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Thanks

Apology

Chapter 1 Where to Start

Chapter 2 Language and Giving

Chapter 3 Reciprocity

Chapter 4 Definitions and Exchange

Chapter 5 The Concept of Man

Chapter 6 'Marksist' Categories

Chapter 7 The Collective Source

Chapter 8 Castration Envy

Chapter 9 Is = $

Chapter 10 Value 157

Chapter 11 Shifting into Exchange

Chapter 12 Giving Value to Exchange

Chapter 13 Market and Gender

Chapter 14 Deserving to Exist

Chapter 15 Pointing and Patriarchy

Chapter 16 The Point of the Ego

Chapter 17 What Does Democracy Re-Present?

Chapter 18 The Unmasculated Agents of Change

Chapter 19 Dreaming and Reality

Chapter 20 Giving and Love

Chapter 21 From the Garden to the Grail

Chapter 22 Cosmological Speculations

Chapter 23 After Words Practicing the Theory

Index of Figures

Selected Bibliography

Return to Home Page




Chapter 10

Value

"Gracias a la Vida"

If we take giftgiving seriously, we can at last understand more about our human relation to reality as a given. I believe there is a certain 'grain' to our experience that comes from our capacity to give and receive. We have evolved to perceive things at this level. For example, we perceive apples as round, red objects which we can pick from trees and eat or give to others to eat, not as collections of atoms, because we cannot give and receive them as atoms. It is conceivable that we might nurture ourselves with parts of nature as atoms (by osmosis perhaps), but it would be very difficult to nurture each other with them. For instance, transporting atoms to a different location, handling and preparing them, supplying them to the other person, etc. would all be difficult. At the level of perception, physical integrity and dexterity to which we have evolved, we can nurture each other relatively easily with things of certain sizes and kinds. Language expands this giving and receiving 'grain,' giving it added dimensions of collective importance, abstraction, generality, imagination, space and time.

A theory of knowledge could be developed which identifies knowledge with the gratitude experienced by the individual as the recipient of the gifts given by life, nature, culture and other individuals. In gratitude, we respond to our on-going experience and remember both gifts and their sources--the food we eat and the words we learn, the people who give them to us and the cultures they came from. Those who are deprived of the good things of life by poverty, cruelty or disease are being deprived of their human right to knowledge, to experience the givens of life with gratitude. (The song "Gracias a la Vida" expresses the gratitude all of us, rich or poor, can feel for the most basic gifts of life.) Unfortunately, we have misplaced our gratitude away from the mother onto the father, and we have placed our faith in this change and in ex-change. We are, therefore, more conscious of the father and of exchange; we know more about them than we do about giftgiving, towards which we have learned to be ungrateful. We see ex-change and the ego as necessary for our survival and are grateful for a chance to participate in the market.

Creative Receptivity and the Giving 'Grain'

If we consider receptivity as passive (and passivity as receptive), we will never understand our own interactions with our environment, our language, each other. In fact, things have qualities which are valuable to us because we can respond to or receive them. (It is not that they exist because we can receive them, but that they are useful because we can use them for our needs.) An apple seems red, round and good to us, because we are physically, psychologically and socially adapted to creatively receive and use it. We are also physically, psychologically and socially adapted to creatively receive the word 'apple,' to which we attribute some of the cultural value of apples, because it substitutes for them as a gift in co-munication (even though it is not itself red, round, or good to eat). If we had been able to give and creatively receive apples as collections of atoms, we might have evolved to perceive them in that way. We do not have any way of handling them or giving them to each other at that level. Instead, we have physically and culturally evolved to perceive them as round and red, aided by our language. The kinds of sense perceptions we have are pertinent to the level of complication of our activity. At this level, we can also perceive sounds as such instead of as vibrations of air.

Perceptions having to do with a finer grain, for example, collections of atoms, or the actions of enzymes in our digestive processes, or a grosser grain, such as the migration of human families or groups, are not available to us per se, because we do not have ways of giving and creatively receiving them. Instruments and methods, such as microscopes and sociological statistics, have indeed been developed to study events at different levels of complication with the goal of satisfying needs--which are themselves finally perceived at the everyday level. The goal is also usually that of making a profit, for example, in the case of enzymes by devising medicines, or, in the case of the migrant workers, by accessing cheap labor. Without the information provided by specialized disciplines, we must receive the influences of finer or grosser-grained reality passively. Once food enters our stomachs, we no longer perceive it at the level of gifts, but can only passively allow our enzymes' automatic processes.

