The Philosophy of Money by Georg Simmel

Words: 739
Topic: Philosophy

The Philosophy of Money was written by Georg Simmel and first published in the year 1900. Being a Philosopher, he had students learning under him. Like others before him and after him he thought through the mysteries of life. His main subject was about man and money. In the book, he chronicled the historical development of man’s trade. At first, man used to exchange commodities with others so that he could get what he wanted from the market. The barter trade could lead to some people not getting a quantifiable value for goods and services.

Then value was transferred and attached to particular objects like the cowry shells. Money came into being as a means to quantify the goods traded. It has remained the primary means of knowing the value of something or someone. It has also classified people into classes. There are the rich and the poor in the society. It even surprises Georg on what money can do. People have taken control over others because of money. The purpose of writing this book was to provide an in-depth insight into how the modern society has developed the urge for funding.


Georg Simmel (1858-1918), is one of the major representatives of German sociological tradition. His writing has influenced many people and institutions. The book, the Philosophy of money, was first published in 1900.

Simmel had a unique insight about funds. His understanding is as relevant today as it was hundreds of years ago. It is one of Simmel’s greatest works. He saw money as an agent that helped the society to solve social and financial problems.

The social effects of money

It is good to say that the state of man’s independence relies on what he is free from or tried. Simmel examines man’s needs and his dependability on those needs. The uses of money and transactions have kept on increasing. As a result, the independence of man has decreased. The quantifiable monetary value controls the mind of man.

The freedom from money has kept on decreasing with time. Due to this, the freedom on how to reach man’s varying goals has also increased. With the money, one can stay in control of his dreams and aspirations. He can use it to get whatever he wants. His freedom of choice, paradoxically, increases.

Money and value

Man uses time in the achievement of his goals. Scarcity, sacrifice and difficulties that help in getting objects also show how valuable they are to people. Previously, people used to exchange goods for goods. The barter trade allowed trade to be unfair on all grounds. With the introduction of money, all the things became expressible in terms of their monetary value (Simmel, 2011).

Economic exchange is now a form of social interaction. Man made money a priority in everything. The relationships between people changed because of money. Today money has gained more importance than before. It has turned out to be the center of trade and rationalization.

Georg Simmel draws his inspiration from other Sociologists like Marx, Kant and the likes of Weber, among many. But his style exceeds them because of his thoughtfulness. He has a far more reflective narrative about his text.

Money has created significant injustices and inhumane activities. He emphasizes that money is more of an idea that man creates in his mind. Unlike Ernst Cassirer, among others who in their later writings tried their fascinations about money.

Simmel states that in as much as money can have proper uses; it can also be used to harm others. People, who live for the primary purpose of accumulating it, will do anything to obtain and keep it.

Another issue about money is that it adds value to something or someone. If the money ceases to exist in the world, then it will be impossible to find some other quantifying thing to replace it.

Ideally, the book is as relevant today as it was one hundred years ago. It explores the central theme of money with a great explanation. It first educates us about how trade has evolved from the use of other goods and currency.

Sociology is the study of social human behavior and its developments. Using his dialectical approach, Simmel gives his analytical study of man and money. His findings help us to discover that in contemporary society, man and money are inseparable. Money makes the man who he is because of the trust he places in it.


Simmel, G. (2011). The philosophy of money. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.