Re: indirect labor, the real wage, and the production of surplus value

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU)
Date: Sat Nov 15 2003 - 04:20:56 EST

>--- Rakesh Bhandari <rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU> wrote:
>>  Ajit wrote
>>  >
>>  >Well! If you are referring to Sraffa's book, then,
>>  of
>>  >course, Sraffa is not developing any causal theory
>>  >there. The function of his book is to show that the
>>  >neoclassical supply function, which is built on a
>>  >supposed causal relation between prices and methods
>>  of
>>  >production is illegitimate.
>>  So capital is not a factor with a price but an index
>>  of
>>  a conflictual social relation?
>Capital, as used by economic theory, is an irrational
>term. One should instead say, means of production.
>Marx sometimes uses capital in the same vein as
>economic theory, since he thought he could aggregate
>all means of production in terms of labor time.

This would not reduce Marx's concept of capital to the
everyday conceptions thereof as systemized in economic

>  But at
>many times the term for him refers to the relation
>between the calss of capitalists and the wage laborers
>but not as an "index of conflictual social relations".

No for Marx capital is inherently dynamic; it is self expanding
value (good collection of relevant quotes in appendix to Pack's
book on commodity theory of value). But as you say in another post
the Sraffian framework disallows dynamics from its problematic of value;
it thus has no room for capital in Marx's sense.

>>  >  But this does not mean
>>  >that Sraffa is saying that there cannot be any
>>  causal
>>  >theory of change.
>>  But are you saying that or implying that below?
>>  Confused here. I thought you were chiding Michael L
>>  for not having
>>  a causal theory but then you seem to suggest that
>>  attribution of
>>  causes is superstitious?
>How can I chid Michael L! What I was humbly pointing
>out was that he is developing a causal explanation,
>but his explanation turns out to be circular--a no!
>no! for any causal theory. My reference to Hume and
>early Wittgenstein was only to point out that causal
>explanations as such are neither empirical nor
>logical, they are implied by the scientific theories.

Implied falsely by scientific theories? Still not getting
your point. So science has to learn how to get by without
causality, as traditionally understood? Is that what you
are saying? Scientific theory can at best be based on something
like Bayesian probability? Is that your point?

>>  >  But you should keep it in mind that
>>  >Hume's empiricist philosophy rejected any
>>  >philosophical basis to causality. For Hume
>>  causality
>>  >is nothing but a belief or habit of mind. Hume's
>>  >challenge on causation has never been answered. All
>>  >Kant could do is to make the relationship of cause
>>  and
>>  >effect a priori. From a logical perspective,
>>  >Wittgenstein in the Tractatus declared that
>>  >'Superstition is nothing but a belief in causal
>>  >nexus'.
>>  On a more ontological level Lewontin seems correct
>>  that the states
>>  and motions of living organisms are the consequence
>>  of many
>>  intersecting causal pathways, thereby making it
>>  unusual that normal
>>  variation in any one of these pathways has a strong
>>  effect on the
>>  outcome. Given the multiplicity of causal chains,
>>  all of weak
>>  individual influence in their normal condition,  it
>>  is difficult to
>>  ascribe a cause to some effect since putative cause
>>  and its effect
>>  will not likely seen to vary together.
>I don't think Lewontin even touches upon the nature of
>problems both Hume and Wittgestein are dealing with.

OK but I am not quite sure what Wittgenstein would say
about 'causality'. That causality cannot be made sense
of in terms of either empiricism (Hume) or intellectualism (Kant)
would lead him to say that neither understands
the work that causality does in this or that language game, no?
That is, I don't think you have shown that Wittgenstein would have
accepted Hume's analysis as destructive towards
the existence of causality. By the way, I don't know what Wittgenstein
would have said about Nelson Goodman's restating of the Humean problem
of induction in terms of the grue paradox or how a Wittgensteinian
would resolve it.
But since I still don't understand the point that you are making
in response to Michael L, I am not quite sure why you are raising
the philosophical history of the analysis of causation and which
philosophical position you are accepting.

>>  >Mathematical logic does not admit of
>>  >causality. Because no causal proposition can be
>>  made
>>  >with certainty.
>>  You are not counting as a piece of mathematical
>>  logic or as truly
>>  causal those statistical theories of causality as
>>  developed in
>>  thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, Pearsonian
>>  regressions, etc?
>They are not mathematics. They use mathematics.

OK in terms of pure mathematics there is no causality, only
relations of entailment or logical necessity. But are you
then saying that are no relations of causality inside and outside
of pure mathematics? And this on the basis of Hume's empiricism
as developed by the early Wittgenstein?

>>  There is a lot that I would like to read and figure
>>  about the theory
>>  of causality in the social sciences: Mario Bunge,
>>  Causality;
>>  Causality in Crisis, ed. Stephen Turner, Fritz
>>  Ringer Max Weber's
>>  methodology (presumably uses Wesley Salmon's theory
>>  of causality),
>>  Max Adler's attempt to differentiate causes that
>>  work independently
>>  of consciousness from those that work in
>>  consciousness to those that
>>  work through consciousness, Hans Kelsen's attempts
>>  to link our
>>  conceptions of causality to juridical notions (I
>>  think Stephen P
>>  Turner explores how ideas about attribution in legal
>>  sense
>>  undergirded the lawyer Max Weber's notions of
>>  causality), Gramsci's
>>  critique of mis application of mechanical causality
>>  to social
>>  phenomena. But these are a very different set of
>>  concerns than those
>>  that you have helpfully expressed.
>>  It also seems that Keynes gave up on any causal
>>  theory of investment, no?
>I would not like to say anything about Keynes without
>studying him closely. He appears to be neither here
>nor there in lots of ways. Cheers, ajit sinha

I was just going on the chapters on expectations and long term
investment in the General Theory.

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