Our language and the world we perceive are fine-tuned to a level in which we can give to and receive from each other without special instruments, microscopes, telescopes, surveys or statistics. If we consider this level apart from language, it is the level of 'sense data,' the world as a given. We can only consider it this way when we have language, however. If language originally derives from material gift giving co-munication, its grain has become, by now, much finer than that of the material gifts that can actually be given by humans to each other. We can communicate about the color red with each other, its location on the breast of the bluebird singing in the tree, yet we cannot actually give each other the color or the location.

Much scientific and philosophical investigation goes into the nature of our sense data and experiential givens. However, both kinds of investigations take place as such after the giving-and-receiving co-municative mode has been established in childhood nurturing, and language has been learned by the investigators. Sense data and experience become interpretable by people as givens after nurturing has established gross-grained giftgiving and receiving as important and language has given them the fine-grained analysis made by the life process of the collective.

The extension of the number of substitute word-gifts to cover aspects of experience which cannot be directly given provides the collective fine-grain which allows ungiveable gifts to be understood as finer-grained givens. Thus, we can receive the color red, the momentary location of the bluebird, the detailed geological, horticultural, biological and cultural histories of the world as givens, because we can communicate about them and satisfy one anothers' communicative needs, forming our relations with each other linguistically in their regard, even though we cannot actually hand them over to each other.

There are various reasons why some kinds of gifts cannot be given. For example, a mountain is ungiveable because it is too large. The color red is ungiveable as such because it is too firmly attached to the objects of which it is a part: we can give a red ball but we cannot give the color red without the ball--or the ball without some coloration. Alternatively, if the red color we are talking about is a subjective sensation, like an after-image, it cannot be perceived by others as such, much less handed over to them. Some things, such as facts and events, cannot be given directly, because they are too transitory and evanescent.

For example, the fact that the bird is singing in the tree cannot be given, as such, because it is fleeting and its components can be easily changed. The bird can stop singing and fly away, creating a new, or many new events. However, we can grasp (receive) fleeting events as givens and give them again as gifts if we relate their constant and repeatable elements (the bird, the singing, and the tree) to the substitute gifts--the words which people in our society use to give to each other in their place. By combining those words in orderly ways (together with some meta-gift instruction words or 'marks' like 'the' or 'in' or 'ing'), we make them also give to and receive from each other--forming relatively short-lived substitute gifts (sentences) which we give to each other. In this way, we make ungiveable events giveable, forming ourselves as a co-munity in regard to them. Through our gifts to each other, we are able to creatively receive ever-changing experience as a common ground, given to us together.

Once we learn how to co-municate and to use language, we do not need to put either ability into practice all the time. We can leave language aside and simply consider sense data as givens, but the gifts of language are usually already in place when we approach the world as a given without them. Moreover, leaving language aside is itself a procedure which requires language. The world we experience is a gift and a given, because we can creatively receive and give aspects and parts of it, enhanced by our ability to receive and give the verbal (and nonverbal) substitute gifts to which the givens give up their value for co-munication. (Most things are probably not actually giving gifts to each other. We are doing it for them.) Like receiving, giving-way can be creative and attribute value to the other. Things give way to words as gifts because we make them do it1--we give them a substitute--but we make words do what we want them to do also. Giving way attributes value to the other by implication in the same way that giving implies the value of the other. The value given to words by things which allow their place to be taken as gifts is met by the value people give to words as the means of satisfying the communicative needs of others. Words are thus the recipients of value attributions from at least two directions (in addition to their value-as-position in the langue). By standing aside together in the present, allowing their place to be taken by words in combination, things appear to be related to each other and more valuable for the moment than their surroundings, and we give our attention to them.

The linguistic mediation of a perception or an experience constitutes a secondary gift that gives us common access to the perception or experience as a value or as a communicative or material need-satisfying good. We can consequently act in a variety of ways towards the good, which we can give to and receive from each other, consume alone, take turns using, combine with other goods, take apart, save for later, etc. We can also simply satisfy communicative needs in regard to something, making ourselves who we are as its common perceivers - perceivers of apples, for example. When we know a language we can also just think about apples in their substitutability without directly relating them to words. We maintain a direction towards the community in our thinking2 because the potential for communicative needs and word-gifts which satisfy them is always there.

The value given by things to words and by words to things at the level of the lexicon (langue) is somewhat grosser-grained than the value attributed through sentences. In fact, like things, words are general gifts of the culture which are creatively received by the culture, as well as by individuals (the many being more than just a collection of 'ones'). Except for the special cases of naming, definition and language teaching, the uses of words in combination in sentences provide the gifts of individuals to others who creatively receive them, the satisfaction of communicative needs and attributions of value, at a finer grain than that of words taken alone. There are really two different processes going on--the meta-linguistic gift of words through naming and the definition (upon which masculation and exchange are constructed), and language which uses gift processes to facilitate on-going communication, the development of the social subject and object, her community, her world and world view. The existence of different levels allows individual giving and receiving on the basis of social giving and receiving, an interplay of 'grains.'

