[OPE-L:2790] Re: assumptions, assumptions, assumptions

andrew kliman (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Fri, 2 Aug 1996 12:49:03 -0700 (PDT)

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A reply to Jerry's ope-l 2786.

Sorry. I guess I've bent the stick too far in the other direction and made my
sarcasm too subtle. Certainly there's a difference between modifying and
negating conclusions; that was the point I was trying to make.

For instance, in Marx's account of the transformation, the determination of
profit by surplus-labor-time, and of value received by living labor-time, is
negated at the level of the individual capital, but re-confirmed at the level
of the total social capital. The "law of value" is thus only "modified," not
"negated," because it does manifest itself. In "transformation problem"
"solutions" (of the two-system, "dualist" variety), it is negated. Total
price doesn't equal total value and/or total profit doesn't equal total
surplus-value. The discrepancies can't be accounted for consistently on the
basis of the law of value. Shaikh tried, but in 1987 Glick and Erhbar showed
that his explanation was incorrect.

To account for these discrepancies by saying that values and prices "exist" on
two different "levels of abstraction," I think both Michael W. and I agree, is
illegitimate. As Hegel says, essence must appear, and if it doesn't, then it
ain't essence. The point is important because Hegel rejects the Cartesian
search for a certain starting-point for knowledge. He (Hegel) say this is
trying to know before you know. So for Hegel the starting-point is a
presupposed one. Yet, he reaffirms the standpoint of speculative philosophy,
vs. dogmatism as well as empiricism, that philosophy cannot take its
categories as given. This contradiction he resolves by arguing that the
results must justifying the presupposition. Marx does something extremely
similar (if not indeed the same) with the law of value, and with the circuit
of capital). Hence, without demonstration that essence appears, a claim
concerning essence is "unproved" and dogmatic.