DOI: 10.30443/POI2019-0015

Ludicization of Work and Principle of Performance. Topicality of Herbert Marcuse

di Luca Baldassarre


This contribution aims to study the current interconnection between play and work, as outcome of technological development, starting from the conception of the labor in the young Herbert Marcuse. In a 1933 essay, entitled On the philosophical foundation of the concept of labor in economics, the Berlin philosopher defines the ontological concept of labor, trying to join the hegelo-Marxian categorical apparatus and the Heideggerian one. Labor is not Tätigkeit, but Tun, as the praxis that preexists every specific activity: it is the ground of human existence itself, whose three main characters are qualified by Marcuse as duration, permanence and burden. Marcuse’s analysis starts from the distinction between work as a process of objectification and work as alienation: the passage from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom will not then be marked by the overcoming of work tout court, but by the abolition of the alienation, possible only considering work as praxis. In this sense it is possible to promote a hedonistic conception of labor that does not oppose it the leisure time, on which the thinker of the Frankfurt School focused his attention in Eros and civilization, seeing instead in that dichotomous opposition one of the essential expressions of the insurmountable self-contradictory character of the capitali-stic logic. Starting from these coordinates, we will therefore try to examine the current gamification of the working dimension as a false liberation, as it is still marked by the alienation that oppresses the forms of work experience, and thus to study the current social configuration in terms of an intensification of the logic of performance.

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