[OPE-L:5679] Re: Re: Response to Fred - 1

From: nicola taylor (n.taylor@student.murdoch.edu.au)
Date: Tue May 29 2001 - 05:39:48 EDT

>Nicky, also I think you misinterpret Murray on this point.  

Fred, I enjoy our discussions immensely, but I think it would be pointless
for us to get into a long sub-debate on which of us has the 'correct'
interpretation of Murray's paper.  What I am doing in my work is picking up
on a *distinction* first made by Murray between essence and appearance in
the Ricardian and Hegelian forms of logic, and *applying* that distinction
to an analysis of my own.  I don't want to make any judgements about the
extent to which Murray would agree (or disagree!) with my application.  

What is important in Murray, for my argument, is his insight that: 'Under
this dialectical [Hegelian] conception of essence and appearance, science
is no longer a one-way steet that externally relates appearances to essence
[Ricardian model]; it works both from the appearances to the essence and
from the essence to the appearances.  Appearances are no longer viewed as
extraneous to the essence ...[but] *belong* to the complete concept of the
essence; they are interdependent' (p.40). 

The points I have repeatedly (and apparently unsuccessfully) tried to make
in this respect are: (1) there can be no sense in which essence is
independent or autonomous of appearance, as would be the case if these
moments were viewed as independent and dependent variables in a causal
theory, and (2) determination is not from labour-values to prices - NEITHER
IS IT FROM PRICES TO VALUES (a position you repeatedly, and wrongly,
attribute to VFT); rather, form-determination pertains to *what*
necessitates the interconnection of values and prices. Note here the
particular meaning of the term *value-form* in VFT theory: value-form is an
abstract universal concept pertaining to the *mode of association*
necessitated by the particular (determinate) social form that productive
activity takes on in capitalism - i.e. dissociated labour, dissociated
production and consumption, private ownership of means of production etc.
By transcending the contradiction set up by dissociated activity, the
value-form (mode of association) provides the first movement towards a
grounding of value in price.  The existence of the market (a more concrete
determination of the value-form as mode of association) does *not*
therefore transcend the contradiction posed by dissociation, but shows
value that it cannot exist for itself (independently of price).

You request a summary interpretation of Marx's passage.  Difficult since,
imho, no passage or chapter in Marx can be interpreted in isolation from
it's place in the whole of Capital, or in isolation from the debate on
Marx's method.  However...  

>"Political economy has indeed analysed value and its magnitude, however
>incompletely, and has uncovered the content concealed within these forms.
>But it has never once asked the question why this content has assumed that
>particular form, that is to say, why labour is expressed in value, and why
>the measurement of labour by its duration is expressed in the magnitude of
>the value of the product."
...From a VFT perspective, the fundamental question posed by Marx is why
content (eg use-value/concrete-labour) is 'concealed within' or has
'assumed' particular forms (eg value/abstract-labour)..  Given the concept
of form determination, as I have described it above, this question is not
concerned with a splitting of value and price into essence/content and
appearance/form as autonomous entities between which causal relations can
then be established.  It has to do with the question of what the essence of
capitalism *must* be, in order that labour and its measurement *must* take
on the form of value and its measurement.  i.e. the problem for theory is
to establish how the social form of production for exchange *determines*
the necessary (internal) interconnection of labour and value and of labour
time and price.

As I see it, our differences on all other questions stem from these
differences of interpretation and method.


Nicola Mostyn (Taylor)
Faculty of Economics
Murdoch University
Telephone: 61-8-9385 1130

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