[OPE-L:1708] Re: value-form theories and the Uno-school?

Subject: [OPE-L:1708] Re: value-form theories and the Uno-school?
From: Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Date: Sun Nov 21 1999 - 15:25:17 EST

A couple more brief points on value-form theory to note:Hegelian-Marxists have stressed the importance of the "starting point" in
the development of theory. Indeed - as Tony notes - many of the Hegelian
objections to _Capital_ have been centered on objections to Marx's
starting point. And I think that Tony has gone to great length (in _The
Logic of Marx's Capital: Replies to Hegelian Criticisms_) to defend
Marx's starting point against Hegelian critics. Yet, as noted in a
previous post, in Reuten-Williams "Dissociation is the conceptual
starting point of our presentation of the bourgeois epoch" (p. 57).
This appears to be a major difference among value-form theorists (and
indeed R-W are critical of Eldred _et al_ for having a "similar starting
point to Marx's").

Although I don't recall reading a critique or review by Tony of the R-W
book, it would seem to me that if he defends Marx's starting point against
Hegelian critics then he would probably begin an evaluation of R-W with a
critical examination of R-W's starting point.

Another related question is how we are to evaluate different claims
regarding the most appropriate starting point to comprehend capitalism.
Is, for instance, the "proof in the pudding"? I.e. can we determine the
best starting point only after the "end point"?; is the "best theory" the
one which systematically grasps and develops all of the determinations
of the object (capitalism) that one is trying to comprehend in thought?

II. Axioms

Value-form theorists, especially R-W, have been accused of neglecting the
analysis of the quantitative determination of value. Yet, there is an
element of the R-W methodology that hasn't been answered by the same
people that make this criticism. Consider the following from p. 4 of the
R-W book:

         "Central to the method is that it aims to dispense with reliance
          on axioms: anything that requires to be assumed (anything that
          is posited immediately) has eventually to be grounded in the

And haven't all of the presentations of the quantitative determination of
value relied heavily on "axioms"? Indeed, this is apparent by a reading of
any of the many mathematical proofs concerning such topics as the
transformation of value into prices of production and the TRPF. Thus,
there appears to be a major methodological difference here with many
Marxists relying on the "axiomatic method" and the value-formers like
R-W presenting "dialectical systematic theory". Although the major
question here would concern the appropriate or inappropriate role of
axioms in the development of theory, a secondary question would be
whether Marx employed or did not employ axioms, especially when
presenting issues concerning the quantitative determination of value (and,
relatedly, whether those "axioms" were sufficiently grounded in his

In solidarity, Jerry

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