- Jan 2020
the phenomenal form
In Fowkes, the 'form of appearance' or the Erscheinungsform.
Exchange value is the 'form of appearance' of something contained in it, yet distinguishable from it--this 'third thing' will turn out to be 'socially necessary labor time'.
Book Two of Hegel's Science of Logic, the Doctrine of Essence, begins with a chapter on 'Der Schein,' which appears in A.V. Miller's translation as "Illusory Being" (Hegel, Science of Logic, trans. by A.V. Miller, pp. 393-408).
Here, Hegel describes "schein" as "reflected immediacy, that is immediacy which is only by means of its negation and which when contrasted with its mediation is nothing but the empty determination of the immediacy of negated determinate being," (p. 396).
Hegel goes on to remark that "Schein" is "the phenomenon [Phänomen] of skepticism, and the Appearance [Erscheinung] of idealism," (p. 396).
In describing exchange value as the 'Erscheinungsform' of 'something contained in it, yet distinguishable from it'--which will be labor--Marx is clearly flirting with the terminology surrounding "Illusory Being" in the Science of Logic, which suggests labor as the 'thing-in-itself' of the exchange value. Exchange-value is the reflected immediacy that conceals the congealed labor that it is its essence.
The passage as a whole is suggestive of how exchange value will wend its way through Marx's demonstration, unfolding from itself determinations of itself.
Before presenting a long, difficult quotation from Hegel, I think the most straightforward way to present this reference to Hegel is to say present the argument as follows:
In Kantian idealism, we find that the 'thing-in-itself' cannot become an object of knowledge; consciousness only ever has immediate access to the form of appearance, the 'sensible form' of a 'thing-in-itself' which never presents itself to consciousness. In referring to the value form as the 'form of appearance' of something else which does not appear, Marx is saying that just as idealism subordinates the objectivity of the world to its appearance for consciousness, exchange-value represents immediately an essence that it suppresses, and implicitly, denies the possibility of knowledge of this essence.
Hegel writes, "Skepticism did not permit itself to say 'It is'; modern idealism did not permit itself to regard knowledge as a knowing of the thing-in-itself; the illusory being of skepticism was supposed to lack any foundation of being, and in idealism the thing-in-itself was not supposed to enter into knowledge. But at the same time, skepticism admitted a multitude of determinations of its illusory being, or rather its illusory being had for content the entire manifold wealth of the world. In idealism, too, Appearance [Erscheinung] embraces within itself the range of these manifold determinateness. This illusory being and this Appearance are immediately thus manifoldly determined. This content, therefore, may well have no being, no thing or thing-in-itself at its base; it remains on its own account as it is; the content has only been transferred from being into an illusory being, so that the latter has within itself those manifold determinateness, which are immediate, simply affirmative, and mutually related as others. Illusory being is, therefore, itself immediately determinate. It can have this or that content; whatever content it has, illusory being does not posit this itself but has it immediately. The various forms of idealism, Leibnizian, Kantian, Fichtean, and others, have not advanced beyond being as determinateness, have not advanced beyond this immediacy, any more than skepticism did. Skepticism permits the content of its illusory being to be given to it; whatever content it is supposed to have, for skepticism it is immediate. The monad of Leibniz evolves its ideas and representations out of itself; but it is not the power that generates and binds them together, rather do they arise in the monad like bubbles; they are indifferent and immediate over against one another and the same in relation to the monad itself. Similarly, the Kantian Appearance [Erscheinung] is a given content of perception; it presupposes affections, determinations of the subject, which are immediately relatively to themselves and to the subject. It may well be that the infinite obstacle of Fichte's idealism has no underlying thing-in-itself, so that it becomes purely a determinateness in the ego; but for the ego, this determinateness which it appropriates and whose externality it sublates is at the same time immediate, a limitation of the ego, which it can transcend but which has in it an element of indifference, so that although the limitation is in the ego, it contains an immediate non-being of the ego." (p. 396-397).
In Lenin's notebooks on Hegel's Science of Logic, these sections provoke a considerable degree of excitement. Lenin's 'Conspectus of Hegel's Science of Logic' can be accessed via Marxists.org here:
In Ben Fowkes translation in the Penguin edition, we find "The wealth of societies…appears as."
In the German edition, Marx uses the verb erscheint ('scheint' shares an etymological link to the English word, shine.)
On p. 127, Marx uses the Hegelian expression, Erscheinungsform (form of appearance). In this edition, it is rendered "the phenomenal form."
Marx uses this term to describe the way that, in order for exchange-values to present an equivalence between two distinct use-values (i.e. x corn, y silk) they must possess some common element of identical magnitude. As exchange-values, commodities "cannot be anything other than the mode of expression, the 'form of appearance' [Erscheinungsform], of a content distinguishable from it," (Karl Marx. Capital, Vol. I, p. 127)
In the original German, 'prevails' is rendered "herrscht." Herrscht shares a common root with the ordinary German word Herr (Mister, or, more evocatively, Master). 'Lordship' (as, in the chapter of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, on 'Lordship and Bondage' is rendered Herrschaft.)
My own reading of Capital tends to center upon the question of domination in capitalist societies, and throughout chapter 1 (in particular, in The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof) Marx is especially attuned to the distinguishing how the forms of domination that are prevalent in capitalist societies are distinct from the relations of "personal dependence" that characterize pre-capitalist modes of production.
