Victoribus Spolia wrote:To be honest, I think America fosters quite a bit ideological diversity that could explain all of this, of which having unusually religious populations among-st its masses is only a part of the whole in explaining your experience.
Americans have striven to make their way of life by carving it out of the wilderness and selling themselves by outdoing others or being more "original" than others. This sort of thinking causes non-conformity to be a marketable asset where in other cultures it could be a liability. I think this is starting to change, but bucking the system cuts both ways; left and right.
This isn't to say that such originality and views are insincere. Rather, its only to argue that people aren't afraid of seriously investigating views that would be almost impermissible to even discuss in other more homogeneous, smaller, and more centralized nations/cultures.
When I think of America I think of the pragmatism that was popular in the US which wasn't concerned with truth itself as much as what worked, a practical attitude rather than an intellectualizing/theoretical one.
The story being that the Americans needed to test out what from the old world/countries held up in the new world.
This seems amicable to your summary in that people test out new ideas/perspectives.
The idea of a concrete universal is not itself entirely misguided, but the very notion would not be opposed to essentialism, but would balance essentialism to more performative notions of human identity; that is, the concrete universal would be where the static (natural) essence and the transient performative (social) role find their mutual reduction.
However, if gender has an essential quality, I would only argue that it does inasmuch that circumstances compel it revelation, like in what might be called "the state of nature."
Rousseau once said that man was born free but everywhere is in chains; the reality of the phrase is testable. What man is in his essence is how he will be when the artificial societal conditions of his own creation are removed.
Is patriarchy or egalitarianism a social condition or construct or both? Remove any semblance of a state that would enforce or perpetuate either and see what people create out of necessity.
I would argue the structure that emerges out of this is the concrete universal, it represents the most essential aspect of the human psyche but is not so fixed that it cannot be entirely changed.
For instance, is the essence of a Tiger (from this more transient line of thought); how we observe the animal acting in captivity or in the wild? Your position would be that the natural tiger is how the tiger is now as it has developed given the social-circumstance (because you see the nature as in no way fixed, but changing). If this is the case, then the essence of the tiger is not some fixed nature; rather its nature is what is immediately known to us in the present; that is, sitting in captivity, generally inactive, somewhat trained into obedience, neurotic, and being fed by others is the Tiger's natural state.
I would agree that a "tiger" is what we observe empirically, but that whatever mental state it may or may-not have is unknowable to us (the problem of other minds) and that we can only gauge the true impulse of such a being by removing those artificial structures that would limit its free action. This is isn't to say that biological factors and external factors can ever be fully removed, but inasmuch as they have been imposed we should remove them if we wish to see real and authentic behavior of the beast.
If you want to know the essence of a Tiger, observe it in the wild. The same goes for man.
For this reason can I say that Patriarchy is natural state of humanity and just like a tiger in captivity such an animal is in a state of slavery, sickness, neurosis, etc., so is egalitarianism as perpetuated and protected by the state; its not natural, its artificial and degenerative. That this is confirmed empirically by observing the human body is quite secondary; anatomy and cultural anthropology is merely the lipstick and pearls of the queen, The queen is praxeology.
Rousseau's man in a state of nature is a fiction, a fairy tale which doesn't hold rationally to human history as he presumes something which couldn't have logically existed. He tries to think of individuals coming together to form society, when the idea of isolated individuals historically is incomprehensible. Mankind in its origins can be nothing but social in nature, the formation of language itself would be nonsensical due to it's presumption of multiple peoples having some necessity to try to communicate with one another. Which isn't that fictions can't be illustrative of something but that it's idealization is problematic. Hegel does a better job in considering subjects as a group who collaborate on a broader project/society as opposed to a methodological individualism.https://ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/pdfs/state-of-nature.pdf
The concept of “state of nature” is taken in Hegel’s writings to mean individuals (or family groups) living from nature and relating to others of their own species just as they related to the rest of nature, to be feared or subdued. Hegel consistently regarded this meaning as a fiction, and the idea of human society emerging from primitive egoism is utterly absent from Hegel’s thinking. Nonetheless, this was the sense in which the term was used.
Hegel knew that before history there was a pre-history, but he also knew that what people knew of this prehistory was very little or nothing. 12 What Hobbes and Rousseau were doing with the supposed historical starting point of a “state of nature” was projecting onto an unknown prehistory what they claimed to find in the nature of human beings today.
