[OPE-L:3525] Re: Re: Re: Marxism and 19th century materialism

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@Princeton.EDU)
Date: Wed Jun 21 2000 - 11:30:04 EDT

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

Whether wave or particle or neither, ultimate physical reality exists
independently of our knowledge of it. Even if we cannot visualize it. Even
if it not definite.

. If you have
>a criticism of me it is a philosophical one, and relates to whether or not
>exists independently of being known.

Again my position is stronger: value cannot be known even after successful

>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.

Of course there is a physical reality which exists independently of our
knowledge of it. Whether in QM we can say it exists before measurment in
potential or (more radically) remains undefined I of course cannot say.

There is no doubt that QM raises very difficult questions about the
definiteness of that reality which exists independently of physicsts' acts
and intentions. As for the objectivity of that reality, it is true that
all experimental results are NOT consistent with the same underlying
reality. Incompatible experiments (2 experiments that physically cannot be
done at the same time,on the same system) do NOT yield harmonious results.
Yet this does not compromise the objectivity of the scientists'
experimentalist results in that they can reach objective agreement on the
results. There has been an unfortunate reading that QM compromises
objectivity even in the latter weaker sense.

But...I have not referred to the measurement problem in QM to prove
anything, only to weaken our intuition that a property must exist before we
have measured it and suggest that it is not physically impossible that
measurement can be more than the passive ascertainment of a pre-existing
property but rather the production of a datum through the active
involvement of measurer and thing measured. One difference here with value
is that with QM we can get solid classical knowledge upon measurement,
value still remain unknown after price measurement, though brought into
existence thereby.

>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.

There has been criticism of the putative Marxist inability to deal with
fiat and credit money. I was just asking what is left if the material
(metallic) substratum of money evaporates--nothing but form, pure form. So
must a form (causa formalis) be of *something*, must there be some
material substratum (causa materialis)? This was a new problem.

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

As you should. But you have yet to comment on the paragraph from Critique
of Political Economy which I have typed up three times in this exchange.

>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.

And this passage settles nothing about when commodities acquire value. The
debate is about whether socially necessary includes both a technical norm
and a socially required stipulation, as Allin put it helpfully long ago.

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

But the passage does not say this. And I have found one where Marx does not
say this.

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

Paul, I am surprised that you would make such a simplistic assertion. We
both know that not an atom of matter enters into the objectivity of
commodities as values; in this it is the direct opposite of the coarsely
sensuous objectivity of commodities as physical objects. We may twist and
turn a single commodity as we wish; it remains impossible to grasp it as a
thing possessing value.

Yours, Rakesh

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