[OPE-L:3026] Re: Re: Re: empirical verification of interpretations of Marx?

From: Steve Keen (stevekeen10@hotmail.com)
Date: Sat May 06 2000 - 23:22:25 EDT

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I take your points Jerry.

As somewhat of a lurker on the list, I wasn't following the debate closely
enough to identify the motivation behind Paul M's claims. Of course, that
puts my "answers" to the questions you posed in a completely different
light, since I believe that Marx began with the commodity because that is
what his dialectical insights of 1857 indicated to him was the essential
feature of capitalism--and not because this is how classical economists
normally started their analysis of capitalism.


>From: jlevy@sescva.esc.edu (JERRY LEVY)
>Reply-To: ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu
>To: ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu
>Subject: [OPE-L:3024] Re: Re: empirical verification of interpretations of
>Date: Fri, 5 May 2000 18:18:24 -0400
>Re Steve K's [OPE-L:3022]:
>I believe you misunderstood the questions I was posing in relation to
>the Mattick Jr. quote. In that quote Paul M was making a *very strong*
>claim: that Marx began with the commodity because that is "the most
>elementary with respect to capitalist society *as theorized by
>classical theory*" (the emphasis was in the original). In my view,
>this is bending the stick way too far in support of Paul's anti-
>Hegelian stance that *Capital* is _only_ a critique of political
>economy. So, I wanted to put his claim to a "test". Thus, one
>could begin by asking whether Marx indicated that he began with the
>commodity *because* it is the most elementary category *theorized
>by political economy*. The answer to that question is: No, he never
>said that. Next, one could ask whether classical theory uses the
>commodity as the starting point of their analysis and presentation.
>Yet, as I pointed out in a recent post, Smith begins with the
>division of labor rather than the commodity, Ricardo begins with
>value rather than the commodity, James Mill begins with production
>rather than the commodity, and J.S. Mill begins with the "requisites
>of production" ("labor and appropriate natural objects") rather
>than the commodity. Moreover, as Marx points out in the very quote
>you have just shared with us, the commodity is *not* the simplist
>category theorized by classical theory. I conclude from the foregoing
>that Paul M's strong claim must be rejected.
>As for Patrick's post, he raises some interesting issues ... although
>they were not necessarily the issues that I was raising (in response
>to Andrew K). I agree with Patrick that our focus should not be
>exclusively on what Marx wrote, but I nonetheless think that when that
>issue is being debated, i.e. when there is a debate that relates
>entirely to different interpretations of Marx (as in the current
>debate between Fred and Andrew), then one should *at least* ask
>whether it is possible to establish "empirical" criteria for
>accessing the opposing claims. This *must be*, as a history of
>thought question, be addressed independently from claims regarding
>whose theory is best able to explain capitalist reality. This
>*must be* the case because we can not assume beforehand that Marx's
>theory is best able to explain the empirical developments since
>his time. For example, some *variation* on Marx's theory might
>better explain certain empirical/historical developments than
>Marx's theory itself. In other words, we have to always try to
>be clear when we are *just* discussing an interpretation of Marx
>(as Andrew and Fred are doing now) from when we are discussing
>*more than* an interpretation of Marx (e.g. empirical and
>scientific developments since Marx's time. Thus, I have no
>objection to constructing the type of tanle that Patrick
>suggests but don't think that it really answers the specific issue
>that is being debated.
>In solidarity, Jerry

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