It seems prudent, therefore, to take note of the way that the seemingly innocuous notion of 'prevalence' is, for Marx, in his original formulation, already evocative of the language of mastery, domination, perhaps even something like 'hegemony'.
Furthermore, the capitalist mode of production prevails--it predominates. Yet, as Louis Althusser observes in his discussion of the concept of the 'mode of production' in On the Reproduction of Capitalism, every concrete social formation can be classified according to the mode of production that is dominant (that prevails--herrscht). In order to dominate, something must implicitly be dominated, or subordinate. "In every social formation," Althusser writes, "there exists more than one mode of production: at least two and often many more." Althusser cites Lenin, who in his analysis of the late 19th c. Russian social formation, observes that four modes of production can be distinguished (Louis Althusser, On the Reproduction of Capitalism, Verso 2014, p. 19.)
In our analysis of social formations, the concrete specificity of each can be articulated by carefully examining the multiplicity of modes of production that coincide within it, and examine the way in which capitalism tends to dominate a multiplicity of subordinate modes of production that, on the one hand, survive from past modes of production but which may also, on the other, be emerging in the present (i.e. communism). Thus even if capitalism tends towards the formation of a contiguous world-system dominated by its particular imperatives, this does not mean that this process is homogenous or unfolds in the same way in each instance.
For some commentators, capitalism is defined by the prevalence of wage labor and the specific dynamics that obtain therefrom. Yet this has often led to confusion over, whether, in analyzing the North American social formation prior to 1865, in which slavery coexists with wage-labor, the mode of production based on slave-labor is pre-capitalist. Yet as we find here in ch. 1, what determines the commodity as a commodity is not that it is the product of wage labor, rather that it is produced for exchange. As Marx writes on p. 131, "He who satisfies his own need with the product of his own labor admittedly creates use-values, but not commodities. Insofar as the slave-system in North America produced commodities (cotton, tobacco, etc.) for exchange on the world market, the fact that these commodities were produced under direct conditions of domination does not have any bearing on whether or not we identify this system of production as 'capitalist'. Wage-labor is therefore not likely the determinative factor; the determinative factor is the production of commodities for exchange. It is only insofar as commodities confront one another as exchange-values that the various modes of useful labor appear as expressions of a homogenous common substance, labor in the abstract
It is in this sense that we can observe one of the ways that the capitalist mode of production prevails over other modes of production, as it subordinates these modes of production to production for exchange, and thus the law of value, regardless of whether wage-labor represents the dominant form of this relation. Moreover, it provides a clue to how we can examine, for example, the persistence of unwaged work within the family, which has important consequences for Social Reproduction Theory.
Nonetheless, we can say that insofar as commodities confront each other on the market in a scene of exchange that they implicitly contain some 'third thing' which enables us to compare them as bearers of a magnitude of value. This 'third thing', as Marx's demonstration shows, is 'socially necessary labour time', which anticipates the way that wage-labor will become a dominant feature of capitalist society.
- Lenin's Philosophical Notebooks
- On the Reproduction of Capitalism
- Social Reproduction Theory
- Science of Logic
- Wage Labor
- Form of Appearance
- Phenomenology of Spirit
- Louis Althusser
Hegel veut emmener la philosophie à un nouvel essor: au lieu de la concevoir comme « amour du savoir », qui implique un désir de connaître et donc toujours un manque, elle deviendra savoir effectivement réel.
La vérité ne réside pas dans un savoir mais dans le système, dans le processus, dans le cheminement de l'esprit vers une conscience absolue qui se sait comme ayant contemplant un savoir absolu
- Nov 2019
Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit
Accès via proxy UdeM au commentaire de Ludwig Siep
- Jul 2019
- Aug 2018
to tarry with this negative
I've always been interested in Hegel's statement about tarrying with the negative. In my mind, I think of fencing, perhaps because I conflate "tarry" with "parry."
However, I don't think this is necessarily too far off. To tarry can be seen as staying and engaging with the negative. It seems similar to "dilly-dally" or "dawdle." Basically, it seems to me that to "tarry with the negative" is to delay oneself in the presence of the negative in order to engage with it (which I still choose to view as an intricate fencing match).
Hegel believed that history culminated in an absolute moment - a moment in which a final, rational form of society and state became victorious.
and probably not a bad outcome in an earlier era that thought of things in terms of clockwork and lacked the ideas of quantum theory and its attendant uncertainties.
- Apr 2017
It so follows, Hegel explains, that labor is the work ofpossession, an act of the will to shape one’s surroundings: “to impose a form on a thing is the mode of taking possession” (Phil. Right, 47).
labor brings consciousness.
- Feb 2016
- Jul 2015
So how can you be beyond critical theory, given that it generally aims “to explain and transform all the circumstances that enslave human beings?“
I think the definition that you give of critical theory here, from the Stanford encyclopedia, is just wrong. Adorno's /Negative Dialectics/ begins, for example, with an epigraph that rejects the totalities that you here ascribe to Critical Theory: "The whole is the false", thereby countering Hegel's Absolute.
- Feb 2014
The conservative influence of property does not, however, depend on primogeniture or even inheritance -- features that gave property a valuable role in Burke's political system as well as in the political theories advanced by Hegel and Plato. n11 Within a single lifetime, property tends to make the property owner more risk-averse. This aversion applies both to public decisions [*291] affecting property, such as taxes, and to personal decisions that might diminish one's property, such as investment strategies and career choices. Inheritance and capital appreciation are only additional characteristics of traditional notions of property that tend to stabilize social stratification.