Contrasting Plato and Marx Views of Human Nature

6 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2018

Date Written: Spring 2017


This essay examines the views of Plato and Marx on the nature of man. For Plato, the human essence is the man-idea that inhabits the world of fixed and immutable archetypes, not subject to time. This idea justifies and gives purpose to man in existence, who is an incomplete representation of this archetype. According to this view, evolution is a progressive approximation of man's consciousness of himself. The passage of man through the material world is to provoke in him reminiscence of the truths that were once contemplated. For Marx, humans are productive beings. He creates himself up while engaging in activities to produce the things he needs to survive. All of those activities happen within and are affected by the context of production. The rural man is different from the urban man because they perform different activities to produce what they need to live. Unlike animals, which produce by instinct, man imagines what he wants to produce and often produces more than he needs to live. This leads to the idea of freedom. For Marx, man is free when he has control over his own life. Having control over one’s life is to have control over one’s productive activity and the products of one’s activity. My purpose in this essay is to show that there is some similarity in the views on human nature of Plato and Marx.

Keywords: Human Nature, Plato, Marx

Suggested Citation

Lustosa, Paulo Roberto B., Contrasting Plato and Marx Views of Human Nature (Spring 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Paulo Roberto B. Lustosa (Contact Author)

University of Brasilia ( email )

Brasilia/DF, 70.910-900

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