumbering’. a sense of being in process and movement and not in some solidly established self. Instead. were widely influential and became key descriptive and explanatory terms within the Romantic movement. This term – ‘Kraft’. or ‘force’. particularly the forces of attraction and repulsion. and the parallels between his and Aristotle’s approaches to substance. Aristotle’s concept of ‘potential’ does not imply a separate or independent foundation for being. Nature itself had become. transformed the character of substance. Moreover. conditions. ‘faculty’. a ‘system of forces’ (Lamm 1996. and the Romantic movement made Kraft a widely adopted term. and ‘power’ (Clark 1942. the work of Leibniz. interde- pendent character of ‘power’ and ‘capacity’. changing combination. The discoveries in relation to magnetism. ‘capacity’. As we saw in Chapter 3. the mutual dependence of matter and form on each other to constitute being. including an individual . yet both recognised the pervasive troubling influence of the material world. Matter. dunamis (Lawson-Tancred 1986. and interdependence. Hegel (1970.3 Moreover. accentuates the open. as Schleiermacher expressed it. 168). shifting it from the firm. 1998). Both preferred the ideal form of a being as its substance. Aristotle considered ‘power’ and ‘capacity’ as part of his theory of potential (which would have been very familiar to both Hegel and Marx2 and their intended audiences). 323) suggested this interpretation through his explana- tion of ‘power’ in terms of possibility. 740). flux. together with the dependence of potential upon the presence of an external catalyst for its realisation. ‘ability’. Both proposed alternatives to the traditional emphasis on separation with regards to substance that brought their ideal and matter together in a volatile. in German – drew on Latin roots which extended its meaning to ‘strength’. As I discussed in Chapter 2. Any particular being. suggesting an open- ness and an essential constitutional tie to the ‘external’. fixed substrata towards process. Herder. new develop- ments in science in the eighteenth century suggested a higher degree of interaction and interdependence between objects than previously appreciated. and ‘potential’ are alternative translations of the same Greek word. Marx’s Objective Being 139 late-eighteenth-century concept of ‘Kraft’. in Aristotle’s hands. although external. Marx often drew on the language of force in the context of describing powers and capacities. and suggestive of a connection. This intimate dependence was heightened by Aristotle’s use of terms such as ‘priva- tion’ and ‘suffering’ to describe the impact of the absence of those neces- sary. They suggested an underlying universal connection – an openness – that was generally described as ‘force’.

140 Marx. It is evident in early works.. not only in the form of mechanical and mathematical motion. In the Grundrisse (1973. in The Jewish Question.. even without impediment. and Human Nature human being. is still no real power but only capability. motion is the first and fore- most. individual man resumes the abstract citizen into himself and as an individual man has become a species-being in his empirical life . (cited in Barnard 1969.. If . measure of force-expenditure . the capacity to labour needed to be distinguished from its objec- tive conditions. Marx (1975b... through exchange. then there is nothing – the word is a purely academic abstraction... 234) described human emancipation as the reassembly of those forces: Only when real.. Herder made this sense of dependence plain in asserting that: [p]ure. . naked capability which. . . a tension. [l]iving labour capacity belongs to itself. is like an empty sound. he equated ‘force’ with ‘capacity’ in describing the extremity to which. with their portrayal of being in terms of a universal. but chiefly in the form of an impulse. my emphasis) As early as 1843. could be treated as an aggregate of forces. the Body. a vital spirit.. Marx used the term ‘force’ in contexts consistent with the sense of openness and interdependence that is central to Kraft.. positive power is not combined with the capability. interdependent being. where the organic characterisation was expressly preferred over a mechanical one: Among the qualities inherent in matter. The primary forms of matter are the living. In those circumstances. (Marx and Engels 1975. Those terms reinforce the Aristotelian suggestion of an open.. to constitute ‘wage labour’ under capitalist system. What the free worker sells is . individualizing forces of being inherent in it. and has disposition over the expenditure of its forces. 133i) In the first stage of his works. nothing more than a ... 128. only then will human emancipation be completed.4 Marx continued to use ‘force’ in this same sense in his later work. connecting dynamic. 464–5).. like The Holy Family. only when man has recognised and organised the forces propres [translated by the editor as ‘own forces’] as social forces so that social force is no longer separated from him in the form of political force.

Marx’s Objective Being 141

[Kraftaüsserung]. ... As a totality of force-expenditure, as labour-ca-
pacity, he is a thing ... belonging to another, and hence does not relate
as subject to his particular expenditure of force, nor to the act of
living labour.

In Capital, Marx (1976, 283) used both the concepts of ‘potential’ and
‘forces’ to characterise

the labour process independently of any other specific social forma-
tion ... [as] a process by which man ... confronts the materials of
nature as a force of nature. He sets in motion the natural forces which
belong to his own body ... in order to appropriate the materials of
nature. ... Through this movement he ... develops the potentials slum-
bering within nature, and subjects the play of its forces to his own
sovereign power.

Similarly, the dependence of a potential on its object is evident in
Marx’s discussions of ‘labour power’ and ‘labour’ and in his contrast
between ‘living’ and ‘dead’ labour. The capitalist system not only main-
tained human beings in an incomplete, alienated state but relied upon
the exaggeration of that privation for its continued operation: human
beings were reduced to ‘labour power’, to mere bare capacity or potential,
the possibility of – but not yet – human being (which, when activated,
became ‘living labour’, the source of all value within capitalist society).5
Under the capitalist system, the ‘vital forces’ that constituted and main-
tained a human being were artificially separated out – ‘abstracted’ in
the sense of ‘torn apart’ – from the aggregate of forces that made up a
For Marx (1976, 1052, 274), ‘labour [was] an expression of labour-
power’. Labour power was a potential which did not exist until ‘acti-
vated ... through labour’. It became ‘a reality only by being expressed’.
That expression, however, was dependent upon its essential objects:

When we speak of capacity for labour, we do not speak of labour, any
more than we speak of digestion when we speak of capacity for diges-
tion. As is well known, the latter process requires something more
than a good stomach. When we speak of capacity for labour, we do
not abstract from the necessary means of subsistence. (1976, 277)

Together, these suggest that, contrary to the suggestions of stability and
continuity conveyed by a conventional understanding, Marx’s use of

142 Marx, the Body, and Human Nature

‘powers’ and ‘capacities’ is better understood as Kraft and accentuating
the openness and interdependence of objective being. Here, power and
capacity suggest an essential constitutional tie to the ‘external’, a sense
of being in process and movement and not an independent, unchanging
nature or substance.


Marx referred to the process by which a being entered into unity with
its object and so completed its essence, resolved its contradiction, and
achieved some secure, stable identity as ‘appropriation’. In this section,
I argue that Marx’s presentation of this process further emphasised his
open, interactive characterisation of human nature. Marx argued that
the process of appropriation was not the straightforward enjoyment of
exclusive possession or ownership but much more open – a process in
which an object could be appropriated in many varied ways, including
simultaneously by a number of people. Marx’s view of appropriation
suggests an enormous variety of relationships between ‘being’ and
‘object’ and so an equally varied range of forms for ‘objective being’.
Considered with the open character of ‘objective being’, of a being that
is always incomplete and striving to secure its many objects and many
relationships, Marx’s sketches of appropriation suggest a being with an
extraordinary openness to the world.
When he wrote of the human essence as ‘activity’ or ‘labour’, Marx
was referring to appropriation. It formed the process by which the very
being of the aggregate or interdependent being was constituted and
maintained. The relations that made up that ensemble – that incom-
plete unity of being and object – were expressed and fulfilled through

All his human relations to the world – seeing, hearing, smelling,
tasting, feeling, thinking, contemplating, sensing, wanting, acting,
loving – in short, all the organs of his individuality ... are ... in
their approach to the object the appropriation of that object. (Marx
1975e, 351)

Moreover, the manner in which an appropriation occurred was not
fixed. It could involve the exclusive possession and use of the object
(including its consumption and destruction) or merely its apprehension
through one or more of the senses. Hegel, in his Philosophy of Nature

Marx’s Objective Being 143

(1970, 406), had indicated that it could involve the construction of an
‘external’ object (an artefact):

Here, an external object, something belonging to the animals’ non-
organic nature, is assimilated: but in such a manner that at the same
time it is also left ... as an external object ... a self-externalisation ... a
building of the form of the organism into the outside world.

For Marx (1975e, 353), the forms of appropriation could be as varied as
the objects:

The manner in which they become his depends on the nature of the
object and the nature of the essential power that corresponds to it. ... An
object is different for the eye from what it is for the ear, and the eye’s
object is different from the ear’s. The peculiarity of each essential
power is precisely its peculiar essence, and thus also the peculiar mode
of its objectification. (emphasis in original)

Appropriation, then, was not limited to the creation of artefacts or
the transformation of materials. It was one of those terms Ollman
described as bearing a ‘peculiar’ meaning. Extending to ‘seeing,
hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling, thinking, contemplating, sensing,
wanting, acting, loving’ (Marx 1975e, 351), appropriation captured all
human relations to the ‘external’ – all of the relations between organic
and inorganic bodies. It was that degree of relation that involved the
unification of being and object, even if that unity remained physically
separate and could be simultaneously enjoyed by others (herein lay
the rationale for communal or communist forms of appropriation over
private ones).

Realisation and expression

However, whilst the appropriation of an essential object unified a
person’s inorganic essence and addressed the ontological void that moti-
vates and drives them, it did not render that person stable, separate, or
independent. Whilst Marx described the effect of an appropriation as a
‘realization’ and ‘expression’ of the self, this was not in the sense of any
closure or stability. Rather, I argue that these two terms also express the
open, incomplete character of human nature and accentuate its thor-
oughgoing, unavoidable, constitutive interdependence.

144 Marx, the Body, and Human Nature

On the face of it, ‘realization’ and ‘expression’ suggest a sense of conclu-
sion and completion. Marx’s use of these words sometimes appeared to
express this meaning: a person needed objects ‘to complete [his] own
existence and to realize [his] own essence’ (1975d, 267); a worker’s
product was ‘his life-expression’ and the ‘externalisation of his life’.6 On
its face, this language suggests the attainment of an end – a stable, inde-
pendent self that is no longer dependent upon the ‘external’. It does not
suggest the reciprocal influence of being and object. This appears to be
the way in which Wood (2004) has interpreted ‘expression’.
Marx provides no clear explication or exegesis of his use of terms
like ‘realization’ and ‘expression’, notwithstanding his frequent and
consistent use of them. However, here again, I argue that Marx was
drawing on the tradition of debate about substance. His use of ‘expres-
sion’ and ‘realization’ reflected the continuation and development of
the Aristotelian tradition by Spinoza, Leibniz, Herder, and Hegel and the
resistance to the abstractions of Enlightenment thinking expressed by
Vico, Hamann, Herder, Goethe, and the Romantic movement. Its influ-
ence on Marx, particularly in his critique of alienation and his vision of
an emancipated society (discussed below), was profound (Berlin 2000).
For Marx (1975e, 390), a real being was always already involved in and
expressed through its objects:

To say that man is a corporeal, living, real, sensuous, objective being
with natural powers means that he has real, sensuous objects as the
object of his being and of his vital expression, or that he can only
express his life in real, sensuous objects.

An ‘objective being’ was deeply bound up with its objects and reliant
upon them for its realisation: ‘he is not the particular being as he
imagines, but ... as a total being his needs stand in an inner relation
to’ those objects as they are needed to ‘complete ... existence and to
realise ... essence’ (1975d, 267).
This deep involvement in one’s objects made for an equally deep
involvement with others – it involved others intimately in one’s expres-
sion. Marx was at pains to point out that

[i]t is above all necessary to avoid once more establishing ‘society’ as
an abstraction over against the individual. The individual is the social
being. His vital expression ... is therefore an expression and confir-
mation of social life. Man’s individual and species-life are not two
distinct things. (1975e, 350)

Marx’s Objective Being 145

Plamenatz (1975) and others recognise the ‘external’ dimension of
‘expression’ in this social sense; in particular, in terms of a need for
recognition by others. Plamenatz even suggested a deeper sense of
connection in describing it as ‘spiritual’ (1975, 94, 102) but did not
explore its ontological status in Marx’s thought.
Marx drew on ‘expression’ and ‘realisation’ to convey the sense of
tension, volatility, movement, and involvement considered in Chapter 3:
a sense of a drive or extension that never reaches completion. The
terms reflect, on the one hand, the Aristotelian/Herderian sense of an
emerging ‘internal’ character. On the other, they position that potential
as ‘external’ in the Spinozan and idealist sense of an immanent totality
of relations and the manner in which they draw a being ‘out’ of itself.
They suggest a being that was always, ever, involved in the ‘external’ but
with an increasing degree and intimacy. They gesture to a fundamental
unrest and tendency towards expansion.
Expression, then, for Marx, was founded in a deep relationship with
what might ordinarily be considered separate from being. It was intended
to convey a profound intimacy – so much so that when ‘we ... produced
as human beings ... [i]n my production I would have objectified the
specific character of my individuality and for that reason I would ... have
enjoyed the expression of my own individual life during my activity’
(1975d, 277). Our activity, our objectification, however, also served
another’s needs, such that:

In the individual expression of my own life I would have brought
about the immediate expression of your life, and so in my indi-
vidual activity I would have directly confirmed and realized my
authentic ... communal nature. Our productions would be as many
mirrors from which our natures would shine forth. (1975d, 277–8)

The expression and realisation of one individual was bound up with that
of others so much so as to involve reflections of each other.
Marx made the same point again in the Economic and Philosophical
Manuscripts of 1844 – expression was not an individual dynamic but
rather a dialogue:

If we assume man to be man, and his relation to the world to be a
human one, then love can be exchanged only for love. ... Each one of
your relations to man – and to nature – must be a particular expres-
sion, corresponding to the object of your will, of your real individual
life. If ... your love ... does not call forth love in return, if through

producing. for the product of labour itself. formed the suite of terms they both used to describe the outcome of an appropriation. In The German Ideology. together with ‘expression’ and ‘realization’.. expanding.146 Marx. 379) Marx’s use of ‘expression’ to convey this intimate connection between a person and his objects continued throughout his works. this suggests that the very act of appropriation can be understood as changing the relationship of an ‘objective being’ with its object. whose labour it is. whose own life’s expression .. Marx (Marx and Engels 1998. leads to new needs’. and optional. 47–8) discussed appropriation in the course of setting out the three ‘premises of all human existence’. it changes one of the rela- tions that constitute that being – and thereby change (‘develop’) that . particularly in Marx’s discussions of alienation: Indeed. Its meaning – and the continuity of Marx’s thinking – is clarified in his later works. This term. As such.. the Body. incomplete character of human nature is equally suggested by Marx’s (and Hegel’s) use of the term ‘development’ (Entwicklung). 462) These terms – ‘expression’ and ‘realization’ – are key parts of a vocabu- lary of thoroughgoing.. like Kraft. ‘the satisfaction of [a] . it is a misfortune.. need . (1973. The second was that appropriation did not involve comple- tion: rather. It can mean development within a life-cycle stage (i. for it has been surrendered to capital in exchange for objectified labour. expansion. evolving). and Human Nature the vital expression of yourself as a loving person you fail to become a loved person. or growth. The first premise was the production of the means to meet needs. constitutive interdependence and were used to emphasise the openness and overlapping of what is ordi- narily conceived as separate. Entwicklung. living labour itself appears as alien vis-à-vis living labour capacity. then your love is impotent. has a variety of meanings.. it is. Marx provides no clear explanation of the meaning of ‘development’ in the first stage of his works notwithstanding his frequent use of it throughout those works. It is clearly evident in the Grundrisse.e. independent. (1975e.. unavoidable. With regard to the concept of ‘objective being’. Development The emphasis on the open.

. 198). However. an inhospitable or challenging climate – ‘spurs man on to the multiplication of his needs. and the instru- ments and modes of his labour’. or ‘Werdens’. despite its ordinary connotations of completion and stability. It cannot be what it is without a certain temperature. uphill. Marx viewed it as the ‘very one in which the interrelations of society have reached . a broadening rather than a closure. . transform themselves. their highest state of devel- opment’ (1975h. new modes of intercourse. develop them- selves in production. Marx’s Objective Being 147 being. also suggests a sense of conclusion and completion. The appropriation of a needed object is not a resolution nor an ending but an increase in complexity... In fat the drop remains compact. 494). Marx made it clear that [n]ot only do the objective conditions change . here again. runs usually downhill. in that they bring out new qualities in themselves. the forms of things change according to their connections. and in a loaf of sugar. develop new powers and ideas. Thus. I argue that Marx’s use of ‘becoming’ reflected that by those who preceded him.. Ollman 1976). his capacities. too. a philosopher whose works Marx endorsed (Dietzgen 1928. Contrary to the ‘[prevalent] view of the isolated individual’ in an advanced industrialised society as separate and independent. Look how different it is according to the different things with which it is connected. appears to have meant just the opposite for Marx. ‘where nature is too prodigal with her gifts’ (1976. The same approach is suggested again in Capital.. Dietzgen (1928. Changes in objective conditions – namely. 649). the producers change. an increasing neediness and dependence.. and involved the .. drew out the manner in which this vola- tility followed from the character of ‘objective being’: Here is a drop of water. 2). new needs and new language. Development. unlike the tropics. ‘becoming’. such as Herder and Hegel.. in salt it divides infinitely. Marx provided no clear explanation of the term in his early works. This interpretation is suggested again by Marx’s use of ‘development’ in The Grundrisse (1973. Becoming On its face..

whole. but continuous becoming... It was a vision of ever- incomplete being. the Body. and Human Nature conception of being in terms of continuous flux – of being as perma- nently open to. (cited in Richards 2002... 100. I argue that the concept of becoming is both the culmination of the chain of concepts discussed so far in this chapter – from power or capacity to appropriation to expression/ realisation and then development – and complements Marx’s critique of abstraction. Hegel (2003. infinite movement’ and the self as ‘this very unrest’. 84. This instability arose directly from the character of being as an aggregate of relations and interactions – the vision that was central to Spinoza and to those who worked within his legacy. always . interdependent with. evident. Referring to Heraclitus. perhaps never achieving final harmony. and Hegel. or evolves from. The term ‘becoming’ had acquired a well-established meaning within the philosophical traditions that Marx drew on. (1969.. 12) emphasised that it requires that ‘we . In this section. Schelling. as a process. .. Hegel pointed out that this truth is to be grasped and expressed only as becoming.. (cited in Barnard 1969.. and changing in response to the world about it. builds upon.. a repulsion and attraction – not as . a garden of mixed delights .. the fore- going. the same emphasis on ‘becoming’ and its difficulties shaped the works of Fichte.. 156–7) Moreover. The essence of our life is never fruition.148 Marx. 201–2) As we have seen. in Herder’s eyes... 172) . We are always growing out of childhood. in motion. Hegel made this plain. when Herder characterised mankind: At no single moment can he be said to be . think pure flux’ – that we regard life as ‘endless. that would grow in an antagonistic and perpetual struggle.. however old we may be ... 92.. [t]he strife of becoming would be the eternal lot of human nature . restless and dissatisfied. a stable unity. . for example. One activity is increased by another. Their use of the term conveys a sense of being in terms of process rather than stability and closure..

a key component in the constitution of that being and thereby changes that being. of expression and realisation. inevitable unfolding of some independent or pure nature but the tensions and vulnerabilities of an open. . pending that resolution. To carve one’s self out – to abstract one’s self from the bundle of relations that constitute it – is an act of partial self- sacrifice. Marx’s use of ‘becoming’ does not suggest a smooth. and abandoned as each incorporation begs their further extension. It is only to assert that. Marx’s Objective Being 149 This is not to ignore Hegel’s or Marx’s confidence in a future resolution of these tensions. objective being is fleeting. ‘Becoming’ in this sense reflects the tensions and dynamics of power and capacity. Jonas’s suggestion (in Grosz 1994. not of substance. of dismemberment. Drawing on Marx. mutual influence of participants in a relationship. and completion for a passionate. The completion of the dialectical move- ment – the organic unification of being and object – changes a key rela- tionship. The nature of a being can then be considered as ‘becoming’. 11) that this fluidity and dynamism is analogous to that of a flame captured well the concept of becoming and its contrast to the traditional debate about a nature or substance: [T]he permanence of the flame is a permanence. accentuating the feelings of loss and pain that Fichte and then Hegel had emphasised. satisfaction. Life. relation. then. it can be argued that an understanding of a living being is one in which life is not adequately described in terms of stability or self-sufficiency but rather as activity. then. dialectical being. Life is then less a question of the objects artificially created by abstraction from context than of the intimate. imposed for our convenience. feelings that prevented any feeling of being ‘at home’ in the world. and depend- ence. The moment of constitu- tion of any particular being – of its expression in Aristotle’s sense – is a moment of passing satisfaction as it equally involves an experience of inadequacy and loss. The moment of satiation. involves an intimate ‘internal’ influence by ‘external’ things and boundaries and borders recognised as points of reference. but of process in which at each moment the ‘body’ with its ‘structure’ of inner and outer layers is reconstituted of materials different from the previous and following ones so the living organism exists as a constant exchange of its own constituents and has its permanence and identity in the continuity of this process.

is merely a moment. 712.. the Body.. fisherman. not as measured on a predetermined yardstick? Where he .. did not end this state but renewed it – meeting one need served to create another. previous historic develop- ment .. The conditions and objectifications of the process [as] .. criticise after dinner . created through universal exchange? . freeing that process of appropriation from the obstacles involved in alienated relationships. It made ‘becoming’ a human being’s natural state and permanently committed this ‘suffering’.. etc. strives not to remain something he has become.. themselves equally moments of it. It made being one with activity or ‘labour’. It was not an end to the openness and constitutional insta- bility of our being but to the enabling of its free realisation. rear cattle in the evening.. creative potentialities. in this movement...... however. (1973. individuals . was to involve the ‘positive supersession [or “transcendence”] of private property’ and end of alienation. to hunt in the morning. 389. which they equally reproduce and produce anew. pleasures... This is why in his later works Marx’s key term for that endeavour came to be ‘labour’.. interdependent being to the activity of securing its needed objects. . and its only subjects .150 Marx. with no presuppositions other than .. and these words best captured the depend- ence of any being on its objects – they were not optional or external but essential. productive forces.. a vanishing moment. Marx (1975e.. 390) envisaged humanity as ‘suffering’.. without ever becoming hunter. Securing those objects. . the development of all human powers as such the end in itself.. Marx (1973. but individuals in mutual relationships. and ‘passionate’. ‘needy’. The absolute working-out of . then.. and Human Nature This characterisation becomes clearer in Marx’s later works. capacities. [e]verything that has a fixed form . fish in the afternoon.. shepherd or critic’ (Marx and Engels 1998. but is in the absolute movement of becoming? In this approach. makes .. 53). 488) contemplated unlimited becoming (cour- tesy of Kraft): [W]hat is wealth other than the universality of individual needs. and enabling one to ‘do one thing today and another tomorrow. In the Grundrisse. my emphasis) The communist state. It was to be the ‘genuine resolution of the [conflicts]’ involved in ‘the true appropri- ation of the human essence’.

Rather. it was open and interdependent – far more a process than a settled state. in grasping the positive significance of the negation which has reference to itself. Herder. 395) praised Hegel’s insights. or changeless but constantly in and open to change. It is a vision of an interdependent being immersed in the world rather than abstracted and torn from it: a being so involved in that world as to make nature its ‘inorganic body’. his concept of ‘objec- tive being’ is of a being deeply bound up with and dependent upon its various objects. Hegel. in estranged form. Marx’s Objective Being 151 Marx’s comprehension of being was the direct opposite of that under- lying the traditional debate about a nature or substance.. 276–7) search for a ‘more human language’ was founded in a vision of a humanity intimately involved in the world. with all the fragility and tensions that the works of Spinoza. secure. It is also a vision of a being wrestling with the necessity and pain of limitation. It was for this reason that Marx (1975e. he sees labour – within abstraction – as man’s act of self-creation and man’s relation to himself as an alien being as the emergence of species-consciousness and species-life. unaffected by other beings. objectification and realisation. or independent. Hegel grasps man’s self-estrangement .. (emphasis in original) It is for this same reason that Marx regarded the extremity of the capi- talist mode of production. it exposed the essence of our being. stable. loss of objectivity and loss of reality as self- discovery.. having some sense of self by virtue of some form of boundary . notwithstanding their alien- ated terms. In its extremity. and others had suggested. It was not stable. It was not secure. for recognising that the character or nature of our humanity was labour: Therefore. In the first stage of his works. expression of being. In short.. It was ‘becoming’. with its separation of workers from their needed objects and their reduction in so many ways to just the capacity to labour – ‘labour power’ – as the most advanced stage of human devel- opment. and the mechanism of that ongoing process of unification and change was ‘appropriation’ or ‘labour’. unavoidable character of labour is one of the great continuities across all stages of Marx’s works. drawing on Hegel’s Logics. even if . Conclusion Marx’s (1975d. This essen- tial.

That realisation marks the transi- tion from the first to the second stage of Marx’s work – the recognition that an ‘objective being’ could survive only as a ‘species being’ and in cooperation with others of its kind. ‘appropria- tion’. ‘development’.152 Marx. It is an image of a constant essential yearning. the Body. lacking its necessary objects. ‘expression’. They speak of interdependent being: a being that. . It is an image that resonates with the legacies of Spinoza’s thought and his emphasis on the openness. fragile. 390). Marx’s vision of being is founded in pain – in the experience of ever. It is a vision of being founded not in the stability and secu- rity favoured in the traditional debate about a nature or substance but in movement and constant effort to secure some unity. a being so fragile. to be ‘at home’ in the world and of the endless nature of that task. vulnerability. some security. ‘capacities’. is ‘no being’ (1975e. that absent the support of others. vulnerable. needy being. always. only to find that yearning renewed in the moment of its satisfaction and expression. Contrary to the more commonplace understandings of the key terms Marx used to describe being. ‘powers’. feeling incomplete. and ‘becoming’ speak of an open. it could not exist. and Human Nature and limitation and yet unable to live with that amputation. Marx realised. is incomplete. to use Hegel’s terms. ‘realisation’. and fragility of being. of seeking.

