Marx's dialectic

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jura's picture
jura
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Mar 9 2012 09:17

I think you should give us another quiz in propositional calculus and then refuse to address the relevant issues. This will go down in history as the Lichtenstein gambit, a remarkable maneuver.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 9 2012 09:27

Yourmum:

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oh really, but i did. i was just checking if you even tried to understand what i said or just be trolling away ur boredom. the answer to your question (are they distinct) is the answer to what is a subclass.

Well, given the fact that you made no effort to understand me, I don't think you have any right to point fingers

Kambing
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Mar 9 2012 09:36
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I deny these relations are 'contradictory', to begin with, and I don't see how dialectics helps in any way at all. Indeed, I argue that it gets in the way, mystifying Marx's work for no gain at all.

Do you think that there is a class antagonism between capital and labour? Do you consider capital to be alienated labour?

Because that is, to me, the core social relation that Marx describes in Capital. And that is a dialectical relationship--not a static, external opposition, but not a wholly internal self-relation, either. It's a dialectical contradiction. The opposition between use-value and exchange-value is an expression of this contradiction within the market exchange relation.

If you reject the centrality of this contradictory class relation to Marx's value theory, what do you actually take from Marx? Seems to me that you'd basically be left with the very kind of Ricardian political economy that Marx is explicitly critiquing in Capital.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 9 2012 09:36

Jura -- twenty posts after 'he' said 'he'd' 'give it a few more goes':

Quote:
I think you should give us another quiz in propositional calculus and then refuse to address the relevant issues.

If you put your new glasses on, and re-read what I posted, you will see that all I said was that I'd be interested in your views on disjunctive and conjunctive normal forms. I made no comment about what I'd do if you posted them.

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This will go down in history as the Lichtenstein gambit, a remarkable maneuver

I see; Whenever someone expresses an interest in something, and that interest is met, it will be called 'the Lichtenstein gambit', will it?

Well, if your ability to predict the future is as poor as your ability to read what I post, I for one won't be holding my breath.

Even so, I hope you are right. I can do with the publicity. smile

So, how any more goes is a 'few goes'?

yourmum
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Mar 9 2012 09:41

what makes you think i didnt understand your question about use/exchange value? i never said i was referring to anything else.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 9 2012 09:43

Kambing:

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Do you think that there is a class antagonism between capital and labour? Do you consider capital to be alienated labour?

Sure -- but why you want to call this a 'contradcition', when the only rationale for this is tradition -- since Hegel's use of this term is based on defective, sub-Aristotelain 'logic' -- is rather puzzling.

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Because that is, to me, the core social relation that Marx describes in Capital. And that is a dialectical relationship--not a static, external opposition, but not a wholly internal self-relation, either. It's a dialectical contradiction. The opposition between use-value and exchange-value is an expression of this contradiction within the market exchange relation.

Well, we don't need any dialectics to describe this -- ordinary language (perhaps augmented with terminolgy drawn from Historical Materialism, science and mathematics) is sufficient.

Quote:
If you reject the centrality of this contradictory class relation to Marx's value theory, what do you actually take from Marx? Seems to me that you'd basically be left with the very kind of Ricardian political economy that Marx is explicitly critiquing in Capital.

Historical Materialism, minus the obscure concepts Hegel inflicted on humanity (upside down, or the 'right way up').

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 9 2012 09:44

Yourmum:

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what makes you think i didnt understand your question about use/exchange value? i never said i was referring to anything else.

Er.., the things you said; what else?

Kambing
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Mar 9 2012 10:42
Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
Kambing:
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Do you think that there is a class antagonism between capital and labour? Do you consider capital to be alienated labour?

Sure -- but why you want to call this a 'contradcition', when the only rationale for this is tradition -- since Hegel's use of this term is based on defective, sub-Aristotelain 'logic' -- is rather puzzling.

Well, I like to use 'contradiction' alongside 'antagonism' because they tend to suggest different aspects of the relation. So, approaching it from the perspective of capital there is a 'contradiction' in that capital is constituted by labour yet seeks to emancipate itself from labour to become pure abstract value. In practical terms, individual enterprises want to minimise labour costs, yet on an economy-wide level this causes the rate of profit to fall. That's a contradiction. From the point of view of workers, it appears more as an external antagonism--conditions of work being imposed through the threat of unemployment, fights over wages, etc. Yet capital is really our own power of human creativity which is alienated from us througn wage labour. So this relationship is not fully 'internal' or 'external', it's a dependent opposition.

