For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

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by Sartre, Jean-Paul (1968)

Key Passage

When Marx writes: “Just as we do not judge an individual by his own idea of himself, so we cannot judge a ... period of revolutionary upheaval by its own self-consciousness,” he is indicating the priority of action (work and social praxis) over knowledge as well as their heterogeneity. He too asserts that the human fact is irreducible to knowing, that it must be lived and produced; but he is not going to confuse it with the empty subjectivity of a puritanical and mystified petite bourgeoisie. He makes of it the immediate theme of the philosophical totalisation, and it is the concrete man whom he puts at the center of his research, that man who is defined simultaneously by his needs, by the material conditions of his existence, and by the nature of his work-that is, by his struggle against things and against men (p.14)


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