Notes on Theology of Money – Chapter 1

Modern thought in its Cartesian heritage has distinguished two types of power namely physical power (mechanics) and human power (will).  Politics normally requires both conceptions.  Goodchild adds a third saying that the political is also characterized by an ‘energy’ that cannot be reduced to either which “guides and authorizes the action of will on will” (30).  This power must be accounted for (in political theology) otherwise it will become totalitarian under the veil of the ‘democratic subject’.

Modern thought has been humanistic in three related senses. 1) The human is constituted as independent from the divine 2) Th human subject is constituted through rational self-reflection and self-determination 3) The human subject demonstrates mastery over external nature.  The three major domains of mastery have been science, technology, and economics.  All three are proving to be presently unmasterable.  We are learning to face the reality that the human subject is profoundly limited in its sphere of influence and control.  But impotence “is one thing that must be excluded a priori from the representation of the sovereign subject” (34).

Because sovereign self-determination is only a political theory it must evoke “violence, severance, suspension, negation, or flight . . . to demonstrate the reality of power” (35).  For this to have any effect it must act in accordance with or overcome other human and non-human forms of power.  Goodchild offers an ‘alternative direction of thought’ away from the modern conception of mastery. In which “it is possible to enter the mediation of the concrete” (37).  This is an attempt to think imminently.  “It is here that a truly incarnate political theology is to be sought” (37).

The conversion of thought towards concrete reason, by means of a consideration of these political bodies, has a dual effect: it changes the content of reason, turning away from laws and first principles toward concrete problems and mediations, and it changes the nature of reason, since reason no longer stands over and above the concrete but must itself pass through concrete mediation (38).

Thought and inquiry must pass through bodies for it to gain substance.

As Jacques Lacan once said, “Man thinks with his object.” Contemporary philosophy, political theory, and theology can make no further progress without consideration of money (38).

Property, sovereignty, and credit become united in the body of money.  Money participates in and brings together the realms of the nonhuman, the human, and belief and desire.  In modernity, money is the political body par excellence. . . . Money effectively symbolizes the value of property, the sovereignty of freedom, and the power of desire (39).

These observations lead to a radical questioning of how these fundamental aspects of life relate and are conditioned by each other in relation to money.

In these relations power in the form of capital has been accepted as the primary mode of organization and production, even more primary than what is ‘natural’ (agriculture).  In light of a reality (money) that has become both creator and object of value the question is then asked,

What political bodies can still be created that will attribute a different hue or gravity to all particular things represented under their light?


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