[Marxism] Query

ehrbar at marx.economics.utah.edu ehrbar at marx.economics.utah.edu
Sun Nov 2 06:32:15 MST 2014

Hello Shiraz,

First of all, your translation of footnote 20 is inaccurate.  I would
translate it perhaps as follows:

> It is hardly surprising that the economists, influenced by material
> interests, have overlooked the content (Formgehalt) of the relative
> expression of value, if before Hegel the professional logicians even
> overlooked the content (Forminhalt) of the paradigms of judgment and
> inference.

Here is footnote 20 in German:

> Es ist kaum verwunderlich, daß die Oekonomen, ganz unter dem Einfluß
> stofflicher Interessen, den Formgehalt des relativen Werthausdrucks
> übersehn haben, wenn vor Hegel die Logiker von Profession sogar den
> Forminhalt der Urtheils- und Schlußparadigmen übersahen.


The words "Formgehalt" or "Forminhalt" means "content of the form,"
therefore these words should certainly not be translated as "formal
side" or "formal aspect."  If one wants to use the word "aspect" one
would have to say "the contentual aspect of the expression".  It does
not refer to what the relative expression of value is an expression of,
but to the quality of this expression itself.

In the fourth edition, this footnote would fit into the beginning of the
section called "The content of the relative form of value". (Vintage
edition p. 140/141, I understand this is page identical to the Penguin
edition).  Marx criticizes the economists for only looking at the
quantitative aspect of the relative expression of value.  They are only
interested in whether 20 yards of linen "is worth few or many coats",
and they overlook the quality or content of this expression, namely that
linen is equated with coats.

Footnote 20 comes from an extended treatment of the form of value in the
First edition, which Marx found "difficult to understand because the
dialectic is much sharper ...", therefore the Introduction to the First
edition advised the reader unfamiliar with dialectical thinking to skip
it and instead read an extra appendix in the First edition about the
value form.

In the second and later editions, the Value Form Appendix was integrated
into the main text, and the passage with the "sharp" dialectic was left
out altogether.  Even the reference to this passage in the Introduction
was edited out of the "Introduction to the First Edition" reproduced in
these later editions.  You will therefore not find this passage in the
Vintage/Penguil edition).  Therefore I am reproducing here the relevant
passage from the Introduction of the First edition as it appears
in the First edition itself (and which I paraphrased above).  Marx
compares here Capital with his earlier booklet "Contribution to the
Critique of Political Economy":

> Was nun näher die Analyse der Werthsubstanz und der Werthgröße
> betrifft, so habe ich ||VIII| sie möglichst popularisirt. Anders mit
> der Analyse der Werthform. Sie ist schwerverständlich, weil die
> Dialektik viel schärfer ist als in der ersten Darstellung. Ich rathe
> daher dem nicht durchaus in dialektisches Denken eingewohnten Leser,
> den Abschnitt von p. 15 (Zeile 19 von oben) bis Ende p. 34 ganz zu
> überschlagen, und statt dessen den dem Buch zugefügten Anhang: „Die
> Werthform“ zu lesen.

Finally I'd like to draw your attention to the MEGAdigital project which
I used for this posting here:


This project is publishing division 2 of MEGA (Capital and Marx's
Manuscripts leading up to Capital) on the web.  It is an indispensable
research tool which should be known much better.

Hans G Ehrbar

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