Really, I think if you do agree with my two statements you must have a very different understanding of what Marx means by 'capital is alienated labour', because you can't really put those statements together without dialectical logic: capital is antagonistic to labour, it dominates it, and exploits it, and seeks to rid itself of it, yet it also is labour. Or from the other perspective: human creativity is stifled by wage labour, so we seek to escape it, establish refuges from it, and fight tooth and nail against it. And yet not only our creativity but also our very fight to preserve it is harnessed via wage labour to generate value for capital. Yet this struggle does not lead to stasis, but to social upheaval--so far largely contained within a reconstituted capital-labour relation, but with the potential to break free from it.

That kind of dynamic unity of opposites is what is meant by dialectics. And while this kind of contradictory relationship cannot exist according to the rules of formal logic, it explains a lot of what happens in human social life much better than bounded principles or static binary oppositions do.

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ocelot
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Mar 9 2012 11:30
Kambing wrote:
[...]it doesn't really make sense to talk about the 'use-value' for an object that no people are relating to in any way, but nor does it make any sense to talk about such objects having 'exchange value' or any other sort of value for that matter.

This is imo correct. Value is necessarily a relation. However there is an "objective" aspect as well. Marx talks of Gebrauchswert (translated as use value) but also, in Capital, of Gebrauchsgestalt as well. Gestalt is one of those German words that, while not being particularly rare or abstruse, is still difficult to translate properly, most translations end up as "use shape". Shape as in shape given to it by a shaper - i.e. with a particular purpose (use) in mind.

So while a lost or abandoned artefact may not have, in the absence of any relation to a potential user, a particular use value, it still retains it's use shape, which would allow it to be thus valued for use by any re-discoverer later on.

Note that there are also two aspects of materiality that can be the basis of use-value - the gestalt, i.e. the particular purpose behind it's shaping; and the "scrap value" related directly to the materiality of the object itself, bypassing its gestalt. Say, the refugees from a defeated army or some other social catastrophe, fleeing in winter, pause at an abandoned house and, freezing, search for the means of making a fire. An old abandoned antique wooden chair can be appropriated as firewood, even if it is broken.

Similarly, consider a mechanical part - say a front derailleur. In the process of use, of wear and tear, it's shape is gradually eroded. Until such point arrives that it has lost its shape to the extent that it can no longer function for the purpose designed. Even though it may still contain nearly all of the metallic substance, gramme for gramme, of its original manufacture, as well as the labour historically "embodied" within it, yet it has lost the specific use value of its Gebrauchgestalt. Yet it may still have use value (and hence exchange value) as scrap, or use value as a paper-weight, or melted and twisted into an object d'art ornament.

But... to reiterate, there can be no exchange value without use value.

Although they have different sources and determinations, both exchange and use value are relational, rather than (merely) objective.

for ref:

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Gestalt is a native German word, originally from stellen ('to put, set up, arrange, form', etc) but generating a verb of its own, gestalten ('to form, shape'), and hence the noun Gestaltung for the process or product of such forming. A Gestalt is not an abstract shape or form that may be shared by several things, but the form or shape of an individual. Thus it can refer also to the formed or shaped individual itself. Unlike Form, Gestalt does not usually imply a contrast with 'matter' or 'content'. Objects that have a Gestalt (i.e. plants, musical works, cultures) are thought of as ORGANIC unities, appreciable only as a whole, not by the piecemeal consideration of their parts.

from here

Kambing
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Mar 9 2012 11:50
ocelot wrote:
So while a lost or abandoned artefact may not have, in the absence of any relation to a potential user, a particular use value, it still retains it's use shape, which would allow it to be thus valued for use by any re-discoverer later on.

Yep, of course the material shape and substance of an object tends to have a pretty big impact on its potential uses and social value! But for some kinds of artefacts, who made it, where it came from, and who owned it previously can also be quite important. Or various cultural or even idiosyncratic preferences and symbolic associations. The use-value of a potato chip shaped vaguely like the Virgin Mary is very context-dependent...

S. Artesian
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Mar 9 2012 12:16
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In that case, if the chair in question has been forgotten about, locked away in that cellar, so that no one knows it's there and can thus form no intention toward it, it has no use value.

First, it's your claim that the chair, locked away in the cellar and forgotten about has NO use value but.......retains exchange value. Remember? Your claim is that antiques have exchange value with no use value, right?

So Rosa, do the fleets of airplanes in the desert, or the ships at anchor, or the rail cars in storage maintain their use value, or does it disappear?

Do they have an exchange value without a use value?

