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Commodities I. Karl Marx (1818-1883) a. Prussian journalist, philosopher and political thinker b. Sought to offer an alternative to Adam Smith’s and others’ views c. Based on a critique of capitalist political economy d. At one time, 1960s, 1/3 of the worlds nations claimed to be guided by his ideas. II. Adam Smith a. DOL, private property, personal interest will lead to the greatest good for all. b. Where does the value/wealth come from? i. From the amt of labor put into making, producing things. ii. This is the labor theory of value- no longer used (price theory) iii. Smith says that human labor creates things. iv. Marx- human labor is the essence of being human v. Lee, in our reading, gives us an overview of Marx’s thought in order to situate his discussion of commodities III. According to Marx, human beings create things a. We make things that had not existed before, therefore, we create our world. b. We create our means of subsistence c. We even create other human beings through re-production d. Homo faber- man: the maker, the creator, the laborer. e. The idea of culture is very important. i. Thru material production, we develop a form of expressing our lives; we develop a way of living. ii. Culture is the meaningful expression of human life and social relations. iii. Labor/production are never isolated acts- always social- always requiring the cooperation of others. 1. DOL in the home, in the factory, at work. iv. no lone person in the forest, who comes together with others to form a society; society is there from the beginning. v. Against the “social contract” view of the origins of society- Hobbes, Rousseau f. the process of turning nature into culture is called the objectification of social consciousness. g. Production of human labor is something sacred for Marx i. It is the basis; the essence of being human (our “species-being” h. capitalist economic relations have turned this central human activity into a commodity . i. An exchangeable value, thereby stripping it of its original, special character. IV. What is a commodity? a. For Marx, a commodity has two essential characteristics, it congeals two forms of value; i. Use value 1. original value- it is what we do with things 2. limited by the physical properties of the thing itself 3. related to its production, how it was made. 4. its function ii. exchange value, or simply, value. 1. the worth of something in relation to something else. 2. equalization of all values in abstract value because they become expressable in relation to each other : a. 1 lb of coffee= x umbrellas= y gallons of gas= z US dollars 3. the exchange value is not tied to the intrinsic value of the thing 4. which means things lose their specific character, i.e., uses- and become merely exchangeable values iii. what else is lost, according to Marx, besides the “character” of the thing in exchange?
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1. the human character of labor iv. a commodity is not a thing, according to Marx 1. it is a social relationship
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advertising 1 - Commodities I. Karl Marx (1818-1883) a....

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