Re: [OPE] Reply from Rosa Lichtenstein

From: Ian Wright <>
Date: Fri Oct 02 2009 - 19:07:04 EDT

Hi Paula,

Your examples are relational properties, but I (perhaps incorrectly)
think the best way to understand "dialectical contradiction" is in the
sense of a "real contradiction" as described by Marx:

"The exchange of commodities cannot, as one has seen, take place
without fulfilling contradictory conditions, which exclude one other.
Its development which makes commodities appear as something with two
aspects, use value and ex-change value, does not make these
contradictions disappear, but creates the form in which
they can move themselves. This is in any case the only method for
resolving real contradictions. It is, for example, a contradiction
that a body fall constantly toward another, and also constantly fly
away from it. The ellipse is one of the forms of movement by which
this contradiction realizes itself and resolves itself at the same
time." Marx, Capital Vol 1.

We have one force that makes bodies fall toward each other
(stability). And we have another force that makes them fly away
(instability). So the attractor states of each independent force are
mutually exclusive. But both forces act to determine the trajectory of
the body, and the "dialectical contradiction" is resolved by the
appearance of new emergent and dynamic behavior, e.g. an orbit.

I think this is also the way to understand the "law of value" in the
economy. It is a "force" that, if it operated in isolation, would push
trajectories toward an equilibrium point of prices proportional to
labor-values. But it's not the only "force" that acts in this complex
system. So the actual trajectory does not fully converge to this
equilibrium, but is a complex outcome of the interactions.

We need the method of abstraction to consider the forces in isolation
in order to eventually fully explain the empirical trajectory or
sequence of events. So it is necessary to make assumptions that
directly contradict empirical reality in order to understand empirical
reality (c.f. Newton's first law of motion that states that, if
undisturbed, a body will move with constant velocity forever: a
statement that is clearly in conflict with everyday experience). In
Roy Bhaskar's terminology this is creating an "experimental closure"
that isolates the action of a single mechanism.

I, too, don't have the time to review the debate, but I did a quick
scan and get the impression that the two pugilists are fighting

ope mailing list
Received on Fri Oct 2 19:12:59 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sat Oct 31 2009 - 00:00:02 EDT