[OPE-L:4917] Re: Epicycles (was "causes of changes in prices of production")

From: Gerald_A_Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com)
Date: Fri Feb 16 2001 - 15:00:51 EST

Re Andrew K's [OPE-L:4914]:

> I also appreciated Jerry's tennis analogy:

And I appreciated the tone of Andrew's last post.

> Tennis is a game.  Games have rules.  Play must
> proceed according
> to the rules of the game.  If it doesn't, it is not tennis; it is
> just hitting the ball back and forth across the net.
> To pursue your analogy a bit further, scholarly
> discourse is
> likewise a game.  It has its own rules.  Dialogue must
> proceed  according to the rules of the game.  If it
> doesn't, it is not
> scholarly discourse; it is just lobbing opinions back and > forth  across
the Net.  That is why the battles of
> quotations of the sort
> into which you want me to descend never get
> anywhere, never
> resolve anything.  They proceed without regard to rules > and  without
agreed-upon methods of scoring.

I agree that battles of quotations are not necessarily, or even generally,
the best form for debates. But:

The "game" being played in this instance is a debate about what in Marx's
theory can cause a change in prices of production.

Since we -- all agree -- are only talking about different interpretations of
Marx, bringing forward, discussing, and examining different quotations are a
vital part of that debate.

And if one side brings forward a particularly clear and unambivalent
passage, then one might respond reasonably  in any one of the following

(1) bring forward quotations from Marx that suggest just as clearly and
unambivalently that he is saying something else (e.g. in another source).
If that happens, then one might further examine the sources and context for
the quotations in question.

(2) by questioning the translation of the passages in question and the
editing of the passages (since in this case we have quotes from Vol 3, one
might question the editing by Engels of  Marx's drafts [I am not suggesting
that this would be a productive line of inquiry but it is at least a
legitimate hypothetical question that could be asked]). Should this be a
subject of debate, then one can go to the original editions in search of

(3) by claiming that regardless of what Marx said in a particular passage --
even if it seems very clear -- some other interpretation makes more sense
within a more "holistic"  understanding of Marx's theory. This can be
attempted, but it shifts the burden of proof to the person claiming that
despite what Marx clearly wrote some other understanding makes more sense.

(4) by admitting that one has been mistaken and then moving on to another
game.  And as all tennis players know -- you win some and you lose some.

Thus, the rules of engagement in an interpretive game are different than the
rules of engagement in a logical/analytical game.  If we are discussing
interpretations of Marx, rather than the underlying analytical issues,  then
the question first and foremost *must* be what his theory was -- not whether
his theory was right or wrong or whether we agree or disagree with that
theory or whether that theory still has relevance today or whether it should
be rejected or whether it should be modified.

In solidarity, Jerry

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