[OPE-L:8226] the 'starting point' (re the ordering of thinking and the ordering of the presentation)

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Sun Dec 22 2002 - 08:08:28 EST

Re Michael E's [8225]:

> PS: Addendum re the concept of value and wage-labour
> There is a further point to make about why the exchange relation between
> wage-labourers and capitalists cannot be the "starting-point" for
> analyzing what capitalism is, and that is that this relation is mediated
> by money and therefore presupposes a concept of money to be thought
> through.  <snip, JL>
> The order of thinking in relation to the phenomenon and concept of value
> is thus relation, substance, quantity.

The actual 'starting point'  for analyzing capitalism is the empirical
concrete. This is what Marx started with  (by selecting the 'concretum',
the 'commodity') and what he expected to return to.

An issue:  is it the 'order of thinking' that is presented in _Capital_
and/or is it the order of presentation?

Is there any reason why the _presentation_ of the subject matter
(capitalism) must follow the same sequence as the systematic reconstruction
in thought of the subject matter?

I think it would be misleading to suggest that the 'starting point'  from
the perspective of systematic dialectics is also the 'starting point' in
practice. E.g.  Marx's actual 'starting point' for the analysis of
capitalism was not the 'commodity' in Ch. 1 of Volume 1 of _Capital_
but rather can be traced back to the beginnings of his intellectual and
political radicalization. That is, his analysis of capitalism deepened and
evolved (and became  more systemic) over the course of his lifetime.
Eventually, he felt that he  could 'put it all together'  in systematic
fashion (the 6-book-plan) but  this 'putting it all together' (my
expression, not his) was _not_ the 'order of thinking'.  For instance,
consider the actual ordering of his writing of what was to become
published as _Capital_:  he basically progressed from the drafts for
what was to become published after his death as Volume 3 to Volume 1
(of course,  published in Marx's lifetime) to the drafts for what would be
published posthumously as Volume 2. In other words, the evidence
suggests that the _actual_ 'order of  writing'  and 'order of thinking'
(which were  -- and more generally are --  two  _separate_ orderings)
by Marx was _not_ the same as the order of  presentation.   The reason
for this is fundamental: the piecing together  of disparate parts of a
subject matter in the form of  a systematic dialectical presentation  is
_not the same_ as a deductive process. This suggests that rather than 
there being one 'starting point' there were in practice _many_ starting 

In solidarity, Jerry

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