C Menger and K Marx on "value"

For the ambitious among my PE 160 students, it might be valuable to compare K Marx’s initial discussion of "value" in Kapital (Bd. 1.1) with Menger’s discussion in Principles of Economics. Both deny that "value" is something that resides within a commodity. Yet, whereas for Menger an item has "value" because (a) it is scarce; and (b) it is an object of desire command over which is valuable to me; for Marx, value is first and foremost a social (and not of psychological) category and, therefore, what is interesting in Economics is not first my struggle to obtain a sufficient quantity of a thing that has value to me, but the relationships among social actors in which a thing possessing value acquires the value it does. Does Economics map relationships of desire; or does it map relationships of domination and submission in the production and acquisition of things possessing social value? In addition, we might ask why Kant’s transcendental subject–the psyche–assumes such a prominent place in Menger’s overall argument.

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