Re: [OPE] Mastering Marxian Economics

From: Gerald Levy (
Date: Mon Jul 28 2008 - 10:11:26 EDT

> Ok. You agree that "the *total* labour necessary to reproduce the capacity 
> to work" is a general concept.
> What precisely is your VLP then? Labour-power as a commodity is one 
> historically specific concept, i.e. it does not apply in say feudalism. 
> However, from your previous exchanges your VLP seems to boils down to "the 
> social labour necessary to reproduce the capacity to work", which is 
> nothing but a subset of the labour above. What is the historical specific 
> part here?

Hi Dave Z:

The historically specific part refers  to capitalism and the relation 
capital and wage-labor.

> From a scientific point of view I cannot really understand your major 
> theoretical disagreement. Of course, certain objects of study require 
> specific concepts, but scientific practice opts for concepts that allow us 
> to generalize and compare objects.

Science also cautions against over-reaching and over-generalization.

> A comparative historical understanding requires general concepts such as 
> "class", "surplus labour", "relations of production" etc.

Yes, that's true. Certain concepts have trans-historical applicability
while others are specific to a specific mode of production.

> It is precisely through historically invariant concepts that we can get a 
> better understanding of what is historically specific to capitalism. Isn't 
> there an analogous case in biology?

Yes. The anatomy of an ape can't be deduced from the anatomy of
a worm.

In solidarity, Jerry 

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