[OPE-L:7230] [OPE-L:755] Re: Re: abstract labour

Massimo De Angelis (M.Deangelis@UEL.AC.UK)
Thu, 25 Mar 1999 14:32:39 GMT0BST

Of course only an economist qua economist could be satisfied with
the analogy between Watt's abstract work (horsepower per period)
and a concept of abstract labour build around human sweat, blood
and passions.


> Another message intended for the list./ In solidarity, Jerry
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999 13:35:02 +0000
> From: clyder@gn.apc.org
> At 06:52 AM 25-03-99 -0500, you wrote:
> >In [OPE-L:749], Paul C wrote:
> >
> >> If anyone is to
> >> be credited with developing the idea of abstract labour it should
> >> be Black and Watt.
> >
> >Who were Black and Watt and what were the titles, etc. of their
> >publications?
> >
> >In solidarity, Jerry
> >
> They were contemporaries of Smith on the staff of the University
> of Glasgow, Black was a poineer of thermodynamics, and Watt of
> course was the inventor of the steam engine. Black developed the
> idea that heat could be quantified and the concept of latent heat,
> going on from Blacks work, Watt developed the separate condensor
> with an aim to economise on heat. Having done so he needed a means
> of measuring the relationship between heat consumed and work done
> by an engine, and developed the horsepower as a measure of capacity
> to do work in the abstract. Abstract work was then defined in
> terms of horsepower over a period.
> They were not economists, but of course neither was Smith, who
> lectured on moral philosophy, what I am saying is that the concept
> of heat in the abstract and work in the abstract were common currency
> in Smith's day.
> For a summary of their work see 'From Watt to Clausius, the rise
> of Thermodynamics in the Early Industrial Age', D. S. Cardwell
> IOWA State University Press.
> >
> Paul Cockshott