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The Capitalist Schema

Time, Money, and the Culture of Abstraction

Christian Lotz

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Christian Lotz argues that Immanuel Kant’s idea of a mental schematism, which gives the human mind access to a stable reality, can be interpreted as a social concept, which, using Karl Marx, the author identifies as money. Money and its “fluid” form, capital, constitute sociality in capitalism and make access to social reality possible. Money, in other words, makes life in capitalism meaningful and frames all social relations. Following Marx, Lotz argues that money is the true Universal of modern life and that, as such, we are increasingly subjected to its control.

As money and capital are closely linked to time, Lotz argues that in capitalism money also constitutes past and future “social horizons” by turning both into “monetized” horizons. Everything becomes faster, global, and more abstract. Our lives, as a consequence, become more mobile, “fluid,” unstable, and precarious. Lotz presents analyses of credit, debt, and finance as examples of how money determines the meaning of future and past, imagination, and memory, and that this results in individuals becoming increasingly integrated into and dependent upon the capitalist world. This integration and dependence increases with the event of electronics industries and brain-science industries that channel all human desires towards profits, growth, and money. In this way, the book offers a critical extension of Theodor Adorno’s analysis of exchange and the culture industry as the basis of modern societies. Lotz argues—paradoxically with and against Adorno—that we should return to the basic insights of Marx’s philosophy, given that the principle of exchange is only possible on the basis of more fundamental social and economic categories, such as money.

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Lexington Books
Pages: 191Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7391-8246-8 • Hardback • September 2014 • $84.00 • (£54.95)
978-1-4985-0462-1 • Paperback • June 2016 • $39.99 • (£24.95)
978-0-7391-8247-5 • eBook • September 2014 • $39.99 • (£24.95)
Christian Lotz is associate professor of philosophy at Michigan State University.
Chapter 1. The Capitalist Schema
Chapter 2. The Capitalist Thing
Chapter 3. Money
Chapter 4. The Temporality of Money
Chapter 5. The Abstractions of Money
Conclusion
The Capitalist Schema is a significant intervention into current reinterpretations of Marx’s theory of value. Eschewing the Hegelian heritage of much value-form theory, Christian Lotz gives a Kantian interpretation of the law of value. This states that the money form works along schematic lines. Money, for Lotz, establishes the conditions of possible experience and the social thinghood of objects. The book gives the clearest exposition yet of the real abstraction by which all things enter into relation with all other things. In so doing, it surpasses earlier attempts to outline the schematic quality of the capitalist exchange relation. Lotz’s is the most sophisticated and extensive development of the link between the law of value and the Kantian schematism yet given. Adopting critical distance from the early Frankfurt School, it represents a brilliant advancement of the theoretical project begun by Alfred Sohn-Rethel (1971).
Marx & Philosophy Review of Books


At its philosophical core, Lotz’s very fine book is a work of social epistemology. . . .Lotz’s work succeeds both as an interpretation of Marx, and as an original thesis about social epistemology that draws our attention to the money form, in particular. Money determines what exists in capitalist societies, and the consequences are enormous. Let us explore them.
Radical Philosophy Review


This is, without question, an immensely significant contribution to the literature. I regard this book as one of the two or three most stimulating contributions to Marxian philosophy I have ever read.
Tony Smith, Iowa State University


In this provocative study, Lotz rereads Adorno with and through Marx to develop a truly philosophical political economy. Arguing for a chronocritique of capitalism, Lotz shows how capitalism remains resilient and vibrant precisely because it constitutes a “framing” that conditions all social reality through the temporalization of money. Lotz also engages the most contemporary and wide-ranging critical theory to show the relevance and utility of a philosophically informed historical materialism.
Eduardo Mendieta, Pennsylvania State University


The Capitalist Schema is an adventurous meditation by a gifted young philosopher on money, culture, time, and consciousness, written with the aim of returning critical theory to its roots in Marx's critique of political economy, reconceived via Adorno, Kant, and Heidegger. Anyone who wants to rethink Marx's theory of monetized society in a phase of continuing global crisis will find Christian Lotz’s work stimulating.
David N. Smith, University of Kansas


Capital—understood in Marx’s sense as a social form constituted through “real abstractions” inseparable from money—schematizes our world. Everything has its price and capital’s purposes order everything. Christian Lotz brilliantly explores how that matters and how capital, especially as credit, binds us to the past and encloses even our cognitive and affective capacities. The Capitalist Schema establishes Lotz as an exciting voice in critical theory.
Patrick Murray, Creighton University


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