His thinking about ‘objective being’ provided him with the means by which to pursue it. 35). by abstracting it from its intimate. and rationality – from a bodily foundation? Marx’s works were just that ‘wager’. after surveying attempts over the previous 25 years to ‘offer a historical-materialist account of human nature’. in a breathtaking wager. independent of all other things. by its corporeal roots’ (2005. argued that those attempts had ‘stalled’ because they had ‘failed to grasp Marx’s . 197) had characterised Marx’s ‘massive undertaking’ as ‘animated’ by the following question: What if an idea of reason could be generated up from the body itself. conception . With this foundation. Marx was able to recognise the influence of our ‘corporeal roots’ and to outline and sketch that reconstruction – one in which the corporeal is no longer considered an obstacle or hindrance to our humanity but rather as the foundation of its character. how did Marx make the case that corporeality was central to that nature? I have already argued that Marx criticised the traditional approach to human nature. Here I address the second key question posed in the introduction to this book: what alternative did Marx suggest to the traditional approach to human nature. inescapable ties to the balance of existence. 24. politics..7 Marx’s Species Being In 2005. In place 153 . as incomplete. He went on to quote Terry Eagleton as ‘best summarising’ the ‘daunting challenges’ this involved. considered in terms of substance.. What if it were possible. and in particular.. .. Joseph Fracchia.. history. and its promise. to retrace one’s steps and reconstruct everything – ethics.. This enabled the non-corporeal to be treated as our essential nature. its fragility. Eagleton (1990.

of that being’s compromise and collapse. and Human Nature of the traditional formulation of a nature or substance. The centrality of this influence has. consisting of a range. grounded our being in the world. Marx made our bodies matter. It is to reveal the fragility and vulnerability of every being and the immanent risk so well marked by Spinoza. In adopting the language of materialism. the Body. Those relations. including those objects that form part of nature. however. It is equally to note the promise and beauty of being: to participate so openly in many relationships is to participate in a near-boundless potential. unstable. The very ontological openness and incompleteness of our being renders the common labour under a common mode of production essential to and pervasively. by ‘inverting’ Hegel’s dialectic.154 Marx. 423). Marx. Marx built on this foundation to demonstrate that this intimate involvement in the world makes our being precarious and deeply dependent on the cooperation of others so as to secure a stable relation- ship with the objects of those relations. not always been recognised by commenta- tors on Marx’s work. In part. This allows assump- tions of stability and independence to exert a lingering effect such that the insufficiently exorcised ghosts of political economy’s ‘abstract man’ continue to appear to somehow stand outside the relations that compose them. with its emphasis on the volatility of matter. The treatment of the corporeal in the literature too often still resembles Feuerbach’s ‘religious thought’ – that which imagines human . and fragile character of our being – has not been well recognised in the literature. In those ‘external’ relations. exercise a permanent pervasive influence. I argue that this dependence founded Marx’s under- standing of ‘species being’ and explains his central emphasis on the mode of production. Whilst the necessity of the corporeal is acknowl- edged without hesitation. it tends to be only in the most basic sense of a limiting need. of relationships such that the objects of those relationships were not external to but part of our being. our stability and continuity resides. which Marx described as the dominant mode of production. To treat Marx’s works as part of the tradition of debate about a nature or substance is an essential first step to fully compre- hending Marx’s intent. Marx understood human nature in terms of ‘objective being’. or ‘ensemble’ (1975g. This dimension of Marx’s works – the precarious. as suggested by Agnes Heller (1974). and an obstacle to be overcome. It is to reveal that creature’s deep dependence on what traditionally is considered external to it. this is so because of a failure to consider Marx’s works in light of the tradition of debate about a nature or substance. intimately influential over our very constitution.

Marx’s Species Being 155 fulfilment in terms of the disembodied. notwithstanding his debt to Hegel. Incorporating the corporeal Marx rejected the traditional approach to a nature or substance.. the various objects of the relations that constituted its being became incorporated into that being.. notwithstanding his appreciation of the breadth and interde- pendence of being. but rather is a dialogue of speculation and empirical reality. it became central. ‘Truth’. 188). In this way. 87) consists not in unity with its opposite. With the foundation of any particular being no longer restricted to some underlying. but rather in the refutation of the same. concrete being. Like Herder and Feuerbach. .. Hegel. is not Nothing. I consider the shift in Marx’s language from ‘sensuous’ to ‘material’ being. immortal lives of gods rather than as inseparable from our limitations and mortality. but sensuous. Hegel’s Logics had concerned a contest of concepts rather than of concepts and reality. with particular regard to Feuerbach’s influ- ence. privileged a concept of being over its actual experi- ence. with its emphasis on separation and abstraction from the world. 390). Rather.. This chapter also draws out the way that instability permeates each individual being and makes the experience of alienation and anxiety inherent risks of human nature. . the material or corporeal could no longer be treated as distinguishable from a non- corporeal human essence and therefore discardable. Here I trace the basis on which Marx’s theory of ‘objective being’ incorporated the corporeal. The opposite of Being . It marks the parallels between materialist philosophy and that criticising the traditional debate about a nature or substance. Marx wanted to avoid confusing the convenience and comfort of our concepts with reality and thereby ‘purchase clarity at too high a price’ (to paraphrase Berlin 2000. The dialectic is no monologue of speculation with itself. As Feuerbach had previously objected. he expanded each being’s involvement in the world around it. However. which incorporated the classical Greek understanding of matter as active and volatile. 29). for Feuerbach (cited in Johnston 1995. In particular. and insisted that the only real being was an ‘objective being’ – one that had its ‘nature outside itself’ (1975e. with Marx’s ‘objective being’. so as to present Marx’s materialism as an expansion and reinforce- ment of his treatment of objective being. inde- pendent feature. Marx found a prime example of the ‘German disease’ in his works (Marx and Engels 1998.

A consistent application of Hegel’s own dialectics demanded. Hegel’s approach was ‘standing [the dialectic] on its head’ and needed to be ‘inverted’ (1976. concentrating. ensured the coherence and continuity of a being and brought Feuerbach (1989. To consider any particular being as interdependent – as an aggregate of relations – made the corpo- real central. the Body. however defined.. limiting. (Marx and Engels 1998. 142–3). but by the breadth and variety of existence itself.156 Marx. their activity and the material conditions of their life. 103). . It was that which. a broader view of human nature and reason.. colourless. building on Feuerbach. and nameless reason’. As Feuerbach emphasised.. but real premises from which abstraction can only be made in the imagination.. and thou takest away that which holds it together. the objective world’ (1972b. Marx similarly criticised the manner in which Hegel had subordinated the corporeal world to ‘the rule of the concept’ (Marx and Engels 1998. than the force of flesh and blood. without which no personality is conceivable. ‘in relation to the abstract ego. Take away from thy personality its body. one with ‘reason saturated with the blood of man’ rather than ‘a beingless. circumscribing force.. 67) insisted.. 397) that the whole of the Logic is proof of the fact that abstract thought is nothing for itself .. [the dialectic made] the body . In The German Ideology. and that only nature is something. The breadth of Hegel’s concept of being was not captured by reason. went further and grounded our humanity in nature as a whole: The premises from which we begin are not arbitrary . As Marx expressed it in Capital. 37) This was Marx’s ‘inversion’ of Hegel’s Logic. the opposite of intelligence. 91) to ask: Is there . any other force. at least in the first instance. The body alone is that negativing.. and Human Nature It was on this basis that Marx argued in the 1844 Manuscripts (1975e. They are the real individuals... both those which they find already existing and those produced by their activity... . Thus the first fact to be established is the physical organisation of these individuals and their consequent rela- tion to the rest of nature. as Feuerbach (1986. . 29). Marx.

It was an incomplete realisation of Feuerbach’s own demand that the concept of being be contrasted with sensual experience. 390). 770) had emphasised. echoed themes explored since the earliest expres- sions of Western philosophy. did not capture the volatility of matter or the essential role of human labour. entailed ‘a continuous exchange of resistance and strife’ (Richards 2002. To consider being dialectically. Schleiermacher. If nature or the totality alone enjoyed the stability and security that characterised that concept. Feuerbach’s was a contest between concepts. The language of ‘sensuousness’. in terms of an aggregate or ensemble of relations. As Hegel (1969. however. and others. unavoidably expe- rienced instability and insecurity. Shifting . Contrary to the quiet subsidence of desire from Hegel’s dialectic following the trials and revelations of the ‘unhappy conscious- ness’. understood in this way. contradiction’. 355). Marx’s Species Being 157 A central. the rigorous application of Hegel’s own Logics resurrected desire in all its troubling character. Marx asserted that sensuousness ‘must be the basis for all science’ (1975e. This recognition of resistance and contradiction was further ampli- fied by Marx’s adoption of the language of materialism. It was to highlight the fragility and vulnerability of each particular being – our character as ‘suffering’. The model of all beings as interde- pendent and constituted by an aggregation of various relations could be found in the works of Herder.. then all other beings. which Marx criticised as a ‘contemplative’ view of nature. was to make the inescapable instability of being – called desire – a central feature of being. No longer could desire – the conscious- ness of incompletion and drive to resolve it – be readily wrestled into obedience. too. This was not an uncommon view in Marx’s time but followed from Spinoza’s inversion of the approach to the concept of substance. 310) and. Schelling noted that being. to live was to experience ‘this disharmony and . ‘passionate’ beings (Marx 1975e. 389. Even in Epicurean philosophy. 46). Goethe. in doing so. to some degree. In the 1844 Manuscripts. So. Such ‘sensuousness’ did not capture the openness and instability of the body nor the manner in which its ‘suffering’ prompted a much more active engagement and expression on its part. one that inadequately recognised the degree to which our organic and inorganic bodies had become intertwined (Marx and Engels 1998. the rela- tions between atoms were characterised by conflict (Asmis 2008. 148). Schelling.. could an appreciation for the tensions and uncertainties that this entailed. pervasive instability Marx not only incorporated the corporeal into being but made it a prom- inent feature.

such as Bacon. as Epicurus and Lucretius had recognised. Matter was unstable so much so that Aristotle imagined its stabilisation only through some kind of discipline. highlighted the limitations and mortality of any partic- ular being. by adopting the language of materialism. 128. Marx’s materialism did not supersede his philosophical thought but extended it. Aristotle considered matter to be the active aspect of being. emphasis in original) Marx’s comprehension of materialism drew on both its old and new proponents. (Marx and Engels 1975.. Species This emphasis on instability and volatility. The new aided best Marx’s critique of dualist views of being. The old. 32). Moreover. like a negative charge or a negative number. The Greeks gave matter a very active role. Democritus and his atoms. in the theses on Feuerbach and The German Ideology. vulnerable. cited in Pike 1999. but on a tradition of argument he saw as dating back to the early Greeks. was reinforcing the point he made through using the language of essence. Marx maintained the emphasis on the intimate involvement of man and nature but heightened the sense of conflict and instability inherent in that rela- tionship. which neutralizes and obliterates. It demanded a constant effort or labour to maintain its unity. is Bacon.. however. but it was so dynamic that it acted as ‘a negative entity. and Human Nature from the language of ‘sensuousness’ to materialism in The Holy Family. Stability in being demanded the imposition of form over unruly matter. better served the purpose Marx shared with Feuerbach: it better enabled him to express the open. and volatile char- acter of being and the defining role of the corporeal therein. including in his praise of Bacon: The real progenitor of English materialism . . Marx.. he often quotes as his authorities. A fuller compre- hension of the nature of being – one that expanded beyond the abstrac- tions of substance – not only included the corporeal in a non-dualistic conception of being but was much more unstable and uncertain. Marx relied not only on the recent proponents of materialist views. the Body. This is readily apparent from Marx’s frequent reference to both ancient and recent references in the course of his works.158 Marx. Anaxagoras and his homoeomeriae. It was always ever on the brink of change. This was the point of Schelling’s presentation of particular .. saps and subtracts’ (Williams.

for Feuerbach. . it is an immortal. drawing on that same tradition. formless eddies that appear momentarily in a river’s passage. emphasised the dependence of that being on its climate and habitat. the volatility of the corporeal and accompanying fragility of being meant that continuity or immortality did not reside in the individual but in a larger aggregate of relations. 94) This ‘species being’ was not some natural type or fixed essence. For the Romantics.. which he described in terms more suggestive of coincidence and momentum than self-sufficiency or stability. as compared to particular beings.. in characterising the key features of materialism in The Holy Family. This was a central theme of Feuerbach’s Thoughts on Death and Immortality. lacking. It was not the site of biological identity and replication. the essence. So insecure was this being for Hegel that he located its continuity in habit – a continuity so uncertain that it could be confirmed only ex post facto (Malabou 2005. With regard to the then current debates concerning ‘species’ (as we saw in Chapter 3). Mode or habit The species. The organic body itself is the species.. however. Spinoza made the same point in his consideration of the limited and uncertain duration of particular beings in the face of eternal being or substance. Marx. is a mortal. where he insisted that [y]our determinate individual body . simply by virtue of its closer approximation to the totality.. a species was simply a larger aggregation of relations – a larger abstraction from the totality – and enjoyed a rela- tive semblance of stability. divine body. 73–4). For Spinoza. Herder. the organic body itself is absolutely without lack . Marx’s Species Being 159 beings as products of nature’s ongoing productivity – the temporary. was not self-sufficient but deeply dependent on its ‘external’ relations. that endurance turned on the continuity of the dominant mode of relation of its constituent parts. It did not consist of the repetition of an unchanging pattern or the unfolding of designs inscribed by means of genetic codes or some pre-established Aristotelian potential. Species did not involve a rigid fixity but a larger and therefore less volatile combination of rela- tions within the totality. finite body . in considering the endurance of any particular being. It was dependent on the continuity of its surroundings. and for Marx.. the species. (1980..

. This under- standing follows from the Spinozan inversion of substance.. The important thing is to understand life. (1980.. drawing on Spinoza. not as a form . The whole development of man . depended upon the way in which its constituent parts were unified: [E]verything in nature is what it is. rather. (Marx and Engels 1975. Condillac. In his view. Marx. one takes up or lays down rhythms.... had proved not only that the soul. one slips in . one never has a tabula rasa. manner of unification. my emphasis) Like habit. and Human Nature drew on this same sense of habit. One never commences.160 Marx. and degree of mixture of the matter. drawing more consistently on this same insight – that the compo- sition of any being is a particular ensemble of relations maintained in a particular manner – heightened the emphasis on the latter and hence on the extrinsic character of any being.. 122. Marx writes.. but.. the essence of man is no abstraction inherent in each single indi- vidual .. each living individuality. it is the ensemble of the social relations. (1975g. depends on education and external circumstances. because of the limitation of the indeterminate matter. a way of life.. as a way of life.. it is by speed and slowness that one slips in among things. This is how Deleuze (1988.. 129) The continuity of any particular being. the Body. understood a being as an aggregate or ensemble maintained through a particular habit or way of life: [T]o be in the middle of Spinoza is to be on this modal plane – which implies a mode of living. 570) . 123).. are matters of experience and habit. this ‘mode’ or ‘manner of unification’ can be thought of as a way of securing the necessities of life – in effect. but the senses too . but as a complex relation between differential velocities . .. not because of the matter out of which it is constituted. that one connects with something else. .. because of the determinate proportion. as Feuerbach recognised in Thoughts on Death and Immortality.. in expanding on Locke’s discoveries. 74. then the thing itself changes. a composition of speeds and slownesses on a plane of immanence . So central was this habit that it grounded Marx’s assertion in his theses on Feuerbach.. 846... If the mode of unifi- cation of those realities that are called the elementary constituents of a thing changes .

of appropriation is not then an activity of an otherwise established being. Rather. coincides with their production. so they are. 423). 47): the first act in history or. no individual existed independently of them. He insisted that [t]his mode of production must not be considered simply as being the reproduction of the physical existence of the individuals. Stabilising being – the modes of production It is for this reason that Marx described a mode of production – a mode of relating to our inorganic natures – as a mode of life. or ‘internal dumb generality’ or genus as Marx described it in his sixth thesis on Feuerbach . so deeply affected by it. Marx’s Species Being 161 Marx located the foundation of human nature ‘externally’ to its indi- vidual specimens. (Marx and Engels 1998. So significant was the tension between our ‘organic’ and ‘inorganic’ bodies. To be human was to be thrust into an ‘ensemble of social relations’ (1975g. turns on what Marx described as ‘appro- priation’. this expression. a definite mode of life on their part. 37) This activity. that stability and continuity was possible – at least outside the ‘temperate’ areas – only when we clothed ourselves in social structures. or mode. This is not to suggest that this ‘clothing’ was a secondary act – something undertaken by human beings after striving in the world for some time. it was the ‘first historic act’ (Marx and Engels 1998. As individ- uals express their life. So open is our organic body that we gained some stability in being – some certainty in appropriating the objects we needed – only through adopting a shared. an act that has always been part of human nature. the development of any being follows from the unification of its elements – from the appropriation of its necessary objects. Hence what individuals are depends on the material conditions of their production. that cooperation of some kind and scale has always been a condition of our very being. therefore. What they are. a definite form of expressing their life. both with what they produce and with how they produce. We have been so vulnerable to the vagaries of the ‘external’ world. As I have already noted. Rather it is a definite form of activity of these individuals. of our existence – our corporeality – has demanded this coordination and cooperation. between humankind and the balance of nature. more accurately. consistent approach to meeting those needs. when we imposed a comforting layer between ourselves and the ruder elements. The very foundation of our being. The manner.

. Space and time thus laid out make room for humans. our mode of production enables us to draw ourselves together. Rather. is not a quarantined part of our existence or ourselves. but primary: the establishment and re-establishment of that being.. then. Notwithstanding the potential variety of forms of appropriation.. It is not secondary. [t]his sum of productive forces . xii).. It provides the pulse and breath of our lives. of appropriation. Lefebvre wrote of the habits acquired by human beings which filled: the place of the unforeseen. Unseen. it buoys us up and enables us to bear the weight and gravity of our bodies. concerning the domination and appropriation of nature: [E]ach stage contains . and defining. and .162 Marx.. which unifies our organic and inorganic nature from our infancy. which is handed down to each generation . and Human Nature (1975g. for education and initiative: for liberty. unthought of. an act by a being. 423). which on the one hand is indeed . For Marx (Marx and Engels 1998. 40–1) From this perspective... a historically created relation to nature and of individuals to one another. the Body. It is the levee bank against the uncertainty and threat of our corporeality. but pervasive. it is the mode by which that being is constituted and persists. 62).. universal. the body sounds out a rhythm with the regularity of a metronome (2004.. the rhythm of their walking . A mode of production.. not disappear.. Against the constant movement of the world about us and our necessary objects away from us. people can turn right or left. We are engaged in this necessary self-constituting activity.. forms of intercourse.. . More of an illusion: [habits do] . but their walk. (2004.. setting a rhythm that does more than pervade and affect a life: it is life.. One is born into a way of life. which every individual and every generation finds in existence as some- thing given. [does] not change for all that. 39. It deter- mines the majority of rhythms . 3). of . the demands of our inorganic nature impose a cooperative regime.. is the real basis of what the philosophers have conceived as ‘substance’ and ‘essence’ of man. a mode of production. initiative.. A little room. It is our nature. a sum of productive forces.. So central is this rhythm to understanding Marx that Lefebvre claimed that the ‘analysis of rhythms’ constituted a new ‘science’ (2004.

in turn. Bourdieu (1977). is not an abstracted activity but a corporeal one – an activity between our corporeal body and its objects in accordance with a commonly accepted mode or manner. of our very selves.. has founded much of his work on the formative influence of habit. but on the other also prescribes for it its conditions of life and gives it . from youngest to oldest. too. Like a piece of music. as ‘the continual auto-production of schemes in the body’s mobilizing of itself [that] “gives our life the form of generality and prolongs our personal acts into stable disposi- tions”’ (1968. Marx’s Species Being 163 modified by the new generation. completing one’s being in the manner in which those rhythms and objects permit. The expression of our humanity. its rhythms provide a means for people to coordinate their movements. the latter formed one configu- ration within the broader configuration of the species (which. liv). a special character. 62) One grows up in a particular place and time exposed to and educated in its rhythms of action and its customary objects. A change in the means of production . but it does not dictate them. It was on this basis that Spinoza could stress interde- pendence and still allow for individuality.. Merleau-Ponty (1968) wrote of the body and the self as the accumulation of these rhythms. A mode of production is not merely a mode of activity for adults but a mode of life that shapes a society. sat within the total configuration of nature. It does so with sufficient consistency to significantly contribute to the continuity of their constitution. (Marx and Engels 1998. It shows that circumstances make men just as much as men make circumstances. even if its members do not directly participate in its core activities. A particular society’s way of life provides an organising rhythm: it shep- herds and corrals its members into particular positions and in particular directions. Historical being – a history of changing modes Marx sought to demonstrate the centrality of this rhythm – of the mode of unification of organic and inorganic bodies – by tracing its develop- ment and variation across history. He considered these to provide a ‘style’. The manner in which that activity occurs – and the manner in which we conceive of it and of ourselves – shapes our bodies and ourselves in ways that remain with us outside of the dimensions of our labours (paid and unpaid). It is not a mantle we can discard or a character we cease to play but a rhythm – promoting a shape – that permeates the balance of our existence. Hampshire 2005).

(1975h. openness and fluidity become key descriptors of ourselves. ‘intersection’. ‘relative autonomy’. To have suggested otherwise would have been to repeat the idealists’ error.. the Body. relations of production constitute the economic structure of society. . superstructure. 97. 425) In the Grundrisse.. 425) This is not a determining or causal relationship but one of deep and pervasive influence. the real foundation. and Human Nature enabled the emergence of a new mode of unification and hence new forms in the very practice and expression of life.. 101. (1973. Once we appreciate the extent of that openness and the corresponding diminution in control it involves. This was the point of Althusser and Balibar’s (1997.. on which arises a . as does our corporeality... 106–7) This is not to deny the tendencies and trends Marx saw in the workings of history and economic relations but to recognise these as general direc- tions or momentums and not exhaustive prescriptions or predictions. Once human nature ceases to be conceived of in terms of separation. 108.164 Marx. Marx made the relationship a little clearer in his Contributions to a Critique of Political Economy. It is a general illumination which bathes all the other colours and modifies their particularity. the significance of our . but their social existence that determines their consciousness.. displacement .. . torsion’ and ‘overdetermination’. he used terms suggesting an even more indirect influence: In all forms of society there is one specific kind of production which predominates over the rest.. 188) insistence on rejecting any simple or mechanistic understanding of the influence of the mode of production in favour of notions of ‘complexity’... where he described the influence of the dominant mode of production as only conditioning life: The . (1975h. So profound was the influence of the mode of production that Marx described the balance of social relations as ‘superstructure’: The mode of production . political and intellectual life.. political and intellectual life. conditions the general process of social. 100. non-correspondence .. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence. ‘correspondence..

... some stability. an historical product. 62–3) Fracchia.. that prevents humans from making their histories as they please. social limits and constraints. inescapably involved in ‘external’ nature rather than independent of it: [F]rom the start .. loom large – as do. each standing on the shoulders of . but not always as they please’. Feuerbach. in disclaiming others’ flight from the corporeal.. Feuerbach. or social change – it is a history of this tension and the manner in which our predecessors have lived it... (Marx and Engels 1998. a minor matter.. the result of the activity of a .. Marx’s history of different modes of production is not a history of technological.. Marx’s concern with this history was to demonstrate the depth and influence of this tension – to promote the recognition of our inorganic natures and demonstrate that to be human was to be intimately.. . does not see that the sensuous world around him is not a thing given direct from all eternity .. the objects of those efforts. Marx’s Species Being 165 efforts to secure some control. and . 49.. in discussing Marx’s aphorism that ‘people make their own history.. had himself paid insufficient attention to how that relation- ship changed over time. This connec- tion is ever taking on new forms. acknowledged that Marx generally intended this to refer to socially determined capaci- ties . economic. as Marx pointed out.. considered ... corre- spondingly. (2005. . Those efforts and their objects speak to a permanent profound tension in the human constitution. behind changing social capacities . it is the set of corporeal constraints.. but the product of industry and of the state of society . succession of generations. In the whole conception of history up to the present this real basis of history has either been totally disregarded or .. But. the needs and limits embedded in the human corporeal organisation. and thus presents a ‘history’. it is the set of corporeal capabilities that establishes the possibilities for humans to make their own histories.. which is determined by their needs and their mode of production. there exists a materialist connection of men with one another. 43) One of Marx’s key criticisms of Feuerbach was that Feuerbach’s materi- alism – his ‘sensuousness’ – failed to sufficiently recognise this interac- tion and its impact. and which is as old as men themselves. and beyond the changing limits of inherited socio-cultural conditions..

The corporeal’s continuing resistance This distancing makes it easy to miss Marx’s recognition of the ongoing human vulnerability to nature. in practice. as Marx seemed to imply. This impression is reinforced by Marx’s frequent use of terms like ‘subjection’ and ‘domination’ in relation to humanity’s ‘inorganic’ body. Marx’s consideration of the division between. and Human Nature the preceding one. of abstraction. of inorganic nature). and of forgetting the corporeal. Absent a conscious application of the dialectic and a deliberate recognition of the reasons why Marx emphasised a materialist approach. city and country pointed not merely to a change in modes or location but to a movement away. 45) In place of this incomplete. This vision can also be found in Marx’s (1981. that the communist state was one in which history ends – as a mode of existence in which the sphere of freedom was. It suggests that stability and independence would. so powerful had human powers of appropriation become. It makes it easy to accept the sometimes triumphant tones of Marx’s history of human development at face value and not see its twin character as a history of human struggles against the vagaries of nature. on balance.166 Marx. and one’s self. independent of that of necessity (i. Marx offered a history of the movement of different modes of relation between our organic and inorganic bodies. it is easy to imagine.. a distancing and separation from our ‘inorganic’ bodies – a process of containment. abstracted history. come to better char- acterise our being than openness and becoming. 959) description of the communist state as characterised by a shrinking ‘sphere of necessity’ and expanding experience of freedom (Marx and Engels 1998.e. The openness and choice Marx imagined in communist society relied on a mode of production that seems to have almost transcended nature: a mode of secure prolonged domination. developing its industry and its intercourse. His writings conjure up images of a world that was comprehensively shaped and formed by human activity. . It makes it easy to miss the first historic act of production pictured by Marx as the ready domi- nation of the world instead of an ongoing effort to stabilise a world. a society. 53). and modifying its social system according to the changed needs. (Marx and Engels 1998. the Body. for example. its ‘inorganic’ body. Marx presented capitalist humanity as dominating and transforming nature.

649) Absent nature’s denial of basic human material needs. Human beings lived and acted within this tension. a response to the resistance of the ‘inorganic body’. that plays the most deci- sive role in the history of industry.. the essence of the human self: ‘a being which is capable of containing and enduring its own contradiction’. would ‘shrink’ the ‘sphere of necessity’ (1981. It can also be seen to be fundamental to his view of humanity as conveyed by his repeated references to Prometheus. 649) recognised that: [e]ven if we leave aside the question of the level of development attained by social production. This sense of nature’s ongoing resistance founded both Hegel’s and Marx’s explanations of the absence of industrialisation outside of Europe. the productivity of labour remains fettered by natural conditions. The confidence that science. It is this notion of an uncertain.. like a child in leading strings’. safely disciplined body. Marx (1976. The human condition consists of this ongoing tension and resistance.. . Absent nature’s resistance to human need in . As Marx put it. Humankind’s ‘inorganic’ body was not a domes- ticated. there remained a caution. Marx imagined man as lacking initiative. she ‘keeps him in hand. 959) was central to his vision of the future and was expressed throughout his works. Yet for all of Marx’s triumphant modernist claims. Marx’s Species Being 167 often in combination with expressions of confidence in ‘progress’. of appropriating or subduing it on a large scale by the work of the human hand. the very descriptions he provides – and the permanent relation- ship they depict – are subject to the restrictions imposed by nature. in their view. a consciousness of the volatility and immanent gravity-like resistance of nature. It constituted. insecure unity that grounded Marx’s adoption of the concepts of ‘objective being’ and ‘species being’ and his emphasis on the mode of production. The European experience was. [w]here nature is too prodigal with her gifts. as Hegel (1970. managed and stabilised from time to time by different modes of production. (Marx 1976. 385) pointed out. Man’s own development is not in that case a nature-imposed necessity. Whilst Marx portrays humanity as the victor. who brought fire – and with it the capacity to subdue nature – to humankind. In Capital. developed and applied on a cooperative basis.. It is the necessity of bringing a natural force under the control of society .

