Re: Money, mind and the ontological status of value

From: Howard Engelskirchen (howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM)
Date: Mon Jun 21 2004 - 11:50:57 EDT

Hi Paul Z,

Thanks for your post of 6/17.  In order to minimize further
misunderstanding, before replying, let me see if I understand your post:

1.         You are wondering whether I've understood you at all from the
beginning.  You argue that when Marx said that exchange value is a form of
manifestation of value, this left open the possibility that exchange value
could be a form of manifestation of other social relations or forms of
production or exchange - "Marx did not say "ALL  . . . "

2.         So, this is the point of Marx's analysis that I should have
understood had been opened:  the question in dispute is whether exchange
value or value are categories that apply outside the capitalist mode of
production.   But in resolving this question it cannot be assumed that
exchange value is a form of value exclusively; it might be a form that
characterizes other forms of economic life in other historical periods.

Can I understand this as applying to the categories 'money' and 'commodities
' as well?  That is, are money and commodities like exchange value - they
could appear in earlier modes of production but that would not necessarily
mean that they were social forms characterized by value.  Is that the

3.         You feel that in responding to this thread I have more or less
mindlessly relied on the authority of Marx by saying that Marx established
the proposition that exchange value is a form of manifestation of value.
Also I argued that I am correct about the real world existence of value
outside the capitalist mode of production because Marx said so and the
reason I know Marx said so is because I cite myself as authority.
Furthermore, reliance on authority of this sort (both Marx and me) to settle
differences is, in your view, unworthy of the quality of discussion that
should be taking place on the OPEL list.  As far as you are concerned my
contribution is not up to snuff.

4.         In fact, for you this sort of reliance on authority resurrects
memories of the Stalinist 30s when people were silenced for not toeing an
orthodox line.   Were you to acquiesce in such a claim of authority you
would have to apologize for not holding views identical to mine.

5.         Finally, you argue that when I say "the concepts of 'value' or
the 'social relation of value' or the 'social substance of value' are
theoretical objects, and then go on to say that "the social relation of
value is a real object; the social substance of value is a real object," I
am in effect trying to have my cake and eat it too because I use value as
both a real and a theoretical object.

Have I understood your post?  Have I got it all?  Please correct or modify
as necessary.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Zarembka" <zarembka@BUFFALO.EDU>
Sent: Thursday, June 17, 2004 1:16 PM
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Money, mind and the ontological status of value

> Howard Engelskirchen <howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM> said, on 06/17/04:
> >To work within the framework of a coherent theory in science and to
> >appropriate its method and results to use is not "falling back on
> >authority."  Marx's argument that exchange value is a form of
> >manifestation of value is made in Chapter 1.  I make use of it.  What
> >of that analysis do you want to open?
>   Howard, Sorry, but have you understood any of what I've been asking?  To
say that "exchange value is a form of manifestation of value" would never
immediately claim that ALL exchange value is a form of manifestation of
value.  Marx did not say "ALL ..."  It may or may not be delimited to the
object of *Capital*, namely the capitalist mode of production.  That's the
issue.  I have been posing the question of its applicability outside that
mode of production (why do you still need to ask what I "want to open"?).
As far as I am concerned, to suggest that Marx or Marxism "establishes"
(citing yourself) that you are correct is unworthy of the level of
discussion this list should be engaged in, as it is simply relying on
> >>   Try to look at it from my point of view for a moment: what could I
> >possibly do with such an assertion?  Apologize?
> >_______________________
> >I don't have any idea what 'apologize' refers to or for what, and I am
> >definitely puzzled by your point of view.
>   Asserting that you are correct because Marxist theory "establishes" it,
leaves me no option but to apologize for the error of my ways.  (I'm being
to feel a whiff of the 1930s.)
> >>   You did not understand my posting.  I wrote, "if you accept the
> >distinction [between the real object and the theoretical object], you
> >to offer a way to make it 'work' in practice."  Specifically, you have
> >been swimming around the issue of whether value is a real object or a
> >theoretical object.  At one point you said it was a real object, then you
> >backed off a bit.  But no closure came in that discussion.  So, I now ask
> >in your >
> >>   if EV, then V
> >>   EV exists
> >>   Therefore V
> >>
> >> is V a real object or a theoretical object?  (It is clear that EV is
> >considered real because you wrote EV "exists"; you aren't as clear about
> >V.) >
> >_______________________
> >The argument is meant to establish that value existed as a real object in
> >the ancient world.
> >The concepts of 'value' or the 'social relation of value' or the 'social
> >substance of value' are theoretical objects.  The concept of a 'real
> >object' is a theoretical object.
> >The social relation of value is a real object;  the social substance of
> >value is a real object.
> >With respect, your impression that I am confused about the distinction
> >between real and theoretical objects is wrong.
>   In your reply, value is both a real object and a theoretical object.
You are having your cake and eating it, too.
> Paul

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