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Dear Andrew B,
>So, the commodity *is* a value before sale. This is an intrinsic (but
>purely social) aspect of the commodity prior to sale. But it is not
>*socially validated* as such prior to sale, and it is only through sale
>that the commodity's value gains an objectively present money
>form (sale is the metamorphosis of a commodity into money) so
>that it's value, in reality, becomes a thing with the power of
>universal exchangeability. Prior to sale, then, its value exists but in
>a very curious way, such that it must be exchanged for money to
>be 'realised' (ie. be made real in the form of money).
>In short, on my account, the value of a commodity *exists* prior to
>its sale. *But* it is not *real* prior to its sale! This is a
>contradiction, but one that is quite real, as I hope to have explained
I do think Marx is building socially validated into his definition of
value, so that while commodities may have an ideal price before sale, they
precisely are not yet values. As values, they do not yet exist and they are
yet not real, though they do in fact have an imaginary price.
I just don't see any other way of reading the following:
"in order therefore that a commodity may in practice operate effectively as
exchagne value, it must divest itself of its natural physical body and
become transformed from merely imaginary into real gold, although this act
of transubstantiation may be more 'troublesome' for it than the transition
from necessity to freedom for the Hegelian 'concept', the casting of his
shell for a lobster,, or the putting oof the old Adam for Saint Jerome.
THough a commodity may, alongside its real shape (iron, fi), possess an
ideal value shape or an imagined gold shape in the form of its price, it
cannot simultaneously be both real iron and real gold. To establish its
price it is sufficient for it to be equated with gold in the imagination.
But to enable it to render its owner the service of the universal
equivalent, it must actually be replaced by gold.,," Capital 1, Vintage,
But this is not decisive because I may now be confusing value with value
FORM which Marx is not saying is the mode by which value is expressed
(Hegel) but rather itself the CAUSE of value (Aristotle). I would of course
say SOURCE of value.
That is, that value exists only as a potentia until the form, viz the
PERFECTED form of the universal equivalent, is imposed on this substance.
We could even say that the material cause of value is that production be
carried out in accordance with technical norms (the level at which the neo
Ricardians would leave us), but this is not the FORMAL cause of value.
Almost all those who analyze the value form think Marx's debt is to Hegel
here. This strikes me as wrong. Marx's emphasis on the value form seems to
be a reference to formal causality in Aristotlean metaphysics. Has anyone
pointed this out before (I don't think Murray makes this point in Moseley
and Campbell, eds or George E McCarthy in Marx and Aristotle or Scott
Meikle in Aristotle's Economic Theory)?
I think Marx just can't quite get himself (though he comes awfully close)
to say that only with price measurement does the object acquire the
property that is being measured. Heisenberg seems to have tried to escape
the paradoxes of quantum theory with a return to aspects of Aristotlean
metaphysics (criticized by Lindley in End of Physics). I think Marx may be
in the same trap.
There is a really quite a bit to think through here, and this is just a
preliminary reply which may not be coherent. If so, I apologize in advance.
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