Re: [OPE-L:8609] From Ian Wright on Weeks and Simple Commodity Production

From: Ian Wright (ian_paul_wright@HOTMAIL.COM)
Date: Fri May 16 2003 - 13:20:29 EDT

Hello Michael,

Thanks for your comments.

>It is highly disputable whether Marx ever employed an "abstract model" in
>thinking. He claims instead a "dialectical development" of concepts moving
>the most abstract to the most concrete.

Our models of "model" are probably different, as I don't see any important
between moving from "abstract models" to more extended or "concrete models"
(as I put it), and a "dialectical development" from "abstract concepts" to
"concrete concepts" (as you put it). At each stage of the analysis there is
a set
of more or less "abstract concepts", the set of which, in my terms,
constitute an
"abstract model". The dialectical method perhaps places useful constraints
on the
transition from one set of abstract concepts to another, which may be
missing from
non-dialectical methodologies. But I don't see any real substantive
opposition to
be made, except that I didn't mention the magic word "dialectical".

>Furthermore, what you here designate as "simple commodity production" is
>by Marx "simple commodity circulation" (einfache Warenzirkulation), i.e.
>level of abstraction preceding the transition to money as capital. The term
>"simple commodity production" was coined not by Marx but by Engels when
>to historicize the "dialectical development" to make it
>(Hans-Georg Backhaus is good in destructing these Engelsian notions and
>them into relation with Marx's thinking, cf. 'Om forholdet mellem der
>og det "historiske" i Marx' kritik af den politiske oekonomi' in Kurasje
>27/28 1981.)

Yes that's right, but I am following Rubin who developed and, in my opinion,
Marx's ideas on the SCE. Quoting from my paper on simple commodity
"The aim is to examine the law of value in a simple commodity economy, a
implicit in part one of the first volume of Capital, referred to by Marx as
`simple circulation',
and elaborated by Rubin".

>The model-building way of thinking is modern-day speak for the Cartesian
>of scientific thinking in which beings are what they are as representations
>consciousness, given by data preferably schematized as magnitudes that make
>(the data and thus the beings) amenable to mathematical manipulation.

I don't think this is an accurate characterisation of mathematical
modelling, nor do I
think any modellers confuse their models with the reality they are intended
to refer to,
just as language users don't confuse the concept "dog" with those furry
animals that yap
a lot. Maybe some continental philosophers do -- I don't know. Of course,
the fact that the
reference between model and reality is problematic is one reason why
scientific work
is necessary.  But irrespective of this, my approach is to begin with a
not a mathematical, model. Do you think computational models are also caught
a "Cartesian" trap? (Note however that computational models are not
restricted to
representing magnitudes and smooth functional relationships between them,
but can
quite easily represent and manipulate all kinds of changes of qualitative
structures. But
even some fields of modern mathematics deal with structures too, and
aren't "Cartesian" in the sense of dealing with only magnitudes and


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