[Marxism] Productive Technique and Natural Science

shaun may mnwps at hotmail.com
Sun Nov 3 18:41:11 MST 2013

Productive Technique and Natural Science
The development of the human knowledge of Nature provides humanity, potentially at least, with a greater control over the impact of the forces of Nature on its life. And, of course, this knowledge can also serve to intervene in Nature in order to 'save' Nature from the impact of human activities and thereby establish a more nurturing and, ecologically, more 'sustaining' relationship with Nature as a whole. Human activity is knowledge-mediated and knowledge arises out of activity.

The knowledge-mediated evolution of the labour process continuously alters humanity's relationship giving rise ti incremental and revolutionary changes in social relations. The stage of development of this 'power of knowledge objectified' indicates the degree to which 'general social knowledge has become a direct force of production'. 

Marx, pointing to technical developments in the nineteenth century, observed that...

'Nature builds no machines, no locomotives, no railways, electric telegraphs, self-acting mules, etc. These are products of human industry; natural material transformed into organs of the human will over nature, or of human participation in nature. They are organs of the human brain created by the human hand; the power of knowledge, objectified. The development of fixed capital indicates to what degree general social knowledge has become a direct force of production, and to what degree, hence, the conditions of the process of social life have come under the control of the general intellect and been transformed in accordance with it. To what degree the powers of social production have been produced, not only in the form of knowledge, but also as immediate organs of social practice, of the real life process'

[Marx. Grundrisse. Penguin, 1993. Notebook VII, p.706.] 

(In this regard, see Chapter 4 of Bonfire of the Certainties by Cliff Slaughter on Marx's concept of the 'social brain' found in the Grundrisse)

Mankind, in the course of its activity, unearths a knowledge of those forces of Nature which formerly dominated it and to the power of which mankind was subjected. This enables the articulation of a social control of these forces which can become chanelled and deployed for humanity's and Nature's own use.  
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