Things that are important or valuable require our creative-receptive attention. We appreciate the value they already have, while at the same time we attribute value to them. Appreciation and attribution are similar to creative receiving and giving. Gratitude is an aspect of both. We use things to satisfy needs, and we attribute value to others (or to ourselves) by satisfying needs.

The many values of the world for the community of humans are registered in language. A similar process causes the exchange value of commodities to be registered in money. When we receive the satisfaction of our needs by others (and the consequent implication of our value for them), we can appreciate what has been given to us, and the others as its source, in gratitude. We can also ignore the source, or see ourselves as the cause of our own good. In linguistic (and other sign-based) communication, we can share a point of view and attribute value or give attention to the same things, selecting them as relevant from our on-going experience and using the social gifts that take the place of those material (or immaterial) gifts or givens.

What we give value to is in our focus; we direct our creative receptivity towards it. What we do not give value to remains outside our focus. Our motivation in giving value to something depends upon a synthesis of previous experiences (needs) and previous attributions and appreciations of value. The collective means of attributing value, which is a collective gift (the word), hovers in our minds in easy access for our use in on-going experience whenever the need for it arises. That need is originally interpersonal, though we can also use words to satisfy our own communitary communicative needs when thinking alone, attributing socially mediated value to various parts of our experience, and foregrounding them in the present when we need to.

Value, a Meta Gift

Value can be interpreted as a kind of meta gift, a giving of attention to something so as to cause or alter the giving of further gifts. It is a singling out of something upon which creatively receptive attention is focused. We also often attribute to the object of our attention the quality 'something for others and, therefore, for ourselves.' Since giftgiving has been invisible and unvalued, we have not thought of connecting value with the process of giftgiving, and it has therefore remained mysterious.

Exchange value has taken over the concept of value, becoming its 'sample.' In exchange, the other-oriented aspect of giftgiving does not dissolve, but it is hidden and instrumentalized for the purposes of the ego. Giftgiving is embedded in exchange and made to contradict itself. This logical two-step requires us to measure our satisfaction of other's needs against their satisfaction of our own, and both against a standard which is common to all. All needs then become dependent upon this contradictory process for their satisfaction.

Exchange becomes an ever-present fact of life, and we give value to it as the prerequisite for the survival of all. By doing this, we hide and discredit giftgiving, thereby denying the other-oriented gift-based aspect of value. When this aspect is made invisible, value cannot be understood correctly, and the connections between exchange value and other cultural values are concealed and denied. Value is divided and conquered. Only by giving value to giftgiving can we begin to solve the puzzle of value, restoring its other-oriented content.3

Value is basically a gift (re)distributing device. It is a gift of energy and attention to gifts, which helps us select some over others for other people and for ourselves. By overemphasizing exchange value, we distort this collective device for distribution--away from giving and needs and towards the relatively limited number of things that are valuable to the processes of exchange and the market. Egotism and the value (and attention) we give to it can be seen as effects of preparing for and practicing those processes. We have been accustomed to looking at this the other way around--as if exchange and the market were natural outcomes of human egotism and greed. This very view and the values (the re-distribution of gifts) it promotes help to maintain the monopoly of the exchange processes.

Value Modes

Value is both attributed and appreciated--freely given to people, things and words, and received from them. It may involve a process of self-stimulation in the sense that we give value to something by singling it out, focusing on it. Then we turn our creative receptivity upon it, appreciating its value. We may then forget our part in the attribution, which was freely given. Selecting something among other things, foregrounding it, adapting it to needs and giving it to others for their needs are processes by which we attribute value to something and appreciate its value. That value is also transferred to others and their needs by implication, as we give things to them satisfying their needs. (We can also attribute-appreciate their value directly, simply by giving them our attention.) Giving something a gift-substitute, mutually including others in its regard, also gives value and appreciates value in that kind of thing and in the mutually included others.

There are four major modes of value attribution-appreciation: nurturing, language, masculation and exchange. I believe two of them are the norm (nurturing and language) and two are distortions (masculation and exchange). As we look at the norm we are better able to understand the distortions. As we look at the distortions and their consequences, we are also better able to understand the norm.