This issue, BTW, is one of the reasons Keynes "make 1/2 dig holes, and the other 1/2 fill them back up" theory falls apart.... no use values are being created.

To be a commodity the object must have a use value. Use values can exist without being commodities, but commodities in order to be values must have a use value.

Try reading more than just the afterward to volume 1. It might help you. Then again it might not.

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ocelot
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Mar 9 2012 14:47
Kambing wrote:
ocelot wrote:
So while a lost or abandoned artefact may not have, in the absence of any relation to a potential user, a particular use value, it still retains it's use shape, which would allow it to be thus valued for use by any re-discoverer later on.

Yep, of course the material shape and substance of an object tends to have a pretty big impact on its potential uses and social value! But for some kinds of artefacts, who made it, where it came from, and who owned it previously can also be quite important. Or various cultural or even idiosyncratic preferences and symbolic associations. The use-value of a potato chip shaped vaguely like the Virgin Mary is very context-dependent...

Heh. For some reason I was worried that responding to this point might be a derail. But then I remembered that given the rampant bollocks going on in this thread anyway, the likelihood of people minding would be pretty slim.

So re the influence of who made/owned/originated a particular artefact having a big impact on it's social value. Agreed. The interesting question is, does this undermine the validity of the LTV, as some people think it does, is it "neutral" in that respect, or does it actually support the theory on some level?

Let's take an artefact like Damien Hurst's "For the Love of God" (that diamond skull thingy).The thing has an intrinsic "scrap value" based on the price you could get for the raw materials used (diamonds & platinum). Plus there is the wages Hirst paid his workers to produce the thing. But, regardless of the controversy over whether it was sold or not, it would not surprise anybody that the object itself would command a much higher price at auction than cost of production plus average rate of profit, as is the case also for other art objects. The same could be said of the auction price for John Lennon's NHS spectacles or what have you.

The point is that these items are not commodities in the sense of being fungible use values produced by abstract labour (even if they may originally have been, like Lennon's specs). Their rareity and non-reproduceibilty is what gives them that anomalous exchange value.

But the reason that capitalists are willing to pay these huge sums for these non-commodity totem items, is (amongst other things) that they are looking for a repository of value. It's the very fact that they can't find a safe repository of value in the commodity world, that they seek out these non-commodity hedges. So, to a certain extent, the modern capitalist art market presupposes capitalist commodity production. First of all in the huge accumulation of buying power that mere pyramid-building can no longer scratch the surface of. Secondly, in the very precarity of the dynamic flux of the commodified world, - the maelstrom in which "all that is solid melts into air" - that leads them to seek non-commodifiable stores of value as a drowning man clutches at straws.

As someone has already pointed out in this thread, it is the power of Marx's mode of exposition that he starts with the most abstract, minimalist level of exposition and then progresses by unfolding successive layers of complication in the approach towards ever-more concrete determinations. So long as the new layers can be shown to not only not contradict (in the logical sense) the previous schema, but in fact rely on it, presuppose it - then the successive addition of extra layers of determination does not simply fall into Lakatos's category of the degenerate research programme, where each successive phenonema requires the addition of extra auxiliary hypotheses, with no further explanatory power and who's sole purpose is to exorcise the mismatch between the phenonema and the core hypothesis.

For me the continual elaboration of extreme examples of non-commodity items with absurd prices, is less evidence against the dominance of commodity-logic, than it's symptom.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 9 2012 19:26

SA:

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First, it's your claim that the chair, locked away in the cellar and forgotten about has NO use value but.......retains exchange value. Remember? Your claim is that antiques have exchange value with no use value, right?

So Rosa, do the fleets of airplanes in the desert, or the ships at anchor, or the rail cars in storage maintain their use value, or does it disappear?

Do they have an exchange value without a use value?

I'm tempted to repy: "Don't feed the false troll accusers!" but that would be to copy your underhand tactics.

My answer is that this is a problem for you, not me. I'm not going to try to solve it for you.

Quote:
Try reading more than just the afterward to volume 1. It might help you. Then again it might not.

Read the Afterword again, yourself -- you seem to have missed the section where Marx endorses a summary of 'the dialectic method' (the only one he published in his entire life)which contains not one atom of Hegel.

I'm sorry I haven't brought it to your attention before...sad

S. Artesian
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Mar 10 2012 00:23

Problem for me? No, it's not a problem for me, because I assert that the old chair has a use value, whether its in a cellar or in the kitchen or in a museum or a flea market; just as wood has a use value even when it simply lays on the ground in a forest with no one "knowing" its there or looking for it, much less collecting it. Wood burns; its combustibility is a physical characteristic, independent of the social relation that harvests, processes, distributes the wood.