And I find your insistance on the tiger in nature as deserving some sort of primacy over a tiger in captivity/zoo arbitrary and unpersuasive. A tiger in captivity is just as real as the one in nature and I would also emphasize that if one observed behaviours of many animals as they exist now, one may well make the very ahistorical error of generalizing from a particular point inconsiderate to different environmental conditions. At present, tigers in the wild are endangered and severely effected by the behaviour of humans on the environment. The ideal of a 'state of nature' seems more an ideological obscurity to project things into and give legitimacy as being 'natural'. Just like how Rousseau and others projected their present day conditions onto an unknown history.
In the opinion of Marx, it is an error to assume that the primary psychological constitution of the individual can be distinguished from his socially acquired characteristics and that the latter, being a product of social existence, are in a sense artificial and secondary, since they are derivable from the former. The differentiation between what man owes to society and to his primary, true, and unchanging nature, can be disregarded as a pseudo-problem or a mere figment of speculation. The ‘normal man’, ever the same in each historical epoch, who provided Jeremy Bentham with his yardstick of utility in the past, present, and future, existed only in Bentham’s own mind. With an incomparable naiveté, Bentham took the English shopkeeper for his model and regarded what was useful to this queer normal man and to his world as absolutely useful. Engels may have praised Rousseau as a forerunner of dialectics, admiring his dialectical ingenuity which enabled him to show how man in the state of nature, free from any social bonds and inclinations, was constrained to enter into social life, and thus came to form society and to establish law and government. But Marx ignored Rousseau’s dialectics as spurious, firmly holding to the view that men have always lived in society and believing that the individual is ‘a social being’ or ‘an ensemble of the social relations’. Consequently, society is as real as the interacting individuals of which it is composed are real. The social laws are not an artificial human product, established by convention or imposed by the will of a powerful lawgiver who can change or discard them as he thinks fit. ‘Marx considers social evolution to be a natural process governed by laws which do not depend upon the will, consciousness, or the intention of men,’ wrote the Russian reviewer of Capital, whom Marx praised for the accuracy of his evaluation in the preface to the second edition of this work. Marx’s own view on society is aptly reflected by Emile Durkheim’s observations made some fifty years later, that it is no easier to modify the type of society than the species of an animal. The more man emancipates himself from the original dependence on nature by social co-operation and becomes an individual by social action, the more he falls under the influence of his social environment and, more specifically, of the mode of existence of his society.https://www.marxists.org/archive/fromm/works/1961/man/ch04.htm
It does not follow from the fact that ‘society is the product of men’s reciprocal action’ that society is governed by laws that are made arbitrarily or are deducible from unchangeable human nature and applicable to the behaviour of individual men, always and everywhere. Since social life results from, or is based upon, human interaction, the study of the behaviour of individual men taken separately of their motives and aspirations, hopes and expectations, is irrelevant to social investigations. Society is not an aggregate of individuals but a totality of interacting individuals. Therefore, society changes and develops according to its own laws which are not psychological but specifically social laws. They help towards understanding social phenomena and the social behaviour of individuals. As Marx put it, just as society is produced by men, so society itself produces man as man.
Having included man within nature and recognized all human experience and activity as processes of interaction between different parts of nature and thus as natural events, Marx, like Hegel, considered all experiences and activities of man amenable to a single method. While for Hegel spirit was history’s only motive and formative power, Marx accepted the self-sufficiency of nature. Consequently, what Hegel regarded as manifestations of spirit, Marx recognized as natural processes and replaced Hegel’s spiritualization of man and of the world by their ‘naturalization’. Hegel’s method was either teleological or dialectical and described human activity in terms of final causes, of values, ends, and norms of conduct. Marx’s method, however, was to be scientific, in that its task was to discover what is the case and not what ought to be, to make exclusive use of observation and inference, and to reveal causal or functional relationships among the various objects and processes of nature. Apart from its formal advantages, the universality of scientific method reflected Marx’s assumption that neither the external world nor society nor man can be conceived of and explained separately but only in their interaction, as they determine each other and change through reciprocal impact and natural influences.
For the understanding of Marx a different point is, however, important. The Marxian conception of nature, of man, and man’s relation to nature disposes of many traditional epistemological problems. Marx neither needs to prove existence of the external world, nor disprove its existence. From his point of view both these endeavours are prompted by false assumptions concerning the relation of man to nature, by considering man as a detached observer, setting him against the world or placing him, as it were, on a totally different level. For man, who is part of nature, to doubt the existence of the external world or to consider it as in need of proof is to doubt his own existence, and even Descartes and Berkeley refused to go to such a length.
This conclusion is of considerable significance for the interpretation of Marxian philosophy. As Marx refused to dissociate nature from man and man from nature and conceived man not only as part of nature but also nature in a certain sense as a product of man’s activity and, thus, part of man, Marx’s naturalism has no need of metaphysical foundation. Moreover, since man knows only socially mediated nature, ‘man’, and not natural reality, ‘is the immediate object of natural science’.
