Saturday, September 6, 2014

Money Wisdom #298

"The connection between politics and the sacred did not escape Georges Bataille. He saw in fascism the fulfillment of the sacred's ability to communify, and founded the College de sociologie as the intellectual site for exploring such a 'burning' issue."

Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi A Left Sacred or a Sacred Left? The "Coll├Ęge de Sociologie", Fascism, and Political Culture in Interwar France in South Central Review Vol. 23, No. 1, Fascism, Nazism: Cultural Legacies of Reaction (Spring, 2006), pp. 40-54

Friday, September 5, 2014

Money Wisdom #297

"The two primary motions are rotation and sexual movement, whose combination is expressed by the locomotive's wheels and pistons.
These two motions are reciprocally transformed, the one into the other.
Thus one notes that the earth, by turning, makes animals and men have coitus, and (because the result is as much the cause as that which provokes it) that animals and men make the earth turn by having coitus.
It is the mechanical combination or transformation of these movements that the alchemists sought as the philosopher's stone."

Georges Bataille The Solar Anus (1931)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Money Wisdom #296

It has been said that the divine principle, after having created the elements of the world, withdrew and left them to the free play of their own powers, so that we can now speak of an objective cosmos, subject to its own relations and laws; and further, that the divine power chose this independence of the cosmic process as the most expedient means of accomplishing its own purposes for the world. In the same way, we invest economic objects with a quantity of value as if it were an inherent quality, and then hand them over to the process of exchange, to a mechanism determined by those quantities, to an impersonal confrontation between values, from which they return mulitplied and more enjoyable to the final purpose, which was also the point of their origin: subjective experience. This is the basis and source of that valuation which finds its expression in economic life and whose consequences represent the meaning of money.

Georg Simmel The Philosophy of Money (1907 [1990]) p.78-79

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Money Wisdom #295

The form taken by value in exchange places value in a category beyond the strict meaning of subjectivity and objectivity. In exchange, value becomes supra-subjective, supra-individual, yet without becoming an objective quality and reality of the things themselves. Value appears as the demand of the object, transcending its immanent reality, to be exchanged and acquired only for another corresponding value. The Ego, even though it is the universal source of values, becomes so far removed from the objects that they can measure their significance by each other without referring in each case to the Ego. But this real relationship between values, which is executed and supported by exchange, evidently has its purpose in eventual subjective enjoyment, that is, in the fact that we receive a greater quantity and intensity of values than would be possible without exchange transactions.

Georg Simmel The Philosophy of Money (1907 [1990]) p.78

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Money Wisdom #294

… the path to that ultimate reunification of ego and body is not a dissolution but a strengthening of the human ego. The human ego would have to become strong enough to die; and strong enough to set aside guilt. Archaic consciousness was strong enough to recognize a debt of guilt; Christian consciousness was strong enough to recognize that the debt is so great that only God can redeem it; modern secular Faustian man is strong enough to live with irredeemable damnation; full psychoanalytical consciousness would be strong enough to cancel the debt by deriving it from infantile fantasy.

Norman O Brown Life Against Death (1959) p.292 quoted in
Nigel Dodd Nietzsche's Money in Journal of Classical Sociology 13(1) (2012) p.63 (link)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Money Wisdom #293

Benjamin likens capitalism not simply to religion per se, but more specifically, to a cult: capitalism is a ‘purely cultic religion’, he says, ‘perhaps the most extreme that ever existed’ (Benjamin 1996a: 288). A cult is an emaciated religion: it lacks a proper theology, cannot answer questions of ultimate value, and offers only superficial comforts. A true theology would promise redemption: forgiveness, an encounter with God, resolution of life’s underlying tensions. A cult offers only distractions: it is closed and inward looking, everything is drawn back into its nexus of value – ‘things have a meaning only in their relationship to the cult’ (Benjamin 1996a: 288) – while every action and every deed is assigned a rating in its shallow moral economy (Hamacher 2002: 87). A cult offers ritual, but not transcendence. Capitalism is such a cult.

Nigel Dodd Nietzsche's Money in Journal of Classical Sociology 13(1) p. 55 (2012) (link)

Its been a long time, long time.

Well, not that long.

