[OPE-L:2777] Re: Marx's method

From: Fred B. Moseley (fmoseley@mtholyoke.edu)
Date: Sat Apr 08 2000 - 11:10:12 EDT

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On Wed, 5 Apr 2000 Asfilho@aol.com wrote:

> Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2000 10:36:06 EDT
> From: Asfilho@aol.com
> Reply-To: ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu
> To: ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu
> Subject: [OPE-L:2722] Marx's method
> Chris Arthur says:
> I do not think Marx first worked out his method and then applied it; he
> developed and redeveloped the method at the very same time as he wrestled
> with the substantive issues. In this sense I do not think Capital is
> unfinished because he only published Volume 1, I think the thought is itself
> unfinished ... the reader has to take a step back from the text and try
> to make sense of it ... to have a chance of understanding what is going on.
> Having done this my conclusion is that exegesis is not enough and the
> thought itself needs developing, clarifying etc.


Could you please elaborate on what specific points to you think Marx's
logical method (i.e. the logical structure of Capital) is "unfinished" ?
On what particular issues was Marx "confused about the relevance of
Hegel" (quoted by Alfredo below)?

Just a list will do at this point. Just to give me a bit of an overview
of what you have in mind.

Thanks very much.

> *************************
> IMO, Chris is quite right. I draw the following implications:
> (a) Controversies in Marx's theory of value cannot be solved by recourse to
> the canonical texts alone. We need to make sense of them and, if necessary,
> rebuild them. 'Internal' MTV problems need to be addressed at two levels
> simultaneously; what Marx said, and what helps to makes sense of the world.
> The former helps, but the latter takes precedence.
> (b) Marx's method is unclear because it is buried underneath his analysis.
> Chris has argued elsewhere that 'Marx himself was confused about the
> relevance of Hegel's logic' and, by extension, about his own method. I'm not
> sure: I think that Marx's method *does not exist* in the abstract, as a set
> of formulations that can be applied to any problem. It is specific, open and
> contingent, and it 'surfaces' only in and through its application to specific
> problems. This is why Marx relays what other people say about his method, and
> does not say anything very substantive about it himself.
> alfredo.


Could you please explain what you mean by a "problem" here, and how Marx's
logical method would change in response to different problems?

When I talk about Marx's logical method, I mean the logical method of
his general theory of capitalism. In this sense, there is only ONE
logical method - the one used to construct his general theory of
capitalism in Capital from the most abstract beginning - not a
multiplicity of logical methods for a multiplicity of problems.
Maybe Marx was confused about this and mixed together different
logical methods, but ideally there should be one logical method
used to construct the general theory.

To be sure, Marx's logical method used to analyze capitalism certainly
does not apply to other non-capitalist modes of production. If that is
what you mean (no general theory that applies to all modes of production),
then I agree. But it sounds to me like you mean different problems within
capitalism that require different logical methods. Am I misunderstanding?

I agree of course that Marx did not explain his logical method
enough. But on some points, he said quite a lot, and I would argue
consistently throughout his economic manuscripts, for example:

1. the initial presuppositions of his theory are quantities of

2. the prior determination of aggregate magnitudes

3. trying to explain the necessary connections between different aspects
of capitalism.

Do you agree with these points? Do you think these will change somehow in
order to analyze different problems?

Thanks very much.


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