Does money exist?

Does money exist? Bills and coins exist, but these are not money itself. If you physically possessed all the bills and coins in the world then you still wouldn’t have all the money in the world. So what is money? Where do we find money?

Do banks have the money? If you go to a bank you can get bills and coins. First you have to have money in the bank to get bills and coins out. How do they know if you have money in the bank? They check the computer. Does the computer have the money? If you take a computer out of a bank will you have money? No the money is not in any of the individual computers, it is in the computer network. But if you unplug all of the computers that make up the network and remove them, then you still wont have the money. So where is the money?

Well computers run on electricity. So if you take all the electricity in the world would you have the money? No. You would have a lot of power, but still no money.

So where is money? Does money exist?

Money exists merely as an idea. It is an idea that we can measure with numbers and store in electron patterns in computer networks, but still just an idea. You can never hold money in you hand. You can hold coins and bills but there only point to money and are not actually money itself.
We cannot see money itself. We cannot hear it. We cannot smell, touch or taste it. Yet we all act as if money does exist. People talk about waiting money or having money, but what do they want and what do they have.

If you have a millions dollars in the bank then you don’t have any discrete object in the bank. You could go to the bank and cash out. You could get 1 million dollars worth of bills. Or you could use the million dollars while it was still in the bank to get a millions dollars worth of good and services. Still you can never get money itself.

Money is an example of an idea with is real yet has no physically sensible qualities. Money doesn’t exist. Except that it does.

I really think your over complicating the issue, money is subjective. Its only a currency that we accept to simplify trade. Since its like saying $1 is the same as a litre of milk, or 1/2 an ounce of beef. Since you would never trade beef for milk, money is the intermediary. So what is money? its all subjective thats why we use metals like gold and silver which are ‘hard’ currency something finite and a limited resource. However paper money is infinite in nature, something created and manipulated. This is why the Federal Reserve worries me so much since it is independently owned by a cluster of private banks and not the American government as widely assumed.


I know that I am being a bit odd, but please bear with me.

What IS money? Is it an idea alone or does it exist?

If it does exist then WHERE does money exist in time-space?

Answer me these questions and I will be happy.

Money doesn’t exist its a concept there is no actual money because money is a representation of currency and we attatch a value to it. But it only exists in conception and not in a physical form. Its merely an idea that we need something as an intermediary for trade. It doesn’t matter what for the currency takes “debit” or “gold” as long as the currency exists and behind that currency is the “money” of which you speak because there is no real money just currency money is the idea or concept…

We cannot simplify this too much. We cannot say, “There is no money,” because then how is everyone going to pay their rent at the end of the month?

We can use money to point to another word, but that doesn’t solve the problem. If we say that money is just a representation of currency then we have to ask, “What is currency?” This is not a solution. Then we could ask, “Does currency exist? Where in time-space do we locate currency?”

If money lacks any physical form then it does not exist. But it does exist.

If you say money is currency and currency is money then it’s a tautology, circular reasoning. What is the money behind the currency? What is the currency behind the money?

We can talk about what money/currency does. It provides a medium for the exchange of good and service. What is it??? What is money/currency?

This is not a philosophical issue, purely an economical issue.

Before money was around there was the barter system in which a basket of coconuts may be traded for a bunch of bananas and so on. The problem with this is that there needed to be “mutual want” in order for trade to work.

Gold standard fast became popular as gold was a good with real worth, therefore people felt it was safe. Slips of paper could be issued at this time that entitled someone to go and collect gold from a bank or merchant, instead of carrying around gold. This is where the idea of paper money came from.

Until the 1970’s, most countries would swap gold in exchange for “paper money.”

In order for a medium of exchange to be effective it must have a quantity of important characteristics such as durability, divisibilty etc.

The only reason that a worthless piece of paper is money is because people agree that it is. An entire world of people have all agreed that money is worth. Therefore it is. If the entire world of people refuted the concept, then the physical notes and coins would become entirely worthless.

