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Is the science of acquiring money the same thing as the art of managing the family?
Is the science of acquiring money a part of a household or a handmaid thereof, and, if it is, does it supply an instrument or material?
Is the science of acquiring sustenance derived from nature?
Does everything exist for Man’s use?
RDER casts light on things in every science, it confers credibility and praise upon the author. Therefore it is not beside the point to touch briefly on the order which the Philosopher observes here. He has treated of the first part of the household (the association of master and slave), and defined the slave according to nature and the slave according to the law, and concluded the slave is a part of the household, an instrument of his master, and an article of possessed property. It therefore now follows that he should give a relation of possession itself and the art of using possessed things. But there are three heads of this treatment, in the first of which he discourses on the faculty of acquiring sustenance, in the second on the art of gaining money, and in the third on the method of its use. With this order now having been followed in a few words (nothing could be more lucid), let us approach that which belongs to this place and scheme. It is a trite saying, without Ceres and Bacchus, Venus grows chill. There is no life without food, there is no family without the necessities for its feeding and sustenance. So, just as not enough for nature to have granted us the parts of the household, unless she produces the means for their conservation, so it is not enough this science to have delineated these parts, unless it provides us with the art of acquiring necessary things and of using them well. Here, therefore, the Philosopher inquires whether the science of acquiring money (by which he understands necessary things) is the same thing as the art of managing the family. To which he adjoins these two further questions, whether it is a part of the household or a helping handmaid? And, if it is a helping handmaid, does it provide an instrument or material? Aristotle does not answer all these problems in this chapter. But, not unmindful of the promise I have already made, for the sake of ease of understanding, I shall to the best of my ability resolve each of these questions in its proper place. So to the first question the Philosopher makes answer that the the science of acquiring money is not the same thing as the art of managing the family. For even if we understand the science of acquiring money to embrace the science of acquiring all necessary things, and by the art of managing the family we understand household management as a whole, yet, if you consider the matter more judiciously, there is a clear, effective, and manifest difference between these two arts (namely those of acquiring money and ruling the family). The arguments by which I prove this are two, one drawn from their disparate natures, the other from their diverse ends. The argument from disparate natures works in this way: these faculties differ in reality, because the one acquires and the other employs, the former is one of acquiring, the latter one of employment, therefore these two faculties differ in reality and nature. The major premise is agreed. The assumption is in the text, where the Philosopher says that household management consists exclusively in employing the things in the household. And the argument from diverse ends works this way: the ends of these faculties are diverse, therefore these faculties are different from each other. The antecedent is proven because the end of the money-gaining faculty is to prepare instruments, whereas that of household management is to employ these instruments well to protect and preserve the entire family. So as much as the method of the thing differs from that of its use, so much as the instrument differs from its end, thus much the science of acquiring money differs from the art of managing the family.
2. Now it is next inquired whether this science of acquiring money is part of the household or a handmaid thereto. Surely it makes no great difference whether you affirm that it is a part or a helper. For, just as money is both a material of war and also war’s instrument, just as the hand is both a part of the body and also an organ, thus the science of acquiring money can be called a part of the household and an instrument: a part if you consider its form, an instrument if you consider its use. Here, however, there are those interpreters who seriously think it is to be defined as a helper rather than a part. For they say, inasmuch as some arts are subject to others of greater seriousness (such as surgery to medicine, wool-combing to weaving), thus this science of acquiring necessary things is subordinated to the art of management not otherwise than if it were a handmaid or servant, and, just as a helper sometimes provides material (as one who provides bronze to a sculptor), but sometimes an instrument (as a handmaiden who makes shuttles for a weaver), so this science of acquiring money sometimes provides the household with material (such as wool, grain, oil), and sometimes with instruments (such as clothing, gold and silver). Indeed I acknowledge that there are some interpreters, worthy of no little esteem, who teach that this faculty does not supply material (such as wool) but only instruments (such as clothes). But since this is to be called a science of acquiring necessary things, and since among things necessary for the household I account not only instruments, but also other things which play the part of material, I assuredly fail to see the reason by which they can confirm what they say. He is an inexpert and unfrugal head of household who does not seek to acquire the pasture from which to feed his flock, that is, who does not seek the material from which he may have the instrument. As the smith requires not just the sword but also the iron, the jeweler not just the ring but also the gold, thus the head of household requires not just the cow but also the field, that is, not just the instrument but also the material. And so I conclude the doubtful points raised at the beginning of this chapter, namely that the science of acquiring money differs from the art of managing the family, and that in one respect it is a part of the household, and another respect a helping handmaid, for now it supplies the material (such as iron), and now the instrument (such as the sword).
