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Marxian themes in ‘nouvelle’ cognitive science Plan of Talk Snapshot of some Marxian Themes 2) ‘Marxian GOFAI’ 3) Parallels between Marxian approach and nouvelle cog sci. 4) Criticisms of Cog Sci derived from a Marxian approach What counts as ‘Marxian’? ‘Younger Marx’ versus ‘Older Marx’

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marxian themes in nouvelle cognitive science

Marxian themes in ‘nouvelle’ cognitive science

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

plan of talk
Plan of Talk
  • Snapshot of some Marxian Themes

2) ‘Marxian GOFAI’

3) Parallels between Marxian approach and nouvelle cog sci.

4) Criticisms of Cog Sci derived from a Marxian approach

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

what counts as marxian
What counts as ‘Marxian’?
  • ‘Younger Marx’ versus ‘Older Marx’

Young Marx = e.g. ‘ Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts’ (1844)

Older Marx = e.g. ‘ Capital’ (1862-1866)

  • Pre and Post Marx

Pre Marx = Hegel & Young Hegelians (e.g. Feuerbach)

Post Marx = Engels (and a million others).

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

homo faber man the maker
‘Homo Faber’ (‘Man the Maker’)
  • Man is essentially a producer
  • He expresses himself and creates himself through production
  • “By thus acting on the external world and changing it, he at the same time changes his own nature” (Capital Vol. 1 Chap. 7)

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

species being
‘Species Being’
  • “It is in the working over of the objective world that man first affirms himself as a species-being. This production is his active species-life. Through it nature appears as his work and his reality. The object of work is therefore the objectification of the species-life of man; for he duplicates himself not only intellectually, in his mind, but also actively in reality and thus can look at his image in a world he has created.”

(EPMS )

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

man s inorganic body
Man’s inorganic body
  • “Nature is the inorganic body of man”

(EPMS)

  • “ The first thing of which the labourer possesses himself is not the subject of his labour but its instrument. Thus Nature becomes one of the organs of his activity, one that he annexes to his own bodily organs.” (Capital Vol. 1 Chap. 7)

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

marxian intersubjectivity
Marxian Intersubjectivity
  • Production is production for others.

“The relationship of man to himself first becomes objective to him through his relationship to other men”

(EPMS)

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

how things should be
How things should be
  • Let us suppose that we had carried out production as human beings. Each of us would have in two ways affirmed himself and the other person. 1) In my production I would have objectified my individuality, its specific character, and therefore enjoyed not only an individual manifestation of my life during the activity, but also when looking at the object I would have the individual pleasure of knowing my personality to be objective, visible to the senses and hence a power beyond all doubt. 2) In your enjoyment or use of my product I would have the direct enjoyment both of being conscious of having satisfied a human need by my work, that is, of having objectified man's essential nature, and of having thus created an object corresponding to the need of another man's essential nature. 3) I would have been for you the mediator between you and the species, and therefore would become recognised and felt by you yourself as a completion of your own essential nature and as a necessary part of yourself, and consequently would know myself to be confirmed both in your thought and your love. 4) In the individual expression of my life I would have directly created your expression of your life, and therefore in my individual activity I would have directly confirmed and realised my true nature, my human nature, my communal nature.

Our products would be so many mirrors in which we saw reflected our essential nature.

(‘On James Mill’ – K. Marx)

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

alienation when things go wrong
‘Alienation’ (when things go wrong)

There are lots of ways of describing how things go wrong:

  • Imposition of Division of Labour

metaphor of inner fragmentation

  • Appropriation of my labour by someone else for their ends

estrangement from self, from own activity etc

  • Domination by commodity relations

inversion of natural relations

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

slide10
“Owing to the extensive use of machinery and to division of labour, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and consequently, all charm for the workman. He becomes an appendage of the machine”

(The Communist Manifesto – 1848)

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

slide11
“According to the laws of political economy the alienation of the worker is expressed as follows:

The more the worker produces the less he has to consume, the more values he creates the more valueless and worthless he becomes, the more formed the product the more deformed the worker…..”

(EPMS 1844)

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

4 aspects of alienated labour
4 Aspects of Alienated Labour

(i)Relationship of the worker to the product of his labour as an alien object that has power over him.

(ii) The relationship of the worker to his own activity as something that is alien and does not belong to him.

(iii) ‘Species being’ of man, both nature and the intellectual faculties of his species, are made into a being that is alien to him, into a means for his individual existence. It (capitalist labour) alienates from man his own body, nature exterior to him and his intellectual being.

(iv) The alienation of man from man.

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

slide13
“The more the worker externalizes himself in his work, the more powerful becomes the alien, objective world that he creates opposite himself, the poorer he becomes in his inner life and the less he can call his own. It is just the same in religion. The more man puts into God, the less he retains in himself.”

(EPMS)

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

dialectics
Dialectics
  • A description of the way things unfold in thought? (Hegel?)
  • A description of the way things unfold in society? (Marx?)
  • A description of the way things unfold in nature? (Engels?)

