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

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Sat Nov 18 2006 - 00:02:20 EST

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

Yet we *know* when we act intentionally; the portia spider does not. We
also know what it means to lose the capacity for action; the portia spider
does not.

> So the behaviour of Spiders is goal directed too.
> Since the work of   von Frisch, ( (1923) Uber die ‘Sprache’ der Bienen.
> Eine
> 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.

Are our goals stored in our head; is that where the self is, simply
localized as a neural object? I thought the integrative biologists had
provided good reasons for skepticism. See for example Denis Noble, The
Music of Life: Biology beyond the Genome.


 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
> demonstrates.
> 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.
> ----------------------------------------------------------------
> This message was sent using IMP, the Internet Messaging Program.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Thu Nov 30 2006 - 00:00:06 EST