A Chapter in the Philosophy of Value HTML version

relationship to the. world that is definite in its details.
Indeed, we may adopt a scale of values for our culture systems,
according to the degree in which they combine the demands of our
singular purposes with the possibility of passing over without a
gap from each abstraction which they present to the other, so
that a subsequent combination is possible which approximates that
objective coherence and unity. Accordingly, the economic system
of the world is assuredly founded upon an abstraction, that is,
upon the relation of reciprocity and exchange, the balance
between sacrifice and gain; while in the actual process in which
this takes place it is inseparably amalgamated with its
foundations and its results, the desires and the satisfactions.
But this form of existence does not distinguish it from the other
territories into which, for the purposes of our interests, we
subdivide the totality of phenomena.
The objectivity of economic value which we assume as defining
the scope of economics, and which is thought as the independent
characteristic of the same in distinction from its subjective
vehicles and consequences, consists in its being true of many, or
rather all, subjects. The decisive factor is its extension in
principle beyond the individual. The fact that for one object
another must be given shows that not merely for me, but also for
itself, that is, also for another person, the object is of some
value. The appraisal takes place in the form of economic value.
The exchange of objects, moreover,. in which this
objectivication, and therewith the specific character of economic
activity, realizes itself belongs, from the standpoint of each of
the contracting parties, in the quite general category of gain
and loss, purpose and means. If any object over which we have
control is to help us to the possession or enjoyment of another,
it is generally under the condition that we forego the enjoyment
of its own peculiar worth. As a rule the purpose consumes either
the substance or the force of the means, so that the value of the
same constitutes the price which must be paid for the value of
the purpose. Only within certain spiritual interests is that not
the case as a rule. The mind has been properly compared to a
fire, in which countless candles may be lighted without loss of
its own peculiar intensity. For example, intellectual products
sometimes (not always) retain for purposes of instruction their
own worth, which does not lose any of its independent energy and
significance by functioning as means to the pedagogical end. In
the case of causal series in external nature, however, the
relationship is usually different. Here must the object, if on
the one hand it is conceived immediately as valuable, and on the
other hand as means to the attainment of another value, be
sacrificed as a value in itself, in order to perform its office
as means. This procedure rules all values the enjoyment of which
is connected with a conscious action on our part. What we call
exchange is obviously nothing but a special case of this typical
form in human life. We must regard this, however, not merely as a
placing of exchange in the universal category of creation of
value; but, conversely, this latter as an exchange in the wider
sense of the word. This possibility, which has so many
consequences for the theory of value, will become clear by the
discussion of the doctrine that all economic value consists in
exchange value.
To this theory the objection has been made that even the
quite isolated economic man -- he who neither sells nor buys --
must estimate his products and means of production according to
their value, if expenditures and results are to stand in proper
relation to each other. This objection, however, is not so