. The third circumstance . we do not abstract from the necessary means of subsistence.. non- negotiable minimum for ongoing ‘productive’ activity. but . (Marx 1976.. making it the essen- tial other to capital.. water. . the Body. which have existed simul- taneously since the dawn of history . and ..... That concern was evident in Marx’s comments in Capital and his belief that nature could not be exploited without reservation. 2004b). and Human Nature Europe. an equally permanent condition of human nature as production: [T]he first premise of all human existence [is] . 638) This emphasis on the struggle to maintain the form or body against decay was also central to Marx’s reflections upon reproduction. by simultaneously undermining the original sources of all wealth – the soil and the worker. . It was the ever-present underside of production – the unavoidable.. 274... only develops . (Marx and Engels 1998.. and varied with it. Reproduction was..168 Marx.. making those processes destructive: All progress in capitalist agriculture is a progress in the art. The unavoidable cycle of reproduction . . there would have been no prompt for display of human agency signified by Western industrialisation. Marx (1976. that men must be in a position to live to ‘make history’. Sheasby (2001.. Its cost was the baseline above which surplus value could be created. Capitalist production .. for Marx. to propa- gate.. On the contrary... ‘moments’. referring to Marx’s later correspondence. three different stages. Nor did this resistance end with industrialisation. .. 2004a. begin to make other men. The value of labour was equated with that of the means of subsistence... The second point is that the satisfaction of the first need . but of robbing the soil.. not only of robbing the worker. has demon- strated how Marx was concerned with modern agricultural processes.. all progress in increasing the fertility of the soil for a given time is progress towards ruining the long-lasting sources of that fertility. assert themselves in history today.. 277) emphasised that ‘when we speak of capacity for labour.. 48–9) Reproduction involved individuals addressing the ever-renewed needs of the body for food.. their value is expressed in its value’ (1976. and rest and the species reproducing itself. These three aspects of social activity are not ... three aspects or .. leads to new needs. is that men . 276–7).

. . the natural day a man can only expend a certain quantity of his vital force. The conceptual framework that enabled Marx to see human nature in terms of relations and ongoing change also required a comparable vision of the balance of the natural world. In large part. 341) There was much that the body could be compelled to do.. during another part the man has to satisfy other physical needs. It imposed ‘certain insuperable natural obstacles’ (Marx 1976. nature resists humanity because its various beings involve some degree of potential. For Aristotle – and the other philoso- phers considered in the preceding chapters – matter (or nature) was not the docile instrument of form or human will. In Marx’s conceptual framework.. . wash and clothe himself. together with an openness or exposure to change. from both the perspectives of Spinoza and Herder/Aristotle. or conatus. To draw on Hegel. one can understand the potential of a thing – and its realisation of that potential – to be central to what that thing is. Within .. to feed.. (Marx 1976. all beings – animate and inani- mate – must be understood as engaged in their own movement to fulfil their potential or express their being. Everything has some potential to be realised regardless of any human intention regarding it. its domestication was always insecure and liable to failure. it was always an ‘uphill’ effort – fighting the gravity of the corporeal. This recognition of nature’s ongoing resistance follows from the conceptual foundations of Marx’s work. must rest.. All of nature must be seen as pregnant with resistance. the thing can be expected to move towards the unification of essence. but the object of constant compulsion: the stability or continuity of a being or even a species was never a fait accompli but a constant achievement – an activity. but there were limits to its elasticity. is immanent with movement and change. Moreover. During part of the day [he] . of being and objects. even when that conflicts with any human will. 599). The concept of expression. sleep. if only in Spinoza’s sense of momentum. with their potential to conflict with human purposes. Marx’s Species Being 169 limited the excesses of capitalist practice to ensure the regular renewal of workers’ labour power – every worker needed rest and nourishment by [reason of] the physical limits to labour-power. As part of man’s inorganic body – notwithstanding its capacity to serve human purposes in a more integral way – all of nature must be seen to also move to its various rhythms. Drawing on Aristotle.

He claims that Prometheus was a popular model in Romantic thought not just because of his association with technology but prima- rily because he openly rebelled against the gods. Domination. registered something closer to Hegel’s concept of sublation – surpassed and somehow encompassed in some- thing superior but still present and operative. particularly as he expressed it when characterising nature as humanity’s ‘inorganic body’. His references to Aeschylus’s Prometheus Bound has been seen in this way. If Marx’s specific comments on the ongoing resistance of the corporeal are considered. .170 Marx. Foster (1995. and Human Nature The social domination of nature? This is a controversial interpretation. Considered in context. Marx wrote of the ‘domination’ of nature sufficiently often as to suggest a different view. It is in this sense that Marx’s critique of Feuerbach’s vision of unchanging nature and his recognition of its continued resistance can be reconciled: pure or pris- tine nature has been sublated to and incorporated in the capitalist mode of production. but nature or matter has not been extinguished nor lost its volatility or resistance. like that present in the debate that Clark had with Foster and Burkett. Clark and other writers have not given sufficient weight to the influence of the debate about a nature or substance. According to Foster. it is clear that Marx’s vision was not built on an idea of domination or on the unqualified celebration of technology or progress. together with his critique of practices of domination and the dialectical character of his work. 2) persuasively argues that to view Marx in that way would be to neglect the Romantic influence on the Promethean myth (and Marx). 9). Castree (2000) and Foster and Burkett (2000) make the same argument: the extreme modernist view is not reconcilable with Marx’s dialectical perspective. given the association of Prometheus and his theft of fire from the gods with a celebration of human technology (Kolakowski 2005. Clark (2001. However. with Aeschylus and Plato presenting Prometheus as championing their favoured social classes (see also Sheasby 1999). relying on Marx’s use of ‘inorganic being’ (amongst other things). 337–9). Marx’s references to domination appear to mean more conscious or informed management (with increasing success) than unrestricted domination. Foster and Burkett (2001) contested this view. This is not to deny that Marx had his ‘modernist moments’ that were suggestive of ‘horrific crudities’ (Benton 1992. argued that Marx had ‘a certain antagonism toward nature’. in this sense. 433). this latter characteristic was equally emphasised by the classical Greeks. the Body.

particularly on the ‘socially mediated’ character of the relationship between an individual and the balance of the natural world. has led writers like Gould (1980). harmful beliefs that created ‘empty’ desires and needs (which was the way Marx characterised need in capitalist society). and Wood (2004) to miss or underestimate the ongoing influ- ence of the corporeal and the fragility of the individual. However. like almost all fruit trees. The cherry-tree. like Epicurus. To be human is to be situated in the tension and resistance of being. like the atoms caught up in and constituted by relations of attraction and repulsion. Once expressed in terms of a social character. like Prometheus. especially religious authority and its flight from limitation.. (Marx and Engels 1998. Marx’s emphasis on the social. even for those who do not expressly rely on the domination of nature. we are bound up for eternity. and therefore only by this action of definite society in a definite age has it become a ‘sensuous certainty’ for Feuerbach. This is consistent with Marx’s praise of Epicurus as well as his critique of him. is not by any means the nature in which Feuerbach lives. or ataraxy. industry and commercial inter- course. Marx went on to criticise Epicurus for his subordination of nature in his reli- gious-like pursuit of tranquillity. .. it is nature which today no longer exists anywhere. criticised religion for promoting false. The concept of ‘mediation’ lends itself too readily to interpretations that are consistent with the traditional debate about a nature or substance and suggestions of some separation or freedom from other participants in a relationship. Mediation However.. Marx’s Species Being 171 Treating Prometheus as a rebel against authority. Marx’s criticism of Feuerbach’s characterisation of nature reminds us that [e]ven the objects of the simplest ‘sensuous certainty’ are only given to him through social development.. human beings cannot secure peace and security through independence. only a few centuries ago transplanted by commerce into our zone. 45. [T]he nature that preceded human history. Schmidt (1971). was . 46) . Marx. ‘mediation’ too readily suggests that nature is totally eclipsed by social relations. implies a vision of humanity as something less than gods – as material beings who cannot escape their limitations. Rather. The tensions and trials of existence could not be evaded through some self-sufficient life because those conflicts are the chains with which.

and Human Nature Marx’s concentration on social relations in his later works. 7) Both Schmidt (1971) and Geras emphasise that to treat nature other- wise is to succumb to idealist thought. Lukacs made this same criticism: Above all..172 Marx. Social being cannot be conceived as independent from natural being. dwells in everything . 96–7) argued that ... or merger. . the Body. the thing does not have its colour in one place. as the fence around a field. particularly Capital. (1978.. measure . is just one of the persistent themes we find in his work. Now because these matters are not outside one another but are in one ‘this’. It is to miss the manner in which the multiple. the other also is. [T]his . sour. manifold relations that constitute the concrete or ‘real’ are not truly separate but ever present. However. Hegel. It is to ignore Marx’s own characterisation of the relationship between our conceptions of different aspects of being as ‘moments’ or ‘aspects’ rather than as ‘stages’ (Marx and Engels 1998. determines everything. Geras (1983. ever influencing each other. described this interaction in terms of porosity and interpenetration: Therefore where one of these matters is.. to treat mediation as a relation between two absolutely separate things is to make the error of abstraction. they have an effect that pervades a being: For the limit does not exist as externally circling. its heat matter in a third . as Feuerbach (1980. social being presupposes in general and in all specific processes the existence of inorganic and organic nature... A century and a half later. The relations that constitute a being are no mere aggregate or ensemble combined and coordinated without contamination. electric and so on. but in the point in which it is warm. its odorific matter in another. it is also coloured. Rather.. 74–5) emphasised. it is the middle that is proper and central to a reality. 496–7). influence. 48). they are a multiplicity which interpenetrate one another in such a manner that those which penetrate are equally penetrated by the others.. in one and the same point. penetrates everything. they are assumed to be porous .. in The Science of Logic (1969.. it can never escape the limit that is the centre of its nature..

2. Notwithstanding the hegemonic character of the capitalist mode of production and the social relations which constitute it. and for another. 122) . absolutely contin- uous with the rest of the natural world’. Feuerbach. can be comprehended only as ‘genus’. at least in relation to his characterisation of human nature. Essence. in. By contrast. Marx’s Species Being 173 an emphasis on the social that presented an ‘absolute distinction’ or ‘divorce’ from the natural world was idealist. ever-present feature of our existence. (1980. In its reality it is the ensemble of the social relationships. it is meaningful union. However. with human beings ‘“irre- deemably” rooted in a given biological constitution. a ‘genuine materialism’ emphasised the very opposite. However. given its centrality and influence. In Thoughts on Death and Immortality in 1830. 423). Marx’s apparent rejection of Feuerbach’s philosophical anthro- pology appears to contradict this. Feuerbach had clearly asserted: Being is abundance that is rich in relations. Marx’s characterisation of Feuerbach as promoting an essen- tialist concept of the self – with the human essence ‘naturally’ located in each individual – is demonstrably incorrect. which. That which exists must exist with. warrants quotation in full: Feuerbach resolves the religious essence into the human essence. is consequently compelled: 1. To abstract from the historical process and to fix the religious sentiment as something by itself and to presuppose an abstract – isolated – human individual. dumb generality which naturally unites the many individuals. It is an immanent. That critique appears unambiguous in Marx’s sixth thesis (1975g. therefore. But the human essence is no abstraction inherent in each single indi- vidual. the human body has not lost its character – its volatility – nor has the individual corpo- real body lost its fragility. as an internal. Feuerbach and the continuity of Marx’s project I have set out to show that there is an essential continuity in Marx’s project. who does not enter upon a criticism of this real essence. the inexhaustible womb of the most manifold connections.

. does tend to refer to a general human essence .. Marx was familiar with all these works and expressly referred to the last two in the theses and in the relevant portion of The German Ideology. with its focus on religious thought. There are. manner of unifi- cation . Breckman (2001) and Johnston (1995) understand Feuerbach’s work in these terms. but objective. (1989.. of the matter. in which he presented his critique in detail. Feuerbach’s Essence of Christianity. however. (1980. and Human Nature Moreover.174 Marx. rather .. necessarily relates. in 1843’s Principles of the Philosophy of the Future.. because of the . however. the object to which a being is necessarily related is nothing but it own revealed being. In the first instance. three important clues that suggest that Marx intended to make a much narrower point than the sixth thesis suggests. Feuerbach argued that [t]he essence of a being is recognised. the Body. the location of the foundation of human nature in any single individual. the object to which a subject essentially. with Johnston (1995. 41). 4) Similarly. published in 1841. 201) insisting that to say that the essence of man ‘is the ensemble of social relations’ is fundamentally consistent with Feuerbach’s own conception. Feuerbach was consistent in rejecting the traditional emphasis on separation and. not because of the matter out of which it is constituted. the opening sentence of that thesis refers to the ‘religious essence’. (1986. the emphasis was similar: Man is nothing without an object . 74. 9) This had the consequence that ‘being is as varied as the objects that exist’ (1986.. my emphasis) In The Essence of Christianity. As I have argued.. nature. only through its object.. in particular. is nothing else than the subjective’s own. but. he had expressly stated that the unity and continuity of these relations was dependent upon their external mode of unification: [E]verything in nature is what it is.

. 45). The second clue supporting this narrower application is Marx’s clear intention to shift the focus of popular debate away from a critique of religious thought towards political thought. the claims made in the sixth thesis were not. 35) view. 34) stated that its purpose was ‘to bring out clearly the pettiness.. In Marx’s (Marx and Engels 1998.. The substance of Marx’s other criticisms of Feuerbach were that his concept of the human essence was neither ‘active’ nor historical. the ‘chief defect’ was that ‘the thing’ was “conceived .. 47) For Marx. Marx’s Species Being 175 without reference to the more sophisticated discussions contained in his other works. he considered that Feuerbach ‘naturalises everything and does not see nature as a product of history and activity’ (1998. In particular. and as far as he considers history he is not a materialist. 1998. 1998. the parochial narrowness of this whole Young Hegelian movement’. The introductory section to Marx’s lengthy critique of Feuerbach in The German Ideology (Marx and Engels 1998. The third and most significant clue is that whilst the other substan- tive criticisms were repeated in The German Ideology. (Marx and Engels.. 421–2). Given that Feuerbach’s popularity was almost entirely based on the Essence. The Young Hegelians are in agreement with the Old Hegelians in their belief in the rule of religion. As a criticism of the Essence. 66). . the omission seems likely to have been deliberate and best characterised as an outcome of Marx rethinking his critique. It was presented as ‘given’ and not ‘as a product of activity and hence history’ (Marx and Engels. the entire body of German philosophical criticism from Strauss to Stirner is confined to criticism of religious conceptions. in the form of the object’ and ‘not as sensuous human activity’ (1975g. Marx’s sixth thesis might be seen as focusing on that public debate rather than addressing the whole of Feuerbach’s work. Marx summed up his complaints in The German Ideology: As far as Feuerbach is a materialist he does not deal with history. the sixth thesis has traction. Given that the theses were taken from Marx’s notebooks and were never intended for publication (Johnston 1995).

Feuerbach did not adequately develop these aspects of their shared interests and clearly understated the volatility of nature and the impact of the interaction between our organic and inorganic bodies. however. as Spinoza recognised. as the Romantics and idealists recognised. The other. Marx’s sixth thesis. Their overwhelming focus on economic matters suggests that Marx abandoned the philosophical framework and much of the content of the first stage of his works. exaggerated his critique of Feuerbach. It is also. to also be engaged in an ongoing effort to better secure its self – to better realise and express the various relations that constitute it. I want to argue that the final stage of Marx’s works. and Human Nature These comments. It opened up being far . it is clear that Feuerbach did not assert that human nature took on the character of a ‘dumb genus’ or ‘reside in isolated individuals’. only one of the objections to my claim that there is an essential continuity in Marx’s project. possibly greater obstacle is the content of those writings that make up the last stage of Marx’s work. He tended to use language that suggested a single form for the human essence (at least in the Essence) and a relatively unchanging nature. however. However. however. That concept was founded on objective being. when regard is given to the works Marx drew on as a whole and to those many detailed instances in which he considered the character of our humanity. Analysing capitalism and the continuity of Marx’s project Marx’s critique of Feuerbach is. It might also be said to reflect. It was to make that being always liable to change and active in pursuing it – and hence a being with a history. the difficulties of understanding Marx’s works without reference to the ‘peculiar language’ of the tradi- tion of argument about a nature or substance. including Capital. Marx subsequently refined this critique in The German Ideology. It is. This reading better reflects Marx’s own abilities and diligence and better reflects Feuerbach’s published positions. In short. the Body. to make it fragile and vulnerable.176 Marx. To consider any being as a bundle or ensemble of relationships is to open it up to the world. Without question. having regard to the volatility of man’s organic and inorganic bodies rather than a wholesale abandon- ment of Feuerbach’s thought. However. constitute a better explication of their shared approach to human nature. once again. involves an application of the concept of human nature settled in the second stage. which rendered the essence of being extrinsic to each individual and thereby made that individual open and vulnerable. ‘Thesis on Feuerbach’.

through a common form of mediation with nature. in economics. as belonging to a greater whole’ (1973. what had become of the character of our being? Marx addressed that question in the Grundrisse: A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. with e. This. Each reflects a commitment to critique the abstract model of human being promoted by political economy and a search for the best way to present being as an ensemble of relations specific to capitalism. and Capital. with the real precondition. but that. the population. It shifted the locus of human nature from its traditional internal. The question then became what. too. current history). 83). which is the foundation and the subject of the entire social act of production. 100) returned to the question of beginnings: It seems to be correct to begin with the real and the concrete. the ‘identity of the subject. had that mode of cooperation become and.g. nature’ (1973. with it. Marx’s Species Being 177 beyond Hegel’s homogenous Idea to one that incorporated matter with all its volatility and on such a scale – once that openness was extended to the balance of nature – that amplified the fragility and neediness of being. would demand consideration of the ‘elements on . thus to begin. independent locus to one that was external and interdependent. namely. Marx announced. however. under the heading ‘The method of political economy’. 83). humanity. with whom Smith and Ricardo begin’ (1973. 84). Marx (1973. appear as dependent. In the first lines of the introduction to the Grundrisse. and hence also the producing individual. ‘Individuals producing in society – hence socially determined individual production – is. as the population itself is an abstrac- tion. He imme- diately proceeded to criticise the ahistorical character of the ‘individual and isolated hunter and fisherman. 85). and of the object. with regard to current circumstances (i. ‘proves false’. some stability and continuity in life. A correct analysis would involve the consideration of different classes.. the more does the indi- vidual. he held.. Later in that introduction.e. It is noteworthy that. Marx observed that ‘the more deeply we go back into history. of course. It shifted its character from the unchanging same- ness of substance to the unceasing labour of becoming and thereby a notion of being with a discernible history. It made human being dependent upon social cooperation so as to secure. in the course of this discussion. and to justify a different approach based on those ‘charac- teristics’ that are ‘common’ to ‘all epochs of production’. the point of departure’ (1973.

The continuity of Marx’s endeavour is evident in Capital. [and] . and Human Nature which they rest’ (1973. A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. is an appropriation of what exists in nature for the requirements of man. a condition of human existence which is independent of all forms of society: it is an eternal natural necessity which mediates the metabolism between man and nature. (1976. That ‘general introduction’ was the Grundrisse (1973. 90). 188). as the creator of all value and as the foundation of our humanity. and therefore human life itself.. the Body. It provides the standard against which any mode of production. as the second paragraph of the preface refers to ‘a general introduction’ that he had drafted but then decided to omit because it ‘anticipated results which still have to be substantiated’ and would be ‘confusing’ to the reader (1975h. It seems. as useful labour. It is the universal condition for the meta- bolic interaction between man and nature.. figures prominently. 133) Later in the text. Throughout Capital. It clearly reflects Marx’s intention to ‘examine .. With ‘the ultimate aim’ of ‘revealing the economic law of motion of modern society’ (1976. .178 Marx. labour. Marx begins that unravelling through his analysis of the commodity and its dual character of having both a use value and an exchange value – concepts which draw on the understanding of human nature developed over the first two stages of his work. may be judged. the influence of Marx’s prior work is clear: The labour process . the commodity) in his next major work. with its opening discussion of the commodity. Marx defines ‘labour’ as the creator of use values. Instead.. and the relations of production and forms of intercourse that correspond to it’ (1976. he concluded that ‘capital . Marx sought a ‘simpler category’ (1973.. that Marx was still wrestling with his desire to critique the Robinson Crusoe–like individualism of political economy. as a mode of living. 424). this condition – the necessity to labour – forms the basis for assessing the humanity of any society. (1976. 107). or rather it is common to all forms of society. 102). 290) As such. and it is therefore independent of every form of that existence.. must form the starting point’ (1973.. the everlasting nature-im- posed condition of human existence. Marx begins with capital (in particular. 92). 100). Having considered ‘labour’ (1973. the capitalist mode of production. however. 103)..

.. Having consid- ered that ‘ensemble of relations’. Marx asserted to be of our essence. one’s . understanding by environment the ensemble of relations which each of us enters to take part in . That endeavour led to the mammoth incomplete project of Capital. ‘what is man?’: [O]ne must conceive of man as a series of active relationships (a process) in which individuality .. This is a being that is profoundly open to the world and interde- pendently constituted with those other beings with whom it participates in relationships. so that his possession of the thing appears at the same time as a certain development of his individuality. parallel discussions in the Grundrisse demonstrate that it founds the distinction between use and exchange values: Before it is replaced by exchange value.. modifies himself to the extent that he changes and modi- fies the complex relations of which he is the hub. every form of natural wealth presupposes an essential relation between the individual and the objects. Rather. This is what Gramsci understood of Marx’s answer to the question. whilst ordinarily considered external.. with particular attention to the findings of the second of those stages and hence a focus on activity in the particular historical context. (1973. in which the individual in one of his aspects objectifies himself in the thing.. 423). the only element to be taken into account. and cannot be other than . Marx was concerned to elucidate the character of our humanity and to contest the poverty of political economy’s concep- tion of that character.. any being is an ‘ensemble’ of ‘relations’ (1975g. with its focus on those relations that. The foundation for comprehending any individual human being remains Marx’s concept of ‘objective being’. the active man who modifies the environment.. Marx’s Species Being 179 Capital evidences Marx’s compliance with the concept of the human nature he developed over the first two stages of his work.. 276–7). It does not evidence the abandonment or supersession of that work. is not .. [O]ne could say that each one of us changes himself. 221–2) The self From his earliest works. we can return to and better explore Marx’s lifelong desire for a more ‘human language’ (1975d. In this sense the real philosopher is.. as outlined in the sixth ‘Thesis on Feuerbach’.

a unique event: Individuals have always and in all circumstances stood on their own feet. 265. This they did not as pure egos but as individuals at a particular stage of devel- opment of their productive forces and needs. The constant change in the self’s contextual relations makes each particular ensemble. the subjective experience of society as thought and experienced. 247) That uniqueness is amplified by the passage of time and activity – that is. 352) As Gramsci observed. as constituted at each point of time. a really individual communal being – he is equally the whole. to conceive of ‘true individuality’ (1975d. It enables us. but they were not ‘unique’ in the sense of not needing one another: their needs . not as a part. cited in Mitias 1972. to use Marx’s words.180 Marx. To conceive of the self as a bundle of relations is to conceive of distinc- tion in the midst of connection by considering the self as a unique space rather than an isolated. which were in turn . and so they have been obliged to enter into relationships. 33) pointed out that Spinoza allowed for indi- viduality not in terms of separation or independence but in terms of an active ‘network’ of relations with others. 849) made when referring to a worm living in a person’s blood: That worm would be living in the blood as we are living in our part of the universe. and Human Nature own individuality is the ensemble of these relations. to characterise a person as an ensemble of rela- tions is not to merge him into some indiscriminate whole. history. the Body.. and it would regard each individual particle of blood as a whole. (cited in Hoare and Nowell-Smith 1971. separate space. 269): [T]hough man is a unique individual – and it is his particularity which makes him an individual. and it could have no idea as to how all the parts are controlled by the overall nature of the blood. To conceive of a person in these terms is not to deny some distinction from the balance of existence – only to suggest that distinction does not require separation. (Marx. Each ‘bundle’ or ‘ensemble’ of relations constitutes a unique combination. This was the very point Spinoza (2002c. Rice (cited in Lamm 1996. are such as to make them mutually dependent..

. but is determined by them. To consider being in terms of an ‘intersection’ better captures Spinoza’s model of a body as a precarious aggregate influenced by external forces with varying integrity and cohesion and with its parts (relations) some- times drawn in contradictory directions. individual behaviour towards one another has created their existing relationships and renews them day by day. The history of an indi- vidual cannot be detached from that of his predecessors or contem- poraries. as suggested by Hegel: Therefore where one of these matters is. ‘Intersection’ is one of the terms proffered by Althusser and Balibar (1997. so that one exists in the interstices of the other. Rather. not captured well by the term ‘ensemble’ (as in a musical ensemble playing). which is far from the implications of Marx’s theory. the other also is. in one and the same point . however. they are assumed to be porous. influence. 220) in their endeavour to conceive of individuality. articulation. (1969. Marx’s Species Being 181 determined by their mutual intercourse.. as a ‘complex combina- tion’ of ‘overdetermined’ yet ‘relatively autonomous’ structures. combined and coordinated without contamination. 108).. or merger. it may be better to describe being in terms of an intersection so as to capture the ‘internal’ tensions and conflicts of the various relations. However..1 It allows a better appreciation of the depth and extent of the influence of those relations. 74–5) emphasised in his consideration of . To describe an individual in terms of an ‘intersection’ captured the sense in which he saw the various ‘levels’ of structure within capitalist society as shaped by the mode of production only in ‘the last resort’ and otherwise interacting in terms of ‘peculiar relations of correspondence. 139) The uniqueness of a particular bundle provides sufficient distinction from the balance of the world to allow both for identity and agency. non-corre- spondence. (Marx. This character of being – including its volatility and resistance – is. It suggests a smooth coordination. 496–7) The relations that constitute a being are no mere aggregate or ensemble. and torsion’ (1997. dislocation. cited in Kolakowski 2005. . consistent with their notions of the totality. 214. as Feuerbach (1980. In this way their personal. To describe being in terms of interde- pendence provides some better illumination and captures some sense of its fundamental dynamism.

120). it may be better to define the self as an ‘intersec- tion’ of relations rather than Marx’s ‘ensemble’ with its connotations of orderly coordination. damage. and ‘arrhythmia’ (conflicting rhythms) (2004. ‘eurhythmia’ (united rhythms). it .3 . and sometimes destruction are experienced. The ‘internal’ interaction of a person’s various constitu- tive relations created opportunities for agency. 87. 147.. but it is not a space those relations traverse with immunity or without contradiction.. penetrates everything .. For these reasons. 160). allowed for just this effect in stating that the ‘internal’ reproduction of ‘external’ relations might be ‘contradictory. making it a more complex ‘bundle’ than Hegel’s description suggested. approaching the idea of an intersectional self from a feminist perspective.2 Hegel’s works have been criticised by others as ‘monologic’ (Bakhtin 1986. and Human Nature the limitations that constitute a being. is the centre of its nature. This is the conclusion that Meyers also reached. the Body. The relations that constitute a being and constitute the limit that distinguishes it from the totality can interact. 89) for failing to consider the interaction of the multiple relationships that constitute a particular being. The spaces opened up by the interference – or contradiction – of these ‘operational’ or active relations are the spaces in which possibilities for reflection and agency exist. with the potential for those interactions to support some relations and interfere with others. This point is vividly conveyed by Lefebvre’s conception of the body in terms of ‘polyrhythmia’ (multiple rhythms). and incomplete’. it . they have an effect that pervades a being: For the limit does not exist as externally circling. Some of those changes are not significant when compared to the relation as it stands outside the intersection – but at intersections delays. as the fence around a field. In that view. Each particular being is a unique place created by the intersection of external relations. a white woman disadvan- taged by her gender relations may be able to enjoy agency by means of an advantaged relation.182 Marx.. however. 16). interference. 162) and as an ‘aerial view’ (Merleau-Ponty 1968. fragmented.. 153. 156. The advantage of this perspective can be appreci- ated by analogy with a road intersection: vehicles (relations) enter such an intersection with an orientation to pass through without interfer- ence but are frequently changed whilst in that intersection. particularly when some of those relationships enjoyed a privileged position (in Mackenzie and Stoljar 2000. such as race.. Seve (1978.

