Re: [OPE-L] Capital in General

From: Ian Wright (wrighti@ACM.ORG)
Date: Wed Oct 19 2005 - 12:49:34 EDT

Andy, Rakesh

This is restating Andy's point with different terminology, so not sure
if it is helpful. Often useful to make a distinction between
"dispositional" properties and "occurrent" properties. For example,
the property of being "brittle" is a dispositional property: a brittle
glass has a disposition to shatter under given circumstances. Just
because a particular glass never exhibits the occurrent property of
"shattering" does not imply that it is not brittle. Similarly, just
because a particular commodity never exhibits the occurrent property
of "exchanging" does not imply that it lacks the  dispositional
property of value.

More generally, this links to the idea that causal possibilities,
whether actualised or not, are real, a point the early Bhaskar makes
with his emphasis on a stratified ontology, and the associated
distinction between the real (all the possibilities), the actual
(those possibilites actually realised) and the empirical (those
actualised possibilites in fact noticed by us). The empirical is a
tiny subset of what's actually out there! (Which is a fun thought).

Best wishes,


On 10/19/05, Andrew Brown <> wrote:
> Hi Rakesh,
> You wrote:
> "But use value is not a social relation per se; it is a relation between
> user and thing."
> There are of course many disanalogies between use-value and value. I have no
> reason to disagree with what you say about use-value. My point related to
> one aspect only, viz. what we mean when we say 'realised'. And here there is
> a similarity between use-value and value. Both are 'realised' after the
> commodity is produced: use-value in consumption, value in sale. In both
> cases it is very easy to misinterpret of the term 'realised'. It is a
> misinterpretation to consider that use-value does not exist before it is
> realised, and to think that value does not exist before it is realised. What
> does not exist in each case is the actualisation of the respective powers
> involved.

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