The process of exchange from phenomenological perspective. Comparison of Marx’s and Foucault’s analysis of the exchange of commodities.

Aleksandra Przegalińska


This short essay will be an attempt to analyze the exchange of money and commodities in terms of framework offered by phenomenology. Marx's Capital is an utterly phenomenological work in the Hegelian sense of this notion. Marx conceptualizes phenomenology as a method of exposing the real-world phenomena that is prior to abstract philosophical inquiry. In the first volume of Capital Marx introduces explanatory categories of the German Idealism to "purely" economical and social issues. this sense his analysis is close to the one which can be found in Michel Foucault's The Order of Things. Foucault deals with the notion of wealth and elaborates changing relations between money and prices between 15th and late 17th century, as well as such issues as mercantilism, utility and creation of value. There are significant differences between Marx's and Foucault's approach. Whereas Foucault's  analysis is oriented towards the hermeneutics and deconstruction of the notion itself, Marx is mainly preoccupied with the description of the activity of exchanging and its consequences. However, even though conclusions of Capital and The Order of Things differ significantly, the method of analysis reveals many similarities. Thus, both texts operate with a structure of deeper understanding of exchange as a very a multi-layer process of signification, accumulation, and transformation. The essay is an attempt to briefly analyze all of these functions of the exchange process as well as to indicate a new interpretation that arises from the framework offered by both authors. 




exchange; phenomenology; commodities; social theory

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