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The Philosophy of Money

Third enlarged edition

Georg Simmel

Edited by

David Frisby

Translated by

Tom Bottomore and David Frisby
from a first draft by Kaethe Mengelberg



Questia Media America, Inc.

Publication Information: Book Title: The Philosophy of Money. Contributors: David Frisby - editor, Georg Simmel - author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of Publication: New York. Publication Year: 2004. Page Number: iii.

First published in l978

by Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd

Second edition published in 1990

by Routledge
11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE

Reprinted 1991, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003

Third edition published in 2004
by Routledge
11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE

Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada

by Routledge
29 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001

Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group

© 1978, 1990, 2004 Routledge

Transferred to digital printing 2003

Printed and bound in Great Britain by Biddles Short Run Books, King's Lynn

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or
utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now
known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in
any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing
from the publishers.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
A catalog record for this book has been requested

ISBN 0-415-34173-6 (hbk)

ISBN 0-415-34172-8 (pbk)




Note on the Translation


Preface to the Third Edition


Preface to the Second Edition


Introduction to the Translation




Chapter 1 Value and Money




Reality and value as mutually independent categories through which our conceptions become images of the world


The psychological fact of objective value


Objectivity in practice as standardization or as a guarantee for the totality of subjective values


Economic value as the objectification of subjective values, as a result of establishing distance between the consuming subject and the object


An analogy with aesthetic value


Economic activity establishes distances and overcomes them

II 79

Exchange as a means of overcoming the purely subjective value significance of an object 79

In exchange, objects express their value reciprocally 80

The value of an object becomes objectified by exchanging it for another object 81

Exchange as a form of life and as the condition of economic value, as a primary economic fact 82

Analysis of the theories of utility and scarcity 90

Value and price: the socially fixed price as a preliminary stage of the objectively regulated price 94

III 101

Incorporation of economic value and a relativistic world view 101

The epistemology of a relativistic world view 102

The construction of proofs in infinite series and their reciprocal legitimation 104

The objectivity of truth as well as of value viewed as a relation between subjective elements 108

Money as the autonomous manifestation of the exchange relation which transforms desired objects into economic objects, and establishes the substitutability of objects 119

Analysis of the nature of money with reference to its value stability, its development and its objectivity 122

Money as a reification of the general form of existence according to which things derive their significance from their relationship to each other 128

Chapter 2 The Value of Money as a Substance 131

I 131

The intrinsic value of money and the measurement of value 131

Problems of measurement 133

The quantity of effective money 137

Does money possess an intrinsic value? 142

The development of the purely symbolic character of money 146


II 152

Renunciation of the non-monetary uses of monetary material 152

The first argument against money as merely a symbol: the relations of money and goods, which would make an intrinsic value for money superfluous, are not accurately determinable; intrinsic value remedies this deficiency 155

The second argument against money as merely a symbol: the unlimited augmentability of monetary symbols; relativistic indifference to the absolute limits of monetary quantity and the errors to which this indifference leads 159

The supply of money 161

The reciprocal nature of the limitation that reality places on pure concepts 165

III 168

The historical development of money from substance to function 168

Social interactions and their crystallization into separate structures; the common relations of buyer and seller to the social unit as the sociological premise of monetary intercourse 170

Monetary policy: largeness and smallness, diffuseness and concentration of the economic circle in their significance for the intrinsic character of money 172

Social interaction and exchange relations: money's functions: its facilitation of trade, its constancy as a measure of value, its mobilization and condensation of values 174

The nature of the economic circle and its significance for money 179

The transition to money's general functional character 184

The declining significance of money as substance 190

The increasing significance of money as value 198

Chapter 3 Money in the Sequence of Purposes 204

I 204

Action towards an end as the conscious interaction between subject and object 204

The varying length of teleological series 207

The tool as intensified means 209


Money as the purest example of the tool 210

The unlimited possibilities for the utilization of money 212

The unearned increment of wealth 217

The difference between the same amount of money as part of a large and of a small fortune 218

Money-because of its character as pure means-as peculiarly congruent with personality types that are not closely united with social groups 221

