Welcome
   Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Authors
Works by Aristotle
Pages of Nicomachean Ethics



Previous | Next
                  

Nicomachean Ethics   


different and unequal; but these must be equated. This is why all
things that are exchanged must be somehow comparable. It is for this
end that money has been introduced, and it becomes in a sense an
intermediate; for it measures all things, and therefore the excess and
the defect-how many shoes are equal to a house or to a given amount of
food. The number of shoes exchanged for a house (or for a given amount
of food) must therefore correspond to the ratio of builder to
shoemaker. For if this be not so, there will be no exchange and no
intercourse. And this proportion will not be effected unless the goods
are somehow equal. All goods must therefore be measured by some one
thing, as we said before. Now this unit is in truth demand, which
holds all things together (for if men did not need one another's goods
at all, or did not need them equally, there would be either no
exchange or not the same exchange); but money has become by convention
a sort of representative of demand; and this is why it has the name
'money' (nomisma)-because it exists not by nature but by law (nomos)
and it is in our power to change it and make it useless. There will,
then, be reciprocity when the terms have been equated so that as
farmer is to shoemaker, the amount of the shoemaker's work is to that
of the farmer's work for which it exchanges. But we must not bring
them into a figure of proportion when they have already exchanged
(otherwise one extreme will have both excesses), but when they still
have their own goods. Thus they are equals and associates just because
this equality can be effected in their case. Let A be a farmer, C
food, B a shoemaker, D his product equated to C. If it had not been
possible for reciprocity to be thus effected, there would have been no
association of the parties. That demand holds things together as a
single unit is shown by the fact that when men do not need one
another, i.e. when neither needs the other or one does not need the
other, they do not exchange, as we do when some one wants what one has
oneself, e.g. when people permit the exportation of corn in exchange
for wine. This equation therefore must be established. And for the
future exchange-that if we do not need a thing now we shall have it if
ever we do need it-money is as it were our surety; for it must be
possible for us to get what we want by bringing the money. Now the
same thing happens to money itself as to goods-it is not always worth
the same; yet it tends to be steadier. This is why all goods must have
a price set on them; for then there will always be exchange, and if
so, association of man with man. Money, then, acting as a measure,
makes goods commensurate and equates them; for neither would there
have been association if there were not exchange, nor exchange if
there were not equality, nor equality if there were not
commensurability. Now in truth it is impossible that things differing
so much should become commensurate, but with reference to demand they
may become so sufficiently. There must, then, be a unit, and that
fixed by agreement (for which reason it is called money); for it is
this that makes all things commensurate, since all things are measured
by money. Let A be a house, B ten minae, C a bed. A is half of B, if
the house is worth five minae or equal to them; the bed, C, is a tenth
of B; it is plain, then, how many beds are equal to a house, viz.
five. That exchange took place thus before there was money is plain;
for it makes no difference whether it is five beds that exchange for a
house, or the money value of five beds.
We have now defined the unjust and the just. These having been marked
off from each other, it is plain that just action is intermediate
between acting unjustly and being unjustly treated; for the one is to
have too much and the other to have too little. Justice is a kind of
mean, but not in the same way as the other virtues, but because it
relates to an intermediate amount, while injustice relates to the
extremes. And justice is that in virtue of which the just man is said
to be a doer, by choice, of that which is just, and one who will
distribute either between himself and another or between two others
not so as to give more of what is desirable to himself and less to his
neighbour (and conversely with what is harmful), but so as to give

Previous | Next
Site Search