[OPE-L:3496] Re: accumulation: disequilibrium dynamics

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Mon, 21 Oct 1996 05:48:09 -0700 (PDT)

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Steve K wrote in [OPE-L:3494]:

> Well, the "homogeneous products" issue may be just the same as our earlier
> discussions re finance v tech change--which do you introduce first. In which
> case, I'm happy enough to leave it to personal preference. But it may also
> be that some of the things we "learn" with the assumption should be
> contradicted when we drop it. The problem is, however, that economists of
> all flavours often appear to want to hold on to one result when they more
> from one domain to another.

I agree with the last two sentences, but ...

I don't think that we can leave questions related to the investigation of
logical categories related to understanding the basic features of
capitalism to "personal preferences." This suggests a kind of "I'm OK,
You're OK" relativistic approach to methodology.

Of course, a lot depends on *what* one is investigating. If one is
undertaking a conjunctural or class analysis, then the method of
investigation would be different from an investigation into the basic
categories required to conceptualize capitalism. Similarly, if one is
undertaking an empirical investigation, a study in economic history, or an
interpretive investigation into the history of political economy, then the
method required for such studies would vary.

An issue related to understanding the basic categories of capitalism is
a tradition in Marxism of "levels of abstraction" and the dialectical
and systematic ordering of those categories. Of course, there are many
traditions in Marxism re method. Whatever tradition one adheres to,
however, one should be prepared to advance methodological reasons for the
order of investigation and presentation rather than leave it entirely to
"personal preference."

In Solidarity,