II 228

The psychological growth of means into ends 228

Money as the most extreme example of a means becoming an end 232

Money as an end depends upon the cultural tendencies of an epoch 232

Psychological consequences of money's teleological position 235

Greed and avarice 238

Extravagance 247

Ascetic poverty 251

Cynicism 255

The blasé attitude 256

III 258

The quantity of money as its quality 259

Subjective differences in amounts of risk 260

The qualitatively different consequences of quantitatively altered causes 262

The threshold of economic awareness 264

Differential sensitivity towards economic stimuli 265

Relations between external stimuli and emotional responses in the field of money 269

Significance of the personal unity of the owner 271

The material and cultural relation of form and amount 272

The relation between quantity and quality of things, and the significance of money for this relation 277



Chapter 4 Individual Freedom 283

I 283

Freedom exists in conjunction with duties 283

The gradations of this freedom depend on whether the duties are directly personal or apply only to the products of labour 284

Money payment as the form most congruent with personal freedom 285

The maximization of value through changes in ownership 292

Cultural development increases the number of persons on whom one is dependent and the simultaneous decrease in ties to persons viewed as individuals 295

Money is responsible for impersonal relations between people, and thus for individual freedom 297

II 303

Possession as activity 303

The mutual dependence of having and being 306

The dissolving of this dependency by the possession of money 307

Lack of freedom as the interweaving of the mental series: this lack at a minimum when the interweaving of either is with the most general of the other series 312

Its application to limitations deriving from economic interests 314

Freedom as the articulation of the self in the medium of things, that is, freedom as possession 321

The possession of money and the self 326

III 331

Differentiation of person and possession 331

Spatial separation and technical objectification through money 332

The separation of the total personality from individual work activities and the results of this separation for the evaluation of these work activities 334

The development of the individual's independence from the group 342

New forms of association brought about by money; the association planned for a purpose 343


General relations between a money economy and the principle of individualism 347

Chapter 5 The Money Equivalent of Personal Values 355

I 355

Wergild 355

The transition from the utilitarian to the objective and absolute valuation of the human being 357

Punishment by fine and the stages of culture 363

The increasing inadequacy of money 366

Marriage by purchase 370

Marriage by purchase and the value of women 372

Division of labour among the sexes, and the dowry 374

The typical relation between money and prostitution, its development analogous to that of wergild 376

Marriage for money 380

Bribery 384

Money and the ideal of distinction 389

II 395

The transformation of specific rights into monetary claims 395

The enforceability of demands 397

The transformation of substantive values into money values 399

The negative meaning of freedom and the extirpation of the personality 400

The difference in value between personal achievement and monetary equivalent 404

III 409

'Labour money' and its rationale 409

The unpaid contribution of mental effort 411

Differences in types of labour as quantitative differences 413

Manual labour as the unit of labour 418

The value of physical activity reducible to that of mental activity 421

Differences in the utility of labour as arguments against 'labour money': the insight into the significance of money thereby afforded 425


Chapter 6 The Style of Life 429

I 429

The preponderance of intellectual over emotional functions brought about by the money economy 429

Lack of character and objectivity of the style of life 432

The dual roles of both intellect and money: with regard to content they are supra-personal 434

The dual roles of intellect and money: with regard to function they are individualistic and egoistic 437

Money's relationship to the rationalism of law and logic 441

The calculating character of modern times 443

II 446

The concept of culture 446

The increase in material culture and the lag in individual culture 448

The objectification of the mind 452

The division of labour as the cause of the divergence of subjective and objective culture 453

The occasional greater weight of subjective culture 463

The relation of money to the agents of these opposing tendencies 468

III 470

Alterations in the distance between the self and objects as the manifestation of varying styles of life 470

Modern tendencies towards the increase and diminution of this distance 474

The part played by money in this dual process 476

Credit 479

The pre-eminence of technology 481

The rhythm or symmetry, and its opposite, of the contents of life 485

The sequence and simultaneity of rhythm and symmetry 488

Analogous developments in money 491

The pace of life, its alterations and those of the money supply 498

The concentration of monetary activity 503

The mobilization of values 505

Constancy and flux as categories for comprehending the world, their synthesis in the relative character of existence 508

Money as the historical symbol of the relative character of existence 510

Afterword: The Constitution of the Text 513

Name Index 535

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