[OPE-L:3523] Re: Re: Marxism and 19th century materialism

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@dcs.gla.ac.uk)
Date: Wed Jun 21 2000 - 04:38:50 EDT

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At 12:22 19/06/00 -0400, Rakesh Bhandari wrote:
> >The point about materialism from a philosophical standpoint is as Althusser
> >says in Lenin and Philosophy - that matter's sole philosophically important
> >point is its independent existence - independent that is of human knowledge.
> >
>The old concept of matter need not be retained in any defense of the
>objectivity of physical reality. The old, 19th century concept of matter is
>simply inadequate to account for physical reality.
> >Changes in our understanding of the small scale properties of matter
> >from Lucretius to 20th century quantum mechanics are irrelevant to this
> >philosophical position.
>Which philosophical position?

I mean of course the position that matter exists independently of our knowledge
of it.

Your criticism of my position on value as being redolent of 19th century
had nothing to do with anything esoteric like spin polarisation. Neither of us
is asserting anything about the small scale properties of matter. If you have
a criticism of me it is a philosophical one, and relates to whether or not
exists independently of being known.

I took your objection to 19th century materialism as being essentially a
sally, a criticism of the idea that the material world exists and has
independent of our knowledge of them.

Just what, otherwise, do you mean by 19th century materialism?
Who were these 19th century materialist of whom you disaprove and whom I am
criticised for following.

You take a pretty explicitly instrumentalist position in saying in post
3494 that

>Exchange in the market is a necessary condition for a commodity to acquire

I read this as saying, unless value is explicitly measured as price it does not

This is a quite different position from:
>We see then that that which determines the magnitude of the value of
>any article is the amount of labour ocially necessary, or the labour-time
>socially necessary for its production. Each individual commodity, in this
>connexion, is to be considered as an average sample of its class.
>Commodities, therefore, in which equal quantities of labour are embodied,
>or which can be produced in the same time, have the same value.

>A use-value, or useful article, therefore, has value only because human
>labour in the abstract has been embodied or materialised in it.

>How, then, is the magnitude of this value to be measured? Plainly, by the
>of the value-creating substance, the labour, contained in the article.
>The quantity of labour, however, is measured by its duration, and labour-time
>in its turn finds its standard in weeks, days, and hours.

In this interpretation use-values have value independently of their becoming
commodities, and they have this by virtue of the labour required for their

This quantity of labour required for their reproduction is an objectively
existing property of the configuration of the forces of production at any given
point in time. The individual seller of the commodity only has this made clear
when they confront the going market price.

The philosophical position that there exist configurations of matter
of our knowledge of them is directly relevant here.

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