Friday, October 17, 2014

Money Wisdom #300

Magic, then is about realizing one's intentions (whatever those may be) by acting on the world. It is not a matter of people's intentions and creative capacities being projected out into it and appearing to those people in strange alienated forms. If anything, it's just the opposite. To phrase the matter in appropriately nineteenth century terms: if religion is the way in which people project (imaginary) human personalities and purposes onto (real) natural forces, then magic would have to be a matter of taking real human personalities and purposes and arming them with imaginary natural powers.
 David Graeber Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value (2001) p.240

Money Wisdom #299

Because money used as money and not as a treasure article is a basic measure of man, it allows of full-time specialization. In turn, full-time specialization entails a further differentiation of the qualities of man. Taking to their specialist tasks, lone individuals seek association in terms of the further differentiations of which they have now become aware, and they search for the assumptions which will guarantee the validity of their new found qualities. As the handling of money habituates its users to the notion of units composed of numbers of units, the one-and-the-many, so in their experience of social life do lone individuals and specialists in association become aware of other lone individuals and other kinds of specialists. This provides an experience of 'manyness' on the one hand, and of the unitary on the other.  
Kenelm Burridge New Heaven, New Earth (1969) p.146

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Intent and Intentionality, Money and Currency

[You can get this post as a PDF if you prefer]

My Daughter is starting her studies at Cambridge University shortly - you might have seen me mention this once or twice on Twitter - and these past few weeks I've been helping her sort out her move up there. I've also arranged and just last weekend took a trip with a stick (and three companions) to Dinas Emrys and the top of Snowdon (more on my 'trip with a stick' in my next post). The upshot is that my long essay on Money Burning, Freud, Nietzsche etc has taken a back seat.

To get my writing back in the driving seat, I thought I'd share part of a section of the long essay with you now and do a ramble around it. I haven't written anything on the blog for a while and the section's subject, 'intent and intentionality' is something I've not mentioned before, so it will be fresh too. In my long essay (which is how I'll refer to it at various point in this post) I'm attempting to relate intent and intentionality to Freudian topology and I'm using money burning as a way to explore that territory. In this post I use a section from it that describes Albert Tauber's discussion of Brentano and Freud's use of intentionality and intent, pretty much as it appears in my long essay but then I veer off into the Money/Currency debate as well as taking in sex, incest and a few other apparently diverse subjects.

_____________



Surface appearances suggest that my reading is taking different directions at the moment. I've just received what looks like a very interesting book 'The Theology of Money' by Philip Goodchild (I'm amazed that a book with this title was put out in 2009 and I've only recently heard about it - so much for amazon's algorithms!). Diametrically opposed to this I've also been enjoying Georges Bataille's pornographic stories and have ordered his three volume philosophical work The Accursed Share. (Its coming from Canada and probably won't be with me until November)

Below the surface swirls though, I think it may well turn out that both Goodchild and Bataille are both in a strong current that flows towards an understanding of 'the sacred' and how money relates to it. I know Bataille wanted to restore the sacred sacrifice which he (and his friends in the College de Sociologie) felt was missing in modern life and surely, any theological work on money such as Goodchild's, will have a conception of the sacred at its core? We'll see, I guess. But the general thrust of my own work has been 'scared-bound' for a while. My long essay has themes of 'forgiveness', 'guilt, debt and time', 'hope' and 'belief'. Plus of course, I have my own 'sacred sacrifice' to make in a few weeks in the form of money burning. (23rd Oct, folks! Do feel free to join in and save the world!)

[As an aside - and showing just how unwieldy and many-pathed money can be - I've also been reading Marc Shell's work on incest. He has an essay here The Want of Incest in the Human Family, and you can access many chapters of his books here. Freud of course saw a fundamental link between incest, and totem and taboo, and for me, currency is very much related to totem and taboo. Shell points out that taboo means both 'dangerous' or 'forbidden' as well as 'sacred' or 'consecrated' (p.626) And beyond this the ideal of Universal Siblinghood can be related - at least in my reading of Shell - to the philosophical question of the One and the Many. And this question is very much related to Money as a metaphysical conception (and, I say rather cryptically, to my trip up Snowdon with a stick).]

Anyway, to get back on track with intent and intentionality.

