Our western civilization started at Euphrates and Tigris in Babylon. Water and ore are the basis of every civilization because water is essential for agriculture and transport and ore enables the production of tools. If more food can be produced, the separation of work appears. Not everybody has to work in the fields, others start cities, trade and a state structure is developed. The exchange of food against tools takes place through trade. First, goods are exchanged for goods. Then, 4`000 BC the first gold coins appear and trade emerges as we know it today. Similar developments can be seen later in Egypt, Greece and then in Rome. Money has made it possible for man to trade beyond his own horizon. With a purse of gold coins or even a bill of exchange one can travel more easily than with the corresponding amount of wheat on his back.
Money is first and foremost a means of exchange in commerce, and then, as merchants accumulate it and begin to work with it, it also assumes the function of value-bearer. The purse of money becomes the capital which is easily exchanged for goods or it remains on the balance sheet as an asset, eg as a short-term capital of the trader or as a long-term capital of the producer. It should be noted that not man but the exchange of goods has led to money. Albeit developed in the human brain, the thought process was triggered by the exchange of goods. A cow is no longer a sack of wheat but a certain amount of money which can buy a cow or a sack of wheat. With the appearance of trade and subsequently of money, man begins to think beyond his own horizon and acquires the ability of abstraction which is the beginning of our western civilisation.
Alfred Sohn-Rethel. Through the abstract nature of the act of exchange, the goods which form its object are placed in an identical form, in which they are all comparable as mere quantities and become objects of an interdependent market. …
Our historically timeless thought process has its historical basis in the structure of the exchange of goods. The generalisation of rational thought extends over all the formations of the production of goods, from the beginning of the Iron Age in Greek antiquity to the onset of the atomic age and electronics. (source)
Friedrich Nietzsche: The feeling of guilt, the personal obligation to resume the course of our investigation, has, as we have seen, originated in the oldest and most primitive relationship of persons which exists, in the relation between buyer and seller, creditor and debtor: for the first time person met person, person measures against person. No civilisation, however small, has been found, in which nothing of this kind would be noticed. To set prices, to measure values, to formulate equivalents, to exchange – this has preoccupied, to a certain extent, the very first thinking of man, that it is in a certain sense thought itself. (source)
Author: Dr. Flurin von Albertini