Invention of Money-Brent Adkins

In order for man to evolve, he had to create trade so that he could excel in one occupation, such as fishing, and exchange his goods and services, fish, with others who had goods and services he needed, such as carpentry. This system benefited those involved by allowing its members to do one thing well, instead of everything mediocrely, and allow other members to fulfill other needs, which yielded a community where those involved relied on each other for fulfilling those needs. But, in order to remove limitations on trade, man had to create a long-term representative of a product or service’s worth. This spawned currency, which evolved from rare materials, such as gold, to computer code, the current, most progressive form of currency. However, in order to create a currency, the people of the communities using this currency had to decide upon one. This led to the creation of government, which allowed individuals from the community to represent the community as a whole when making decisions that would affect the community. Just like the power of the currency created, the government’s power was rooted in the faith of its community.

While America’s monetary system, along with the systems of most modern nations, may seem ludicrous when pondered, due to its abstractions, it is only as foolish as a government itself. Both are abstractions created by man that use both tangible things and abstractions to represent abstract ideas; government (abstract) is made up of people (tangible) who represent our individual ideals (abstract) in a society, and monetary systems (abstract) are made up of objects (tangible) and code (abstract) that represent our individual worth (abstract) in a society. These representatives exist to simplify the lives of the individuals in communities, instead of having everyone vote on every bill, or having a beet farmer find enough people who need beets and can fulfill his needs in return. Code itself was invented to make trading even easier by creating a way to pay others immediately, from next-door to across the planet, by using banks, which keep track of our intangible wealth. While the change from tangible to intangible currency does further abstract an already abstract system, it also speeds up trading and makes international trade easier, which is beneficial to traders, such as the fisherman and beet farmer.

Abstractions serve a purpose, even if they appear convoluted. Having politicians represent us in government and using coins and code as currency may remove tangibility from our daily lives, but it also simplifies and quickens them. Of course, completing online votes for issues regarding society and using gold as a currency would give citizens greater say in what a country does and is and give currency its tangibility back. Whether or not abstract representatives have run their course is unknown, what is known is that they have allowed for the world to become what it is today, at least at a faster rate.

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4 Responses to Invention of Money-Brent Adkins

  1. davidbdale says:

    Thanks for the early post, Brent. It gives me a chance to comment (and you a chance to make revisions if you wish) before the deadline. It may be useful for your classmates, too, to look over both your remarks and mine.

    P1. Ordinarily I comment as I read, sentence by sentence, but in this case I read the entire first paragraph through because I was interested to see whether you think evolution is intentional. Your first sentence indicates you do. Man had to create communities in order to evolve? He had to create trade in order to create communities? What was the motivation to create communities? the motivation to evolve?

    Do my questions make sense? I’m not criticizing your writing, which is just fine. I do want you to consider your logic though. You might be confusing cause with effect. See if this makes sense: in order for a man with fish to get his house shingled, he had to find a shingler who wanted fish. He doesn’t want to create a community; he wants to stay dry. The community develops when he has to interact with more than one person to gets his needs met. Barter creates community in that way. Currency destroys community because he can sell his fish to one person only, and spend what he gets in return to fill his other needs.

    All I’m really saying is that nobody set about deliberately to create communities or to evolve, so man did not start trading in order to create community.

    So, what is meant by wanting “to create a more fluid and progressive society”? Is that the desire to remove the limitations imposed by having only fish to trade? A respected currency accomplishes that nicely, by converting my fish instantly into something I can more easily spend. It doesn’t automatically lead to “abstract” currency though. Pieces of gold whose weight determines their value would still do that job well. What is it that gold does not accomplish that drives the next mutation? A desire for fluidity isn’t quite intelligible, but many other answers will serve you here.

    Once again, I’m not criticizing your writing (there’s plenty of time for that later! 🙂 ). I just want you to express your good ideas as well as you possibly can. Good writing is, first and foremost, clear thinking.

    You have a misplaced modifier in your final sentence, Brent, because there’s no reasonable noun or pronoun to be modified by “growing up in modern America.” Your sentence makes it sound as if money grew up in America.

    P2. I don’t think, in your first sentence-and-a-half, you can logically say that very real concepts are anything other than abstract, Brent. It would make sense to observe that concepts can be represented tangibly, or that physical realities can be presented abstractly.

