Re: [OPE-L] abstraction and surprise

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Wed Nov 30 2005 - 08:46:45 EST

> There are lots of self-reproducing systems, totalities, that are the
> object of scientific investigation.  We ourselves are one and could
> begin by investigating some causal mechanism, e.g., the heart, lung,
> axon, etc.,  essential to our own persistence.

Hi Howard:

In referring to the commodity as the "economic cell-form", Marx was
claiming by way of analogy to the human cell  that  the essential character
of "modern society"  could only be grasped by unpacking a "concrete entity
the commodity [Konkretum der Ware]".

[Is the idea that an understanding of the human anatomy begins with
the cell outdated?   Wouldn't most scientists instead begin with the
subject of DNA?]

> Assume then a social totality.  When we start with value by abstracting
> from the relation of exchange, what is it to which we refer?

I am surprised that you wrote this.  Perhaps I am just not grasping your

Who starts with value?  Who extracts from exchange?  If we start with the
commodity then we are not abstracting from the relation of exchange.

[Now, had we started instead with a trans-historical  'product' then we
could extract from a relation of exchange since, historically, production
preceded a division of labour and exchange relations.  This is a reason
why the commodity, rather than a product in general, must be the starting
point for an analysis of the _capitalist_ mode of production.]

In solidarity, Jerry

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