[OPE-L:5790] Re: Re: cause(s) and consequence(s) of the

From: Andrew Brown (Andrew@lubs.leeds.ac.uk)
Date: Tue Jun 05 2001 - 07:44:05 EDT

message unintentionally sent to me, not the list...

------- Forwarded message follows -------
> From:           	"Gerald_A_Levy" <Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com>
To:             	<Andrew@lubs.leeds.ac.uk>
Subject:        	Re: [OPE-L:5789] Re: cause(s) and consequence(s) of the Marxist 'obsession'
Date sent:      	Tue, 5 Jun 2001 07:42:41 -0400

Re Andy's [5789]:

> Hi Jerry,
Hello again, Andy.

> Re the history of the debate, and indeed the current debate, on   value,
TP, etc: You suggest
that the justification has  overwhelmingly been on
some sort of defensive grounds, *rather  than* on
more positive grounds. This is too simplistic
because this  negative, defensive aspect this does not *exclude* a second,
positive, aspect that
drives defenders (and indeed critics) of Marx's
 value theory, viz. the view that getting the abstract value theory  right
has massive implications for
more concrete work. This  *second* aspect must
be *the* ultimate justification and drive of
 value debates for there would be little of scientific
merit otherwise.<

Whether the debates are 'ultimately justified' is
not the question.  Nor does the rest of the last
sentence above follow:  rather than have two
(main) purposes (defensive and 'positive'), there
can be (and I think there has been) ONE main
purpose (defensive) and a (dubious?) unintended
'positive' consequence. (also, btw, it doesn't
follow that debates *in the end* can't have
'scientific merit' if one side is engaged in the debate
for merely defensive purposes: it is possible that
during the course of a debate the discussants
'branch out' into new directions and develop or extend their theory. Even
here, though, one must
judge *possible* advances in perspective through
pursuing a defensive agenda -- perhaps Marxists
in the TP have seen themselves as 'knights in
shining armor' attempting to save the 'damsel
[Marx] in distress?' --  _against_ *possible advances* in perspective that
would have been
gained by more actively pursing a 'positive'
agenda [e.g. by 'extending Marx']).

> The point is one about abstraction. The most abstract and  fundamental
reason for debate is the
positive one. This can be  seen by imagining a
world where there was no need for defensive

This is not the world that we live in, though.
(Indeed, wouldn't there still be 'defensive
justification' for different perspectives under
communism?  Or, under communism is everything
"I'm OK, you're OK"?).

> In such a world one would still end up debating the  abstract stuff
because of its importance.<

The question isn't whether it is legitimate to debate
'abstract stuff'.  The question is: what was the
stated motivation for one side in the TP debate?

> I do recognise that some (many, perhaps) contributors to the  debate have
*explicitly denied* that 'practical relevance' is their  prime concern.<

Which is my point.

> To this I would point out that the explicit
 justifications scientists give for their work need not be in line with  the
true justification implicit. So the
*significance* of what you refer
 to as 'manifest evidence', viz., the accounts of scientists   themselves,
is not so 'manifest' at all, it
cannot be taken at face  value as you appear
to do.<

Nor can it be assumed that if another *result*
(i.e. consequence) emerges from a debate, that
result was intended by the scientists at the time
the debate was initiated. And, btw, haven't some
important scientific discoveries (e.g. by Alexander
Fleming) emerged as a consequence of
(unintended) 'accidents'?

> Re Fine's concrete contributions: most important, imo, is not any  single
one, but the whole lot. Why? Because when faced with the  question of 'what
is the point of value
theory?' I can point to Fine's work and say, 'look
at that and tell me there is no point!:)'. <

Yet, I could say: look at some of his recent work
on concrete, empirical questions and tell me that
value theory is the basis for that work! (I'm
thinking of some of the studies on food and
consumption, etc.)

> As for  discussing at such concrete levels in detail, I'm not yet up to
it, I'm  afraid. My
(minimal) competence ceases once I get past the TP (which is where my PhD
ends). <

Then perhaps it's time for you to move on to
an examination of those more concrete levels?

In solidarity, Jerry

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