In any case, your ignorance of Marx's most fundamental categories, and the relations of those categories has been exposed for all to see.

That's a fair day's work.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 10 2012 01:41

SA:

Quote:
Problem for me? No, it's not a problem for me, because I assert that the old chair has a use value, whether its in a cellar or in the kitchen or in a museum or a flea market; just as wood has a use value even when it simply lays on the ground in a forest with no one "knowing" its there or looking for it, much less collecting it. Wood burns; its combustibility is a physical characteristic, independent of the social relation that harvests, processes, distributes the wood.

Once more: so it's the intention to use an object in a certain way that gives it a use value, not the object itself.

In other words, it's not an intrinsic property (or an 'essential property') of the object in question, but an extrinsic property -- one we supply to the object concerned.

We can see this from the way you word your reply:

Quote:
just as wood has a use value even when it simply lays on the ground in a forest with no ne "knowing" its there or looking for it, much less collecting it

This either means that wood had a use value long before human beings existed, or it only assumed a use value when we evolved sufficiently enough to form an intention to use it.

Otherwise you might be committed to the view that wood can have a use value for lightning, since it can set wood on fire.

However, given the fact that you also want to regard use value as a social concept, it seems that the latter is the case: only when something can be used intentionally in a certain way is it a use value.

Which is it to be? Do objects have an intrinsic use value, or do they acquire one extrinsically when we form an intention to use them in some way?

[Think carefully before you reply. I have a rather nice trap waiting for you if your answer is pitched at your usual, sloppy and slapdash level. Alas, that happens since you let your emotions rule your head. We can see that by the way you rapidly become abusive. So, this might be a good time to put away those childish traits we have come to know and loathe, and act like a man, for a change. Give it a go, you might get to like it. Tantrums don't win arguments... smile ]

jolasmo
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Mar 10 2012 02:01

There's something wrong with you.

S. Artesian
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Mar 10 2012 02:38

You're the one arguing that use-value is a matter of intent. You essentially have a version of the old "If a tree falls in the forest and nobody's around to hear it, does the tree make a sound?" Your argument by intent is really nothing but childish idealism.

A use-value is an object that satisfies a human want, need, desire. Nature can certainly provide use values without human intent.

Wood does not have a telos, a purpose, to be burnt in its make-up; it has the intrinsic quality of combustibility whether or not it sits in the forest or issold in the supermarket. It has the property of combustibility intrinsic to it.

It does not need a human being to buy or sell it to provide warmth. If there's a fire in the forest, and nobody is there to see it, or feel it, is the fire hot?

The chair retains its use value even when not being used. Intent does not endow wood with its ability to provide warmth in combustion. Intent to sit in the chair does not make it useful. Its existence as a chair, as something of utility for sitting upon exists whatever your intent may be.

As an antique, the chair can only claim value in exchange if it has use. The exchange is based upon the chair's usefulness in satisfying the need of a collector to collect, or as a representative of some form of craftsmanship, as a decorative piece, or even as a decorative piece to be used as a chair.

It does not derive its utility from exchange in any of these cases; exchange is derived from the utility of the chair, the different utilities in these scenarios.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 10 2012 05:21

Jolasmo:

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There's something wrong with you.

Indeed, so, but, mercifully, only about half of what is wrong with you.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 10 2012 06:45

SA (oh dear, into the trap this numpty falls -- I did try to warn him):

Quote:
You're the one arguing that use-value is a matter of intent. You essentially have a version of the old "If a tree falls in the forest and nobody's around to hear it, does the tree make a sound?" Your argument by intent is really nothing but childish idealism.

In fact, I have expressed no opinion about the nature of use value. I have, though, posed several problems for you with your odd view of this subject, since it's not too clear whether you accept an intentional view of use values or an essentialist view -- your social interpretation suggests the former, while your comments about wood suggest the latter.

[As seems plain, you have not given this much thought, but have blundered around in the usual way, oblivious of this distinction -- until I kindly pointed it out to you.]

Quote:
"If a tree falls in the forest and nobody's around to hear it, does the tree make a sound?" Your argument by intent is really nothing but childish idealism.

Not at all. I posed a series of problems for you; if you now want to divert attention from your predicament, as I predicted you would (in that other thread), that's up to you.

Now, if we adopt an unsympathetic interpretation of your views, wood had a use value for lightning long before we evolved, since it can be set alight by it.

