This paper searches early Greek texts (Homer, Herakleitos, Parmenides, Plato) for the genesis of the idea of the individual mind or soul as a unitary site of consciousness, and explores the relation of this genesis to the first monetisation in history. Money simultaneously promotes the isolated autonomy of the individual and provides a model (the unification of diversity by semi-abstract substance) that shapes both the unity of individual consciousness and the presocratic conception of the cosmos as constituted by a single semi-abstract substance. The argument confirms and develops the importance accorded by Alfred Sohn-Rethel to the ‘real abstraction’ of commodity-exchange in the origins of Greek philosophy.
B2 in Diels and Kranz1951. There is scholarly disagreement about the precise words used by Anaximenes but the general sense is almost certainly his.
Seaford2004pp. 165–9. In a passage quoted at length by Marx (Marx 1976 p. 253) to illustrate that ‘the movement of capital is limitless’ Aristotle distinguishes economics from chrematistics. The former is limited to procuring true wealth i.e. use-values ‘for the amount of property that is needed for procuring a good life is not unlimited’. But the making of money (chrematistics) is unlimited (Politics 1.8–9 in Aristotle 1984b). This corresponds to Marx’s distinction between C-M-C and M-C-M1.
Laks and Most (eds.)1997pp. 16–17.
Seaford2004p. 227 n. 49.
Charles Taylor (Taylor1989p. 124) argues that for Plato this excluded the development of the modern sense of the inwardness (internalisation) of the self in which the order involved in the paramountcy of reason is made not found and of which the representative figure is Descartes.