[OPE-L:5517] RE: Re: William of Ockam's Razor and Political Economy

From: Michael Williams (michael@williamsmj.worldonline.co.uk)
Date: Tue May 08 2001 - 05:50:17 EDT

I liked Howard's post (it's nice - but can it replace capitalism ...?)

Conscious that it may well start hares in the pursuit of which I may well
not find time to join, I just make a quick response to his final query:

>... And what is the
> ontological status of a pure form anyway?, e.g. from Nicola's post:
> >Suppose that money is not a commodity but
> >> pure form

IMO, it means what it says: Money qua Money (i.e. that which is denoted by
Money in the value-form reconstruction in thought of capitalism) has no
necessary (to the reproduction of that theoretical object totality) content.
Of course, a pure form in itself can have no ontological coherence. But it
is not the existential absence of content, but the existential contingency
of content that is denoted by the proposition that Money is pure form.

I hope it is clear that I do not mean by this that there is nothing
interesting to say, less abstractly, about whether accounting entries,
cattle, coffee trees, bullion or electronic information are the better
bearers of Money. or other such issues.

btw, I do think that it is appropriate to feel existentially uneasy about
living in an epoch driven by pure form, but that is an entirely appropriate
reaction to living within capitalism.

In response to Paul C.'s comments about the value-form approach: prediction
is technologically important; but, I would submit, the insights generated
and clarified by the value-form and a systematic dialectical
interpretation/reconstruction of Marx(ism) are also important to the extent
that they capture something about the nature of the bourgeois epoch.

As to the barber-shop debate: I guess it is probably at least as fruitful to
examine the nature of the abstract entities that theory cannot do without -
particularly the real abstractions central to the value-form type approaches
as compared to the abstract abstractions that are abstract statisitcal
entities - as it is to enumerate undifferentiated abstract entities as any
kind of guide to theory choice. But then, imo, political economy is not


Dr Michael Williams
Business & Management Studies
De Montfort University
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