Of course, Marx was never tempted to assume that "human nature" was identical with that particular expression of human nature prevalent in his own society. In arguing against Bentham, Marx said: "To know what is useful for a dog, one must study dog nature. This nature itself is not to be deduced from the principle of utility. Applying this to man, he that would criticize all human acts, movements, relations, etc., by the principle of utility, must first deal with human nature in general, and then with human nature as modified in each historical epoch."  It must be noted that this concept of human nature is not, for Marx -- as it was not either for Hegel -an abstraction. It is the essence of man -- in contrast to the various forms of his historical existence -- and, as Marx said, "the essence of man is no abstraction inherent in each separate individual."  It must also be stated that this sentence from Capital, written by the "old Marx," shows the continuity of the concept of man's essence ( Wesen) which the young Marx wrote about in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts. He no longer used the term "essence" later on, as being abstract and unhistorical, but he clearly retained the notion of this essence in a more historical version, in the differentiation between "human nature in general" and "human nature as modified" with each historical period.
In line with this distinction between a general human nature and the specific expression of human nature in each culture, Marx distinguishes, as we have already mentioned above, two types of human drives and appetites: the constant or fixed ones, such as hunger and the sexual urge, which are an integral part of human nature, and which can be changed only in their form and the direction they take in various cultures, and the "relative" appetites, which are not an integral part of human nature but which "owe their origin to certain social structures and certain conditions of production and communication."  Marx gives as an example the needs produced by the capitalistic structure of society. "The need for money," he wrote in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, "is therefore the real need created by the modern economy, and the only need which it creates.... This is shown subjectively, partly in the fact that the expansion of production and of needs becomes an ingenious and always calculating subservience to inhuman, depraved, unnatural, and imaginary appetites." 
Man's potential, for Marx, is a given potential; man is, as it were, the human raw material which, as such, cannot be changed, just as the brain structure has remained the same since the dawn of history. Yet, man does change in the course of history; he develops himself; he transforms himself, he is the product of history; since he makes his history, he is his own product. History is the history of man's self-realization; it is nothing but the self-creation of man through the process of his work and his production: "the whole of what is called world history is nothing but the creation of man by human labor, and the emergence of nature for man; he therefore has the evident and irrefutable proof of his self-creation, of his own origins." 
It is important to consider man in relation to a humanized nature, there is nothing meaningful in trying to imagine a nature separate or unaffected by man because man if he is indeed a man uses his labor to change nature to satisfy his needs.
Even now, one of a contemplative materialism may look at nature and think it nature independent of man but there is no such things especially now with how profound and effect we've had on the world. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/german-ideology/ch01b.htm
Feuerbach’s conception of the sensuous world is confined on the one hand to mere contemplation of it, and on the other to mere feeling; he says “Man” instead of “real historical man.” “Man” is really “the German.” In the first case, the contemplation of the sensuous world, he necessarily lights on things which contradict his consciousness and feeling, which disturb the harmony he presupposes, the harmony of all parts of the sensuous world and especially of man and nature. To remove this disturbance, he must take refuge in a double perception, a profane one which only perceives the “flatly obvious” and a higher, philosophical, one which perceives the “true essence” of things. He does not see how the sensuous world around him is, not a thing given direct from all eternity, remaining ever the same, but the product of industry and of the state of society; and, indeed, in the sense that it is an historical product, the result of the activity of a whole succession of generations, each standing on the shoulders of the preceding one, developing its industry and its intercourse, modifying its social system according to the changed needs. Even the objects of the simplest “sensuous certainty” are only given him through social development, industry and commercial intercourse. The cherry-tree, like almost all fruit-trees, was, as is well known, only a few centuries ago transplanted by commerce into our zone, and therefore only by this action of a definite society in a definite age it has become “sensuous certainty” for Feuerbach.
Incidentally, when we conceive things thus, as they really are and happened, every profound philosophical problem is resolved, as will be seen even more clearly later, quite simply into an empirical fact. For instance, the important question of the relation of man to nature (Bruno [Bauer] goes so far as to speak of “the antitheses in nature and history” (p. 110), as though these were two separate “things” and man did not always have before him an historical nature and a natural history) out of which all the “unfathomably lofty works” on “substance” and “self-consciousness” were born, crumbles of itself when we understand that the celebrated “unity of man with nature” has always existed in industry and has existed in varying forms in every epoch according to the lesser or greater development of industry, just like the “struggle” of man with nature, right up to the development of his productive powers on a corresponding basis.
