On a regular basis, the Centre organizes research seminars for its own members. Some of them are reserved for staff only; others are open to all members. Staff seminars are intended either to co-ordinate the Centre’s research activities, or to provide a forum for philosophical discussion amongst the Centre’s senior researchers. Most plenary seminars are set up for junior researchers to present their doctoral research for both senior and junior colleagues
Marx and the Production-Organism
John Filling (St. John's College, Oxford)
A RIPPLE ad hoc seminar
10/10/2011 @ 2 pm (Raadzaal)
Hoger Instituut voor Wijsbegeerte
Kardinaal Mercierplein 2, 3000 Leuven
In the first volume of Capital, Marx employs a variety of organic and corporeal metaphors to describe the labour process. He distinguishes two types of 'production-organism': the 'elementary' organism of the division of labour in manufacture; and the 'objective' organism of the machine system in large-scale industry. This paper examines these metaphors to gain a better sense of what we might call Marx's social organicism, his modern corollary of Aristotle's political naturalism.
Comparison is made with the organicism of three of Marx's contemporaries: G. W. F. Hegel, Andrew Ure, and Moses Hess. Examining this organicism sheds new light on some familiar themes in Marx: first, the difference between alienation through division of labour versus alienation through mechanised industry; second, the suggestion that communism will be marked by a material abundance that will render human labour unnecessary; and third, Marx's teratology, in which large-scale industry is said to be a 'mechanical monster' or 'Cyclops', and capital a 'vampire' or 'werewolf'.