[OPE-L:8300] Re: logos

From: Michael Eldred (artefact@t-online.de)
Date: Fri Jan 10 2003 - 07:11:37 EST

Cologne 10-Jan-2003

Re: [OPE-L:8299]

Christopher Arthur schrieb  Thu, 9 Jan 2003 19:27:14 +0000:

>  Michael
> Thanks for your various replies. Just one collective response: on the most
> fundamental issue of all: what sort of science are we trying to produce?
> In 8288 you write:
> "Value is a social relation in practical, social life. For Aristotle,
> practical life is
> the realm which "admits of having it another way", whereas _epistaemae_,
> science,
> directs itself toward the phenomena which "cannot be otherwise". This seems
> to be
> an important tip for thinking about social phenomena and has implications
> for what
> something resembling 'social science' can be."
> In 8289 you say variously:
> "_Ousia_ for Aristotle is a being in the mode of its being. ...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"
> "I would understand "form-determinations" (Formbestimmungen) as further
> faces of
> (the phenomenon of) value which show themselves in proceeding along the path in
> thinking."
> "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".

Here a couple more thoughts as they occur to me.

> You distinguish the causality of what could not be otherwise from the
> contingency of open-textured social relations allowing human choices that
> could have been otherwise.

In Aristotle this is the realm of human _praxis_ and resolution (_proairesis_, a
choosing one thing before another, an act of deliberate choice) and, with respect
to the affairs of the polis, deliberation (_bouleusis_).

> However economics is at the interface:
> a) clay turns into a house not as a result of natural causality per se but
> in virtue of the cunning of reason developing techniques manipulating said
> causes to produce something new that would not otherwise have been.

That is _technae_ in the Aristotelean and Platonic sense, which I would distinguish
from economics as making a living (acquiring those things lacking to "live well")
or as making money (in which the end, money or wealth, substitutes for "living
well"). There is an essential, i.e. _ontological_, difference between _technae
poiaetikae_ (the art of bringing something forth into presence by making it) and
_technae ktaetikae_ (the art of bringing something forth into presence by acquiring
it from others). The latter practice involves association, intercourse with others.
The ontology is different in each case, i.e. the modes of being of the beings
involved differ and require specific explication, unfolding (not explanation).

> b) Social goals like capital accumulation are constrained by Nature and by
> the historically given level of the productive forces (e.g. there would be
> no surplus if the whole working day were necessary to subsistence).

Yes, nature is not something outside but is always part of a life world, like the
wood from the woods and the stone from the quarry to build houses. Nowadays, nature
includes also things like oil from the ground and the sea to make plastics to build
myriad things used in everyday living.

Re "subsistence": It often strikes me that Marxism subsists in a kind of romantic
Dickensian (and thus basically Christian) moral world in which there is an
oppressed class of battlers struggling along to fulfil their subsistence needs, on
the one hand, and, on the other, a class of greedy, exploiting capitalists. Cf.
below on need.

> However with capitalism there is something much more peculiar to the
> economic form as such. It is clear it has laws of motion, such as the trade
> cycle, of a generality that takes in its stride contingencies like a
> decline in hat wearing, or an artifically manufactured desire for  'the
> real thing', and exhibits definite necessities within which individual
> human agents must act.

"An artifically manufactured desire" is a strange thing. It is not _technae_ in the
proper sense, but rather rhetoric, i.e. the art of knowing the various means by
which one can 'speak for' (_pistis_) a thing so as to bring about a change (of
opinion, of mood) in an 'audience' (in this case the potential consumers of
Coca-Cola). The ontology is again different in each case. The way rhetoric works is
not productive _technae_, nor is it a matter of 'logical argument', i.e. of
syllogisms, of 'words put together' in argumentative discouse, but rather of
_enthymaemata_, i.e. of 'arguments' designed to be 'taken to heart' to sway it.
Such 'arguments' therefore include also _lexis_, the way something is said, i.e.
its melody, its music. That's why Coca-Cola takes great care to find the right
music to address its audience. The right music is uplifting (_haedu_), not
downcasting (_lypaeron_) -- another central distinction in the Aristotelean
conception of living being.

The example of hat-wearing shows something quite important -- that needs arise from
usages (customary practices), not usages from needs (which would be somehow
naturally determined). The need for hats arises from the customary practice of
hat-wearing, not conversely. (Interestingly, the famous Italian hat manufacturer,
Borsalino, still survives these days by selling around two thirds of its output to
Jews -- who have the _usage_ of wearing hats.)

Another example: the Australian aborigines did quite well making dug-out canoes
(laboriously) with primitive stone axes before the Europeans arrived on their
shores. As soon as they discovered the iron axe in its usefulness, however, they
had a 'need' for iron axes, and stone axes fell out of use. Needs depend upon how a
world opens up for human being.