A quick miscellaneous post to prove I'm still alive and kicking. I started a ramble on Nietzsche's Money by Nigel Dodd, Freud: The Reluctant Philosopher by Albert Tauber, and Money Burning; and basically its turned - or rather, is turning - into something else. Its looking like a (faux) academic piece explaining (I use the word loosely) my position on money, its metaphysics, its hypermetaphysics and its corporeal reality. All linked in through the theme of Money Burning.

I've done so many abandoned essays of late. Every time I start a free-form ramble I can never finish it. Frustrating as that is for me - an no doubt very tiresome for you to read about - I'm taking it as a sign that I do in fact have something to say. And I think saying it, might be helpful to me. So I'm ploughing on. And keeping my self-imposed deadlines a secret from you.

But I will offer you this. I've pulled out a fair few quotes - some of which will be in the piece, others of which won't, and no doubt there''ll be many more along the way - so, in the meantime I'll stick them up on here as money wisdom quotes. If they appear a bit random and unrelated you'll know why. At least they'll keep the blog pulsing along while I try and get my thoughts and feelings into a form of words.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Money Wisdom #292

"For Peggy Lucas and I, then, in the long dry grass in the heatwave of 1976, 'cunt' was our currency. It was a word whose shared taboo bonded our friendship. The odd part is that, after so many years, I forget who had 'brought' the word to school that day." (p. 7)

Emma L.E. Rees The Vagina: A Literary and Cultural History (2013) p.6

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Money Wisdom #291

"Words are like monies: they have a proper value before they express all the kinds of value."

Antoine de Rivarol Des Traductions (1906) p.125
quoted in Marc Shell Money and the Mind in Modern Language Notes (1980) p.526

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Money Wisdom #290

"Mythology is the ghost of concrete meaning."

Owen Barfield Poetic Diction - A Study in Meaning (1928 [1984]) p.92

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Money Wisdom #289

"[On Ricoeur's reading of Freud] the conscious component of intention (so important to Brentano) is pushed aside for a deeper psychic intention, namely, that which froths forth from the reaches of the unconscious mind. There intention exists as psychic drives or biological forces, and when integrated with the intention of consciousness, the mind becomes unified. Accordingly, intention goes all the way down, and thus Freud created a theory in which multiple layers of intention exhibit themselves for interpretation."

Albert Tauber Freud - The Reluctant Philosopher (2010) p.47

Money Wisdom #288

Endnote 18 to Chapter One - The Challenge (and Stigma) of Philosophy

"Richard Wollheim described Freud's use of intentionality as a 'philosophical assumption' that Freud retained throughout his work and probably derives from... Brentano... And that assumption is that every mental state or condition can be analyzed into two components: an idea, which gives the mental state its object or what it [sic] directed upon; and its charge or affect, which gives it its measure of strength or efficacy"

Richard Wollheim Sigmund Freud (1981) p. 20-21 emphasis added 
quoted in Albert Tauber Freud - the Reluctant Philosopher (2010) p.235

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My review of Albert Tauber's 'Freud - the Reluctant Philosopher'

This review is on amazon here. If it lies on your couch and tells you its secrets then be a sweetie and pop over there and click the like button. 

Tauber exposes the shaky metaphysical underpinnings of psychoanalysis as science but recasts it affirmatively as moral inquiry 

This is a brilliant book.

I learned my Freud from someone who had dedicated most of his academic career to giving psychoanalysis a scientific (genetic) basis. In the end, after twenty five years of trying he gave up and subsequently disavowed himself of his Freudianism. So, the questions Tauber explores in this book go right to the heart of my own understanding of, and relationship with, Freud and psychoanalysis. I was really looking forward to reading it and have not been disappointed.

It's not an easy read. But then, questions of metaphysics and the philosophy of science aren't easy either. Tauber lays things out as clearly as is possible. His writing is assured but gentle. He quietly repeats key points, highlighting their salience without interrupting the rhythm of his narrative or patronizing the reader. He is honest about his own view on Freud's scientific claims without being over-bearing or hostile. The pace and length of the book are also spot on. Tauber uses comprehensive endnotes rather than footnotes thereby avoiding any stalling within the reading experience but without compromising on the background detail of the arguments.

