From Philosophy

from the books: Capital, vol. 1, 1867, Ch. 5, Karl Marx and A Companion to Marx’s Capital, 2010, David Harvey

Key: (page numbers for Penguin Classics edition of Capital), [page numbers for David Harvey’s Companion to Capital] Chapter 5: Contradictions in the General Formula (258) What distinguishes the form of circulation relevant to capital production (M-C-M)? An inverted order of succession of the two antithetical processes: sale and purchase This inversion has no existence for 2 of the 3 people involved [92] To answer the question, “Does capital lay its own golden eggs?,” Marx starts with examining the contradictions within M-C-M + ΔM Fundamental question: where does the increment, surplus value, come from? [93] Classical liberal economics holds that M-C must be equivalent to…

from the books: Capital, vol. 1, 1867, Ch. 4, Karl Marx and A Companion to Marx’s Capital, 2010, David Harvey

  Key: (page numbers for Penguin Classics edition of Capital), [page numbers for David Harvey’s Companion to Capital]   Chapter 4: The General Formula for Capital   (247) Capital starts with circulation of commodities Production of commodities and their circulation in developed form: trade World trade begins in 16th century Money (ultimate product of commodity circulation) is the first form of appearance of capital Capital first confronts landed property in the form of money In form of monetary wealth, merchants’ capital and usurers’ capital All new capital steps onto the stage (i.e. onto the market) in the shape of money, money that has to be shaped into capital by definite processes First distinction…

from the books: Capital, vol. 1, 1867, Ch. 2, Karl Marx and A Companion to Marx’s Capital, 2010, David Harvey

Key: (page numbers for Penguin Classics edition of Capital), [page numbers for David Harvey’s Companion to Capital]   Chapter 2 [47] Marx’s purpose: define socially necessary conditions of capitalist commodity exchange and create a firmer ground to consider the money-form in chapter 3 (178) The “guardians” of commodities must place themselves in relation to each other as persons whose will resides in those objects in order for those objects to enter into relations as commodities The guardians must therefore recognize each other as owners of private property (a juridical relation) The content of this juridical relation (or relation of two wills) is determined…

from the books: Capital, vol. 1, 1867, Ch. 1, Karl Marx and A Companion to Marx’s Capital, 2010, David Harvey

  Key: (page numbers for Penguin Classics edition of Capital), [page numbers for David Harvey’s Companion to Capital]   Chapter 1, section 1   (126) It is the commodities’ physical bodies that are the useful things, or use-values Commercial knowledge of commodities: special branch of knowledge grounded in use-value of commodities Use-values are only realized in use or consumption Use-value is material content of wealth Also, in capitalist mode of production, use-values are the material bearers of exchange-value (127) From the fact that a quarter of wheat is exchanged for x polish, y silk, and z gold the valid exchange…

Myth and Justice in Plato’s Protagoras and Gorgias

After a prolonged and multifarious discussion on virtue in the Gorgias, Plato has Socrates recount an eschatological myth (Socrates calls it a logos, or account) to his interlocutors. At first glance, Socrates’ telling of the myth runs counter to his condemnation of oratory; it appears to diverge from the Socratic elenchus, which crucially hinges on the active exchange of dialogue, by masking as a unidirectional narrative. Drawing upon Protagoras’ myth (muthos) propounded in Protagoras, one gleans critical differences between the two narratives—that of the philosopher seeking justice, and the sophist seeking gratitude. In light of Protagoras’ sophistic myth, one understands…

Erotic Philosophy as Ritual in Plato’s Symposium and Phaedrus

A common theme underlies two of Plato’s dialogues on love and desire: the divine. The Symposium depicts Socrates and company paying homage to Love at the request of Phaedrus during a ritualistic drinking ceremony. The partiers give speeches concerning the origins, meanings, and effects of eros (love, desire). Socrates’ speech provides a structured picture of eros as a mechanism for ascending to the highest form of Beauty, thereby attaining happiness. In Phaedrus, Socrates and Phaedrus embark on a small, but inspiring journey outside the walls of Athens. Upon entering the bucolic setting, the interlocutors sense the presence of gods and…

Truth and the Individual in Robert Musil’s Blackbird

In The Analysis of Sensations, physicist Ernst Mach at once shatters the realist’s conception of the world and the self. Polemicizing against Rene Descartes’ dualism, and classical rationalism in general, Mach reduces all of reality to localized, yet fully relativized complexes of sense data.[1] His universe is one in which the permanent is illusory and “facts” are mere descriptions of the relations between dynamic connections of sensations. There is no “I”, no ego, no Truth—at least not in any tangible sense. Robert Musil and his Austrian contemporaries warily absorbed Mach’s theory. It ripped the stable metaphysical rug from beneath their…

Filarete’s Conduits and the Production of Space

The Renaissance hospital constitutes a space in which rational organization confronts, conceals, and controls socially constructed objects of contamination and contagion. At the core of its architectonic function, Milan’s Ospedale Maggiore works to purify the impure body through a masquerading act, which disturbs and detaches the immaterial subject from its contaminated embodiment. Architects and humanists conceive of complex sanitary networks that permeate the building’s space, while remaining hidden, or closeted, behind porous walls. Extending the hydraulic metaphor to relations of bodies in space, one understands the hospital’s power relations as constituted by mechanisms that permit and block certain objects from…

Psychological Solipsism and Salvation in Schnitzler

Vienna at the turn of the century witnessed a newly evolved variation on the old Protagorean mantra, “Man is the measure of all things.” As Carl E. Schorske explains in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna, “psychological man” now occupied that central, precarious position in the age-old search for truth. Political and social dissonance, coupled with a new aesthetic and understanding of reality, spawned a movement inward—into the psyche—among the Viennese intelligentsia. Channeling much of its artistic and scientific energies inward, a generation of creative thinkers expressed the, often bleak, ramifications of “psychological man” in various ways. Arthur Schnitzler, the son of a bourgeois…

The Pious Philosopher

Plato’s Apology and Crito provide complicated concepts regarding Socrates’ obligation to the Athenian polis and the democratic ideal of nomos. In both dialogues, the reader gleans instances in which Socrates professes condemnation of the majority, pitting it against the just and reasonable. Despite his distrust of Athenian democracy, Socrates accepts his fate at the hands of this very institution, thereby exemplifying an ultimate act of faith or piety. This willful leap into death, however, is more a redemption of the just philosopher than that of the pious citizen. Though he rarely explicitly chastises Athenian democracy, Socrates’ makes telling remarks in…