Re: [OPE-L] Lawrence Krader on objective and subjective value

From: Ian Hunt (ian.hunt@FLINDERS.EDU.AU)
Date: Sun Nov 11 2007 - 17:52:29 EST

Dear Ajit,

While Marx could be construed as putting forward a theory that
explains why everyone sees things in a certain way while he alone
does not, this would be an uncharitable interpretation. The idea
seems to be more humdrum: Copernicus claimed a different standpoint
(as, incidentally, did Kant in Philosophy) for explaining the
apparent motion of the stars and planets which also offered an
account of why they seemed to move as they do to people who had not
adopted that standpoint but one that more immediately reflected their
experience. Marx might only be saying that from the standpoint of
seeing indefinitely enduring social systems as historically limited,
he can provide an account of exploitation, etc, that is invisible to
those who do not take their object of study as arising only in
specific historical circumstances and depending for its reproduction
on specific  and transient historical conditions.

More suspect, surely, would be Marx's gestures at some sort of
historical inevitability of social change independent of individual


>--- Ian Wright <wrighti@ACM.ORG> wrote:
>>  > Jurriaan, I think you did not understand what I
>>  was
>>  > trying to say. Let's say I claim that "I always
>>  lie".
>>  > Now if this statement is true then I have
>>  obviously
>>  > contradicted myself, because I have apparently
>>  made a
>>  > statement which is not a lie. And if it is not
>>  true
>>  > then still I have contradicted myself because what
>>  I
>>  > stated is not true. This is the kind of problem
>>  Marx's
>>  > (or at least an interpretation of) historical
>>  > materialism falls into. If historical materialism
>>  is
>>  > true then it cannot escape its own historicity and
>>  if
>>  > it claims to be universally true (as it does) then
>>  its
>>  > claim to universality stands in contradiction to
>>  its
>>  > own theoretical claim. One aspect of Marx's
>>  writing is
>>  > quite prophetic in nature. He seem to sit on a
>>  hill
>>  > top looking down at ordinary folks in the
>>  > valley--commenting on how little they can see
>>  given
>>  > their circumstances etc. whereas he, of course,
>>  sits
>>  > on a previledged position from which the vision is
>>  > much clearer and complete. Cheers, ajit sinha
>>  I think you are choking on an a self-referential
>>  feature of Marx's
>>  Historical Materialism (HM) that he inherits from
>>  his inversion of
>>  Hegel. Both thinkers argue that human history is
>>  intelligible and
>>  law-governed. For Hegel, history is the
>>  self-development of Spirit,
>>  for Marx its the self-development of social labour.
>>  Both Spirit and
>>  social labour function in the role of invariants in
>>  each respective
>>  theory that ultimately explain social change through
>>  time. Hegel
>>  claims that the Spirit first becomes self-conscious
>>  of itself in
>>  Hegelian philosophy, whereas Marx argues that social
>>  labour first
>>  becomes self-conscious of its own historical role in
>>  scientific
>>  socialism (e.g., "philosophy must be realized in the
>>  proletariat"). So
>>  HM is a theory of history that explains the
>>  necessity of its own
>>  appearance at a certain stage of human development
>>  (hence the
>>  self-referential element). But of course it is not a
>>  finished theory
>>  (hence the historical contingency). Since science is
>>  cumulative the
>>  claims of HM are universal without entailing a
>>  contradiction: if it is
>>  a true theory of history then better and more
>>  complete theories in the
>>  future will retain its essential insights (c.f.
>>  Newtonian mechanics as
>>  a special-case of quantum mechanics at large
>>  scales).
>>  I think your invocation of the liar paradox does not
>>  do justice to
>>  this theoretical complexity. It's also a typically
>>  "analytical"
>>  objection that ignores how self-referential
>>  paradoxes can get resolved
>>  once time is introduced. Implement the liar paradox
>>  in Prolog and
>>  you'll get an infinite loop not a crash.
>Ian, I'm not talking about the theory of history. I'm
>talking about the critique of ideas based on the
>master strategy of HM. To quote Rubin via Jurriaan:
>In Das Kapital, as Isaac I. Rubin emphasized, Marx
>indeed explicitly tries to explain why the categories
>of value present themselves they way they do in human
>consciousness generally, and in the consciousness of
>businessmen and the political economists in
>particular. Marx refers specifically for example to
>the reifying effects of market relations, in terms of
>"commodity fetishism", "the illusions of competition"
>which invert the real concatenation of events, and the
>"holy trinity" of value-creation. He notes also that
>"In bourgeois societies the economic fictio juris
>prevails, that every one, as a buyer, possesses an
>encyclopedic knowledge of commodities." (note 5)
>The question is: how could Marx penetrate through the
>so-called "commodity fetishism" where other political
>economists could not? Obviously they had some
>limitation that Marx does not have. It is the question
>of the vantage point that Marx claims for himself but
>denies others to have. Cheers, ajit sinha
>Do You Yahoo!?
>Tired of spam?  Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around

Associate Professor Ian Hunt,
Dept  of Philosophy, School of Humanities,
Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy,
Flinders University of SA,
Humanities Building,
Bedford Park, SA, 5042,
Ph: (08) 8201 2054 Fax: (08) 8201 2784

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