Which is why earlier I emphasize that even the wild in which the Asian Tiger lives now isn't as it was in the past and I speculative think it has changed its behaviour as we now see with Tigers so close to human populations can be 'man eaters
Though in this I would emphasize that animals unlike humans don't as significantly inherent things culturally as much as many of them do have an instinctive "program" as far as we can tell although they are just as likely to change in adapting to environmental pressures and thus can emerge progeny better suited and not quite like ancestors in some ways.
Man is to be considered in relation to real existing society/humanized nature. The world has not known man independent of it for a very long time now. Even if one considered tribal people as closer to nature, one would find the effects of human labor on it. The indigenous Australians for example burnt off of things for hunting and future growth and shaped the land of Australia before colonialists arrived.https://theconversation.com/how-aboriginal-burning-changed-australias-climate-4454
One would've been in error to think it just a state of nature, as it had been a product of man's activity for thousands of years also, inseparable from that activity as man is from the natural.
And this remains true even in modern societies where we have a highly complex division of labor that has taken on a global scale.
Man living tribally or what ever is no more or less real than man in industrialized society. The idea of the state as artificial and unnatural is an unpersuasive rhetorical effort to naturalize the intended view of patriarchal as natural and egalitarian as unnatural.
Fine argue for patrirachial relations but should see that it itself isn't any more natural/real than changes in gendered relations in industrialized society where women's labor is given value as their forms of labor become commodified
To me, even if we take a stance of one set of conditions being harmful to the nature of a thing and another more desirable with how it accords to a things nature, it is no less real.
As such, one should instead make an argument for certain nature of a thing to speak about what is best for it in realizing it's full potential to it's nature which isn't a static ahistorical thing in the case of humans as man has developed as mankind has developed society.
But it is the case that Marx holds to a sense of human nature based on biological and social needs, but that this isn't confined to an ahistorical or imagined sense of nature but is based in how man's labor generates changes in society and changes man himself.http://critique-of-pure-interest.blogspot.com/2011/12/between-materialism-and-idealism-marx.html
That elusive middle is captured by Marx’s claim that the external object, on which humanity depends, is in turn dependent on the formative power of human activity. In other words: nature determines (causes, affects) man, who in turn determines (works upon) nature. Thus man is indirectly self-determining, mediated by nature. This reciprocal determination of man and nature is what Marx means by “praxis". In the first Thesis, therefore, Marx reproaches traditional materialism for not seeing this fundamental importance of praxis, since it (materialism) sees man one-sidedly as subjected to nature and thus it forgets man’s active intervention in nature – a point repeated by Marx in the third Thesis, where he focuses on the consequences of materialism for social theory: “The materialist doctrine concerning the changing of circumstances and upbringing [by which men are changed, PS] forgets that circumstances are changed by men and that it is essential to educate the educator himself.”http://isj.org.uk/marxism-and-ethics/
Both modern and classical conceptions of ethics share one common theme. They tend to treat the very different social contexts in which they were formulated as unchanging features of nature.38 Hegel’s great contribution to moral theory started from a historical comparison of these two contexts: asking how and why we (or more precisely Germans at the turn of the 19th century) are different from ancient Greeks. By doing this he began a process, later completed by Marx, of synthesising and overcoming the limitations of both Kantian morality and Aristotelian ethics.
Just as Aristotle sought to base his ethics on a model of human essence, Hegel insisted that ethics must start from a model of “what human beings are”. It is only when they are so grounded that it is possible to say “that some modes of life are suited to our nature, whereas others are not”.39 He followed Aristotle in assuming that the goal of life is self-realisation, but he broke with him by arguing that it is only by way of freedom that this is possible. Whereas Aristotle insisted that happiness is the end of life, Hegel believed with Kant that the end of life was freedom.40 But unlike Kant, who counterposed freedom to necessity, he insisted that to act freely was to act in accordance with necessity.41 He thus criticised “Kant for seeing dichotomies in the self between freedom and nature…where he ought to have seen freedom as actualising nature”.42 Moreover, he believed that moral laws, far from being universal in some transhistoric sense, are in fact only intelligible “in the context of a particular community”, and can be universalised only to the extent that “communities grow and consolidate into an international community”.43
Hegel thus provided a social content to the concept of freedom by relating it to the movement of “a living social whole”.44 In so doing, he simultaneously worked a dramatic change on Aristotle’s concept of happiness. For if human nature evolves with the cultural evolution of communities then so too does the meaning of self-realisation. His ethics is therefore best understood as a form of “dialectical or historicised naturalism”.45 It was this historical understanding of human nature that provided Marx with the basis from which he went beyond existing materialist (Hobbesian) and idealist (Kantian) models of agency.
