[OPE-L] Fw: [OPE-L] Marx's Form of Analysis

From: Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM
Date: Tue Feb 15 2005 - 16:36:22 EST

----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Eldred" <artefact@t-online.de>
To: <Gerald_A_Levy@msn.com>
Cc: "Roth, Mike" <Mike.Roth@uni-konstanz.de>
Sent: Tuesday, February 15, 2005 12:01 PM
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Marx's Form of Analysis

 Cologne 15-Feb-2005

 Hi Jerry,

 The term "Formanalyse" can most probably be found in Marx's writings
themselves. I don't have the leisure at the moment to do a search.

 Hans-Georg Backhaus was the one to draw attention again to the analysis
of the Wertform in his seminal "Dialektik der Wertform", a paper he
first presented in Adorno's seminar in Frankfurt in the 1960's. Volkbert
M. (Mike) Roth (cc: to him) gave the title "Zum wiissenschaftlichen
Anspruch der Wertformanalyse" to his 1976 Habilitationsschrift for the
University of Constance.

 "Form" is well-established as the translation of both Plato's _idea_ and
Aristotle's _morphae_, but also as a rendering of _eidos_ (also rendered
as 'kind'). The seminal point of origin is Aristotle's distinction
between _morphae_ and _hylae_, 'form' and 'matter', 'form' and
'content', today still a standard, although thoughtlessly applied

 _Hylae_ is 'matter', but in everyday Greek usage it is simply the wood
from the forest used to make various things like houses, tables and
bedsteads (Aristotle's favourite examples).

 _Morphae_ is the form given to the material to make it into what it is.

 Aristotle develops the distinction between _morphae_ and _hylae_ to
think through _kinaesis_, i.e. movement, and above all the movement
through which a being arises and comes to be what it is, i.e. in
progeneration (_genesis_). The problem of movement is the great problem
of Greek philosophy: Being is thought by the Greeks as 'standing
presence', i.e. as a presence standing in its boundaries or outline,
thus presenting an appearance, a face, a look which is the being of the
being in question.

 Thus, for example, a bedstead that has been made has attained its final
being in a completed presence (_entelecheia_ = having-in-final-end)
shows its 'face' (_eidos_, _morphae_) _as_ this bedstead.

Both _idea_ and _eidos_, as terms for the being of beings, are derived
from the Greek verb 'eidon', 'to see'. Thus both _idea_ and _eidos_ are
the faces or looks that beings present of themselves to human

 So Marx is recurring to the beginnings of philosophy when he poses the
question once again "warum dieser Inhalt jene Form annimmt" ("why this
content assumes that form"; MEW23:95, Capital Vol. 1, Chapter 1, Section
4).  It is an ontological question concerning the _being_ of commodity
goods as such.

 The Wertformanalyse re-initiated by thinkers such as Backhaus and Roth
points out the ambiguities and unsureness in Marx's treatment of the
value-form. Boehm-Bawerk was very close to the mark in his critique of
Marx's value theory, although he skipped the crucial point and ended up
pursuing the red herring of the so-called transformation problem. The
problem with Marx's value theory lies prior to any quantitatively
conceived transformation problem. It lies with attributing a so-called
value substance to labour-content.

 One has to reconsider what the being of commodity goods is. Their being
resides in their value. But what is value? Goods are valuable because
they are good for something; they are good for one use or another in one
application or other. This is the primary sense of the value-being of
goods. But, on the basis of this primary value-being, goods also have a
secondary value in being exchangeable for other values. This is their
exchange value. The distinction between this primary and secondary sense
of value is very clearly formulated already by Aristotle (Pol. I iii

 Exchange value is nothing other than abstracted, generalized use-value
that has become abstract and general through the social practice of
generalized exchange. Cf. Aristotle Eth. Nic. Book V Ch. v.

Marx tries to have it both ways by on the one hand emphasizing the forms
(the being!) of value that arise through exchange, and on the other
asserting that this exchange value is reducible to (lit. can be led back
to) an inherent value substance residing in labour content (a causal
explanation of the magnitude of value).

 But there is no inherent value substance. All there is is the
valuableness in use of goods (a relation of goods to their uses) and
their _relations_ to each other in the practice of exchange. (Thus, both
use value and exchange value are _relative_.) It is the practice of
exchange itself that shows what the various goods are worth and thus
what the labour that went into making them is worth, not vice versa.

