[OPE-L:8687] Re: Exchange

From: Michael Eldred (artefact@t-online.de)
Date: Fri Mar 28 2003 - 16:16:40 EST

Cologne 29-Mar-2003

Re: [OPE-L:8681]

Andrew Brown schrieb Fri, 28 Mar 2003 13:24:45 -0000:

> Hi  Michael,
> re 8679:
> Sticking to what seems to be the main point:
> > For exchange to happen it is of no importance that there be a uniform
> > quantitative measure in the goods themselves -- precisely because they
> > are different, and exchange would be pointless without them being
> > different. Exchange considered as com-merce is a 'coming together of
> > goods'.
> Of course it is true that exchange by two isolated individuals does
> not require a 'third thing'  (and it is always true that exchange
> requires differences of use-value). But, as you say earlier, we are
> dealing with generalised, i.e. society wide, exchange whence it is
> necessary that there is a 'third thing' underlying exchange value.
> Societies don't base themselves on generalised practices having
> no relationship to matter, to material production, rather societies
> *are* modes of production at heart.
> Use value difference is a *condition* for generalised exchange but
> so are many other things (e.g. the many transhistorical
> requirements for the existence of human beings). None of these
> *conditions* should be confused with 'that which holds systematic
> exchange together'.

Hi Andy,

Two comments:

i) When Marx is being more precise, he speaks not merely of a "mode of
production", but of "Verkehrs- und Produktionsverhaeltnisse", i.e. relations
of intercourse and production. The sociality of society lies above all in
such relations of intercourse, in relations of people having to do with each
other, having dealings with one another in the broadest sense.

In the economic sphere (ontologically privileged in Marx's metaphysics),
relations of intercourse are above all commodity exchange relations.
Commodity exchange is the "cell form" of intercourse in capitalist society.

But relations of intercourse or exchange can also be taken in a much broader
sense to include, say, relations of friendship, the exchange in
communication, the exchange of glances, insults, etc. Sociality appears in
various ways in these different kinds of social relations.

ii) "Conditions" is ambiguous. It can mean ontic-causal conditions. This is
the normal way of thinking, especially in social science, including Marxist

But "conditions" can also be taken in an ontological sense as e.g. in Kant's
transcendental "Bedingungen der Moeglichkeit". The phenomenological question
of (capitalist) society is an ontological question aiming at the
clarification of the basic phenomena constituting what we call society. In
this approach, use-value and exchange-value are modes of being of practical
things. These simple modes of being have to brought to light. The difficulty
here resides not so much in the hiddenness of these phenomena but in their
simple obviousness. The obviousness blinds us and we are easily led astray
into ontic kinds of explanation.

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