89). but as something external to it. Being human. These images of intersections and ‘polyrhythmia’ – as sites of inter- action. To consider any being as composed of its various relations and to allow for their interaction and conflict is to make the character of that being uncertain and bound up with other participants in those relations. involves the thoroughgoing. but as the product of a range of attractions and repulsions. a consequence of treating an object through which a person has expressed his powers as if that object were external or separate to him: It is entirely to be expected that a living. or ataraxy. natural being equipped and endowed with objective. with each part. To experience alienation was. relations makes the experience of alienation and anxiety an inherent hazard of human nature. i. It is. which is to say always compromised and most often recovered. 388–9) . for Marx. each organ or function having its own in a perpetual interaction that constitutes a set (ensemble) or a whole (un tout). constitutive experience of tension. orchestrated towards harmony but never securely and often interrupted – are more consistent with the open. sometimes contradictory.e. To consider being in terms of an intersection or ‘polyrhythmia’ captures Marx’s insistence from his earliest works that human nature not be considered in terms of a peaceful existence. interdependent char- acterisation of being and the rejection of arguments for some immune sanctuary of ‘pure’ substance. but on the contrary an open totality. even in that ‘ensemble’ of social relations that grant continuity. which is to say composed of diverse rhythms. to some degree. except of course in cases of serious disruption or catastrophe (2004. Such sets are always in a ‘metast- able’ equilibrium. of the demands and contradictions of ‘external’ relations. Alienation: an inherent insecurity To consider being as pervasively influenced by its various constitutive. Marx’s Species Being 183 Every more or less animate body and a fortiori every gathering of bodies is consequently polyrhythmic. material essential powers should have real natural objects for the objects of its being. This last word does not signify a closed totality. objective world. It better captures Marx’s own emphasis on suffering and alienation. to be denied control of one’s deepest self. (1975e. and that its self-alien- ation should take the form of the establishment of a real.

184 Marx. a shepherd . exclusive sphere of activity. his true species-objectivity’ (1975e 329). (Marx and Engels 1998. however. 251.. and Hegel canvassed by means of the term ‘expression’ – to be inescapably involved in the totality but be unable to fully realise that involvement. It is to confront the very uncertainty the idea of substance – whether in tradi- tional or dialectical terms – is intended to placate. to a ‘species consciousness’. Herder. a fisherman. Hegel. Marx presented an alterna- tive theory of human nature in which the emphasis shifted from . the change in the popular percep- tion of self from independent to interdependent. It is. objective being’ and assert a ‘frozen ontology’ – it is not to universalise alienation as experienced under capitalism. This is not. It is the potential for extreme alienation that Marx saw as underwriting the promise for revolutionary change. It is to experience some profound inadequacy or lack in being in just the pervasive sense of mood that Heidegger used to describe anxiety and that Fichte and Schelling wrote of a self conscious of its incompletion. and others. To experience alienation is to be radically incomplete. each man has a particular. Rather. which is forced upon him. to ‘liquidate the historicity of an inher- ently historical. It is to experience the tensions that Spinoza. to face both the contra- diction that lies at the heart of being and the possibility of its radical transformation. it is to assert that the open. This is the subject of Chapter 8. just as Marx held that labour was a necessity of human nature but varied over time with different modes of production. 136): denied the capacity to unify one’s self and yet desiring that completion is to experience an intimate anxiety. the Body. 53) To alienate a person from his object was to ‘[tear] away from him his species life. interdependent character of being made its security and stability essentially uncertain and variable. as Lukacs (1968) and Meszaros (1970. that is.. in the absence of the stabil- ising effect of habit or a mode of production.. 1990. He is a hunter. Lacking one’s necessary objects or to be unable to fully assimilate or appropriate them makes life ‘radically insecure’ in just the sense intended by Heidegger (Barrett. and Human Nature Alienation involves a loss of control of self-expression: [A]s soon as the division of labour comes into being. 282) have argued. and must remain so if he does not want to lose his means of livelihood. Conclusion Drawing on Spinoza. ..

As such. The openness of interdependent being and the variety of relations that constitute it leave open the possibility that those relations may themselves clash. but the metaphor of an intersection better captures the freedom of move- ment – and possibilities for change – that remain within that constella- tion. with it. and sameness to interdependence. It was to be a being so open and so fragile – so threat- ened by its inorganic body’s resistance – that its stability and continuity was dependent upon that social and cooperative endeavour that Marx called the mode of production. it provides the basis upon which I address the final key question of this book: what explanations did Marx provide for the appeal of treating the non-corporeal as the foundation of human nature (and for the circum- stances in which that appeal might be overcome and enable the adop- tion of a more ‘human language’)? . as the uncertainty that follows in one’s sense of self. Those relations were not secondary. They did not provide an optional rhythm that could be taken up or left but the pulse of being itself that organised and stabilised being and enabled the engagement in other relations and activities. as the experience of loss of control over a key relationship. and change. involve- ment. It was this inability to thrive independ- ently that made these social relations the foundation of human nature. separation. Marx’s Species Being 185 independence. Marx’s model might better be understood in terms of an intersection than an ensemble. Marx readily presented that foundation as incorporating the corporeal. This is not to present that rhythm as the only pattern by which our beings are constituted. might best be seen as inherent to human nature and enabling its endurance of loss and potential transformation. To be an objective being – a being that is inseparable and indefinable apart from its objects – was to be a being founded in interdependence and not the independence and stability traditionally associated with a nature or substance. Given this potential and. Having conceived of being as a bundle or aggregate of relations in which the objects of those relations were not ‘external’ but fundamental to being. Marx adopted and modified Feuerbach’s concept of ‘species being’ to arrive at an account of an objective interdependent being. the potential for change in the constitution of a being. and anxiety. It also suggests how alienation. Both represent the organising influence of the mode of production and the character of any being as that unique combination of relations.

I argue that this renders the need to ‘make’ sense of that pain an equally essential feature of our nature. Marx agreed with Epicurus. as it does not approach the issue with that openness that characterises objective being. and Hegel. as Feuerbach argued. Feuerbach. On this point. he located the possibility of surren- dering one’s prior sense of self and recognising one’s dependence on the ‘external’ in the face of extreme corporeal pain. For Marx. I argue. especially the ‘master-servant’ dialectic and the ‘unhappy consciousness’. It is not sufficiently materialistic. Further. They were. It was only in the extremity of corporeal pain that these rationalisations could be over- come. which were so painful that these beliefs were not readily overturned. it fails to consider the influence of the corporeal on our consciousness. that this interpreta- tion is not materialistic enough and fails to give sufficient weight to the effect of corporeal pain. That is. Whilst there are suggestions in Marx’s works that class conflict would prompt the emergence of class consciousness. Marx places at least equal emphasis on the restraining effects of ideology. In this chapter.8 Marx and Species Consciousness Marx argued that our character as human beings was embodied in an ensemble of relations such that tension and uncertainty were endemic to human nature. a ‘flight’ from mortality and limitation. was the foundation for Marx’s interest in Hegel’s Phenomenology. Lucretius. I argue that the centrality of the idea of corporeality for Marx. This. developed as that is through the intimate experience of 186 . this explained the functionality of ‘religious beliefs’. together with his dialec- tical account of objective and ‘species being’. however. It is my argument. provided the foundations for his confidence that a more ‘human language’ would be adopted. It appears that Marx placed his confidence in transformation in the processes of capitalism itself: that its repeated crises would so immiserate the workers as to force a change in attitude.

the philosophers Marx drew on rejected this belief and its corollary that human nature was not subject to corpo- real limitations and would at some point be free of them. In particular. but also to self-understanding. For Marx (2006b. will never grow tired of answering its adversaries with the cry of Epicurus: ‘Not the man who denies the gods worshipped by the multitude... self- defeating appetites. this was the central function of religious thought. Religious thought – living with instability and anxiety The experience of corporeal pain. particularly given the popular desire for and belief in immortality. in the independently existing objective world. 89–90). Marx and Species Consciousness 187 contradiction that grounded Marx’s notion of praxis. . however... to the ways in which we . 149) explanation that dialectics [which. Those beliefs made the corporeal a burden that demanded some rectification or relief if only through treating that burden as temporary. For Epicurus and Lucretius. he argued that the inability to accept our involvement in the natural world and our mortal. by grasping human activity as the . are already out there (and the ‘out there’ in us) .. Epicurus argued that the failure to accept that all being was composed of material atoms was the foundation of our suffering. It was this rejection of religion as an ‘empty desire’ that Marx empha- sised in his review of Epicurus. Those philoso- phers recognised that these beliefs founded the long-standing assertion that a true or fully human life was free of pain and the corporeal dimen- sion through which it was so often experienced. [p]hilosophy . intersection and interpenetration of subject and object. However. including that for immortality. had long been denied any moral or educative priority.. That intimacy is far better conveyed by McNally’s (2004. includes praxis] pertains not to the study of objects and events ‘out there’.. but he who affirms of the gods what the multitude believes about them is truly impious’.. for McNally. limited character was the foundation of the experience of anxiety and of the production of insatiable. It is my argument that Marx believed that the experience of corporeal pain in extremity acted to overwhelm any sense of the self as separate from the corporeal and imposed in its stead an inescapable recognition of individual limitation and deep dependence on others.

The ‘childhood terrors’ of mortality would not be overcome by Enlightenment rationality. McKnight (2005). His early works trace the history of key elements of Western philosophy. It reflected the same hierarchy as the belief in immor- tality. the Body. In modern times he saw the concepts of reason. So deep does the need to comprehend pain run that it is bound up with our very comprehension . did they suggest the immanence and ines- capability of the ‘terrors’ of those tensions. produces joy and a feeling of happiness and overcomes that childish terror [of death]. However.188 Marx. happiness. For Feuerbach. miss this point and seem to be left guessing at Marx’s meaning when he wrote that religion reflected real suffering and provided comfort. and death by means of a fantasy of pure. and progress as expressing this same desire. the myth- inspired hope of eternal life and the desire of being. too. Marx understood the influence of these beliefs. they impute the Enlightenment view that religion was an irrational. the oldest and most powerful of all passions. for Marx. The attraction and resilience of this tradition reflects the consti- tutional character – and so the repetitive experience – of the profound anxiety and insecurity central to ‘species being’. the effort to deny corporeal pain constituted a core and persistent theme in Western religious and philosophical thought. Epicurus. In just the same way as Marx and those before him sought to express the constitutional tensions of intersectual being. true. so. including those concerning ‘substance’. and Human Nature Marx (2006b. as a flight from corporeality. 154) made clear what that ‘impiety’ was in his comments on Plutarch’s critique of Epicurus: In the masses. and Toscano (2010). the problem. who have no fear of what comes after death. infantile superstition readily remedied by a disciplined rationality. Marx saw that continuity as reflected in the belief in the independent. including Geoghegan (2004). that the pains associated with finitude are some kind of corruption or contamination that could and should be disciplined or evaded. To Marx. limitation. Feuerbach’s contribution is particularly important in this regard. non-corporeal self. or highest being. and Feuerbach had located the popularity of beliefs in a being free from corporeal restrictions in the anxiety concerning mortality – an existential anxiety – that concerned foundational issues of being. Lucretius. Most commentators on Marx’s views of religion. namely. not something so readily escaped as infancy or adolescence nor readily subordinated by some exercise in logic. was just the opposite – an excess of rationality.

. Marx and Species Consciousness 189 of ourselves. It encour- aged a dismembering that was (and remains) impossible to fully achieve. 54). 342) said. [making] what was formerly being external to oneself. as noted by a number of writers. So deeply bound up are these beliefs. 329. alienation. is the most fitting form of religion’ (cited in Toscano 2011. the act of alienation. on others... in doing so. Their effect. Religious thought. 38... as it involves an attempted flight from our constitutive relations. Marx asserted that this ‘religious’ attitude makes the alienation – the separation – of those parts of ourselves an assertion of human nature. Marx anticipated that these beliefs would be self-defeating. Here. like Ignatieff (1997. man’s material externality . He appreciated that. as something foreign to us. 16). including Brien (2009) and Geoghegan (2004). and individual preserve. as Marx (1975e. was because it regarded our flesh . with its religious cult of man in the abstract . is to [estrange] man from his own body . Marx demonstrated his debt to Feuerbach’s influence. internal. 51.. they have made alien- ation – the denial of our dependence on the corporeal. and resistance to change Nevertheless. For some modern commentators. this attitude was self-defeating. This was the foundation of Marx’s criticism of a political economy which equated alienated labour with all labour and treated alienation as the norm (1975e).. and on our society – an assertion of our humanity. 62) He made the same point in Capital on substantially the same grounds: ‘Christianity. The precarious character of intersectual being . Marx repeated this critique in The German Ideology: The only reason why Christianity wanted to free us from the domina- tion of the flesh .. In promoting an idea of our humanity as an unlimited non-corporeal. these ‘religious’ beliefs promote atti- tudes and activities of abstraction and separation – they promoted an ideal of life that severed our links to the foundations of our being. They deny that things external to our skin – our ‘inorganic’ body – are essen- tial.. (cited in Geras 1983. the idea of the separate self is achieved only by doing ‘a certain violence’ to oneself and others..

independent. restive. . but a method of dealing with it’ (Kamenka 1970. non-cor- poreal self. in the face of its insecu- rity. The corporeal (desire) arises and threatens repeatedly. The parts they sought for.. surges the heat of lovers to and fro. and under- neath are stings which goad a man to hurt the very thing . Martha Nussbaum (1994. the Body. it is not difficult to see parallels with Lucretius’s critique of erotic love and the manner in which it demanded the absolute possession and abuse of the other. and they cannot fix on what to first enjoy. provokes desperate attempts to fend that failure off. prompting renewed flight from the corporeal and renewed investment in ‘religious thought’. They help to make sense of and to live within a painful world. but it is an incomplete comfort.. from whence arise for him those germs of madness. The ‘religious’ foundations of the concept of the independent. They can also be seen in the deliberate self- deprivations and eating disorders of too many people today.. They act as an ‘opiate’ which anaesthetises one to the contradictions and anxieties of existence. these religious beliefs are ‘not only an escape from reality. abusive relationships: [I]n the very moment of possessing. 174) presents Lucretius’s view in just those terms – as seeing the lovers experiencing the need for the other as a weakness and seeking to end it through ‘complete possession of the other’. It is an enterprise that. those they squeeze so tight..1079–89) long ago saw following from similar false needs and producing selfish. including the kinds of extremity that Lucretius (2008. non- corporeal self suggest why this idea of the self has been so popular and resilient and why its replacement by intersectual being cannot occur by some simple substitution of one concept for another. of warding off the threats of disso- lution – provided by the belief in the separate. 4. The same desperate lengths can be seen in the ‘fight to the death’ in Hegel’s master/servant dialectic and in the ascetic disciplines of his unhappy consciousness. As Feuerbach and Marx (and others) have recognised.. uncertain. 66). because this same delight is not unmixed. and ‘religious thought’ leaves us ill equipped to deal with that challenge. and Human Nature provokes a cycle of violence – an intensification of the flight from its tensions and pains. The character of being as becoming repeatedly disturbs that comfort and security. and pain the crea- ture’s body . There is a comfort – a sense of confirmation.. With regard to contemporary efforts to discipline the body.190 Marx. .

Clark. Given its foundational significance. would amount to the surrender.. 9). The comfort it provides. the challenges regularly presented to this ‘imperfect’ understanding by unstable. is addictive. 33) Giving up those beliefs would not be a simple task. so deep does its influence run. Feuerbach captured this visceral sensitivity in his . Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature.. cited in Toscano 2010. As Marx emphasised. cited in Foster. These ideas are held so deeply that the idealists treated them as almost indistinguishable from the self. ‘man acquires emotional comfort not only [in terms of a] simple fantasy. 68) understood that this belief ‘relieve[s] intolerable stress . Resistance to change and the ‘original and oldest antithesis’ Marx recognised that mere education about the inadequacies of religious solace would not be enough to promote change. Malinowski (cited in Kamenka 1970. but by shaping the whole of his knowledge into an ordered scheme [upon it]’.. ‘To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions’ (Marx. 67) emphasised. regardless of any contradictions the user may become aware of. as Kamenka (1970. and any attempt to give it up is traumatic and aggres- sively resisted. dependent being for stability is so fundamental that Marx’s analogy with an opiate is apt and illuminating. Instead. They are held so deeply that change. as Schelling saw it. non-corporeal self is both popular and addictive because it meets a human need in negotiating the uncertain- ties and openness of intersectual being. It is a means by which. It is the opium of the people. (Marx. The notion of the independent. . [and] overcome[s] the feeling of helplessness’. they prompt further investment and fresh endeavours to conform to it. intersectual being do not result in its radical revision or abandonment. even death. They were not ideas and practices that could be reformed through relations of sympathy or by enacting some version of the liberal idea of the social contract.1 The need of a corporeal.. and York 2008. of the self. Marx and Species Consciousness 191 Marx appreciated the needs met by these religious beliefs in terms rendered famous by repetition: Religious suffering is at one and the same time the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering.

has not only a natural-historical or empiri- . He (1972b.. Its attraction is as a comfort against not only the instabilities experi- enced after the constitution of the self but also the means by which we come to perceive ourselves as somehow distinct from the world.. 11) considered it. Kolakowski (2005.. It is the site of the revisiting of the self and involves the possibilities of both continuity and change. .. For Feuerbach. Jha better captures its significance in describing praxis as ‘transcendence’ (2010. 149) described it in the quotation earlier in this chapter.. Indeed the flesh . It is. ‘the moment of intersection and interpenetration of subject and object’ whereby both are changed. Praxis. we experience that contradiction and transformation. 276–7) anticipated the intestinal rejection of a more ‘human language’ as ‘an impertinence or insanity’. ‘all mysteries . which constitutes both the confirmation of that being and its change. as described in Chapter 6.192 Marx. For Feuerbach and Marx. From birth to death.. and thereafter acted on. 217): it ‘cannot be grasped . meant consciously acting in the world in reliance upon a belief and in the process both changing the world and testing the belief. as Ollman and Smith (2008. 423).. The aversion to pain and the investment in comforting beliefs also run deep for Feuerbach and Marx because those beliefs reflect the very proc- esses by which the actual sensation of self was originally experienced.. comprehended. For Marx (1975g. It is the process of becoming that follows from the appropriation of one’s object. concrete experience of corporeal being. 1169) similarly characterised praxis. It is what Marx called ‘praxis’. from the earliest moments of our consciousness. 144) described it as the original and most essential antithesis. find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of that practice’. it is generated and revisited through the clash between our ideas of the world and what we experience in acting on those ideas. . However. as mere manipu- lation or modification of things’. as McNally (2004. The conflict between the spirit and the body alone is the highest metaphysical prin- ciple.. it is more than that. and Human Nature imagined reaction of ‘horror’ following any compromise of the hierar- chical separation of mind and body. the belief in the independent. the Body. It is one reason why Marx (1975d. That understanding arises through the practical experience of the contradic- tion and clash between the corporeal and non-corporeal. non-corporeal self is so strongly held because it is grounded in the immediate.. This is not a process that occurs at some distance from one’s self.

The experience of contradiction precedes any clear ‘idea’ of the self. This resolution. when as infants we encounter a surface or edge or object that resists us. Rationality. Marx and Species Consciousness 193 co-psychological meaning. Any such attempt is likely to be denounced as nonsense. Marx understood that any belief in the separate. ‘Original’ here was not a historical reference but a reference to the very foundation of our being. Having once ‘made’ sense of that experience in terms of sepa- ration and distinction. metaphys- ical one. 423) insisted in his eighth ‘Feuerbach Thesis’. and to this extent it reflects a ‘common’ sense. is as fundamental and unquestionable as the very ground beneath us. universal human experiences. independent self was not founded in logic or exclusively derived from abstract. It reflects ‘real’. This suggests why the dualist. universal reason. repeated. ideology. it is an approach to the world that is then revis- ited. Its rejection will draw on vestigial primal roots such that the effort to replace it will need to draw on equally powerful influences. and reinforced every day of our lives. but essentially a speculative. Rather. unavoidable. As such. On occasion. 376) points out. he understood that this idea could not be undone by some kind of autopoietic act of rational criticism. once rendered comprehensible in terms of individuation or separa- tion from the world. the belief expresses a very human experience of the world. and consciousness Marx did not provide any clear explanation as to how ‘species conscious- ness’ was to replace the emphasis on separation and independence. Marx thought such consciousness would arise through the conflict between different classes as a part of the development . It also indicates why Marx understood that the potential resistance to a non-dualist model is and will remain strong and why the effort to replace it will be substantial. As Marx (1975g. was not something independent of activity and not simply ‘an idea or thought’ but the ‘direct encounter’ between sensibility and consciousness: it is not something the ‘I’ observes from the distance of some border or separation but ‘the original locus of being itself. at least in terms of one adopted from a common language. separatist approach to the world has been resilient and popular. a spatiotemporal here and now’. It is an experience that. Wartofsky (1977. it was only through praxis that so central and profound a belief could be chal- lenged.

. However. That interaction.. something that could break the circu- larity of rationalisation. that mecha- nism. Alienation and instability – human nature I have argued that the unstable.. by increasingly harsh conditions. the Body.. Something more than reason was required. however. not everyone made an equal contribution or received an equal share of the benefits. inor- ganic body made some form of social interaction – a mode of produc- tion – necessary. 1068) emphasised that. compared to other species. Here. and then only on terms repeatedly compromised by the very process of becoming and. and Human Nature of capitalism. Marx (1976. crises. Corporeal pain was. together with Marx’s emphasis on the deadening or restrictive influence of ideology.. Our corporeal character made that potentiality an immanent rather than exceptional aspect of our lives.. Participation did not mean an end to the experience of the tension and pain that char- acterises intersectual being.. even necessitated. the foundation of our sense of ourselves as separate in praxis. Marx seems to imply that the development of ‘class’ and thence ‘species’ consciousness was the product of a logical or rational evalu- ation prompted. Our capacity to reason could serve to both free and oppress us. 60) forecast a stage when productive forces and means of intercourse are brought into being which . . In The German Ideology. and connected with this a class is called forth which has to bear all the burdens of society without enjoying its advantages .194 Marx. Marx (Marx and Engels 1998. in extremity. suggests that the development of this consciousness would never be a simple rational process. It was the means by which our very being was constituted and given some stability and security. only cause mischief . none surpassed humanity in its capacity to ‘Irish’ – that is. in extremity. the changes came at no little cost and. in Marx’s view. from which emanates the consciousness of the necessity of a fundamental revolution. delude – itself.. tended towards a concentration of that wealth – that stability. Notwithstanding the advances each mode of production made in stabilising the relationship between our organic and inorganic bodies. not its individual members. resistant character of our corporeal. Whilst all benefited from interaction within the mode of production. stilled and stabilised only the species or society as a whole. a class .

Marx’s history of changes in the mode of production was as much a history of increasing oppression. Mulholland reminds us that the same concern featured in The Holy Family (Marx and Engels 1975) and in The German Ideology.. With refer- ence to the Communist Manifesto. 329) makes the same point. Even enjoying the benefits of increased productivity Marx and Engels described in the Communist Manifesto (1988). 333). As Hegel had held. an increasingly uneven distribution of the burden of our corporeality.. Marx and Species Consciousness 195 security. Fichte. and pain a consistent experience and. Mulholland (2009. However. and others – the manner in which those tensions deny a being rest. and our open. the proletariat has ‘instinc- tive yearnings . interdependent character as it was a history of securing a greater control of nature. which makes a proletarian of’ English workers (cited in Mulholland 2009. . the sense and comfort of being ‘at home’. For Mulholland. 328–9). the very character of being means to live with and to seek to comprehend the pains of our contradictions. We remain the ‘passionate’. arguing that the ‘debilitating insecu- rity’ promoted by capitalism so affects the proletariat’s very being as to compel its members to act. humans remained inter- sectual beings – constitutionally exposed to and unable to escape the tensions and contradictions of the relations that compose us.. the dismissal of the foundation of the emancipa- tory potential of the proletariat has led to ‘strangely little attention’ being given to Marx’s confidence in this potential. from hand to mouth . My argument is that Marx located that potential in corporeal experience. ‘suffering’ beings Marx described in the 1844 Manuscripts. for a general reconstruction of society’. Mulholland (2009. alienation. as Mulholland (2009. It was the extremity of this instability – the manner in which it perme- ated the life experience of the swelling ranks of wage labourers – that made the emancipation of the proletariat contain ‘universal human emancipation’ (Marx 1975e.. the necessity of living .. as such. We remain exposed to the destabilising effect emphasised by Schelling. and freedom – among an increasingly small number of people.. paying attention to the conditions of existence was a consistent feature of Marx’s work. The character of an objective or intersectual being makes anxiety. an ever-present potential catalyst for change. Engels had asserted in The Conditions of the Working Class in England that it was ‘the insecurity of his posi- tion. 319–320) has noted. 331) pointed out Marx’s recognition that [w]ell before it develops collective volition.

. of an . 126) has described the experience of contradiction as the very foundation of both self-consciousness and logic. as Marx asserted in The German Ideology. of ‘feeling’.. she treats that experience as an ‘original antithesis’.. alienation was a precondition for change. will prove this . Marx argued in The German Ideology the conditions of existence. being natu- rally grounded’. and the universal sense of self. The distinction drawn by Margaret Archer between our experiences of ourselves and the concepts we apply to interpret them is useful here. by means of a revolution.. It is a universal experience and how we gain a sense of the self.. Marx appears to have expected extreme alienation to provide an experience that was suffi- ciently common and compelling to overcome the independent sense of self. (cited in Mulholland 2009. correspond to their ‘essence’. However. The promise of alienation In short.... 334) argues that Marx founded the ultimate devel- opment of working-class consciousness in a ‘psychological desire for security’. However. which is not. then finding some way to make sense of its tension and pain was equally part of that act. She (2000.. For Marx... our character as corporeal beings rendered imperative some means of securing our stability and continuity. their ‘existence’ does not . It is a matter. as Marx put it in The German Ideology.. 124) stresses that ‘a major distinc- tion [should be] made between evolving concepts of the self.. the mode of life .. if millions of prole- tarians feel . 330) The realisation of class and species consciousness is not an abstractedly rational exercise but one driven by experience. and Human Nature Mulholland (2009. when they bring their ‘existence’ into harmony with their ‘essence’ . then [they] . Archer points out that this experience does not dictate how we subsequently make sense of that experience..196 Marx.. If production was the first – and continuing in the sense of foundational – act. the Body. individual are those in which its ‘essence’ feels itself satisfied . which are indeed social. Archer (2000. I argue that Marx’s confidence had ‘deeper’ roots and that his belief that the proletariat would develop a revolutionary conscious- ness was founded in his theory of human nature. Like Feuerbach. That need may be . given its characteristic instability.

