[OPE-L:3464] Re: measurement of value

From: Andrew Brown (Andrew@lubs.leeds.ac.uk)
Date: Fri Jun 09 2000 - 07:00:25 EDT

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Thanks for the preliminary response. I look forward very much to
your full repsonse, once you have had time to think through.

Some annotated comments below, which I hope may be of use.

On 8 Jun 2000, at 21:19, Rakesh Bhandari wrote:

> 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,
> p.193
> 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.

It certainly isn't decisive since it fits perfectly with my own view. Of
course 'what Marx really meant' is an important issue (only) to the
extent that it bares upon the absolutely fundamental and crucial
issue of 'what is the correct conception of value'.

You seem to say that value form is not the mode of expression of
value. I certainly think it is. But I agree with you, *also*, that the
value of a commodity (quite obviously) does not produce its effect
(universal exchangeability), without *really* acquiring the money
form (ie. by the commodity being exchanged for money; in other
words, by the metamorphosis of the commodity into money). The
only way to express all this, it seems to me, is by making some
rather curious 'metaphysical' distinctions. The way I have put it is
to say that value *exists*, but is not *real* (or better, not *realised*)
prior to sale! You seem not to want to make such a distinction.

Without the distinction, the basic objection to your position made
by Paul and others seems, to me at least, to be very difficult to
avoid. (And this, I am coming to realise, has long been a criticism
of the 'value form' school). I would have thought that the basic
criticism of my own position is that it is 'gobbledegook' - I hope it

> 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.

On my account, (ideal) 'price' is *attributed to* the commodity (qua
commodity) prior to sale - but I guess by 'imposition' you mean
actual sale.

> 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)?

(1) Of course, I have suggested that both the expression of
essence (value) and the causal power of essence (value) are
intrinsically linked, above.

(2) I do not understand what you are getting at above. I look forward
very much to a detailed elaboration.

> 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.

*Ideal* price measurement *is* necessary for (though it can be a bit
misleading to say that it 'confers') the *existence* (but not enough
for the *reality*!) of the property that is being measured, on my
account. But it is 'ideal' price measurement that does the trick,
rather than actual sale. In one sense my view is simple, if not
obvious: a commodity, qua commodity, has a(n) (ideal) price, and
so is a value [ignoring non-produced commodities and other
complexities]. If it does not have an ideal price then it is not, in the
first place, a commodity and so, quite simply, it is not a value -
indeed the whole question of value does not arise.

Many thanks,


> 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.
> Yours, Rakesh

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