Re: [OPE-L] On Sen and more

From: Andrew Brown (A.Brown@LUBS.LEEDS.AC.UK)
Date: Thu Sep 01 2005 - 10:04:21 EDT

Hi Jerry,

Just wanted to pick up on a couple of points:

(1) Sen as having 'command' of the philosophy and economics disciplines.

Obviously there are many people well-versed in both disciplines - some
on this list. The interesting point about Sen is that he is *eminent* in
both disciplines. This is a pretty remarkable fact about Sen, possibly a
unique one amongst contemporary academics, for all I know (very little).
All the more remarkable when one recognises Sen's 'heterodox' side.

Interesting to contrast Fine's appreciation for Sen with his withering
criticisms of Stiglitz - Stiglitz, along with Bowles and co. and others
are part of the 'E = MC squared' formula that Fine criticises, i.e.  
(mainstream) economics = market imperfections + methodological

(2) You also write:

In _Capital_,  capitalists -- to the extent to which they are
"capital personified" and are assumed to wear character masks -- are
essentially assumed to behave rationally in a manner consistent with the
maximization of self-interest.  Yet, I think that this -- *given the
level(s) of concretion of _Capital_, i.e. of "capital-in-general"*  --
appropriate.  If, however, we are focused on a much more concrete,
historically contingent  level where we are considering the behavior of
individual capitalists and firms _then_ we have to allow for some other,
additional motivation besides self-interest in the form of
profit-maximizing effort.  E.g. prestige.


I respond: I don't quite agree with how you have put this. I'd say
capitalists act on self-interest at the level where we have just
introduced many capitals in Vol III. We cannot really talk about
self-interest, about the consciousness of capitalists, prior to that
because we haven't introduced profit, and it is profit that fills the
consciousness of the individual capitalist. On the other hand, your
stated view does seem to fit the 'character mask' quote (in one of the
prefaces to Capital Vol 1) better since why would Marx mention this in
the preface to Volume I if it only applies to Cap Vol. 3?

Many thanks

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