I feel it is the duty of one who goes his own way to inform society of what he finds on his voyage of discovery. – Carl Jung, Two Essays on Analytical Psychology
What is this about?
Money Blind is a newsletter focused on seeing your money worldview (and thus making decisions involving money) in a wiser way.
It’s a mix of stories from inside the heads of those that have what everyone else believes they want, and timeless lessons inspired by the greatest books that too few get around to reading.
It’s philosophy, but maybe not as you know it
Money Blind is about the philosophy of money. Not in some arcane academic sense, or a ‘the future of money is Bitcoin!’ sense. But in a ‘practical examination of the role of money in living better’ sense. Philosophy is about how to live. Money has a major, practical, inescapable role to play in this.
And yet for all the advice on how to earn, spend and invest, and even hot psychological hacks, the attention paid to money’s role in living better is non-existent or depressingly distorted – commonly by confusing ‘better’ with merely ‘more expensive’. We’re saturated with money information, knowledge, and even understanding. We’re lacking money wisdom.
What's the main message?
‘What’ you do for and with money is not nearly as important as the way in which you do it. This is a function of how clearly you ‘see’ money in your life. This is a function of your financial philosophy.
If the goal is living well, then your focus must be making more of your money, not making more money.
If the goal is making more of your money, then your focus must be your worldview, not your money, or even your behaviours.
If the goal is worldview change, then your money problems are solved with philosophy, not with money.
If the goal is a better philosophy, then your focus must be examining your life, not using money to avoid doing so.
If the goal is examining your life, then your focus must be seeking challenge, not reassurance.
If the goal is seeking challenge, then your focus must be getting unstuck from the sticky web of resource-wasting beliefs.
Why ‘Money Blind’?
Because the most costly dangers are the ones we don’t see.
Financial advice believes it has an idiocy problem. And it does, to some extent. But too often, people make far, far, greater mistakes with money because they’re too busy congratulating themselves for not wanting a yacht, or for avoiding a scam.
Idiocy is easily spotted. It really doesn’t take much nous to realise that a superyacht is unlikely to be the wisest thing to either direct your dreams towards. The poor decisions we make as a direct result of the way in which we’ve paid attention to the money in our lives (because of a poor financial philosophy) are a far greater determinant of how well we are living. As Alan Watts said: ‘No hell is worse than that in which one lives without knowing it’.
In discussing the use and meaning of language, Wittgenstein described how we view the world in a distorted way because ‘we look at the facts through the medium of a misleading form of expression’, that standard forms of expression, however common, ‘prevented us from seeing the facts with unbiased eyes.’ He likened idealising and ideologising a particular theory of usage or meaning to ‘a pair of glasses on our nose through which we see whatever we look at.’ And, he stated importantly, that ‘It never occurs to us to take them off.’
Wittgenstein suggested we at least try to take off these distorting lenses, to liberate ourselves from views that held us ‘captive’. We should not replace the glasses, but remove them, on the grounds that our ‘uncorrected’ way of looking at the world was probably just fine as it was. And in any case, it’s impossible to know how messed up our vision may be until we take off our glasses and compare it to an alternative.
We mess up our relationships with money, and our relationships with money mess us up in turn, because we look at money’s role in living a Good Life through distorted lenses. We see all things financial as complicated and scary and in response cover our eyes. When a well-meaning, well-heeled helper offers to sell us a guide dog, we’re so grateful we barely pause to consider how much it costs, or how effectively it works. And it never occurs to us to just uncover our eyes. We remain money blind.
What are the major influences?
If you’re familiar with the work of Iain McGilchrist, John Vervaeke, and Erich Fromm, or wonder why you might want to be, this is DEFINITELY for you.
(There’s a whole section dedicated to McGilchrist’s work, highlighting how all the ways in which the modern malady of lives and societies governed by a runaway left hemisphere map perfectly to the ways in which money leads us astray).
Also, this being about philosophy, Socrates cannot go unmentioned. Importantly, Money Blind is not telling you to ask yourself: ‘What would Socrates do?’ To do so would go directly against the message Socrates was sharing. You want not to ‘do what Socrates would do’ but to live more Socratically – with your attention tilted towards the sort of examined life that leads to becoming wiser with money.
Who's it for?
The people who get the most out of this encouragement to get the most out of the money in their lives are:
Happy to have not only their ideas, but their worldviews challenged – No idea exists in isolation; it’s part of a way of seeing the world. Often an apparent willingness to change one’s mind about something relatively trivial (a WHAT someone believes) is precisely to avoid having to change the WAY IN WHICH one sees. The way we typically see money is not only deeply unhelpful, but because of how saturated we are by typical money messages, it’s also nigh-on impossible to even acknowledge. It’s the water fish aren’t aware they’re swimming in. Yet the only change worth pursuing is that which comes from how we see, not isolated incidents of what we see. It comes from philosophy, not products, planning processes, ‘discover your purpose’ exercises, or psychological hacks.
Likely to think the apparent possibility of ‘having everything’ and yet still feel as if something is missing is a puzzle worthy of the greatest consideration, not a funny little quirk of human nature – The most recent reincarnation of the idea of ‘mimetic desire’ tells a story that humans are hardwired for mimesis – wanting stuff because everybody else does, regardless of if it makes our lives any better, let alone does so reliably or efficiently. Mimetic desire is clearly a ‘thing’. It really does govern billions of people’s lives. But it doesn’t have to. Time spent trying to mitigate its worst effects would be better spent on learning to live in a way that you simply didn’t care about such things in the first place. There’s a big difference between the person who successfully ‘resists’ all the psychedelically packaged stuff in the supermarket and the person who simply doesn’t crave any of that crap in the first place. With Money Blind, rather than offer tips, tricks, and tactics to resist temptations, I try to paint a picture of a life where resistance to ‘temptations’ simply isn’t necessary, a picture of living better effortlessly, by default.
The sort of people that if they hired a personal trainer, would do so to make them do the work, not as a substitute for doing so.
Who's it not for? Why might you unsubscribe?
If you’re after tips, tricks, and tactics.
If you’re screaming ‘just tell me what to do’.
If you think the ‘important stuff’ is something to be dealt with later, while right here and now is the time to just keep earning and spending blindly.
If you really sincerely believe (it's okay, you can admit it to yourself, even though of course you'd never say it in public) that the aim of life, what you're directing your energy towards, is a big house and a fast car, or that people will love you more if you have more expensive things, or you'll love people more if you can buy them expensive things, from education to diamonds.
If you’re put off by the very word ‘philosophy’, either because you believe it to be irrelevant to life, or, because realising that it’s the most relevant thing there is, you’re terrified of addressing it.
If you’re scared of what you’ll find if you look in life’s rear-view mirror, so prefer to stare into a crystal ball instead.
If you believe letting a savings rate guide your life choices is significantly less dumb than letting an income level do so.
Can you give me some examples?
The best way is to read some of the archives. For some highlights, scroll the headings on the homepage (right-hand side on desktop, scroll down on mobile).
Mildly tedious admin note
Each post tends to contain a ton of links to other posts. All the posts were originally on a different site, so pretty much all links in the first 104 posts (up to 12th September 2022) point away from Substack.