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

From: Dogan Goecmen (Dogangoecmen@AOL.COM)
Date: Sat Nov 18 2006 - 05:25:44 EST

Hi Paul,
I think I agree with you in almost evrything you say. But I am not sure  
about Pearce and his pragmatism. In Marx's case it is not signs but concepts as  
representations of what, say, a house may look like if it is built. I am  
singling out the whole complex cognitive and epistemological issues. Please send  
me your article. 
Thank you
In einer eMail vom 18.11.2006 00:22:38 Westeuropäische Normalzeit schreibt  

Hi Paul and Dogen,
Paul, I don't think anything about the 'building  the house in the head' 
story compromises the dialectic of theory and practice  that you suggest in the 
way you suggest.  First, Dogen is quite right  that the whole purpose of the 
introduction Marx provides is to discuss the  labor process at a level of 
abstraction common to all forms of labor.   Second, what characterizes the causal 
structures of nature we are is  intentional activity.  That's Marx's point.  
Intentionality is a  projection into the future.  About the same time Marx was 
working out  this analysis, the American philosopher Charles Pearce was beginning 
to think  systematically about how we use signs.  The representations we make 
of  the house in our head are signs of what it will be.  They guide and  
discipline the labor process and our thinking about it.  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 
A couple of points on the broader questions  raised by this thread.  All 
things in process, including social  relations, reflect a trajectory of movement 
and change.  They therefore  point forward to an end or a goal.  If we want to 
refer to the process  taken as a whole, then we are going to have to use signs 
that capture its  telos.  But this is a simple matter of reference to a 
process, an  essential feature of science, not of some inevitable Hegelian or other 
 idealist unfolding of spirit.  Causal explanation in social life (and no  
doubt of many natural phenomena as well) requires a broader conception of  cause 
than we've become familiar with in science since the Renaissance  -- 
traditional science has tended to narrow the conception of cause to  efficient cause 
only.  That was not Marx's 'come from' and to understand  explanation it's 
worth having a look again at Aristotle.
The same point holds for the question of form,  which relates to the 
ontological question Dogen raised.  I've argued that  Marx's analysis of social forms 
can be thought of much the way Aristotle  thought that the things of the world 
were composites of matter and form.   For Marx the social relations of labor 
can be thought of as composites of  labor and form.  Recognizing this not only 
puts an important emphasis on  the forms of the labor process, but also makes 
it possible to see the way  Marx's analyses foreshadowed today's 
sophisticated scientific  realism.   Scientists search for the causal structures of the 
world  and Marx identifies causal structures of labor and form.  I've discussed  
these issues in "Why Is This Labor Value:  The Commodity Form of Labor as  a 
Social Kind."  'Social Kind' here is used the way we think of water as  a 
natural kind.  The essay will be published in Pearce and Frauley, eds.,  Critical 
Realism and the Social Sciences: Heterodox Elaborations, by  the University of 
Toronto Press.  If anyone is interested in the  argument, I can send a copy.

----- Original Message ----- 
From:  _Paul  Cockshott_ (mailto:wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)  
Sent: Thursday, November 16, 2006 4:47  PM
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] marx's conception  of labour

I think, Dogan,  that the possibility of our building a house in our head 
before we build it  in reality is an idealist hangover in Marx. His section on 
the architect and  the bee has for 30 years struck me as one of the least 
satisfactory in the  whole of Das Kapital. 
One can have a  general intention to build a house, but nobody builds it in 
their head,  least of all an architect. An architect builds it on paper before 
building  labourers build it out of bricks. The whole of marx’s analysis there 
 abstracts from class relations, from the division of mental and manual  
labour, and from the interaction between mental processes and the material  tools 
of mental labour – in the architects case, rulers pencils, paper  etc. 
For a detailed  elaboration of this critique see 
By the way I have  been reading Dogan’s book on Smith, have only got through 
first third so  far, but it opens up an entire new window on Smith for me. I 
had never paid  much attention to his Theory of Moral Sentiments  before. 
From:  OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU] On Behalf Of Dogan Goecmen
Sent: 16 November 2006  15:05
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] marx's conception of  labour
It refers to the  projected aims of the concret work to be done. To build a 
house it must have  been built in our heads and so on.



In einer eMail vom  16.11.2006 15:00:36 Westeuropäische Normalzeit schreibt  

>  I  present first the general aspects of Marx’s concept of  labour:
> ontological, teleological and sociological.  



What is the  teleological aspect of Marx's concept of labour?

In  solidarity, Jerry


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