Re: general, particular Holzkamp, Engeström

From: Steve Gabosch (
Date: Thu Oct 14 2004 - 01:49:18 PDT

Hi Michael,

Thank you for the quotes from Marx.

I think I understand part of the problem we are having. It seems to me we
are getting into a little trouble with some word-meaning issues. For
example, Marx used the term "value" in Capital to specifically mean
exchange value, not use-value. He always says "use-value" when he means
use-value, and "value" when he means exchange value. Bruce is using the
term value in the way Marx did.

I find it less confusing in this kind of discussion to use the full terms
use-value and exchange-value - and not just the unmodified term "value."

Similarly, the use of the term "exchange" seems to be getting a little
confusing. I suggest, when the term "exchange" is intended to mean
commodity exchange, to say the full phrase "commodity exchange."

I also find it handy to use the phrase "activity system" when the
Leont'evist concept of "activity" is meant.

Just some suggestions.

Michael Glassman is right, when everyday words are adopted as technical
terms, there is going to be trouble. Nevertheless, everyday terms do keep
getting used this way in the academic world, and indeed, this creates havoc
from time to time. Finding a way to phrase these terms so the intended
meaning is clear seems to help - some!

~ Steve

At 03:12 PM 10/13/2004 -0700, you wrote:
>This is true only for use-less things, which by definition involves
>useless work...
> Even when there is no capitalism, not exchange, useful work/labor
> produces value, use-value. Whether it also produces (exchange) value
> depends on the situation, Marx gives examples, the independent family
> where things are produced to be used but are not exchanged, old Indian
> communities where the same relations hold.
> If you take Damasio's work, everything we do is to create higher
> emotional valence--which is a form of value created by work.

>On 13-Oct-04, at 3:03 PM, Bruce Robinson wrote:
>>Marx emphatically does not say that all labour produces value. Firstly,
>>labour only takes the form of value under capitalism or more precisely
>>commodity production. Secondly, if I go out and dig my garden, I perform
>>an act of labour (transform nature) without exchange and it is not
>>measured in value terms. It has use value to me and no one else (except
>>perhaps my neighbours who are fed up with looking at weeds but that is
>>hardly a pre-condition;)). To say Marx is 'not interested in this' (which
>>is true because he is talking about commodities) is not the point.
>>In the second quote, Marx is obviously talking about exchange where the
>>commodity has to have use value for the buyer - i.e. an other. This is
>>not necessarily true for labour in general, which he defines at the start
>>of Ch.7 as 'Labour is, in the first place, a process in which both man
>>and Nature participate, and in which man of his own accord starts,
>>regulates, and controls the material re-actions between himself and
>>Nature.' (from the Penguin translation is better).
>>I'm not sure where your quotes come from as I don't know which English
>>edition (and i only have three!). Perhaps you could give the whole
>>paragraph or context in English and German.

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