Abstract Labour: A Critique by Jean-Marie Vincent

By Jean-Marie Vincent

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As many commentators have already noted, the young Luklics appears in many ways as a philosopher of existence avant Ia lettre. But it must be remembered that for Luklics questionings about the individual are never totally separate from those about society. There is an insurmountable tension or struggle between form and life, form and matter - struggle for a culture which could be a significant totality wherein individuals could flourish within a community. Thus, questions about the objectivations of the individual, forms and life, are extended into questions about the hostility of the culture of bourgeois society and the possibility of its being superseded by a veritable form of community.

Social practices bearing a normative significance, that is, having to do with establishing or transforming norms, find themselves smothered, or at least hampered in their development, although they Introduction 7 are decisive for the deployment of human sociality. Borrowing from Marx's vocabulary, Habermas even believes it possible to assert that practices tend to coagulate around 'real abstractions', that is, media of exchange (money and power, for example) which, autonomised and transformed into regulating mechanisms, impose their functioning logics on people.

This Habermasian theme demonstrates its great force when it is confronted with reductive explanations of the individual or the social. But one can nonetheless wonder whether, as a consequence of successive theoretical 'slippages', Habermas has not come to accord too much privilege to the normative moment in activities of communication and interpretation. Indeed, what he calls communicative competence is placed under the sign of the regulating norm of discourse, that is, an ideal exchange (ideal-idee/) characterised by reciprocity and exempt from deceit, error, ulterior motive or violence.

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