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

From: Ian Wright (wrighti@ACM.ORG)
Date: Fri Nov 17 2006 - 19:09:38 EST

Hi Howard

> But there is nothing in Marx's analysis to suggest that the sign we form to
> guide practice functions as a mechanical template imposed on a person's
> labor the way a robot might be programmed or without regard to class
> relations and the other points you mention.

Consider a thermostat. Does the temperature setting, if it differs
from the current ambient temperature of the room, refer to a future
temperature? Would it do so even if humans were not there to observe

I think the answer is yes to both questions. The thermostat therefore
has intentionality of a kind. It represents the absence of a
temperature. And it has a causal structure that changes the world to
absent that absence. It is a goal-following mechanism. The goal is
real, a part of objective reality, rather than the subjective
ascription of a human scientist attempting to understand its

I take Paul to be implying that it isn't fruitful to classify the
world of autonomous mechanisms into the human and non-human. Instead,
to understand human cognition, we also need to understand animal
cognition and machine cognition, and the relations between them. For
instance, I do not agree that intentional activity is characteristic
of humans. Plenty of other mechanisms have intentions, although they
may not tell us about them.

Best wishes,

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