[OPE-L:3469] Re: Re: measurement of value

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@Princeton.EDU)
Date: Fri Jun 09 2000 - 10:47:38 EDT

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Re Andrew's 3464
>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.

But Andrew is not something that exists, yet is not real, quite a curious
metaphysical distinction? This seems to me the confusion in which both Marx
and Heisenberg were trapped on the basis of use of aspects of Aristotle's
metaphysics. It seems to me to make no sense to say that the commodity is
in some kind of specific but unknown state.

Sure, commodities are produced AS values but they do not acquire value or
become some amount of socially necessary labor time until sold, though the
price form will at the same misrepresent the value it is simultaneously
measuring and bringing into existence. I think there is less--though by no
means no-- metaphysical difficulty in such a claim.

At the same time, I am trapped because this may suggest that it is by
money's magic that commodities are actually commensurated as values--a
position of Aristotle's Marx was clearly criticizing. At the same time,
Marx's analysis of value is relational through and through, so value does
seem to describe a system--the thing being measured and the measurement
being made--rather than being an independent description of the thing being

Indeed Marx does seem to be saying that only with the imposition of the
universal form does the substance of value become real.

>> 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.

Things attain their attributes in ever purer form by the imposition of ever
more perfected forms on substance. If we work with such a dynamic
conception of formal causality, it seems to me that Marx is saying that
value only leaves the shadowy world of potentia once the perfected form of
the universal equivalent has been imposed on it. At any rate, I want to
open up the possibility of value form analysis in Aristotlean, instead of
Hegelian, terms. From my (limited) knowledge, this has yet to be done.

>(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.

And I don't follow point 1 either!

>> 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

But if Marx is working with a conception of formal causality, then for him
it may have been less tricky to think is was in this way that the substance
of value is conferred or--get this--caused!

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

In what state of reality is this value? Or in what precise sense is
existence not reality?

Yours, Rakesh

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