Date: Sat May 10 2003 - 20:00:14 EDT
Hans writes: Now Howard makes an additional important distinction in his posting: that between the real and the actual. Things can be real but not actual. A good example for something that is real but now actual is the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. Even if the rate of profit actually rises, the underlying laws increasing the organic compostion of capital are still valid and are exerting a persistent long-run downward pressure on the rate of profit, even if this downward pressure is swamped by various short-run "counteracting influences." _____________________ Philosophers such as Nietzsche, Bergson and Deleuze have attempted to replace the couplet of possibility/reality with virtuality/actuality. While a possibility may or may not become real, a virtual tendency is completely real though all the properties which it entails are not actual. The underlying tendency towards a rising OCC and countertendency towards a rising SV are not mere possibilities in the course of accumulation; they are, as Hans says, real and dynamic tendencies, real however as virtualities; perhaps the virtual tendencies are as real as the deep currents that push whatever stretch of the stream to the surface which allows one to identify it. Yet not quite sure at all what to make of the attempts to introduce virtuality into traditional ontology; not sure whether the concept of virtuality helps in any way to clarify Marx's sense of the actual reality of his laws of tendency. __________ Hans writes: The value which a private producer produces comes into being and is real from the moment of production. But it is not yet "actual" as far as society is concerned. It is not yet useful for society, nobody in society may even know that it exists. It only exists as a potential, as a capacity, and as a need of the producer who did not produce for him or herself but must enter now the market. This value becomes actual only at the moment when the product is exchanged or sold. Marx calls the sale the "realization" of the value, a more precise term would be "actualization" of the value. ____________ I think Marx attempted to replace the distinction between primary and secondary qualities with the one between possessed and latent. I suggested some analogies to quantum mechanics. Date: Fri, 2 Feb 2001 00:40:12 -0800 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari <rakeshb@Stanford.EDU> Subject: [OPE-L:4825] value: primary, secondary; latent, possessed? (was eigenvalues) Just to reiterate: I am not trying to bring quantum mechanics into value theory. The point here is a general philosophical one (here I draw from a helpful discussion by Grometstein, The Roots of Things: Topics in Quantum Mechanics). The question here is about the nature of the attributes of objects or qualities in general; the specific question is what kind of attribute is value. Until the impact of relativity theory and quantum mechanics, it was tenable to categorize attributes as primary and secondary (so thought Anaxagoras, Galileo, Descartes, Locke); the former was supposed to be a feature which an object possesses independent of an observer. Classic examples were supposed to be mass, position or size. Primary qualities, that is, were thought to be resident within their object; inalienable from it and make up their essence. An observer simply measured or read a primary quality, but the quality is in no sense dependent upon the observer. Secondary qualities arise from the interaction between the object and an observer. Taste and color are typical of this type. Now that distinction has broken down since with relativity theory: mass for example does vary with the relative speed of the object and observer. If every quality is secondary, then the distinction between primary and secondary is simply uninformative. But in *Physics and Philosophy* (as I cited in my second post on money) Heisenberg tried to replace the old distinction of primary and secondary attributes with the idea that qualities of an object are either essential or potential; possessed or latent. With the uncertainty principle latent qualities manifest themselves as clearly present only upon measurement; that is, position and momentum appear as latent qualities.... Now this conceputal innovation is helpful in understanding Marx for whom value is a kind of latent quality of commodities which manifests itself as clearly present only upon successful monetary ex-change or "collapse" onto the money price "vector" (of course not everything which has assumed the commodity form and sold for a price possess the quality of value, but no commodity which has not sold for a price is a--or possesses--value)...
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