Angus, Ian

Inception of Culture from the Ontology of Labour


The essay is an appreciation and critique of Kosík’s account in Dialectics of the Concrete of the origin of culture from the ontology of labour. Kosík’s Heideggerian concept of labour as a happening (Geschehen) in which human being expresses itself is followed through in his theory of culture, or not-labour, where he understands human reality as

disclosed though philosophy and art (rather than culture as explained by the economic factor). It addresses two main issues: 1] The critique of Marcuse’s synthesis of Marx and Heidegger by Kosík on the origin of culture

through either an “essential excess” in labour (Marcuse) or the the negation of social necessity by “not-labour” (Kosík). 2] I follow Mildred Bakan’s critique of Kosík’s failure to account for the role of language in labour and culture to show its roots in Kosík’s resort to Engels’ developmental account of language from labour (rather than consistently maintain an ontological analysis). In conclusion, I suggest that, by incorporating these two critiques, Kosík’s non-reductive account of culture could sufficiently account for the autonomy of culture, especially its two key themes: individuation and death.