I originally introduced the theme into my long essay as a way of examining what goes on in money burning. A large part of John Higgs' awesomely awesome The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band who Burned a Million Pounds concerns itself with the intentions of Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty. I wondered what, if anything, it would be possible to really know about the intentions of any money burning, or of money burners. Money burning is such a polarizing and final action that intuitively it seems like you should be able to say something meaningful about what lies behind it. I began thinking about it in terms of Tauber's discussion of Freud and Brentano and also in terms of my own notions of Freudian topology of mind.

As is often the way when you start thinking deeply about an issue, it pops up everywhere; sometimes because you're looking for it, sometimes not. I'll come to Tauber in a minute, but for me the most significant - and incidental - occurrence of the word 'intentionality' came when I was re-reading the Ingham/Dodd debate on money and currency* for another section in my long essay. 

I've been meaning to write a summary of the spiky debate between Nigel Dodd and Geoffrey Ingham, Costas Lapavitsas and Geoffrey Ingham, and which also encompassed the work of Keith Hart and Viviana Zelizer. In part, a summary of it would help me tease out and make plain the issues at stake (as I see them), but also I'd want it to be simple short guide to the currency/money debate. Maybe that'd be helpful to anyone coming to it a-fresh, and its obviously something that in my own way I've dealt with extensively on this blog. I'll get round to it eventually. But on this particular read through of Ingham's response to Dodd and Lapavistas (freely available online!) these lines struck me.
"The ontological specificity of money derives from what Keynes referred to as the‘description’of money by a money of account (Keynes 1930: 4). Such a description, by which we understand some object or institution as being monetary, is assigned by what the philosopher Searle refers to as ‘collective intentionality’(Searle 1995, 2005)."
Geoffrey Ingham Further reflections on the ontology of money: responses to Lapavitsas and Dodd Economy and Society Volume 35 Number 2 May 2006 p.261


_______________________



In the first chapter of Freud - The Reluctant Philosopher Albert Tauber emphasizes the importance of intentionality and intent to Freud's project and examines the formative intellectual relationship Freud had with his early mentor Franz Brentano who had re-introduced the term 'intentionality' into C19th philosophy through his Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint (1874).

Brentano viewed intentionality as the fundamental precept of mental life and therefore, to his view of consciousness - 'there is no act of thinking without an object that is thought, nor a desire without an object that is desired' (Brentano, 1973 p.89). For Brentano mental life is consciousness. He refuted 'notions of the unconscious and [made] 'mind' synonymous with consciousness' as a means to establishing a science of the mind. So, Brentano made a metaphysical commitment, and whether that commitment was to method or logic, he steadfastly refused to allow claims for the inclusion of the unconscious in a psychology based on empiricism (p.51).

Freud shared Brentano's wish to establish a science of the mind but in his role as physician he couldn't reconcile conscious thought with manifest behavior. So he took a philosophical position at odds with his mentor and conceptualized the unconscious as the foundation to his own understanding of mind. The unconscious generally, and the Id particularly, would serve for Freud as a repository for the materialist, biological, and scientific aspirations he still shared with Brentano. Moreover, it resonated with a Darwinian understanding linking mind with body, reason with passion, and man with animal

In such a model 'intention' is the linking mechanism bridging the boundary between the conscious and the unconscious; 
"[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

Freud then, first split apart mental life into conscious and unconscious, and then rejoined them - he unified the mind - through his explanations and conceptions of intention. Intention itself, in the Freudian sense, becomes ultimately a question of eros and thanatos - Freud's Life and Death Instincts. That Freud postulated such metaphysical energies (as well as the metaphysical 'placeholder' of the unconscious) served to annoy and frustrate those very folk, of positivist and materialist bent, with whom Freud had originally aligned himself. And Freud's project to present psychoanalysis as science is regarded by Tauber - and science generally - as a failure (although of course, Tauber himself does believe in the value of psychoanalysis as a form of moral inquiry).

Those of you who know about such things, will I'd guess by this point, be concerned about my use of words 'intent and intentionality'. They are, you may well say, 'not the same thing'. And you may well be right. But there is a balance to be struck between meaning and definition. The danger is in allowing the definition of the terms to specify their meaning. No-one has privileged access to the essential nature of these mental processes and states. And everything that is thought or said about them - whether by Daniel C Dennett, John Searle, or even Franz Brentano himself - is after the fact of them. Because of this, special care must be taken so that definition is sculpted from meaning, rather than meaning cast from definition.

