Individuality Essay, Research Paper


Karl Marx and John Locke both analyzed individuality using different concepts. Marx s ideas concerned species being, alienation, and private property. Whereas, Locke s ideas dealt with human nature, state of war, and property. Both Marx and Locke only looked at men as individual. Women were not classified in either theory. Karl Marx published his individualistic views in Estranged Labor and The Communist Manifesto . John Locke spoke about his views in Second Treatise of Government .

Dealing with species being, Marx adopted species as an object , in which you become one when you can imitate the idea. To Marx, men are universal and free , aesthetic beings who can produce and evaluate. (Marx 442). However, we must first prepare the inorganic nature we are able to produce. …the more universal man is compared with an animal, the more universal is the sphere of inorganic nature on which he lives…man lives on nature, means that nature is his body. (Marx 443). Humans must prepare the spiritual inorganic nature, spiritual nourishment to make it digestible for our systems. (Marx 442). Therefore, we take ourselves as objects of our activity and work to form our species. Humans also reshape themselves from their own judgment, and reshape the whole group by socializing each other (education, etc.).

The object which labor produces is alien, which is independent of the producer. Alienation is expressed as a function of capitalism. The workers perform labor to produce objects for the capitalist, who owns the technology. Workers have lower wages, longer hours, and poorer work conditions than the capitalists. However, the capitalist gives the worker wages, but receives profit from consumers on the objects that the worker produced. And the more the worker produces, the more profit the capitalist receives. Therefore, the more the worker labors, the less he is himself and the more power he gives to the capitalist. This increases overall productivity. The reason it has to be like this is because there is always someone wanting to take your job if you are not willing to work, which creates competition among workers. …Free competition accompanied by a social and political constitution adapted to it, and by the economical and political sway of the bourgeois class. (Marx 451)

Alienation creates a loss of reality for workers, even to the point of starving to death. The more powerful the alien objective becomes, the less powerful, or poorer, he himself becomes. And the less belongs to him as his own. Marx claims In the estrangement of the object of labour is merely summarized the estrangement, the alienation, in the activity of labour itself. (Marx 441). One gets alienation from the object of labor, from self, and from species being. Alienation from self occurs when one performs labor that adds value to some other and less to yourself. Private property, then, results from the alienated labor. Alienation from species being results when we employ species to imply physical characteristics. The whole species being is going toward maintaining physical existence.

However, to Marx, one is individual only if they succeed in overthrowing capitalism. But that theory is impossible in today s world because we live in a capitalist society and they have an influence on everything we do. They also put limits on what we can and cannot do when laws are enforced. Domination and exploitation are therefore inevitable, making it impossible to overthrow the capitalist. In Marx s theory, the impossibility of overthrowing the capitalist is the whole point behind the basis of his theory. Therefore, one can never be truly an individual.

John Locke s theory of our individuality is not as specific as Marx s, but is logical. He claims that men are individuals because they are created by God and are like other men. He doesn t explain how we can really be individual if we are like other men, but he does say that we should treat others as we treat ourselves and are obligated to them because they are like us. This theory deals with the state of nature that Locke talks about. We are born outside of society by God and separate from any social or political relation. No one dominates because we are naturally equal. …Being equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions. (Locke 244).

According to Locke, we should execute the natural law by the state of war. We should take criminal action as a state of war and exercise the right to punish another man if we are harmed. However, we only get the right to punish others if they deny us the right to live by the natural law or threaten our safety because in Locke, human safety is above all the most important. But as long as we treat others fairly, we are forced to treat others like we expect to be treated and to not harm others. Locke says …I should have the right to destroy that which threatens me with destruction: for, by the fundamental law of nature, man being preserved as much as possible, when all cannot be preserved, the safety of the innocent is to be preferred… (Locke 248). Punishments for criminal acts include penalties of death, compensation, and deterrence. For Locke, revenge is the natural law that reestablishes natural order.

For Locke, the Earth is given to all that are common. Then, private property is assessed individually. Men have a property in their person, their labor, and their goods. Locke claims Every person has a property in his own person…the labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. (Locke 251). Property in ourselves comes from the liberty we receive from God when he created us. Similar to Marx s theory of alienation, we are separate from ourself to own ourself. We get our property in labor because we add our self to objects that we labor. So all the objects we labor can become our private property and part of our self. Because that person labored it personally, no one can take it away. Marx says Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. (Locke 251). In Marx s theory, few people (mostly capitalists) own property and the majority sells the labor for wages. However, Locke s theory claims that someone else accumulates the property for your labor.

In Locke, a social contract is made for consent to form one body. The contract is binded by all equal men to protect all men from criminals. The contract is for all men because all men are the same and should be protected with the same authority. Under the social contract, one submits to the majority. People have the right to govern their self and a right to enforce the natural law when needed. (to punish if harmed). Also, contrasting to Marx, the people govern their self as a whole, rather than individually. The object of the law is to determine settled principles that protect property. Also, the natural law applies to human beings, in which you ought to give others as much as you would give yourself. However, the law within society applies to the group of humans. We have the obligation to protect the other person s property, which lessens our moral responsibility.

Both theorists discuss the way a person can be individual, but before we can succeed in being an individual, we have an order to perform some action. In Marx, we must overthrow capitalism to truly be an individual. In Locke, we have a strong obligation to others in order to become an individual. Other things, rather than what is found within our own self, makes us individual. We simply cannot just exist on earth to be individual without having an obligation to something else. Therefore, I take a strong belief in the Tommy Boy theory, which implies that one can simply be an individual by doing nothing at all. Tommy Boy and Billy Madison both live their life unique without caring what the other thinks or what is socially acceptable . They are typical white males living their life the way that makes them happy. Although this theory proves effective for the most part, it has problems that must be resolved for the sake of their family. In both movies, their inheritance comes into question as a result of their stupid, loud, lazy, loser-like, and funny personality. They must submit to society s ways (get an education, get a job, and take life seriously) in order to continue the family success.

In conclusion, Marx s theory differs from Locke s because there is no obligation to others, but there s an obligation to overthrow capitalism in order to be individual. Locke claims we have a strong obligation to treat others as we treat ourselves because we are all created equal by God. Also, in Locke s theory, the power is given up to the majority, rather than to the individual. The Tommy Boy/Billy Madison theory, though, seems more sensible because there is not such a strong obligation to do other things before becoming individual. The whole point of being individual is to be unique and not like anyone else. We should not have to endure other aspects in order to become theories, but to be free to have our choice of how to live our life. Both Marx and Locke s theories, however, are interesting ideas of how individuality is created in people and how we use our individuality for the chores of life.


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