“Among the philosophers, Spinoza, the father of modern dynamic psychology, postulated the picture of the nature of man in terms of a ‘model of human nature’, which was ascertainable and definable and from which the laws of human behaviour and reaction followed. Man, and not just men of this or of that culture, could be understood like any other being in nature because man is one, and the same laws are valid for all of us at all times. The philosophers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (especially Goethe and Herder) believed that the humanity (‘Humanitaet’) inherent in man leads him to ever higher stages of development; they believed that every individual carries within himself not only his individuality but also all of humanity with all its potentialities. They considered the task of life to be the development towards through individuality; and they believed that the voice of humanity was given to everybody and could be understood by every human being (1). Today the idea of a human nature or of an essence of man has fallen into disrepute (…). In contrast to these contemporary trends, Marx and Freud assumed that man’s behaviour is comprehensible precisely because it is the behaviour of ‘man’, of a species that can be defined in terms of its psychic and mental character. Marx, in assuming the existence of  nature of man, did not concur in the common error of confusing it with its particular manifestations. He differentiated ‘human nature in general’ from ‘human nature as modified in each historical epoch’ (2). Human nature in general we can never see, of course, as such, because what we observe are always the specific manifestations of human nature in various cultures. But we can infer from these various manifestations what this ‘human nature in general’ is, what the laws are which govern it, what the needs are which man has as man. In his earlier writings Marx still called ‘human nature in general’ the ‘essence of man’. He later gave up this term because he wanted to make it clear that ‘the essence of man is no ‘abstraction’ inherent in each separate individual’ (3) (4). Marx also wanted to avoid giving the impression that he thought of the essence of man as an unhistorical substance. For Marx, the nature of man was a given potential, a set of conditions, the human raw material, as it were, which as such cannot be changed, just as the size and structure of the human brain has remained the same since the beginning of civilization. Yet man ‘does’ change in the course of history. He is the product of history, transforming himself during his history. He becomes what he potentially is. History is the process of work – those potentialities which are given him when he is born. ‘The whole of what is called world history’, says Marx, ‘is nothing but the creation of man by human labour, and the emergence of nature for man; he therefore has the evident and irrefutable proof of his ‘self-creation’ of his own ‘origins’ (5). Marx was opposed to two positions: the unhistorical one that the nature of man is a substance present from the very beginning of history, and the relativistic position that man’s nature has no inherent quality whatsoever and is nothing but the reflex of social conditions. But he never arrived at the full development of his own theory concerning the nature of man, transcending both the unhistorical and the relativistic positions; hence he left himself open to various and contradictory interpretations. Nevertheless from his concept of man follow certain ideas about human pathology and about human health. As the main manifestation of psychic pathology Marx speaks of the ‘crippled’ and of the ‘alienated’ man; as the main manifestation of psychic health, he speaks of the active, productive, independent man. To these concepts we shall return later, after having discussed the concept of human motivation in Marx and in Freud” [Erich Fromm, ‘Beyond the Chains of illusion. My encounter with Marx and Freud’, London, 1980] [(1) Cf. H.A. Korff, ‘Geist der Goethezeit’ (Leipzig: Koehler and Amelang, 1958, 4th edition), and the brilliant paper on Goethe’s ‘Iphigenia and the Humane Ideal’, Oscar Seidline, ‘Essays in German Comparative Literature’ (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1961); (2) Karl Marx, Capital I (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr Co, 1906), p. 668; (3) K. Marx and F, Engels, ‘German Ideology’, edited with an introduction by R. Pascal (New York: International Publishers Co., Inc, 1939), p. 198 (My italics E.F.); (4) It has been said by representatives of Soviet Marxism and by some non-communist writers that the views of the ‘young Marx’ as expressed in the Philosophical Manuscripts are fundamentally different from those of the ‘mature Marx’. I believe, however, with most non-soviet Marxists and socialist humanists that this interpretation is untenable and serves only the purpose of identifying Soviet ideology with Marx’s ideas. Cf. the discussion of this point in E. Fromm, ‘Marx’s Concepts of Man’ (New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co, Inc, 1961) p. 69 ff. and Robert Tucker, ‘Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx’ (Cambridge University Press, 1961); (5) K. Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, translated by T.B. Bottomore in E. Fromm’s Marx’s Concept of Man’, p. 139] (pag 27-30)