Read an Interview with Matthew, the owner of CathInfo

Author Topic: Ignobility of the merchant - classic thought  (Read 950 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Graham

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1768
  • Reputation: +1885/-8
  • Gender: Male
Ignobility of the merchant - classic thought
« on: December 30, 2013, 08:55:45 PM »
  • Thanks!0
  • No Thanks!0
  • I bumped into some familiar quotations from Aristotle and St. Thomas over the holidays.

    Quote from: Aristotle
    There are two sorts of wealth-getting, as I have said; one is a part of household management, the other is retail trade: the former necessary and honorable, while that which consists in exchange is justly censured; for it is unnatural, and a mode by which men gain from one another.


    This thread is picked up by St. Thomas in the Summa:

    Quote
    Is it Legitimate to Sell Something for More than its Cost?

    As Aristotle says there are two kinds of business exchanges. One is natural and necessary. It consists in the exchange of one commodity for the money to buy what is needed for life. This kind of exchange is not strictly that of tradesmen but more of heads of families or governments who have to provide what is needed for life by households or political communities. The other kind of exchange, of money for money, or money for goods, is not concerned with the needs of life but with making money, and this is the exchange in which tradesmen engage. According to Aristotle the first kind of exchange is praiseworthy because it serves natural needs but the second is rightly condemned since in itself it is motivated by greed for money which has no limit but tends to increase to infinity. It follows that trade in itself has a certain quality of baseness since it does not of its own nature involve an honorable or necessary end.


    St. Thomas, always even-keeled, continues:

    Quote
    Profit which is the purpose of trade, while it does not in itself involve something honorable or necessary, also does not of its nature imply something vicious or contrary to virtue. Nothing prevents profit from being directed to a necessary or even honorable goal, so that trade is thereby made licit.


    This is something for young men to keep in mind when they're encouraged to become corporate salesmen.

    In the bigger picture, it seems clear that economic liberal thought goes largely unsupported by classical thought; the former seeks a society which is - as far as possible - spontaneously organized by individual profit-maximizing behaviours, while the latter clearly prefers a householding principle in which profit-maximizing is boxed in and carefully directed. And I submit that it's clear which results in a more moral society.

    Offline Sigismund

    • Hero Member
    • *****
    • Posts: 5364
    • Reputation: +3100/-7
    • Gender: Male
    Ignobility of the merchant - classic thought
    « Reply #1 on: December 30, 2013, 09:01:04 PM »
  • Thanks!0
  • No Thanks!0
  • If they are not careful, Rush Limbaugh will soon be calling Aristotle and St. Thomas Marxists.  
    Stir up within Thy Church, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the Spirit with which blessed Josaphat, Thy Martyr and Bishop, was filled, when he laid down his life for his sheep: so that, through his intercession, we too may be moved and strengthen by the same Spir


    Offline Graham

    • Full Member
    • ***
    • Posts: 1768
    • Reputation: +1885/-8
    • Gender: Male
    Ignobility of the merchant - classic thought
    « Reply #2 on: December 30, 2013, 09:09:26 PM »
  • Thanks!0
  • No Thanks!0
  • Quote from: Sigismund
    If they are not careful, Rush Limbaugh will soon be calling Aristotle and St. Thomas Marxists.  


    I partially agree with the subtext of your comment, that we shouldn't be buying into that man's critiques too readily. At the CMRI a couple sundays ago, after mass a few men were talking up Limbaugh's 'analysis'; it was a bit embarrassing for me to listen. Catholic social thought is, from what I know, definitely neither capitalist nor socialist, and Limbaugh is not in a position to understand this.

    Offline Sigismund

    • Hero Member
    • *****
    • Posts: 5364
    • Reputation: +3100/-7
    • Gender: Male
    Ignobility of the merchant - classic thought
    « Reply #3 on: December 31, 2013, 06:36:51 AM »
  • Thanks!0
  • No Thanks!0
  • Absolutely true.
    Stir up within Thy Church, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the Spirit with which blessed Josaphat, Thy Martyr and Bishop, was filled, when he laid down his life for his sheep: so that, through his intercession, we too may be moved and strengthen by the same Spir

    Offline icterus

    • Full Member
    • ***
    • Posts: 713
    • Reputation: +0/-15
    • Gender: Male
    Ignobility of the merchant - classic thought
    « Reply #4 on: December 31, 2013, 07:41:57 AM »
  • Thanks!0
  • No Thanks!0
  • What set Limbaugh off was the inclusion in the exhortation of the phrase "Trickle down".  Trickle down is associated with Reaganomics, and with nothing else, and it presents the target of the Pope's criticism very specifically and clearly.  For those who are not familiar with the concept, it is the idea that commerce benefits the poor by creating wealth in an economy and the poor involved in that economy participate, in the sense that a rising tide lifts all boats.

