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

From: Dogan Goecmen (Dogangoecmen@AOL.COM)
Date: Sat Nov 18 2006 - 05:36:58 EST

This was intended to reply to Howard. From Marxian  point of view that was a 
bad labour. Sorry
In einer eMail vom 18.11.2006 11:26:28 Westeuropäische Normalzeit schreibt  

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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