Alfred sohn rethel intellectual and manual labour
Intellectual and Manual Labour: A Critique of Epistemology by Alfred Sohn-RethelI want to live in the alternate universe where Sohn-Rethel is foisted on unsuspecting humanities undergrads instead of, say, Althusser—though I suppose its really the math majors (like myself) and engineers who need to read it.
The book is nothing less than an attempt to demonstrate that the abstract intellect—the faculty from which all logical and mathematical truth is derived—is ultimately a reflection or reification of the abstract space in which commodity exchange takes place. Ill leave the details of this argument to Sohn-Rethel himself. Ultimately Im not sure I can accept it 100% myself as the crucial moment of his argument rests on an analogy between the abstract space of value and the non-empirical space of reasoning, and analogies are always risky to base an argument on. The historical research in the book, while seeming to support the thesis, also seems quite preliminary—as another reviewer points out, the book should have started a whole subfield of research, but alas, the tweed-wearing class preferred Gramsci. In any case, while I would personally defer judgement on the correctness of Sohn-Rethels thesis, it is certainly compelling to my mind.
Intellectual and Manual Labour
In a radical version of the Marxist base-superstructure argument, Sohn-Rethel claims that abstraction must first exist in reality before it can appear in a pure form in the intellect. An important contribution to the history of the Industrial Workers of the World. A superb account by a rank'n'file Wobbly organiser; on the road, on the job, on strike, in jail, on the A clear explanation of why anarchists oppose terrorism, and why terrorism or propaganda by deed can be of no benefit to the working class, as capitalism is a social relationship, not a group of The libcom library contains nearly 20, articles. If it's your first time on the site, or you're looking for something specific, it can be difficult to know where to start. Luckily, there's a range of ways you can filter the library content to suit your needs, from casual browsing to researching a particular topic.
Sohn Rethel seeks to argue that there is a formal identity between bourgeois epistemology and the social form of exchange in that both involve an abstraction. If he can prove this, he believes he can show that in the abstraction of exchange we can see something like the transcendental subject. By doing this Rethel hopes to show that it is in the historical separation of exchange and use making much of Marx's distinction between the two in the opening pages of Das Kapital that grounds the possibility of abstract thought - both in ancient Greek and modern societies. As the origin of the social synthesis, commodity exchanging society conditions the possiblity of all of its thought forms. Exchange is abstract and social in a manner that is contrasted explicitly with the private experience of use. Like Marx, it is this abstract quality secondary social nature of the commodity relation that concerns our author. Rethel seeks to link the categories of pure reason with the exchange abstract which is increasingly taking the form of a purely mathematical characterisation despite its historical and social origins.
New Left Books For a mere education of their consciousness is not enough, nor a mere reading of Capital.
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Alfred Sohn-Rethel 4 January — 6 April was a French-born German Marxian economist and philosopher especially interested in epistemology. He also wrote about the relationship between German industry and National Socialism. Born in Neuilly-sur-Seine near Paris, Sohn-Rethel came from a family of painters and his father was a painter too. His mother came from the Oppenheim family and had influential relations with big business. As his family did not want him also to become a painter, he was brought up by his uncle, the steel industrialist Ernst Poensgen. On Christmas he expressed a wish for a copy of Karl Marx Capital as a present. He received one and studied it intensively.