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Abstract Life, Abstract Labor, Abstract Mind

The Capitalist Commodification of Animals

ISBN: 978-1-83982-681-8, eISBN: 978-1-83982-680-1

Publication date: 30 November 2020


Drawing upon Alfred Sohn-Rethel's work, we argue that, just as capitalism produces abstract labor, it coproduces both abstract mind and abstract life. Abstract mind is the split between mind and nature and between subject/observer and observed object that characterizes scientific epistemology. Abstract mind reflects an abstracted objectified world of nature as a means to be exploited. Biological life is rendered as abstract life by capitalist exploitation and by the reification and technologization of organisms by contemporary technoscience. What Alberto Toscano has called “the culture of abstraction” imposes market rationality onto nature and the living world, disrupting biotic communities and transforming organisms into what Finn Bowring calls “functional bio-machines.”



Thorpe, C. and Jacobson, B. (2020), "Abstract Life, Abstract Labor, Abstract Mind", Clark, B. and Wilson, T.D. (Ed.) The Capitalist Commodification of Animals (Research in Political Economy, Vol. 35), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 59-105.



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