(OPE-L) comparing cells and theories

From: Gerald A. Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Mon Mar 29 2004 - 17:27:13 EST

Hi Andy.

> But the analogy with a cell seems apt
> enough. It has stages of development through time - to grasp the
> system is to have some idea of the stages, and vice versa.

Perhaps you are reading too much into this analogy?  An
essential aspect of the 'cell', indeed the reason _why_ it
develops through stages, is that it is composed of organic (and
living) matter.  Yet, commodities themselves are
not (necessarily) alive nor (necessarily) composed of organic
matter.  Just about all analogies can be over-done: i.e. one has to
ask where and when an analogy is relevant and where and when
it can be misleading.

(NB: I have already suggested an alternative reading in which
the constitution and cycle ['stages'] of the commodity can
be grasped conceptually.)

> I'm not sure that there is such a convergence, in general -
> interesting issue to explore further, time permitting

Neither am I. It is a working hypothesis.  Another working
hypothesis that I have been considering presenting is that as
we move away from questions of basic theory and method
and examine more concrete and contingent phenomena,
there are some common understandings of contemporary
capitalism by Hegelian-Marxists and Althusserian-Marxists.
To explain this hypothesis further would require that one
compare systematic dialectic understandings of contingency
to the Althusserian concept of overdetermination.  Time
permitting (which it won't be for a while) I would like to
explore _that_ issue further.  And while I'm at it, I'd like
to throw 'Open Marxism', Uno-theory, and surplus
approach theory into the mix to discover whether there are
some areas of convergence (as well as known areas of
disagreement) in  their respective understandings of
contemporary capitalism.

> > Have you read Geert's contribution to the Albritton and Simoulis eds.
> > volume?  I believe it is particularly relevant to this exchange since
> > it concerns the theorization of the contingent, using the instance of
> > inflation, from a systematic dialectical perspective.>
> Yes - very useful, esp. on methodological points. Shows how the oft
> repeated criticism of systematic dialectics that it cannot find room
> for contingency is very wrong.


I guess all political-economy traditions within Marxism have been
accused of something for which they are innocent.  It's nice when
such a criticism, based on an inadequate comprehension of a theory,
can be laid to rest.

In solidarity, Jerry

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