Bodies and Artefacts: Historical Materialism as Corporeal Semiotics (2 vols.)


In a seemingly offhand, often overlooked comment, Karl Marx deemed ‘human corporeal organisation’ the ‘first fact of human history’. Following Marx’s corporeal turn and pursuing the radical implications of his corporeal insight, this book undertakes a reconstruction of the corporeal foundations of historical materialism. Part I exposes the corporeal roots of Marx’s materialist conception of history and historical-materialist Wissenschaft. Part II attempts a historical-materialist mapping of human corporeal organisation. Suggesting how to approach human histories up from their corporeal foundations, Part III elaborates historical-materialism as ‘corporeal semiotics’. Part IV, a case study of Marx’s critique of capitalist socio-economic and cultural forms, reveals the corporeal foundations of that critique and the corporeal depth of his vision of human freedom and dignity.

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Joseph Fracchia is Professor Emeritus of Modern European Intellectual History in the Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon. His major research interest is in the field of historical theory, with a focus on a materialist conception of history.
Notes on Notes

Introduction: Exposing the Corporeal Roots of Historical Materialism and Moving toward a Corporeal Semiotics

Part 1 Reconstructing Historical Materialism ‘Up from the Body’: The Corporeal Foundations of a Materialist Conception of History and the Guiding Threads of a Historical-Materialist Wissenschaft

Introduction to Part 1

1 An Aufhebung of Philosophy and the Genesis of a Materialist Conception of History: Objectification and Marx’s Corporeal Turn

2 From the First Corporeal Fact of Human Being to the Moments of History: Corporeality, Modes of Objectification, and Ways of Worldmaking

3 The Dimensions and Methodological Leitfaden of a Historical-Materialist Wissenschaft

Part 2 Mapping Human Corporeal Organisation

Introduction to Part 2. Toward a Historical-Materialist Cartography of Human Corporeal Organisation

4 The Body Is Not a Tabula Rasa: Clearing a Path toward a ‘Hidden Bodily Problematic’

5 Toward a Corporeal Cartography: Methodological Preliminaries

6 Toward a Historical-Materialist Cartography of Human Corporeal Organisation (in Outline): On the Corporeal Constitution of Patterns of Human Experience, Behaviour, and Realities

7 On the Corporeal Constitutions of Cognition and Subjecthood

Conclusion to Part 2: What It Is Like To Be a Human: Corporeally-Constituted Patterns of Human Experience and Subjecthood

Part 3 Toward a Corporeal Semiotics

Introduction to Part 3

8 The ‘Linguistic Turn’ and Its Discontents: A Critique of Disembodied Semiotics

9 The ‘Cultural Turn’ and Its Discontents: A Critique of Disembodied Cultural Studies

10 Artefacts as Corporeal Signs; toward a Corporeal Semiotics

Conclusion to Part 3: Corporeal Semiotics as Measure of Social Wealth and Socio-cultural Form: On Artefactual Beneficence and Mendacity

Part 4 Corporeal Categories and the Critique of Sociocultural Form: Capital and Its Culture of Quantity

Introduction to Part 4

11 Methodological Reflections on Forms of Social Objectivity and Subjectivity: Class, Class Consciousness, and the Critique of Capitalist Cultural Form

12 A ‘Great Transformation’: A Genealogy of Capital’s Culture of Quantity

13 The Commodity Form, Quantification, and the Standpoint of Capital: An Archaeology of Capital’s Culture of Quantity

14 The Capitalist Labour-Process and the Body in Pain: The Corporeal Depths of Marx’s Concept of Immiseration

Conclusion to Part 4: The Mendacity of the Vast Capitalist Artefact

Anticipatory Notes in Conclusion: A Time to Pause, a Time to Reflect, a Time to Wish, a Time to Hope: Toward a Corporeally-Grounded Vision of Human Freedom and Dignity

All interested in historical theory; philosophy of history; the intersection of paleo-anthropology and history; historical materialist approaches to study of socio-economic and cultural forms; history of capitalism and capitalist culture.
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