By R. S. Peters (eds.)
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Additional resources for Nature and Conduct
The cachinnations of the hyena would be laughter only if they were the expression of an ability to see jokes. The nearest that non-human animals get to that is in the smiles of glee on the faces of dogs when they hear the Anthony Quinton paper crackle in a box of Milk Tray. Similarly a dog who dropped an antelope haunch in a bushfire over which he was jumping and eventually retrieved it in a cooked state and ate it would not on that account be regarded as a colleague of Escoffier. The critical appreciation of incongruity involved in laughter and the intention to transform foodstuffs by the application of heat can be credited only to beings whose activities generally testify to rationality in the fairly advanced, transperceptual sense in which I have taken it.
The purely exploitative owner is, then, wholly non-productive, or is so, at any rate, in so far as he does not do anything else but just luxuriously consumes his wealth. But he is still a man. Marx, no doubt, thinks of him as a morally inferior sort of man, but he does not take him to be totally dehumanised. Whatever Marx's attitude to merely leisured owners of wealth may be it is plain that there are and always have been some and that they are unquestionably human. So productiveness is not a logically necessary condition of being human.
He does not conclude that since man is essentially productive the best man is the most productive man. Nevertheless his notion of the ideal life for man is expressed in terms of the character of his production. The good life is a life of free and creative productive activity, a life in which men's productive essence is actualised without alienation. The chief source of alienation, of course, is the institution of private property in the means of production. Under the system where the worker sells his labour he does not decide what is to be produced and he does not control the product of his labour.