[OPE-L:402] Method: Lee and Foley

glevy@acnet.pratt.edu (glevy@acnet.pratt.edu)
Thu, 2 Nov 1995 19:30:03 -0800

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Chai-on wrote:

Sorry if I am bothering you.

Don't be silly. We all look forward to reading each others' posts.

> Originally, in my [Lee (1)], I intended to dissent on the conventional
> understanding of Marx method as "the layering of determinations"(Foley: p 4)
> or "self-determination in Marx's abstraction"(Foley: pp 6-7) or "first
> approximation at first and then its modifications"(Foley: p 9) on the ground
> that they are all virtually the same as the neo-classical modellings.
> I want to know whether this message was accurately conveyed or not in the
> previous presentation. If it is not, could you please give me any idea to
> make better presentation? I am personally asking you of your opinion.
I believe that it is as unreasonable for us to expect your short post to
do justice to your ideas on method as it is to refer to Duncan's work as
"virtually the same as neo-classical modellings." Duncan can speak for
himself, but I didn't find anything very objectionable in Chapter 1 of
_Understanding Capital_ (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1986). I
certainly don't consider it an instance of "neo-classical modelling."
Duncan states in the "Preface" to that work that its "aim is to provide a
general introduction to Marx's economic theory", that it "is intended to
be a guide", and that "it avoids the pitfalls of imposing a very complex
discussion of levels of abstraction on the student first encountering the
labour theory of value." If one is going to critique a work, one must
remember its purpose. The purpose of Duncan's work was to provide a
readable introduction to _Capital_ for new students. I believe he
succeeded in that purpose. I have assigned his book in classes that I
taught for many years at Pratt called "Capitalism and Socialism"
(recently eliminated from the course offerings). I'm quite sure that
Duncan would be the _first_ person to admit that his explanation of
Marx's method in that work was not entirely thorough or complete.

Beyond the above, I just don't quite understand the distinction that you
are trying to make. Putting aside the question of Duncan's alleged
"neo-classical" method (BTW, those are *fighting* words!), I think you
will have to explain your ideas on method in greater detail for us to
respond to them adequately.

In OPE-L Solidarity,