Tuesday 4 March 2008

On the realness of money

“For me, money has displaced the pivotal concepts of twentieth-century European philosophy, such as being, time, difference, repetition, subjectivity, signifier, lack, void and universality, as that which most demands thinking.”
—Philip Goodchild, The Theology of Money (Canterbury Press, 2007), p. 26.

“There is but a single ontological problem: ‘What is money?’”
—Philip Goodchild, “Capital and Kingdom: An Eschatological Ontology,” in Theology and the Political: The New Debate, ed. Davies, Milbank and Žižek (Duke UP, 2005), p. 130.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps the nature of money could be considered or understood in terms of Quantum theory, or as a form of energy and even light.

My Spiritual Teacher points out we need to understand money exactly in these terms, and thereby transform our relationship, and use of it altogether.

Put in another way He points out that we need to remove the use of money from the "dark" clutches, and use of the ego, both individual and collective.

If you turn the dollar symbol on its side it looks like the symbol of infinity---a quantum symbol.

Jaggins said...

Or to quote your theologian of the dys-angelion - that carnival barker for kingdom dot come - Tom Waits: Money's just something you throw off the back of a train
(Long Way Home)

Ben Myers said...

Nice one, Jaggins (oh how I love that song)!

Here's another quote, from the American poet Dorothy Parker: "If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."

scott said...

I look forward to what's sure to be an upcoming review of Goodchild's new book.

Shane said...

I don't know anything about Goodchild, but perhaps you'd be interested in John Searle's

"The Construction of Social Reality"

Anonymous said...

It was not for no reason that the supercomputer "Deep Thought" (in "The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy"), which was so powerful that when someone accidentally left it switched on, could start from the premise "I think therefore I am", chose to proceed in a financial direction and to deduce the existence of Income Tax and other such phenomena.

Nevertheless, even this computer proved inadequate to solve the question of life, the universe and everything.

So, in the hierarchy of ontology and demandingness of thought, it would seem that money is high but not highest. Therefore don't panic!

Yours in Christ, and thanks for all the fish - JOHN HARTLEY

Anthony Paul Smith said...

Sigh. Not the greatest engagement from people, but this is the internet.

Should point out that the title of the book is Theology of Money. Intentionally, I think it is fair to say, avoiding the article all together.

Jonathan Robinson said...

to APS

so why dont you get the debate going instead of sighing about it? Both quotes are pretty hard to react to without context. What has changed in the world to make money 'that which most demands thinking'? Is it perhaps the large number of us who actually have some and seem to use it to buy useless crap all the time? I cant help but feel such a stance is essentially western as plenty of the planet arnt w0rried about the nature of money, just where their next meal is coming from, n'est pas?

Dick said...

Walter Wink's trilogy on 'the Powers' give us another way of approaching Money spiritually. As one of the 'invisible forces that determine human existence' Money (Mammon) is a creation of God, given to bring blessings. If, however, we worship it it will bring curses.

Mammon represents that element in the human psyche that is to do with exchange and barter, saving etc. Its blessings are that it enables us to specialise (you grow potatoes, I'll transport them to a buyer), send practical assistance to people far away, hedge against future misfortune by building up reserves etc.

The most powerful spiritual technique for ensuring that Mammon does not become a false god is to give it away, thereby making it our servant not our master. A 10% tithe is the recommended level of giving for this to be effective.

BlueNight said...

Ontologically, money is a moral/social simulacrum (equivalent) of physical energy.

Money can be exchanged for either matter or energy. (In fact, that's pretty much all it's good for.) It can be traded for goods or services.

(Goods are physical matter in a specific form, and services are an addition of a specific form to matter or energy.)

I say it is moral because it is an intersection of the physical, the logical, and the emotional. (Any such combination is unique to humans, and to God, who patterned us upon Himself, and so I call it moral.)

It can be pseudophysical in the case of fiat money in a bank's computer, two levels of simulacrum away from reality.

The money in my bank account is deposited electronically; it is exchanged for two weeks of hourly pay for exchanging my calories for a service I provide my boss. Money is exchanged for time and energy, which are physical.

Money is emotional; its value is in the eye of the holder.

Money is logical; this much is obvious.

Money is an embodiment of choice. By using money, we entice others to agree with our choices, our plans, our goals. This is why I call it moral: anything involving choice is moral.

Money is as real as we say it is.

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