the linguistic isolating of justice from money


Originally published as a page (not a post) on April 21, 2012.


The reality of the origin of this post is that it is prompted by a short reference on this blog:

Simply, the author contrasts the two English words “money” and “justice” as if there is a complete isolation between the two categories in language:

“… the conflict between the love of money and the love of justice. “

While the author is clearly intelligent in regard to presenting connections between various symbols and metaphors and patterns, he (Troy McLachlan?) presents justice and money as if they are not just two words. Here is what I mean.

Before we look at the function of the word money, let’s briefly review a published record of the origins of the word:


late 13c., “coinage, metal currency,” from O.Fr. moneie, from L. moneta “mint, coinage,” from Moneta, a title of the Roman goddess Juno, in or near whose temple money was coined;
1861 Confederate States of American half dolla...

1861 Confederate States of American half dollar coin, front and back (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Money, defined rigorously, is categorical label for a unit of currency used for the counting (accounting) of value by court systems which rule over things like property, taxes, legal claims, legal rightslegal codes, and the settling of contracts (accounts). When a court system is actively operating and declares something like a Confederate Dollar to be a valid form of the payment of debts (“legal tender“), then the label “money” has been applied by that court to that unit of currency. However, if the court system ceases to function, what functional value does the piece of paper (or coin) have?

Similarly, if a court says that a particular weight of a particular substance (such as silver) is the legal definition of the term dollar, then that ruling stands as the accounting standard of that court:


[C16: from Low German daler,  from German Taler, Thaler,  short for Joachimsthaler  coin made from SILVER mined in Joachimsthal Jachymov, town now in the Czech Republic]

Shelby County Courthouse, Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Shelby County Courthouse, Memphis, Tennessee, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If a court says that someone must pay five of those particular coins per year to the king’s court or face eviction, execution, torture and so on, then that creates value for that coin, right? If the agents of the king’s court will exchange one of their magic tokens for a particular number of sheep or amount of wheat, then that is the court’s defined exchange rate.

Exchange rates for currency originated not from open market bartering, but from the dictates and coercion of courts when they declared in to existence the functional value of their metal tokens or coins of the realm. To be more precise, it was probably not the court officials, but the monarchs and emperors who made these declarations.

Currencies originate with courts. Courts declare the value of currencies. Without a court’s operation of organized violence to enforce the value of a particular currency, as when a court system collapses or is conquered or invaded, then the previously-functional currency may no longer have any functional value.

Court systems, by the way, are all operations of organized violence (coercion), but they are also uniquely linguistic. Courts declare the functional definitions of legal codes as in rule over the meaning of legal codes, by which I mean units of symbolic language as in words. Courts enforce their pronouncements through the use of armed mercenaries called deputies and police and marshalls and intelligence operatives and soldiers and hitmen and so on.

Courts are thousands of years old. Courts are the foundations of what we know as government.

Coronation of Mary
Coronation of Mary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course, anyone who claims to be king or warlord or gang leader can convene a court (whether or not they make reference to the English word “court” referring to the place where the monarch’s business is conducted). The business of the court includes to enforce the declarations or rulings or orders of the sitting magistrate or agent of the local warlord or king, who may be just the functionary of the Emperor or Pharoah or Pope.

(Note that throughout European history, coronation rituals to initiate a new king in to the fraternity of kings have been conducted by the local agent of the Holy Roman Empire. Further note that some scholars assert that Roman church law is the origin of statutory law, which frequently uses Latin.)

Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire in &qu...
Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire in “Schatzkammer” Vienna (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, on to the linguistic unit “justice.” What is it?

I will give the word’s origins below. However, consider that justice is whatever a ruling court official orders (unless overturned functionally by another court official). Justice is defined through the court judgments issued by the judges or justices of the court in their rituals to define justice.

Thus, there can be no unjust money for there can be no illegal money (to the extent that a counterfeit currency is not legally currency at all). Money is a legal category. Money is an instrument of courts (of justice).

By the way, the more money you have, the more justice you can buy, at least according to the existence of the profession of lawyers. Isn’t that the basic idea of hiring a lawyer: that they will assist you as your agent in your commercial and legal business?

1857 Shooting Thaler Obverse
1857 Shooting Thaler Obverse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is no conflict between money and justice. That is like saying a conflict between the number 4 and all numbers or between blue and colors or between chair and furniture or between the Greek letter Psi and letters in general. Those who understand what language is are clear in these matters.


mid-12c., “the exercise of authority in vindication of right by assigning reward or punishment,” from O.Fr. justise, from L. justitia “righteousness, equity,” from justus “upright, just” (see just (adj.)).
1382, “righteous in the eyes of God, upright and impartial,” from O.Fr. just, from L. justus “upright, equitable,” from jus (gen. juris)”right,” especially “legal right, law,” from O.Latin ious, perhaps lit.“sacred formula,” a word peculiar to Latin (not general Italic) that originated in the religious cults, from PIE base *yewes- (cf. Avestan yaozda- “make rituallypure;” see jurist). The more mundane L. law-word lex coveredspecific laws as opposed to the body of laws
Justitia was the name of a Roman Goddess, also related to the Greek Goddesses Dike, Themis, Portia, and Astraea. For those familiar with “Libra,” the below images may be familiar.
Note that I address the origins of money here:
See also my website:
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