Nick: cheers for the link to the essay. It look's interesting, and I'll have a proper read of it tomorrow.
Amadeo: I'm not disagreeing with your comments, but just one question (in lieu of a further conversation in person, perhaps on Wednesday): does this notion of the commodity coming first mean that we end up with an identity between the historical content of the book and the exposition of its contents? In other words, does it mean that the developing arrangement of concepts and categories becomes akin to their 'real' historical development? I don't think that's what you're saying, but it does seem to imply it - and it's problematic, as the concepts are slowly moving from the abstract to the concrete, and we can't say that one epoch is any less concrete than another. It might be worth bearing in mind that Hegel himself avoids any kind of identity between a logical and historical sequence. He states this explicitly at the beginning of the Philosophy of Right (whilst explaining why private property is discussed prior to the family), and in the Phenomenology talks about the French revolution before Greek religion. One of the most useful texts that I've looked at whilst trying to figure out what Marx is up to in this wierd mode of presentation is the short piece entitled On the Method of Political Economy, also in the Grundrisse (in the introduction). In that one he talks about the need to use the commodity as the concept from which you can unfold all the others that explain society. ...but again, and as we discussed on Thursday, the emphasis that I'm placing on 'concepts' here is perhapsd problematic.