Mankind changes itself and develops with society, pushing back natural necessity and allows for a rich individuality where people can take on the greatest products of culture upon themselves and be much more than mere animals driven by desire and basic needs
, but instead have more human/social needs. Where even what fulfills basic desires like food, sex and such take on a social/human character.https://www.marxists.org/archive/zetkin/1920/lenin/zetkin1.htm
Of course, thirst must be satisfied. But will the normal person in normal circumstances lie down in the gutter and drink out of a puddle, or out of a glass with a rim greasy from many lips? But the social aspect is most important of all.https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/labour.htm
Certainly eating, drinking, procreating, etc., are also genuinely human functions. But taken abstractly, separated from the sphere of all other human activity and turned into sole and ultimate ends, they are animal functions.
And I would distinguish that one can't readily identify the essence of an animal by considering it isolated to some ideal nature/wild nor in captivity.
How a tiger behaves in either context doesn't readily reveal the essence of a tiger, as the essence isn't what is common across tigers in each environment or in one environment over the other in themselves. One would have to thoroughly study them to see what underpins the appearance of their behaviours in each and any context.
And the idea of describing patriarchy of egalitarianism as social constructs seems silly as both are very real, and reflective of a division of labor and the ensuing values/meanings imbued to the sexes within those relations. Saying this is natural or unnatural is rhetoric, not reason and I would speculate there are stronger arguments than trying to argue that patriarchal relations are 'natural'. I see people try to speak to the functional necessities and strengths of them. So for example many women still do practice the traditional housewife position because its economically irrational to work and pay for daycare as capitalism has only given the possibility for women to struggle for better status through the exchange-value of their labor but isn't invested in human emancipation/liberation but only exploiting their labor.https://aifs.gov.au/publications/family-matters/issue-86/persistent-work-family-strain-among-australian-mothers
In conclusion, Australian mothers in recent decades have greatly increased their participation in the labour market. Fathers, however, have not increased their participation in unpaid household work to a matching degree. But, without equal sharing of the dual roles of earner and carer between mothers and fathers, mothers will inevitably feel the work-family tension more keenly. Furthermore, institutional and structural changes supporting mothers' increased workforce participation are few and slow coming. Consequently, working mothers faced with the challenge of reconciling family and work commitments are often forced to find individual solutions. However, work and family life balance is not a problem specific to individual families. Rather, it is a universal problem shared by many families, and as such it requires institutional and structural changes supported by society as a whole.
The ideal of egaltarianism has gained value along the average status of women but isn't necessarily a reality
for many people.
So in a way we retain much of the old, things are essentially new except for the breaking down of formal discriminations in law that made women more dependent on men out of an inability to support themselves. Which than valorized men's paternalistic protection of women even whilst it was sexism that made them vulnerable/dependent on men.
To which if we do end up valuing women as people like men in regards to having to develop their potential, then patriarchal control only retards/fetters the potential of women, what is best for humans is inclusive to realizing the potential of women.http://www.socraticmethod.net/essays/gender_identity.htm
The fundamental gender binary breaking principle here is that members of both sexes must possess the same important qualities of mind needed to live well, even within the arbitrary context of their pre-defined social roles. These qualities are at the heart of their true human identity. Blending defined social roles, such as the role of statesmanship vs. a home oriented domestic role, into a society's definition of gender over-extends the concept of gender and makes it nothing more than a projection of society's need to create order at the expense of truth. In this Socratic perspective, basic qualities of the human body and mind such as strength, justice, virtue, temperance, courage, wisdom, etc. exist in both sexes enough to make their inclusion, or the inclusion of anything dependent upon them, in a gender identity distinction into a serious misconception of men and women
This means that the most important and valued attributes of the human heart and mind should never be included in the construction of gender difference. All that is courageous, tender, temperate, virtuous, compassionate, just and wise, all that stands at the heart of our attempts to live well, all that is the very lifeblood of the human spirit's striving for excellence is never masculine or feminine. It is human. When concepts of gender identity incorporate such qualities, or incorporate secondary attributes and functions that are derived from or dependent upon such qualities, they degenerate into simplistic projections that service society's need for order over the human need for excellence in understanding.
What makes the point of patriarchy of natural especially weak is that it can no longer be naturalized by an existing status quo but has given favor to new ideas.https://www.marxists.org/subject/women/authors/beaton/2013/feminism.htm
The ideology of the women’s movement has conquered the dominant ideology so now it is generally accepted that women have the potential to develop capabilities with men in almost all areas of life. Those who still say that women are lesser beings than men or are unable to take on equal responsibilities, or aren’t entitled to equal shares of the wealth now speak outside of the dominant ideology. The impact of this ideological change lies underneath the massive changes to social organization that have been taking place ever since. In every workplace, in every home in the advanced capitalist world attitudes to women and their capabilities have changed. These changes in attitude have not been limited to the ideas of women, but to men as well, who have been dragged, often kicking and spluttering, along behind the women. The changes have not been confined to the developed capitalist world but have clearly impacted everywhere. It is also evident that those who want to maintain the old values of men’s superiority have to assert their ideas with ever increasing force and violence.
