[OPE-L:2793] RE: Re: Hegel & Formal Logic

From: Michael Williams (mike.williams@dmu.ac.uk)
Date: Sun Apr 09 2000 - 16:29:46 EDT

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> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu
> [mailto:owner-ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu]On Behalf Of Rakesh Bhandari
> Sent: Sunday, April 09, 2000 6:40 PM
> To: ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu
> Subject: [OPE-L:2791] Re: Re: Re: Re: (5 end) Partial Reply to Fred's on

Rakesh wrote
> I am also concerned that to the extent that we consider Marx's theory
> somehow to be necessary, logically speaking, we make ourselves immune to
> tests of empirical confirmation.
This is the kind of straw person propagated most recently By John Rosenthal
(whose ackowleged antcedents include Wal Sutching and Lucio Colletti). An
alternative view is that Hegel's use of terms such as necessity and
contradiction was (and if it was not, can be rectified to be) quite
different from their meaning in formal logic. The general basis of this is
that Hegel was interested not merely in formal contradictions, but in their
real conditions of existence.

My take on 'necessity' in this context is that it refers to what is posited
as necessary for the reproduction of a system as what it is. Then,
derivation of the necessity of Money to the reproduction of capitalism need
have absolutely no viciously idealist connotations.

And what is more, empirical investigation is called for:- Say that it had
been derived that Commodity Money was necessary to the reproduction of
capitalism. Say further that the gradual disappearance of the Gold Standard
during the last century, plus the more recent bullion sales by central banks
and other moves to apparently demonetize gold were taken to suggest the
de-commodification of Money. We are then faced with a question requiring
empirical investigation, viz to decide between the following hypotheses:

1) The capitalist system is decaying (i.e. failing to reproduce itself)
because one of its necessary conditions of reproduction is being attenuated.
(This closely related to Milton Friedman's view.

2) There is no sign that the capitalsit system is failing to reproduce
itself, so either

a) something is emerging to fulfill the reproductive role of Commodity Money
(what?) or

b) Commodity Money was never necessary to the reproduction of the capitlaist
system (but was, perhaps, a historically important contingent form of

There are at least 3 empirically based PhD dissertations here ...!

My differences with Rosenthal are developed at greater length in papers on
my web page, refined versions of which will appear in *Science & Society*
and *Cambridge Journal of Economics* shortly. For more general (and now
somewhat dated) discussion of the relation between systematic conceptual
development and empirical investigation, see Reuten & Williams (1989) Part

Dr Michael Williams
Economics and Social Sciences
De Montfort University
Milton Keynes

tel: +1908 834876
[Home: +1703 768641]
fax: 0870 133 1147

mike.williams@dmu.ac.uk <mailto:mike.williams@dmu.ac.uk>
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