Chrematistics (from Greek: χρηματιστική) according to Thales of Miletus is the art of getting rich.

Plato (left) and Aristotle (right)

Aristotle established the fundamental difference between economics and chrematistics. The accumulation of money itself is an unnatural activity that dehumanizes those who practice it. Like Plato, he condemns the accumulation of wealth. Trade exchanges money for goods and usury creates money from money. The merchant does not produce anything: both are reprehensible from the standpoint of philosophical ethics.

The Ionic Stoa on the Sacred Way in Miletus

According to Aristotle, the "necessary" chrematistic economy is licit if the sale of goods is made directly between the producer and buyer at the right price; it does not generate a value-added product. By contrast, it is illicit if the producer purchases for resale to consumers for a higher price, generating added value. The money must be only a medium of exchange and measure of value.

The Catholic Church maintained this economic doctrine throughout the Middle Ages (Second Council of the Lateran,1139). Saint Thomas Aquinas accepted that capital accumulation if it served for virtuous purposes as charity.

Although Martin Luther raged against usury and extortion, according to Max Weber's study of capitalism and the Protestant ethic, frugality, sobriety, deferred consumption and saving were among the key values of the rising bourgeoisie in the age of the Reformation.

Karl Marx took up the concept in his famous work Das Kapital.

Further reading

  • AKTOUF, O. (1989): “Corporate Culture, the Catholic Ethic, and the Spirit of Capitalism: A Quebec Experience”, in Journal of Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism. Istambul, pp. 43–80.
  • BROADIE, S.; ROWE, C. (2002): Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics: Translation, Introduction, and Commentary. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • KRAUT, R. (ed.) (2006): The Blackwell Guide to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • McLELLAN, D. (ed.) (2008): Capital (Karl Marx): An Abridged Edition. Oxford: Oxford Paperbacks; Abridged edition.
  • PAKALUK, M. (2005): Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics: An Introduction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • SCHEFOLD, B. (2002): “Reflections on the Past and Current State of the History of Economic Thought in Germany”, in History of Political Economy 34, Annual Supplement, pp. 125-136.
  • SHIPSIDE, S. (2009): Karl Marx's Das Kapital: A Modern-day Interpretation of a True Classic. Oxford: Infinite Ideas.
  • TANNER, S.J. (2001): The Councils of the Church. A Short History. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company.
  • DALY, H. and COBB, J. (1984): 'For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future'. Boston: Beacon Press.
  • WARNE, C. (2007): Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics: Reader's Guide. London: Continuum.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Chrematistics — Chre ma*tis tics, n. [Gr. ? 9sc. ?) the art of traffic, fr. ? goods, money, fr. ? to use.] The science of wealth; the science, or a branch of the science, of political economy. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • chrematistics — noun Study of wealth …   Wiktionary

  • chrematistics — the study of wealth; political economy Sciences and Studies …   Phrontistery dictionary

  • chrematistics — chrem·a·tis·tics …   English syllables

  • chrematistics — …   Useful english dictionary

  • chrématistique — ● chrématistique nom féminin (grec khrêma, atos, richesse) Nom donné autrefois à l économie politique, considérée comme la science de la production des richesses. ⇒CHRÉMATISTIQUE, adj. et subst. fém. ÉCONOMIE A. Adj. Qui se rapporte à la… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Sciences and Studies — This list defines 633 sciences, arts and studies of various degrees of respectability and rarity, ranging from the common and esteemed (chemistry) to the obscure and quirky (peristerophily). Over the past century, the range and scope of… …   Phrontistery dictionary

  • chrematistic — /kriməˈtɪstɪk/ (say kreemuh tistik) adjective of or relating to the acquisition of wealth. {Greek chrēmatistikos} –chrematistics, noun …   Australian English dictionary

  • chrematistic —   a. pertaining to gaining of money.    ♦ chrematistics, n. study of money …   Dictionary of difficult words

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