This week in Paul Nadal’s Critical Theories of Finance, students read selections of Georg Simmel’s 1907 The Philosophy of Money, and were led through a series of questions that required some reflection on a path they’ve been taking this semester—through Adam Smith and Karl Marx, two name just two stops along the way. Paul asked the students:
Simmel departs from Marx’s interpretation of exchange. What is Simmel’s definition of exchange? What is the role of sacrifice in exchange? How do you understand Simmel’s claim that sacrifice is the condition of all value? For Simmel, money is not only an economic question but also a philosophical one. Based on your reading of Simmel, what makes money philosophical?
Students also listened to a 2011 episode of This American Life called “The Invention of Money,” which leads five reporters to all answer the same way when confronted with the question “What is money?” What is it? A fiction!
Any reflections on these questions or on the radio episode would be welcome here.