It was easy for people in the past to deny what hadn't yet been achieved and to speak of women's inability to do things, to speak of it as natural but to speak of an older society and it's standards as somehow more compelling than the modern seems unpersuasive.
Maybe it'd gain favor with the cynics who disavow the achievements of capitalist production and development entirely and want to blow us back to primitive groups.
And this is exactly where I'm going to have to explain somethings in regards to the difference between abstract universals and the concrete universal. Because what characterizes the abstract universal is trying to find that which is common to all things within class abstracted of it's inessential characteristics.
But this isn't really an understanding of anything, science would not be needed as the essence of things would be so readily apparent in the appearance of things and we wouldn't need to scientifically investigate things, the truth would be clear to the eyes.
So with an abstract universal, one can only identify things arbitrarily rather than finding that which holds out of logical necessity. An issue Hegel took with Kant over.https://www.marxists.org/archive/pilling/works/capital/pilling4.htm#Pill5
Hegel rejected this Kantian view of the concept on the grounds that it was confined to what he called abstract identity or abstract universality. Some aspect common to a range of objects is isolated (abstracted) as that which is ‘general’ to them, to be set against a ‘particular’ which, on this view, can exist on its own. The necessity of the aspects chosen can never be demonstrated and, given that this necessity cannot be established, these ‘aspects’ out of which the general is constructed must remain ultimately arbitrary. In short, regularity in appearance is not sufficient to establish necessity. This Hegel points out when he notes the inadequacy of the consensus gentium as a proof for the existence of God. The fact that everybody agrees with the existence of God, is no necessary proof for God’s existence. Unless the nature of this individual consciousness is thoroughly explained and its inner necessity established, the proof is inadequate
For Hegel a concept was primarily a synonym for the real grasping of the essence of phenomena and was in no way limited simply to the expression of something general, of some abstract identity discernible by the senses in the objects concerned.
A concept (if it was to be adequate) had to disclose the real nature of a thing and this it must do not merely by revealing what it held in common with other objects, but also its special nature, in short its peculiarity.
The concept was a unity of universality and particularity.
Hegel insisted that it was necessary to distinguish between a universality which preserved all the richness of the particulars within it and an abstract ‘dumb’ generality which was confined to the sameness of all objects of a given kind.
Further, Hegel insisted, this truly universal concept was to be discovered by investigating the actual laws of the origin, development and disappearance of single things. (Even before we take the-discussion further, it should be clear that here lay the importance of Marx’s logical-historical investigation of the cell-form of bourgeois economy, the commodity.) Thought that was limited to registering or correlating empirically perceived common attributes was essentially sterile – it could never come anywhere near to grasping the law of development of phenomena. One crucial point followed from this which has direct and immediate importance for Capital. It was this: the real laws of phenomena do not and cannot appear directly on the surface of the phenomena under investigation in the form of simple identicalness.
If concepts could be grasped merely by finding a common element within the phenomena concerned then this would be equivalent to saying that appearance and essence coincided, that there was no need for science.
The concrete universal as inspired by Goethe's Urphänomen is about finding the simplest archetypal unit which when properly understood can explain the origins of all particulars and it itself is a particular but with universal significance as it explains all other particulars of it's class.
Dull sameness in biology was the classification is basically like Linnaeus' taxonomy where things are classified based on similarity of appearance.
But this was overtaken by Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection where he identified the development and origin of species. One was then able to consider through the development of animals how somethings were related even whilst they in appearance may look very unlike one another.
The best summary of this that I've read is Evald Ilyenkov's The Universal
where he uses similar point against a simple essentialism that Wittgenstein put forth in regards to family resemblance. Where the actual ancestor from which all progeny originate from may share only partial likeness, where one couldn't identify the actual existing ancestor by compiling similar attributes and abstracting away dissimilar ones or by averaging the attributes.
And what he finds in his explanation is that when faced with a question like what is man? People who use the thinking of dull sameness, trying to see that which is common to all arbitrarily identify different features that don't by logical necessity really give satisfaction to the essence of what a human is.
So that in the end one ends up with a contentless tautology that man is man ( A = A), which in his example has real significance when it comes to a possible peoples the Tropi where a character kills one and it brings up questions of whether he was guilty of murder, whether the priests should save their souls, whether they would have rights of human citizens or were more exploitable for labor.
