Modern day man is defined as an economically productive person who strives to maximize profit and to progress in life. The values of being successful and wanting more in life are held in high regard in all societies and all people aim for a better life. With this reality, it may be argued that being economically productive is a natural condition of man since all human beings seem to instinctively want more from life.
However, I do not agree with this opinion and instead believe that economical productivity is an unnatural phenomenon in man. In this paper, I will argue that being economically productive is not a natural condition in a human being but rather, it is a habit acquired through time and as a result of history. To reinforce this claim, this paper will highlight the lifestyle of man in the early ages.
In this modern age, being economically productive is almost instinctive for man and we are all born and raised to recognize the virtues of being progressive in life. However, early man did not have the same values of productivity and instead, he was keen only to ensure his daily survival. If being economically productive was instinctive to man, early man would have shown more ambition and innovation.
This is not the case as is evident from the fact that the hunters and gatherers who existed in the post ice age era. This people did not engage in economic activities but only sought to fulfill their daily needs. Schmidt-Bleek (2010) reveals that this early man only worked for some 2-3 hours a day so as to acquire the food that he needed to sustain himself. It can therefore be inferred from this that man’s natural inclination is to survive and not to be economically productive.
Economic productivity arose from the need by man to improve on the conditions provided by nature and hence increase his chances of survival. Schmidt-Bleek (2010) reveals that while the hunters and collectors of the post ice age era were well-nourished and happy “they did not live very long, and many succumbed to lack of health care and the uncertainties of nature”. Economical productivity was therefore a means through which man could increase his lifespan and deal with the uncertainties of nature.
Advocates of economic productivity as a natural condition of man point to the dissatisfaction that the poor feel and their constant strive to prosper. According to this reasoning, if economic productivity was not a natural condition, the poor would be comfortable with their conditions and they would not work hard to improve their living conditions.
Hunt and Lautzenheiser (2011) further reveal that man’s natural inclination is to improve productivity and make the most capital in any undertaking. While it is true that the poor aim to achieve success and man shows some inclination to maximize profit, these are not instinctive conditions. Instead, the drive to improve once livelihood results from the standards that the society has placed.
This paper set out to argue that being economically productive is not a natural condition in a human being. This paper has documented how early man lived and the reasons why he sought to improve his life. From the arguments I have presented in this paper, it is clear that being economically productive is a factor of history and society. Where it not for these two factors, it would be more instinctive for man to be economically unproductive and he would only strive for survival as animals do.
Hunt, E.K. & Lautzenheiser, M. (2011). History of Economic Thought: A Critical Perspective. NY: M.E. Sharpe.
Schmidt-Bleek, F. (2010). Economic Sustainability can only be Reached if The Productivity of Natural Resources is Radically Increased. Retrieved 21 July from: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/raw-materials/files/pc-contributions/cit-20-schmidt-bleek_en.pdf