[OPE-L:8217] Re: _dynamis_ and _energeia_ of commodity & surplus-value

From: Michael Eldred (artefact@t-online.de)
Date: Thu Dec 19 2002 - 16:32:39 EST

Cologne 19-Dec-2002

Re: [OPE-L:8215]

gerald_a_levy schrieb Thu, 19 Dec 2002 08:25:17 -0500:

> Re Michael E's [8211]:
> (see following excerpts from your post)
> 1. If the finished product  before it has been sold and put to use
> whether it be a toothbrush or a ship _is_ potentially a toothbrush
> or a ship,  and;
> 2. If the tradition of favoring activity over potential is a prejudice and
> that dynamis is a genuine mode of being;
> 3. Then, doesn't it necessarily follow (in contradiction to the last
> excerpt below) that value potentially exists prior to the act of
> commodity exchange and that this is a genuine mode of being
> of value?
> In solidarity, Jerry
> //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
> > The finished product, a toothbrush or a ship, before it is put to use
> > still _is_ potentially  toothbrush or a ship. But the potential mode of
> > being (_dynamei_) is different from the mode of being called _energeia_,
> > literally: at-workness.
> > The tradition has always favoured the mode of being of at-workness
> > (actuality) over potentiality, but this seems to be a prejudice. To see
> > that _dynamis_ is a genuine mode of being, just consider that a
> > toothbrush has the potential for being used for brushing teeth, but not
> > for sailing on the seas, whereas a ship has the potential for sailing on
> > the seas but not for brushing teeth.
> >  The commodity's value
> > _is_ in the relation of exchange, either potentially or actually -- it
> > is not 'inherent' in the commodity like a kind of "crystal". Value is,
> > either potentially or actually, the act of abstract association
> > (_koinonia_) in commodity exchange, i.e. a specific kind of social
> > relation.

I agree "that value potentially exists prior to the act of commodity exchange
and that this is a genuine mode of being of value".

But we have to look at the two different kinds of _dynameis_ or potentials
which use-value on the one hand, and exchange-value, on the other, represent.

With regard to the use-value of a finished product such as a toothbrush or a
ship, the _dynamis_ consists in that the thing is suitable for a use, the use
being embedded in some usage or other practised in the society in question.
The potential use-value become actually present in someone actually using the
thing (brushing one's teeth or sailing the seas). The use is a relationship
between human(s) and thing.

In the case of the exchange-value of a finished commodity product destined for
the market, the _dynamis_ is more complex. Why? Because to be sold or
exchanged, a coincidence or reciprocity of two different _dynameis_ must
occur. The toothbrush must be offered on the market, and a buyer must be
willing to purchase on that market. The buyer, too, has a potential use-value
residing in money itself. The potential of money is that it can purchase. This
is a peculiar use-value in that the use of money is exchange-for... Its
use-value is exchange-value, i.e. its use-value is to mediate exchange. A sale
only comes about when the use-values of the things, toothbrush and money, are
applied reciprocally in an actual relation of exchange.

The more complex structure of the exchange relation (in comparison to the
relation of using something) can be seen more clearly in going back to the
exchange of one good for another. For two commodities, such as toothbrush and
cloth, to be exchanged, there are "at least four" terms involved (as Aristotle
points out): the two products and the two exchangers. The exchangers
themselves must enter in a social relation with one another.

This is the very sense of exchange as a _social_ relation -- it as-sociates
(at least two) exchangers with one another. Each must offer on a market a
potential use-value which they do not want to realize for themselves. For an
exchange to actually take place, the two _dynameis_ of toothbrush and cloth
(i.e. their respective exchange-values) must be reciprocally exercised.

Whereas the potential use-value of something refers to a potential user, i.e.
a relationship between thing and user, the potential exchange-value of
something refers necessarily to a social relationship involving "at least
four" terms in a reciprocal cross-over relationship --
toothbrush in exchange for cloth
and reciprocally
cloth in exchange for toothbrush.

This shows that the ontological structure of the exchange relation, which is a
genuine social relation involving another (social relations are always _pros
heteron_, i.e. "toward another"), is more complex than that of the simpler
relation of use-value.

The reason for this is that the very category of _dynamis_ in Aristotle's
ontology/metaphysics was thought along the lines of the paradigm of
production, of _poiaesis_. In Books Delta and Theta (V and X) of the
Metaphysics, the lead meaning for _dynamis_ is gleaned from the paradigm of
production. This lead meaning of _dynamis_ is _archae metabolaes en alloi ae
haei allo_ (X 1046a10), i.e "starting-point governing a transformation in
something else or insofar as it is something else".

Thus e.g. with the art of building, the starting-point governing the
transformation of stone and wood into a house lies in something else, namely,
the builder, in whom resides the know-how of building.
The qualification "or insofar as it is something else" is necessary to cover
cases such as the art of medicine when the doctor treats him/herself. The
doctor does not treat herself as a doctor, but insofar as she is herself her
own patient.

In the case of the social relation of exchange we have (at least) two
starting-points, i.e. two _archai_, namely, the two exchangers who want to
realize the exchange-value of their respective goods. The exchange relation
only comes about if the two _archai_ reciprocate. (Social relations are often
not reciprocated -- just think of unrequited love.)

So, a toothbrush or a ship are indeed each potential exchange-values, but the
actualization of this potential exchange-value depends also an _another_. This
condition of reciprocity is the reason why exchange-value is quantitatively so
variable and uncertain. The experience of what can usually be had for a
certain commodity on the market can suddenly turn out to be no reliable
indicator. The advance sales revenue calculations and hence profit
calculations of a capitalist can turn out to be very wide of the mark, either
up or down. Surplus-value can turn out to be nought or abnormally great. The
reason for this lies in the essence of the market, i.e. that it consists of
myriad 'starting-points', i.e. myriad dissociated market participants --
despite all efforts to control the market.

The problem of society and the polity of society is that there are myriad
starting-points. Government in society involves the subjugation of one
_archae_ to another, which is another kind of social relation, different from
commodity exchange.

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-  artefact text and translation _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_
_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_- made by art  _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_
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_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_ Dr Michael Eldred -_-_-

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