[OPE-L:1190] Re: The Material World

From: Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Date: Sat Sep 11 1999 - 19:24:30 EDT

Jurriaan wrote in [OPE-L:1185]:

> Marx's
> distinction is between material and spiritual/mental/ideological,
> between the production of ideas and the production of tangible things
> (in which you may include services which involve transformation of the
> physical world as their main purpose).

I'm not convinced that this captures Marx's distinction, nor do I agree
that it is a useful distinction.

Let's look at this question in the context of the subject of commodity
production (and productive and unproductive labour) since that was the
genesis of this discussion.

(Getting close to home for most listmembers): What would you consider the
activity of a college professor at a private university?

I would think we could agree that teaching involves a service (i.e. the
transmission of ideas and/or ideology to students) rather than producing a
"concrete" physical object. Do we so agree?

Should the labour of the college professor [at a private university] be
considered to be productive labour?

My answer is "yes" since from my perspective whether one is engaged in
producing a tangible physical product or a service is irrelevant for this

One could also argue that writers employed by private newspapers and
magazines also frequently play a "spiritual/mental/ideological" role. Yet,
-- despite that -- aren't they part of the process of *commodity*
production? In that context, aren't they as productive labourers just as
much as professional baseball players are in the US?

In solidarity, Jerry

PS: As for the point that Mike W and you made about "metaphysics": what
exactly is the merit and/or usefulness of metaphysics?

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