 This is the kernel of truth in the so-called labour theory of value: the
social practice of market exchange is a "process of recognition" (Hegel
PhdG) in which produced goods are reciprocally recognized as valuable
and, indirectly, all the various kinds of labour that went into making
these goods available, are reciprocally recognized as valuable. Viewed
in this way, the exchange process is basically a process of reciprocal
recognition of services in which they are mutually recognized as
valuable (or not -- through a refusal of recognition).

 Market exchange is an ongoing social process of reciprocal recognition
of services, which in turn are the exercise of people's abilities.
People's abilities are their powers to perform some useful act or bring
forth some useful and therefore valuable thing. These useful acts and
useful things are esteemed and estimated by others. Thus their exchange
value. To understand the being of 'powers', one has to return once again
to Aristotle's ontological analysis of _dynamis_ (power, potential,
ability,...) which is at the very heart of his Metaphysics (Book Theta).

 _Dynamis_, _energeia_ (the being-at-work of a power) and _entelecheia_
are the three ontological concepts that constitute the heart of
Aristotle's thinking, which is concerned with understanding the being of
movement, _kinaesis_. These three concepts can help us today to
understand the being of the social movement of market exchange, which
has now become global market exchange, the metabolism (_metabolae_ =
change, interchange).

 I have a metaphysics of exchange at the artefact web site:

 and also as yet unpublished extended critiques of the notion of

<snip, JL>

> Michael
> _-_-_-_-_-_-_-  artefact text and translation _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_
> _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_- made by art  _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_
> http://www.webcom.com/artefact/ _-_-_-_- artefact@t-online.de _-_
> _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_ Dr Michael Eldred -_-_-
> _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_
> Gerald_A_Levy@msn.com schrieb Mon, 14 Feb 2005 18:05:54 -0500:
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: <Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM>
> > Sent: Monday, February 14, 2005 5:51 PM
> > Subject: [OPE-L] Marx's Form of Analysis
> >
> >
> > > Hi again Phil:
> > >
> > > > I am not sure I understand this. You say and I query in brackets:
> > > > the value-form [exchange-value?]
> > > * Yes.
> > > >  is a necessary form of appearance of value and the money-form
> > [?money]
> > > * Yes.
> > > > is a necessary form of appearance of the value-form [exchange
> > value?];
> > > * Yes.
> > > > hence value, use-value [how did use-value get in, as the necessary
> > form
> > > > of appearance of money/money-form?],
> > > *  Use-value is a category required for the existence of value, it
> > is
> > >     a 'constituent' of value.
> > >     ||| no use-value => no value;  no use-value => no exchange value
> > |||
> > >
> > > > exchange-value, and
> > > > money are all "intrinsic" to the commodity-form).
> > >
> > > > [PD] I think what is needed here is a lengthy study of the various
> > senses
> > > > in which Marx used thr term form.
> > >
> > > Yes, I think that would be an excellent topic to discuss.
> > >
> > > I believe that Marx used the term value-form in more than one sense:
> > > one is the sense you referred to, the other was meant to mean
> > > exchange-value.  Value-form theory (VFT), which utilizes form
> > > _analysis_, refers to the former.
> > >
> > > Perhaps a way of discussing that topic would be to consider the
> > various
> > > senses in which form was used _prior to_ Marx (e.g. in Hegel) and
> > then
> > > to consider how Marx's usage was similar to and different from prior
> > > usage.
> > >
> > > You know something about Aristotle, I recall.  What were the various
> > > senses in which Aristotle used the term form? (I'll cc Michael E
> > because
> > > that's a topic that he should know about as well and  I don't know
> > how
> > > often he reads posts).
> > >
> > > Who first developed the expression "form analysis"?
> > >
> > > > As to use-value, someone once said that for Marx value was King
> > > > but use-value was Lord High Everything Else.  Does anyone recall
> > who
> > > > sais that?
> > >
> > > The Marx associated with the expression "Lord High Everything
> > > Else" was none other than  -- you bet your life -- Graucho.  So,
> > > whoever said the above was playfully mixing Marxs.
> > >
> > > In solidarity, Jerry

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