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The Derivation of Value

In postmodern thought, the derivation of value does not depend on any structured method institutionalized by an authority. In fact, postmodernism does not recognize the role of authorities in determining the value of anything. More importantly, postmodern thought suggests that the value of an object does not depend on what the status quo imposes or on the collective valuation of the society towards the object (Bartos, 1996). Rather, the value of an object depends on the person who is trying to derive the object’s value.

Interestingly, postmodern thought may even go as far as to suggest that any object does not hold any inherent and derivable value at all. In terms of Marxist thought, however, the value of an object depends on the labor applied in creating the object (Chattopadhyay, 1994). For instance, the value of a laptop would have to depend on the amount of human labor done in order to create the computer. The same principle applies to automobiles, home equipment and furniture and almost everything else.

On the other hand, capitalism derives the value of objects through the combination of reason and labor (Wood, 1997). For example, a pebble remains a useless and priceless pebble unless a person holds it, understands it as a weapon that can inflict harm unto others, and sharpens the pebble by applying physical labor so that the pebble can inflict more actual harm. The same principle also applies to almost all of the things that are man-made and that are usually sold.

Apparently, postmodernism will reject the explanations offered by both capitalism and Marxist thought in deriving the value of objects. Postmodern thought will suggest that, while both theories are nevertheless distinct ways of analyzing the value of objects, they do not essentially tell serve as the authorities in determining the value of objects. They only serve as part of a comprehensive list of ways to derive an object’s value.

Postmodern thought may simply argue that the value of objects would have to depend only on us—subjectively, that is.

References Bartos, O. J. (1996). Postmodernism, Postindustrialism, and the Future. The Sociological Quarterly, 37(2), 307-325. Chattopadhyay, P. (1994). Marx’s First Critique of Political Economy, 1844-1994. Economic and Political Weekly, 29(1), 54-59. Wood, E. M. (1997). Modernity, Postmodernity or Capitalism? Review of International Political Economy, 4(3), 539-560.

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