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Essay/Part I. Towards a rational monetary system
PART I. TOWARDS A RATIONAL MONETARY SYSTEM
This Part I of our essay is to be placed within the discipline we call mercologics, that is «the market science», and is dedicated to the study of the monetary systems, with a will to attain the maximum objectivization of this matter.
But monetary systems, as a social reality, not a natural one, and on top of that totally invented by man, cannot be studied from a rigidly mercologic viewpoint. It is necessary to broaden our outlook and to embrace its evolution and its interrelation with the other multiple and complex realities and human creations, if we are to attain a complete and global understanding of the nature of the monetary systems.
For this reason, our scientific, objectivating approach to the monetary systems, will necessarily be of an interdisciplinary kind, in the sense that we shall resort to historical, ethnological, sociological... standards, in order to attain a reconstruction of the birth, development, transformation and social functions of these systems, besides the exclusively market ones.
1. Empiricism and «science»
The word science enjoys nowadays a great distinction, and, for this reason, it is used quite often improperly. It seems that, just saying that something is scientific justifies it.
But, besides that, science is a very extensive matter, it is a large sack where a great multitude of things can be put. There are the formal sciences and the empiric sciences, the experimental and the non-experimental sciences, natural sciences and social sciences...
In the face of this custom, we support the principle of always defining exactly the sort of knowledge which is under consideration every time.
We hope then to be forgiven for introducing some brief thoughts on the different approaches to the reality that man is able to control.
- In the first place there is the empiric or experiential knowledge, sprung up directly from the actual experience of the object (whether it is external or internal to the subject). It is an actual knowledge of the actual things we try out, without any further work of the abstract sort: in it the subject takes priority on the object, because he puts his whole being in the experience, in such a way that the same object is tested, and therefore known, in different ways by different people. There are, besides, two sorts of empiric knowledge: the phenomenal one —that is, referred to realities of physical appearance, tested through the senses— and the noumenal one —that is, referred to metaphysical realities, tested in a purely spiritual way—.
- In the second place, there is logic: actually this is not knowledge, as it is completely cut off from actual experience. Logic is rather an instrument to work on knowledge, of a completely auxiliary character, limited to supplying abstract structures and forms, void of actual contents, but which may later be filled with any empiric information. Therefore logic is neither objective —because it does not concern any actual object—, nor subjective, because it does not depend on any given subject—. It is simply instrumental.
- Finally we have the empiric, phenomenal pro-experimental knowledge, which includes two main phases: there is, in the first place, the application of the logic instrumentation to the data of the empiric-phenomenal knowledge. This is handled and processed according to logical operations, and goes from being an actual knowledge to being a knowledge abstracted from actual reality: it is no longer an odd and subjective experience, but the handling of these experiences through abstract operations which can be repeated by any subject. This implies a very important step towards objectivization, as it allows to leave out the subject. In the second phase, however, it is attempted to compare the knowledge abstracted from reality with reality itself: it is the pro-experimental phase. The more exact and complete this experimental test, the higher will be the degree of objectivity of the knowledge finally attained (even if it will never be possible to reach a 100% objectivization). The most objectivizing test is what we shall call experimentation, and consists of creating, in a voluntary and controlled way, the conditions in which experience will be able to demonstrate the validity of the hypothetic statements which we have obtained from reality in the previous phase. But this is not always possible, and often it is necessary to wait for these conditions to appear spontaneously in reality itself; we shall then call this an experiment.
After this summary, we must add that we limit the use of the word science to the following meaning, very exact and limited: science is «that part of the phenomenal pro-experimental empiricism which consists of the enunciation of laws implied in a given number of experimental tests, already carried out». For an easier reasoning, however, in this essay we shall use often the word science in its usual extensive and vague meaning; in this case, we shall always put it between quotation marks.
Having come thus far, we may ask ourselves: within which of the types of knowledge just described are to be put our musings on the monetary systems? The answer: any consideration on mercologic matters in general, and monetary matters in particular, may nowadays become empiric phenomenal, but it will be difficult for it to find an exact experimental test, for lack of a suitable metric system of the elementary phenomena under consideration.
As far as the less specifically mercologic aspects are concerned, more of the sociologic kind (history, social functions... of the monetary systems), it must be pointed out that these disciplines, in themselves, find great difficulties to become experimental.
2. The monetary system: a metric system
All along our approach to the monetary systems we shall discover that they are, basically, metric systems, perhaps the first ones invented by man, about 10,000 years ago. Their market purpose is to measure the elementary market phenomena, the changes in their main pervalency, their exchange value.
But on top of that they have, originally, another function of a great social importance: they are, from a given moment, documentary systems, through monetary instruments which leave a record of every elementary exchange carried out.
On finishing our trip through the history of the monetary systems, we reach a basic conclusion: that the monetary systems of the last 4,000 years have lost their main features previously pointed out: they have become anti-metric and anti-documentary.
Because of the serious market and social consequences of this fact, it is an urgent task to substitute the present monetary system through one more rationally suited to what should be its specific function. Being inspired by the primitive monetary systems, we shall suggest a modernization to take advantage of the modern telematic technology: we shall define again a very agile and feasible monetary system, for a rational management and a metric-documentary knowledge, and therefore also pro-experimental, of the market.