Зображення сторінки

goods like the rest, and though tolerably constant is not absolutely invariable in its value. Moreover, it is an article of which the use is to exchange it; and, if it is for any reason not exchangeable, its possessor may die like Midas, surrounded by gold and silver, and without the means to live.

It would seem from Aristotle's own account as if the use of money were as natural as Society itself, growing up by the same inevitable process of development. In this particular case Aristotle does not regard the development with favour, Like Plato, he thinks that the natural use of money is very closely connected with the abuse of it in money-making, where the object is not to get goods to use, but to accumulate money for the sake of the accumulation itself, quite apart from the use, the object being a boundless command over the means of satisfying boundless desires. Money-making in fact has excess for its beginning and excess for its end ; and this, to a Greek philosopher who describes all moral virtue as lying in a mean between excess and defect, was a sufficient condemnation.?

Like later writers, Aristotle allows that profit may be made out of the growing of trees and the rearing of animals, without damage to one's neighbours, but shopkeeping and other forms of commerce he seems to regard as forms of cheating ; in spite of his own concessions about division of labour, the gain of one man always seems to him the loss of another. Most of all he thinks this true of Interest, an attempt to breed from barren metal, which is even farther from the proper use of money than is the use made by the ordinary moneymaker. After this, it is not surprising that he should count the spendthrift a better man than the miser. As miserliness in those days could only mean hoarding, Aristotle's position is excusable. The rings and corners” of ancient Greece, in which even respectable philosophers, like Thales, had played a part,* are mentioned in a tone of contempt; but the serious treatises on such

1 Eth., V. (5). Pol., I. (3).

2 Pol., I. 3. 9 Eth., V. (5), 4, 13, etc.

4 Thales foresaw a great harvest of olives, and he bought up olive presses in advance, with the greatest financial success. Pol., I. 4.

a subject as agriculture are barely mentioned ; and Aristotle thinks it beneath the dignity of his discourse to give such subjects more than a cursory notice."

Even general economic principles are not thought worthy of such full consideration as is bestowed on ethical or metaphysical principles. When Aristotle gives us a theory of exchanges, under the head of Particular Justice (or justice in the narrow sense of the word as distinguished from righteousness in general), it is not an economic theory; and economic questions are touched very incidentally. Particular Justice is either (a) Distributive, or (6) Corrective. Distributive justice relates to distributions of honours or of wealth or of anything else that is portioned out among the members of a State. The distribution varies according as the privileges of citizenship depend on birth or on wealth or on personal attainments. The share is always to be determined by a uniform standard ; it must be neither too little nor too much, according to that standard; but what that standard itself is depends on the constitution of each State. For example, if the standard were nobility of birth, it would be contrary to the principles of distributive justice that a parvenu should obtain the highest honours or get the largest grants; but in a democratic State it would be no violation of justice.

The second kind of Particular Justice is Corrective Justice, which redresses any infringements of equality, taking from him who has unfairly gained, and adding to the portion of him who has unfairly lost, that the balance may be restored. This occurs in the case both of voluntary contracts and of involuntary (crime and punishment).

We may apply these principles positively by conjoining them with the old principle of “like for like.” * If the builder and the shoemaker are to exchange on the principle of “like for like,” the two artisans must first be brought into their proper relation as determined by the dignity or rank of their two several trades, and then after that adjustment the relative goodness of their several wares must be reckoned. When these allowances have been made, then a certain number of shoes may be received by the builder from the shoemaker in exchange for a house, or (what is the same thing) the price of the shoes or of the house may be exchanged for the house or the shoes.

1 Pol., I. 4.

2 Eth., V. (3). 4 το αντιπεπονθός, Eth., V. (S).

3 Eth., V. (4). 5 Cf. Eth., VIII. (7).

We might make Aristotle's adjustments easier to understand if we supposed that the regard he insists on paying to the respective status of the producers was a regard paid to the respective skill and difficulty of their trade. But except in regard to money there is no clear analysis of economic facts in this much tortured passage.

Aristotle is doing his best to find the principle of the Mean even in matters of trade, and to bring sense out of common sayings, by explaining them in the light of his philosophy. As the Mean essentially rests on a basis of popular belief, we could not expect to find any economical categories that were not largely if not wholly historical. There seems no fair analogy between the ethical mean and the market value of an article,—except that the latter will sometimes be like the former in being a mean between two extreme estimates, a buyer's low one and a seller's high one.

III. Aristotle's conception of the State would in any case make it difficult to draw the line between historical and economical categories; it involves a justification by logic of the growth of the historical categories. A man is, as rational, social; his power of speech is sufficient presumption of it ;3 and other facts are present in abundance to confirm the presumption.

