Alternative Title

Monetary Muddles

Subject Area

Economics, Philosophy, Religion, Theology/Religious Education


This dissertation offers a theological critique of political economy by turning to Wittgenstein in order to re-think what “criticism” is and can be. It diagnoses the current state of critical discourse about money as incapable of properly dealing with the confusions or illusions such criticism identifies as intrinsic to our ways with money and economic production and exchange. The dissertation argues that while political economic critiques and heterodox theories of money rightly challenge the economic orthodoxy’s individualism and its illusions of an apolitical money and an autonomous market economy, these “social” critiques are caught in a Geltungslogik that dichotomizes “value” and “validity.” As a result, such critiques or heterodox theories attempt to see underneath the illusory “appearance” of money and economy rather than stick with the surface. The dissertation contends that the deliverances of socio-theoretical investigations of money can have no organic or natural connection to consciousness or to desires and sensibilities formed in a society suffering from “monetary muddles.” The dissertation offers a resolute Wittgensteinian account of language and of money as a language-game as one way to therapize our desires to refute illusion. By connecting money and language with a natural theology the dissertation points towards a theologically informed practice of “looking at what we do” with money in order to treat monetary illusion. In looking, the dissertation suggests, we can find new ways of using money which may in turn transform the social conditions which give money the meaning, significance, and power it currently has.

Degree Date

Spring 2023

Document Type


Degree Name



Religious Studies


D. Stephen Long

Second Advisor

Rebekah Miles

Third Advisor

Bruce Marshall

Fourth Advisor

Natalie Carnes

Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License