Re: [OPE-L] Why aren't non-labourers sources of value?

From: Andrew Brown (A.Brown@LUBS.LEEDS.AC.UK)
Date: Thu Apr 07 2005 - 17:04:12 EDT

Hi Jerry,
If you were starving, I think you'd find the notion of mastery over nature of great contemporary relevance! The notion means no more than that labour is the prime moment in the labour-nature relation. We need to eat, and this is a struggle until we can direct nature to this end. Nature doesn't lay our food on a plate for us - it is quite happy to let us starve to death!
Measuring brain size etc. for intelligence sounds like something Eysenk would do! Intelligent things *do* intelligent acts -- intelligence is there for us all to see -- though as I said I don't think intelligence is the best of concepts, too closely related to 'intelligence tests' and other such forms of oppression. We've had this discussion about science and 'intelligence' before. You seem to forget the hold that capitalist ideology has over conceptions of prevalent notions of 'intelligence' and the like. I'd rather discuss 'thought' and the activities of thinking things.
The key point I am making is that humans are uniquely creatively productive and that this means that the determination of the quality and quantity of labour is crucial to any society. You haven't actually disagreed with any of this yet. This whole notion of my 'dogma', my 'deeming' this that and the other, seems to me to be a figment of your imagination since I am offereing arguments, not assertions, and am open to be persuaded I'm wrong (as are you). You have introduced 'superiority' and 'intelligence' and a host of concepts that I haven't, whilst not yet disagreeing with the key argument I have in fact made. 
Yes animals have languages - but I suggested that these are likely to be limited not that they do not exist, so your scientific evidence seems to be in total agreement with me as well as you here! We can (and I do) look to much good theoretical and empirical work on the nature of language for this by the way: say the Bahktin circle, Vygotsky; contemporary people like Chick Collins, Peter Jones (expert on Ilyenkov amongts other things), John Roberts. 
Many thanks,

	-----Original Message----- 
	From: OPE-L on behalf of glevy@PRATT.EDU 
	Sent: Thu 07/04/2005 19:58 
	Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Why aren't non-labourers sources of value?

	> I am not saying animals are unintelligent, just that they are not as
	> intelligent as humans, they have not reached the level where they can
	> make their needs and wants an object, developing themselves and the
	> object.
	Hi again Andy (and welcome back to the discussion Nicky!),
	The oft-repeated claim that humans are the most intelligent species
	is an expression of what I mentioned previouly -- human chauvinism.
	There is no such certainty on the part of the scientific community --
	indeed, an examination of imprecise, indirect 'objective' indicators
	of intelligence such as brain size might lead one to conclude that
	most species of whales are _more_ intelligent than human beings! It
	is not the scientific community which posits with an air of certainty
	the dogma that humans are the most intelligent (and therefore allegedly
	'superior') species -- it is (most) religious communities!  It is
	also a very 'Western' cultural conception which is alien to the way
	in which most other cultures viewed the relation of humans to other
	> However, I suspect the
	> development of language arises with the development of productive
	> activity of labour, hence of tools so non tool-makers are likely to have
	> limited (*not* non-existent) language.
	There seems to be agreement by rersearchers in the field that belugas
	have a language.  There is no reason to suppose that it necessarily
	arose as a consequence of whale productive activity.  I doubt if your
	claim about the origins of language for humans can be supported either,
	but that is another matter.
	Elsewhere (in another post) you referred to the need to show "mastery
	over our natural environment."
	This also is a human chauvinistic conception since we are deemed
	to be the "masters" who have mastery "over" nature.  It clearly
	expresses an adversarial relationship between humans and nature.
	Such a conception was understandable in terms of 19th Century
	thought.  It is hopelessly outdated for our century!  In addition
	to being outdated, it also is a cultural conception associated
	with modern European civilizations.
	In solidarity, Jerry

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