[Before you complain I have ignored what you said about human need etc., be patient -- we'll get to that soon enough.]

Is that your view? But it follows from what seems to be your essentialist view of wood. If wood has been flammable since it first evolved, then it must have acquired this essential property long before we emerged. In that case, if you do indeed hold an essentialist view of use values, you must also believe that wood is a use value for lightning. [Again, patience, please!]

This has nothing to do with trees falling in forests unheard, since the hearing of sound is not an essential property of falling trees.

But, as seems to be the case with your odd theory, the capacity of wood to burn is an essential property of that wood. And if that is so, it must be a use value for lightning. [Again, patience, please!]

[This isn't my belief, I hasten to add -- just in case you try to foist it on me, as you have several other things! -- but a consequence of your sloppy approach to HM. (I blame dialectics. However, you can console yourself with the thought that you're not the first comrade to have his brains addled by Hegel -- upside down or the 'right way up'.)]

On the other hand, if you hold an intentional view of use values, then wood can't be a use value until someone decides to use it, but not before. This would absolve you of the ridiculous belief that wood is a use value for lightning.

However, this option would create other problems for you -- since it implies that antique chairs are only use values if someone decides to use them to sit upon.

However, between episodes of sitting, they'd not be use values -- unless there was someone always present with that intention.

That's because, of course, intentions can't be stored in chairs.

This is indeed why many prefer the essentialist view, since a chair, they hold, is essentially a chair, even if no one ever actually uses it. Hence it's always a use value.

But, as we have seen, a consistent application of this idea implies wood is a use value for lightning -- and a field is a use value for a worm that burrowed into it -- 50 million years ago. [Patience please!]

Now I sympathise with the predicament you are in. The Hegelian tradition has bequeathed to the sad souls whose brains it has colonised far too few and crude conceptual tools to extricate you from it.

But, hey, that's why I am here, to help you poor sods out.

Ah, but you now fall into the trap:

Quote:
A use-value is an object that satisfies a human want, need, desire.

So, you do favour the intentional interpretation, after all.

In which case, wood isn't a use value per se -- only if someone decides to use it.

But then you back-sass and say this:

Quote:
Nature can certainly provide use values without human intent.

This either means nature has intentions, or you favour the essentialist interpretation.

So, 'nature' provided the earth with wood many million years ago, which one day humans would use. In that case it was a use value 50 million years ago. And, its use value, according to your earlier comments, is its capacity to burn. But that capacity is actionable by lightning, too, So it seems that wood is a use value for lightning, also proved by nature. [Patience please!]

Now the only way out of this predicament is to emphasise this clause:

Quote:
satisfies a human want, need, desire.

But if nature

Quote:
can certainly provide use values without human intent

Then it looks like you are committed to a teleological/anthropomorphic view: that nature provides the intention here.

But then you have this answer:

Quote:
Wood does not have a telos, a purpose, to be burnt in its make-up; it has the intrinsic quality of combustibility whether or not it sits in the forest or is sold in the supermarket. It has the property of combustibility intrinsic to it.

So, we are back to the essentialist view of use values, again!

But, this just means that anything that is capable of being burnt is a use value. So, since it is possible to burn almost anything (if the energy input is high enough) then practically everything in the universe is a use value!

Hence, the moon is a use value, so is the Kuiper Belt and Proxima Centauri.

Hence your 'definition' is far too generous.

You will thus have to modify it so that you include a reference to attainability (since most of the universe will be forever unattainable to us humans). I'll leave that to you.

But, let us examine that definition again, to see how you fell into the trap:

Quote:
A use-value is an object that satisfies a human want, need, desire,

In which case, we are back full circle: if an object (like an antique chair) is in a cellar, forgotten about and gathering dust, it no longer "satisfies a human want, need, desire", since no one knows about it.

Now, I did tell you to frame your response carefully, and not in your usual slap-dash manner. Here we can see you ignored my good advice.

You unwisely put your definition in the present continuous tense. That means that anything that isn't at the moment satisfying a "human want, need, desire" can't be a use value. [Your definition, not mine!]

Hence, if a piece of wood isn't actually being used, or lies unknown in the forest, it can't be a use value after all.

In trying to unite an intentional definition with an essentialist definition you end with an unworkable theory.

The rest of what you say, interesting though it is, falls foul of this serious screw-up on your part.

I did try to warn to warn you...

--------------------------

Back to that lightning.

