Re: [OPE-L] marx's conception of labour

From: clyder@GN.APC.ORG
Date: Fri Nov 17 2006 - 17:19:39 EST

Quoting Dogan Goecmen <Dogangoecmen@AOL.COM>:

> A bricklayer has to be as much as an architect as an achitect has to be a
> bricklayer. Otherwise they caanot build a house in cooperation. Whatever they
> may do it remains bodily activity. Marx does not say more than that. He talks
> about human beings - not about a particular  profession.

But he is attempting to make a distinction between human and
animal labour here, comparing architects to spiders and bees.
His claim is that human labour is teleological and goal directed
whereas that of bees and spiders is not.

We now know that this is untrue:
"Anticipatory maze learning has been demonstrated in
salticid jumping spiders of the genus Portia. These
animals are presented with a maze that can be viewed
in its entirety from the vantage point of the spider. The
maze consists of a set of wire walkways representing
potential paths from the starting position to that of a food
lure placed at the maze endpoint (Figure 1). One route
reaches the food but the other does not. After scanning of
the entire maze, visually following the tracks back from
the food source, the spider chooses an entry point to the
maze, choosing correctly in 75% of first time trials [11,12].
This remarkable display of problem solving is carried out
by a creature with a brain several hundred microns in
diameter. Salticid spiders share with insects a rough
similarity in body plan and size, and they have a complex
brain with structures that somewhat resemble those of
insects without being strictly homologous [13,14].
Although not a case of place learning per se, the maze
solving behavior of Portia spiders reveals a capacity for
planning and anticipation that surpasses mere implicit
memory." (Cognitive consonance: complex brain
functions in the fruit fly and its relatives
Ralph J. Greenspan and Bruno van Swinderen
, TRENDS in Neurosciences Vol.27 No.12 December 2004)

So the behaviour of Spiders is goal directed too.
Since the work of   von Frisch, ( (1923) Uber die ‘Sprache’ der Bienen. Eine
tierpsychologische Untersuchung: Zoologischer Jahrbücher (Physio-
logie) 40, 1–186), it has been known that bees labour
is not only goal directed, but involves collaboration mediated
by inter-worker communication.

So Bees and Spiders too, have goals for their labour, which goals
they must presumably store in their heads. What then remains
of Marx's attempt to clarify the specificity of human labour.

Neither goals, nor, contra Franklin, the use of tools distinguish
our work from animals, but :

1. The richness of our speech, whose vocabulary and syntax
   far exceeds that of the humble bee

2. An enhanced memory capacity allowing us to memorise from imitation
   or hearing, a longer sequence of actions than other animals

These two allow the construction of new action programs for our bodily
actions, which can be communicated between individuals. By itself
the distinction between us and animals is still a matter of degree,
as studies of learned labour culture among Japanese Macaques or Chimpanzees

What finally distinguishes civilised labour from that of savage or ape is
the invention of technologies of record. There is no architecture without the
means of producing architectural drawings. It is these drawings existing
outside the body of the architect that allow the coordinated labour
required to construct large and complex buildings. It is materialised
plans, drawings, moulds, patterns, dies, and software that allow
industrial production to superceed handicraft.

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