Nurturing Value Attribution

Happiness--not the pursuit of happiness--is not only a right but an epistemological necessity, if gratitude is a basic template for knowledge. 'Grasping' is usually associated with understanding and considered necessary for knowledge, but it is only a small specific part of receiving--made necessary by scarcity. By depriving people of abundance, of the possibility of receiving and giving, we deprive them of their human being. Homo donans (and recipiens) precedes homo sapiens.4 That is because it is gifts that we know, and our knowledge is our grateful response to them, whether they are milk from our mothers' breasts, experiential givens, words and sentences, topics of conversation, kind actions, babies, rain storms, new cars, works of art or blueberry pies. (We are grateful to know negative things, as well as positive, because that knowledge is useful for our coping.) If someone satisfies our needs, we can appreciate her value to us and attribute value to her. Part of our gratitude is a disposition to care for things which have particularly nurtured us. We do this not as an exchange but, momentarily, taking upon ourselves the giver as model, we nurture in our turns.

Nurturing transfers value to the receiver by implication. The giver often self-effaces as the source making it appear that the value or importance of the receiver is the cause of the gift. For example, a mother believes she nurtures her baby because the baby is important, not because she attributes value to her. Yet, if she did not attribute value to her and nurture her, the baby would die. Value is thus a useful projection, both of the individual and of the culture and community. The fabric of everyday life is made up of enumerable attributions of value and it is perhaps that reason that it has recently (at last) attracted attention of philosophers.

Part of the way we give value to others is by eliciting, honoring, enhancing, specifying, educating their needs. Mothers, for example, can be fascinated when their children begin eating solid food, trying different things to see what they like. Teaching itself can be seen as enhancing others' needs to know about different kinds of things.

The knowledge of the means of nurturing that used to be passed down through the women's line from grandmothers to mothers and daughters attributed value and appreciated it in material culture. These values and the manner of attributing them are being lost as nurturing is being absorbed into exchange. Advertising now educates our desires not the love, intelligence, or other-oriented, need-satisfying imagination of our grandmothers. The value of the receiver is not implied directly or maternally but only through the market--as a 'deserver' or as the responsibility of the care taker state.

We attribute value to things we think may be particularly useful for others or ourselves. Then we appreciate the value of those useful things.5 Attribution of value is itself a gift of our disposition to behave with care towards something, and it is an element of our gratitude. Conversely, appreciation (of which gratitude is an aspect) is an element of the attribution of value. The two attitudes are intertwined, though attribution is more active and reflects giving, while appreciation is more receptive and reflects receiving.6

Language Value Attribution

Things become relevant to humans by our use of them in relation to needs. Needs proliferate and diversify according to the ways in which they are satisfied. They are also, to some extent, identified by the things which satisfy them.7 In language, we attribute some of the co-municative qualitative value of a kind of thing to a word which takes the place of a (usually) nonverbal sample, and functions as a substitute gift for use in forming human relations and interactions. The thing or kind of thing give way as a possible gift for the moment and the word (which also has a value-as-position in the langue) becomes the vehicle for its value in communication, i.e., in establishing or modifying human relations regarding that kind of thing. The word becomes the vehicle for the value of things in their use for establishing or modifying human relations. Because each kind of thing (and therefore each word) has a value which is qualitatively different from the others in that it is related to different human needs,8 the combination of a few words according to gift patterns in any statement or proposition can also serve to convey (give) specific information.

We select parts of our experience as givens to which to give our attention, and we give new gifts by rearranging the old. We satisfy the listener's communicative needs at the moment and, therefore, our own as well. We can remember what was selected and emphasized in our co-munication, storing this information to apply to future material or communicative needs. Not codes but the logic and practice of giftgiving are the basis of our understanding.

A code is only a collection of abstract marks. In the cryptographers sense, it serves to disguise, rather than express the truth. Language, like life, is need-driven. The ability to satisfy others' needs is the aspect of life that creates society and makes us evolve culturally--and eventually, perhaps, biologically. In other words, we use our gift for another purpose--not to get back an equivalent as in exchange, but to alter the others' relation to the environment, bringing something forward as a value for them in the present. This allows us to share our relation to it. Each of us knows what the other knows or appreciates as a value for the moment. We select that part of our experience as social beings on the basis of what has been selected to satisfy the needs of others before us as evidenced in the lexicon. By giving substitute gifts to each other, we give a social value to the same thing together at the moment, and we can, therefore, co-ordinate our actions and attitudes towards it.9

The selections we make in our on-going experience are similar to the selection process we perform in developing concepts. But in discourse (because we are satisfying present and contingent communicative needs, rather than the general process-needs of the concept or the meta linguistic needs of the definition), we are practicing giftgiving at many other levels. Our on-going experiences and interactions with each other bring things into focus verbally and nonverbally (making them 'givens') and consequently push other things into the background all the time (making them 'not-givens' for the present). Even saying something as simple as 'the girl hit the ball,' picks out part of a complex experience. We could have said instead 'the sky was blue above the baseball field' and/or 'a mockingbird was singing.' If we go on to say 'the ball hit the window' we are building on the givens which are the gifts of 'the girl hit the ball.'

