Abstract Labour: A Critique by Jean-Marie Vincent

By Jean-Marie Vincent

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We now know that the 'great doctrines' or the theodicies disguised as philosophies of history are bankrupt and that the human and social sciences are ridding themselves little by little of the great schemas of explanation. This should be applauded and the narrow spirit of systems or schools of thought should be quietly repudiated. But at the same time it must be gradually and painfully rediscovered that thought needs interrogations - that the displacement of horizons and points of view is indispensable to thought, for it must live in a constant state of tension.

Empirical communication is thus measured by the standard of regulative transparency, that is, according to its greater or lesser distance from that standard. The incommunicable (or the finitude of communication) thus has no place in communication or interaction; it is not a presence of the world in language, or precomprehension of that which proposes itself to be spoken; it appears essentially as a limit or pathology and disturbance. Sociality itself ends up being absorbed by the tyranny of the regulating norm and is apprehended above all as establishment and interpretation of norms for interactions and the relations they imply.

What must be sought for, consequently, is a variable and differential sociality which results from abundant communications and sequences of activity in perpetual renewal, allowing individuals truly to accumulate experiences, broaden their horizons and constantly transform themselves. On these points, the thinkers of postmodernity appear quite fertile - provided, of course, that they do not forget that none of this can become possible as long as sociality and individuality revolve around labour and its valorisation - the breeding ground of technical-practical mechanisms.

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