ABSTRACT of "Capitalist Embodiment: Machines and the Transformation of Work,"
by Dr. Amy E. Wendling, Creighton University
Amy E. Wendling will investigate the category “labor power.” Drawing on some of Marx’s research into science and technology from the 1850s, she will talk about the historical background through which Marx was able to make the important “discovery,” as he claims, of the category of labor power. Then, engaging with Rubin’s interpretation of the category as related to physiology, she will ask whether capital enforces a particular notion of physiology and embodiment. In this notion, an ontological flattening occurs between human, animal, and mechanical force. Finally, she will suggest that Marx’s use of the category “labor-power” in Capital is a notion circumscribed by the capitalist mode of production, and that this is required by the tight conceptual framing Marx uses to order the text noted by Postone, Schrader, and others. Marx knows that the model of embodiment implicit in the concept of “labor power” is useful to capital’s ability to regard humans as indifferent sources of energy to be used up.