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Philosophy of Labour and the Problem of Human Self-Realization in K. Marx

(Original title: Filozofia práce a problém ľudskej sebarealizácie u K. Marxa)
Filozofia, 26 (1971), 6, 593-605.
Type of work: Papers and Discussions
Publication language: Slovak
Marx’s criticism does not express only the principle of the dialectical overcoming of Hegel’s philosophy, but at the same time also the critique of social conditions in which Hegel’s philosophy was formed and which Hegel himself actually defended. Marx's criticism understood like this expresses his theoretical formation of the dialectical-materialist philosophy introducing the practical demand to negate dialectically the bourgeois society, all its forms of human being. The basis of this practical demand is seen by Marx in the positive abolition of private ownership as one of the chief preconditions of the proletarian’s alienation in wage labour. In this connection Marx’s critique of the respective social conditions contains, at the same time, a deep philosophical analysis of the category of labour; its social-economic character (private ownership) remains with Marx the philosophical starting point for its analysis. Marx concentrated his view on the wage labour of the proletarians and from it coming capital for non-proletarians, the non-working men. It is the labour in which the man is objectivized inhumanly, by self-reducing to a thing: he produces the goods and he himself becomes goods. In this sense the worker's labour does not express the development of his human substance, but his degradation, it does not represent the positive objectivization of his intrinsic capacities, but his un-realization. It is the labour representing an inevitable means for preserving one’s bare existence and — interpreted by the bourgeois political economy — it is reduced to earning. Such a conception of labour stemmed out lawfully of the conception of man in the bourgeois political economy of that time as a „working animal, cattle reduced to bodily necessities only“. It is, according to Marx — and the historical development bears witness to it — a transitory period of human history, the period of „improper human history“, that is to be surpassed by the revolutionary practice, by the abolition of private ownership, by enthroning of a new community with maximum humanism — by communism. It may be said, thus, that Marx’s criticism is, in that sense, an expression of such a philosophy the chief principle of which consists in a practical revolutionary change of the world; by the introduced practical demands of the change of the world it represents thus the philosophy of human liberation. Marx, at that occasion, pointed out another aspect of labour — as an activity wedged into the level of necessity that is transcended by man, creating thus a real precondition of human freedom, where labour as a necessity for the preservation of bare existence is negated by man’s activity as an activity proper to his practical-transforming substance. It is the free human creating the sphere of an active human operation, in which man realizes himself as an active and creative being potentially liberating himself in consequence of permanent humanizing. Human self-realization is inseparably connected with human activity the roots of which reach the sphere of human labour. But in contrast to Hegel, who in active operation saw the means of the development of the self-realizing absolute idea, respectively the manifestation of the reign of the spirit finding in an active operation of the subject the ideal of its own or perfectness, Marx saw in active human operation the basis of human adopting the world, the means of self-development. In this sense the principle of human self-realization consists in such an active human operationthat is, according to Marx, a positive manifestation of human capacities. The rate of human activity is determined by the grade of human needs — one of the chief ones being the need of human self-assertion of man, which can be fully realized only in communism.
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