In the first place he is born able and usually willing to pair with another human being. The family is a

1 Eth., V. (5)

2 For a general account of the Politics see Erdmann, Hist. of Philos., vol. i. $ 89, and for a special account of the economical views of Aristotle, see Mr. D. G. Ritchie's article in Palgrave's Dict. of Polit. Econ., and Prof. Elster's article in the Handwörterbuch d. Staatswissenschaften. The latter gives the literature of the subject, such as it is.

3 Pol., 1. 1. (The observation of modern doctors that madmen can seldom combine,and two warders can usually cope with twenty madmen, seems to show that it is reason and not speech that is essential.)

4 Eth., IX. (12), 7. For the whole subject see "Aristotle's conception of the State," by Prof. A. C. Bradley in Hellenica, 181 seq.

But un

form of society that not only comes first in time but (in Aristotle's opinion) remains a permanent element in the larger forms of society. In the second place, after the family we have the village, which grows out of the family, and is as it were a family of families. like the family it is not itself a permanent element; it gives place to the State, which grows out of the village. Maine's aphorism that Society develops from the family to the tribe and from the tribe to the State is in substance Aristotle's. Now the last stage in this development, though last in time, is so far from being farther away from nature, that it alone represents the true nature of man.

“ Nature" is rather the full-grown organism than the undeveloped germ ; and it is the State and not the family, still less the individual, that is the “limit of independence.” The earlier forms of community come into being for simple preservation of bare life, but they develope into a community which serves not only that purpose but the higher ends of life. They, and especially the State, make it possible for man to show all that is in him.?

Aristotle makes therefore no attempt like Plato's to construct an ideal State from men in a state of nature, as they were in the City of Pigs. He recognises more expressly and consistently than Plato the necessity of a basis of unwritten law, a definite national character that has grown with many generations. The State is not a deliberate contrivance to suit a known purpose of usefulness; it results from one of those natural tendencies which insists on being satisfied whether useful or not. Connected wi this view (of the spontaneous growth of political institutions) is Aristotle's respect for the “fixed beliefs ” of the vulgar. A belief that is universal must (he thinks) have some truth in it, whether in ethics or in politics. He seems to have been the first to formulate clearly the doctrine that the multitude have a collective wisdom not possessed by the individuals separately. There is no nearer approach to this in Plato than the notion of binding customs (in the Laws) and the notion of principles dyed into a community, like colours into a web (in the Republic). Aristotle's case, however, is not strengthened by his illustrations. “ As in a joint feast, every one contributes his portion of virtue and wisdom.”

1 In Rome we have the Municipality as a permanent element. 2 Pol., I. 2 ; cf. Eth., I. (7).

3 Pol., I, 2, III. 6. 4 Pol., ΙΙΙ. 6: τους γαρ πολλούς ών έκαστος έστιν ου σπουδαίος ανήρ, όμως ενδέχεται συνελθόντας είναι βελτίoυς εκείνων, ουχ ώς έκαστον αλλ' ως σύμπαντας. .

· They become as one man, but a man with many organs of sense and understanding instead of few,” and hence are a good judge, for example, of poetry and art in general. Taking the common judgment as represented in the current axioms of morality and politics, he professes a deep respect for it even in these regions.

This is plainly the case in his Ethics, for the definition of virtue makes it “a habit of choice lying in a middle (or regulated] state of the passions, a middle state relative to the agent concerned, and a habit fixed by reason in the way in which the ideally wise man would fix it.” 1

This is a re-statement in philosophical language of the thought which is common to the whole Greek world, that "measure is the best.” Not that this notion is introduced into the ethics of Aristotle from without; it is Greek as the whole philosophy of Aristotle is Greek, because the philosopher was unconsciously formulating the thoughts of his own people and times. The Greek view of nature was in a sense artistic. The Greeks found in nature a number of elements and a principle that seemed to set them in order. This is exactly what Aristotle presents to us in his Metaphysics and Psychology and in his Economics (so far as we have traced it), and not least in his Ethics and Political Philosophy. In ethics if we ask what is to fix the limit or mean that brings order into the disorderly elements, in short, how reason is to limit passion, we are told that the limit is determined by the man of practical wisdom ; and it is clear from what is said and not said about the latter that he performs his high function simply because he has been trained by the State in the traditional morality of his people and has a clearer view and a better grasp of their ideals than the average man who follows them unconsciously or unintelligently.

We see this view illustrated by the roth book of the

1 Eth., II. (6), 15.

« НазадПродовжити »