[OPE-L:2579] Re: assumptions, assumptions, assumptions

glevy@acnet.pratt.edu (glevy@acnet.pratt.edu)
Thu, 27 Jun 1996 20:21:02 -0700 (PDT)

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Replying to Andrew's #2536:

> Jerry suggests that "the mode of presentation is secondary to the method of
> inquiry." He seems to understand method of presentation as a mere matter
> of style. I don't think this is what Marx meant.

It's not what I meant either. The mode of presentation isn't "a mere
matter of style." The mode of presentation is secondary in the following
sense: "Of course the method of presentation must differ in form from that
of inquiry. The latter has to appropriate the material in detail, to
analyse its different forms of development and to track down their inner
connection. Only after this work has been done can the real movement by
appropriately presented. If this is done successfully, if the life of the
subject-matter is now reflected back in the ideas, then it may appear as
if we have before us *a priora* construction" ("Postface to the 2nd
Edition, Penguin", p. 103).

> So presentation is not a mere
> matter of style for Marx, and not all presentations are equal.

Agreed. Yet, Marx clearly was concerned about the style of presentation
("no one can feel the literary shortcomings of *Capital* more strongly
than I myself" and his subsequent quotations of reviews on that issue, p.

> To present capitalism in its dialectical
> development doesn't mean the presentation is chronological, but it must be
> *historical* in the sense of expressing the developmental tendencies of the
> system and of being "open" to the novelty that arises in real history.


> It should also be noted that Marx scrapped the Grundrisse precisely
> because it lacked this dialectical (self-developmental) structure. He
> complained of its shapelessness (comparing it to carrots and sauerkraut)
> and began reworking the whole presentation anew once he completed the work.

The above sounds a bit speculative. He not only reworked the presentation.
The process of writing _Capital_ was also a process of inquiry (see
Beamish book for more on this).

> I'll also note that the method of presentation was so central to Marx that
> he "delayed" publication in order to get it "right." He speaks of the
> work as an "artistic whole" (something that was discussed a good deal on this
> list just when I came in) and notes that he won't publish anything until
> he has the whole, at least in structure, complete before him.

Yes, but he was also under a lot of pressure to get the book published
after missing many deadlines and under constant prodding from Engels.
What was the reason, though, that it took so long to write and was so much
longer than originally anticipated (originally _Capital_ was to be a
"pamphlet"!)? The reason appears to be that the very process of writing
and presentation involved further inquiry.

BTW, when and where did Marx ever have "the whole" "at least in structure,
complete before him"? For example, isn't the state, foreign trade, the
world market, etc. part of "the whole"?

> I don't know what Jerry wants me to make of the 1st para. of the Preface
> to the CCPE. Marx is laying out the plan for his work as he conceived it
> at that point, and situating the CCPE within it.

Indeed. When (if ever) was that plan abandoned? Of what significance is
that topic to how we interpret the subject matter of _Capital_?

I'll break now and discuss Andrew's post more if he wishes me too (I just
came back and I'm already tired!).

In OPE-L Solidarity,