[OPE-L:8289] Re: _dynamis_ and _energeia_ substance and ground

From: Michael Eldred (artefact@t-online.de)
Date: Tue Jan 07 2003 - 07:10:18 EST

Cologne 07-Jan2003

Re: [OPE-L:8284]

Christopher Arthur schrieb Sat, 4 Jan 2003 17:58:45 +0000:

> >
> >Re: [OPE-L:8225]
> >
> Michael's main claim is that 'capitalism is groundless, fathomless, or
> abysmal' (8042) This is closely related to the claim that value is
> constituted by exchange and has no ground outside it (e.g. SNLT) and that
> there is no difference betweeen value and price (8071). Since the VF is
> merely 'relational' it is 'substanceless' (8129) In sum "value is not a
> substance which only expresses itself as a certain magnitude in the
> exchange relation" (8167).
> I contest these claims. As marx says in ch 4 value is a "self-moving
> substance" i.e. a 'subject'.
> I think your major problem is that you focus on simple exchange in which
> context V does indeed appear as relation. But this is only the most
> superficial ABSTRACT appearance of value, which as such is the appropriate
> starting point for exposition, and to which abstraction value continually
> reduces itself such that its origin in self-valorising value is obscured.
> In my work I have argued that value exists, and must exist to be what it
> is, at various levels, that its dialectical exposition is a passage through
> its forms in which it is demonstrated that in its concept value is a
> complex totality of production circulation and distribution. Not merely ch
> 1 but the whole 3 volumes are needed to say what value is. It is much more
> that the exchange value of sec 1. As early as the price form value is
> determined as substance because the value of commodity A + commodity B is
> given as a single measure. If it is argued that this notion of additivity
> is too static then certainly by ch 3 we have the metamorphoses of value,
> the way the same substance changes shape, now C, now M, now C again etc.
> With the teleological structure MCM, V has a fair claim to be a
> proto-subject.
> In your exposition I think you give substance a somewhat Heideggerian twist
> stressing its 'presence' but in Aristotle/Hegel version it is what
> maintains itself on its own account and it is contrasted with 'accidents'
> which cannot stand apart from a substance and may merely contingently
> characterise it. Thus i am a substance but my suntan is accidental.
> As early as sec 1 marx is thinking that iron and corn are accidents of the
> value substance. In other words an inversion has occured whereby use value
> substances predictated in exchange as bearers of value relations become the
> shell of value; a kind of objective metonymy. IMO Marx is right but cannot
> prove this so early: this presupposition must be posited in the subsequent
> exposition.
> The discussion in C is unfortunately confused by the fact Marx uses the
> term 'substance' in ch 1 in a sense different from that in ch 4. In ch 4
> value IS substance but in ch 1 he asks what is the substance OF value. IMHO
> this last usage is somewhat akin to Aristotelean 'matter'; Marx contrasts
> it with Form whhereas I think I am right that in Aris Substance comprehends
> both form and matter.

_Ousia_ for Aristotle is a being in the mode of its being. The everyday Greek
meaning of _ousia_ is estate, assets, belongings, i.e. all those useful and
valuable things which stand at one's disposal in practical life. In the
philosophical sense, _ousia_ is above all _to ti aen einai_, i.e. what
something 'always already was' from the start: its _eidos_ or 'form', i.e. the
face it presents in presenting itself which is then addressed and defined,
delineated and delimited through speaking (_legein_). The _logos_ brings the
form to its definition.

> Matter could of course suggest Use Value with its origin in concrete labour
> and at this early stage this externality of form and matter is pure
> difference but later value form determines use value and recognises labour
> only as abstract (I will write on labour later).
> Then, Michael, in your 8225 you appear to do a Uturn.

To my way of thinking, that is only apparent. Once value is seen to be the
concept of the abstract commodity exchange relation (and thus substanceless),
thinking can proceed.

