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

From: Michael Eldred (artefact@T-ONLINE.DE)
Date: Sat May 17 2003 - 04:59:06 EDT

Cologne 17-May-2003

 Ian Wright <ian_paul_wright@HOTMAIL.COM> schrieb Fri, 16 May 2003 17:20:29

> Hello Michael,
> Thanks for your comments.
> >It is highly disputable whether Marx ever employed an "abstract model" in
> >his thinking. He claims instead a "dialectical development" of concepts
> moving
> >from the most abstract to the most concrete.
> Our models of "model" are probably different, as I don't see any important
> difference
> 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".

That would make a concept (in the Hegelian, Marxian sense) a model (which it

> 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".

I think that there is an enormous difference, but that would involve extended
interpretation of Hegel, whose dialectical thinking, among other things, is an
attempt to overcome the dualism introduced by Descartes. It took three hundred
years in philosophy to overcome this subject-object dualism. Fichte made a
valiant start at the beginning of German Idealism, Hegel continued with his
speculative thinking, Heidegger completed the job in phenomenology. There is
always an inertial lag for philosophical thinking to ripple out, which may take
several more centuries.

> >Furthermore, what you here designate as "simple commodity production" is
> >called
> >by Marx "simple commodity circulation" (einfache Warenzirkulation), i.e.
> >the
> >level of abstraction preceding the transition to money as capital. The term
> >"simple commodity production" was coined not by Marx but by Engels when
> >trying
> >to historicize the "dialectical development" to make it
> >"logico-historical".
> >(Hans-Georg Backhaus is good in destructing these Engelsian notions and
> >putting
> >them into relation with Marx's thinking, cf. 'Om forholdet mellem der
> >"logiske"
> >og det "historiske" i Marx' kritik af den politiske oekonomi' in Kurasje
> >Nr. 27/28 1981.)
> Yes that's right, but I am following Rubin who developed and, in my opinion,
> clarified
> Marx's ideas on the SCE. Quoting from my paper on simple commodity
> production:
> "The aim is to examine the law of value in a simple commodity economy, a
> model
> implicit in part one of the first volume of Capital, referred to by Marx as
> `simple circulation',
> and elaborated by Rubin".

 My comment related to your claim in your last post, "To make such a deduction
Marx must have thought that a SCE was a logically coherent concept." I am saying
that this concept doesn't figure in Marx's thinking. As I said, Hans-Georg
Backhaus is worth reading, not just on this point.

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

Aren't "furry animals that yap a lot" another concept? Where is the concept? In
your head? Or in the world? That is the problem with subject-object dualism.

> Maybe some continental philosophers do -- I don't know.

Do you make a distinction between continental philosophy and -- insular

> Of course,
> the fact that the reference between model and reality is problematic is one
> reason why
> scientific work is necessary.

That is precisely the Cartesian dualism between res cogitans and res extensa,
and more generally, subject and object. The world is only ever represented
(vorgestellt, modelled) in consciousness.

> But irrespective of this, my approach is to begin with a computational,
> not a mathematical, model. Do you think computational models are also caught
> in 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
> therefore aren't "Cartesian" in the sense of dealing with only magnitudes and
> coordinates.)

I'm not thinking of Cartesian co-ordinates or Cartesian geometry, but Descartes'
early work _Regulae_ in which he lays down the rules for acquiring certain
scientific knowledge. I've written a fair bit about this Cartesian text on OPE-L
as one of the (hidden) foundational texts of science in the modern age.

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-  artefact text and translation _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_
_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_- made by art  _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_ _-_
_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_ Dr Michael Eldred -_-_-

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