‘Each man is a man first and foremost, and only then is he a follower of Plato, Christ, or Marx,’ wrote Vercors in the afterward to the Russian edition of the book. ‘In my view it is much more important to show the way in which points of contact may be found between Marxism and Christianity proceeding from such a criterion, than to emphasise as such regardless of their differences.’ The essence of man the ideological differences, does not lie in adherence to some doctrine or other. But wherein does it lie? In the fact that ,man is first and foremost ... man’. That is the only answer that Vercors was able to oppose to the ‘one-sided’ view of dialectical materialism. But this kind of ‘answer’ takes us back to the starting point – to a simple name unendowed with any definite content. To move away from the tautology, one will have to take up the line of reasoning from the very beginning.https://www.marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/articles/universal.htm
The position so vividly and wittily outlined by Vercors expresses very well the attitudes of those sections of Western intellectuals who struggle agonisingly with the burning issues of our times yet have not solved so far the problem for themselves – where lie the ways of redeeming the noble ideals of humanism? They see clearly that capitalism is innately hostile to these ideals. Yet they do not dare to take up communism for fear of losing in it ‘independence of thinking’, the sham ‘privileges of the thinking part of mankind’.
While this part of mankind agonises over the choice between these two real poles of the modern world, any uncomplicated theoretical question grows out of any proportion into a most intricate and completely insoluble problem, while attempts to solve it with the aid of the most sophisticated instruments of formal logic ultimately lead to a tautology: A = A, man is man.
Nothing else can result from a search for a definition of man through establishing the abstractly identical property which each individual representative of present-day mankind possesses. Logic based on this kind of axiom is absolutely powerless to do anything here. The essence of man to be expressed in the universal definition is by no means an abstraction inherent in each individual, it is not the identical feature which each individual representative of the human race taken separately possesses. A universal definition of man cannot be obtained on this path. here one needs a different kind of logic, a logic based on the dialectical materialist conception of the relationship between the universal and the individual. This essence is impossible to discover in a series of abstract features inherent in every individual. The universal cannot be found here however hard one might look for it.
The essence of modern humanity, and thereby a universal definition of man, is of course a subject-matter worthy of the closest attention of a philosopher. A clear view of the world is the first and necessary premise for approaching this problem correctly. But one also needs a more developed logic than that which suggests that the solution lies in searching for the ‘general and essential property’ inherent in all the individual representatives of modern mankind taken separately and reducing the universal to the merely identical. Such logic cannot yield anything but empty tautologies. Besides, the abstract motto, ‘Look for the general, and thou shalt find the knowledge of the essence’, gives a free hand to arbitrariness and subjectivism in delimiting the range of facts from which the general is abstracted.
An expression of the essence of a genus is not to be found in a series of ‘abstractions’, hard as one might try, for it is not contained in this series.
The essence of human nature in general, and thereby the genuine human nature of each man, can only be revealed through quite a concrete study of the ‘ensemble of the social relations’, through a concrete analysis of those laws which govern the birth and development of human society as a whole and of each human individual.
However, there is one other important conclusion to be made from the Tropi story, which Vercors refuses to make for various reasons, namely, that nothing but tautology can result from the logic with which the novel’s characters seek to resolve the issue, i.e., to find the universal definition of “man” by way of abstraction from the “common,” a feature possessed by every individual representative of the human race, every individual as such. Obviously, a logic based on this conception of the “universal” would fail to lead thought out of its impasse, so as a result the notion of “man in general” remains somewhat elusive. The history of philosophical and sociological thinking proves the point with no less clarity than do the mishaps of Vercors’ characters, described above.https://kapitalism101.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/abstraction-abstract-labor-and-ilyenkov/
Clearly, any attempt to discover the abstract-common feature equally descriptive of Christ and Nero and Mozart and Goebbels and the Cro-Magnon hunter and Socrates and Xantippe and Aristotle, and so on and so forth, hides the cognitively valuable inside itself, and leads nowhere except to an extremely weak abstraction by no means expressive of the heart of the matter. The only way out of this deadlock, as far as we know, is to turn to Marx with his reliance on a more sound logic, on a more earnest and specific conception of the problem of the “universal”
Distinctly pertinent here is not only the sociological, but also the logical principle underlying Marx’s line of reasoning. If translated into logical language, it would mean the following: universal definitions expressing the essence of a genus, whether human or any other, cannot be effectively searched for amidst abstract, common “features,” such as every particular specimen of the genus possesses.
