This was originally published on Philosophical Disquisitions.
Money is accordingly a system of mutual trust, and not just any system of mutual trust: money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever created.
Money has long fascinated me, and not for the obvious reasons. Although I’d like to have more of it, my interest is largely philosophical. It is the ontology of money that has always disturbed me. Ever since I was a child, collecting old coins and hoarding my pocket money, I’ve wondered why it is that certain physical tokens can function as money and others cannot. What is money made from? What is it grounded in? Why do certain monetary systems fail and others succeed?
For many years, I set these questions aside, convinced that I had a basic grasp of how they could be answered.… Read the rest