    After your intro, you cite government (an abstraction) made up of people (tangible objects) representing values (abstractions). And monetary systems (abstraction) made up of objects (objects) and code (abstraction) representing the value (abstraction) of individuals (objects).

    You seem to want to claim that our worth is objective and tangible but represented abstractly. But isn’t the whole point of this conversation that all worth is abstract?

    Please believe me, I admire your analogy, Brent. That legislators represent the needs of large constituencies is a very nice abstraction. And we certainly expect our government to spare us having to make a thousand decisions every day, the way we might if we had to find a thousand customers for fish who owned the thousand things we might find valuable.

    Your abstractions don’t seem to serve the same purpose, though. Do we develop currencies in order to function as a unit? Yes, the country can incur debt, as a country, in dollars, as measured against other currencies, but did we invent dollars to benefit the country? or to simplify fish buying?

    Be careful not to equate abstraction with illogicality.

    P3. Hmmm. I wonder if we can frontpedal into a society that accurately represents its people? Couldn’t we text our votes on breaking issues directly to a national database and decide in real time as a true democracy whether or not to send troops into Mali?

    Maybe that intermediate abstraction we call representative government has served its purpose like fat slabs of shiny stone that do their job just as well on the bottom of the ocean? Just thinking out loud 🙂 .

    Please let me know if I’m holding your first draft to too high a standard, Brent, or whether this open-ended commentary approach is valuable to you . . . or both. (I think for most writers it’s helpful to hear how a very engaged reader reacts to the text while reading it.) You clearly have skills worth engaging, Brent. I’d like to do it right.

    • adkins70 says:

      Thank you for the prompt response and critique Professor Hodges. It is very helpful and by no means holding me to too high of a standard. The more you deconstruct and evaluate my writing, the more I can find to improve upon and learn from in order to become a better writer, so I truly appreciate how in depth you’ve gone. As you can see, developing, polishing, and presenting my ideas is where I tend to fall short, so I hope to fix that as much as I can over the course of the semester. Once again, thank you.

  2. adkins70 says:

    In order for man to evolve, he had to create trade so that he could excel in one occupation, such as fishing, and exchange his goods and services, fish, with others who had goods and services he needed, such as carpentry. This system benefited those involved by allowing its members to do one thing well, instead of everything mediocrely, and allow other members to fulfill other needs, which yielded a community where those involved relied on each other for fulfilling those needs. But, in order to remove limitations on trade, man had to create a long-term representative of a product or service’s worth. This spawned currency, which evolved from rare materials, such as gold, to computer code, the current, most progressive form of currency. However, in order to create a currency, the people of the communities using this currency had to decide upon one. This led to the creation of government, which allowed individuals from the community to represent the community as a whole when making decisions that would affect the community. Just like the power of the currency created, the government’s power was rooted in the faith of its community.

    While America’s monetary system, along with the systems of most modern nations, may seem ludicrous when pondered, due to its abstractions, it is only as foolish as a government itself. Both are abstractions created by man that use both tangible things and abstractions to represent abstract ideas; government (abstract) is made up of people (tangible) who represent our individual ideals (abstract) in a society, and monetary systems (abstract) are made up of objects (tangible) and code (abstract) that represent our individual worth (abstract) in a society. These representatives exist to simplify the lives of the individuals in communities, instead of having everyone vote on every bill, or having a beet farmer find enough people who need beets and can fulfill his needs in return. Code itself was invented to make trading even easier by creating a way to pay others immediately, from next-door to across the planet, by using banks, which keep track of our intangible wealth. While the change from tangible to intangible currency does further abstract an already abstract system, it also speeds up trading and makes international trade easier, which is beneficial to traders, such as the fisherman and beet farmer.

    Abstractions serve a purpose, even if they appear convoluted. Having politicians represent us in government and using coins and code as currency may remove tangibility from our daily lives, but it also simplifies and quickens them. Of course, completing online votes for issues regarding society and using gold as a currency would give citizens greater say in what a country does and is and give currency its tangibility back. Whether or not abstract representatives have run their course is unknown, what is known is that they have allowed for the world to become what it is today, at least at a faster rate.

  3. davidbdale says:

    That’s a fascinating rewrite, Brent—highly complex and intriguingly told. I love it in part and am perplexed by parts and can’t wait, though I have to, to shred it again for the sport of it and because I think I can help again. I hope this is fun for you too because I can see we’re going to go back and forth as often as you’re willing. Very interesting work. 🙂

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