Postone

Patrick Patterson ppatterson at igc.apc.org
Fri Dec 30 13:31:44 MST 1994


I would be very interested in discussing Postone's latest work.

I read it when it first came out nearly a year ago and found it quite
interesting. I must note though that I have been following his work and stuff
similar to it for almost twenty years. I don't follow the academic journals and
so don't know of any  reviews. I believe I read one in Telos recently which
wouldn't be surprising given  his affiliation with that journal. You might look
at his earlier stuff which he refers to in the bibliography.

As far as understanding his place within the tradition, Postone interpretation
of marxism is situated within a trend that emerged out of the student movement
in West Germany particularly in Frankfurt. The immediate obvious influence is
Adorno but perhaps even more important is the work of Alfred Sohn-Rethel who was
an influence on the early work of the Frankfurt School. Sohn Rethel's work can
be seen as a kind of link between Lukacs and the work of the Frankfurt School.
The model of domination sketched in the Dialectic of Enlightenment corresponds
to the model which Sohn-Rethel sees as operative in Marx's analysis of  capital.
Labor becomes increasingly abstract, splitting-off the concrete physical side so
that it becomes embodied in the machine system. The domination of nature is
secured through a corresponding domination over our own nature, leading to a
loss of the sensuous side of our existence. Sohn-Rethel's work influenced a
number of individuals within the student moment. Hans Jurgen Krahl used him to
develop an interest criticism of Habermas which is still relevant. There is also
the work of Postone's friend Helmut Reinicke. The most interesting though is
that of Rudolf zur Lippe who has continued and developed a more rich and
elaborate analysis of domination of nature within the human species especially
as it concern what within the marxist tradition is termed the separation of
mental and physical labor.

I would be quite interested in slogging through Postmen's book once again and
discussing it. I just don't know where to begin. It's quite a complex book which
might explain the dearth of reviews. The response has been in many ways similar
to another book, Gorz's Critique of Economic Reason,  that has not received the
attention that it deserves



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