So, money does exist in a physical sense. It is merely the agreement of people that money has worth that means it does.

Does that answer your question?

Alas this fails to answer my question.

You address the matter of how bills and coins function to represent money. You also talk about what money DOES, it provides a medium of exchange for good and services.

Neither of these explain what is money/currency?

Now bills and coins exist. We can empirically validate the existence of bills and coins. What about money itself?

Bills and coins were once a symbol for gold, or other precious metals. We can also empirically validate the existence of precious metals.

Now coins and bills represent money itself. What is money itself?

We could define money/currency as an agreement. Does an agreement have physical existence? Where do we find an agreement in time-space?

Money/currency sounds like the biggest game of make-believe ever! We are going to pretend that money/currency exists and use it as a medium of exchange for good and services. While at the same time a direct awareness that we are all playing-pretend gets eliminated.

People don’t just pretend that money exists they believe that money exists. Yet money has no empirical existence.

So still I wonder, what is money?

No, a medium of exchange is not simply what money ‘does’, it is what money ‘is’.

Just like bonds, bills, it is a means whereby we are able to buy and sell.

Any attempt to accord some metaphysical description to such a concept willl inevitably run into problems because money is not itself a metaphysical concept! It is, as ahs been said a ‘medium’, for all said purposes, a physical medium (it’s just that it happens not to be so in our complex modern world)!

Now here we have another possible answer.

Money is a medium. Same questions apply. What is a medium? Were do we locate a medium in time-space?

A record, a cd, a casette tape can all be a medium for music.
A wire can be a medium for the electricity.

Music is a soundwave.
Electricity is just electrons bumping into each other.

Now bills and coins can be a medium for money, but for what is money a medium?

Money is the medium for energy. I in thistopic my model to explain it all :slight_smile: .

Money~time~energy (MTE).

It takes MTE to built this computer, which enables us to communicate like this. While MTE is flowing we could earning some money for example with telemarketing, or finding a way to create spam, or writing a book or so.
It takes MTE to produce the foods we eat, the products we need, and the objective is to achieve more MTE, by the ability to let people work for you.

How do you like that?

Money is a promise made by a trading community to give you something of value in the future. Money exists in the same way that a promise exists. You trade your labor for a promise, and later trade that proimise for goods. This is called a split-barter exchange which is more flexible than direct barter. Having more flexible ways to allocate resources hopefully results in a better allocation.

So something as simple as an IOU is money. The paper the IOU is written on isn’t money, but the promise represented by the IOU is money. Bills and coins are just fancy IOUs except that they don’t promise that a particular person will give you a particular thing. They promise that someone within the trading community will give you something that is currently believed to be the same value as the quantity of money you have.

Here’s a good site that talks about what money is and how it works

LOL! The first question on ILP that objectivism can answer! Money represents unconsumed goods.


Not necessarily. Imagine a barber and a mechanic who trade haircuts for car repairs. The barber gives a haircut and the mechanic gives him an IOU (money) for some car repairs. It’s actually the promise of future labor, not a stockpile of existing unconsumed goods that backs up the IOU.

You could argue that future labor is like an unconsumed good, but imagine a farmer who buys seed with an IOU to be paid at the end of the season when he sells his crops. The money exists before the goods are created.

Yes, money does imply the parties expect at some point in the future there will be unconsumed goods to trade, but it does not imply an existing stockpile of unconsumed goods.

Good argument. Ok, if i have money, it should mean that i have produced more than i have consumed. I have a promissory note on the future production of others. maybe my unconsumed goods don’t exist yet,

as you say,

but i have a note in my hands which represents a promise as you say. so money is something that kind of binds us together with promises and is representative of energy.

Sounds like futures which were invented in Japan for rice crops not yet in existence.

Rather, money is a modality. More below.

Money exists in its physical representations (money, bits and bytes etc.)
and as a structure (rules and resources) drawn upon AND reproduced by individuals in their daily conduct.

