Memorials and Other Papers Part 28

Memorials and Other Papers -

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_Phil_. _Negatur minor._

_X_. I prove the minor (namely, that two inconsistent principles _are_ employed) by column the ninth; and thence, also, I deduct a _fourth_ and a _fifth_ refutation of the table.

_Phaed_. _Euge!_ Now, this is a pleasant skirmis.h.i.+ng.

_X_. For, in column the last, I say that the principle of valuation employed is different from that employed in columns five and six. Upon which I offer you this dilemma: it is--or it is not; choose.

_Phil_. Suppose I say, it is?

_X_. In that case, the result of this table is a case of _idem per idem_; a pure childish tautology.

_Phil_. Suppose I say, it is not?

_X_. In that case, the result of this table is false.

_Phil_. Demonstrate.

_X_. I say, that the principle of valuation employed in column nine is, not the quant.i.ty of _producing_ labor, but the quant.i.ty of labor _commanded_. Now, if it is, then the result is childish tautology, as being identical with the premises. For it is already introduced into the premises as one of the conditions of the case Alpha (namely, into column two), that twelve quarters of corn shall command the labor of one man; which being premised, it is a mere variety of expression for the very same fact to tell us, in column nine, that the one hundred and fifty quarters of column the first shall command twelve men and five tenths of a man; for one hundred and forty-four, being twelve times twelve, will of course command twelve men, and the remainder of six quarters will of course command the half of a man. And it is most idle to employ the elaborate machinery of nine columns to deduce, as a learned result, what you have already put into the premises, and postulated amongst the conditions.

_Phaed_. This will, therefore, destroy Mr. Malthus' theory a fourth time.

_X_. Then, on the other hand, if the principle of valuation employed in column nine is the same as that employed in columns five and six, this principle must be the quant.i.ty of producing labor, and not the quant.i.ty of labor commanded. But, in that case, the result will be false. For column nine values column the first. Now, if the one hundred and fifty quarters of case Alpha are truly valued in column first, then they are falsely valued in column the last; and, if truly valued in column the last, then falsely valued in column the first.

For, by column the last, the one hundred and fifty quarters are produced by the labor of twelve and a half men; but it is the very condition of column the first, that the one hundred and fifty quarters are produced by ten men.

_Phaed_. (Laughing). This is too hot to last. Here we have a fifth refutation. Can't you give us a sixth, X.?

_X_. If you please. Supposing Mr. Malthus' theory to be good, it shall be impossible for anything whatsoever at any time to vary in value. For how shall it vary? Because the _quant.i.ty_ of producing labor varies? But _that_ is the very principle which he is writing to overthrow. Shall it vary, then, because the _value_ of the producing labor varies? But _that_ is impossible on the system of Mr. Malthus; for, according to this system, the value of labor is invariable.

_Phil_. Stop! I've thought of a dodge. The thing shall vary because the _quant.i.ty_ of labor commanded shall vary.

_X_. But how shall _that_ vary? A can never command a greater quant.i.ty of labor, or of anything which is presumed to be of invariable value, until A itself be of a higher value. To command an altered quant.i.ty of labor, which (_on any theory_) must be the _consequence_ of altered value, can never be the _cause_ of altered value. No alterations of labor, therefore, whether as to quant.i.ty or value, shall ever account for the altered value of A; for, according to Mr.

Malthus, they are either insufficient on the one hand, or impossible on the other.

_Phil_. Grant this, yet value may still vary; for suppose labor to be invariable, still profits may vary.

_X_. So that, if A rise, it will irresistibly argue profits to have risen?

_Phil_. It will; because no other element _can_ have risen.

_X_. But now column eight a.s.signs the value of a uniform quant.i.ty of corn--namely, one hundred quarters. In case Alpha, one hundred quarters are worth 8.33. What are one hundred quarters worth in the case Iota?

_Phil_. They are worth ten.

_X_. And _that_ is clearly more. Now, if A have risen, by your own admission I am ent.i.tled to infer that profits have risen: but what are profits in the case Iota?

_Phil_. By column four they are twenty per cent.

_X_. And what in the case Alpha?

_Phil_. By column four, twenty-five per cent.

_X_. Then profits have fallen in the case Iota, but, because _L_ has risen in case Iota from 8.33 to ten, it is an irresistible inference, on your theory, that profits ought to have risen.

_Phaed. (Laughing)_. Philebus, this is a sharp practice; go on, X., and skirmish with him a little more in this voltigeur style.

N.B.--With respect to "The Templars' Dialogues," it may possibly be complained, that this paper is in some measure a fragment. My answer is, that, although fragmentary in relation to the entire _system_ of Ricardo, and that previous _system_ which he opposed, it is no fragment in relation to the radical _principle_ concerned in those systems. The conflicting systems are brought under review simply at the _locus_ of collision: just as the reader may have seen the chemical theory of Dr. Priestley, and the counter-theory of his anti- phlogistic opponents, stated within the limits of a single page. If the principle relied on by either party can be shown to lead into inextricable self-contradiction, _that_ is enough. So much is accomplished in that case as was proposed from the beginning--namely, not to exhaust the _positive_ elements of this system or that, but simply to settle the central logic of their several polemics; to settle, in fact, not the matter of what is evolved, but simply the principle of evolution.

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Memorials and Other Papers Part 28 summary

You're reading Memorials and Other Papers. This manga has been translated by Updating. Author(s): Thomas De Quincey. Already has 191 views.

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