Book Review: Simmel’s Philosophy (Sociology) of Money

The philosophy of money a manual for the modern man. A beautiful book which outlines the stages of monetary evolution. In the early stage there was barter trade, but in an advanced stage, money becomes a metal and note with value inscriptions and signatures on it. The state ensures that the mark on money is worth the thing exchanged for. We all know money is some paper that does not reflect the resources on this planet; it’s something people invent along with the rules and the way they are distributed.

Money stores value, but the value of resources and services are both culturally created and dependent on current technologies and resources. Extraction and creation of new materials is dependent on technology, and when a resource becomes too abundant, it loses monetary value.

This book although written as philosophy addresses thoughtfully key sociological issues such as the creation of money, reconfiguration of its value, the power of its exchangeability, over barter. Exchange, Simmel argues, can best be understood as a form of social interaction. So money is nothing far from understanding the social relationship attached around it

Looking around the world today, everyone uses money; special shiny coins or pale papers moving from one person’s hand to another’s and now mostly moved around in computers and various modern transactional technologies in non-physical forms. It allows individuals to be free, slaves, liars. Money basically modifies behaviors and changes values and everything is connected to it. Without money society does not eat, sleep or do any other thing of transaction and value.

In the modern world, money is more than a standard of value and of exchange. Money does economic functions like calculations, it symbolizes and embodies the modern rationality in fair exchange, and impersonality. Money levels qualitative differences between things as well as between people; it is the major mechanism that paves the way from Gemeinshcaft to Gesellschaf

Since most books and articles about money are written for economist and not humans, Simmel in this series present the philosophical stand of monetary relationship to humans. His analysis use uncomplicated dictions and many analogies which help to put many issues relating to society and money into clearer perspective.

Simmel did a good job by elaborating the dual role of money which consists, of the measurability the value relations of goods exchanged and, as an element exchanged with goods and therefore making money to become a thing of value in itself. Money is value and value is money.


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