The physical representations (also books that mention money, banks, anything that tells us that money exists which is corporeal) serve to make the structure (which doesnt “exist” but is only present when an individual draws upon it… instantiates it) stable.

The physical things obviously exist in time and space.

And individuals who are drawing on the structure, while they are doing so, money exists in time and space as a practice…

So money exists as the following things:

  1. physical objects/representations

  2. a rule-resource structure that people draw upon and reproduce in action

  3. individual practices in time-space that are facilitated by drawing upon no. 2.

  4. exists in the obvious sense.

  5. is absent in time and space but can be observed as a property of a social system and individual’s consciousness.

  6. exists in the tangible sense but only for short individiual instances.

The Xanderman. Please feel free to give me any of your money which you feel doesn’t exist. :smiley:

Money as modality. Now there’s an interesting idea. It seems the further the discussion continues the more general the terms become, but also more essential to describing money. Money represents objects. If those objects cease to be present, money starts to lose it’s value. You also state that money is

Which means that in order for money to have value, people must work cooperatively within defined systems. This comes close to the earlier ‘promise’ definition involving both promisees and promisors. One thing that your definition does not cover, however, is labor. One can see it in the ‘medium of energy’ definition. Obviously some labor produces goods, but what about services, like getting a haircut? I liked your allusion to time-space, allowing for futures trading, depreciation, trade-deficits and the like.

Please, call me xanderman, or just xander.

I will. Right now I feel as though the money that I “have” does exist. As soon as I feel that it doesn’t then I will send to you. I will also not prohibit you from convincing me that money doesn’t exist.

(PayPal says that I can use to to send money to anyone with an email address however, I am not sure how the logistics of it work.)

LOL! :sunglasses:

If someone were to say, “Show me your money” I would have to point to my 2 houses, my car, my job, my books. In a limited sense, money is valuation. I would not take it to the extremes that say, Ayn Rand has, but it seems that man the measurer must evaluate and enumerate everything according to this medium also.

Ah yes but your houses, car, and books all clearly exist. At least they exists as much as anything we encounter on a daily basis.

Then there is another strange beast, the marketplace, where the value of goods are decided. What you think a book or house is worth might be different from what you can get for it in the marketplace. Then we get into sentimental values. The battered and worn copy of a book might have more value to me then I could ever match if I tried to sell it.

Money is part of a game of pretend where there is a forced rather than a willing suspension of disbelief. I never decided to participate in this game. I am obligated to play it if I want to participate in society. There are few if any places where I can escape this game. Least I give it all up and live in a shed in the woods.

To be a hunter-gather with the most intimate connection with the land, the source of my food, the source of my life.

Instead I am an American, the source of my food is the Grocery Store and places like McDonalds. Little wonder that I have no connection to the world. I am divorced from it and insolated.

I serve a machine, a company, which gives me my money, directly deposited into my bank. From which, with electronic bill payment, I transmit this ‘money’ to my creditors. I don’t have a salary. I have an allowance.

(Ah maybe one day I will awaken as a giant cockroach and then my Kafkaesque distopia will be complete. ) :stuck_out_tongue:

i dont see labour and money as necessarily connected. labour can occur without money’s tructures being drawn upon.

if someones labour is done because of money, or is described in terms of money etc then that fits in with the deffinition:

the labour is either instantiated or described with recourse to the structure (the rules and resources).

seen as a modality of action, money could (and does) recursively organise any number of practices… labour being a key one, but not an exclusive feature of money.

for a description of labour-power, other modalities would have to be explored, and other structures mobilised… and, for instance, political power (dialecticaly ordered as a modality) would also be a key element (people labouring in a 12th century prison do so not because of money… in a modern prison the problem is similar but also involves money… etc)
or… students labouring for good marks are doing so because of a structure which is influenced (recursively and reflexively lol) by that of money, but not the money structure in-itself…