Furthermore, my own use of the terms reflects Tauber's, who offers no great extended philosophical discussion of 'intent as purpose' versus 'intentionality as representation'. It's not that he uses them completely interchangeably, but there is a looseness to his matching of Freud's 'intent' with Brentano's 'intentionality'. It's evident in the quote above. 

For me, both terms refer to 'mind-events' taking place in a sort of no-man's land - a 'space' between a chaotic primordial soup of possibilities and the world as we perceive it. Via these 'mind-events' (and mediated through the sort of psychological topology Freud described) form emerges from non-form. Pushed, I might claim that the sum total of intent and intentionality were equivalent to Nietzsche's 'Will to Power'. But let's leave Nietzsche out of it for the time being. Instead let's content ourselves with Tauber's claim that Freud straddled the two worlds of res cogitans and res extensa, consciousness and matter, subject and object'.

So, if we are content in assuming that both intent and intentionality share a similar 'metaphysical space' we are nevertheless left with the question of whether there is a meaningful distinction to be made between them. In the main text of Tauber's book an answer to this question didn't really jump out at me. But hidden in the endnotes was the following:
"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


Wollheim’s description concurs with my own thoughts. For me, intentionality refers to a fundamentally static mental state; an idea or conception that directs psychical energies (Freud's Life and Death Instincts) towards subject or object. The question of causality - of say, whether an idea exists prior to the object its about - is irrelevant. These events take place in the mental space. The object in this case (as with the subject) refers to some internal mental event - not the thing in itself (indeed the thing in itself does not have to exist in the material world). Contrasted against intentionality then, is intent which is a fundamentally dynamic mental state. It is a description of the movement of the psychical energies themselves. In this way, intent and intentionality are inseparable - and for all practical purposes irreducable. There is no flow, without a direction of flow, and there is no direction without a flow.

[ To extent the analogy - a river's value is in it's directing water from high to low ground; this is equivalent to the river's intentionality. The actual flow of the water expresses its intent. Without that intent - without the action of the water on the landscape - the course of the river would not exist. Likewise, without the course of the river directing the flow of water there wouldn't be a river either. We can only distinguish between these two things because when we look at a river - i.e from our perspective - its course seems static, its flow dynamic.
I could get into a load of stuff here about the One and the Many, Heraclitus Vs Parmenides, stasis Vs flux - I could even mention Robert Pirsig's misconceived (in my view) distinction between static and dynamic Value, but that would take us a long way from where we need to be ]

________________

In The Construction of Social Reality John Searle writes clearly and concisely - no mean feat given what he's trying to achieve. There is a short very readable section on what he means by 'collective intentionality' -  I've put the pages here (p.22-23), here (p.24-25) and here (p.26-27) for you. In essence, for Searle 'collective intentionality' is shared mental states such as beliefs, desires and intentions. Crucially for Searle. collective intentionality is irreducible to singular intentionality - within individual minds there must exist a 'We-concept' as well as an 'I-concept'. We are not simply multitudes, we are also One, because we all as individuals share the belief that we are One.

More broadly, Searle proposes social reality is created by the assignment of function, collective intentionality and constitutive rules. Searle's ideas have an obvious appeal to a social relations based approach to money; it helps to dovetail 'social relations' money into the more traditional functionalist and/or instituationalist accounts of money.

However, there is a fundamental problem with the specific idea of collective intentionality. It's something I stumbled on very early in my long essay. Simply put, it relates to whether you think intent - or intentionality - can exist within a group or whether it is something confined to individuals. As stated, Searle himself doesn't really see this as a problem (although he does recognise that others do). He doesn't believe that the notion of 'collective intentionality' requires us to postulate some idea of collective consciousness or something like it, at all. This paper by Dan Fitzpatrick strongly criticizes Searle's view of collective intentionality, claiming that it is self-defeating. Fitzpatrick asks how a social fact can be said to exist, for example Louis is a member of the communist party - with collective intentionality as a constitutive component of that fact - when Louis could joining with the intention of infiltrating the party organization to spy on it.