It seems that the only way you can extricate yourself is to widen your definition along these lines:

Quote:
A use-value is an object that has, is now, or could satisfy a human want, need, desire.

Ok, so I want it to be the case that wood is a use value for lightning. Hence, it is.

QED.

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ocelot
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Mar 10 2012 09:52
S. Artesian wrote:
You're the one arguing that use-value is a matter of intent. You essentially have a version of the old "If a tree falls in the forest and nobody's around to hear it, does the tree make a sound?" Your argument by intent is really nothing but childish idealism.

A use-value is an object that satisfies a human want, need, desire. Nature can certainly provide use values without human intent.

But on page one, Marx says:

Quote:
Der Gebrauchswert verwirklicht sich nur im Gebrauch oder der Konsumtion. Gebrauchswerte bilden den stofflichen Inhalt des Reichtums, welches immer seine gesellschaftliche Form sei. In der von uns zu betrachtenden Gesellschaftsform bilden sie zugleich die stofflichen Träger des - Tauschwerts.
[...]
Use values become a reality only by use or consumption: they also constitute the substance of all wealth, whatever may be the social form of that wealth. In the form of society we are about to consider, they are, in addition, the material depositories of exchange value.

Nature can certainly form objects into a shape that we can find a use for. Walking along a pebble beach I can find a stone that will serve me well for skipping along the surface of the waves. The shaping is nature's, the use value is mine - I produce it. But I cannot produce it out of thin air, it cannot exist except in the material body of the stone. Gebrauchsgestalt und Gebrauchswert - connected but not the same.

(In passing, it must be said that the expression that a material category "verwicklicht sich" - makes itself real - has a distinctly Hegelian flavour)

The second sentence means that Marx does see this as one of those unusual categories that transcends specific historical social form. The third sentence makes clear that this is not true of exchange value, which is specific to the social form (capital) that we are investigating. But the first sentence makes clear - this is a social form, not a natural science one. Use value is relational, it cannot exist without both poles of the relation - human and object. The shape and material (Gebrauchsstoff?), however, is a natural property that has continued existence independent of any human-object relation.

S. Artesian
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Mar 10 2012 12:26

I agree. Use value is relational. It cannot exist for the human relation without the human relation.

Wood is combustible. Combustibility is not an intrinsic use value. Combustibility is useful for human beings. Human beings purposefully utilizing objects makes use values.

So once again, do the fleets of jets stored in the desert have a use value? The 10% or so of the world's container fleet at anchor... does it have use value?

If they're not being used, do they have a use value? But more importantly, getting back to the original assertion...... do they have value, exchange value? The argument after all is that objects can have an exchange value without a use value.

Remember, supposedly the antique chair in a cellar has no use value, but has an exchange value.

As the warehoused jets and ships show us, the use value continues to exist. Whether or not the use value is expressed is determined by the needs of capital accumulation.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 10 2012 17:01

SA:

Quote:
Wood is combustible. Combustibility is not an intrinsic use value. Combustibility is useful for human beings. Human beings purposefully utilizing objects makes use values.

But, your definition of use value:

Quote:
A use-value is an object that satisfies a human want, need, desire,

implies that if an object isn't at this moment satisfying a "human want, need, desire", then it can't be a use value.

So, that chair, in that cellar, forgotten about, which is not now satifying a "human want, need, desire" can't be a use value, contrary to what you assert elsewhere.

And, if you relax your definition (which would make your theory a version of stipulative conventionalism -- that is, you'd be aiming to solve a scientific problem by means of linguistic tinkering), that would be no help either, as I pointed out earlier:

Quote:
Back to that lightning.

It seems that the only way you can extricate yourself is to widen your definition along these lines:

Quote:
A use-value is an object that has, is now, or could satisfy a human want, need, desire.

Ok, so I want it to be the case that wood is a use value for lightning. Hence, it is.

QED.

S. Artesian
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Mar 10 2012 17:43

And in your argument; everything loses its use value, except the bed and the blankets, when humans go to sleep.

Again, do the jets parked in the desert have use value? Yes or no?

Does a jet, not officially removed from the roster of equipment of an airline, not being utilized on any particular day, lose its use value?

In short, your argument becomes "A chair is only a chair when being sat upon." -- which has nothing to do with Marx's analysis at all. Marx is talking about human appropriation of nature, through labor, and what factors determine the expression, the mode of that appropriation. In the case of capital that mode is value.

And this:

Ok, so I want it to be the case that wood is a use value for lightning. Hence, it is.

is exactly what artists do. The wood can be used to represent lightning-- that's its use value to the artist. That's the point. Wood can't be lightning, but it can, to an individual, satisfy a need to represent lightning.

