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The highest ideal is the life of the philosopher, and this demands leisure. The next best life is that of perfect moral virtue as shown by the good citizen ; and this is not possible without means and opportunities. Still in either case, outward wealth is to happiness, as the lyre is to the tune; the music would not come without the musician. Wealth is the instrument, and should never become the end. The proper amount of it is fixed by the end to which it is a means ; "the wealth that is according to nature” is not unlimited, but has a very definite limit in each particular case ; it ought to be no more than will enable a man to secure the chief ends of life. It is only the wealth of the money-maker which is without limit.
The limit is drawn less narrowly by Aristotle than by Plato. The Guardians (of the Republic), who alone were to reach the highest good, were not to be allowed to have any wealth of their own. To Aristotle, on the contrary, personal property seems indispensable even for moral virtues. Certain virtues, such as Liberality and Magnificence (to say nothing of Temperance) * imply a considerable fortune, far beyond mere subsistence, and a man should have enough to live not only temperately (as Plato had it) but liberally. It is quite true that Aristotle seems to allow that in proportion as a man draws near to the highest life of all, he needs wealth less and less, and the worse man he is the more wealth he needs.6 Nevertheless leisure is indispensable, and leisure can only be secured by a certain amount of wealth.
The conception of life implied by this way of thinking is well described in the following passage of the seventh book of the Politics. “Life is divided between business and leisure, war and peace, and actions are directed either to what is necessary and useful for us, or to what is noble. We have to decide between these on the same principles as between the [higher and lower] parts of the soul and the corresponding actions ; the end of war is peace, the
1 Eth., Ι. 8, 15: καθάπερ δι' οργάνων, διά φίλων, etc.
Eth., III. and IV. 5 Pol., ΙΙ. 6 (al. 3): βελτίων όρος το σωφρόνως και ελευθερίως [ζήν]. Cf. 5 (al. 2). 6 Ethics, X. 8, compared with Pol., VII. 12. 7°VII. 13 (al. 14).
end of business leisure, the end of things necessary and useful is things fair and noble. A legislator must always keep this subordination in mind.” The bearing of these principles on the question of the necessary education of a citizen is pointed out by Aristotle himself in the 8th book of the Politics ; education must include the ancestral “music" or Art, for other elements, such as reading and writing and gymnastic, concern either the lower faculties or the lower aims of life.
It appears, then, that in the political philosophy of Aristotle, as of Plato, there is clear recognition that a certain amount of leisure and a certain distance from the cares of getting a livelihood are necessary to the full development of the highest human powers.
In modern times the claim has been extended from a few privileged members of the community to all human beings everywhere ;' the demand is made that extreme poverty shall cease, because the extremely poor can never develop their full powers of mind and body. Aristotle could not take so wide a view. He was too practical and too fully alive to the needs of human nature to be ascetic in his view of wealth ; but he had no high estimate of human nature in the persons of his fellow-citizens : “Most men will the good, and choose the evil”; “most men delight in coarse pleasures ”; “most men follow riches without limit”; “most men are neither very good nor very bad.” And still farther below the level of ideal goodness lie the great multitude of slaves who “cannot be happy because they cannot have a citizen's career."2 Aristotle would have counted it impossible as well as undesirable to provide for all men the means of reaching the highest good. To us it seems impossible, only if it means leisure without work instead of leisure and labour in alternation.
II. In regard to Production, Aristotle is undoubtedly clearer than Plato. It is no doubt true that his teleology, applied to economical subjects, is not substantially very different from Plato's division of labour; everything in Nature has its purpose, every living thing (and every faculty of every living thing) has its special function and work ; and man's chief end is to fulfil his special function. Applied to the household, which is the industrial as well as the political unit, this principle means that the man and the woman play different and complementary parts in the household, the one acting as bread-winner and defender, the other watching over the children, and the indoor work.
1 E.g. by Godwin, Political Justice. Cf. Ethics, X. 7. 2 Ethics, X. 6, 8.
It may be added that not only does Aristotle thus apply the principle even farther than Plato, but he sees the limits of it more clearly than Plato. The free man may engage in manual arts up to a certain limit, but, if he devotes himself wholly to them, his mind is narrowed and his body enfeebled. He becomes like a slave who is merely a “living tool.” If we could only have shuttles throwing themselves, we should need no slaves, and (we may infer) the industrial arts would not be degrading.