What helps Tauber cut through the knot of philosophical problems is a sharp focus on the notions of reason and freedom. From these two themes, and their inter-relatedness and co-dependency, Tauber constructs a convincing metaphysical argument to which he marries the story of Freud's intellectual history. We are left with the picture of Freud alive in the real world. Someone who on the one hand felt the need to present psychoanalysis as science to ensure rigor, method and authority. But also on the other hand, someone with quiet doubts and uncertainties about his claim to knowledge.

This is no simple biography of Freud's intellectual struggles, though. It does very effectively describe to the reader the intellectual current in which Freud swam. But in maintaining both balance and empathy for his subject, Tauber somehow - paradoxically - manages to ground the metaphysical arguments. He doesn't rely on metaphor or analogy so much, but instead we see the intellectual problems Freud faced and the perspective from which he faced them. The solutions to those problems are subtly suggested through an imagined discourse between Freud and the various philosophical schools.

I've generally found criticism of Freud frustrating, whether that comes from a post-structuralist/post-modern orientation, or from a materialist/positivist orientation. Of course, both ways of viewing reality can work to highlight deficiencies within Freud's thought, but all too often I find that, in developing their arguments, they tend towards an ideological rather a scholarly critique. I think this is in part why I found Tauber's book so appealing. His central thesis - his orientation - is an affirmative one. Tauber recasts psychoanalysis as a form of moral inquiry and so Freud himself, becomes a moral philosopher.

The central reason for my holding of Tauber's book in such high regard though, stems back to those early experiences of my teacher determined, but failing, to give a genetic basis to psychoanalysis. I think both my teacher and Freud held up science as a kind of moral goal; the truth as 'the good'. Whereas the feeling I got from reading Freud, particularly his later works and especially things like his correspondence with Einstein, was of a man concerned primarily with 'the good' who understood how unfaithful truth can be. Tauber references Stuart H Hughes 'Conscious and Society' - there's a few lines in that book that stuck with me and seem prescient to the thrust Tauber's argument. (Hughes quotes Ernest Jones).

"Kindness and integrity he [Freud] regarded as absolutes. In Freud, 'honesty... was more than a simple natural habit. It became an active love of truth and justice... A moral attitude was so deeply implanted as to seem part of his original nature. He never had any doubt about what was the right course of conduct,' and he cited with approval the saying: 'Morality is self-evident.'  (p. 139)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Money Wisdom #287

"...[Freud] created the most influential depiction of human beings offered in the twentieth century, one that has guided contemporary understandings well beyond the couch and past the strictures of his own biological and anthropological commitments. That description depends on rational insight, moral purpose, and ultimately a promissory note of personal redemption."

Albert Tauber Freud - The Reluctant Philosopher (2010) p.216

Money Wisdom #286

" and narrative are vehicles of knowing or expressing. One might assign them as tools of an interpretive faculty, which confers meaning. From this perspective, meaning cannot directly arise from epistemology or any of its branches, but rather arises from a dynamic synthesis - the moral orientation of the knower who weaves facts into their fabric of signification (Tauber 2001; 2009). Thus the epistemological and ethical components of Freud's theory must be scrutinized separately and then put back together into a moral epistemology (Tauber 2001; 2005; 2009). Psychoanalysis joins these two domains in a complex dialectic, where the standing of knowledge depends on the fixture of values arising from, and responding to, human need. Indeed, psychoanalytic facts become elements in a narrative created by a constellation of subjective interpretations, and in this sense, Freud offered the analysand the opportunity to create his or her own narrative - an autobiography based upon return, recognition, and reconciliation. Thus a rigid separation of facts and values collapses on the analytic couch, for no psychic fact exists independent of its interpretation.

Albert Tauber Freud - The Reluctant Philosopher (2010) p.213 (My emphasis)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Money Wisdom #285