There is a significant ambivalence in the Greek philosophical texts resulting from
the ambiguity of the word _chraesis_ (and also in German with 'gebrauchen' and in
English with 'usage') which can mean 'use', on the one hand, and 'need', on the
other (or 'intercourse'). The verb _chraomai_ also means either 'to use' or 'to
need'. 'Christian' translations of Greek texts tend to 'need', and that is the
standard Western understanding today -- that humans are needy beings. The Greeks,
by contrast, experienced human being first and foremost as _desirous_, as
_striving_ for what it lacks, for what it sets its heart on. Human being, the human
_psychae_, is erotic, borne by Eros, which is the demigod of _striving_ to overcome
lack. _Philein_ in Greek is not simply 'to love' but 'to strive'. Thus there are
many philosophically important words on _philein_ for human being:
_philochraematia_, _philotimia_, _philosophia_: the striving for goods/money, the
striving for recognition/esteem/honour/fame, the striving for wise insight. These
three words sum up three principal dimensions of finite human being.

> These 'laws' are neither causally efficient, nor intentionally generated
> (even through counter-finality, althouth there is an element of that). IMO
> what we see at work is a logic. Orthodox philosophy and some of your
> formulations restrict logic to the laws of thought and take science to be
> about uncovering causality. But in Hegel (and the ancients?) the logos is
> the reason at work in the real; it is self-thinking thought producing from
> within itself its objective instances.

Yes, that is Hegel, and he often praises Herakleitos/Heraclitus as the primary
ancient source of his dialectical-speculative thinking. But Herakleitos' fragments
are a very open field for interpretation. Both Hegel and Heidegger regard _logos_
as the prime word in Herakleitos' thinking, but they go about unfolding it in very
different ways. _Logos_ comes from _legein_ which means not just 'to speak' but,
more originarily, 'to gather together'. It is from this originary 'gathering' that
we must attempt to see what 'reason', 'thinking', 'understanding', 'logic' are, not

> This sounds like the purest idealism
> but imo it is mapped in the value form and its self-definition.

I agree that money is a practical, reified abstraction of an abstract social
relation and that this reified social relation has a peculiar circular movement in
which it reveals different 'faces'.

> I just love
> this characterisation of the logos as "brings the form to its definition"
> The form here is the objectivity of the value form which with MCM (OK
> brought about by social practice but now autonomoursly imposing itself on
> social practice) has become self-defined (determined) achieves a
> destiny/destination delta M.

Yes, the movement M-C-M' becomes the principle ruling practical economic activity.
You can do what you like economically as long as it fits in somewhere with the
augmenting movement M-C-M'. The intertwining of these movements holds everything
together to make a unified economy.

> Just one good example: how would you
> characterise the relation between commodities and money? IMO it is logical
> in that money stands in for the universality of commodities, albeit that
> historical 'causes' may have been operative in its emergence, the selection
> of gold etc.
> Money gathers the particular commodities under the universality of its form
> just as mentally we may see commodities as having something in common.

Yes, money is a gathering, a _legein_, too. We don't have to learn to see that
"commodities have something in common", but rather our gaze has to be led from the
many commodities to see their _mode of being_ (i.e. abstract value), and not just
something "in common". This is the proper sense of _epagogae_ (induction) which
does not mean merely 'generalization'. Hegel, too, emphasizes that das Allgemeine
ist nicht das, was allen gemeinsam ist.

I think that the relation of the human _psychae_ (soul) to money and its movement
as capital also has to be looked at. There is an ambivalence in human being with
regard to its desire, its lacking. There is no limit (_peras_) to human desire for
goods, for they all reveal themselves to being good for living in some way or
other. But, on the other hand, human being has to set limits to its own striving to
come to stand in the world.

It seems that Aristotle's postulated highest end of human living, the _bios
theoraetikae_, the "life of contemplation", redirects the endless striving of human
being from the striving for goods, money, recognition, fame into philosophical
questioning, which also knows no end, but nevertheless brings human being to a
noble stand.

> What
> is peculiar in this case is that the commodities have very little in common
> other than the opportunity to secure them through CMC and the capitalist
> using MCM to generate them.
> These structures then have a certain necessity in virtue of this
> quasi-logical form. It is only within such necessities that the actions of
> hat-makers and Coca-Cola make sense.
> In the end was the word and the word is self-valorising value with the
> stress on the 'self'.
> Best
> Chris

Thanks and cheers,
_-_-_-_-_-_-_-  artefact text and translation _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_
_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_- made by art  _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_
http://www.webcom.com/artefact/ _-_-_-_-artefact@webcom.com _-_
_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_ Dr Michael Eldred -_-_-

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sat Jan 11 2003 - 00:00:01 EST