. contain the critical elements .. Whilst this difference between their accounts is well . the Phenomenology was the ‘true birthplace and secret’ of Hegel’s works: The Phenomenology is . Marx anticipated that alienation would influence people in such a pervasive.. liberal individual as a nonsense: a concept and aspiration that bore no resemblance to the labourers’ lives. all the elements of criti- cism are concealed within it. concealed and mystifying criticism . and treats them as objects.. he . how that need is met – the ideas and practices that provide that sense of conti- nuity – is not predetermined but negotiable.. ‘species being’. Marx drew heavily upon Hegel’s discussion of the process of testing and revising one’s self concept in the Phenomenology of Spirit. etc. The real. primal. namely. One is forced to discover that part cannot be separated but remains part of one’s being. Marx drew heavily on that account although his materialist ‘inversion’ of it led to a different consciousness. is only possible if he really employs all his species- powers ...... It followed from the inherent tensions of the intersecting relationships that constitute any being.. The ‘unhappy consciousness’ . grasps the nature of labour and conceives objective man – true... separate. but in so far as it grasps the estrangement of man . 382–3. However. For Marx (1975e.... etc. because real. which is at first only possible in ... and painful way as to provide an experience of corporeal/non-corporeal contradiction that could not be made sense of in terms of separation. . especially the section entitled ‘Lordship and Bondage’. He anticipated that same experience would provide the prompt and materials from which to make a different sense of their selves. It was only when one treats part of one’s self as separate – treats a ‘power’ as an ‘object’ – and attempts to put that partition into practice that one is forced to discover the flaw in that treatment. Hegel explored the manner in which one sense of self might be surrendered for another through the dialectic of the master/servant. active relation of himself as a real species-being. Marx and Species Consciousness 197 described as constitutive. estrangement. man – as the result of his own labour. 385–6)... He seems to have expected that the pain of alienated labour would reveal the free. The promise of alienation – the master/servant dialectic In so doing. As I have already shown..

both within the idealist tradition and elsewhere. dependence upon that other to secure a sense of self (mutual recognition). For Hegel. These included the consciousness of the other. their mutual reliance upon the corporeal as central to the change in consciousness is not. for example. a human existence is one in which the potential to realise our interdependence is immanent. subverts the idea of the separate. in extremity. This conflict or tension was seen as the driver of change in both the idealist and Romantic traditions. ‘Prompt’ is used deliberately here to suggest a catalyst or possibility but not a certainty. concerning the conflict between concepts or consciousnesses of the self and their practical enactment is considered. It provides an account that respects the attraction and resilience of this sense of self but suggests the circumstances in which it might change. Hegel’s account stresses the way in which alienated corporeal labour. Hegel captured the extremity of this . and the resist- ance of the corporeal to prompt the development of a new sense of self. some profoundly traumatic experience to negate one’s sense of self as separate and independent. in large part. This account also demonstrates how the very character of self- consciousness repeatedly produces those prompts – how a human existence is necessarily one where our concepts of independence are regularly contradicted. several elements were essential to enable that change. independent self and prompts recognition of a more dependent sense of being. already done so. Fichte. In short. to understand the manner in which Marx expected species consciousness to arise. This is even more likely when the breadth of discussion. It is also easy to see some surprising parallels in their mutual reliance upon the contradic- tions provided by the corporeal and how Marx’s divergence from Hegel was not as radical as references to ‘inversion’ might suggest. exem- plified the idealist perspective in his characterisation of the struggle of the self to fully express itself. Hegel’s famous master/servant discussion is an account of the process by which a sense of self as separate and independent is revised. and Human Nature known. prolonged servitude to thoroughly effect that negation. It is easy to see the parallels between Marx’s account of alienation and Hegel’s treatment and. His reliance was so close as to suggest Marx did not need to provide an account of the emergence of ‘species being’ for Hegel had.198 Marx. Hegel’s account recognises both the ambiguity of those prompts and the capacity of ideas of separation to resist the contradictions they provide (it is this continuing attraction that leads to the unhappy conscious- ness). the Body. from there.

well-being. a person experiencing alienation could resist its prompts to change by rediscovering. The concept of ‘expression’. even within alienated relations. in turn. with that. like Hegel’s Servant. Having been born into a capitalist mode of production. Rather than initiate the change in consciousness with a life and death struggle. Marx ended with it. These relations. alter some aspects of Hegel’s account. are reliant upon wage earners surviving on the lowest possible level of subsistence wages. . In short. The relations of production. and reinventing a sense of independence. in other words. Following Hegel. he expected that ultimately capitalism. Marx and Species Consciousness 199 conflict in the confrontations with death that figured so prominently in his Phenomenology. In order to ‘be’. as used by Spinoza and Leibniz and by the Romantics. Marx expected this to follow from capital- ism’s inevitable and escalating drive for surplus value and. driven to try to deny its very bodily functions. similarly grappled with the tensions between different states of enactment of being. Marx imagined that as capitalism became a world system. would confront the dilemma of Hegel’s ascetic consciousness. Marx did. its increasing encroachment on a person’s health. Here. eventually confront the limitations of the corporeal. However. which would often extract more from existing workers or replace them altogether. Marx treated the experience of servitude. Absent the expansion of new markets. These tensions and their capacity to promote change were central to debates within Marx’s time so much so as to require no repetition by him. and capacity for reproduction. Marx imagined that this resilience could be overcome only in the face of extreme and inescap- able corporeal deprivation. Rather. with that. however. participation in its relations involved no change in status for a worker. It was the delu- sional. reinterpreting. rather than confirming the previous shock to consciousness. The process of alienation. new profits would be produced by greater efficiencies. anorexic. the extremity of alienation worked to undermine his self-image as independent. became the means of its undoing. Marx understood capitalism’s extremities of alienation as the forge within which we could encounter our essential nature. as initially experienced as one of independence – that of the ‘free’ labourer. excessive shedding of our objective (corporeal) selves that would push us towards the precipice of recognition. capitalism relies upon its relations of production to create surplus value. like Hegel’s servant. its very means of production. to remain itself – the system that grows through the accumulation of capital – would devour itself. it would approach the exhaustion of those growth opportunities and.

cannot be readily dispelled by logic. undeniable limita- tion. however. an individual also confronted the experience of continuity in the species (1980. and his ‘true being’ was ‘determination’. was.. For Feuerbach. The concept of the inde- pendent. (1980. it was but a small step for Marx to return to Hegel and draw on his dialectic of consciousness. The promise of alienation – pain The promise of alienation ironically acknowledges the character of corpo- real being as both a way of being within an intersection of relationships and as the push/pull and limitations of those relationships. a person faced absolute. in practice. 95) Feuerbach. within the self-supporting and blinding confines of that logic. It was the failure. however. did not clearly say how this experience of pain effected the change in the sense of self.200 Marx. not-being and being all at once . It was only through praxis that so central and profound a belief could be challenged. pain can enable us to realise our char- acter as ‘species beings’ because it produces a confrontation with being itself: [Y]ou experience limit and absolute.. having done all that was possible to give effect to those denials. 126). For Feuerbach (1980. 17). in that confrontation. of your single being on its own.. most often. Having located the potential for transformation in the experience of pain and separation. this revelation was not limited to death but could follow from the experience of bodily pain (1980. the Body. in living out the denial of desire and of our corporeality. In confronting death. the cata- lyst to discover that our nature did not reside in our separate selves but in the species. and Human Nature Marx’s confidence in the transformative potential of the corporeal is rooted in Hegel’s Phenomenology. Hegel assumed a certain economic effi- cacy and equity within the modern state – expecting that the majority of people would have their corporeal needs met at least enough so as . Moreover. in Feuerbach’s eyes. founded as it is in experience. The invasive and destabilising effects of the corporeal faded from prominence in the Phenomenology with the emergence of modern society. involved Marx’s most pointed divergence from Hegel’s account. This return. To attempt to do so is to remain. as the absolute limit of individual being. non-corporeal self. Mortality.. you possess at once the feeling of the nothingness . 132).

unstable self. Since it does not . However. The subsistence wages proffered in place of those objects are no real substitute – they provide limited capacity to secure one’s needed objects. derived from Hegel’s reflections.. therefore. of having the object of one’s expression torn away. Hegel (2003. devel- oped Feuerbach’s insights into the importance of corporeal activity and resistance and the primacy of that experience as our anchor.. finds itself merely desiring and toiling. Marx and Species Consciousness 201 to end the common experience of corporeal insecurity. axis.. as daily experienced in capitalism. Labour is the process – the action or praxis – of the unification of being and object in which we confront and express our humanity.. his materialist ‘inver- sion’ suggests another dimension to his critique: that. irrespective of the bounty of the state. Corporeal activity – labour – provides for the experience of alienation. potentially provided the extremity of objectification – of alienation from one’s necessary objects – that Marx saw as the ‘secret’ of Hegel’s Phenomenology. money (Marx 1975e. at the extremity of enslave- ment or alienation. The confrontation of labourer and object within alienated conditions is a confrontation with the contradictions of the modern idea of the self. has the potential to directly challenge the idea of the independent self by forcing a confrontation with limitation. the appropriation effected by means of that ‘pimp’. have that certainty... that confirmation . is never the equivalent for the expres- sive act of appropriation. Labour. This is the strength of the central emphasis placed by Hegel and then Marx upon activity. the corporeal remained a continuing source of instability and insecurity – a continued prompt towards a different sense of self. 375). it is not consciously and directly aware that so to find itself rests upon the inner certainty of its self. its inner life really remains still a shattered certainty of itself. . 124–5) held that it had this potential even in the absence of life- threatening circumstances: The unhappy consciousness . that it would receive through work and enjoyment is. and portal into the world. just as tottering and insecure. Marx’s theories of alienation. and that its feeling of real being is this self-feeling. the processes of the modern state worked to the opposite effect. dramatically heightening the impact of the corporeal and the experience of an insecure. Moreover. in Marx’s view. Moreover. Corporeal labour.

the Body. Those experiences were central to our nature. 43. 171) explored the connections between labour and pain: in her view.. Fracchia (2008. Sensation could force us to make a different sense of our experi- ences and overcome false beliefs. That is. The prolonged experience of that pain was. Scarry’s The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World (1985) directly considers pain’s transformative potential. for Marx. To live without them was to experience alienation. whose work follows Marx in his corporeal turn’. (1985. she provided some further insight into the intimate relation between alienation and pain and into the centrality of ‘expression’ for a corporeal.. simply perceiving itself’. This suggestion gains further weight from Hegel’s Phenomenology.. suggest some grounds for Marx’s confidence in the revelatory character of material labour. Epicurus’s (and Lucretius’s) accounts of sensation enabling access to the real. However. non-corporeal self. their argument is that an event can have such dramatic impact that ‘the soul is left raw and unprotected. and Human Nature The transformative potential of pain In his early work Marx (1975e.202 Marx. Scarry (1985) proceeded to consider the neglected moral significance of crea- tive processes. even when distorted by false beliefs. such an event can render our pre-existing concepts so inadequate as to force their surrender and the search for new meaning. in extremity. 38) identified her as ‘one of the few critics . 261) Scarry (1985.. 389–90) described the human condition as both ‘passionate’ and ‘suffering’.. potentially transformative. ‘work [was] . the more it approaches . physical pain.. As Nussbaum (1994. a diminution of pain: the aversive intensity of .. sensation disrupted the circularity of rationali- sation. objective being: All intentional states . Marx did not explain why corporeal pain had the potential to overcome the resilient belief in an independent. In doing so. 199) has pointed out.... conversely the more the state is deprived of an adequate object. the more it permits a self-transformation . Marx’s (2006b. as our corporeality made a person dependent upon certain objects and painfully incomplete without them. They held that. Beginning with the frequently challenged produc- tion of pain through processes of destruction (torture and war). Some insight is suggested by the works of Epicurus and Lucretius. take intentional objects: the more completely the object expresses and fulfils (objectifies) the state. 98) emphasis on praxis echoes his description of Epicurus’s treatment of the senses as ‘heralds of the [truth]’. given the catalytic function that corporeal pain served in that account.

notwithstanding determined resistance. 258) herself put it. Above all. Within alienated relations of labour. we do without the ready resolution provided by the dominant model of the self. in that extremity. However.. just as Hegel imagined. Pain reversed the dualist hier- archy.. however. that reciprocity is absent. In doing so. Both Marx and Scarry were engaged with elucidating the circumstances in which that reciprocity could be re-established. In pain... compromised our abstracted individuated independence. it could be described as an exhausting analysis of the steps . however. though. at once so empty and . Pain disrupts the common- sense. contains not only the feeling ‘my body hurts’ but the feeling ‘my body hurts me’. 47. As Scarry (1985. is dependent upon the person being able to appropriate that object or to enjoy ‘referentiality’ or reciprocity between creator and object. refer- entiality . Capital were to be described in a single sentence. and work is painful.. Scarry went further than Marx. [i]f .. non-corporeal and limited corporeal. 53). non-corporeal self to ‘totter’ and fall. 52) In pain. She argued that it was in the extremity of pain or alienation that the corporeal ‘betrayed’ the separate sense of the self: The ceaseless. These experiences provided the catalyst for the concept of the independent.. it returns us to the ‘original’ expe- rience of the clash between the unlimited. two senses of the self clash ‘internally’. unquestioned status of that perspective to such an extent that . and undid our sense of self.. Whilst corporeal pain can be ambiguous and reconciled with a dual sense of self in many situa- tions. She saw pain as overwhelming and extracting the self from the privacy and security of the ‘internal’. Marx and Species Consciousness 203 pain becomes in work controlled discomfort’. self-announcing signal of the body in pain. ceases to be obligatory: it is an elaborate retracing of the path along which the reciprocity of artifice has lost its way back to its human source. . the corporeal betrays our sense of self.. It is this aspect of Scarry’s work that grounds the inti- mate connection between her reflections and those of Marx. so full of blaring adversity. in Scarry’s view. in extremity it has the capacity to overwhelm the sense of separa- tion on which that understanding relies. (1985. Pain is a pure physical experience of negation. the extremity of pain dissolves our sense of boundaries and separation (1985.. by which .. This diminution. Alienation and its pain were central to their thought..

not just the proletariat. the species. Whilst Marx concentrated on economic cycles without detailing their connection to a revolutionary consciousness.204 Marx. [we] assent to and affirm the essence. it returns us to the state in which we first made sense of painful contra- diction (the ‘original’ experience) but stripped of the capacity to draw comfort from the dominant way of making sense of that experience. He caught a glimpse of himself as nothingness. . he is change.. in his lectures on Hegel’s Phenomenology (1980. the absolutely perfect universal. In such a crisis. transcendence. With that labour alienated – given over to another’s control – it strips us of that remaining sense of independence. It denies us the capacity to speak in terms of our former concepts. .. transformation. For Marx. 22. a greater capacity for a new way of thought emerges. Through animal fear of death (angst) the [Servant] experi- enced the dread . to the sounds and cries a human being makes before language is learned. is put in jeopardy... ‘educa- tion’. and Human Nature Scarry describes it as overwhelming and obliterating language. In Feuerbach’s words (1980. . the potential to confront the demands of the corporeal becomes much greater. In an economic crisis the capacity to ensure the subsistence of all people.. In extremity. Now .. bringing about an immediate reversion to a state anterior to language.. the Body. . emphasised just this point: There is nothing fixed in him. Its rawness renders previous ways of making sense of the corporeal obsolete: Physical pain does not simply resist language but actively destroys it. Kojève. understands himself. . This is the contradiction Marx relied upon as the catalyst for a different consciousness... and with it.. the actuality of which [we] deny in [our] understanding’. who – through fear of death – grasps the (human) Nothingness that is at the foundation of his (natural) Being. ‘in [our] pain. 95). (1985. of Nothingness... the extremity of alienation also reduces us to an acute human abstraction: a person deprived of objects with only labour left to give. He is ready for change. the profound basis of Hegelian anthropology is formed by this idea that Man is not a Being that is an eternal iden- tity. in his very being. 47–8). Hence the [Servant]. understands Man better than the Master does. that consciousness rested on the non-negotiable demands of the corporeal. 4) Extreme pain gives us access to our prelinguistic state.

so that they stand not only in an equal. Whilst not explained by him. independent self but drives a recog- nition of one’s dependence on others. . but integrate with one another. Conclusion For Marx. As such.. . They are founded in the daily experience of contradiction and resistance and effort – the common experience or sensation of life. we get ‘a gift from above’ that leads us to acknowledge that we owe our life to others. relation. that this concept and its consequential oppressions would not be readily overturned. 242–3) description of communist humanity: [T]hey are not indifferent to one another. so that individual B.. the long-standing idea of the self as independent and free of corporeal limitation was both flawed and oppressive. however. It lies in the loss of capacity to extricate ourselves from the corporeal or material world and.. Marx recognised that these beliefs and oppressive practices are not based on logic and will not be responsive to it alone. our forced confrontation with it. the works of Epicurus. as objectified in the commodity. the transformative potential of pain – or alienation – lay within their oppres- sive extremities. Hegel. Hegel’s works suggest that the experience not only denies the capacity to adhere to the notion of the abstract.. Those beliefs were so deeply founded that only death or severe pain could undo them. as they are founded in the tensions that are inherent to an interdependent or intersectual corporeal being. He recognised. 104). have need of one another.. Marx and Species Consciousness 205 This extreme experience does not. and others suggest that this ‘twin edged’ potential lies in the capacity of pain to overwhelm us and to deny our capacity to master and ‘make’ sense of ourselves. Lucretius.. a plurality of egos and “we” that is a single ego’ (Hegel 2003. My argument is that this is equally the foundation for Marx’s (1973. hence. It presented alienation as a virtue and expression of human nature. This is not all . and vice versa. 109) put it. is a need of individual A. that their common species being is acknowledged by all. this proves that each of them reach beyond his own partic- ular need . or as Hegel (2003. This provides the foundation of consciousness as part of and dependent upon one’s species. For Marx. however. simply produce a blank slate. but also in a social. 103. The development of consciousness charted in the Phenomenology as mutual recognition suggests that it is the ‘ego that is “we”.

A more ‘human language’ will be not only inclusive of the corporeal but born of experience within it. a way to embrace that part of ourselves we call the corporeal and restore it to a full human dignity and to end the schism that has divided the Western sense of the self. I seek to respect that pain. a sense of unity within and expansion beyond the boundaries of previous experience. it shares the common trajectory of repetition and of an absorbing. I argue that corporeal experi- ence. which has so often been dismissed as unspeakable. I seek to celebrate those joys and moments of exuberance that are too often trivialised as leisure or relief and as shallow and unrevealing. In doing so. joy. a larger discussion has been entered. 52). I seek a language that values that pleasure and does not dismiss its promise. perhaps inevitably. I have explored both the meaning and the potential of Marx’s theory of human nature. at least in polite company. Through it. It has the poten- tial – even in its more ordinary daily repetitive rhythms and prompts – to suggest a different way to make sense of ourselves. and promise of that experience. one that finds surprising resonances between the anxiety and pain of nineteenth-century factory workers and the aches and efforts of arti- sans and artists. a way of speaking of a human life and of human dignity. that does not brand that pain as negligible or bearable without the simple decency of acknowledging its presence and its difficulties. to adopt the words of Martin Luther King (in Washington 1986. More than this. 206 .9 The Promise of the Body This book is born of everyday experience and seeks to respond to the pain. I seek to promote a language. whether in extremity or exhilaration. transforming immersion. has the potential to take us beyond our current understanding of human nature. Whilst the arc between them might appear long and wide. To that end.

Looking to the future and in response to debts present and past. interdependent being. It has been explored in order to promote a better recognition of the essentiality. So intimate was this connection for Marx that he regarded the world as our inorganic body. there lies. and extraordinary interdepend- ence. vulnerable being. The Promise of the Body 207 For all the pains. or self-reliant. by virtue of the same vulner- ability. I hope these explorations will help promote welfare policies that recognise both our interdependence and our corporeality and the influence both have on any person’s capacity . So successful has this social ordering of nature become that it is easy to overlook – or reject as pathologies or minor exceptions – its ongoing resistance and the ebb and flow. this open. Moreover. I have explored Marx’s theory. There is the potential to experience a sense of unity. the capacity to exceed our limited understandings of ourselves. It is not to be distinct from the world but intimately bound up with it. diversity. was the key claim made by Marx. of immersion and expansion. independent. It has driven an effort to subdue the world and free us from the pangs and punishments of desire and vulnerability. anxieties. yet the corporeal remains a defining feature of our humanity. To be human is not to be separate. one that can enjoy stability and security only through the social interaction Marx described as the mode of production. given its focus on inverting the privi- lege that has long been given to the location of our nature in the non- corporeal and as separate from the world about us. and joys. and a repetitive goad to action. That. fragile. pains. clash and contradiction of those various relations or forces that constitute a society and its members. involved character of being makes the experience of interdependence and limita- tion – of always being bound up in others and the world rather than free of all constraint – an ongoing one. and difficulties that follow from our inter- sectual. Like a consistent rhythm. ‘passionate’. the profound influence of our corporeal character is easily forgotten in the face of the melodies played out within its frame. and promise of the corporeal and an accept- ance that it is not some burden upon or contamination of our character but central to it and to its richest realisation. 2003. So deeply dependent are we on that body that it makes us a ‘suffering’. I have sought to immerse our understanding of ourselves in our world and in those around us in the hope that we recognise that nothing – not a human or any other being – exists independently in this world but only in an ever increasingly complex. The foundation of our humanity. of ‘ontological synchronicity’ (Howe. Through it. 99). resides in our unity with the world and in a knowing or conscious engagement in that unity. essentially. of our actions.

be felt to be . I hope this book demonstrates that the ideals of independence and self-reliance do not serve to promote human welfare or well-being.. we are forced to confront our limitations.. This development of ‘a human understanding. In those times in which our sense of ourselves as embodied minds.208 Marx... appreciated that our activity in the world. and the way in which a valorisation of the corporeal ‘would be received as an impertinence or insanity and so rejected’ (1975d. 276–7) took up that task. it would . In particular. It requires a more corporeal and. outside the ordinary rhythms in which we are our known selves. more ‘human language’. thereby. Marx appreciated the uneasy deep-seated instability of the relations between our organic and inorganic natures. or injury.. speak.. Drawing on Hegel’s. It is the same unease that is central to the long tradition of debate concerning human nature. those rhythms with which we ordinarily experience the relations between our corporeal and non- corporeal selves and between our organic and inorganic bodies. We find ourselves out of step. 276–7). All of these hopes rely upon making a new sense of our being – a sense which. drawing on Hegel and others. He appreciated that the scale of the corporeal’s resistance had shaped all previous human experience in its demands – a resistance that required the capitalist marshalling of human activity and resources on an unprecedented scale. for most. and Human Nature to act. or anxiety. Marx’s works hint at the depth of that ‘dis-ease’. as driven by a fundamental constitutional lack or incom- pleteness – a dependence – made the corporeal inescapable and essen- tial to all that we are and can be. the Body. as minds dominating bodies. is overwhelmed through pain. Marx. appreciating that ‘we would not understand a human language . I am mindful that it contests a way of ‘making sense’ of ourselves – and of our experi- ences of conflict and contradiction – that is well founded in our experi- ence as corporeal creatures and from which many take great comfort. 196) asserted in 1843. Yet I think hope can be drawn from the very source of those diffi- culties – the shared pains and anxieties of our existence. Marx (1975d. illness. humiliating’ (emphasis in original). and act concerning the corporeal. I seek to further that very task through this book – the promotion of a more ‘human language’ – mindful of these difficulties. We find a sense of self for which we have no words (or none that preserve . and Marx’s legacy. and human language’ was the task Feuerbach (cited in Wartofsky 1977. Feuerbach’s. The realisation of these hopes turns upon changing the way we think. I believe there is hope for a different and better sense of our nature from what we have so often valued least and avoided so diligently. will seem nonsense.

There is. The Promise of the Body 209 a sense of our full. however. existentialist. In this chapter. and others. and to a lesser degree. postmodern and post-humanist scholarship. The emergence of the modern welfare state and consumer society has served to blunt (for most) the extremity of deprivation anticipated by Marx. have found the opportunity to make a new sense of our sensations of self. The prompts provided by the corpo- real remain. The same literature high- lights the manner in which the discipline of the body has become one of the most prominent features of contemporary Western society. Drawing on feminist. however. This is not to ignore the intensity with which the corporeal is now disciplined. if considered in light of other schools of thought. that Marx’s confidence was misplaced. I look to build on the foundations laid by Marx. He antic- ipated the extremity of alienation as providing them with an awareness of their essential (inter)dependency. They found promise in limitation and failure. I argue that those prompts. This is not to say. In those spaces – in those extremes – Hegel. given his emphasis on extreme conditions. if combined with a different way of making sense of them – a more human language – hold the promise of the development of a more just and interdependent way of life. I argue that the potential of corporeal experience to prompt a different under- standing of human nature is far more immanent and promising than Marx realised. a surprising beauty to be seen and explored within the trajectory if not the actual terms of . such as Scarry. He anticipated this conscious- ness not just as a class consciousness but as a truly human or species consciousness. in those places and practices. has not reached the extremity of alienation anticipated by Marx. dignified humanity). An inhuman language Marx viewed the proletariat as the class that could speak for all. It is. at least not to that extent necessary to secure species consciousness. Western society. to argue that the openness and vulnerability of our bodies to discipline is also the site from which we can experience ourselves in ways that contradict traditional understandings of human nature. Marx. I argue that those corporeal contradictions continue to provide prompts towards transformation and that those prompts. are far more frequent and immanent than Marx realised. The promise of transformation is not limited to extreme circumstances but is also present in other places and practices of corpo- real repetition. Moreover. I argue that the experience of corporeal instability and anxiety is a much more everyday experience and offers a greater opportunity for change than Marx allowed for. however.

the body is perceived. They reveal the intimate involvement of the corporeal in the non-corporeal. Kleinman (cited in Shildrick 1997. in its dysfunction. Others’ accounts speak of a similar experience of difference and resist- ance.210 Marx. drawing on Drew Leder’s work. Each involves a grinding. a rare disease that progressively reduces lung functions with fatal effect. in recounting the onset of lymphangio- leiomyomatosis. breaching the imagined boundaries and highlighting the immanence of non-being within being. 7. but precisely as-remembered. 111–12) the independent sense of self in a manner comparable to that suffered by Hegel’s servant and Marx’s proletariat. [her] body’s betrayal’. but remains other: “The body is no longer alien-as-forgotten. fragile character of our being and of the beauty of the full realisation of our interconnections is suggested. old age. Disabling pain and illness reveal our unity and interdependence – the incapacity of the non-corporeal to be realised in the absence of the corporeal. The corporeal prompts towards a different sense of self are not limited to the proletariat or to the relations highlighted by Marx. disability. Havi Carel (2008. The experience of disabling or limiting pain or illness betrays our belief and experience of the corporeal as a mechanism subject to the non-corporeal’s ‘beck and call’. Each . described how she ‘relinquished the sense of control over [her] life that [she] previously had’ and how she ‘lament[ed] [her] helplessness. They demonstrate that our non- corporeal character does not meet the traditional insistence on separa- tion. The roots of those prompts in desire (in a sense of incompletion and inadequacy) are paralleled by other experiences of the corporeal such as illness and disability. and Human Nature Marx’s theory. Margrit Shildrick (1997. the Body. Those suffering from chronic illnesses report similar reactions to those experiencing betrayal and disruption in extremity. similarly described the body as ordinarily invisible to us – an ‘absence’ – with illness ‘forcing’ a new awareness of the body. Their experiences range from chronic illness. rather. ‘totters and shakes’ (Hegel 2003. and poverty to women’s experiences of menstruation and menopause. The corporeal. 38). It betrays the separation and freedom of the non-corporeal self. continuing confrontation with the resistant rhythms of our corporeality. Each speaks of the volatility of the body and its betrayal of the traditional debate about human nature. 168) considered how serious illness challenges our unconscious reliance on the ‘fidelity of our bodies’ so much so that illness seems a ‘betrayal’ placing us ‘under siege’. There the promise of the open. a sharp and searing presence threatening the self”’. 168–9). ‘but that new awareness is not integrated into the sense of self.

or contradiction. Many women have written of experiences of their bodies that canvass a different sense of the corporeal and of human nature. Because of the nature of their bodies. that richly contrasts the assumptions of non-corporeal freedom and independence and demon- strates that lives of expression. based in their own experience. They literally embody the opposition. 200) has argued. given the way our time and space are organ- ised in schools and places of work. women far more than men cannot help but confound [the] distinctions [of nature versus culture] every day. The Promise of the Body 211 speaks of a different way of making sense of ourselves and of a more promising. . between the worlds...] The ‘hassle’ refers to the host of practical difficulties involved in getting through the day of menstruating. often. Martin (2001. forcing them to juxtapose biology and culture... Theirs is an experience. more humane experience of that corporeality. Because their bodily processes go with them everywhere. It is also. They experi- ence a life in which cycles of fertility regularly assert themselves. Women’s experiences provide for an alternative sense of human nature. [Many women find this a ‘hassle’.... 197. women glimpse every day a conception of another sort of social order. .. Women interpenetrate what were never really separate realms.. Here Martin (2001. have it literally within them to confront the story [society] tells us with another story. the experience of menopause. 177) again points out that [t]he general cultural ideology of separation of home and work appears . and worth do not have to be founded in domination of the body and the corporeal world. when women are embarrassed at having their menopausal state revealed publicly through hot flashes. As with the hassle of menstruation. . meaning. if aired and considered. . women .. 93) points out that problems arise precisely where menstruation does not belong.. according to our cultural categories: in the realms of work and school outside the home.. women are asked to do what is nearly impossible: keep secret a part of their selves that they cannot help but carry into the public realm and that they often wear blatantly on their faces. . As Martin (2001.