" Despite the importance of Freud's linking evolutionary thought to psychoanalytical theory, the Lamarckian speculations, namely, the reconstruction of family conflict and its reenactment, have been generally condemned 'never to pass from the realm of the fantastic to the realm of the real' (Parisi 1989, 487). Nevertheless, a psychology lodged in the instinctual domain is hardly radical, and today as testified by the vast literature in sociobiology and evolutionary psychology, efforts to trace communal behavior and moral agency to earlier primate behavior is hardly innovative (e.g., Sober and Wilson 1998, Joyce 2007), albeit contested (e.g. Buller 2006). However, describing the biology of complex behaviors is not our subject, for we are concerned with how Freud's commitment to placing the psyche in its archaic biological substrata becomes transformed by a ruling reason. To do so, we contrast Nietzsche's construction that minimizes the role of rationality in understanding agency (rational 'higher' faculties are subordinated to the demands of the 'lower' instincts), which in turn reflects a deep skepticism of reason, and Kantian reason in particular. Indeed these views irreparably separate him from Freud. Below [in Chapter Five - Kant, Nietzsche and Freud] their complex intellectual relationship is summarized around two related issues: on the one hand, Freud afforded an autonomy that Nietzsche denied, and on the other hand, Freud formulated the psyche much as Nietzsche did by adopting an organic perspective and thereby committed himself to a Darwinian biology - a biological science of understanding. In short, whereas Nietzsche celebrate the Will, Freud would endeavor to control it.

Albert Tauber Freud - The Reluctant Philosopher (2010) p.164

Money Wisdom #284

"The self must reflect upon itself to attain its autonomy: 'Being in a subjective state... does not count as having experience of and so being aware of that state unless I apply a certain determinant concept... and judge that I am in such a state, something I must do and be able to know that I am doing' (Pippin 1989, 19)"

Albert Tauber Freud - The Reluctant Philosopher (2010) p.151

Money Wisdom #283

"The entire enterprise [of psychoanalysis] rests on reason's autonomy and the capacity to exercise freedom of choice and thereby assume ethical responsibility (Sherman, 1995). Psychoanalysis thus becomes a moral philosophy of investigation underwriting an ethics identity."

Albert Tauber Freud - The Reluctant Philosopher (2010) p.134

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Money Wisdom #282

"A deeper complexity underlies Kantian reason: If the noumenal reality can only be refracted by reason's own laws, if the real is a synthesis of mind and nature, if the very self that knows the world is itself a noumenon, what could reason's own foundation be? Kant's answer: 'Reason operates according to laws that it gives itself' (Neiman 1994, 91). In other words, reason is independent of the natural world of appearances and causation.  [...]

...Kant meticulously derived reason's 'laws,' which include the unrequited search for the unconditioned (the ground or foundation of the world) (Neiman 1994, 86) Simply, reason becomes 'the capacity to act according to purposes' (88), which is comprised by the search for its own grounding. Further, by seeking 'its own reflection in nature' (88), reason structures reality according to a human perspective, not as the world really is in any final sense, but only in reason's terms. In other words, human minds are 'the lawgivers' to nature. [...]

Thus the 'concepts of the understanding give order to experience, the principles of reason are the standard by which it is judged' (Neiman 1994, 6).


...unlike certain human behaviors that have an obvious empirical content and thus deterministic causality, reason possesses no temporality (or what we perceive as natural causality) 'and thus the dynamic law of nature, which determines the temporal sequence according to rules, cannot be applied to it'.

Thus to fulfill its function, reason must be free of experience, and, on this view, the ability to survey the world and make judgments depends on reason's independence of that world. Reason, accordingly, resides outside the natural domain, free and autonomous, to order nature through scientific insight and regulate behavior through rational moral discourse."

Albert Tauber Freud - The Reluctant Philosopher (2010) p.125-127

Money Wisdom #281

"Freud, through a complex convolution, extrapolated neurophysiology to psychology, and thereby aspired to establish mechanisms of disease. In configuring psychoanalysis as a scientific discipline, he simply ignored the gapping [sic] chasm between the causal mechanistic laws of the natural domain, which defined his idea of scientific explanation, and the interpretative reconstructions he devised to explain mental phenomena. In short , Freud applied what he thought were scientific causal links, because he believed he was dealing with natural phenomena that could be discerned through spectacles devised for physics and biology, when in fact he supplied reasons that were derived from inferences and interpretations of mental phenomena that had no explanatory power in the natural sense he wished to apply. Simply, he mistook two different ontologies as the same and in the process applied the same epistemologies when different strategies were required. In a sense, he ignored one of Kant's cardinal tenets: two kinds of reason were required to address the physical and the metaphysical, and [...] Freud failed to recognize the metaphysical character of the unconscious and thus made a fundamental category error in his analysis of the psyche.

