[OPE-L:8566] Re: probabilistic approaches to the theory of value and philosophy

From: Philip Dunn (pscumnud@dircon.co.uk)
Date: Sun Mar 09 2003 - 20:38:45 EST

gerald_a_levy <gerald_a_levy@msn.com> said:

> >From [8557]:
> > In the mid eighties I
> > happened to read Farjoun and Machover's book 'Laws of Chaos'.  I have
> > been hooked on the probabilistic approach to the theory of value and
> > exploitation ever since.  Another early influence was Scot Meikle's
> > Aristotelian Marxism.  Studying Aristotle took up the late 80s and early
> > 90s. I  spent the latter part of the 90s pleasantly marooned in the second
> > millennium BCE courtesy of Martin Bernal.
> Hi Phil.
> This is an unusual intellectual odyssey.  What, if any, connections do you
> see between a probabilistic approach to value theory  and Aristotelian
> thought?    Having emerged from years of studying Aristotle and Greek
> philosophy, how did your perspective on value change and/or deepen?
> Also, what works by Martin Bernal (not to be confused with J.D.
> Bernal -- although, I wonder if they were related?) are especially worth
> studying?

Hi Jerry

Yes, they are father and son. It was mainly Black Athena II I was interested in. It pieces together a fascinating picture of the eastern Mediterranean in the second millennium BCE.  Black Athena I is worth studying for its account of how a new paradigm, the Aryan Model of Ancient Greek history, (with little evidence in its favour) can overthrow a long held one such as the Ancient Model of Egyptian and Phoenician colonisation.

I have not come across any precursor of probability theory in Aristotle.  He does discuss 'luck and the automatic/spontaneous' in Physics, Book II, ch 4-6. But there is no mention of games of chance or anything like that.  In Farjoun and Machover value and price are related probabilistically.  It would be a bad mistake, however, to see value as essence and price as accident.  Aristotle would not countenance the idea of quantity as essence (but ratio would be OK).

I now think that the magnitude of a commodity's intrinsic value is an accidental property of the commodity.  The link with probability is in terms of Aristotle's notion of a power (dynamis) and its activity (energeia) and the result or realisation or recognition (entelecheia) of this activity.  Briefly, the value creating activity of labour-power is recognised/measured both in the labour market as money wages and in the product market via prices.  These two measurements are related probabilistically.

What I wanted to get from Aristotle was an understanding of the Aristotelian terminology that Marx uses: form/matter, essence/accident, genus/species/individual, potential/actual.


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