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