I followed a similar line of thought in an early draft of my long essay. I was considering the case of the Greek activists robber money-burners. Simple, I thought. The clear intention of this burning was as a radical subversive political act. This says something definite about the intentions of the perpetrator. But of course, it's not that easy (as any psychoanalyst will tell you). I wondered what other possibilities there may be. Perhaps the person who burnt the money really wanted to prove him or her-self to the leadership of the group? Perhaps they just wanted to impress a prospective sexual partner? Perhaps they just wanted an edgy story to tell their friends?

I think Searle might claim that both my example and Fitzpatrick's confuse intent and intentionality. My feeling - as stated in the previous section on Wollheim's quote - is that the terms are so tightly bound that any meaningful difference between them is perspective dependent and can't be imposed by strict definition, but instead must (hopefully eventually) emerge from imaginative re-conceptualizations of mental life (such as that given by psychoanalysis). 

_____________________________

So, let's return to Geoffrey Ingham's suggestion that 'collective intentionality' establishes, through its relationship with authority and sovereignty, what money is. These are his words from page 265 of the same paper:
"...money is produced by an authority in an act of sovereignty in which what is to count as money and how its myriad forms and media are to be recognized as belonging to the same class of phenomena is established by ‘collective intentionality’..."
As you'll have gathered, I'm critical of Ingham's failure (as I see it) to distinguish between currency and money. I don't think he does so successfully either in his in his dispute with Nigel Dodd or in The Nature of Money (2004) (My reviewMy Ramble). I'm now wondering if my problems with Ingham's story of money actually turn on 'collective intentionality'.

In my review I said that:
The first 85 pages of the book, sectioned together as 'Concepts and Theories' is quite simply the best appraisal and review of theories of money that I've ever read. Ingham shows clearly the inconsistencies of thought that have riddled the various academic schools of thought on Money across the centuries. He explains how economics has claimed possession of the money phenomenon, which in turn has led the work of other disciplines, in particular sociology, to be neglected.
I'd put my problem with how Ingham develops his story of money after page 85 down to the currency/money debate and more broadly to 'authority'. My older psychiatrist brother teases me about whether I have 'a problem with authority' - and I guess I do. In my moments of doubt about the currency/money debate, I'd thought that maybe it was just a distaste for authority making me rail against the credit/state theories of money and their variants. And Ingham himself has an authoritative voice. His story of money comes from years and years of reading, thinking and discussion at the highest level. In a 2009 paper, he recognizes that he is 'an "untouchable" sociologist in the caste of the Cambridge Faculty of Economics' who has 'every reason to take sides with the credit theorists.' (Notes on Revisiting the Credit Theory of Money 2009, p.3)

So, when Ingham proclaimed in The Nature of Money that;
"The very idea of money, which is to say, of abstract accounting for value, is logically anterior and historically prior to market exchange."
Geoffrey Ingham The Nature of Money (2004) p.25

I was, frankly, in a state of bliss. Finally, authority was seeing things my way. Not only does this sentence tally with my own view of money, it also serves as a devastating critique of any commodity theory of money - that is to say, theories which assume that value exists in things which are then exchanged with the aid of a universal equivalent (i.e. money), and that through this process of exchange, the sum of value somehow flourishes. It applies to both Marx's and Hayek's ideas about money. Ingham's dispute with Costas Lapavistas details extensively the arguments in respect of Marx. I was more interested in what it said about an Hayekian idea of money - for me, it really nailed the problem to the door.

When I put Ingham's quote on my blog  I actually tweeted the account @TakingHayekSeriously asking what they thought Hayek's response would have been to this - for Hayek market exchange must come before money. They said 'It does not engage Hayek' - I beg to differ.


Since then I've characterized a Hayekian ontology as  Value > Price > Money  and contrasted it against my ontology of  Value > Money > Price  (which is also how I interpret Ingham's quote).

But such earthly states of bliss tend to be short lived. And so it turned out with The Nature of Money. I'm still good friends with the work, but we drifted apart. In short, I felt Ingham cast the meaning of money from his definition of currency. And that although something like 'authority' - some notion of collective power, social force, or some shared conception of Oneness  - was necessary for currency to flourish, that wasn't true for Money (in Ingham's terms for 'the idea of money').

