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Realizing CapitalFinancial and Psychic Economies in Victorian Form$
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Anna Kornbluh

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823254972

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823254972.001.0001

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. Fictitious Capital/Real Psyche

. Fictitious Capital/Real Psyche

Metalepsis, Psychologism, and the Grounds of Finance

(p.21) 1. Fictitious Capital/Real Psyche
Realizing Capital

Anna Kornbluh

Fordham University Press

This chapter surveys several Victorian discourses that construct the idea of psychic economy, taking care to explicate the actual language in which these discourses represented the world. Beginning with the criticism of “fictitious capital” expressed by financial journalism and taken up by Karl Marx, it shows how mid-Victorian public intellectuals apprehended the logical, temporal, and even metaphysical paradoxes of financial instruments. As these journalists depicted the psychological situation of investors facing these paradoxes and suffering repeated crises, finance began to appear as a psychological phenomenon, originating in infinite desire and in abstract reasoning. At virtually the same time, the earliest professional psychologists were formulating arguments about the economic and even financial structure of the mind, understanding psychology in economic terms. This reciprocal exchange sets the stage for the later “Marginal Utility Revolution” in economics and illustrates a mutual grounding of economics and psychology as disciplines whose suppositions about human nature are reflexively reinforcing. Invoking the trope of “metalepsis” – the substitution of one figure for another – to name the rhetorical move by which this grounding takes place, the chapter identifies the metaphor of “psychic economy” as the nexus of this relation.

Keywords:   Journalism, Crisis, Psychology, Fictitious capital, Metalepsis, Psychic Economy

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