As such. enabled some women to experience and explore a mode of being based upon care rather than domination – a mode that promises a more repre- sentative image of our humanity and a sense of self founded in interdependence. notwithstanding that these people contribute to a shared life through the dominant mode of production. If we expand that consideration to the diverse experiences of the aged. In Marx’s view. Whilst the . An immanent potential Marx’s dialectical model of human nature emphasises the ‘needy’ char- acter of humanity and describes that character as ‘passionate’ so as to highlight the extent it is shaped by need. given the experience of alienation. substance). however. It makes for an oppres- sive. and treated it as independent of the corporeal. and does not describe the majority of humanity. for example. The failure to recognise this. as Carol Gilligan (1993) has explored. as it denies most people the respect and dignity that follows from embodying the ideals of our truest humanity.212 Marx. the Body. It sets a standard for recognition that most cannot comply with. Marx objected to an abstract definition of our humanity – one that focused on the non-cor- poreal. It has. the corpo- real was always incomplete. inhuman language and oppressive way of life. It is an experience of limitation that has too often been unjustly amplified by the imposition of labours of corporeal care on women – of cooking. As canvassed in previous chapters. cleaning. This ‘language of objective values’ reflects our aliena- tion from ‘our human essence’ (1975d. and caring for others. To consider even briefly women’s experience of corporeality is to glimpse the poverty of the ideal of independence that founds the tradi- tional debate about human nature. always in the process of change. such as the will. makes for an unequal burden. This was the core of Marx’s criticism and a language he was confident would in time. This was Marx’s objection to the liberal foundations of political economy. it is to appreciate that this definition involves an act of profound cruelty. that same immersion in the demands of the corporeal that has enabled so many women to make a different sense of their selves. his objection was to the liberal conception of humanity and its foundations in the traditional debates about human nature (in partic- ular. 276–7). and Human Nature Bordo (2003) makes a similar point. those with disabilities and those in poverty. it reveals how few lives the equation of human nature with the non-corporeal represents. Moreover. It is. be abandoned.

and effective. the corporeal sought to realise its potential. As Susan Bordo (2003.. 1990b. We awake to its demands for expulsion (urina- tion and defecation) and incorporation (eating). Whilst they could be subordinated. and any of the other infirmities of ageing or disability. the underlying critique was that capitalist prac- tices did not meet our foundational needs. impotence and even pregnancy thereby become . 30–1) emphasises these restrictions’ wide and powerful application: The fact that people feel so ashamed of incontinence. Throughout the day we experience its demands for rest. I argue that potential can be realised outside the extremities imagined by Marx. 1995). Incontinence. is a direct product of the internalisation of . those demands remained immanent.. Whether through his descriptions of the deformities following from alienated labour or the chronic illness and malnutrition following from inadequate wages.. as illustrated by Foucault’s work (1980. Moreover. which are repeated throughout the day. the material character of human nature limited the extent of any such negotiation. This discipline or domestication of the body is a key fixture of modern society. The Promise of the Body 213 mode by which that character’s demands are met might change. The immanence and impact of the resistance of the corporeal is evidenced by the great range of social prohibitions and expectations that deny dignity and acceptance to those who expose the body’s unruly character. . At base. The volatility of the corpo- real means that it challenges the borders and disciplines that found the traditional approach to human nature every day. even when opposed by the non-corporeal. Notwithstanding the demands of our will. leads to the pathologisation of what are essentially natural bodily functions.... The corporeal sets the limits of our days and our activities – not our will. uncontrolled flatulence. Cregan (2006. civilizing stand- ards. ongoing. our ‘contemporary culture appears . the resistance of the corporeal is commonplace. conditions to be treated and contained. This kind of dictum . Those descriptions docu- mented the resistance of the corporeal to early capitalism. and distorted. post- poned. which we often combat in varied ways only to ultimately succumb to them as the day nears its end. 149) has argued. 1990a. My argument is that the experience of corporeal pain and thereby the potential to realise a different sense of self are far more common than Marx acknowledged.. Marx’s descriptions of the working class bore out that underlying resist- ance..

even indifference’. . has become prison and limit to our experience. the object. as Cerni (2007) points out.. However. The body. Considering feminist perspec- tives. Far from being controlled and not influencing or challenging our will. [and] may function as one of the most powerful normalising mechanisms of our century. (2003. a function of the mode of produc- tion that now dominates in Western societies. This is. (2007. 16) observed that the discipline of the body may ‘evidence detachment. 105). 186) The centrality of this discipline reflects Foucault’s (1990) recogni- tion of the presence of resistance or at least its potential. wherever power is exercised. by insecurities about its own... Shildrick (1997). most intimate personal existence. cited in Cregan 2006. yet it equally reflects ‘a persisting anxiety posed by the threat of corporeal engulfment’. familiar and imme- diate objects. and Bordo (2003) have pointed out how precarious that dignity is. although reduced to that of banal. and Human Nature more obsessed than previous eras with the control of the unruly body’. So preoccupied have the twentieth and now twenty-first centuries been with the discipline of the body that Bordo (2003. notwithstanding the supposed freedom gained through that form of production: Their power [that of ‘the unproductive body and the objects it consumes’]. however muted. Shildrick (1997.. feminist writers such as Grosz (1994). 150. even as it feels liberated from formal social sanctions. diet and slenderness are not abnormal . is much more close and suffocating . 153) charac- terises that concern as ‘a central modus operandi for the control of contemporary bourgeois anxiety’. . In these times preoccupation with fat.. the unproductive self is contin- ually assailed by feelings of personal anxiety. ensuring the production of self-monitoring and self- disciplining ‘docile bodies’ sensitive to any departure from social norms and habituated to self-improvement and self-transformation in the service of those norms. 43) To be accorded dignity in our society is then dependent on a person’s ability ‘to hide organic [or corporeal] processes’ (Douglas..214 Marx. the Body. With much of the direct or productive labour now undertaken outside of the West. the mode of production that Cerni describes as service capitalism remains profoundly disturbed by the corporeal.

of not being the free imagined self. non-corporeal self. never fully abol- ished: one bleeds. Blood. the abject hovers at the margins of life. reconcile themselves to.. This largely centres on bodily wastes because this is a point at which the infant understands that those products are not ‘me’. bile.. .. It makes the threat of non-being. It constantly contravenes the boundary upon which that sense of self is founded.. mucus. never guaranteed. Inevitably. 96) describes the prelinguistic (and underlying) state of the subject as the ‘Chora’. regularly. 34) . (Cregan 2006. Abjection is a semiotic (linguistic). phlegm. (Shildrick 1997. they infiltrate. face. phenomenon.. They are undignified. Kristeva (Cregan 2006. 96) The corporeal consistently challenges the independent. In this sense. one is sick. their control is a matter of vigilance. daily attributes of existence . It is the rejection of and revulsion at what both is and is not the body. they seep.. the corporeal overwhelms the boundaries we imagine for it. leaks. live with. 195) The everyday challenge presented by the corporeal has been extensively explored by Julia Kristeva. (Grosz 1994. The Promise of the Body 215 [b]odily fluids flow. But at the same time. etc. which is chaotic and involves no sense of the separate. That self is a cultural acquisition and follows the process of learning a culture of ‘distance and detachment’ – an acceptance and discipline of what is ‘good’ and what is seen as ‘bad’: That rejection is played out through abjection. It constantly sheds. One must abject (expel) the waste and enter the clean and ordered symbolic state to function effectively as a social being. independent self. but also an embodied. unsettling ontological certainty and threatening to undermine the basis on which the knowing self establishes control. they betray a certain irreducible materiality. and demands our attention. immanent: The indeterminacy of body boundaries challenges that most funda- mental dichotomy between self and other. that all must . which threatens to ‘irrupt’ into (disrupt) the symbolic order. faeces. expels. are both of the body and not the body. nonpoetic. Abjected matter is a remnant of the uncontrollably chaotic Chora. They are abject and abjected. one shits. they assert the priority of the body over subjectivity. Dealing with this evidence of the body’s bounda- ries is both necessary and dangerous to the self-constituting subject.

... 195) explanation that corporeal anxiety involves a ‘horror of submersion.. considered the threat to a dignified or ‘authentic’ human life in very similar terms.216 Marx. a varnish. from which man has nothing to fear. Sartre saw this ‘authentic’ exist- ence as threatened by an unnameable. Sartre’s language suggests the corporeal and its excess beyond the concepts we invent for it. Being. 2007). Olson (1962. The varnish had melted. the Body. That is. 194. It is the underlying pervasive sense of ‘radical insecurity’ Heidegger described (Barrett 1990. What was left were monstrous soft masses in disorder. It is rather an absurd or contingent being of which we are constantly aware . the in-itself is not a neutral something . some- thing hard and impenetrable before which we can only stand agape. 136). a solid and impervious mass. It is the threat posed by the corporeal to the independent sense of the self... The diversity of things. This is the anxiety explored by the existentialists – the fear of that which cannot be named or categorised. as a soft. something ugly and even obscene which threatens to engulf us . which cannot be known and . its excess over the limits our concepts imagine apply to it. 39) summed up Sartre’s view of the in-itself. a dignified human life demanded a life lived with an awareness of the ‘radical duality between the human and the non- human’ (Olson 1962. Sartre’s language bears a marked resemblance to that used by some femi- nists. disorderly body. This simi- larity is readily apparent in Grosz’s (1994. and which poisons our existence.. to describe the leaky... naked in frightening nudity’. as Sartre’s choice of the word ‘nausea’ . 39) emphasised that for Sartre. and its threat to the imagined primacy of the non-corporeal. their individuality. the fear of being absorbed into something which has no boundaries of its own’ – the disturbance and threat provoked by the corporeal because it refuses to conform to ‘the notion of an entity’. At one blow it was there. potentially overwhelming pres- ence. My argument is that this similarity brings out the ground of the threat perceived by the existentialists. . one that asserts the freedom of the human from the balance of the world. For the existentialists. 135). shapeless dough or paste. was nothing but an appearance.. Olson (1962. such as Sartre (2003... and Human Nature Existentialist writers. sufficiently indicates. The hero of the novel Nausea is made to say of this experience: ‘It took my breath.. such as Elizabeth Grosz.

1538) observed that ‘we need to accommodate things more than they accommodate us. anxiety has no object. L191) and vitality (Bennett 2010. extreme pain. Thrift 2008. The Promise of the Body 217 thereby made subject to control.. 170.. to the exigencies of matter’. Once the threat of engulfment is understood in this way – as the threat posed by the corporeal to the independent self – existentialist thought. 1). He who is in anxiety is. It is the constitu- tional experience.1 Contrary to their focus on exceptional situations. It may be immanent in life and far more commonplace and accessible. It highlights the ‘stand-in-the-wayness’ of matter (Hodder 2012. Life is . insofar as it is mere anxiety. the adaptation .. productive power’ (Bennett 2010. . As Tillich (2000. repeatedly . 177). Whilst. 190) character.. The only object is the threat itself. my argument is that it will. ‘resistant’ and ‘recalcitrant’ (Bennett 2010. or authentic. 36–7) put it. but not the source of the threat. or substantive. which is born of the need to reconstitute or reproduce our being – our independence – every day. This scholarship presents matter’s ‘positive. life may not be so remote nor extreme as death.. 190) and their ‘intransigent’ (Coole and Frost 2010. everyday influence of the material world is a central feature of recent post-humanist scholarship. I argue that the experience of corporeal resistance and limita- tion is no farther away than the kitchen sink or toilet. the resistance of the corporeal may not produce the raw prelinguistic state Epicurus or Scarry imagined. L515) or the ‘nega- tive power . absent extremity. It is the fear of that which is not a being within the Western understanding of being human. delivered to it without help. It is not merely resistant but ‘dynamic’. or rather. L21. because the source of the threat is nothingness.. in a paradoxical phrase. a threat for which we have no concept. of things’ (Bennett 2010. Post- humanism presents the corporeal as active and resistant.. It is the threat posed by the corporeal to the independent concept of the self. 67).. and ‘effervescent’ (Barad 2007. its object is the negation of every object. ‘exuberant’. This emphasis on the immanent. . reinforces my argument that the catalyst for a more human. through its volatility and instability.. 2005. ontology. or extreme alienation. a threat that cannot be readily located within the terms of a separa- tist. Fraser et al. with its emphasis on the immanence and potential of anxiety and anguish.. So prominent and pervasive is the influence of matter that Elizabeth Grosz (cited in Hodder 2012.

Grosz (1994. Those prompts. It is not the imagined domination of the non-corporeal but a lifelong losing battle. of our nature. I have argued that our corporeal intersectual character makes anxiety an endemic feature of human nature. a way of life.. It is always in the process of becoming. 119) described this immanent potential in the course of criticising approaches that treat the body as a passive text. The corporeal. which clearly demonstrate that the prompt has not realised its potential. 118. a residue of its materiality left untouched by the body’s textualization . Habit – ways of living and producing – has clearly resisted the promptings of the corporeal. whilst not so ready a catalyst as the extremities imagined by Hegel. The openness of habit This is not to claim some irresistible or irreversible effect for the prompt provided by the corporeal. The instability of our bodies demands a constant disci- pline. and Human Nature provide prompts for a new understanding of the corporeal and. The body is not the passive mechanical instrument of the separatist imagination but the product of lifelong vigilance and discipline. With regard to Marx’s works and those he drew on. also one of promise. . It is a life of anxiety but. The corporeal is volatile. and Scarry. comprehensive suppression of our corporeality is an impossible task. for that sense or concept of being. resists determinate production. the permanent. It is a part of our constitutive or reproductive processes and is not limited to the extremities discussed by Marx. a condition of endemic anxiety. The experience of limitation and contradiction is commonplace. It is ever and always on the point of and in the process of transformation. it is a life that is always under threat of disproof and annihilation. For the independent self. the Body.218 Marx. In all cases. being unthought. as expressed in all the complexities of a mode of production. something which somehow. Marx. however. thereby. They make the potential for transformation immanent so that the discipline of the corporeal is likewise necessarily asserted and reasserted every day. of non- being. a [causality] or flesh outside of or prior to inscription. provides prompts towards a different sense of self.. in referring to a certain resistance of the flesh. That could be seen only as misconceived and naive considering the longevity of capitalism and patriarchy. for that reason. are part of the everyday experience of our corporeality. amongst other oppressive social relations.

As intersectual beings. It does not determine and still every tension and every contradiction in every individual. Moreover. para- doxically. Marx. bending the potential for change emerging from corporeal contradiction back towards the dominant way of life. However. It was this mode of activity that provided the continuity in the self from the ‘outside’. a way of life or a mode of production into which each human being was born and lived. Habit could then be seen to deaden the sensitivity to opportunities for change. it is easy to imagine that the sparks of initi- ative and resistance that are inherent in becoming will ordinarily be blown out by the sheer weight or momentum of habit. drawing on Hegel. and that means. a habit has a stabilising or limiting effect . one that tends to overshadow any individual discord. of a tortured life of pointless effort. the more it becomes clear that human subjectivity is constituted in self-forgetting. win their force through a kind of self-absenting. 75) drew on Hegel to conclude that [t]he Hegelian man is above all a man of habits. a disappearing subject. we gain our continuity from the discipline and support of habit. Hegel called the regular ways in which that process of unification occurred ‘habit’. by its nature as repeated activity. It might resemble the imposition. Marx. In those circumstances. the repetition of habit might better resemble the punishment of Sisyphus. drawing on Hegel. pointed out that this process of unifying essence constituted activity and that this activity was characterised by a particular style of action. Malabou (2005. Habit. under the influence of repeated practice. consciousness and will. The more closely habit is studied. by forces beyond contest. The Promise of the Body 219 at least in terms of any fundamental change to the outcomes of those relations.2 The strength and momentum of habit – of a mode of production – is why Marx’s reference to a particular society as an ‘ensemble of relations’ was so apt: so steadying are its rhythms that participating members work together. can be seen to continue to discipline the individual. producing a coordinated performance. In this sense. For those who imagine a person conscious of and resenting these restric- tions but overwhelmed by them. As explored above. The existentialists describe this in terms of lifelessness or inauthenticity. the influence of habit or a mode of production is not so comprehensive. under- stood the essence of any being as externally located in its objects and the becoming – the activity and agency – of that being as turning on unification with those objects.

delays. and Human Nature only because of the openness of individual beings (their openness to ‘external’ influences). The spaces opened up by the interference – or contradic- tion – of those relations can then be understood as the spaces in which possibilities for change exist. rather than ‘ensemble’. the subject of much of Marx’s later work. inescapable. and sometimes destruction are experienced. Rather than endless. 262) has empha- sised. For those reasons. I have suggested that the self is better understood as an ‘intersection’ of relations rather than Marx’s ‘ensemble’. which also involves openness to contrary influ- ences and. change. 175) has aptly named the comfort and produc- tivity of repetition ‘rhythm’. thereby. It provides relief and enables some agency. it has a highly productive effect on agency. damage. uninterrupted repetition. the Body. The intersection of structural relations in each unique individual space makes that space not only a site of continuity and consistency with its broader. enabled transformation and was of equal import to the ‘shock’ of subordination in effecting that change. As I have argued. A habit or mode is not just the punishment of Sisyphus: a fruitless. rhythm provides the basis upon which we construct the melody of our lives. repetition. the larger social structures and processes of habit. It is the basis for the experience that Scarry described and many experience as disembodiment. Whilst habits – or modes of life – tend to provide stability and consistency on the scale of the social. repetitive labour is not just comprehensive life- lessness or resignation but an arena of potential transformation. once this interaction of constit- uent relations is contemplated. This is a key suggestion from Hegel’s master/servant dialectic. As in music or dance. interference. the subjection to ongoing labour. It provides the stability from which we can identify and engage in our chosen projects and activities. That said. the potential for those interactions to support some (and interfere with other) relations within the self can be allowed for. As Scarry (1985. I have also suggested that an even better metaphor might be that of a road intersection: at intersections. making the self a site of contradiction. it is ‘self-amplifying’. social relations but also the site of their poten- tial contradiction. are also unstable. There is promise and beauty in repetition. their intersection in each individual self can tend to the opposite effect. Richard Sennett (2008. Alienated. Moreover. There. hence ‘intersectual’. with its connotations of comprehensive coordina- tion. Marx saw the larger ‘ensemble of relations’ constituted by capitalism as characterised by a tendency to . being emerges as a more effective metaphor. constituting. of being relieved of what Bordo (2003) has called the ‘unbearable weight of being’. as each endeavour succeeds. painful repetition.220 Marx.

a product of the condition of homo faber – humanity as a being that makes artefacts. of living within a particular mode of production. Like a spinning top. The consequences of any such crisis – the ‘booms’ and ‘busts’ of capitalism – would then (and do) reverberate through the various partici- pants (to varying degrees). Not only can one not step in the same river twice. as Richard Sennett suggests in The Craftsman. the latter to. The experience of repetitive labour is. Hence. its balance and speed are destined to decay. with them. or resignation. surprisingly. Moreover. 227–8) makes a useful distinction between a boundary and a border. unavoidable friction between a worker and his object. For habit to exert its influence. lifelessness. The former is intended to exclude. In the midst of oppression. this encounter was inevitable: a city was dependent upon those outside it to provide so much of its corporeal necessities. corporeal being. its finitude. as Heraclitus maintained. It is. but its promise is not limited to the extremity they relied upon. This potential is the product of the ongoing. In the midst of its discipline and restraint. a habit is also an opening up. The strength and promise of habit is then. one cannot maintain a habit. its objects must be open to the ‘external’ and so capable of profound change. absent renewal. Sennett (2008. The promise of habit A life of habit. the influence they exert upon us. amplifying the ‘fault lines’ upon which those intersectual selves stand. an imagined . permit exchange. The Promise of the Body 221 crisis. selec- tively. Sennett (2008) illustrates this by reference to the walls of medieval cities. likewise. it is a potential of interdependent. This makes repetition not an experience of absolute fixation or limitation but an arena of transfor- mation. Moreover. is not a rigid or static existence. the tinder and spark of creativity and resistance remain. and change and. what appear to be boundaries – distinct. Both Marx and Hegel relied upon that experience of resistance to ground the process for a new consciousness. That is. not a place of comprehensive alienation. degrade. unchangeable separations – are often transformed into borders simply by virtue of the encounter between the differences they embody. It was this combustible potential that Marx comprehended in identifying the transformative potential of alienated labour. Built to mark the extreme periphery of what was treated as the essence of the city – its central buildings and spaces – the medieval city wall became the place where residents interacted with outsiders. even if the pace of that transformation is as slow as a seaside’s erosion.

The craft of glassblowing served as Sennett’s illustration. it is this dwelling in contradiction and resistance that provides the potential for knowledge of one to affect the other: for knowledge of limitation within the corporeal to leak and move through the porous border of dualism to affect the way we consider our humanity. even in alienated conditions. Drawing on the experience of Erin O’Connor. This issue provides even less difficulty when one accepts that alienation is rarely exhaustive but leaves some. hence. As such. Sennett (2008) suggests that a site of corporeal resistance could be understood as a boundary or border. It is the same zone in which Hegel has the servant dwell after his initial subordination. often much. it is a process of boundary making and keeping. we dwell in that border zone. However. Building on this distinction. Habit is a means of imposing continuity upon the changeable and discipline upon the free.4 It is the manner in which this capacity to work with resistance develops and succeeds – transforms the boundary into a border – that speaks of potential for knowledge of the corporeal to shift domain and undermine the dominance of traditional approaches to human nature. disci- pline and freedom. notwith- standing that it is. Sennett (2008) argues that this productivity is dependent upon a capacity to accept and dwell patiently in error – a capacity to accept limitation. he described how. However. It is not a great leap to draw a comparison with corporeal labour: it is the encounter of the ever-adja- cent domains of the corporeal and non-corporeal. its being – like the medieval wall – consists in the relation of difference: it draws on the characters of continuity and change. or ‘working space’. 210). she had to change her awareness of her body in relation to the materials she worked on. and Human Nature absolute boundary setting the substance of the city always tended to be porous and partake in the nature of a border. For Sennett (2008). In facing the resist- ance of an object and our limited ability to shape it to our desires. the commitment to persevere towards a resolution remains. like a boundary. was a place of contradiction – of the adjacent positioning of two unlike domains and. such a site. even for an alienated worker.3 For Sennett.222 Marx. considered by Sennett. this capacity is a consequence of the positive engagement of the craftsman – the unalienated character of his labour provides the commitment to overcome frustration and persevere. In his view. does not render Sennett’s reflection irrelevant. a site of potential transformation (2008. the obligation to work. O’Connor found that . in order to make a more complex wine glass. room for positive investment in work. imposed from without. the Body. in part.

The Promise of the Body 223 she had to experience a ‘continuity between flesh and glass’. extreme pain . however. It was only in her yielding to and being informed by the resistance of those mate- rials – that is. as did Adam Smith describing industrial labour. This is not an excep- tional experience but an everyday immersion and prompt. is a recognition of the resistance provided by those raw materials. Absent a surrender of the abstract idea of the glass and immersion in the sensation of the material. far from being the punishment of Sisyphus. 173. Sennett’s argument (2008. This capacity to become actively absorbed in the changing material was. we might equate routine and boredom. can be more than an instrumental good: We might think. but the emotional payoff is one’s experience of doing it again. I differ from Sennett in one respect. There’s nothing strange about this experience. that a person doing something over and over goes missing mentally. a boundary-crossing conversion. of routine as mindless. His work suggests the domination of matter by thought – the manipulation of the ingredients for a glass into the intended form. Rhythm has a beauty of its own. it’s nothing like this. She had to enter into an interdependent relationship. Implicit in this effort. improve. In experiencing our absolute dependence on others to sustain ourselves. The substance of the routine may change. It was also critical that she did not focus on the material as it then was but to anticipate what it was becoming – she had to engage in ‘corporeal anticipation’ (2008. 174–5). 174). to become ‘absorbed in’ it. and it is a beauty that is enjoyed and accessed on an everyday basis by many people. For people who develop sophisticated hand skills. to ‘become the thing on which [she was] working’ (Sennett. Doing something over and over is stimulating when organised as looking ahead [in the sense of corporeal anticipation]. The promise in pleasure I have argued that the experience of corporeal pain has the potential to prompt a different understanding of human nature. the glassblower failed to achieve her ends. metamorphose. 2008. dependent upon repetition. We all know it. Repetition enabled a transformation. She had to lose awareness of her body as sepa- rate from the glass and ‘be in the thing’. This is the ‘human life’ Lucretius urged us to ‘yield’ to. moreover. through a form of praxis – that she was able to successfully manipulate them. 175) reveals that repetition. however. it is rhythm.

including sports). In both music and dance. It is that sense of expansion and pres- ence across the extent of the dance floor that flows from this corporeal immersion and ceasing to treat that floor as ‘other’. once at a certain level of skill. Either the foot is pointed or it is . For a dancer. and discipline: It is here in the studio that the dancer learns his craft. might provide. It is the pleasure of feeling simultaneously deeply ‘in’ one’s body and expanding well beyond it. In both.224 Marx. or trace the perfect arc across a floor. Martha Graham.. 100). . repetition. for many involved in like activities. It is an experience of limitation and repetition that is equally one of expansion and escape. The dancer is realistic. 174) described as the ‘continuity between [one’s own] flesh’. repetition is. Indeed. I also want to suggest that something of that potential also resides in our experiences of corporeal joy and pleasure. it is often the capacity to draw a particular line from finger to toe. the acquisition of skill involves repeatedly reaching for a particular resonance – the effort to bridge that boundary. a pleasure in itself. I have argued that this pain need not be as extreme as suggested by Marx’s work and that the prompts towards that sense of self are far more everyday and immanent. there is the experience of a ‘physical boundary’ (Howe 2003. called this ‘the expe- rience of reaching the self out beyond its apparent boundaries’. not merely a process of learning or discipline but. His craft teaches him to be. 93). Moreover. 173. The experience of the joy and beauty of dwelling and working with resistance is a common exhilaration for both musician and dancer5 (and as Howe indicates. one that values and embraces our corporeality. the Body. His work as a philosopher has drawn much from the adjacent presence of those two domains within his life. and the balance of the material world. in considering the experience of professional athletes. in her film A Dancer’s World. Howe (2003.. Undertaken to become a particular image or ideal. Similar insights come from the life of a person who studies both philosophy and dance. Much of Sennett’s insight into the corporeal reflects his experience as a musician. It is the pleasure of immersion and losing the sense of separation of mind from body and body from floor (or partner) that Sennett (2008. I want to suggest that those experiences may give us a glimpse of the exhilaration that a fully interdependent life. and Human Nature forces home the interdependence of bodies we previously believed were independent of each other. spoke of this promise – and the beauty – of working with corporeal limitation and resistance as a freedom achieved through rhythm. however. to rotate through one’s hips whilst preserving that line.

