But aren't human beings rational? And if we are rational (again in the broad sense) isn't pretty much every activity we engage in that is not habit rational? And didn't we actually start engaging in activities that became habit because they were at one time rational? Then isn't the key not trying to find out whether some activities are useful and others are not, but in finding out why people do activities (and don't do activities) on the assumption that there is some problem solving basis when we engage in activities, but perhaps more important, especially for school settings, that when people don't engage in activities it is because they see no problem solving basis?
From: Wolff-Michael Roth [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wed 10/13/2004 4:59 PM
Subject: Re: general, particular Holzkamp, Engeström
I think I am using the term activity only when it something done is useful and can be exchanged--I garden but do not farm; farming presupposes the exchange situation.
here directly from Grundrisse--English translation
Production by an isolated individual outside society-a rare exception which may well occur when a civilized person in whom the social forces are already dynamically present is cast by accident into the wilderness-is as much of an absurdity as is the development of language without individuals living together and talking to each other. There is no point in dwelling on this any longer.
And from Kapital, English translation Chapter 1 , section on fetishism
As a general rule, articles of utility become commodities, only because they are products of the labour of private individuals or groups of individuals who carry on their work independently of each other. The sum total of the labour of all these private individuals forms the aggregate labour of society. Since the producers do not come into social contact with each other until they exchange their products, the specific social character of each producer's labour does not show itself except in the act of exchange. In other words, the labour of the individual asserts itself as a part of the labour of society, only by means of the relations which the act of exchange establishes directly between the products, and indirectly, through them, between the producers. To the latter, therefore, the relations connecting the labour of one individual with that of the rest appear, not as direct social relations between individuals at work, but as what they really are, material relations between persons and social relations between things. It is only by being exchanged that the products of labour acquire, as values, one uniform social status, distinct from their varied forms of existence as objects of utility. This division of a product into a useful thing and a value becomes practically important, only when exchange has acquired such an extension that useful articles are produced for the purpose of being exchanged, and their character as values has therefore to be taken into account, beforehand, during production. From this moment the labour of the individual producer acquires socially a two-fold character. On the one hand, it must, as a definite useful kind of labour, satisfy a definite social want, and thus hold its place as part and parcel of the collective labour of all, as a branch of a social division of labour that has sprung up spontaneously. On the other hand, it can satisfy the manifold wants of the individual producer himself, only in so far as the mutual exchangeability of all kinds of useful private labour is an established social fact, and therefore the private useful labour of each producer ranks on an equality with that of all others. The equalisation of the most different kinds of labour can be the result only of an abstraction from their inequalities, or of reducing them to their common denominator, viz. expenditure of human labour-power or human labour in the abstract. The two-fold social character of the labour of the individual appears to him, when reflected in his brain, only under those forms which are impressed upon that labour in every-day practice by the exchange of products. In this way, the character that his own labour possesses of being socially useful takes the form of the condition, that the product must be not only useful, but useful for others, and the social character that his particular labour has of being the equal of all other particular kinds of labour, takes the form that all the physically different articles that are the products of labour. have one common quality, viz., that of having value.
On 13-Oct-04, at 1:14 PM, Steve Gabosch wrote:
Michael, I would like to please return to the post you opened this thread with, where you discuss Engeström and Marx. Your statement that "Marx clearly says that all activity implies the exchange situation ..." perplexes me. I found the p88 quote you mention below - its on p84 of the Progress MECW volume 35 I have - but I am still working on understanding what you mean by "the exchange situation" - and why you say Marx claims that "all activity" implies it. So far I am not seeing this in Marx. Certainly, Marx explains that all exchange originates in the creation of commodities through labor activity. In this sense, the opposite idea can be attributed to Marx - that all exchange implies the labor activity situation - but I am not grasping what you actually say, that all activity implies the exchange situation.
At 08:45 AM 10/13/2004 -0700, you wrote:
I am referring to chapter 1 in the German edition--
Marx says :
(p.55) that production for your own needs produces use-value but not commodity
(p.57) in the use-value of each commodity there is a certain purposeful activity or useful labor
(p.61) All labor ... produces value (of commodity)
(p.88) The two-fold social character of the labour of the individual appears to him, when reflected in his brain, only under those forms which are impressed upon that labour in every-day practice by the exchange of products. In this way, the character that his own labour possesses of being socially useful takes the form of the condition, that the product must be not only useful, but useful for others,
((THis translation was taken from the English version on marxists.org))
The product of labor must be useful, importantly, for others...
So labor already implies the usefulness of the product for others... Marx is not interested in production for my own needs, like my labor of running an organic garden and eating my own vegetables year round.
On a final note, the English translation is atrocious. Marx wanted a readable work, and was proud that commentators described the Kapital as readable, even by non-academics. The English translation does not, in my view, do justice to the original, and leaves out many of the important shades of meaning... tradutore traditore
On 13-Oct-04, at 1:09 AM, Steve Gabosch wrote:
Michael, where does Marx say this?
"Marx clearly says that all activity implies the exchange situation ..."
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