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

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Thu Oct 06 2005 - 11:41:24 EDT

If I am following Chris, embodiment metaphor fails because things do
not possess value until and unless they commensurated in the act of
exchange. I think it is misleading to say that they do not have value
at all until this point, and have several times urged a return to
metaphysical distinction of potentiality and actuality to understand
value. Marx made the return in Contribution to a Critique of
Political Economy.

One of the other main reasons embodiment metaphor fails is labor
congealed is determined by time society is allocating to the
re-production of that commodity. It matters not what time was
actually expended, even the socially average labor time already
expended. Value is determined by the the labor time society is
allocating for its reproduction. So in the Crusoe example I gave: he
inherits tools with which to work; their value is determined by the
time he will have devote to their replacement. Society signals to
itself the labor time that it will devote to tool reproduction by
those tools becoming things of a determinate quantity of value--that
is, by valuing those tools and understanding them to possess value as
they possess weight, resilience, etc. There is no other way for
society to know the labor time it has to allocate to tool replacement
without the tools mysteriously allowing ghosts to enter into them. If
this is true, value cannot be the labor actually expended or embodied
or congealed in the production of the commodity.
Now does this mean that inherited commodities which are being
displaced by innovation have no value? No it means that their value
is determined in relation to the innovative commodity which is
replacing it. That commodity has a value, and if this inherited tool
can only do half of what the new one can, it will have roughly half
the value, no matter the labor time actually expended in its

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