PSR 4(204)2018

 Current Perspectives on The Philosophy of Money:

On the 100th Anniversary of Georg Simmel’s Death (1858–1918)






Georg Simmel’s The Philosophy of Money and the Modernization Paradigm 

This article examines Georg Simmel’s contribution to the understanding of how money functions in modern society, mainly scrutinizing his most important work on that topic, The Philosophy of Money, in the context of modernization theories. Modernization theories, as developed (most notably) by Marx, Weber, Durkheim, and Elias, attempted to explain the transition from feudalism and a closed agrarian economy to capitalism and industrial society, as well as to understand and predict the avenues, consequences, and dangers of that transformation. The author argues that Simmel’s work and his theoretical framework fit neatly into the “modernization paradigm” template and, in fact, constitute one of its finest articulations. The conclusion points at those aspects of Simmel’s sociology that transcend the boundaries of modernization discourse and make him a forerunner of the postmodernist structure of feeling.”
Keywords: money, monetary economy, modernity, Georg Simmel, modernization paradigm, desubstantialization.

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Simmel and the Posthuman: Money as the God of Bad Infinity

Contrary to a longstanding tradition of associating the attractive force of the modern economy with its unbridled materialism, I claim in my paper that the power of capitalism lies in the transfer of human desire into the realm of the abstract. Our passionate attachment to the capitalist system stems from its money-mediated capability to organize the infinite: money is a special form of structuring infinity, which I term the “count to infinity.” The paper develops this concept, drawing on three in-depth analyses offered by Georg Simmel in his The Philosophy of Money: first, the infinite structure of value, or, money as bad infinity; second, money as the pure vehicle of life; and third, money as the “absolute means.” It is my main contention that by moving human desire into the realm of the abstract, money has provided life with a vessel to elevate itself to a higher plane of energy, thus transcending the bounds of the human species.
Keywords: money, infinity, bad infinity, God, Simmel, count to infinity, philosophy of life, posthuman, capitalism.

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The Issue of Idealization in The Philosophy of Money by Georg Simmel

The main question of the text concerns the status of value in Georg Simmel’s thinking. According to Simmel, values are submitted to “idealization,” which can be considered a kind of “constructed essentialism.” Together with the concept of construction, “constructed essentialism” first appeared implicitly in Kant’s theses on the human rational equipment containing necessary inborn dispositions and, particularly, in his theses on transcendental schematism. However, it was Fichte and Schelling who applied the term “construction” to the description of cognitive processes. In his theses concerning the idealization of values as conventionally accepted, socially and economically constructed relations, Simmel refers to the anthropological, cognitive equipment: to the human propensity to seek patterns, ideals, and even ideas. Such a formulation of the process of idealization  spreads Simmel’s concept of value dialectically between constructivism and anthropological essentialism.
Keywords: value, essence, essentialism, construction, idea, ideal, idealization.

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A Heideggerian perspective of Georg Simmel’s
The Philosophy of Money

In this article, I will juxtapose Simmel’s theory with Martin Heidegger’s thought. I intend to gain, by this, possibly fundamental (in the existential ontological, Heideggerian sense of the word) sight of his position. In Reading Simmel “by using Heidegger,” I will inquire about his interpretation of “being-in-the-world” and about a place that the phenomenon of money occupies within the limits of being-in-the-world. As it may turn out,  this method of analysis will enable us to look at Heidegger’s thought in a new way, revealing a certain kind of anachronism or at least a one-sided view of human beings. The question is as follows: whose interpretation of the existential-ontological structure of Dasein is more adequate, Simmel’s or Heidegger’s?
Keywords: being-in-the-world, money, Dasein, Simmel, Heidegger.

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Homo Libidinous and the Economy of Desire:
Rereading Simmel’s The Philosophy of Money after Freud

Georg Simmel’s The Philosophy of Money ([1900], 2004) contains one of the most pertinent and subtle diagnoses of modernity—a critique of economic reason moved by desire. This article shows that Simmel’s dialectic of desire has a significant affinity with Freud’s economic point of view in terms of the psychic apparatus being ruled by the pleasure principle. Considering these two libidinal economies I will focus on how the figure of homo oeconomicus transforms into homo libidinous and why money has become the symbol and form of modern life. The assumption is that money is not solely the fundamental principle of social reality—what we call hyper-modernity or late capitalism—but the reality principle as such.
Keywords: economy of desire, homo libidinous, libidinal economy, dialectic of money, reality principle, pleasure principle, Simmel, Freud.

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Desire and Intellect: Individuation in Capitalism, or Simmel vs. Marx

The aim of this text is to compare Simmel’s and Marx’s notions of two subjective faculties, desire and intellect, and the role each plays in modern capitalist societies. While Simmel understands the faculties as individual, Marx’s critique of political economy presents their social, public, and trans-individual character. These two perspectives differ over the particular economic sphere in which we ought to locate the social production of subjectivity. Simmel locates such production in market exchange, the formal, symbolic expression of which is  money, thereby leading to the notion of an intersubjective social reality as the effect of monetary relations between desiring and calculating individual subjects. Marx, for his part, treats both desire and intellect as trans-individual faculties, and locates the social production of subjectivity in the sphere of production as subsumed under capital.
Keywords: Capital, desire, intellect, modernity, subject, individuation.

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Is Money a Linguistic Form?
Integrating Simmel’s Construction of Monetary Value
into the Framework of the Philosophy of Language

In his study, the author discusses his hypothesis of money as a linguistic form, one understood sensu stricto, as Ferdinand de Saussure would. This approach seems to be the key to explaining some important phenomena: the so-called ‘economics imperialism’ in the social sciences and the specific character of economic language, as seen from the perspective of the humanities. Both the ‘uncanny character’ of economic terms and ‘economics imperialism’ appear in this text as symptoms, or ways in which economic signs, especially money understood as a sign, specifically manifest themselves. The logical analysis of the construction of these signs—analysis based on Saussure’s and Simmel’s propositions—is the main topic of this article. First, the author revisits a well-known parallel between formal structures of linguistic and monetary signs developed in Saussure’s Course in General  Linguistics. Second, a crucial difference in these structures is presented and theoretically explained using tools developed by Georg Simmel. The author goes on to consider whether this difference locates the monetary sign outside the realm of language per se. Finally, by applying certain claims made by Ludwig Wittgenstein on the limits of language, the author develops his hypothesis that money is a linguistic sign, but a specific one; it is a kind
of a ‘border phenomenon.’ In this text, the author proposes the term ‘linguistic form’ to distinguish this kind of sign. Some theoretical and social consequences of this state of affairs are proposed; inter alia the immanent social antagonism between the symbolic articulation of the social sphere and the economic one.
Keywords: economics imperialism, monetary value, linguistic value, linguistic form, Simmel, de Saussure, Wittgenstein.

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Polish Sociological Review – The English-language versions of publications are financed  by funds allocated by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education for the dissemination of knowledge, decision no. 817/P-DUN/2018.

Polish Sociological Review – digitalization of publications and monographs in order to ensure and maintain an open access through the Internet is financed by funds allocated by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education for the dissemination of knowledge, decision no. 817/P-DUN/2018.