Communicative needs (and desires) arise for relating ourselves to each other (confirming each other as valuable) with regard to a focus on aspects of things which may not be obvious to the other person already. In fact, we might consider our attention as telling us something like, 'There might be a gift there.' Satisfying their communicative needs focuses some aspects of a situation for the interlocutors. It gives them a common valued foreground and a (more or less) common un-valued background. Together, speakers and listeners consider some elements of a situation relevant and others irrelevant. They attend to the same things. Then, what has been backgrounded in one instance can be foregrounded in another. When we satisfy the others' communicative needs regarding something--what we have seen as a gift to them in relation to us--they are brought to participate with us in the present.10 A relationship is established as shared in regard to the gift which the speaker has given but the listener could have (different in this from private property). The listener's relation is established by the speaker but, perhaps as unspoken potential, has as much influence on behavior as the overt part of the communication.

A shared interaction is also the matrix of exchange--where others show they give value to our product by giving up an equal amount of money. Then money (with its abstract social quality) becomes the hidden but powerful model for our understanding of language, and of life. That is not only because money is the 'child' of language, but because of the actual similarity of the processesof giving value by giving something (else).

Both speech and experience can occasion further attributions of value and further communicative needs. Moreover, the kinds of things we attend to, the kinds of value we discover (and attribute), depend on an on-going synthesis of our previous life experiences, which may be similar to or very different from other people's experiences. What appears irrelevant in one moment may become relevant in the next, or to another person (and with regard to something else), so that actually everything is always valuable potentior (even when presently excluded as irrelevant).

This possibility makes experience like an immanent Garden of Eden, from which we gather and share the fruits only a few at a time whenever we need them, plucking them from its fantastic abundance. The material scarcity in which many people live hides the gift character of life, exiling them beyond the wall of the Garden. Restoring abundance would allow value to be bestowed again according to the collective and individual experience, rather than pitting the individual against the collective (as happens in scarcity-based exchange). Our economics could be in alignment with the humanizing and bonding part of our language, rather than being at cross purposes with it because of the excessive value we (unconsciously) collectively attribute to the definition and masculation.

Masculated Value Attribution

The kind of ego that is useful for exchange is actually the masculated ego. The value system that promotes this ego reinforces it through economic rewards and punishments, having and not-having kinds and quantities of properties. The ego is vulnerable to the advertising which educates its desires. Value may appear to be transferred to a person who receives the satisfaction of such desires or needs through the market. However, it is actually being transferred to the seller of the object, who has caused the consumer to buy the product through a manipulation of the truth. The kind of value-as-position which is acquired by a person through comparative 'havings' can be understood as status and does not much enhance the gift-based subjective needs of the individual. The consumer always needs to have more, because his/her having does not actually give him/her value, but contributes more economic value to the seller.

While it may sometimes be true that without an instrument of technology (or phallic tool) men may not know the objective world (because they, and it, are outside the 'grain' of giving and receiving), women are more often inside that 'grain' because of our caregiving roles. We are, therefore, more likely to turn our knowledge as gratitude upon the givens of our experience. Without the object, there would be no instrument. Women are objects as well as subjects. For example, the penis and the vagina are the psychological archetypes for the instrument of knowledge and the object of knowledge. If the purpose of sexuality is other than giving and receiving, satisfying one another's needs, instrumental 'knowledge' treats the 'object' as if it were a nonliving, noncreatively receptive thing to be forcefully 'penetrated.' The 'gratitude' experienced in this case by the masculated phallic knower is only for the reinforcement of his ego, in a one-many over-taking earth-dominating position. It is not other-oriented gratitude or knowledge. In fact, it is more like receiving the property transfer of exchange.

Much phallic instrumental knowledge of the objective world has been inspired by the ego profit motive and reflects the limitations of the focus with which it is seen. Backgrounding the human needs of the many has given it the destructive power of acquisition by force or of nonnurturing indifference. Those who continue to view reality through the giftgiving grain oppose the products of scientific knowledge which threaten the possibility of all to give and receive. No amount of purported benign uses of nuclear technology, genetic manipulation or chemical poisons can bring the negative aspects of those technologies into the giftgiving grain, or convince those who care for needs that they are really gifts to humanity.

