RE: [OPE] intermission: value of knowledge

From: Paul Cockshott <>
Date: Fri Dec 18 2009 - 10:29:09 EST

I am basing it on the definition in capital where he says that value is the expenditure of human labour in the abstract<<
On the one hand, then, it is by virtue of its general character, as being expenditure of human labour-power in the abstract, that spinning adds new value to the values of the cotton and the spindle; and on the other hand, it is by virtue of its special character, as being a concrete, useful process, that the same labour of spinning both transfers the values of the means of production to the product, and preserves them in the product. Hence at one and the same time there is produced a two-fold result. >>

<<The coat is value only to the extent that it is the expression, in the form of a thing, of the human labour-power expended in its production and thus insofar as it is a jelly of abstract human labour abstract labour, because abstraction is made from the definite useful concrete character of the labour contained in it, human labour, because the labour counts here only as expenditure of human labour-power as such.>>

<<Just as a commodity is something twofold: use-value and exchange-value, so the labour contained in it is two-fold determined:

    * on the one hand, as definite productive activity, weaving labour, tailoring labour, etc. "useful labour";
    * on the other, as the simple expenditure of human labour-power, precipitated abstract (general) labour.

The former produces use-value, the latter exchange-value; only the latter is quantitatively comparable (the differences between skilled and unskilled, composite and simple labour confirm this).

Hence, the substance of exchange-value is abstract labour and its magnitude is the measure of time of abstract labour. Now, to consider the form of exchange-value. >>( Engels)

this formulation expenditure of of labour power = labour, is a precise analogy to Watts formula that power = work done/time

It is standard in mechanics now that work = energy, hence we measure work in kilowatt hours ( power multiplied by time ).

This was already well understood by the 1850s, certainly in the work of Clausius, so that Marx's usages of this language reflects a definite borrowing from then up to date physics.

From: [] On Behalf Of Paula []
Sent: Thursday, December 17, 2009 10:16 PM
To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
Subject: Re: [OPE] intermission: value of knowledge

wpc wrote:
> Paula, I do not think the identification with energy is correct. I think
> it was an attempt to think it through with what was then a newly
> discovered concept, but is not adequate.

Then we agree that it is not correct. But are you saying this identification
is already there in Marx? At least in Capital, abstract labor is usually
discussed in the context of commodity production, so that more conditions
than the mere expenditure of energy are involved.

If anyone here knows of any important texts (besides Capital) on abstract
labor, I'd be grateful for the references.

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Received on Fri Dec 18 10:36:03 2009

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