Re: [OPE-L] Ricardo and Marx on embodiment

From: Andrew Brown (A.Brown@LUBS.LEEDS.AC.UK)
Date: Thu Oct 06 2005 - 06:24:43 EDT

Hi all,

Many thanks for this very useful thread - will ponder it as I re-write
some stuff on this.

To respond briefly to Jerry's direct question to me. In previous posts I
have stressed that value abstracts from use value - and this is to
abstract from the natural materiality, the corporeality, of the
commodity. Marx was long aware of this (it is in the quote from TSV that
started this thread). That's why talk of 'embodiment' is absurd -- there
is no *body* of the commodity left. If we have embodiment (Ricardo) then
it is embodiment without a body !! .... [to my knowledge Patrick Murray
was first to put the contradiction in such a precise way] 

All there is left, then, in value, is labour stripped of all
determinations except duration. Yet it is thing-like. It is 'out there',
a reality, one side of the two sided commodity. (Murray has it behoving
to a 'logic of Essence' rather than a 'logic of being' but this, alas,
raises serious issues to do with the interpretation of Hegel). This
'pure' labour, this 'ghostly substance' is all that can constitute
value, there is nothing else left. Hence we have value as a
'congelation' of value 'pure and simple', i.e. abstract, not an atom of
natural matter contained in it. This, it is absolutely crucial to
stress, is the value side of the 'relative form' of value. Another
commodity, ultimately money, has to become the 'equivalent form', the
'outward appearance form' of value, the way that a non-sensuous 'thing'
(value, as congealed abstract labour, one side of the relative form)
gains appearance and effect. But the value that is expressed is *not*
the value of money, rather we say, and it is true, that all the diverse
commodities themselves are values, money it is that enables us to 'see'

...alas, it's all such a convoluted nightmare - not conducive to brief

Even more briefly: 

- Do look back at my recent exchange with Ajit - the above para probably
represents all that is wrong with mumbo-jumbo-merchants (like me) to
Ajit but Ajit does himself at one point (fascinating to me) assert that
ghosts are having effects - a really insightful point and indeed
concession on his part, I felt, even if in half-jest. [Hi Ajit, I hope
you don't mind me mentioning it]

- good to see you mention Andy Blunden, who is an great promoter of
Many thanks,


-----Original Message-----
From: OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU] On Behalf Of
Sent: 02 October 2005 21:35
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Ricardo and Marx on embodiment

> I'd just re-iterate that it is vital to distinguish between
> (Ricardo) and 'congealment' (Marx)


1. Go to
Go to the "Search Using Local Htdig database".  Under "Select
Archive to Search", select "Capital and Economic Mss" then
enter the word "embodied".  Hit the "Search!" button.   I got 75
matches.    Doesn't this suggest that  "embodiment" was a
concept (or a metaphor) that Marx  also employed -- at least
at times?   Doesn't this suggest that there isn't quite as strong
a contrast between Marx ("congealment") and Ricardo
("embodiment") as you are suggesting above?

2.  What meaningful difference is there between saying that
value is SNLT "embodied" in a commodity versus  saying
that value is SNLT  "congealed"  in a commodity?  As far
as I can tell, "embodied" and "congealed" (and "crystallized")
all mean the same thing in this context.

In solidarity, Jerry

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