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The School of Athens: Plato and Aristotle

Aristotle is Dead, but his Ideas are Alive: Manipulating Money, and Plato’s Communism– Part II


Aristotle died. But then he returned from the grave, in a manner of speaking.

The ancient Greek philosopher and scientist’s ideas remained mostly dead until the middle ages. With his rediscovered arguments, an old world was reborn, giving new life to western society.

[Read Part I]

Aristotle understood quite well that, “the tools mentioned are instruments of production, whereas an article of property is an instrument of action”. Aristotle seems to understand that an object is whatever it is worth in the eyes of the buyer and seller, for both must agree on the value and price they see fit during the contract and exchange between both parties. The object of desire will be of better value if it has more than one use. Sometimes, the object in question maybe only designed for one specific use, but its value equals that of an object with many functions.  Therefore, people and their desires are apparently spontaneous.

Money and The Good Life

Aristotle further explains this possession on wealth in Book 1 of Politics, in which he states:

But another kind uses goods for exchange, aided by the invention of money, which led to commerce hence the mistaken beliefs that money is the sole wealth and that the good life is bodily enjoyment. The natural and necessary art of provision is subsidiary to family economy; the other kind is justly disliked, especially usury money breeding money.

Aristotle’s view on money coincides with his view of property. He understood that without property, one could not create wealth, and thus the growth of the family or an individual’s well-being in whatever they wish to pursue, stagnates.

Creating more wealth allows for more purchasing power in objects deemed valuable to the buyer. These objects could be a shovel or a sickle which the family unit could use in order to cut more grain at a faster rate. Also, consider the shovel, for instance:  at first they had none, but now have the capability to dig effectively in order to build a house, or maybe a mini-garden, or a well. Whatever the case may be, Aristotle clearly demonstrates that with wealth comes prosperity for all those who seek to enhance their livelihood.

Money, The Root of Evil

This is in contrast to Plato’s idea of money, for Plato does not approve of gold or silver. Plato sees money as an evil that will cause either too much wealth or too much poverty, which in turn leads to envy and strife. Thus, commodities like gold or silver, which have value, will cause the social aspect of the people to destabilize, leading to suffering and the possibility of war.

Zagazig hoard of ancient Greek coins, Egypt, 6th-4th century BC

Zagazig hoard of ancient Greek coins, Egypt, 6th-4th century BC (Public Domain)

Nevertheless, it takes on a spiritual aspect as well, for the love of gold or silver will corrupt the soul, according to Plato, in which he states:

The law enjoins that no private man shall be allowed to possess gold and silver, but only coin for daily use, which is almost necessary in dealing with artisans, and for payments of hirelings, whether slaves or immigrants, by all those persons who require the use of them. Wherefore our citizens, as we say, should have a coin passing current among themselves, but not accepted among the rest of mankind.

Plato: No Rights of Gain Unless EVERYBODY Gains

Plato obviously sees a currency backed by neither silver nor gold, but rather backed by faith and faith alone, as in a ‘fiat currency’. He does believe that gold and silver are a natural form of currency, but he proposes that the metal be made illegal for private use, in order to make society economically dependent on the government.

Therefore, the government which Plato desires cannot regulate gold and silver, for it is monetarily independent; you cannot print it, you cannot dig more up at a whim, and you cannot control it. Thus, gold and silver keep the state’s balance sheet in check from spending more than they have. In essence, it keeps the state somewhat honest.

Plato takes things a step further as he also wants the land to be divided and distributed among the people, both free and slave and stranger alike.


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Cam Rea is an author and military historian. He has written numerous articles for Ancient Origins, Classical Wisdom Weekly, and has authored several books, including: God is an Anarchist 


Top Image: The School of Athens: Plato and Aristotle (Public Domain); deriv.

By Cam Rea

Cam Rea's picture

Cam Rea

Cam Rea is a Military Historian and currently the Associate Editor/Writer at Strategy & Tactics Press. Mr. Rea has published several books and written numerous articles for Strategy & Tactics Press and Classical Wisdom Weekly. His most current publication is... Read More

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