To be fair to Ingham, I should note before I go any further, that 'collective intentionality' is not a huge theme either in the journal articles nor in The Nature of Money itself - a couple of mentions in the papers and just one in the book. But - and you can see this in the quote above - it is presented, more or less, as fact, or at very least, as an appeal to the authority of an apparently consistent and coherent philosophy of social reality.

This is problematical for me.

For Ingham, collective intentionality becomes a process that sits atop 'abstract accounting for value' by which we all agree what money is. But collective intentionality - as described by Searle - is a primitive biological process that, Searle suggests, we share with other species. I can't see how such a process can sit atop any advanced mental conceptualization, let alone something considered as 'advanced' as the ability to account for value abstractly. Surely, collective intentionality would be constitutive of any such mental phenomena, rather than merely the process by which it is recognized?

As well as having problems with Ingham's use of Searle, I have problems with Searle too. Firstly, I don't share Searle's 'overall ontology'. I took a conscious choice against what Searle recognizes, that '[t]he truth is, for us, most of our metaphysics is derived from physics' - the little mantra to remind me of my choice is the opening line of Marc Shell's The Economy of Literature:
"Those discourses are ideological that argue or assume that matter is ontologically prior to thought." (1978) p.1
And secondly, following on this, my conception of money places it not just within the realm of 'social fact' (as currency) but also within the realm of 'brute fact' (as Money). In my imaginings, Money plays a role, secondary only to Value, in my 'overall ontology', The three axioms underscoring my writing on this blog are my attempt to express these ideas as clearly as I can.

But leaving aside my own issues with Searle, let me expand on the dissonance I see between Ingham's story of money and Searle's story of social reality.

Key here, is where Ingham's 'the very idea of money' sits, ontologically speaking. And, in particular, where it sits in relation to 'collective intentionality',

Ingham certainly considers these issues. However, I sense something contradictory in his story. We are told on the one hand that the idea of money is logically anterior to exchange, and on the other that money is established as a social fact via collective intentionality. We are being told that money exists as an idea in an individual mind, but that its social form is established by some form of collective belief. We still have to get from the mental event in the individual mind, to the collective belief in the social body - and exchange (or rather, specifically market exchange) is excluded as means of getting there. Ingham frames a question around this  - Can an inter-subjective scale of value (money of account) emerge from myriad subjective preferences? He claims that this goes to the very heart of a problem that distinguishes economics from sociology.

My reading of Searle's conception of 'collective intentionality' is that it denies notions inter-subjectivity and emergence. It attempts to be compatible with a physics ontology, its essentially materialistic and atomistic. Money is a social fact for Searle floating in the world of consciousness and mind, above all the matter, molecules, atoms and brute facts. But for Ingham, his paired to the bone 'moneyness', his very idea of money, his 'abstract accounting, they all sit much deeper. They're not floating above all the matter, molecules, and atoms. They're part of it.

And here there is the problem. When money becomes akin to maths - as I would argue it does for Ingham's most fundamental conception of money, it's true nature - where does that place it ontologically? Do we think that money then, must share something essential to its nature with maths? Is there a way in which money, like maths, seems to be written into, or drawn from the very structures of reality? I'm not averse to these ideas, but they begin to make money a 'brute fact' rather than an 'social one'. This is not compatible with Searle's idea of social reality.

But let's take a step back. Rather than making a leap to seeing Money as 'brute fact' (as indeed, I do) let's suppose instead another story; one more palatable to a more conventional general ontology. Let's say that the ability for abstract accounting arose as a critical evolutionary event in the development of the human psyche - put simply, at some point in pre-history mankind learned to count. After this event, and through the phenomena of authority and institution, the possibility arose for some form of money to take shape (or more precisely to Ingham's view, the possibility arose for us to recognize via collective intentionality the institutional form, established through authority, of our ability to account for abstract value).

Being mindful of Searle's specification of collective intentionality - so no social ether, we are 'brains in vats - Ingham has to tell a story that bridges the gap between that first Nietzschean 'price-making mind of man' and the first coin (from there we pretty much know the story). That story turns, of course, on authority. Some powerful king - perhaps some ancient Greek - who could not only impose his price making mind on his subjects through some system of accounting, but also happened across, or invented, or there simply emerged, coins.