The “essence” of human nature in general – and of the human nature of each particular human being – cannot be revealed, except through a science-based, critical analysis of the “entire totality,” the “entire ensemble” of the socio-historic relationships of man to man, through a case-study approach and apprehension of the regularities which have and are actually governing the process of origination and evolution of human society as a whole, and of a particular individual.
Fully consistent with the data of cultural and physical anthropology and archeology, the materialistic conception of “the essence of man” envisions this “universal” form of human existence in labor, in the direct remaking of nature (both external and one’s own) as accomplished by social man with the tools of his own creation.
Small wonder then, that K. Marx regarded with warm sympathy Franklin’s well-known definition of man as a being producing labor tools. Producing labor tools – and for this one reason a being who thinks, speaks, composes music, follows moral norms, etc. No better example illustrative of the Marxist conception of the universal as the concrete-universal, as well as the latter’s attitude to the “particular” and the “individual” can be given than the definition of “man in general” as the “being producing labor tools.”
From the standpoint of the canons of the old and traditional formal logic the above definition is too “concrete” to be “universal.” It cannot be stretched to cover directly, by means of a simple formal abstraction, such unchallenged representatives of the human race as Mozart or Leo Tolstoy or Raphael or Kant. Formally, the definition bears on a constricted circle of individuals, e.g., employees at manufacturing plants or workshops. Even the workers who are not the producers but the users of these machines will not formally qualify for it. As a result, old logic with its conception of the “universal” will be right in its judgment of the definition as strictly particular rather than “universal,” as a definition of a particular human occupation rather than of “man in general.”
Nevertheless, Franklin proves to be essentially right in his conflict with this logic since he is led by intuition and the bulk of facts and contentions bearing on the problem of the “human in man” to assume the viewpoint of a logic a great deal more earnest and profound; the very Logic which has been ripening for centuries on end in the lap of philosophy and in particular, in the logical discourses of Descartes and Spinoza, Leibnitz and Kant, Fichte and Hegel. In fact it has found its concrete scientific application in “Capital” and Marx’s theory of surplus value and the materialistic conception of history and modern times.
Often, in common language, when we talk about abstraction we are identifying the general properties that all objects of a certain class have, setting aside (abstracting from) differences. For instance, when I say ‘piano’ I refer to the general features that all pianos have (strings hit by hammers activated by keys, etc.) but I abstract away from all differences between particular pianos (size, model, age, etc.). In this everyday, non-dialectical sense of abstraction (Ilyenkov calls it ‘Old Logic’) an abstraction is based on the general features of a class of objects. The abstraction itself, the abstract piano, does not exist in reality. Only particular pianos exist. Therefore the abstract piano only exists in the mind. For old logic abstractions are only in the mind while the opposite of abstract, concrete, refers to the objects of the real world, the particular pianos. For old logic an abstract idea is correct if it adequately captures the general features of a class of objects. It is wrong if there are concrete objects within this class that do not have the general features of the abstraction. Thus, if there is a piano with no hammers (like the Yamaha Avante-Grand) this would challenge our abstraction that a piano is something with strings hit by hammers activated by keys.
If we are free to select one general feature over another we can radically change the concept of capital. If we choose only the ahistorical features we can make capital seem eternal. If abstraction is just seen as the identification of general features then we have no choice but to be arbitrary in our abstractions. But if abstraction is seen differently, as identifying the essential nature of an object, as identifying the “relation within which this thing is this thing” as Ilenkov puts it, then we can be scientific about our abstractions.
When we make an abstraction we want to select that aspect of the object which identifies its essence. Since the essence of things is in their relation to other things, we want to identify the essential relations which govern the object, abstracting away other non-essential aspects.
A funny thing happens when we make abstractions of this kind: They often cease to be general features of the entire class.
This way of abstracting gets us out of the arbitrary nature of old-logic where we chose whatever general features we wanted. Instead when we abstract we must identify the essential relation which defines an object, a relation that is generative of the class. This requires a very careful scientific approach to understanding how one form generates another, etc. This is the process of unfolding contradictions, etc…. but I will not get into that here.
This is how mankind's essence is based in his labor and creativity even though most people don't necessarily labor to satisfy our needs, that it isn't representative of every particular example of human kind but it is from that basis that any and every person in modern society has emerged from historically.
Where by logical necessity it becomes impossible to make sense of humanity and its development should one erase such a capacity as inessential.
Also, what are your thoughts on immaterialism and my proof?
I'll have to get back to it at a later time though I think some of the things above may be interesting in regards to your epistemological position, particular the part where man and nature can not be ontologically separated and how man doesn't approach nature in a in a contemplative sensuous sort but to a humanized nature changed by generations of human activity.
As it does away with a lot of philosophical pseudo-problems that come from emphasizing some abstractions in a way that is negligent to the reality of how things work.