[OPE-L:8229] Re: the 'starting point' (re the ordering of thinking and the ordering of the presentation)

From: Michael Eldred (artefact@t-online.de)
Date: Sun Dec 22 2002 - 11:45:43 EST

Cologne 22-Dec-2002

gerald_a_levy schrieb Sun, 22 Dec 2002 08:08:28 -0500:

> 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
> points.
> In solidarity, Jerry

Yes, Jerry, I agree that the biographical genesis of a thinking/theory is
something altogether different from what comes about finally after many years
of attempts as a more or less successful presentation in a system.

I would even allow that a presentation can take different routes to get the
phenomena into view. (A phenomenological route in thinking is not a process of
deduction, dialectical or otherwise.) But there is a caveat: I regard Marx's
critique of political economy as an attempt to say what capitalism is, i.e. to
spell out its essence. If its essence truly lies in capital being a movement of
value, then everything depends on how well the concept of value is thought and
with respect to which phenomena precisely. The ordering: commodities -- value
-- money -- transformation of money into capital -- wage-labour -- capitalist
production process has a certain necessity in it in elaborating the concept of
value (once won) in order to move through the various aspects of the
phenomenality of capitalism. The value concept provides the guiding thread.
This concept brings to light something fundamental about social relations in
capitalist society. Value is a social relation, namely, an abstract  social
relation which is reified in money. (I keep harping on value being a social
relation first and foremost -- not a substance, not a magnitude.) The value
concept is the key to understanding what money _is_, something which the social
science of economics does not understand to the present day.

The movement of value as capital is the movement of capitalist society itself
in its production, circulation, distribution and consumption. Through value as
a social relation, capitalist society itself is able to be a certain kind of
totality with an "inner connection" ("innerer Zusammenhang") which mobilizes
all beings, both humans and things. I call this structure of essence the
Gewinnst (roughly: the win), a concept not to be found in Marx.

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

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