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

vague characterizations
Vague characterizations
  • Progress is made by transcending oppositions / contradictions / antinomies.
  • The ‘unity of opposites’ / the ‘interpenetration’ of opposites.
  • Analysis of phenomena in terms of their interconnectedness (internal relations) and continuous change.
  • Reciprocal causation

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

slide16
“In a real life argument there is something true in every idea. Nothing is wholly or ‘indisputably’ true, nothing is absolutely absurd or false.”

(Lefebvre – ‘Dialectical Materialism’- )

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

a and not a
A and not A
  • “A is indeed A, but A is also not-A precisely in so far as the proposition ‘A is A’ is not a tautology but has a real content.”

(Lefebvre – ‘Dialectical Materialism’)

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

the third term
The third term

1 X is happy

2 X is not happy

3 X is hysterical

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

a dialectical engine
A ‘dialectical engine’?

T F F

T D D

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

social phenomena
Social phenomena
  • Empowerment/impoverishment of the worker:

“Activity that is passivity, power that is weakness, procreation that is castration” (EPMS 81)

Money….”is the true agent of both separation and of union”

  • Internal contradictions of Capitalism.

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

nature
Nature
  • Engels - 3 dialectical laws:
  • The law of the transformation of quantity into quality
  • The law of the interpenetration of opposites
  • The law of the negation of the negation

(Engels – ‘Dialectics of Nature’ – written 1850-1870? Pub. 1920)

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

material basis of thought i
Material basis of thought (I)
  • “The mode of production must not be considered simply as being the production of the physical existence of the individuals. Rather it is a definite form of activity of these individuals, a definite form of expressing their life, a definite mode of life on their part. As individuals express their life, so they are.” (German Ideology)

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

material basis of thought ii
Material basis of thought (II)
  • The phantoms formed in the human brain are also, necessarily, sublimates of their material life process, which is empirically verifiable and bound to material premises.

…. Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life.”

(German Ideology)

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

material basis of thought iii
Material basis of thought (III)
  • Religion
  • Philosophy
  • Political ideologies
  • Cultural Forms

Enmeshed in various ways with the economic organization of society

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

enactivism theses on feuerbach
‘Enactivism’ (Theses on Feuerbach)

I The chief defect of all hitherto existing materialism is that the thing, reality, sensuousness, is conceived only in the form of the object or of contemplation, but not as sensuous human activity, practice..

VIII All social life is essentially practical. All mysteries which lead theory to mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice.

XI The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

against philosophy
Against Philosophy

“When reality is depicted, philosophy as an independent branch of knowledge loses its medium of existence.”

( p.48)

  • “Philosophy and the study of the actual world have the same relation to one another as masturbation and sexual love”

( p.103)

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

gofai marx
GOFAI Marx?
  • "...A bee would put many a human architect to shame by the construction of its honeycomb cells. But what distinguishes the worst architect from the best of bees is that the architect builds the cell in his mind before he constructs it in wax."

(Capital Vol. 1, Chapter 7)

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

direct influences
Direct influences
  • Lev Vygotsky (1896 – 1934)
  • Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908 – 1961)

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

parallels i
Parallels (I)
  • Man transforming himself as he transforms nature Extended Mind
  • Supercession of dichotomies :

Action : Perception (Gibson, Noe…)

Reason : Emotion (Damasio)

Fact : Value (Torrance?)

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

parallels ii
Parallels (II)
  • The Primacy of Action as above. Also Gallese:

“Action is the ‘a priori’ principle enabling social bonds to be initially established”(‘Shared Manifold Hypothesis’)

  • Dialectics : - emergence?

- dynamic systems?

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

parallels iii
Parallels (III)
  • End of Alienation:

Clark?

Embodied/Embedded/Enactive

approaches?

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

parallels iv
Parallels (IV)
  • Ambivalent attitude to Philosophy?

(Put your favourite quote here)

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

criticisms i
Criticisms (I)

Dodgy historical claims of some writers:

Developmental Psychologists were probably among the very first to notice the true intimacy of internal and external factors in determining cognitive success and change. Clarke – BT

These findings of cognitive science are profoundly disquieting in two respects. First they tell us that human reason is a form of animal reason…Second … that our bodies, brains and interactions with our environment provide the mostly unconscious basis for our everyday metaphysics, that is, our sense of what is real.

Lakoff & Johnson

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

criticisms ii
Criticisms (II)

Insufficiently Dialectical Comrade!

E.g. Damasio on reason & emotion

Somatic Marker merely prunes Decision Tree

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

criticisms iii
Criticisms (III)

You can’t abolish alienation by meditation.

(pace Varela, Thompson and Rosch 1991)

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

criticisms iv
Criticisms (IV)

Problems with Andy Clark:

1) Cyborgianism

2) Extended Mind is Uni-Directional

3) Extended Mind is context free.

4) Language as an external ‘resource’.

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science

criticisms v
Criticisms (V)

Cognitive Science will eat itself?

Marxian Themes in Cognitive Science