Sunday, January 26, 2014

On Production and Language

Did I misread this, or is Marx’s German Ideology a critique full of hysterical and sarcastic remarks directed towards schools of German philosophy? I laughed at each instance, though not without my doubts for what came off as dry humor. 
Whether or not I misunderstood Marx’s humor, I think we can appreciate his wit in the manner in which he employs the opening to Grundrisse so as to explain (rather concisely) the unquestionable relevancy of production: “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.”  So, even if Tarzan would volunteer for an empirical study, Marx would very likely deem it a needless endeavor: “There is no point in dwelling on this any longer.”  Production, like language, are fundamental conditions to the creation (or production) of history.  To return to Marx’s German Ideology, then, the production of history is at the center of a social process that involves “the co-operation of several individuals, no matter under what conditions, in what manner and to what end.”  Similarly, language can be thought of as consciousness in the sense that “language is practical consciousness that exists also for other men, and for that reason alone it really exists for me personally as well; language, like consciousness, only arises from the need, the necessity, of intercourse with other men.”

I will be interested in further examining the function of language in the form of literature, namely through the process Marx later describes where production “appears as the point of departure,” and consumption its conclusion; distribution and exchange, of course act as mediators between the two, but how this process mediates language is not yet clear.   

1 comment:

  1. Good point Eder. I think Marx's wit and/or sarcastic tone in criticizing the Young-Hegelians and other schools of thought is noteworthy, and I hope we discuss his language a bit more tonight in class.


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