If Freud had succeeded in making the unconscious a natural object suitable for scientific study, then his naturalization of the mind would be credible. The position taken here, albeit in debt to the vast critical literature, accepts that he failed. On that view, the 'mind' and 'the ego' and 'the unconscious' serve as placeholders for the corresponding targets of scientific scrutiny. On this account, the unconscious, then, is a metaphysical construction whose definition has served useful purposes, but it cannot be confused with the brain functions from which behavior emerges. This hardly denies its reality, but that reality is configured in a universe that excludes natural objects and forces. Kant, and in a different voice, Wittgenstein, considered each domain as separate and distinct, so the character of knowledge and reason employed to achieve its ends were also distinguished. In this vein, Freud's triumph rests on the successful application of 'practical' reason, when ironically he thought he was employing 'pure' reason. That misassignment accounts for Freud's error (or in Whitehead's term, 'misplaced concreteness,' to characterize this general mistake [1925]), which nevertheless yielded success. Ironically then, whereas Freud thought he was doing science, he in fact was conducting a highly novel, creative, and fecund interpretation of how humans think, conduct their lives, exhibit character and create personal identity. Simply, he conducted a moral investigation, one that remains a steadfast testimony to his insights."

Albert Tauber Freud - The Reluctant Philosopher (2010) p.127-128

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Money Wisdom #280

"Windelband's understanding of the place of value in epistemology introduced a challenge to positivist ideals, since he was dissatisfied with the philosophical grounding of objectivity. The aspiration of positivism to lead the human sciences to the naturalistic ideal required a value system that would order the respective inquiries. Positivism's approach depended on a dichotomy between facts and values, the objective and subjective ways of knowing, respectively (Putnam 2002). Long before the current post-Kuhnian views of the value structure of science achieved wide acceptance (Tauber 2009), Windelbund would ask, What is the relationship of facts and values? What is the standing of 'facts', and how are they qualified? Where did 'value', specifically in reference to the human sciences, find its philosophical place? The ability to define or maintain a system of values to support the notions of a radically objective science (Tauber 2009) rested upon the fact/value distinction (traditionally strung on an objective/subjective axis), but the basic division could not be maintained, because facts assume their meaning through a much wider constellation of values than the particular objectivist values positivists embraced. Indeed, facts attain their standing through the values that structure the very acquisition of data, and another array of values determine their significance and meaning. On this view, the dichotomy of 'facts' (products of a stark objectivity) and 'values' (typically construed as subjective) collapses in analytic practice. (This line of criticism proved important, since the collapse of the fact/value distinction became the fulcrum of positivism's fall in the last half of the twentieth century).

Albert Tauber Freud - The Reluctant Philosopher (2010) p.106

Money Wisdom #279

"As a neo-Kantian, Windelband recognized that the limits of pure reason (directed at the natural world) espoused by Kant could not support science's epistemology and that other element, 'value', not only defined knowledge (its basis and application), but also conferred a necessary telos for reason's direction in the pursuit of any epistemological enterprise."

Albert Tauber Freud - The Reluctant Philosopher (2010) p.105-6

Money Wisdom #278

"Freud connived to walk on both sides of the street: On the one hand, he followed an idealist course in explaining the unconscious and applying transcendental principles for its development (Bergo 2004), and on the other hand, he professed a positivist confidence in establishing laws of the unconscious through empirical methods that seemingly ignored transcendental commitments. The unconscious scrutinized as a natural object thus presented itself as both a biological entity suitable for positivist examination and a deduction from some transcendental requirement for establishing cause in the psyche realm. [....]

This bivalency would plague psychoanalysis throughout its development and offer critics ample opportunity to attack its weak flank, the putative scientific theory. By insisting on making psychoanalysis an objective science, Freud betrayed the more fundamental commitment to the deductive understanding of the unconscious. That inconsistency would leave psychoanalysis open to scathing criticism, for instead of claiming the approach as a method of interpretation through inferences and narrative constructions, limited by constraints easily identified and embracing a circumscribed skepticism, Freud sought to establish psychoanalysis as a means to decipher psychic cause - a positivist science of the mind - and thereby lost the support of those who understood the philosophical errors he committed."

Albert Tauber Freud - The Reluctant Philosopher (2010) p.104