Women can gratefully know the vagina, the 'object,' internally without the phallic instrument. It is interesting to think that if women are reified 'things,' the vagina would correspond to the philosopher's supposedly unknowable 'thing in itself.' Then in sex it would become for another and therefore really for ourselves as well.

As caretakers of things for others, we know more about them than those who do not satisfy others' needs with them. We can point out the healing plants, the caring ways, as well as the flaws in the arguments for violence. Our life energy has often gone into the care and maintenance of others' bodies and our own directly, without exchange and without an interposing definition or evaluation based on exchange.

Exchange Value

Exchange value is communicative (linguistic) value in the kind of distorted communication that is exchange. Exchange is like definition which locates something with respect to its name and thus with respect to everything else. The fact that something has a name depends on the cultural value of that kind of thing for human beings. The specific name it has depends on the totality of the langue. That differential relation has become quantitatively ordered in prices.

The language value-attributing process is used again in exchange, when we each give the same value to the products we are exchanging on the basis of their general social value. We do it every time we say one pound of beans = one dollar. The fact that one person gives up the beans and the other gives up the dollar demonstrates that they give the same value to beans and to a dollar. The beans have that price as a function of all the other exchanges happening on the market at that time, particularly those regarding beans. Similarly the use of words depends upon how they are being used by others speaking that language.

The principle of exchange is do ut des (I give so that you will give). The principle of gift-based communication is similar, except for the watershed difference that giftgiving is mutually inclusive while exchange is mutually exclusive. In gift-based communication, one gives so that the other may give--attention and value to the topic, as well as to the speaker and the listener themselves. Both speaker and listener have a need for a means to be able to give value to something together; words serve this purpose and the interlocutors give value by giving them. Agreement upon a price allows exchangers to give equal value. The consequences of the co-munication and the attribution of the same value by speakers and listeners and by sellers and buyers are different because exchange is mutually exclusive where verbal communication is mutually inclusive. In exchange, the material do ut des principle requires that the receiver give back an equivalent to the giver. Giftgiving unilaterally satisfies the other's need.

In our altruism we give the same value so as to establish common relations between us as human beings regarding things. But in exchange this altruism is used to serve our egotism. The very similarity of the processes has hidden the giftgiving altruistic side of communication behind exchange, given that exchange has become such an important activity for everyone in our society. We only give under the constraint that the other gives an equivalent, because living in a system based on scarcity and the market, we consider ourselves in terms of a quantity of things (or of exchange values) which are necessary for our survival.

Everything we give or spend, every value we attribute, seems to take away from that totality, assessable as salary--the 'living' that we make. Exchange is like a language in which things are actually 'given up' when words are spoken (and the words are 'given up,' as well). We are always calculating whether we have or are enough, as if we had performance (or competence) anxiety. There is an economic value-assessment of human beings, an economic (masculated) name, a salary, which is 'given' to us. It seems that people don't exist or deserve to exist unless they are masculated, and if they don't exist they don't deserve to eat--though perhaps they can eat anyway, if they correspond to a masculated 'one' like a wife does.

Both individually and socially, we invest our energy in what we consider valuable, even when this is to our own or others' degradation and detriment. For example, we invest energy and money in drugs and violence. Individuals attribute value to these activities, perhaps because of physiological pleasure and short-term ego reinforcement. Even if it does not consciously approve of these individual activities, society gives value to the kind of ego with which they are in alignment. In fact, hedonism fits with masculation--with ego-orientation not with other-orientation. It also seems that, by amassing large amounts of capital, we can have more value than others in an almost unlimited way, a consideration which provides the artificial ego with the kind of validation it needs to continue to amass more. Power over others, which appears to be the prerogative of the sample position, is used to provide the rewards which motivate the masculated ego. Interactions based on giftgiving are more genuinely satisfying, however, and they are often co-opted as the 'spoils' of success.

Exchange value seems to be the most valuable, or even the only kind of value. The society based on it purports to provide an access to the general good by promoting the sum of ego-oriented values as its goal. Of course, this leaves out other-oriented values and people, as well as those who simply don't succeed. The OBN's view of homo economicus as bringing about the general good has recently been challenged by feminist economists.11 I believe that seeing exchange value as the main or only kind of value prevents us from a genuinely radical criticism of homo economicus. As an alternative, I am proposing that we consider as primary the cultural value of things as created through giftgiving and expressed in language, which functions according to giftgiving. Exchange value can then be seen as a distortion of the value-giving process.

