Richard Ebeling emails:
I have a new article on the Future of Freedom Foundation (FFF) website on, “Economic Ideas: Plato, Aristotle, and the Ancient Greeks, Part 2.”
When we turn to Aristotle, we find little of Plato’s advocacy of collectivism. Indeed, Aristotle rejects collective ownership of land, saying that it is inconsistent with human nature, and breaks the close bond between work and reward that comes with private property, out of which comes incentives and a healthy work ethic.
Aristotle also considered successful use of private property and the wealth-creation that may come with it as a source and basis of human generosity and benevolence desirable in a good society. But nonetheless, like his teacher, Plato, he considers that the interests and purposes of the State come before that of the individual, since man is a “political animal.”
Aristotle attempted to grapple with issues related to economics, but drew peculiar and misdirected distinctions between “natural” and “unnatural” trade, commerce and exchange, which led him to heavily criticize professional merchants, traders, and middlemen as corrupting members of society. And he fails to understand or offer solutions to explain the basis upon which goods are exchanged for each other, a faulty analysis that leads him to condemn the taking of interest on loans.
Nonetheless, Aristotle represents an important step in the establishment of a sound appreciation of property, production and personal incentives, and at least tries to deal with the nature of a market system of human association.