But, besides those general reflections, Aristotle gives us something like distinct economical analyses. He saw clearly that industrial production was specifically different from moral or political action, and that the old Socratic analogy (of which Plato availed himself, and which was in the main suggested by general Greek feeling) was misleading. Art (says Aristotle) has to do with production, ethics with action. In the former we demand not that the maker but that the work done shall be good. It is true that, except accidentally, we cannot get good work without good workmen, men who produce on scientific principles, and are therefore said to possess the “art” of doing so. But their act of production, unlike an ethical act, is not an end in itself; production in industry is strictly subordinate to an end outside itself. The connection of producer and product ceases as soon as the product is launched on the world; and the producer's love of the work of his hands would not be returned by the latter, at least in equal intensity. The subordination of the whole province of production to the lordship of ethics is unmistakeably indicated. The chief end of man is not products
i Econ., III. ; cf. Eth., IX. (12), 7 : cúdùs yap duýporai tà èpya, etc. 2 Pol., VIII. 2; cf. I. 2.
3 1b., I. 2. 4 Eth., II. (4), 3. • Eth., VI. (4), 3-6. The example is Building. 6 Cf. Eth., I. 4.
7 Eth., IX. (7), 3.
but actions, actions, which quite apart from any products, are ends in themselves.
To take the arts more in detail, each has its tools, and these are inanimate and animate ; the latter including beasts of burden, slaves, and servants. And the lifeless instrument as distinguished from the mere possession is that which is not used by the possessor, but is made a means of getting what the possessor means to use.? This is a near approach to the modern notion of Capital. Of the industries, Agriculture comes first and foremost by nature, rather benefitting than hurting the body, keeping man near to his mother earth, and benefitting him not at his neighbour's expense, but at hers alone. Then come the extractive industries like mining, which still keep near to earth. The occupation, next, of Pastoral people who still a living farm,” involves little labour, and leaves them lazy in spite of their migrations. Then come Hunters, including pirates and fishermen, both depending not on mother earth, but on the sea. But agriculture is the industry of the great bulk of men. All these primitive kinds of industry agree in one thing : they make to use, not to exchange; and this is with Aristotle a point of great importance. He seems to admire the simple happiness of their life, as Plato clings to his first City. In any given political society, strictly so called, we find (he tells us) four classes—farmers, artisans, traders, and labourers, conveniently corresponding to four classes of fighting men : cavalry, heavy infantry, light infantry, navy. All are necessary, though the artizan class includes the makers of luxuries, who are plainly not necessary." In speaking of the City of Pigs Plato had specified the weaver's, the farmer's, the shoemaker's, and the builder's as the necessary trades for the simplest of cities ; but he adds the smith's, the herdsman's, the merchant's ard the
1 Pol., Ι. 3; cf. Ι. Ι: βούς αντ' οίκέτου τους πένησιν. The Ox is the poor man's domestic servant.
2 Pol., I. 2.
3 Ec., II. ώσπερ γεωργίαν ζώσαν γεωργούντες. Ρol.,
5 Pol., I. 3. & Pol., VI. 4 (al. 7). We think of Athens as a city of philosophers, but according to Socrates, Mem., III. VII. 6, traders are the bulk of the ecclesia. 7 Pol., IV. 3.
Besides the mere superfluities there are the refinements necessary to good living.
shopkeeper's. He should not (says Aristotle) have omitted an army to defend the State, and judges to settle disputes of these workmen and the citizens generally. The political economy of the simplest State is, as Aristotle sees, inseparable from politics.
The subject of trade as distinguished from production is introduced by Aristotle (in the first book of the Politics), with the observation that both in the State and in the household there are natural and non-natural ways of acquiring wealth. For the household the natural ways are the arts already mentioned ; things are made by them for use in the household, and are used there. But there is another and non-natural mode of production : instead of making things for use we make them to exchange. Instead of wearing the shoes we make, we exchange them for other goods. `In its first form even this exchange is not entirely unnatural so far as it results from an accidental surplus on the part of some individuals, and accidental deficiency on the part of others. As soon as the family has grown into the society, however, the excess will be intentional, and exchanges will become an established practice. In a simple and natural society such exchanges will be merely the bartering of one thing for another in kind, eg: wine in exchange for corn; but barter without money will be found more and more difficult the larger the society becomes. Hence the invention of money.
If I am in want of a certain product, when the producer for his part is in no such want of mine, I must bring him something that he will always be willing to accept; and the precious metals, guaranteed in weight and fineness by the stamp of the mint upon them, will always be accepted, and can thus serve as a common measure of value and common means of exchange.“ By thus assisting the passage of goods from those that do not need them to those who do, money becomes a representative of the different and coincident needs of men in society, a reciprocity of needs which is the cause of all commerce. Yet money itself is only a piece of
1 Pol., IV. 3.
2 Fol., I. 3. 3 Pol., I. 3. Eth., V. (5), 13. Same example. • Eth., v. (5), 11-16.