Introductory perspectives I once invited Dr. Robert Heilbroner, the prolific heterodox political economist, to give the Inaugural Lecture for a new Master of Arts Program in Political Economy that I was helping to found. His (tongue-in-cheek) advice to us: “Be wary of political economy. It is too ‘meta!’ ”
Is there a “meta”? Is there a level of reality that is not immediately apparent to ordinary understanding, but is still accessible within the canons of science? This chapter is about the central terrain on which these questions have played out since Marx’s work came to its mature form in Volume I of Capital (1867): the theory of value, or what Marx more often called, with deceptive simplicity, the law of value.