RE: [OPE] The English sub-titling of 'Capital'?

Date: Tue May 26 2009 - 10:49:56 EDT

> Cannot the titling of the English edition be attributed simply to a
> simplification, as reflected by Marx himself in his French edition. Chris
> noted the titling of the French edition, but, Jerry, you do not seem to
> have considered the implication.
Hi Paul Z:
I considered it but, it's true, didn't discuss it in my last post.
I don't think we can say what was in Marx's mind when he agreed to
the change in the title of the French edition or what was in the mind of
Engels, Moore, and Aveling regarding the sub-title of the English
edition - unless any of the former discussed these questions in
As for your question, yes, that's a possibility. But, if he wanted to
simplify, why does he appear to make almost the exact opposite point in the
"Preface to the French Edition" with his warning to the French public?
The substantive issue here concerns the subject matter of _Capital_ and
what textual support there is for differing interpretations. To varying
degrees, contemporary scholars either emphasize or de-emphasize the character
of _Capital_ as a critique of political economy. In recent decades, a
number of scholars have emphasized that for Marx _Capital_ was first
and foremost a critique of political economy. Others, including myself,
have argued that the real subject matter of _Capital_ was capitalism,
but that he also wanted to critique political economy in that work (perhaps
a better way of saying this is that he used, in part, the process of
critique of political economy as a means of systematically explaining
the characteristics and tendencies of capitalism).
There are methodological issues here that are not generally considered.
For instance, on what methodological basis can it be claimed that the
'economic law of motion' of modern society can be revealed through a
comprehensive critique of bourgeois, including 'scientific', political
economy? The presumption seems to be that the realities of this mode
of production are understood by the non-apologetic, 'scientific',
political economists but in mystified and reified ways and that hence
a critique of this group of theorists will result in a thorough-going
critique of the subject matter of capitalism itself. At the risk of
challenging sacred cows, who can actually defend this as a method of
scientific inquiry? In what other fields of science would we say that
a critique of pre-existing thought allows one to advance qualitatively
the understanding of the scientific subject? Generally speaking, while
critique might point out the inadequacies of prior conceptions, it
does not by itself necessarily or automatically lead to qualitative
advances in thought - especially if the subject is complex and in need
of systematic theorization.
In solidarity, Jerry

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Received on Tue May 26 10:56:51 2009

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