Critical Perspectives on Accounting

Pataphysics of Finance: An essay of visual epistemology

Christophe Schinckus «Pataphysics of Finance: An essay of visual epistemology», Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Elsevier (2016).


Since the economic crisis of 2008, numerous observers have called into question the way that financial knowledge deals with economic reality. In this challenging context, the time has come to embark on a reflection about the role of finance (and financial knowledge) in our contemporary society. This article contributes to this reflection by expanding the process of research through a pataphysical parody illustrating the imaginary dimension of financial knowledge and its implications for accounting practices. Although this imaginary aspect of financial knowledge is often forgotten in finance, it is nevertheless very important since, as I will explain, it directly shapes the computerization of financial markets and can eliminate the economic referent of accounting signs. These claims will be discussed through the lens of a visual epistemology based on the science of imaginary solutions (pataphysics) to illustrate this imaginary nature of financial models. Discussion of the paradoxical consequences implied by increasing computerized implementation of an imaginary solution will ensue. More generally, this paper proposes, on one hand, an original (and critical) perspective on financial knowledge, and on the other hand, an invitation to discuss and escape (from) the mainstream paradigm for the purpose of promoting pluralism in finance.

Mis à jour le 1 février 2017 à 14 h 34 min.