Thursday, June 6, 2013

Money, Desire, Pleasure, Pain: Spinoza and Derman

In a thoughtful and provocative little essay, Emanuel Derman reads financial markets through the lens of Spinoza's moral geometry of the Good.  In "Money, Desire, Pleasure, Pain," Derman (who is Professor of Financial Engineering at Columbia, and a principal in Prisma Capital Partners) shows how money triangulates with Spinoza's "primitives" of desire, pain, and pleasure.  He defines "work" as pain in the service of desire.
Derman defines "money" as "past pain in the service of desire to survive as well as abstract future pleasure."  He writes that "Hope is the expectation of future pleasure tinged with doubt. Joy is simply the pleasure we experience when that doubtful expectation materializes. Envy is pain at another’s pleasure."

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