Aristotle on Wealth

"The life of money making is one undertaken under compulsion since wealth is not the good we are seeking and is merely useful for the sake of something else" - quote taken from Aristotle Nichomachean Ethics 1.5.

Aristotle believes that desires fueled from hard labor or barter are 'natural', but desires fueled by monetary gains through exchange or retail trades, are unnatural and reprehensible. Which means in today's context, he condemns commerce, investing and money lending. He is against economic growth and wealth accumulation as he favors a static society.

He believes that money is used as a mean to an end, as a tool for seeking something else in life. That "something else' is happiness. He believes happiness is an end in itself and that it is the ultimate goal we should strive for. His definition of happiness is not subjective or temporary like how we perceive it today(going for holiday trips etc). His definition of happiness is more objective and encompasses the totality of one's life. It is basically an exercise of virtue and not something hedonistic.

I do not agree with him on tagging wealth accumulation and investing as 'unnatural' desires especially in today's context. Accumulation of wealth through retail trade or investing can be a mean to a greater end. Although some finds pleasure in using money to make more money, their ultimate goal is to pursue something greater with it. As we both agree that money is a tool, I don't see how more money directly equates to being less virtuous. A virtuous person can use the money he made for a greater good later on.

Although his economic ideas are somewhat deviant to our culture today, his general maxims of happiness and virtue are ideas we can all aspire to.

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