[OPE-L:8209] _dynamis_ and _energeia_ of commodity & surplus-value

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Wed Dec 18 2002 - 10:05:53 EST

Michael E, in [8199], wrote:

> Usefulness is not a thing at all. Usefulness is only the mode of being of
> something. A toothbrush, for instance, is a thing which has the potential
> for being used to clean one's teeth. This potential (which is what
> Aristotle  calls _dynamis_) is put to work (_energeia_ = in-work-ness)
>  when someone  uses the toothbrush to clean their teeth. Such a potential
> is what it is only in relation to human understanding which understands
> the toothbrush in  its potential for cleaning one's teeth. Only within the
> human  practice of  toothbrushing is the toothbrush a thing with the
> potential for  cleaning  teeth. Humans understand such a potential and
> actively use the  toothbrush,   whereas the toothbrush itself has the
> passive potential to be  used in such a  way. There is a unity here of
> thing and how it is understood.

Hmmm. Let's consider another product: a ship.

When can we say about the 'ship' when its construction and fitting-out has
been completed?  I.e. what is the status of the 'ship'  *following
production*  but prior to its 'utilization' as a ship, i.e. prior to
launching.  Is it even a  'ship' at all?  It certainly _looks like_ a ship
and it has  the  potential [_dynamis_]  to become a ship, but _is it_
a 'ship' at that moment  in time?  I would say:  No!  A ship or a toothbrush
only becomes a  ship or toothbrush when its potential is put to work
[_energeia_], i.e. when it is actually used as a ship or a toothbrush.

Taking this distinction a step further: consider the generic term
'commodity'. After production, there is _potential_  for the 'commodity' to
have use-value and exchange-value and value.  What was presumed to be a
'commodity' following sale only fully becomes a COMMODITY  when this
potential is realized, i.e. actualized.   This social metamorphosis  from
'commodity' to COMMODITY is only realized following sale since prior to
sale use-value, exchange-value and value were only potential [_dynamis_].
This suggests also that the 'surplus value'  that is believed to exist
following production is  _only_  potential _until_ the 'commodity' product
is sold and thereby the fully-developed form of COMMODITY is actualized.
'surplus value' hence only becomes reconstituted as SURPLUS VALUE once
there has been an exchange between COMMODITY and MONEY.

After sale, the potential of the 'ship' or 'toothbrush' TO REPRESENT 
COMMODITY is realized.  That is: whether the 'ship'  or 'toothbrush'
is  ultimately _used as a ship or toothbrush_  does not determine whether
they are COMMODITIES.  The potential for commodity and surplus-value
can thereby be actualized even if the commodity is never utilized or
utilized in a particular way that it was intended for.  Thus, a 'toothbrush'
could be sold as a commodity and hence have a use-value even though
it might never brush teeth but might instead be used in a piece of art
or hoarded.  In that case it might never become a TOOTHBRUSH even 
though it has already been fully constituted as COMMODITY.  

Do you agree?

In solidarity, Jerry

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