. It is to say that some shapes and forms and suggestions of the full beauty of our humanity and the tender. Not drill. and even to close. but freedom may only be achieved through discipline. expressive fragility of our interdependence are also expressed in other relations that constitute us.. when intention is trans- lated into effect seemingly without effort or intervening formulation of means or method . although equally positive. or glass.. Whether a craftsman working with wood. moments of ontological synchronization.. It extends to the pleasure of the craftsman lost in concentration on his task. clay. It includes the discipline of the dancer immersed in the perfection .. is not victory over one’s body at all. in each case the corporeal prompts the opening of a different world in the same way as an ill-suited tool. with its emphasis on sepa- ration. is to limit. Your goal is freedom. Rather. [and to enjoy] that abso- lute freeing sense of ontological unity that can only occur when mind and body are wholly in sync with each other. No amount of dreaming will point it for you. This requires disci- pline. for those brief moments for which it lasts. The Promise of the Body 225 not. . This is not to say that replacing the independent.. This sensation of being ‘in’ one’s body and of the expanse of being it invites can be understood as another experience of the ‘opening’ described by Heidegger (1996). an opportunity for a better sense of Dasein... 35) It is an experience that suggests a different description to Sennett’s ‘stim- ulation’. It is to say that it is as commonplace as our daily corporeal activity and that we need not look for it solely in those places dominated by pain or oppres- sion. [t]he goal . not something imposed from without. 99) points out that the goal is not a crude discipline or domination. Here the body is an instrument that resists and creates the opportunity to better perceive that tool.. But discipline imposed by you on you yourself.. non-corporeal sense of human nature is within as easy a reach as Heidegger’s hammer. prompted by the experience of the dysfunctional tool. the distance between self and body . In the studio you learn to conform. or the dancer seeking a particular movement of his leg. It is unity: the regaining. a musi- cian working with and against the resistance of her fingers. The point . to submit yourself to the demands of your craft so that you may finally be free. of perfect imme- diacy between body and mind. (cited in Morris 1996. for a more human language. Howe (2003. This is the opening of the clearing Heidegger spoke of. It is to say that the prompt – the catalyst – provided by the corporeal is.

6 I have used the image of rhythm to convey the pervasive influence of a mode of production. and Human Nature of a movement. the pleasure we find in rhythm. Marx’s realisation of the unavoidable. It is.. the more ramified these become.226 Marx. Once established. yet the element of chance still increases in the individual alternatives.. and profound influence of the mode of production as the mode or rhythm by which we stabilise our being. the more developed a society is. the broader and more ramified are the mediations that link the teleolog- ical project of labour with its actual accomplishment. Within Marx’s ‘sphere of freedom’ – and in lesser spheres of freedom. not difficult to see that.. other sounds. its momentum – its habit – demands less discipline and allows a longer interval of time between its soundings. and the role of chance must correspondingly increase. thus stabilising a particular society. 96–7) also saw this as following from the increasing power and complexity of capitalism. That mode of production sounds a rhythm that permeates an entire society. much like the manner in which two separate recordings of music are often mixed . in particular. the greater that capacity for diversity will be. It is as everyday and familiar to us as the pleasure of our stride. It is the process. other forms of engagement between our organic and inorganic bodies. in those less alienated aspects of other societies – that metaphor allows the imagination of a less urgent. A multiplicity of rhythms I look to build upon Marx’s insights into the implications of our corpore- ality. still allows for the coexistence of other modes of being. the more removed they are from labour itself. pointed out. The chance relationship between natural material and its socially determined working-up often fades. It provides the space for other rhythms. and the more their content is oriented to inducing men to a further mediation by way of a mediating act. the Body. slower-paced rhythm. In fact. Its influence. Lukacs (1978. and this is all the more so. the rhythm. In his view. It allows for the recognition that different human capacities and characteristics may be created and maintained in a different mode. however. pervasive.. resembling the drawn-out swings of a great pendulum. as Sennett. and even seems to disappear in very far-reaching medi- ations . other modes of being. [i]t is . by which we stabilise and unify ourselves. the greater the success of a particular society’s stabilisation of its inorganic body.

with different life experiences. a nomad without an itinerary. The nomad appears to engage only with the paths he makes himself without reference to the world.. as each involving particular forms of access to inorganic nature. despite the power of the metaphor . only to dismantle the structure again as he leaves. like a wanderer in the desert. independence. The vagabond journeys through an unstruc- tured space. that that mode of being most influencing their life – such as traditional ideas of femininity and the resulting obstacles confronting women in paid employment – involves a very different experience of being. have learned to make sense of their selves. as noted in Chapter 1. It provides a frame within which to understand the experience of gender. a range of other contradictions to that sense of self based on separation. This reading of Marx’s legacy may suggest a postmodern or post- structural approach. The Promise of the Body 227 or ‘mashed up’ so as to make one piece of different rhythms and melo- dies. pushed from behind by hope frus- trated . of making sense of their selves. or disability – for example. It enables an appreciation. 240) exemplifies this neglect: Pulled forward by hope untested. this book is in part intended as a corrective to the manner in which too many within that school of thought have neglected the centrality of the corporeal. too often the effect has been to treat the body as so malleable as to effectively erase it. with those. the vagabond structures the site he happens to occupy at the moment. It provides the space for a more complex ‘ensemble’. as imagined by Marx. It allows for the recognition of the existence of different sensations of the self – and different ways of then making sense of one’s self – and. depending on the different ways in which different peoples. and self-reliance. Bauman’s postmodern nomad (1993. [t]he vagabond is a pilgrim without destination. In some senses. and blown off again by the wind the moment he passes. forms that in some instances have a far greater influence upon a particular individual or group than upon the society in which they live. who knows only of such trails as are marked with his own footprints. However. including the interdependence of our organic and inor- ganic bodies. Here corporeality continues to found human nature. for many.. Whilst much attention has been given to embodiment and its varia- tions. and a substantial experience of prompts towards a different sense of self than that founded in alienated labour. race. yet allows room for different modes of the two relating.

228 Marx, the Body, and Human Nature

being dependent upon the radical alterity and resistance of the desert.
His image ignores the dramatic influence of the desert itself on the
nomad’s choices. This is the attraction of a corporeal or materialist
dialectic, much of which is now being revisited and revived by post-
humanist writers; it does not forget whence we come and the means
by which we become. It does not neglect the material foundations of
our nature.
As such, an open dialectic depends upon a consideration of those
various eddies and variations within any society. It demands a consid-
eration of how we have come to live and move and be as a woman and
a man, as people of different ages, races, sexualities, and abilities, and
the manner in which those particular rhythms interact with those of the
principal mode of production. These experiences – all too often shaped
by oppressive relationships – involve different sensations of and different
senses made of our corporeality. They each involve different prompts
towards a different sense of self. Many reflect a less than humane experi-
ence and yet suggest some aspect of a more ‘human language’, a sense
of self that is profoundly involved with and dependent upon others,
often because, like Hegel’s servant, the very terms of oppression deny
them the ability to evade the essential openness and vulnerability of our
being. There is potential in, as Foucault has expressed it, an ‘insurrection
of subjugated knowledges’ of the body (cited in Pease 2002, 135, 141).

A more human language

The discovery of a more human language and a more human way of
life demands that we engage with the fundamental task described by
Epicurus, Lucretius, Feuerbach, and Marx. It challenges us to explore a
human-centred rather than religious view of the world. It demands the
end of thoughts of escape from finitude and, with that, a much more
humble, less certain approach to the world, to ourselves, and to others.
In Feuerbach’s words, it demands an abandonment of abstract ideas of
reason in favour of ‘reason saturated with the blood of man’ (1986, 67).
It demands and depends upon a confrontation with our corporeality.
Our corporeality has the potential to be our great leveller; it reminds
us of our common limitations and anxieties and yet gives expression to
the hope Sennett alluded to in Flesh and Stone (1994, 370, 375, 376):

For people ... to care about one another ... we have to change the under-
standing we have of our own bodies. We will never experience the
difference of others until we acknowledge the bodily insufficiencies

The Promise of the Body 229

in ourselves. Civic compassion issues from that physical awareness
of a lack in ourselves, not from sheer goodwill or political recti-
tude. ... If there is a place for faith in mobilising the powers of civili-
sation against those of domination, it lies exactly in accepting what
[the] solitude [or separation and passivity of the body] seeks to avoid:
pain ... lived pain witnesses the body moving beyond the power of
society to define; the meanings of pain are always incomplete in
the world. The acceptance of pain lies within a realm outside the
order human beings make in the world. ... Such pain has a trajectory
in human experience. It disorients and makes incomplete the self,
defeats the desire for coherence; the body accepting pain is ready to
become a civic body, sensible to the pain of another person, pains
present together on the street, at last endurable.

The experience described by Sennett is the common everyday experi-
ence of pain and contradiction that grounds our sense of ourselves as
separate. That same experience, encountered with a different means to
make sense of it, has the potential to promote a sense of limitation and
interdependence: an expansion of that sense we have of ourselves to
include others, to that sense Marx understood as species consciousness,
that Hegel described as understanding we owe our existence to others,
and as Bakhtin (1993, 40, 80, 95) imagined, we would assert no ‘alibi in
The shared experience of our corporeality might provide the best
reminder of our humanity rather than distract from it, as so many have
insisted. Sennett (2008, 292, 296) drew inspiration from the Greek god
Hephaestus, who, like humanity, was the builder of great artefacts –
a transformer of the natural world – yet who, because of his physical
limitation, was not accorded full dignity. The shared embrace of our
corporeality with all its pains and joys has the potential to reveal, like
Hephaestus, with his imperfect, painful clubfoot, that accepting our
limitations may make us ‘the most dignified person we can become’.


1 Introduction: Evading the Body
1. It appears that Butler’s more recent works (e.g., Bodies That Matter, 1993) have
responded to this critique and recognised the influence of the corporeal
through the use of Aristotelian concepts (Stone 2006, 61–4).

2 Early Influences: Pain and Promise
1. From the records of pre-Socratic philosophers, the earliest contributors to the
Western philosophical tradition, one can trace the preoccupation with being,
and the question of certainty was central to that debate. The surviving frag-
ments of the sixth-century-BCE works of Thales, Anaximenes, Xenophanes,
Anaxagoras, and Empedocles suggest that the debate about the nature of
primary matter was central, with water, air, earth and fire, individually or
collectively, being held to fulfil the role (Curd 2011; Graham 2006; McKirahan
2010). Equally prominent were arguments about change. Anaximander and
Anaximenes, e.g., held that change characterised the world (Graham 2006).
Perhaps most famously of all, Heraclitus emphasised its universal character
and the manner in which that universality enabled it to be considered a source
of stability: ‘We step into and we do not step into the same rivers’ (quoted in
McKirahan 2010, 118; see also Graham 2006). Others, with Parmenides, Zeno,
Anaxagoras, and Melissus prominent amongst them, denied any change,
insisting that it was only a rearrangement of existing materials or periodic
shifts between different degrees of concentration of the same materials (Curd
2011; Graham 2006). This emphasis on change was to characterise the work of
the atomists Leucippus and Democritus, who reduced the variety of materials
to the one uniform atom and represented change through the atoms’ repeated
collisions as the constant feature of the universe (Graham 2006). Matter,
however, was not the only candidate for the foundation of the universe.
Anaximander suggested some uniform, unlimited starting point or founda-
tion (arkle; Graham 2006). Pythagoras presented the universe, or kosmos, as
a harmonia, a ‘fitting together’ or connection reflecting the universal logic of
mathematics. He also introduced the notion of human beings as a combina-
tion of body and soul, with the latter treated as immortal. At this stage we
find some of the earliest records of the distrust of the body, with Heraclitus,
Parmenides, and Melissus characterising the senses as misleading and unreli-
able (McKirahan 2010).
2. This represents what Meyer (2011) described as the ‘intellectualist’ approach
to Aristotle’s work. On this approach, practical wisdom serves to support
contemplation. This interpretation is hotly contested. Others, such as
Akrill and Meyer, propose an ‘inclusivist’ approach, which gives


Notes 231

contemplation and praxis a more equal influence on eudaimonia. Even on the latter
interpretation, however, the argument that I make in this chapter would
remain the same.
3. Richards (2010) presents a detailed, well-supported argument in favour of
interpreting Aristotle’s understanding of ‘species’ in processual or ‘develop-
ment’ terms rather than in conformity with the traditional understanding of
substance. He demonstrates how 1,000 years of intervening interpretations
and the limited availability of the full body of Aristotle’s works promoted the
latter outcome. A broader consideration of Aristotle’s thought, in particular
that concerned with biology, reveals a ‘functional approach’ that ‘focuses on
the relation between the parts of an organism, an environment, and way of
life’ (2010, 27).
4. These writers have tended to focus on Marx’s immediate predecessors, such
as the Young Hegelians and Feuerbach, and on Marx’s critique of Feuerbach,
given the latter’s influential works on religious thought. As regards the latter,
McKinnon’s (2005) and Toscano’s (2010) presentations of Marx’s adaptation
of Feuerbach’s critique of religion echo the well-established treatment of Marx
abandoning Feuerbach’s works as essentialist and contemplative. I critique
this limited engagement with Feuerbach in Chapter 5. Neither McKinnon
nor Toscano explored the influence of earlier philosophers, although Toscano
(2010, 18) acknowledged that he did not deal with ‘the Marxian response
to the idea of ineliminable anthropological basis to religious phenomenon’.
McKinnon (2005) explored the various nineteenth-century interpretations of
‘opium’ as a way into Marx’s views. He emphasised the status of opium as an
almost ‘unquestioned good’ for medicinal purposes and the manner in which
Marx’s usage clearly connected it to the pain produced by capitalism. The
consideration of pain and religious responses to it is considered only in that

3 Spinoza’s Revolution
1. Here I differ with Negri’s (1991, 2004, 2011) view that Spinoza is mired in a
Renaissance pantheistic outlook that maintains some ‘transcendent’ aspect.
I argue that Spinoza’s recognition of one substance goes hand in hand with
recognition of the equality of the attributes and their dynamism. The very
basis on which Spinoza expands upon his all-inclusive definition of substance
equates it with the sum of its attributes, not as something over and above
them. That interdependence necessarily makes for an open, unstable matrix
of relationships, notwithstanding the continuity of the totality as a whole,
for the reasons set out in the balance of this chapter. However, Negri’s point
is well made to the extent that he points out that the Ethics does not give
sufficient emphasis to the instability in substance itself that follows from
the instability of its constituent bodies. In this sense Spinoza emphasises the
‘centripetal direction’ of substance’s ‘emanations’ over the ‘centrifugal reac-
tion of the determinations’ (1991, 54, 58).
2. It is in this sense that Spinoza wrote of ‘conatus’ rather than as an inherent
organising principle or purpose existing independently of the relations

232 Notes

constituting a particular being. This is evident from Shirley’s translation of
Spinoza’s works, where ‘power’ is used interchangeably with ‘conatus’ (see
Spinoza 2002b, 254, 283, 293, 297, 306, 309, 332). It is the interpretation
given by Deleuze – for a definition of ‘conatus’, one is referred to ‘power’
(1988, 58, 97) – and Hampshire (see 2005, 98).
3. Althusser and Balibar (1997), in ascribing a more traditional interpretation to
‘expression’, miss this change. Leibniz sought to capture the essential inter-
connectedness of all being. Having failed to see this change, Althusser and
Balibar then fail to recognise Hegel’s contribution to this effort and to Marx’s
4. Newton’s discoveries in physics and Haller’s in biology had a profound impact
(Beiser 1987). Haller’s influence, e.g., is clear from Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature
and Herder’s Ideas for a Philosophy of History (Barnard 1969). Additional indica-
tions appear in Clark (1942) and Kant’s Opus postumum (1993).

4 Hegel: Wrestling with Desire
1. Unlike Althusser and Balibar (1997, 97, 186–7, 252), I argue that Hegel’s use
of ‘expression’ meant the opposite of the traditional notion of ‘substance’
or ‘essence’, such that rather than contradict their notions of a ‘centreless’
combination or structure, it forms one of the terms Marx used to describe that
structure. Furthermore, in Chapters 6 and 7, I argue that the Spinozan use
of ‘expression’ contributes to a richer understanding of that complex struc-
ture, particularly when one considers the location of individuals within that
2. See also Beiser (2005, 182), Neuhouser (1986, 252, 253, 258), Pippin (cited in
Beiser 1993, 67), and Stern (2002, 73), who argue to similar effect.
3. The German ‘Knecht’ is here rendered as ‘servant’ rather than ‘slave’ (Sklave) or
‘bondsman’ (Arthur 1983, 68; Pippin 2011, L1375).
4. Jenkins (2009, 112) makes the same criticism, similarly drawing on the text
of the Phenomenology: ‘Hegel’s talk of the consumption of an object, the
fear of death, and the work performed upon a physical object for the sake
of pleasing another subject all suggest a more straightforward understanding
of the practical here. ... Hegel’s elaborate description of the phenomenon of
work certainly seems to indicate an interest in just this practical relation to an
object ... not simply an interest in the ungroundedness of our operation with
norms of action.’
5. See also Taylor 1975, 155.
6. See also Jenkins 2009, 130; Kojève 1980, 22, 27, 47–8.
7. See also Kojève 1980, 25; Taylor 1975, 154.
8. See also Ciavatta 2008; Honneth 2008; Jenkins 2009; Pippin 2011; Stern 2002,
84; Taylor 1975, 156.
9. See also Kojève 1980, 53; Pippin 2011; Stern 2002, 87–90; Taylor 1975, 149,

5 Feuerbach: Embracing Limitation
1. Brudney (1998) comes to a similar conclusion.

as they appear to be derived from the concepts of ‘living’ and ‘dead’ forces introduced by Leibniz and modified by Kant. notwithstanding their exploration of notions of ‘inter- section’ and interference between different ‘levels’ of a particular society. Note also that Kamenka’s translation of the same text varies slightly: he trans- lated ‘Kraft’ as ‘force’ in ‘social force’ and as ‘power’ in ‘political force’ (1970. Kant modified this to indicate the source of that motion: ‘dead force’ was force that originated outside the body. 315. Pike 1999. I argue that Hegel used the term in the Spinozan sense. 470). which ‘inverted’ the traditional approach and gives Hegel’s methodology a character much more consistent with the method- ology Althusser attributes to Marx. 59. although these terms appear much less frequently than ‘powers’ and ‘capacities’. suggests in turn that of Leibniz and Herder. Kamenka’s translation of a passage from The Jewish Question differs from that set out later in substituting ‘power’ for ‘forces’ (1970. Notes 233 6 Marx’s Objective Being 1. Both ‘realize’ and ‘express’ describe the process of objectification (Marx 1973. Depew 1981. 993. Ollman 2003). this interpretation mistakenly understood Hegel’s use of ‘expression’ in terms of the traditional definition of substance. 42–5) repeatedly uses ‘intersection’ to describe the self within Spinoza’s perspective. See also Marx 1975d. particularly De Anima. 462. 22–4). Translations of Marx’s works also suggest the use of Kraft through refer- ences to ‘vital forces’. 1976. 148. Both Leibniz and Kant used these terms to locate the presence of motion – of change – in bodies.. 33. Depew 1981). where ‘Kraft’ is alternately translated as ‘power’ and ‘force’. Althusser and Balibar. 324. 2. although they differed on some key points. 168–9). 576–7). 117) regards this passage as clear evidence of Feuerbach’s influence – which. 1975e. 7 Marx’s Species Being 1. 1991. vampire-like. Hegel drew heavily on Aristotle’s works. 1976. McCarthy 1992. do . and is said to have considered himself as ‘Aristotle redivivus’ (McCarthy 1992. Marx was conversant in and respectful of Aristotle’s works. 1975e. 117–8). In Leibniz. 342. 118). Pike 1999). Marx was educated with consider- able depth in Attic philosophy (Meikle 1985. 230) and Lamm (1996. 4. 993. 28. 5. 1973. Note that Kamenka (1970. As previously noted in Chapter 4. See also Beiser (1987. 289. 6. 267. For the reasons given in Chapters 3 and 4. ‘objectified’) labour and ‘living labour’ reinforce the centrality of the concept of Kraft/force in all his works.e. Marx’s concepts of ‘dead’ (i. whilst ‘living force’ originated within it (Meld Shell 1996. 1973. the difference was between a body without motion and one with motion. Negri (2004. 2. 3. as was demon- strated by his doctoral dissertation and his repeated express references to Aristotle (2006b. see also 289. lives only by sucking living labour’ (1976. as was Hegel. Marx appears to have used these terms to distinguish between labour power as objectified in an object (in capital) and the ‘living force’ that origi- nated in ‘living labour’ and to express the dependence of the former on the latter: ‘Capital is dead labour which.

in their view. It blinded them to the proximity of other catalysts for a more human existence. 180. The existentialists emphasise the experience of finitude and instability as a catalyst for the realisation of a more human life. 9 The Promise of the Body 1. his suggested imagined negotiation still takes the separate self for granted. Cheah 2010. of non-being. their emphasis on the ‘relative autonomy’ of the different ‘levels’ limits the extent to which they can explore that influence. Lefebvre is not the only writer in the Marxist tradition to consider these rela- tionships in terms of rhythm. Grounded in an emphasis on anxiety and anguish. that they saw as truly individual: one’s own death. However. In part. is our corporeal expe- rience.234 Notes not present that interaction in such thoroughgoing terms. However. In this regard. Even as reformulated by Rawls (1972). Whilst the existentialists justifiably understood the imagination of one’s own death as a catalyst for passion. They argue that this experi- ence is necessary to distinguish one’s self from the inauthenticity of habit – to distinguish one’s self from the relationships that. which. 70. they focus on the extraordinary event of death because they overemphasise the anaesthetising effects of habit upon the ordinary course of life. they asserted that the realisation of the independent self relied upon the anticipation or imagination of the one experience of pain and limitation. Whilst maintaining Marx’s insistence on the influence of the mode of production. and Latour (1993). drawing on Marx and Feuerbach. 2. They tend to give excessive weight to the borders or limits – the incidents rather than the substance – of each ‘level’ as the only site of interaction rather than recognise the immanent pervasive influence of the mode of production. 188) also uses the term to describe the interaction of bodies with Spinoza’s system. one does not have to consider so abstract an experience – rather. Negri (1991. In Chapter 9. I argue. so unimaginable an experi- ence – as one’s own death. their work continues to reflect the traditional doctrine of substance. 8 Marx and Species Consciousness 1. Althusser and Balibar (1997. they did not need to rely upon so abstract an experience. they do not develop the concept any further. Drawing on the works of Deleuze (Bennett 2010. Althusser and Balibar fail to treat the relationship with the corporeal – the mode of production – as equally pervasive. Thrift 2008). it explores notions of being founded on regular . This emphasis on continuity through habit or repeated processes figures centrally in post-humanist scholarship. 154. Having neglected the centrality and volatility of the corporeal. 3. I argue that this follows from an insufficient emphasis on Marx’s materialism. Haraway (Braidotti 2010. It is also because their Cartesian emphasis – with the exception of Heidegger – blinded them to the basis of the fear of death. framed and deadened it. 100) also refer to the influence of the mode of production and of the internal dynamic of the different ‘levels’ in terms of rhythm. Kruks 2010).

of activity that appears in Althusser and Balibar’s (1997) work. They emphasise their instability as ‘throbbing confed- erations’ (Bennett 2010. ‘configurations’ (Hodder 2012. Coole and Frost 2010. 3. . Thrift 2008). ‘entanglements’ (Barad 2007. 6. 10) and so continuously engaged in processes ‘of assembly and disintegration’ (Coole and Frost 2010. Bennett 2010. L801–2. always ‘becoming’ (Barad 2007. Hodder 2012). one can recognise echoes of the strategies proposed by Epicurus and Lucretius. DeLanda 2006. L1298). Notes 235 processes of unification. Hodder 2012. 5. This experience of ‘fading’. and that Plato expressly used dancing as an illustration of their relationship (2006. Thrift 2008). with the former passing and decaying. cited in Bennett 2010. Bennett 2010. L468) that are always on the cusp of change. Stone points out the manner in which they equated form and rhythm. too. 167) and ‘nodal points’ (Barad 2007. following from the distance between volatile nature and lived experience in capitalism. 173. Building on Latour’s concepts of ‘hybrids’ and ‘actor networks’ (1993. cited in Cheah 2010. 150. 167. L146. Kruks 2010).. 151). Hodder 2012. or spheres. see Chapter 2. L1221). 4. design and labour) harmed the ‘head’ (the development of skill). In fairness to Sennett.e. 2012. Sennett does not go so far as to assert that the separation leaves no room for mental engagement (2008. ‘condensations’ (Barad 2007. it must be emphasised that he argued that the contem- porary work practices of separating ‘head and hand’ (i. 86). L367). Here. these scholars refer to ‘assem- blages’ (Anderson et al. might explain the emphasis on the autonomy of different ‘levels’. Hodder 2012. 10) and ‘de-constitution and reconstitution’ (Deleuze. Deleuze and Guattari. 45). 100–1). L19. Haraway’s ‘cyborgs’ (Braidotti 2010. The consideration of dancers’ experiences seems even more appropriate when the parallels within Greek ontology are drawn. and Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘assemblages’ (Bennett 2010. ‘congealments’ (Barad 2007.

