The Commons

Toward a Common Theory of Value | Part Four: Common Need

Common Goods: A New Look at Things

This series of articles looks at the meaning of value in economics. We are pondering the idea of a thing, a common object. Our guidepost is Aristotle’s division of basic kinds of things into C (commodities as a means to household satisfaction) and M (things as a means to making money). In terms of the human actions involving things, we have identified C-M-C’ (interconnection, cooperation, use value) with the right hemisphere and subjective side of the brain, and M-C-M’ (separation, competition, exchange value) with the left hemisphere and human objectivity.

As Part 3 explains, the brain hemispheres seem to project our economic knowledge as a bilateral relationship between society and the individual. Yet this tells us little about the metaphysics that is expressed in our social rules and institutions through vertical patterns and standards. This article shows how such top-down models (intellect over instinct, person over property, capital over labor, rich over poor, supply over demand, wealth over well-being, society over nature, State over community, global over local) are just as much a part of economic history and present day policy as the horizontal forms of human exchange described in Part 3.

This article originally appeared in the Spring | Summer 2013 issue of Kosmos. To read the entire article, please download the PDF here.

To read the other articles in this series, please explore the links below:

Toward a Common Theory of Value | Part One: Common Being

Toward A Common Theory of Value | Part Two: Common Trust

Toward A Common Theory of Value | Part Three: Common Knowing