Money and Individuality in Georg Simmel


This was a Socratic seminar on the concepts of money and individuality in Georg Simmel’s The Philosophy of Money. Simmel wrote during the time that the opposed views of Weber’s and Knapp’s (as well as Menger’s and von Mises’s) theories of money were developed. Simmel’s views on money were extremely influential on von Mises, mainly on the Theory of Value of Money. Money is ordinarily thought to be a mere means to an end and not an end in itself, but in Simmel’s analysis, money is such a universal instrument that it threatens to become our dominant end. In this way, Simmel worries about a growing alienation between personal values and public culture. Perhaps that and his sometimes cultural pessimism allowed some cultural critics of capitalism to enlist Simmel as one of their sources. This Socratic seminar may help us to understand the validity of those claims.


Conference Readings

Knapp, Georg Friedrich. The State Theory of Money. Translated by H. M. Lucas and J. Bonar. San Diego: Simon Publications, 2003.

Menger, Carl. Principles of Economics. Translated by James Dingwall and Bert F. Hoselitz. Grove City: Libertarian Press, Inc., 1994.

Simmel, Georg. The Philosophy of Money [Third Enlarged Edition]. Edited by David Frisby. Translated by Tom Bottomore and David Frisby. New York City: Routledge, 1978,1990, 2004.