> >The concept of money is developed by considering the phenomenon of the
> >exchange of commodity products of labour. Value is first of all a
> >relational concept which conceives the abstract social relation between
> >commodity products and their exchangers.
> >But this social relation precipitates its own substance and magnitude.
> >How? In that it becomes mediated by a customary thing, money. Money is
> >the social, customary thing that substantiates the abstract exchange
> >relation of value. ...As this customary mediator, money
> >also provides the measure for the exchange of commodity products, and as
> >a thing it becomes the measure of the magnitude of value itself, i.e.
> >the quantitative measure of a social relation.
> >The order of thinking in relation to the phenomenon and concept of value
> >is thus relation, substance, quantity.
> >As the embodiment of value, i.e. its precipitation, money as a
> >substantial thing is a reified social relation (from Latin 'res' for
> >thing), that is, a social relation that has become a thing. This thing
> >can take on a life of its own beyond the mediation of the exchange of
> >commodities in becoming a movement from money to more money, i.e. the
> >movement of capital M -- C -- M'. In this movement, money is able to
> >purchase labour-power (_dynamis_) in order to set it to work
> >(_energeia_) in a production process. As capital, money no longer merely
> >mediates exchange, but subsumes also the very production of the
> >commodity products of labour. The production process remains
> >dissociated, but mediated by the social thing, money-capital. The
> >production process has to prove itself as a social production process
> >through the commodity products being sold on the market, realizing the
> >return of the advanced money-capital. If a surplus-value is made (i.e.
> >advanced money-capital is augmented), the movement of capital has been
> >successful and the labour performed in the production process has proven
> >itself post factum to be a successful portion of social labour as a
> >whole.
> All this seems conformable with my line above and in my papers and does not
> square with your earlier mails. If money is 'value-for-itself' as I put it,
> or 'value-as-substance' as you seem to say, then value does not remain as
> it first appears in the exchange ratio but has a subsequent set of
> form-determinations, and reduces relation to a moment of its
> fully-developed concept.

I would understand "form-determinations" (Formbestimmungen) as further faces of
(the phenomenon of) value which show themselves in proceeding along the path in

> MCM as a play of form requires grounding in
> production which it subsumes with MCPCM as you admit above.
> So surely we have the possibility of LTV, not as a ground from which
> capitalism develops but as the mediation whereby capital grounds itself and
> determines its measure.
> The problem for us is this: price appears as groundless because it seems
> capable of assimilating any old content and is subject to contingency in
> its magnitude. But I distinguish between the emptiness which characterises
> most such forms and those cases, commodities produced by competitive
> capitals, which touch ground in the labour process. (of course Marx's
> presentation in ch 1 is highly defective when he first uses the commonality
> argument only to calmly reject non-products as value without adequate
> explanation.) So while it remains true that the VF in its immediacy gives
> rise to a mass of groundlessness there is yet a 'core' that cet par
> exhibits the necessity springing from the form of valorisation in
> production.
> Value is thus distinct from price both in the sense that some price forms
> are empty and in  the sense that even values are subject to contingencies
> of the marketplace in their realisation as price.

I do not see this latter. In Aristotelean metaphysics, contingency
(_symbebaekos_) is the opposite of _kath'auto_ i.e. that which is what it is in
itself. If value is first and foremost a social _relation_, it is never
something in itself, but is always exposed to the contingency of others.

> We have in effect given value a 'real definition' similar to saying water
> IS H2O or pneumonia IS the disease caused by the Pneu bacillus. G. A. Cohen
> (in Value by Stedman et al) says this is cheating because orignally the
> problem was to explain price but now  many prices are said to be not
> expressive of value. But this is a standard move in science. When the
> legionaires presented with 'pneumonia' and the bacillus was not present
> they were reclassified, something that looked like water but was not H2O
> would not be said to be another kind of water but not water at all
> (variation within H2O is allowed e.g. 'heavy' water). SO when Ricardo said
> value was caused by two things, scarcity and labour time , it was not
> unreasonable for Marx to stipulate only labour.
> It all depends on the theoretical utility of the definition.

To my mind, the definition has to bring the phenomenon to light _as_ it shows
itself of itself. Your examples here suggest that the "real definition" for you
is a cause (labour) which necessitates further theoretical constructions. But
it is important to stick to the abstract relation of value itself.

> If we study the form of industrial capital and see that it has a certain
> drive to subsume production to the purpose of valorisation, that the major
> social relation in production is that with labourers and that some capitals
> can make do with less labour than others then stipulating a definition of
> value that relates the visible exchange value to the underlying labour is
> justified because it is the only law-like phenomena in the otherwise mass
> of contingency.
> (I will come back to the measure problem and time separately.)
> fraternally Chris.

That sounds like a procedure of picking a ground because there must be one in
there somewhere -- in line with Leibniz' "grand principle" "nihil est sine

I'll take up the "drive to subsume production to the purpose of valorisation"
and the question of a ground for value along with the question of _dynamis_  in
my response to your post [OPE-L:8283] on "the measure problem and time".

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