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75. 30 Breckman. 99 151. Margaret. 29. 111–12 Asmis. see power Arthur. 3. 24. 118. 26–7. 12. 225 233–4. 209–18 Bauman. 105 Beiser. 107. 134. 28 Butler. 30 capacity. 62. Andrew. 233–4. 106. 59. 57. objective eudaimonia. Mikhail. Louis. 223. 29. see anxiety alienation Hegel on. 209. 23–5. 19. 33. 31 ill person’s experience. 78–9. 233 126. 235 185. 22. 70. 217. 210 decay. 49. 97. 13. 38. Etienne. 103. W. 20. 212. Isaiah. 6. 194–6 Balibar. 73–4. 21–3. 68. 147. 190..Index abstraction asceticism. Zygmunt. see also alienation 63. 29 see also inorganic body. 202–5. 217. 60. 230 substance. 164. 91. 64. 58. 23. 210 Aristotle discipline. 234 Herder on. organic body form. 106. 24. 25–6 being. 27 Braidotti. 14. 216–18. 32. Susan. 232 slavery. 21–31 theoria. 40. 107. 189. 232. 127–30. 26. 105. 124. 26–7. 15. 10. 232 Castree. Herder on. 44. 56. 66. 210–12 discipline. 170 249 . 67. 28–31 Bowie. 99. 219 Feuerbach on. 168. 7. 97–8. 24 women’s experience. 235 Hegel on. 147–51. 183–8. 125. capital. 79. 39 Bennet. Christopher John. Peter. 152. Jane. 9. 218 certainty. 18. 25. 142–3. 65 Aristotle on. 45. 164. Tony. 105. 192. 29–30. 26. anxiety. 56. 91. 133. 106. 31 Bordo. 30–1 Burns. 57. 145 appropriation. Berthold-Bond. 120 posthumanism. 227 Althusser. Rosi. 24. 32. 25 190. Daniel. 214. 60. 195 Berlin. 220 matter. 22. 204–5 Barad. 206–9. Archibald. Noel. 98. 11. 9. 62. 97. 27. 27. 35. 235 Hegel on. 201 body Archer. 196–202. 32. 199 Feuerbach on. 100. 24–5. 99 anxiety. 86–8. 181. 20. 3. 9. 6. Marx on. 171–3 ataraxia. 28. Elizabeth. hylomorphism. 136. 125. 126. 45. 69. 77 phronesis (practical wisdom). 24. 183–4. 6. 144. 91. 11. 97. 11 15. 232. 36. 66. 158. Frederick C. 4. Epicurus on. 10. 63. 161–2. 182. 150. 5. 234–5 Plato. 116. 235 potential of. 146. 5. Judith. Daniel. Warren. 53. 56. 27–8 Brudney. 34 152. 77. 196 disabled person’s experience. 78. 88. 128 species. 218. 233 Lucretius on. 178–9. 18. 45. 25 Marx on. 75. 44. 137. 213–14. 28–9 213–14. 38. 75. 28. 131. 174 potential. 94. becoming. 157 Marx on. 64–5 76. 234–5 Marx on. 229 human nature. 181. Karen. 32. 160. 138. 104 Bakhtin. 61.

65. 22–3. 146–7. 111. Herder on. 33 Future. 16–17. 219. 173. 39 mortality. 110. 143–6. 81–2. 120. 31–3 Principles of the Philosophy of the suffering. 169 137. 109–10. 174 ensemble of relations. 47–8. 50. 31–2. desire. 61. 173. original antithesis. 40. Marx on. 131–2. 128. Hegel on. 117. 204. 235 103–5. 127. 212. 75. 38. 42. 21. 44. 10–11. 232 Dependence. 182. 62–5 184. 174. 131. 162. 119–21. 71. Paula. 179–85. 113. 3. 23. 124 150. 112–13. 121–2 ataraxia (serenity). 19. 54. 9. 51. 108–9. 53. Giles. 6. 154. commodity. 178 176. 216 Hegel on. 235 Existentialism. 42. 232. 148. 111. 110. 19. 230 Leibniz on. 93. 156. 123. 16–18. 4. 80–5. 13. 125. 18. 81. Dietzgen. 124. 125. 150. 171. 196 187–8 pain. 45–8. 224–5. 173–6. 188 objects. 235 169. 25. 110. 38. 161. 22. 191. 13. 4. 220. 174. 234. 217. 32. 209 125–7. 215. 95. 128. 2. 160. 124. 111. 157. Diana. Ludwig Marx on. Hegel. 176–7. 144. 85–90. 79. Kate. 194. 114 consciousness dialectic essence. 23. 32. 119. 111–12 157. 205 Spinoza on. 150. 202. Idealism. development 151. 88. atoms.250 Index Cerni. 148 class consciousness. 78–9. 188–90. 160. Colletti. 32–4 208. 204 drives. 152. 119. 186. 162. 22. 61–3. 110. 204 90. 120 see also abstraction. 175. 116. 167. dance. see interdependence Marx on. Joseph. 191. abstraction. 232 Hegel on. 10. 195–6. 228 anxiety. 158. 158. 209. 119. 187. 20. 52. 31–3. 219 communism. 103. 107–9. 8. 208 substance. 43. 22. 29–32. 176. 232. 185. 117. 85–7 Spinoza on. 159–60. 201. 5. Hegel. 230 Herder on. 91. 45. 156–9. 170. see capacity Essence of Christianity. 115–16. 174. 72–3. 42. 157. 109. 155–6 160–1. 36. 143. 46. 58. 154. 108. 186. 159. 110. 40. 76. 66. 107. 39 155. Lucio. 196. 184 Democritus. 14. 34. 69. 172. 12. 233 Deleuze. 39. 66. 123. 186. 87. 117. 216–17. 214 essence certainty. 114. 205 119–22. 184. 21. Feuerbach on. master/ body. 174 . 186. senses. 112. 142. 138. 143. 108. 23. 120. 187 185. 118. 32. 121 Epicurus limitation. 64. dialectics 214. 121. 201. 116. 169. 147 175. 32–3. 115 religion. unhappy ensemble. 200 mortality. 234 Cregan. Hegel. 152. 75. 78. 44. 191–2. 109–17. 121. 17. 187. 12. 212. 175. 66. 33. 171. Herder on. 235 expression Hegel on. 213. 21. 159. 118 219–20 interdependence. 65. 171. 184. Marx on. 59. 79–83 Feuerbach. 56–7. 132–3. 119–21. 233 Marx on. 137. 192–3. 166. 110. 107. 173. 59. 107. 116. 161 feminism. 138. 40–1. 126–7. 214. 228 limitation. 50–3 Coole. 118 servant dialectic. 176. 94. 27. 114.

161. 81. 212 101. 159. 219 organic body. 111. 84. 84. 216. 130. 88. 22. 43. 75. 88. 105 absolute ego. 169. 166. 78–9. 88–9. 76. 128. 67–8 asceticism. 94. 14. 179–80 master-servant dialectic. Spinoza. mediation. 99. 44. 129. existentialism. 102. Haraway. 75. 46. 79. 81. 195–202. 159. 90. 79–83 Schleiermacher on. 122. Carol. 85–103 Gatens. 33. 88. 45. 125. 174–6. 228 Grundrisse. 65. The. 40. 79. 116–17. 87 107. 172. 233 mutual recognition. 164. 155. 104–5 180. 106. 77–89. 102 Fracchia. 44. 177–8. 11. 194–6 interdependence. Samantha. 184. Grosz. critique of. 113. 53 influence on Marx. 222. 111. 174. 107 Hampshire. 103. 11. 77. 84. 100 habit negation. 95. 219. 210. Michele. 101 Hegel. 80. 233 development. 87. Foucault. 71 limitation. 83–5. 91. 83–4. 42. 97–8. therapeutic effects. 46. 99 force/kraft being. 162. 102. 52. 6. 79. 157. 75–6. 159. 232. 179. 149. 105. 44. 45. Antonio. 103–5. Elizabeth. 78. 217. 76. 78. 139–41. 215. 93–4. Moira. 104 Fichte. Johann anxiety. Carol. 153. 19. Imdex 251 religion. 103. 33. 184. 56. 235 independence. 87. 130. 234–5 114. Zawar. species being. 190–2 transformative potential. 87. 231 Sennett. 154. 199 intellectual intuition. 80–5. 188. 162. 85–90. 134. Geras. 139 essence. 168. 78. 92. 146. 53–5 desire. 68 dialectics. 163. 219 42. 90. habit. 155–7. 91–6. 217. 84. 98–101 Hegel on. 124–6. German Ideology. 202 Herder. Norman. 57. 113. 167 Leibniz on. 105. 119–21. 213. 233 214. 22. 88–9. 131–6. 81–2. 219. 173–4 alienation. 48. 190. 165. inorganic body. 76. 90. 83–4. 150. 87 171. 125–6. 92. 160 112. 131. 119–20 Hegel Thoughts on Death and Immortality. 64. 93. 78–9. 90–6. Marx on. 77–80. 68 becoming. 104. 214. Marx. 80 147. 9. 11. 140. 64. 50–1 185. 67. 94. 68 atomism. Joseph. 3. 151. 222–6 religion. 234 97. 232 158. 186. 171 104–5 Gramsci. 218–23 sensuousness. 115 substance. 44. 135. 204 Hanfi. 87 . 5. 136. 97–8. 84–5. Donna. 104. 9. 79. 66. 146. 159–60. 77. 97. 18. 10–12. 91. 46. 99. Stuart. Gilligan. 197–202. 116. 86–8. 81. 162. 100. 68 Aristotle. 15. 18. 77–9. 89. Gould. 61. 228 geist/spirit. 150. 233 consciousness. 110. 85–7 Schelling on. 80. 57–8. 2. 106. 2. 14. 78. 156. 189. 103 totality. 159–60. 99. 79. 104. 57–9 92. 83. Johann. 6. 120. 86. 218 220. 169 Foster. 3. 67. John. 77. 150. 76. 205 Goethe. 102. 18–19. 139 contradiction. 172 75–9. 127. 219 165. Herder on. 107–8. 167. 97–8. 107. 75. 170 expression. activity. 65 Frost. 91.

29 slavery. 154. 40. 30. 9. 57 human nature. 110. Phenomenology of Spirit. 128. 11. Herder. 126–7. 44. 215 Hodder. 181. 194–5. 151. 178. 133. 42. 65 Kamenka. 96 101. 100 illness. 104–5. 99. 192 history. 168. 61. 19. 99. Agnes. Lucretius. 63. 109–12. 94. 77. 194. 137. 183. 58–9. 60. 118 essence. 120. see force 175–7. 125. 65 Kolakowski. 186. 59. 17. 24. 42. 62 Israel. 96–103 inorganic body. 210–13. 93. The. 233 history. kraft. 143. 170. 56. 62–3 Kojeve. totality. 9. 10. 51. pain. species being. 233 218. 63. 48. 221. 122. 61. 86. 164. 104 objective being. 65. 172 substance sittlichkeit (ethical substance). 59. 103. 154 Hegel. 56–7. 197–9. 188. 226 225. 61–3. 140–2. 77. 83–6. 146. 133. 87. 204 totality. 140. 79. 65 Spinoza. see Feuerbach. Ian. 46. 207. 134–6. 185–7 Hegel. 98–9. klime (environment). 116. 145. Leszek. 102–3 129. 159. 235 Holy Family. 227. 153. process. 61. 83–5. 44. 43. 100. 233 61. 191. 12–13. 154. 57. 232 interdependence. 61. Heller. 64 feminist. 23. 205. 65. 17. 207. 185–7. 64–5. 106. Heidegger. 56. 44. 176. 201. 137. 76. 16–20. Schleiermacher. 170. 182 development. 77–9. 174. 109. 195 labour. 168–9. 118. Marx. 204. 75. 136. Alexandre. 63. 94–6. 59. 166–7. 73. 56–7. 45. 97. 65 intersectual being anxiety. 75–7. 169. 77. 76. 44. 184. 118. 102 Spinoza. 89. 206. 62–5 Feuerbach. 148 Hegel. 163–6. 75. 216. human nature. Honneth. 61. 28. 11. 202–4. 105. 198 uncertainty. 63. 93. 190. 134. 113. 43. 64 species. 59–60. Spinoza. Herder Spinoza activity. 7. 169. 100. 12–13. 48. Axel. 158. 175 62. 218–21 force/kraft. 60–1. substance. Leslie. 62. 87. 59. 83 expression. 101. Jewish Question. 182–3. 184. 59. 75–80. 232 see also essence. 142. 207. 225 150–1. 205. 234 interdependence. 195 Kristeva. Julia. 157–8. 42. 16–20. 43. 161.252 Index Hegel – continued Marx. 88–9. 148. Larry. 164. 3. 15. 57–9 Marx. 146. 64. human nature. 172–2. 184. 7–9. 62–3 Jenkins. Science of Logic. 58. 98. Martin. 61. Jonathan. 138. 205 138. 58. 160. 97. 21. 61. 77–8. 103. 233–4 belonging. intersectual being. 107. 184 189. 97. 83–9. The. 77. 53 idealism. 230 Schelling. 164. 79. 60. 185. Heraclitus. 79. 65 Johnston. 44. 78. 60. 185. 59. 18. 60 humanitat. 140. 95. 102 hylomorphism. 116. 87. Howe. 208. 210. 91. 126 191. 217. 227 see also appropriation . 224. 64. 213 unhappy consciousness. Eugene. 169. 212–14. 82. 205 89–103. 209. 57. 88–94. 22. Scott. 59. 61. 117. 5. 85–8. 64–5 Althusser and Balibar. 155. 176. 233 62.

126–7. 22. 38–40. 43–4. 126. 32. 34. 185. 20–1. 109. 25. 39 Economic and Philosophical ataraxia. 228 Marx. 233 228–9. 4. 152. 162. 31. 84–7. 124. 12. 53–5 change in consciousness. 66. 53–5 capacity.45. 136–7. 12. 232 147–51. 131. 79. 150. 16–17. 31. 121. 123. 168. 137. 23. 192. 172. 172. 23. 195 limitation. Bruno. 146. 182. 234–7 domination of nature. 186. 176. 75. 77. 75. 196–202. 75. 9. 128. 32. 221–2. 58. development. 129. 128–9. limitation. 54. 143. 21. 172. 142. 22. 37–8. 161. 174–6. 160. 189. 43–4. 36. 137. 171. 197. 141. 155. 150. 195 189. 127–30. 165. alienation. 211 201. 129. In Rerum Natura. 103. 184. 38–40. 39 145. 32. erotic love. 2. 175. 226 expression. 168. 152. 155. 179–85. desire. 12. 156. 131. 35. 19. 124 151. 19. 184. abstraction. 144. 22. 194–6 . 104–5. 189–94. 38–9 18–20. 24. 176–9. 132–3. 35. 199–201. 207. Malabou. 131–2. 182. 173. 166. 186. 23. 35–6. David. 187–8. 4. 13. 234 151. 208. 158 89. 208–9. 90. 32. The. 137. 138–42. 12. 136. 158. 171–3 124–6. 106. 167. 3. 156–9. 136. 202 176. 143–6. 110–17. 156. anxiety. 152. 128. expression. 226 148. religious thought. 42. see monads becoming. 219 force/kraft. 121–2. 201 Leibniz atomism. 19. Lukacs. 172. 142–3. 232 Feuerbach’s influence. 172. 10. 153–4. 17. 65. 43. 40. 137. 13. 35–6. 157. 103. 34. Martin. 37. 158 187–8. 191. 35. Imdex 253 Latour. senses. 35–41 133. 39. 227 interdependence. 212. 151–2. 161 158. 171. 35–6. 163. 39. 188 150. Alistair. Georg. 138. MacIntyre. 158. 201. 108. 4. 38. 146. 188–90. 178 liberalism. 183–4. 159. 94. 186. 149 matter. pre-existing harmony. 125–7. 67–74. 183–8. 125. 54 147. 183–6. 75. 157. 44. 11. 157. 37. 186. 36. 161–2. Lefebvre. 136. Emily. 160. 22. 123. Epicurus. 147. 109. communist state. 130. 66. atomism. 138. 161. 212. 33. 75. 205 essence. doctoral dissertation. 55 Capital. 124–7 anxiety. see anxiety Manuscripts of 1844. 88–9. 202 pain. 16. 106. 162. 4. 143. 119. 39 ensemble of relations. 219 the swerve. 205 44–5. 40. 122. 48–9. 204–5 166. 171 atomism. Karl German Ideology. 171. 219 173–6. 170. 167. 190 160–1. 212 Communist Manifesto. Norman. 173–4. 38. 150. 32. 134. 13. Democritus. 192–3. 186–7. 33–4. 202–5 Levine. 203 religion. 166–71 Lucretius early works. 234–5 appropriation. 128. 38. 35–6. 41 219–20. 54. 126 commodity. 62 189. 146. 151. 22. 125–7. 195 decay. 53–4 certainty. 156. Catherine. 40 Epicurus. 159–60. 122. 196. 18. 15 125. 126. 184. 19. 32. Henri. 171. monads. 6. 146–7. 138. 217–18. 36. 22. 124. 158. 142. 32–3. 123. 32. 186. 191. 162. 150. 185. 23. 152. Leopold. 228 substance. 148.

124. 140. 136. 126. 12. 188. 134. 173. 127. 106. 201. 134. 11. 152. species being. 233 58. 5. 201. 155–7. 18–19. 176. 157. 165. 130. 219 pain. 18–19. 75–9. 170. 207. 151. 40. 91. 177. 194–6. 128. 134–6. 21–2. 137. 32. 178. 125. 207. realisation. 131–6. 185. 36. 25. 185 rhythm. 157. 148. 162. 196. 61. 107. labour power. 4. 159–60. 19. 3. sensuousness. 233 124–6. 75. 11. 180–1. 163. 157–8. 6. 195. Marx on. 14. 154. 136. 187. 186 179. 177. 127. 9. 128. 154–5. 107. 184. 133. Grundrisse. 141. 139–41. 10–12. 205. 213. 163–6. 16. 146–7. posthumanism. 160. 185–7 185. 157–8. 161. 9. 161. 155. 180. 138–42. 125. 229 Jewish Question. 16. Holy Family. 151. 151. 105. 151. 212. 219. 168–9. 163. 195 religion. 154. 152. 151. 73. method. 17. 169. 181. 178. 197. 234 109. 192. intersectual being. 234 materialism. 233 75. 164. 223 dialectic. 4. 124. 167. 171. 158. 33. Hegel’s ‘unhappy consciousness’ 202. 158. 140. 186–8. 161 habit. 177–8. 227. 132. 40. 160. materialism. 151–2. 44. 31. 125. 130. 152. 56. 107. 154. 39–41. 234 202–4. 185. 55. 185. 195 atomism . 134–6. 150–1. 5. 159. 172. 23. 31. 75. Karl – continued objective being. 165. 140. 18. 161–7. 11. 217 141. 23–5. 19. 233 139. 116. 20. 219. 134–6. 142. 231 195–202. 147. Political Economy. 122. 158. 68. atoms. 148. 144. 9. 231 inorganic body. 197–200. 19. 127. 131–4. 182–3. 12. 140. 154–5. 195 186. 137–8. 55 nature. 197–9. 23. 135. 145. 162. 144. 23. 150. The. 233 organic body. 224. active. 173–5. 150. 19. 185. 171. 197. 12. 192–4. 27. 91. 193. 173. Hegel’s ‘master/servant’ dialectic. mode of life. 233. 194. 233 Theses on Feuerbach. 23. 17. 196 155. 167. 19. substance. 177. 152 175–6. 169. 127. 10. 162. 144. interdependence. labour. 209. 55 184. 184. 214. 24. 187–90. 3. 200. 168 166–7. 130 184. 138.254 Index Marx. 170–1. Lucretius. 107. 143. Aristotle on. 150. 146. 4. 44. 165 152. 177 226. 8 166. 147. 138–51. 75. 151. 234 28–9. 169. 21. 107. 81. 159. 137–8. 83–4. 158. matter 126. 219. 102. 28–31 127. 209 127. 179. 13. 109. 23. 143–6. 167. 170. reproduction. 75. 159. 194–5. 154. 232 powers. 160. 13. 126. 154. as. 20. 24. 185. 233 substance. 32. 122. 137. 147. 187–91. 162–3. 151. 87. kraft (force). 138. 160. 158. 205 An Introduction to the Critique of species consciousness. 177. Hegel’s influence. 190. see also Epicurus. 151. 17. 54. 197–8. 133. 220 praxis. 23. 201 Prometheus. 183. 157–8. 190. 169. 137. 154–5. 20. 18. 158. 170–1 history. 156. 202–5 157. 186. The. 177. 11. 19. 139. 140–2. 153–4. 18–19. 234 passive. 155. 157–8. 161. 181. 22. 186. 190. 8. 120. 121. 127. 171. 217 mode of production. 122. 146. 126. 133. 131. 178. 169. 75. 174–5 Lucretius. 200–5. 152. 125–6. Leibniz on. 186. 131–4. 109. 169.

192–4. 181. 196 120. 169 151. 24. Antonio. 83. 97. 206. 167. 151. 205. 137. 232 Plamenatz. 151. 5. 92. 161. 23. 122. 32. 3. 60–1. 79. 110. 217. 154. 209. 41. 122. 35. 46. 134–6. 23–6 53. 25. 111. 83–4. 187. 4. Maurice. 113. 111. 195–6. 231 108–9. 40. 100. 223 Negri. 160. 171–3. 212. 231. 107. of life. 115. 221. 32. 72. 104. 152. 3. 195–6 Pippin. 42. 21. 30. 33. 186. 20. 33. 87. 234 150. 184. 65. 11. 39. 227 177. 79. 192. 224. 113. 187. Hegel. 88–90. 186–8. 233 Marx. 19. 9. 54. 163–4. 123. Bertell. 167. 14. 163. 5. 166–9 Epicurus. 17. 124. 37. 76. 188. 231 pain Feuerbach on. immortality. 228. 184 Ollman. 188. 84. 147. 3. 123. 190. Aristotle. 161–7. 18–19. 178. Istvan. 231 184. 73. 150. 234 32. 144. 51. 177 Epicurus on. 105. 138. 190. 148. 33 Merleau-Ponty. 78. 12. 186. 23. 112. 122. 17. 167–9. 120. 144. Hegel. 154. postmodernism. 203. 37. 233 94. 194. 144–7. 21–2. 120. 207. 99. 192. 23. 200. Lucretius. 163. 133. see also habit 223–5. 87 171. 72. 197. 59. 20. 134. 9. 99–101. 38. 217 praxis. 147. 234 Mulholland. 194. 152. Marc. 200–5. 18–19. 226. 159. 51. 161 expressing suffering. 48. 13. 146–7. 208. 149. 198 185. 120. Martha. 95. 196. 4. 10. 19. 184 Lucretius on. mode 186. 80. transformative potential. 228. Meszaros. Robert. 64. 127. 213. 4. 152 Olson. 42. 185. 45–6. 32. 40–1. 97. 116–17. 84. 151–2. 127. Imdex 255 mediation. 37. 201. 104–5. 186–9 . 166–7 Aristotle. 192 155. posthumanism. 120–1. 170–1 objective being. 43. 148. 99. 77. 173. 190–1. 234 proletariat. 155. 205 133. 171. 19. 110. 190–2. 19. 30. 135 113. 174 197–205. 20. 138–42. 48. 74. 139. 152. 216 religion organic body Epicurus on. 213. Robert. 202. 27–8. 229. 143. 78. 27. 119–21. 65. 35. 137. 165. 20. 6. 75. 194. Aristotle on. 93. matter. 112. 182 Hegel on. 83–9. 101. 154. 29 107. 190. 137. 58 138. 125. 17. 83. 92. 31–3. realisation 131–4. 32. 176. 187. 97. 187–8 Marx. of unification. 137–8. 20. organon. negation. 128–9. 103. 195. 36. 68. 209–10 Nussbaum. need. 106. 209. 217. 212 power. 133–4. 75. 43. 230 233. 186 Herder. 36 active transformative potential. 112. 145 nature pleasure domination of. 122. 126. 91. 115. 197. John. 87. 5. 104. 190–1. 187–9. 116–17. 29 resistance by. 32–9. 22. pre-Socratic philosophers. 34 see also inorganic body. avoidance of. 207. 205 of being. 227 Marx on. 143–6. Leibniz. of production. 202 Prometheus. 143. 219. 161.

17. 207. 54. rhythm species being Richards. rhythm. 88. 233 pain. 48. 210. Alfred. 157 103. senses. 144. 160 Schleiermacher. 127. 1–2. 87. 50–3 nature. 57. 12. 19. 152. 42. 68–9 expression. 169 force/kraft. 205 species consciousness. 68. 182 Leibniz on. 53 sensuousness negation. 71 Herder. pleasure. 45. 6. 69. 135. 19. 67. 72. 176. Richard. 59. 7. 107. Shildrick. 132. 28. 198. 90. Friedrich Hegel. 73. 66. 107. 68 ensemble of relationships. 235 Marx. 61. 14–15 33. 148. 43–4. Kate. 186. Walt. 197–8. 47. 50–2 interdependence. 184 sensuousness modes. 202–4. 50. 28–9. 105. Feuerbach. 53. 53 consciousness. Schmidt. 159. 53 body. 158–9 see also Marx. 71 limitation. 18. 52. 3. Schleiermacher. interdependence. 43. 17. 18–19. 195 habit. 3. 157–8. influence on. 152. 186. social policy. 76. 171. 109. 139. 205 208. influence on. 31. 17. force/kraft. 23. Lucretius. 42. 229 Schelling. 101. 159–60. 70. Geert. 116. 17. 66 Herder on. 136–7. 75. 160. 42–3. 47–8. 65–6. 215 Marx on. 70 becoming. 73. 139 79–80. 13. 48. 159. 20. 33. 220–6. 9. 228–9. 145. 165 substance. 68 body. 80. 72 Feuerbach. 65. 17. 172 63. 153–4.256 Index religion – continued Seve. 75. 199 197–8. 220 184. 173–5. 231 species as projection. 61. 134. 70. 14. 11. 65 reproduction. 58. influence on. 170 Lucretius on. 52. 18. 5. 127. 169. 161. 40. 159. sensuousness. Epicurus. 52. 174. 109. 188 214. 119–21. 61. 17. 47. 71. 167. 61. 10. 218. 171. 191. Friedrich Spinoza art. 53–4 Sheasby. 185. Margrit. 70. 163. objective self. 137. 73 Seigel. 77. 11 186. 66 Marx. 11. 209. 71–2 62. pain. 153–4. 60. Scarry. 114–15 suffering. 8. 72–3. 69. 69. 43. 110–12 Aristotle on. 193. 231 204 romanticism. 3. 122. 69–70 conatus. 107. 157. 107 religion. 13. 185. 69. 182–3. Marx. 159. 59. 191. 231 Spinoza on. 231 . 71. 144. 185. 157 essence. 71–2 72. 158–9 Feuerbach. 52. 8. 137. 56–8. 9. 43. 187–91. 69. 209. 10. 131. influence on. 62. 14. 126 140. 168. Elaine. Soper. 63 transformation. 32–3. 48. 56. 71–2. 19. 151. 20. 194–6. 42. 42–53. 48. 82. Lucien. 71–2 interdependence. 168 Marx on. Richard. 167. 210. 68. 53. 66. 140. 46–53. 48–50 Sennett. 6. 170. 9. 46. 44. 137 184. 23. 43. 50–1. 85. 65–6. 220–8 Schelling on. 63. 84. Jerrold. 233 species. 125–6. 11. 65. Reuten. see appropriation.

60. 83. 87. 70. 157. 57. and human nature. 159. 31. 232 totality. 102. 46. 7–9 181. 51 Toscano. 174–5 Wood. 94. 10. 68 92. 183. 43. 94. 76. 231 Stern. 103. 106. Robert. 67–8. Imdex 257 vulnerability. 59. 77. Wartofsky. 17. 145. 128. 43. 81. substance 63. 75. 193 124–6. 111. 184. 44. 95. 144. 54. 50. 126. Alberto. 89. 4. 89. 14. Marx. Allen. 138. 78. 76. 84–5. 158. 134. 90. 65. 58. 231 Taylor. 49. 182. 101. 133. 232 Theses on Feuerbach. 58. Charles. 44. definition. 95. 69. 160. vitalism. 188. 106. 171 . 8 89.