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

From: Dogan Goecmen (Dogangoecmen@AOL.COM)
Date: Sat Nov 18 2006 - 05:10:00 EST

Hi Paul,
intentionality is a dialectical category and applies to everything in space  
and time. Everything in space and time refer always beyond themselves, that 
is,  they refer, apart to themselves, to other things. This is an ontological  
condition and ebales us to determine things in space and time in relation to 
one  another. The question of what the human being is cannot be defined without  
relating him, in closer focus, to 'other animals' (Smith). In a broader  
focus human beings must be related to everything else in space and time. This is  
one meaning of intentionality. The other meaning has to do with consciously  
aiming at someting and according to Marx this meaning of intetionality applies  
only to human beings - not in the narrow, say, Hegelian sense of the term  
that it is only the capacity of thinking what human beings differentiates from  
animals. In the passage Marx refers to building house in our heads he 
explicily  defines his subject: the concept of labour in history after human beings 
left  behind animal world . That is to say Marx is very well aware of the 
problem and  his approach should not be interpreted in dualist sense that there is, 
on the  one hand, animal labour and, on the other hand, human labour. 
Dialectical  approach recognises the ways of transition from one form of labour to 
another  form of labour. 
Paul, your discusion is, then, just to remind us of these froms of  
transitions. But this does not argue against Marx. It become, however,  problematic if 
you reject to recognise the qualitative difference between animal  and human 
labour. This is an old discussion. Some refer to the capacity of  thinking, 
others to language, other again to morality. But all these discussions  end up in 
asking what makes the difference between other animals and human  beings. 
Marx says humans work consciously, that is to say that they plan before  they 
work. Human labour according to Marx comprises, then, : thinking, it is a  
conscious action; it comprises language, it is a communicative action; it  comprises 
morality, it is an ethical action involving moral judgments, This is,  of 
course, not a God given capacity. It is a result of of a historical process  of 
tousands and tousand of years. Now, tell me, is there any species of animals  
(apart from human beings) which plan the future, say, reproduction of  
subsistence and the means of production in the next few years to come. 
It is perhaps imporatnt to refer to Helmuth Plessner's distinction to  
understand Marx. Plessner says that animals ajust themselves to their natural  
circumstances (though they also conduct some changes), whereas human beings  change 
their natural circumstances (though they also adjust themselves to their  
natural circumstances). Human beings accumulate culture in the broad sense of  
the term by creating their ecological space. So we have to think in broader  
contexts to understand marx.
In einer eMail vom 17.11.2006 23:20:10 Westeuropäische Normalzeit schreibt  

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  
> may do it remains bodily activity. Marx does not say more  than that. He 
> 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.  
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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