RE: SV: [OPE] Sraffa's and others' writing style

From: Gary Mongiovi <>
Date: Tue Dec 08 2009 - 11:10:13 EST

I agree that Sraffa was not aiming to call the classical notion of gravitation into question. In Production of Commmodities he scrupulously avoided saying anything at all about gravitation, I suspect out of a Wittgensteinian desire to stick to issues about which one could speak with absolute precision. I don't think, given the present state of knowledge, that we can say anything definitive about his views on gravitation. We do know that he held the classicals in high esteem, and that fact would have to inform our speculations about the usefulness of the notion of gravitation.
A propos of earlier comments in this thread, Sraffa's original intention was to provide a fuller account of the classical political economy context of the book. But for reasons which remain murky, he decided to present a stripped-to-the-bone argument. I've discussed this a little bit in a paper that appeared in Metroeconomica a few years ago: “Classics and Moderns: Sraffa’s Legacy in Economics,” Metroeconomica (Vol. 53), 2002, pp. 223–241.

        -----Original Message-----
        From: on behalf of Dave Zachariah
        Sent: Mon 12/7/2009 11:22 AM
        To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
        Subject: Re: SV: [OPE] Sraffa's and others' writing style

        Anders Ekeland wrote:
> The transformation problem - the relation between money and value - is a real one - for all schools in
> economics. [...]
> Was it Sraffa's intention to critize this Smith/Ricardo/Marx idea [of centres of gravitation]?
        Historians of economic thought may correct me if I'm wrong, but think
        the first statement is a mischaracterisation. The transformation
        problem relevant to Marxist economics is much more specific than "the
        relation between money and value". It is about reconciling the labour
        theory of value with the theory of production prices within a
        deterministic framework.
        Secondly, I doubt whether it was Pierro Sraffa's intention to
        criticise the classical idea of centre of gravitation. The subtitle of
        his was a "Prelude to a Critique of Economic Theory", which I take to
        mean neoclassical economics. Hence it is not so much a theory about
        real world dynamics than a critique. Given his interest in Ricardo I
        would assume he was close to Marxian economics.
        //Dave Z
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Received on Tue Dec 8 11:14:06 2009

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