    This is resisted by the more general claim (that predated Reaganomics and has outlived it) that commerce does not benefit the poor, and rather transfers wealth from the poor to the rich via profit.  This sets up the idea of modern American dichotomy economics in which there are two opposing forces:

    Profit, transferring money from the poor to the rich, and

    Taxation, transferring money from  the rich to the poor, via direct payments and Keynesian investment.
     

    When you take one side in this debate, you alienate the other side utterly.  Pope Francis definitely took one side in this debate.  He criticized trickle-down economics and the "rising tide" claim.  He did not criticize mandated transfer payments.   He did not criticize infrastructure investment politics.  


    So, I don't think it's a matter of Limbaugh not comprehending the criticism.  

    Quote
    Catholic social thought is, from what I know, definitely neither capitalist nor socialist


    I think this present exhortation might not conform to that.  





    Offline Caraffa

    • Full Member
    • ***
    • Posts: 835
    • Reputation: +475/-12
    • Gender: Male
    Ignobility of the merchant - classic thought
    « Reply #5 on: December 31, 2013, 10:19:06 PM »
  • Thanks!0
  • No Thanks!0
  • Quote from: Graham
    I bumped into some familiar quotations from Aristotle and St. Thomas over the holidays.

    Quote from: Aristotle
    There are two sorts of wealth-getting, as I have said; one is a part of household management, the other is retail trade: the former necessary and honorable, while that which consists in exchange is justly censured; for it is unnatural, and a mode by which men gain from one another.


    I thinks it important to point out how Aristotle, St. Thomas, and most classical thought sees the business of the merchant/tradesmen to be "unnatural" (and this is still, if not even more so truer with our modern day 'corporate salesman') and how this will connect to one's supernatural virtues and life. That is if one is constantly doing that which is against or not inline with the natural order, they are unlikely to progress very far in the supernatural life, because one is the basis for the other.
    Pray for me, always.

    Offline Graham

    • Full Member
    • ***
    • Posts: 1768
    • Reputation: +1885/-8
    • Gender: Male
    Ignobility of the merchant - classic thought
    « Reply #6 on: January 01, 2014, 09:00:31 PM »
  • Thanks!0
  • No Thanks!0
  • Quote from: Caraffa
    Quote from: Graham
    I bumped into some familiar quotations from Aristotle and St. Thomas over the holidays.

    Quote from: Aristotle
    There are two sorts of wealth-getting, as I have said; one is a part of household management, the other is retail trade: the former necessary and honorable, while that which consists in exchange is justly censured; for it is unnatural, and a mode by which men gain from one another.


    I thinks it important to point out how Aristotle, St. Thomas, and most classical thought sees the business of the merchant/tradesmen to be "unnatural" (and this is still, if not even more so truer with our modern day 'corporate salesman') and how this will connect to one's supernatural virtues and life. That is if one is constantly doing that which is against or not inline with the natural order, they are unlikely to progress very far in the supernatural life, because one is the basis for the other.


    You raise an excellent point. I also think, as matter of philosophical method, that it is interesting how for St. Thomas a thing can be unnatural and dishonorable, but not sinful of itself. In arguments among Catholics, even here, one frequently encounters the attitude that if a thing is not sinful, then nothing can be said against it. This is not so; and here we see clearly that strictly speaking non-sinful attitudes can nevertheless be ignoble, base, dishonorable.

    Offline Capt McQuigg

    • Hero Member
    • *****
    • Posts: 4663
    • Reputation: +2620/-9
    • Gender: Male
    Ignobility of the merchant - classic thought
    « Reply #7 on: January 01, 2014, 11:49:09 PM »
  • Thanks!0
  • No Thanks!0
  • Quote from: Sigismund
    If they are not careful, Rush Limbaugh will soon be calling Aristotle and St. Thomas Marxists.  


    Did you sell farm equipment for the exact same price in which you purchased it?  



     

    Sitemap 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16