Now the artist can buy the wood, in which case the exchange value cannot exist separate from the use value. Or the artist may find the wood, in which case the use-value exists without a coincident exchange value. The mode of appropriation for society, however, is determined by the social organization of labor.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 10 2012 18:10

SA:

Quote:
And in your argument; everything loses its use value, except the bed and the blankets, when humans go to sleep.

Well, in fact, that's a consequence of your definition.

Or do you deny that you posted this?

Quote:
A use-value is an object that satisfies a human want, need, desire,

Given this definition that chair can't be a use value!

Quote:
Again, do the jets parked in the desert have use value? Yes or no?

Does a jet, not officially removed from the roster of equipment of an airline, not being utilized on any particular day, lose its use value?

Given your defective definition, they don't appear to be, either!

May I suggest, therefore, that you re-think your defintion?

[And good luck with that one, given the impoverished conceptual tools Hegel dumped on all those who think he had anything of value to say!]

Quote:
In short, your argument becomes "A chair is only a chair when being sat upon." -- which has nothing to do with Marx's analysis at all. Marx is talking about human appropriation of nature, through labor, and what factors determine the expression, the mode of that appropriation. In the case of capital that mode is value.

Once more, this follows from your definition, not mine (since I haven't defined use value).

Quote:
The wood can be used to represent lightning-- that's its use value to the artist. That's the point. Wood can't be lightning, but it can, to an individual, satisfy a need to represent lightning.

Now the artist can buy the wood, in which case the exchange value cannot exist separate from the use value. Or the artist may find the wood, in which case the use-value exists without a coincident exchange value. The mode of appropriation for society, however, is determined by the social organization of labor

But, what about a lump of wood that is lying in a forest, unknown to any artist, or to anyone at all, 50 million years ago? Given your defective definition, it can't be a use value -- since it is not now:

Quote:
an object that satisfies a human want, need, desire

But if you relax your useless definition, then it can be a use value to lightning, if I want it to be:

Quote:
Back to that lightning.

It seems that the only way you can extricate yourself is to widen your definition along these lines:

Quote:
A use-value is an object that has, is now, or could satisfy a human want, need, desire.

Ok, so I want it to be the case that wood is a use value for lightning. Hence, it is.

QED.

ocelot's picture
ocelot
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Mar 10 2012 18:41
S. Artesian wrote:
I agree. Use value is relational. It cannot exist for the human relation without the human relation.

OK.

S. Artesian wrote:
Wood is combustible. Combustibility is not an intrinsic use value. Combustibility is useful for human beings. Human beings purposefully utilizing objects makes use values.

OK

S. Artesian wrote:
So once again, do the fleets of jets stored in the desert have a use value? The 10% or so of the world's container fleet at anchor... does it have use value?

Slightly different cases. I don't know exactly the property rights of those planes. I presume they are part of a strategic reserve, possibly mandated by the Dept. of Defense, but I don't know whether they're owned by the State or by the original operators. The proportion of the container fleet at anchor is easier. They are the fixed capital of the various shipping corps. Conceptually they are no different from any temporarily idle fixed capital. Their actual utility requires a higher order of concreteness than the level of abstraction in vol I. We need to talk about the relation of value to risk, i.e. the likelihood of trade picking up in the foreseeable future to allow them to be put back to use, weighed against the problem of disposing them in a soft market and the cost of re-acquiring them at a time when business has already picked up, and the market for plant is subsequently tighter. But the point is that they are known about, they are accounted for both in terms of bourgeois account books and the social production process.

S. Artesian wrote:
If they're not being used, do they have a use value? But more importantly, getting back to the original assertion...... do they have value, exchange value? The argument after all is that objects can have an exchange value without a use value.

Technically you could argue that if an item is not being used (broader considerations like the economics of production reserve touched on above, aside) it is a use-shape rather than a use-value. But the convention of continuing to refer to it as a use-value is convenient when we are discussion economic categories. The argument that objects can have an exchange value without a use value to the purchaser (n.b. the item can easily be of no utility at all to the producer, other than its ability to be exchanged for money in a commodity production scenario), is nonsense. The "example" advanced of a item that is unknown and undiscovered somehow making part of the exchange value of the mansion which is sold "all fittings attached" is pure legalism. The simple thought experiment of the sale of the mansion being agreed on the night, a third party entering and removing the chair before morning and then the transaction being reconfirmed for the same price next morning, by both parties who were previously unaware of the chair's existence demonstrates clearly that the chair plays no part in the exchange value of the mansion.

