[OPE-L:5196] Re: Re: Re: use-value as qualitative

From: Steve Keen (s.keen@uws.edu.au)
Date: Sat Mar 17 2001 - 14:39:32 EST


I'm rather lucky that my PC crashed before I could reply to this, because 
it gave me the chance to take a few deep breaths. I am accustomed to asking 
others on this list to "read my lips", but not you. I choose my words 
fairly carefully in my posts, and I would appreciate if you would read them 

I did NOT say that "qualitative issues lie outside of Marx's analysis". I 
said that "qualitative issues form no part of his CORE analysis" (even that 
statement I qualified. And of course, my statement was in contrast to the 
neoclassicals--which further qualifies it).

But perhaps I didn't choose my words carefully enough. By "core", I meant 
something like "foundation concepts from which he derived his pivotal 
initial arguments on the source of value and determination of prices". I 
hope that's clearer.

So I agree with everything you posted about the role of quality, but it 
makes no difference to my argument, or to the difference between us over 
this initial issue: whether use-value can be quantitative in Marx's CORE 
(as defined above) analysis, and whether I had or had not found at least 
prima facie textual evidence to support that--for example, the statement 
that "use-value and exchange-value are intrinsically incommensurable 

Now, from the next segment of your reply, it appears that you don't regard 
this or any other textual excerpt I found as conclusive or even suggestive 
of this interpretation. If so, I can't convince you, so as with so much 
else on this discussion list, we'll just have to agree to disagree.


At 08:15 AM 3/17/01 -0500, you wrote:
>Re Steve K's [5189]:
> >  If Marx were a neoclassical, then it could of
> > course be a qualitative concept. But since
> > qualitative issues form no part of his core
> > analysis (except when he reduces qualitative
> >  differences to quantitative ones, as in the
> > reduction of skilled to unskilled labour--of
> > which more later), to become an issue in
> >  Marx's political economy, use-value has to
> > somehow in some circumstances be quantitative.
>I strongly disagree with your premise that
>qualitative issues lie outside of Marx's analysis.
>Indeed, Marx's philosophy and method of abstraction
>embodies a tension and dialectic between quality
>and quantity. Rather than lying outside of his
>theory of  capitalism, qualitative issues are at the
>very heart of that understanding. To miss this point
>is to confuse Marx with the political economists that
>he was critiquing. E.g. he critisized Ricardo for
>conflating exchange-value with value and thereby
>conceiving of value as merely quantity. By doing so,
>Ricardo was not able to comprehend how the
>value relationship is an expression of the social
>relations of production associated with capitalism.
>This internalization of quality and its dynamic
>tension with quantity into the subject matter is
>an expression of Marx's historical materialism.
>Yet, this same integration of quality and quantity
>was well understood by Hegel and Hegelians of
>various kinds.
> > Marx's special perspective on use-value arises
> > from its role in the circuit of capital, M-C-M.
> > Here he is quite emphatic that use-value
> > *MUST* be the explanation of the source of
> > surplus value. This can only occur if, in this
> > realm, use-value is quantitative.
>All that is required is, rather, that the *commodity-
>form* has both qualitative and quantitative
>dimensions.  Use-value, in order words, need not
>be quantitative but value must come to be
>expressed quantitatively even though it incorporates
>a qualitative side (i.e. the "socially necessary" in
> > Conceptualising use-value as purely qualitative
> > means it has no role in economics.
>Political economy, at least Marx's and Marxist
>political economy, is not merely about quantity.
>*If the subject matter of economics is quantity
>alone then, indeed, it is merely an applied branch
>of mathamatics!*  Unfortunately, many economists
>have come to view economics in precisely these
>terms but it stands in stark contrast both to Marxian
>theories and to heterodox theories generally.
>In solidarity, Jerry

Dr. Steve Keen
Senior Lecturer
Economics & Finance
Campbelltown, Building 11 Room 30,
School of Economics and Finance
s.keen@uws.edu.au 61 2 4620-3016 Fax 61 2 4626-6683
Home 02 9558-8018 Mobile 0409 716 088
Home Page: http://bus.macarthur.uws.edu.au/steve-keen/

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