For Ingham then, the nature of money is revealed by peeling back ontological layers. Starting from the core it looks like this;

Idea of Money > Authority > Collective Intentionality > Currency


So, do we take from this story that authority is formed by some different even more primitive 'collective intentionality'? Surely, the very idea of authority implies collective intentionality? We all need to believe who the boss is, for them to be the boss. IF I were to believe in Searle's notion of collective intentionality (I don't, but let's suppose) then the following would make more sense to me;

Idea of money > Collective Intentionality > Authority > Currency

But it's clear that this isn't what Ingham proposes. He suggests that in practice both the logical and the historical origins of money are to be found in the state (TNOM p.57) and that analytically money always has an authoritative foundation (Response p.271). And yet Searle is clear that for him 'collective intentionality' is an irreducible, biologically primitive, phenomenon. So really, if we adhere both to Searle, and to our supposition of money as dependent upon the evolutionary development of our brains reaching a critical point at which we gained the capacity to account abstractly for value (rather than my preferred, Money itself being a brute fact) Ingham's story should perhaps read;

Collective Intentionality > Idea of Money > Authority > Currency 

I think it is this confusion over - for want of a better term - the 'ontological chronology of money' that pushes Ingham to conflate money and currency (as Nigel Dodd claims). In Ingham's account ontological layers must be blurred, because their 'ordering' is inconsistent with their conception. This ordering of Collective Intentionality > Idea of Money > Authority > Currency which is what would be needed to maintain an idea that 'the price making mind of man' arose at some evolutionary point and is the basis for money, is inconsistent with the ordering Ingham expresses in his work, namely Idea of Money > Authority > Collective Intentionality > Currency. Without artificially conflating them through authority and collective intentionality, Ingham's notions of the idea of money and currency sit apart in separate ontological universes. We have a tower built on shaky foundations.

___________________

Anyway, I can do little more than criticize here. To offer some alternative story for money would require me to re-write my unfinished long essay in this post. It makes more sense for me just to get on with that. As I've said before on this blog, so much about money relates to the ancient philosophical question of the One and the Many, and I think this issue of collective intentionality - which involves getting from the individual to the social - certainly does. I've also had to consciously avoid in the writing of this post mentioning the Simmelian theme of 'money as a claim on Society' which figures strongly Nigel Dodd's recent work. This too is about money as existing within multitudes (many individuals) and also within a cohesive organic social body; or in my terms, about money being the AND between the One AND the Many.

_____________



To round off - and because I've not found a way of levering them into my essay - I thought I'd just share a couple of quotes with you from a book which has sat, sadly, unread for the most part, on my bookshelf for about 15 years. (Its said that often the most important books you have are the ones you haven't read - not sure that's true in this case but who knows?) Its a book called The Feeling of What Happens by the Portuguese-American neuroscientist/neurobiologist Antonio Damasio. Its a little off the beaten track for me these days, but back then there was still a small part of me that thought neuro-chemicals and the like might offer us some deeper understanding of ourselves.

Anyway, I thought what Damasio says first on intent, then intentionality, is interesting and offers a different perspective.

On Intent:
A simple organism made up of one single cell, say, an amoeba, is not just alive but bent on staying alive. Being a brainless an mindless creature, an amoeba does not know of its own organism's intentions in the sense that we know of our equivalent intentions. But the form of an intention is there, nonetheless, expressed by the manner in which the little creature manages to keep the chemical profile of its internal milieu in balance while around it, in the environment external to it, all hell may be breaking lose.
What I am driving at is that the urge to stay alive is not a modern development. It is not a property of humans alone. In some fashion or other, from simple to complex, most living organisms exhibit it. What does vary is the degree to which organisms know about that urge. Few do. But the urge is still there whether organisms know of it or not. Thanks to consciousness, humans are keenly aware of it.
Life is carried out inside a boundary that defines a body. Life and the life urge exist inside the boundary, the selectively permeable wall that separates the internal environment from the external environment. The idea of organism revolves around the existence of that boundary. In a single cell, the boundary is called a membrane. In complex creatures, like us, it takes many forms - for instance, the skin that covers most of our bodies; the cornea that covers the part of the eyeball that admits light; the mucosae that cover the mouth. If there is no boundary, there is no body. and if there is no body there is no organism. Life needs a boundary. I believe that minds and consciousness, when they eventually appeared in evolution, were first and foremost about life and the life urge within a boudary. To a great extent they still are." (p.136-137)
I had a few thoughts on reading this. I'll not develop them now but they were about;
(a) Freud and his gradual move from conceptualizing psychical energies as stemming from bodily sexual energies to a more metaphysical conception - Damasio conception of intent doesn't seem to rely on sexual energy (although if you do a quick search there's something of a debate around whether amoeba's have a sexual life or not);
(b) the idea of the Nietzschean 'Will to Power' and its relation to Damasio's 'life intent', and
(c) Thomas Crump and his Boundaries - I did an odd little ramble on this (here) - For Crump money has a ability to dissolve boundaries and he suggests that language is it's Trojan Horse. Think about Money as 'aspect of reality' (as I do) rather than a human invention and it relation to what Damasio says about boundaries is interesting.

