[OPE-L:8271] essence

From: Christopher Arthur (cjarthur@waitrose.com)
Date: Fri Jan 03 2003 - 12:33:26 EST

Michael in earlier mails foregrounded the term 'essence' but I think this
is rather ambiguous and for Marxiam purposes needs setting in a
post-hegelian context.
Sometimes you use it as a synonym for 'what capitalism is'. This usage
makes it a meta-category. It does not in itself imply the usual
metaphysical category of explanation which would say capitalsim HAS an
essence, say labor, distinct from its surface appearance. Hegel's Doctrine
of essence is a sustained polemic against this sort of explanatory
framework ending by reducing essence and appearance to interchangeable
moments of Actuality, and arguing that 'what is' is known only in its
>From this point of view your stuff about value being a groundless
(measure?)-relation seems to imply it is a very 'thin' category, roughly on
the level of Hegel's doctrine of Being.
But in 8076 suddenly something like  the metaphysical category appears when
you praise marx who "digs deeper into the essence of social relations". And
in 8229 a very unexplained notion appears, namely a 'structure of essence'.
Is this the same notion as Tony Smith and Geert reuten? namely that the
categories of essence are adequate to characterise capitalism because it
lacks the self-determining harmony of the Concept?
Or what do you mean?

Chris A

17 Bristol Road, Brighton, BN2 1AP, England

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