Understanding The Utility Of A Commodity

1448 Words Oct 31st, 2016 6 Pages
A commodity, according to Marx, is an external object that satisfies human wants as a use-value while functioning as an exchange-value that enters into exchange with other commodities (303-304). On one hand, the particular properties of an object, made possible by the particular kind of human labour embodied in it, define the utility of a commodity and hence its use value, which cannot be measured quantitatively due to the incommensurability across the diverse categories of utility. On the other hand, the exchange value, determined by the socially necessary labour time required for producing the commodity (306), establishes quantitative equivalences among the otherwise incommensurable use-values, acting as the only media through which the value of a commodity, independent of its use-value, manifests itself in exchange (305). It follows that to qualify as a commodity in Marx 's definition, an object has to contain human labour in it, must possess some utility, and finally needs to be able to serve as a use-value to others in order for its value to assert itself in exchange (307-308). Marx contends that while it is trivial to understand a commodity as the end product of the purposeful alterations of natural material to satisfy a particular want, a commodity becomes "mystical" once it enters into exchange to realize its value in the form of the objectification of human labour (319-320). The peculiarity of such objectification can be understood in two ways. Firstly,…

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