[OPE-L:8673] Re: Re: probabilistic approaches to the theory of value and philosophy

From: Philip Dunn (pscumnud@dircon.co.uk)
Date: Wed Mar 26 2003 - 07:52:59 EST

Dear Michael

This reply is on the main point only, equalisation. There are so many issues!

Michael Eldred wrote:

> In a society in which the exchange of goods is generally practised, these
> goods (which have to be conceived as good-for-practical-living) have many,
> many exchange-values since, e.g. shoes can be exchanged not only for potatoes,
> but also for coats or linen or some other useful thing.
> These many, many exchange-values become unified only when money comes on the
> scene as the mediator of exchange. Useful things are then not worth something
> in terms of myriad other goods, but are worth something in money. What they
> are worth is their price. Money unifies all the various use-values in a
> uniform dimension of monetary value, and they all become equal.
> Aristotle uses the example of the exchange of a physician’s services for a
> farmer’s products which “have to be equalized” (_dei isasthaenai_ Eth. Nic.
> 1133a18). “Thus everything must be comparable in some way if exchange is to
> be.” (_dio panta symblaeta dei pos einai, on estin allagae. 1133a19) And how
> is this comparability achieved? Aristotle continues, “Money has resolved this
> and is a kind of middle term, for it measures everything and so also too much
> and too little and how many shoes are equal to a house or food.” (eph' ho to
> nomism' elaeluthe, kai ginetai pos meson: panta gar metrei, hoste kai taen
> hyperochaen kai taen elleipsin, posa atta dae hypodaeat' ison oikiai ae
> trophaei. 1133a20)
> Notice that here, too, it is important not to allow oneself to succumb merely
> to the quantitative aspect of these phenomena. Rather, in money itself, it can
> be seen how a unified measure of exchange-value comes about ontologically when
> all the various use-values are "equalized" (_isasthaenai_) through the
> generalized practice of exchange. Price itself is a relational phenomenon,
> namely, the relation of a useful thing to money. This relation also has a
> quantitative aspect, i.e. in money-price, exchange-values gain a uniform,
> quantitative expression.
> But the (qualitative) phenomenon should be seen here as the primary
> phenomenon, namely, that all the countless practical things which are good for
> living in a social world gain a unity in the monetary dimension in their
> prices. What things are worth are then monetary in their social nature.

"tae men oun alaetheia adunaton"  Eth. Nic. Book V ch 5 1133b19-20

"It is, however, in reality, impossible" that such unlike things can be
commensurable. (Marx, Capital I ch 1 section 3(a)iii)

Meikle (Aristotle's Economic Thought, pp 21-27) discusses in detail the
passage you cite (1133a20).  He judged that:

"This idea is inadequate and, though Aristotle appears to return to it once or
twice in the ordering of the chapter as we have it, he finally drops it. It is
inadequate because simply establishing a measure cannot itself create
commensurability between things that are in themselves incommensurable."

A house sells for 10 dollars, 5 beds sell for 10 dollars. There is nothing in
the house qua artifact that is equal to 10 dollars. Similarly for the beds.
How then can 1 house = 5 beds?  It is necessary to treat the
house-as-commodity as an _ousia_ distinct from the house-artifact _ousia_.
The house-artifact is matter relative to the house-commodity whose form is the
value-form.  Then 1 house = 5 beds is exactly true (subject to some limits of
scope, of course) since the intrinsic value of the house-commodity is equal to
10 dollars and the intrinsic value of the 5 use-value units of the
bed-commodity is also equal to 10 dollars.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Mar 28 2003 - 00:00:01 EST