S. Artesian wrote:
As the warehoused jets and ships show us, the use value continues to exist. Whether or not the use value is expressed is determined by the needs of capital accumulation.

No. This is substantialism/essentialism. Marx does not say that the use value is expressed by it's use or consumption, he says it is made real (comes into existence) only in that process. The ontology is relational and processual. Not substantialist/essentialist.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 10 2012 18:50

Ocelot:

Quote:
The argument that objects can have an exchange value without a use value to the purchaser (n.b. the item can easily be of no utility at all to the producer, other than its ability to be exchanged for money in a commodity production scenario), is nonsense. The "example" advanced of a item that is unknown and undiscovered somehow making part of the exchange value of the mansion which is sold "all fittings attached" is pure legalism. The simple thought experiment of the sale of the mansion being agreed on the night, a third party entering and removing the chair before morning and then the transaction being reconfirmed for the same price next morning, by both parties who were previously unaware of the chair's existence demonstrates clearly that the chair plays no part in the exchange value of the mansion.

But, you are the one who wants to argue that exchange value is a social category, and my example dealt with that. Calling it 'legalism' is no answer, since legal categories are also social.

Quote:
The simple thought experiment of the sale of the mansion being agreed on the night, a third party entering and removing the chair before morning and then the transaction being reconfirmed for the same price next morning, by both parties who were previously unaware of the chair's existence demonstrates clearly that the chair plays no part in the exchange value of the mansion

That wasn't my example. May I suggest you re-read it and address what I actually said, not what you would like me to have said?

S. Artesian
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Mar 10 2012 20:19

Of course the jets, which are not BTW US Dept. of Defense jets, but airliners stored by airlines based on traffic requirements, and the container ships have use value. That they are not functioning as use values is clearly the restriction placed upon them by capital, by their production as values.

All of this is far afield from the central claim by someone that exchange values can exist without use values-- which means I guess that value can be fashioned out of thin aire.... something the bourgeoisie think they can do, which marks the end of every expansionary phase of the business cycle.

If an object can have exchange value without use value then we ultimately must conclude that labor is not the source of value.

S. Artesian
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Mar 10 2012 22:22

One more point on this... or maybe two:

1. I agree that the assertion that there can be exchange value without use value is nonsense.... but moreover the "pretense" of exchange value without use value is indicative of fraud, swindling, scams... all those things that accompany capital like pilot fish accompany the shark. We can look at the flim-flam scams of the emerging US railroad industry in the 1830s and 1840s to see all sorts of examples of "exchange value" without use value-- every single occurrence collapsed leaving the holders of the paper values, exactly that: holders of the value of the paper and nothing else.

2. Regarding this:

Quote:
Slightly different cases. I don't know exactly the property rights of those planes. I presume they are part of a strategic reserve, possibly mandated by the Dept. of Defense, but I don't know whether they're owned by the State or by the original operators. The proportion of the container fleet at anchor is easier. They are the fixed capital of the various shipping corps. Conceptually they are no different from any temporarily idle fixed capital.

And you continue on talking about value to risk, etc.

Here you confuse use value with exchange value. Fixed capital by its very designation is a use value organized as value, as capital, that transfers its value incrementally in production through the consumption, extinguishment of its use value.

Yes the ships exist as fixed capital-- but is their use value somehow altered by an economic contraction that makes it cheaper to mothball the ships rather than operate them? Of course not.

Ask yourself this: if this were not capitalism, would the ships be at anchor, without use? It seems to me you are arguing that ships would be without use value under any economic system.

The problem for capital is at the same time as there can be no exchange value without use value, labor cannot be exploited intensely enough to capitalize the tremendous expansion of use values created by the intense exploitation of labor.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 11 2012 01:35

SA:

So, in view of the fact that you are ignoring the trap I set for you (even after I had warned you to tread carefully) we can now add this nastly little conundrum to the many other questions you ducked over at RevLeft:

Quote:
Back to that lightning.

It seems that the only way you can extricate yourself is to widen your definition along these lines:

Quote:
A use-value is an object that has, is now, or could satisfy a human want, need, desire.

Ok, so I want it to be the case that wood is a use value for lightning. Hence, it is.

QED.

Or, have you finally decided not to feed the alleged 'troll' -- even after having served well over a dozen banquets?

S. Artesian
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Mar 11 2012 05:13

Tell us again how antiques have exchange value without use value.