Re-present-ation

Language continues to maintain our giftgiving way even while we are doing our experiencing in an economy based on exchange and thus are no longer co-municating materially. Technology, motivated by profit, expands perception in another direction, beyond giftgiving to a kind of inhuman objectivity. It sees below the level of possible gifts to sense impressions understood as electro-chemical reactions, and above the level of gifts through telescopes that allow us to see the origins of the universe. It also works against the giftgiving co-munity, using its knowledge to create conventional, biological, chemical and nuclear armaments. While the levels of 'objective reality' discovered by technology beyond giftgiving may sometimes be utilized for human need-satisfying endeavors, they are often also used to great harm. They are patriarchal exchange-driven (not gift-driven) enterprises. By embracing the nongiftgiving grain, which indeed produces a useful income in the exchange economy for researchers, academics can discount those who embrace the giftgiving grain as 'naive realists.' (Because of scarcity, the 'naive realists' anyway do not usually have access to the technology that would allow them to see things differently.) When giftgiving has been drained from the 'present' by exchange the link between life and language is obscured. Then re-present-ation, not patriarchy appears to post modern thinkers as the reason for tyranny.

Linguistic value and economic value both have to do with re-presentation--that is, with communication through systems of substitute gifts. We have to recognize their commonalities in order to understand value itself. It was in looking at these commonalities that I began to see masculation as an off-shoot of representation, a mis-representation of the identity of the boy--making him in its image, overvaluing him because of it, and then broadcasting that mechanism into the society at large. (It is as if a broken piece of the movie projector were being projected onto the screen along with the movie.) Masculation is a distortion of the value-attributing process--on a par with exchange and occurring prior to it. It feeds back through exchange and mysogyny into re-present-ation over emphasizing the 'one-many' and hierarchial over-taking aspects and denying giftgiving.

Exchange value is nurturing (or gift) value filtered through the anti-gift process of exchange, modeled on masculation. Masculation de-values giftgiving and instead gives value to the one-many position, its incarnations in hierarchies, and competition to be first. Many of the gifts and much of the value given by masculation to its priorities actually flow through it transitively from the nurturers, who give preferentially to males and to the masculation process itself. Norm-al, undistorted nurturing gives value directly to needs, to the receivers of its gifts and to the means for the satisfaction of the needs. Language provides co-munity value-based, fine-grained verbal giftgiving, which mediates finely tuned interaction and co-operation, creating the value given by the many working together on common endeavors and contributing to the individuated physical and psychological subjectivities of the co-municators.

We are considering noneconomic value as the concealed norm, rather than a sub-case of economic value. Grounding our idea of noneconomic value in linguistic value, our idea of language in giftgiving and our idea of linguistic value in the varied importance of the gifts of the world to the community, gives us a different perspective from which to look, not only at economic value, but also at what are usually called 'moral' values. By disconnecting the different kinds of values from each other and denying giftgiving (or at most considering it a curiosity due to an irrational propensity towards nurturing), patriarchy has imposed the values of masculation upon the society at large. It practices domination by categorization, repeating everywhere in different terms, the masculation that was done to boys through their gender definition when they were categorized as separate and superior. In this situation, 'moral' values are an attempt to regulate the mutually exclusive interests away from harm, to mitigate their negative effects, and to reintroduce giftgiving after the fact in an auxiliary way. Instead, giftgiving rather than masculation is the basis for creating a society where everyone can care for everyone free from harm.

Other cultural values, such as aesthetic, historical, spiritual, and ethnic values, are originally located within a context created by nurturing and language, but are usually now altered by masculation and exchange. What cultural values might be beyond that alteration will be seen when we are finally able to dismantle patriarchy. However, many of them already contain the hope for a better world. They are gifts of the imagination which heal some of the suffering endured by humanity throughout the centuries.


1Does it make a difference if this is just a projection upon things as long as it works to let them give value to words for us? In patriarchy we have believed women were passive in giving way to men but they were still giving value to the men by implication. The kinds of giving way that are done by apples, mountains and a bird singing in the tree or a girl hitting the ball are similar enough to give value to the word-gifts which take their place even if they are very different as parts of the world. Abstract ideas (e.g., justice) and fantasy creatures (e.g., unicorns) put up even less resistence to having their places taken.

2In reading about the philosophical standpoint of women's caring labor, I finally recognized what fit for me into Marx's phrase about language as practical consciousness that exists for others and, therefore, really for me. Caring labor is practical consciousnesslanguage is one of its general aspects. For the perspective of care, see Sara Ruddick, Maternal Thinking, Ballantine Books, New York, 1990. In a more specifically economic context, Nancy Folbre, Who Pays for the Kids?, Routledge, London and New York, 1994.

