Re: (OPE-L) the specific social relations [of production] associated with value

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@BUFFALO.EDU)
Date: Mon Jun 07 2004 - 09:36:18 EDT

Howard Engelskirchen <howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM> said, on 06/07/04:

>Apologies for not being clear on the status of the constellation of
>theoretical concepts that make up the background of marxist theory other
>than value.  I too hurriedly assumed it would be understood that I was
>making the same argument with respect to all of them -- as I understand
>it, 'mode of production,' 'labor power,'  'value,' etc. all are
>theoretical concepts that refer to real objects.  This is a matter of the
>reference of scientific terms.

  What about the concept: xenobiopsy.  Xenobiopsy has been extensively developed in the medical literature.  How do I know if it is as a theoretical concept that actually refers to a real object?  Socialism has been extensively developed in the Soviet literature.  How do I know if it actually refers to the Soviet Union?

>You seem to argue that it would be incorrect for theoretical objects to
>refer to reality and suggest it would be a problem if  [quoting Paul]
>"every word could be both a theoretical concept, or refer to reality . . .
>."   But I think that is just what the reference of scientific terms does
>-- we use theoretical categories to pick out features of the world, real
>objects or properties, that we turn our attention to.  Because that is how
>we use such categories, your suggestion that we use special words to
>designate "real objects" won't work because those special words we use
>will also be theoretical concepts used to refer, theoretical objects, and
>so, to avoid the confusion we've just tried to escape, we will have to use
>some other special words, some extra-special words, to refer to the real
>object we're still trying to reach, and so on in an infinite regress.

  It was an attempt, an attempt at the required separate of the theoretical object from the real object.  You seem to accept a distinction between the theoretical object and the real object (although I myself am being to doubt whether you really do).  Were there to be no separation, then there is only reality (crude materialism), or only theory (idealism).  If you accept the distinction, you need to offer a way to make it 'work' in practice.  With whatever you offer, I may be able to get a handle on 'value', one way or another, i.e., the problem which started this discussion.

>...the features of the
>world to which we refer can actually be thought of as regulating our use
>of the terms we fashion.  When we've got it right, they will behave the
>way we expect....

  Who educates the educator (*Theses on Feuerbach*, III)?  In this case, who educates the theorist?

Paul Z.

P.S. "Xenobiopsy" is my invented word; you needn't check into the medical literature.

Vol.21-Neoliberalism in Crisis, Accumulation, and Rosa Luxemburg's Legacy
RESEARCH IN POLITICAL ECONOMY, Zarembka/Soederberg, eds, Elsevier Science

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