On intentionality:

Telling stories, in the sense of registering what happens in the form of brain maps, is probably a brain obsession and probably begins relatively early both in terms of evolution and in terms of the complexity of neural structures required to create narratives. Telling stories precedes language, since it is, in fact, a condition for language, and it is based not just in the cerebral cortex but elsewhere in the brain and in the right hemisphere as well as the left.
Philosophers often puzzle about the problem of so-called 'intentionality,' the intriguing fact that mental contents are 'about' things outside the mind. I believe that the mind's pervasive 'aboutness' is rooted in the brain's storytelling attitude. The brain inherently represents the structures and states of the organism, and in the course of regulating the organism as it is mandated to do, the brain naturally weaves wordless stories about what happens to an organism immersed in an environment. (p.189)
I like the line 'weaving wordless stories'.

I should stop there, but...........

This might seem like quite a leap but what Damasio says here relates, to me, to explanations of the birth of currency. My take on that (as I touched on in my Cosmic Trigger piece in May), is that Herodotus's story of Gyges is the mind's 'weaved wordless story' (albeit reproduced in a form of words) of the birth of currency. Herodotus tells a sexy story about visibility and value, as if sexual dynamics are the best way by which we could understand this new phenomenon of coinage. But the sexual story is not only an instructive metaphor, its more. As Owen Barfield might say 'the ghost of concrete meaning'. Leaving aside whether what Herodotus recounts is historical fact - something we'll never know - his story represents a biologically primitive understanding of currency. It says that our sense of sexual being is connected - wordlessly - to Gygian gold. This is important because it gives primacy to passion over reason in the origin of money. So references to 'money of account', authority, institutions, must be understood in this context.

In other words, when Ingham says "The very idea of money, which is to say, of abstract accounting for value, is logically anterior and historically prior to market exchange." he is right, as far as he goes. Abstract accounting for value however, is not irreducible. The 'price-making mind of man' is plainly posterior to, and under the influence of, our sexual being. Making value visible - accounting for it - is for a human being, as Herodotus tried to tell us, first and foremost a sexual thing.

We find ourselves then, peeling off layers of 'biologically primitive' phenomena. But its not collective or singular intentionality that we find at the core. As Tauber points out with Freud, in the end we have to make some sort of metaphysical commitment. We have to imagine how it could be that the things we observe in the here and now are related to some conception of eternity and universality. For me, Brentano, Searle and Ingham all make that commitment too early. In my imaginings Value is the eternal and universal, Money is the means by which Value is knowable, and the Freudian 'Life and Death instincts' are the primary duality. Time, space, sex, and currency all come after this (in an ontological sense).

[To return Marc Shell's work on incest for a moment - as I said earlier my reading of it is that its related to the philosophical notion of the One and the Many. It is, if you like, our sexual being grappling wordlessly with a fundamental philosophical problem. There is a terrific section in Seaford's Money and the Early Greek Mind that I've read a few times now called Is Parmenidean Metaphysics influenced by money in which Seaford advances his ideas about the influence of money on thought. For me, Seaford is really asking what influence currency has on Parmenidean metaphysics, and furthermore I'd say that Parmedian metaphysics is in debt - to coin a phrase - to a the more biologically primitive 'sexual understanding' of the One and the Many extant in the incest taboo.]


______________________

* I'm missing one paper which I must get on my next trip to the LSE. Its the final response from Dodd to Ingham - so my reading is incomplete.


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.

X

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

"...science 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