Multistability of the Commodity and the Technologies of Exchange

A TFN exclusive ~ by Fernando Flores Morador (Ed. Jared Bielby)

Philosophers of Economics describe two kinds of values: use-values and exchange- values. This dualistic description of the ontological nature of value has become a cliché and is present in any analysis of economic value since the time of Aristotle. We think that this description of the nature of value is insufficient. We assume that economically speaking, any act or item is mainly productive or consumptive. In a productive act, something is produced by someone; it can be another act or it can be an item. The produced act or item is concrete, has a form, structure and use-value; all this expressed as crystalized information (order). The identity of this act or item is supposed to be fixed once for all. However, when this act or item comes to the market, it loses its particularity showing instead its phenomenological multistability.(1) The original use-value disappears into a plurality of use-values, becoming a multiuse-value. Conclusively, we say that because the phenomenological multistability of an act or item, any use-value becomes a multipurpose-value. In other words, the use-value is an individual property of the productive act that disappears as soon as the produced act or item comes to the social sphere (the market). This multiuse-value is what makes possible the exchange of acts and items. Because the use-value that is undetermined transforms into a multiuse-value, it becomes congruent with the continuous sphere of money that is in itself the paradigmatic expression of the multipurpose item.

If we then want to measure the labor value of a produced act or item, we must assume that the labor value of an act or item breaks in parts as their use-identity does in the market. As a consequence of this, the amount informational value (labor value) of the produced act or item will not be equal to the informational value (consumer value) of the social multipurpose act or item. Instead, this exchange-value will be determined at the market. The consumer will add the necessary new information value that converts the original act or item into a (consumed) new act or item. For example, if someone buys a funnel to be used as a megaphone, the buyer will add the informational value of a megaphone to the informational value of the funnel. This new informational value will coexist with the original one without ever being the same. It is then obvious that the amount of informational value added to an act or an item in the market makes this act or item richer than the original. Further, that means that communicating values through exchanges increases the total amount of information value in society, or in other words, the market enriches social life in general. Of course if the demand of an act or item does not exist –and that means that there will be no acts of consumption of this act or item at all- the price of it will be zero. In that case the multiuse-value will be the same as the productive use-value.

(1.) Don Ihde discovered an important particularity of the process of developing technologies which he named multistability. He explains multistability as the phenomena in which the “same technology takes quite different shapes in different contexts.” Don Ihde. Janus Head: “Technologies—Musics—Embodiments”: p. 13.

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