Cryptocurrency and Philosophy

As an academic philosopher by profession, I have often dealt with people asking me "what can you do with philosophy?" Ignoring the silliness of the question in general as it relates to impacting one's life, self-flourishing, etc., the impetus behind the question has to do with the supposed abstract nature of the study. Philosophy is often not seen as relevant to the real world, whatever that is. Now, however, is a golden opportunity for philosophers to demonstrate clear relevance of their profession, and that opportunity is cryptocurrency. Breaking down philosophy into six major areas, one can see just how important philosophical thinking is for everything crypto.

1. Logic (formal and critical thinking): this is the most straight forward. Developing critical thinking skills in terms of dissecting information and making choices about investments is crucial for one's well-being. Also, advanced symbolic logic is basically a study in understanding what it takes to be a computer programmer without a specific programming language utilized.

2. Ontology: what is a cryptocurrency? Questions about tangibility abound out there. Well, what is fiat currency beyond the fact that one sometimes can actually hold coins and bills in one's hand? Money is just exchange value as agreed upon by a community of people. Issues of forking deepen the question about "the essence" of x cryptocurrency as well. 

3. Epistemology: how do we know that we know something? Here, smart contracts and crypto protocols lead the way in providing a pretty clear-cut or not justification for one's beliefs about coins and tokens. Educating oneself in terms of analysis of charts and indicators generates a deeper level of knowledge justification.

4. Aesthetics: there is a certain beauty to the crypto world as a whole, especially in its promise of overturning the old ways of how money works. Obviously, there is a burgeoning movement of NFTs and a change in how digital art may be perceived as objects of value.

5. Ethics: ethical questions are all around in this domain. Elements of honesty, trust, and integrity are needed for any cryptocurrency to be successful at all. The main thing I highlight here is that the attention given to cryptocurrencies vs. fiat money is making it blatantly obvious just how unethical Old Money is in terms of how centralizing money generates unjust centralization of power. Democracy is a sham in today's world.

6. Political philosophy: nation states generate a lot of their power through the fact that currency is controlled by them in some very real and practical sense. Crypto is removing the veil for people in the West to see governments for what they are as they scramble to deal with a people's movement that undercuts their authority. That doesn't come close to what cryptocurrency can mean for the Third World, however. The world's poor now can see a way out of their plight that is most often caused by corrupt political power that maintains the money supply. Cryptocurrency knows no borders. 

My profession is lagging behind in realizing how it may become relevant again. This is unfortunate, but not unexpected. There are clear connections to be made, however, if one merely looks for them.

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Shane Wahl
Shane Wahl

I am a philosopher-teacher-writer by profession. Writing inside "the Academy" has serious limitations, however, and creating content across a variety of subjects has been fulfilling for me for almost 20 years. Crypto is my new passion.

Velocity Along the Fractal
Velocity Along the Fractal

This space-time occupation is the sincere expression of devotion to subjects I am passionate about. I am a Philosopher by, ahem, trade, specializing in existentialism and political theory. The idea is to draw out certain philosophical arguments for Crypto-world as it is accelerating in creative radical change.

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