3'Use value' is a category of the market, defined in opposition to 'exchange value' and similarly taken away from giftgiving. Gifts are goods with a source and a destination, part of a human relation. It is from the point of view of the exchange paradigm that we see something as a use value, having a generalized and indifferent potential to satisfy a human need'nameable' with money, objectified as property. Use value is the pre-requisite for exchange value, which at the same time renders the product extraneous to the gift process, outside the giving 'grain.' From the point of view of the gift paradigm, use values would be part of a more complete process involving people. While it is true that, after exchange, people use products to satisfy their needs, the relation to the producer as the original source of the products is usually broken. Moreover, in capitalism, producers do not produce use values as gifts but as objects people will pay to use. Gratitude is given to the market, to the exchange process itself. That the gift logic is still strong is shown by the 'brand name' phenomenon which identifies the source of goods in a particular company as if it were a gift, reinstating an artificial human relation with the 'giver' so the 'receivers' will buy more. Bargains, sales and give-aways have a similar dynamic.

4Food sharing practices were widespread in prehistory among the early hominids. Masculated archaeologists typically see hunting as more important for the development of man.

5V. N. Volosinov, Marxism and the Philosophy of Language, New York, Seminar Press, 1973 [1930] says, "Every stage in the development of a society has its own special and restricted circle of items, which alone have access to that society's attention, and which can be endowed with evaluative accentuation by that attention. Only items within that circle will achieve sign formation and become objects in semiotic communication." Any such item ". . .must be associated with the vital socio-economic prerequisites of that group's existence." pp. 21-23. I am thinking also of the prehistoric cave paintings, which (it is now believed) were done through mouth paintingspitting the color onto the wallsas is still done by some Australian aboriginal cave painters. The paint is spewed upon the wall (attributed), then it is viewed. The analogy, which seems to me stronger than painting with hands or brushes, comes from the physiological alteration of breath and saliva that must come from spewing the paint. An acceleration of breath or an increase of saliva might serve as a physiological 'anchor' for value accents or attributions, which are always taking place in our on-going experience, and of which we are not even conscious. The attribution, appreciation (and projection) of value through language thus would coincide with emphasis given through alterations of the breath. Breathing also involves receiving (inhaling) and giving (exhaling).

6Michel Foucault in his chapter "Exchanging" in The Order of Things, An Archaeology of the Human Sciences, Vintage Books, New York, 1994[1966] discusses value from within the exchange paradigm as 'attributive,' 'appreciative' and 'articulative.'

7See Karl Marx, Critique of Political Economy, trans. N.I. Stone, Charles H. Kerr & Co., Chicago 1904 [1859],(pp. 274-292), for a discussion of the relational character of production and consumption, the specification of needs through the production that satisfies them, as well as the specification of the production by the kinds of needs that are to be satisfied.
8I believe this relation to different needs underlies the 'purely differential' values Saussure recognized as the abstract organizing principle of the langue. Different kinds of things are used in different gift processes, to satisfy different kinds of needs, and they give way to different words which take their place as communicative gifts. Cases of hononymy and synonymy are not problematic as long as the mutual exclusion is maintained on the phonetic plane and the needs satisfied are clearly different from each other. The mutually exclusive value-as-position which is found in the langue is repeated in the structure of institutions deriving from masculation like the OBN or private property. Hierarchies have structures similar to those of terms which are superordinate or subordinate according to generality and inclusiveness. For example, a superordinate such as 'plant' is more general than, and includes subordinates such as 'flower,' 'tree,' 'vine,' while 'flower' is a superordinate which is more general than, and includes 'rose,' 'daisy,' 'mimosa.'

9The postal metaphor: sender (encoder) package (message) and receiver (decoder) is giftgiving seen as 'mail.' A code is a shared collection of 'marks' which one group 'has' and another group 'has not.' Encoding and decoding, sending and receiving a message are metaphors of packaging and opening a gift. In fact, another locus for the gift economy in our society (besides mothering) is the sending and receiving of celebratory gifts on birthdays, Christmas etc. See David Cheal on celebratory gifts, The Gift Economy, Routledge, London, 1988.

10I think what semioticians call 'natural signs' can also be interpreted as gifts, even though the behaviors in which they are useful for animals maybe less complex than our own. Flowers by their color and odor say to insects, "Here is nectar." The color and odor are secondary gifts, which lead to the material gift of the nectar. The gift depends on the receiver for its existence as a gift. The black cloud is a gift (a natural sign) for anyone who can use it to get home before the rain starts. The tree falling in the forest is a gift to anyone who can use it as such. I recently heard an environmental song about trees falling in the rainforest.

11The Journal of the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) Feminist Economics, Diana Strassman ed., began in 1995 and is published by Routledge, New York.

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