[OPE-L:1197] Re: Re: Re: The Material World

From: Ian Hunt (Ian.Hunt@flinders.edu.au)
Date: Sun Sep 12 1999 - 22:29:06 EDT

Marx does draw a distinction between spiritual, etc production and
'material' production that follows Arisdtotle's distinction between praxis
and phronesis. Where the (primary) point of the activity is to produce
something that satisfies a want or need, we have 'material' production.
Where the (primary) point of the activity is to take part in some
collective activity (chatting, moralising, shaping opinions, influencing
votes, managing, ordering, requesting, etc) then we have 'spiritual'
production. But I don't think it is useful to equate this distinction with
the distinction between vendible material products and products that do not
take an enduring material form (but are nevertheless use-values) that must
be consumed at the point of production,

>I wrote:
>>> 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).
>Jerry replied:
>>I'm not convinced that this captures Marx's distinction, nor do I agree
>>that it is a useful distinction.
>I do not claim it captures all of Marx's distinction, but roughly that is
>what he is talking about I think. If I am wrong, what do you think Marx's
>distinction really is ? Why do you not think it is a useful distinction ?
>Concerning you remarks about the productive labour of teachers, we have
>dealt with that before.
>>PS: As for the point that Mike W and you made about "metaphysics": what
>>exactly is the merit and/or usefulness of metaphysics?
>I think metaphysics has many merits, if it is based on scientific
>knowledge. I can give you one merit here: metaphysics helps to keep a
>healthy overall perspective on life, linking the particular to the general
>where science cannot do that yet. For instance, if you work in a
>superspecialised activity, it helps to have a view of the big picture, to
>combat distortions of consciousness resulting from your superspecialised
>Of course, there's good metaphysics (e.g. scientific realism) and bad
>metaphysics (such as new age). Science eventually supplants metaphysical
>theories, but never eliminates metaphysics.
>I would say that if you studied any bona fide scientist, you will find that
>person subscribes to certain metaphysical notions about how the world is
>etc., which cannot be proved, starting perhaps with basic ontological notions.
>Another way of looking at it is to consider that the valid empirical
>scientific evidence we have available is very tiny compared to the amount
>of theory we have, on the one hand, and the world of experience as a whole,
>on the other hand.

Dr Ian Hunt,
Associate Professor in Philosophy,
Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy,
Philosophy Dept, School of Humanities,
Flinders University of SA,
Humanities Building,
Bedford Park, SA, 5042,
Ph: (08) 8201 2054 Fax: (08) 8201 2556

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