Aristotle, Adam Smith and Karl Marx

Aristotle, Adam Smith and Karl Marx

On Some Fundamental Issues in 21st Century Political Economy

Spencer J. Pack

Spencer Pack compares and contrasts Aristotle’s, Smith’s and Marx’s theoretical systems on six fundamental issues: exchange value, money, capital, character, government, and change. This book also provides insights on issues concerning the continuing development of world money, saving, managerial capitalism, corrupt governments, and various secular and religious movements for social change.

Chapter 1: Aristotle on Exchange Value and Money

Spencer J. Pack

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology, political economy, politics and public policy, political economy

Extract

ARISTOTLE’S ANALYSIS OF EXCHANGE VALUE AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF MONEY IN THE POLITICS In Book I, Chapter I of Aristotle’s Politics, Aristotle holds that ‘every community is established with a view to some good; for everyone always acts in order to obtain that which they think is good’ (12521a). Here, as most everywhere in Aristotle, the emphasis is on the end, the goal, the reason why people do things. Aristotle further claims that ‘In the first place there must be a union of those who cannot exist without each other; namely, of male and female, that the race may continue’ (ibid.). Therefore, ‘the family is the association established by nature for the supply of men’s everyday wants’ (1252b). Note here the necessary importance of economic concerns for Aristotle at the very beginning of The Politics. Men and women join together to form a family for at least partly economic reasons: to help supply their wants, since ‘the individual, when isolated, is not self-sufficing’ (1253a). Aristotle then goes into a brief discussion of home economics, or household (or estate) management. He holds that ‘seeing then that the state is made up of households, before speaking of the state we must speak of the management of the household’ (1253b).1 Included in this discussion of household management is a seminal, forever-after controversial discussion concerning ‘another element of a household, the so-called art of getting wealth’ (ibid.). Aristotle believes ‘the amount of property which is needed for a good life is not unlimited’...

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