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Re: [xmca] Peter Smagorinsky on concepts
- To: firstname.lastname@example.org, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com>
- Subject: Re: [xmca] Peter Smagorinsky on concepts
- From: Huw Lloyd <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2012 11:23:30 +0000
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On 19 January 2012 04:23, Andy Blunden <email@example.com> wrote:
> Huw, I think I have grasped your point about the way processes can also be
> structures in relation to other processes, though I don'tquite see why it
> is a criticism of my view. But, moving on ...
> Your citations of the Grundrisse are a little confusing, because you break
> out of the quotation from time to time with comments, and it is not at all
> clear whether you are summarising Marx or criticising Marx when you do
> this, or whether the quote marks have been left out inadvertantly.
I don't see any typos there. It is an elaboration.
> But can we go to a central point: the categories of "abstract" and
> "concrete" are both applied to concepts (whether subjective or objective)
> but in general both are description of concepts, and nothing in this
> excerpt from Marx concerns a contrast between thought and matter: rather he
> is talking about abstract ideas and concrete ideas. So I think your
> introduction of the category of the "material" into the section on the
> "Method of Political Economy" is quite misleading. Marx makes no reference
> to "material" here.
> Can you explain please?
My understanding is that a concrete conception, as referred to here, by
Marx, refers to conceptions that authentically mirror the concrete, the
material, the phenomena.
All systems comprise of material relations.
I refer to material here because this is directly related to structure.
Concrete is not merely a concentration of abstractions, it is a
concentration that mirrors the phenomena of interest in the concrete
world. Alternatively if we were to implement our concrete conceptions we
would also have a concrete system.
> Huw Lloyd wrote:
>> On 18 January 2012 00:55, Andy Blunden <firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:
>> email@example.com>> wrote:
>> This is the original "rising to the concrete," Huw:
>> In middle of that paragraph beginning "It seems to be correct ...".
>> This seems to be perfectly in line with my earlier point, Andy.
>> "It seems to be correct to begin with the real and the concrete, with the
>> real precondition, thus to begin, in economics, with e.g. the population,
>> which is the foundation and the subject of the entire social act of
>> production. However, on closer examination this proves false."
>> It is false to begin with the concrete and it is false that "the
>> population" is concrete.
>> "The population is an abstraction if I leave out, for example, the
>> classes of which it is composed. These classes in turn are an empty phrase
>> if I am not familiar with the elements on which they rest. E.g. wage
>> labour, capital, etc. These latter in turn presuppose exchange, division of
>> labour, prices, etc. For example, capital is nothing without wage labour,
>> without value, money, price etc."
>> The abstractions are refined and related.
>> "Thus, if I were to begin with the population, this would be a chaotic
>> conception [Vorstellung] of the whole, and I would then, by means of
>> further determination, move analytically towards ever more simple concepts
>> [Begriff], from the imagined concrete towards ever thinner abstractions
>> until I had arrived at the simplest determinations."
>> If we began with "the population" as the concrete (the imagined concrete)
>> we would have a chaotic conception.
>> "From there the journey would have to be retraced until I had finally
>> arrived at the population again, but this time not as the chaotic
>> conception of a whole, but as a rich totality of many determinations and
>> The journey would need to be retraced because scientific minds would
>> realise that "ever more simple concepts" are abstractions of material
>> phenomena. They would then make an abstract ascension towards a
>> concentration of related abstractions that explained and predicted the
>> concrete. The material relations.
>> "The former is the path historically followed by economics at the time of
>> its origins. The economists of the seventeenth century, e.g., always begin
>> with the living whole, with population, nation, state, several states,
>> etc.; but they always conclude by discovering through analysis a small
>> number of determinant, abstract, general relations such as division of
>> labour, money, value, etc. As soon as these individual moments had been
>> more or less firmly established and abstracted, there began the economic
>> systems, which ascended from the simple relations, such as labour, division
>> of labour, need, exchange value, to the level of the state, exchange
>> between nations and the world market. The latter is obviously the
>> scientifically correct method. The concrete is concrete because it is the
>> concentration of many determinations, hence unity of the diverse."
>> The synthesis of many abstractions (the diverse) that approach
>> (authentically explain) the complex dynamics of the concrete (the material).
>> "It appears in the process of thinking, therefore, as a process of
>> concentration, as a result, not as a point of departure, even though it is
>> the point of departure in reality and hence also the point of departure for
>> observation [Anschauung] and conception."
>> Many patterns overlapped, overlayed and related -- a process of
>> concentration (of perceiving many abstract relations in a concrete
>> The mental appreciation of the concrete is not the starting point for
>> this process of appreciation (understanding). Yet in reality we begin our
>> observation and conception from the less appreciated existence of the
>> concrete phenomena, which we endeavour to understand, to appreciate its
>> material relations.
> *Andy Blunden*
> Joint Editor MCA: http://www.tandfonline.com/**toc/hmca20/18/1<http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/hmca20/18/1>
> Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
> Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.**aspx?partid=227&pid=34857<http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857>
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