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[Xmca-l] Re: Contrasting 'use-value' & 'value'


I remember getting very excited back in the early '80s when I spotted the symmetry between the first chapters of Capital and Marx's critique of algebra in his Mathematical Manuscripts. That lasted about a week. The symmetry between Vygotsky's analysis of speech and Marx's analysis of production is a strong one because both take an artefact-mediated relation between individuals as the unit. There is a symmetry at the level of the molar unit as well, which, so far as I know has been neglected. But this structural symmetry cannot usefully be taken too far. The "point" is that the unit is a unit of a whole, and the productive activity of a community is not the same as its language, which as Marx said "the philosophers are bound to make into an independent realm." Concretely, speaking is not producing. But like all human activities, both are subject to analysis by units of artefact-mediated actions.


Andy Blunden
On 18/04/2017 7:01 AM, Julian Williams wrote:

In principle I am Ok with the idea of the unit that contains the essential
contradictions… but of what?

For Marx the whole point of commodity exchange/value is that it is the
beginning of an explanation of the 'economy', capitalism, and the labour
theory of value is the key to its collapse …

What is the equivalent 'point' of sign exchange in dialogue? And where is
the equivalent of the theory of value? I think the sensuous/supersensuous
is a distraction from the 'point'.

That’s my puzzle.


On 17/04/2017 21:49, "xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu on behalf of
Wolff-Michael Roth" <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu on behalf of
wolffmichael.roth@gmail.com> wrote:

Hi Julian,
the sign is to the verbal exchange what the commodity is to the commodity
exchange--both the sensuous and supersensuous parts are there that Marx
Vygotsky are writing about. :-)

Wolff-Michael Roth, Lansdowne Professor
Applied Cognitive Science
MacLaurin Building A567
University of Victoria
Victoria, BC, V8P 5C2
http://web.uvic.ca/~mroth <http://education2.uvic.ca/faculty/mroth/>

New book: *The Mathematics of Mathematics

On Mon, Apr 17, 2017 at 12:11 PM, Julian Williams <
julian.williams@manchester.ac.uk> wrote:

Michael and all

I am coming late to this discussion and maybe have been missing some
important thingsŠ but I want to see a few issues addressed by the
Commodity => Sign: my skepticism follows to some extent the critique I
wrote of the mapping 'labor = learning' that you are familiar with: but
some ways I am even more skeptical of this metaphor. So:

Commodity to sign, is a unit of a totality as in 'economy' to .. 'Š? Š '
What ? Maybe 'dialogue/discourse'?

What is the 'value' that is exchanged in discourse, and how does it
ultimately realise its 'use value' in some sort of dialogic
of useful understanding?

How does the producer of value 'labour' to produce it, and how is the
'labour time' related to the 'exchange value' of the sign that results?
[Bearing in mind that the labour theory of value is Marx's essential

Then how does this work relate to devious studies: we already have the
work of Bourdieu who assigns cultural capital/value to symbolic power in
the cultural fieldŠ is there a connection here?

Best regards as ever


Ps I need to come back to you about Hegel (I am far from happy with
reading the 'Ideal' as a straightforward negation of the 'Real' implicit
in what you sayŠ) when I have thought about this a bit more - maybe in
2018Š we should pick up!   :-)

On 17/04/2017 18:22, "xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu on behalf of
Wolff-Michael Roth" <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu on behalf of
wolffmichael.roth@gmail.com> wrote:

Hi Larry,
things become easier to think through if you do not take an
starting point but a relational one---not "she has to produce . .  ."
look at what is happening in the exchange, where each giving also is
taking, such that in a commodity exchange, you have double
in a verbal exchange, each speaking also involves listening and
and the receiving is for the purpose of giving (speaking, replying). As
soon as you do this, you remain with back-and-forth movement, no longer
action but transaction.

The other interesting thing is that the Russian word znachenie,
as "meaning" (really, signification) also translates as "value" and
"magnitude," and Il'enkov (2009) parenthetically adds "function" and
"rôle". I am quoting from p. 178:

Marx joins Hegel as regards terminology, and not Kant or Fichte,
who tried to solve the problem of Œideality¹ (i.e., activity) while
remaining Œinside
consciousness¹, without venturing into the external
world, the world of the palpable-corporeal forms and relations of
     This Hegelian definition of the term Œideality¹ takes in the whole
range of phenomena
within which the Œideal¹, understood as the corporeally embodied form
the activity of
social man, really exists ­ as activity in the form of the thing, or
conversely, as the thing
in the form of activity, as a Œmoment¹ of this activity, as its
     Without an understanding of this state of affairs it would be
impossible to fathom
the miracles performed by the commodity before people¹s eyes, the
commodity-form of
the product, particularly in its dazzling money-form, in the form of
notorious Œreal
talers¹, Œreal roubles¹, or Œreal dollars¹, things which, as soon as we
have the slightest
theoretical understanding of them, immediately turn out to be not
all, but Œideal¹
through and through, things whose category quite unambiguously includes
words, the
units of language, and many other Œthings¹. Things that, while being
palpable-corporeal formations, acquire all their Œmeaning¹ (function
rôle) from Œspirit¹,
>from Œthought¹ and even owe to it their specific corporeal existence.
Outside spirit and
without it there cannot even be words; there is merely a vibration of


Wolff-Michael Roth, Lansdowne Professor
Applied Cognitive Science
MacLaurin Building A567
University of Victoria
Victoria, BC, V8P 5C2
http://web.uvic.ca/~mroth <http://education2.uvic.ca/faculty/mroth/>

New book: *The Mathematics of Mathematics

On Mon, Apr 17, 2017 at 8:31 AM, <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

I am attempting to follow Wolff-Michael¹s trajectory as presented in
article (A Dialectical Materialist Reading of the Sign). On page 149
attempts to clarify the difference between sign complex Œuse-value¹ &
complex Œvalue¹.
His methodology is to read Marx Œsubstituting¹ the word ŒSIGN¹
sign complex) FOR Œcommodity¹ and intuites this method will be

Here is his realization through the method of re-reading as (trading,
translation, transposition) as I am carried along.

a) USE-VALUE:  Œnatural signs¹ such as animal footprints are
useful/functional to the hunter inherently; they do NOT have Œvalue¹
(exchangeble value) though they do have use-value for the hunter or
party in finding game.  Similarly a sign complex can be useful and
product of human labour without being Œvalue¹ (exchangeable). Someone
satisfies HER needs through her product produces Œuse-value¹ but NOT
b) VALUE: (exchangeable). To produce SIGNS (complexes), she has to
not only Œuse-value¹ but use-value FOR others. She has to produce
Œsocietal¹ use-values.... To be/come (exchangeable) SIGN, the product
TO BE TRANSFERRED to another, FOR whom the SIGN complex Œconstitutes¹

The production of signs that produce no Œvalue¹ that is exchangeable
others leads to personal notes often having NO use-value to others.
trans/form use-value to BE come Œvalue¹ requires exchangeability
lighting various forms of SIGN (complexes).

Apologies to Wolff-Michael if my echoing his re-reading methodology
garrbled the trans/mission?

I offer this because it helps clarify my reading of Œuse-value¹ &
My morning musement

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