Chrematistics (from Greek: χρηματιστική) (or the art of getting rich, as coined by Thales of Miletus) has historically had varying levels of acceptability in Western culture. This article will summarize historical trends.
Aristotle established a difference between economics and chrematistics that would be foundational in medieval thought. For Aristotle, the accumulation of money itself is an unnatural activity that dehumanizes those who practice it. Trade Exchanges, money for goods, and usury creates money from money, but do not produce useful goods. Hence, Aristotle, like Plato, condemns these actions from the standpoint of their philosophical ethics.
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.
Although Martin Luther raged against usury and extortion, modern sociologists have argued that he inspired doctrines that assisted in the spread of capitalistic practices in early modern Europe. Max Weber argued that Protestant sects emphasized frugality, sobriety, deferred consumption, and saving.
In Karl Marx's Das Kapital, Marx developed a labor theory of value inspired by Aristotle's notions of exchange and highlighting the consequences of what he also calls Auri Sacra Fames (damned thirst for gold), a latin reference of Virgil to the passion of money for money itself.
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