chaion lee (conlee@chonnam.chonnam.ac.kr)
Sat, 4 Nov 1995 05:03:02 -0800

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In responce to Foley's method of economics in [OPE-L:406],

Marx's method must be different from the neo-classical method. But in
what points it is different has not been clear yet in the literature of
Sweezy's, Meek's, Foley's, etc. They explained the difference not in the
"abstraction" itself but merely in their assumptions. The neo-classical
assumptions characterize the nature of their modellings, their concept of
the whole and the ordering of the determinations. Thus, the difference only
between their assumptions on one hand, and Marx's assumptions, on the other
hand, is characterized as the methodological difference. I cannot agree with
The critical points are;

(1) Did Marx made some assumptions in the beginning? IMO, he did not.
He might appear to have started from simple commodity production and then
introduced the capitalist production. But such an interpretation is not
right. IMO the sequence of "commodity --> money and commodity --> capital is
in the line of the logical embryology and the logical ontogeny. The concepts
of capital and wage labour have been incubated in a latent, undeveloped form
within the primitive category of "the commodity". This is why Marx's
starting point is too important to be passed by.

(2) As Duncan acknowledges, no method so far in the history of science has
guaranteed a scientifically significant starting-point. Yes. But,
exceptionally, only Marx showed us where to start from to guarantee the
scientifically significant starting-point. He advised us to start from the
particular (not general), from the concrete (not from the abstract). This is
how I read the following.

"A general introduction [the introduction in Grundrisse; Lee], which I had
drafted, is omitted, since on further consideration it seems to me confusing
to anticipate results which still have to be substantiated, and the reader
who really wishes to follow me will have to decide to advance from the
particular to the general" (Preface to "A Contribution to the Critique...)

He abandoned the Grundrisse Introduction for the reason that it
anticipates results that still have to be substantiated. For the same
reason, I should like to abandon Foley's idea of self-determined system.

In Newtonian physics, 'force' and 'mass' are inextricably interdependent
(Foley, p 7). Einstein formulated the mass-force relationship in a single
equation, E=MC^2 The substance of the equation, however, still puzzles
today's quantum physics. That is why today's physics is still opened and
incomplete. In Marxian economics, even today, value and price are
inextricably interdependent. Marx formulated the value-price relationship
in the transformation principle, which still puzzles his followers. But
Marx had already shown the substance of the relationship, which is also
still problematic. But Foley justifies the tangled conception of the value-
price relationship on the ground that "all theories have this self-determined
character" (p 7). A self-determined system, however, is a closed and
completed. If then, it can have no capacity at all to be developed further
but merely can be ossified. Marx's theory is not a self-determined but is
rather to be developed ever so further. This is why I argue our traditional
interpretation of Marx's method went wrong.

Your comments shall be welcomed.

In solidarity,

Chai-on Lee