Saturday, March 10, 2007

Conquering the Worm

Sraffa's Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities is good to think with in examining several issues. One issue is in exploring the misdirections of neoclassical economics, a major theme of this blog. Another issue is what needs to be the case in a society that continually reproduces itself (either simply or on an expanded scale).

Even for economic reproduction, more needs to be reproduced than simply inputs into production. Norms, institutions, conventions, and social knowledge of all sorts are also (re)produced in a capitalist society. This brings us to culture and the sign.

A lot of academics study cultural criticism. Often they read various French thinkers and jesters. Some of these academics may, when they turn to economics, want to resist neoclassicalism. And so they might be interested in exploring Sraffa. I'm never sure what advice Sraffians can give on the topic of the production of consciousness. It seems to me Sraffa carves out a space where such issues can be explored. Part of his point might be how little formal mathematical economics can say about how to fill that space.

I have read a little where some familiar with certain strains of cultural criticism have looked at economics. I think I understand Philip Mirowski to some extent. Other writers (e.g., Ruccio and Amariglio 2003) I may have followed as I read, but retain very little.

I also retain little when I read (translations of) some on their home ground. I have two books by Jean Baudrillard (1975, 1994) on my bookshelf. I'm not sure I even get the jokes in the latter. Maybe I'll try to reread one now that Baudrillard is in the news with his death.

  • Baudrillard, Jean (1975). The Mirror of Production (trans. by Mark Poster), Telos Press.
  • Baudrillard, Jean (1994). Simulacra and Simulation (trans. by Sheila Faria Glaser), University of Michigan Press
  • Ruccio, David F. and Amariglio, Jack (2003). Postmodern Moments in Modern Economics, Princeton University Press

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