Andrew Brown (A.N.Brown@uel.ac.uk)
Wed, 13 Oct 1999 12:26:15 GMT0BST
I am in basic agreement regarding your additions, and add brief
comments below plus an answer to your point 3.
> Re Andrew B's [OPE-L:1447]:
> Hi Andrew. I's good to hear from you again.
> I agree with the logic you outline below -- up to a point. But, I
> would add:
> a) Before we can comprehend a "circuit of capital", we must first
> comprehend the logical (inter-) relationship among all of the subjects
> below. I.e. before we can *reconstruct* in thought the empirical concrete,
> we must first understand *how* it all "fits together". Otherwise, our
> theory would take on an _ad hoc_ character and we would have no way of
> knowing beforehand that the conclusions already derived would be
> sustained once we "arrived at" a less abstract (excuse the expression)
> level of abstraction.
I agree with the basic view of systematic dialectics which suggests that
the 'method of inquiry' searches for the most abstract and universal
category of the object realm. Then the 'method of presentation' takes
this category as starting point. The upshot is that, prior to the
presentation, you do not have, fully comprehended, the logic of how it
all fits together, but you do have a basis (starting point) for achieving
such a full comprehension. (Which means you have a lot better idea of
how it fits together than you did prior to the method of inquiry).
> b) Yet, despite the above, it seems to me that the very process of
> presenting theory (especially when *writing*) requires one to challenge
> the conclusions that one has already come to by e.g. *further
> interrogation* of the empirical concrete. Thus, presenting theory does --
> at least in some ways -- resemble a "work in progress" since one
> re-formulates, further articulates, and perhaps even modifies one's
> previous understanding and presentation. One might indeed even hope that
> our theories are modified as a result of communication (scholarly or
> otherwise) with our peers and in response to changing times and
Absolutely agree with you. The method of inquiry and presentation
are reasonable distinctions but they go on simultaneously in practice.
> c) If you agree that the ordering (implicit in the 6-book-plan) is
> "obvious", what is the reason (or reasons) why Marxists haven't taken the
> next -- "obvious" -- step and advanced *beyond* Marx's analysis of value
> and a "circuit of capital" to comprehend the *state*? And why haven't
> they (we) gone on to make a more serious examination of further concrete
> topics such as foreign trade and the world market and crisis? What are we
> waiting for?
Big question! Two brief and rather minor aspects of an answer: (1)
The notion of systematic dialectics is conspicuous by its absence from
well known discussions of methodology (and any notion of 'dialectics'
is generally ridiculed). (2) Just because the state is more concrete and
complex than capital, that makes it much harder to comprehend, and
much more open to contingencies.
> In solidarity, Jerry
> > Regarding Marx's ordering; it does seem obvious (to me, at least). In
> > our epoch:
> > To comprehend 'the state' it is (obviously) necessary to first
> > comprehend the circuit of capital. To see this just try
> > and go in the opposite direction, eg. comprehend 'tax' without first
> > comprehending 'value'.
> > Yet to comprehend the circuit of capital, it is first
> > necessary understand Labour in general. To see this try to articulate the
> > ciruit of capital without refering the prior concept of 'Labour'.
> > Moving in the opposite direction from 'the state' then it is
> > (obviously) necessary to comprehend what a state (so a 'nation') is,
> > in general, before going on to specify the relation between different
> > states (international relations). To see this, just try and specify two
> > different 'states' without first establishing what the term 'state'
> > to!
> > Finally, try comprehending world market and crises minus any one of
> > the above categorical levels. No chance!
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