[OPE-L] the dialectic of labour

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Tue Feb 15 2005 - 15:16:46 EST

Ian, I am struggling with the concepts of equality and status, so
please accept delay in my reply to your stimulating messages. Let me
share a quote that I found very helpful in the meantime. I would be
especially interested in Chris Arthur's comments on this.
yours, rb

Marx Wartofsky, Piaget's Genetic Epistemology and The Marxist Theory
of Knowledge, Revue Internationale  de Philosophie, 142-3 1982,

"For a fully elaborated account of this dialectic of reflection as
the genesis of self consciousness, the locus classicus is of course
Hegel's Ph of Mind. Hegel's dictum in effect is that there can be no
consciousness which is not at the same time a self-consciousness; but
that the very conditions for the possibility of such a self
consciousness is the recognition of that self-consciousness as such
by another self consciousness, and reciprocally: namely, the
condition for self conscious reflection upon one's own interiorized
representations of outward modes of praxis is that self recognition
which is possible only by the recognition of another as being like
oneself: one recognizes or comes to know oneself only in the other.
This is by now quite familiar dialectic of self consciousness that
Hegel develops in the Phenomenology of Mind, and as Feuerbach
interprets it in humanist terms in the Essence of Christianity. For
Marx, and by contrast to both Hegel and Feuerbach, this process of
self knowledge occurs not as a moment in the phenomenological
dialectic of recognition, but in the recognition of oneself in that
objectification of oneself in that objectification of oneself which
occurs in the production of things. That is to say, one comes to know
oneself, or to develop a self consciousness precisely in the
externalization of one's own intentionality in outward form: we know
what we make, in Vico's terms, not simply because we make, it, but
because the making of it exhibits our capacities, purposes,
intentions in the embodied form of the artifact, the product.
Analogously, speech or language is such an objectification, or
self-externalization, through which the speaker achieves self
But what is crucial for Marx in this process of self reflection in
the other, or in the product of one's activity, is its essential
sociality: my own act of production, while it is always 'mine' in the
sense that I perform it as a concrete individual, is also not only
mine, but is, even in my individual activity, a social action. For
the very conception of what it is that I am making , and the very
character of labor itself is social (even what that is hidden from
me). My skills or character of the object made,  in terms of the
network of its uses, meanings, values in a given social context-all
of these bespeak the fact that object upon which I operate, and which
I produce is itself the external representation of my own mode of
praxis in its individual and social meaning. I read myself back from
the object, so to speak, as the 'mirror' of my activity. And it
already has this character, because the very activity by which it was
produced is the culmination of a history of cultural technological
achievements and of my individual act in embodying these social
capacities in the work, and stamping them with my own character. Thus
the internal representations which I form are not representations of
some alien object but an internalization of what has already been
formed as a representation of my own intentionality. I project myself
into the external world, so to speak, in the activity of production;
and then I read back from this projection what the nature of my
activity itself is, and thereby, what I have come to be as
constituted by this activity. p. 498-99"

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Feb 16 2005 - 00:00:02 EST