3. With these questions concluded, others follow opportunely, namely, is the science of acquiring necessary things for our sustenance derived from nature? And are all things that exist destined for Man’s use? The dispute is conducted in a general way about life, and specifically about sustenance. For, just as the science of acquiring the necessities for life must be practiced by the head of household, so he must above all else thoroughly learn the skill of acquiring the things necessary for sustenance, in which the safety and life of the household is contained. For, just as there is no life without food, so without this science of sustenance the household is not preserved. It is to be noticed that, even if this concern for acquiring sustenance consists of many things, yet it lies especially in agriculture (which is called the nurse of the commonwealth), and Aristotle places agriculture in this category. Hence a manifold distinction and comparison both of sustenance and of life is given in the text. I say of sustenance and of life, because it is agreed the various kinds of life itself derive from the manifold nature of its support. But if I may mention summarily all of them which are scattered about and hidden in the text, you should carefully and diligently mark that there are two principal forms of sustenance: the one in nature’s very bowels and, as it were, in her marrow, the other also flowing from nature, but brought to consummation by art and industry; the one is said to be immediate, the other derived remotely from nature’s womb. For example, what fodder is to the cow, this is what is procured as food Man. Treating of this in this part of the chapter, the Philosopher makes this distinction, that the one is primary, the other less primary: the primary is divided into the agricultural and pastoral faculties, the less primary in to hunting, fishing, the chase, and a mixed form of these things. Agriculture is, as it were, the painstaking nurse of the commonwealth. The pastoral faculty is the care of the flock. But what am I doing? These things are not omitted by the Philosopher in this place: rather, he teaches this by a comparison, that some beasts live in herds, others live scattered and apart, and that some feed on other animals, others on plants, and some on every manner of food. Thus some men delight in this manner of sustenance, others in that. Hence by nature’s impulse many seek their sustenance in agriculture, many in the pastoral faculty, others in the hunt, a number by fishing, and each and every one by the means I have mentioned. It should be added that all of these are natural, therefore their means of sustenance arises from nature. If you desire this to be proved more certainly, understand it thus. Every art by which living is acquired without an intermediary, which nature pours forth for the sake of the living thing, is very natural for Man, the art of acquiring sustenance is of this kind, therefore it is natural. The reason is evident, since nature does nothing without point nor is she deficient in the things necessary for us, but she would be most deficient if she only brought forth living things like a mother, and did not also feed and preserve them like a nurse; but nature is a tender nurse, and she supports the things she brings forth. One can see this in every manner of living thing that arises from seed or putrefaction. This is like a miracle in animals born of eggs, how one part of the egg is devoted to life, another to sustenance and feeding. O how great is nature’s care and zeal, who gives birth to so much sustenance along with the chick that it can suffice for the feeding of what has been born, until it is able to supply food for itself! Now, these things having been examined, who denies the art of gaining sustenance is natural? Of the other means of acquiring sustenance, remote and less primary, which lies in trade, the Philosopher does not deal in this place.
4. Now my discourse hastens to the last doubtful point in this chapter, this, whether, thanks to God or nature, everything exists for Man’s use. Aristotle, after wisely noting that earth exists to supply food for plants, plants for beasts, beasts for men, finally arrives at that opinion, so that he openly and excellently states that elements, plants, beasts, and finally everything nature has ever created, exists for the sake of Man, sovereign of living things, and is destined by nature herself for his use alone. Rightly that man said, Everything fears Man, because he presides over created things. This very thing can be proven from the ranking of things, from the order of divine providence, from Man’s property, from the virtue of his mind. There are four ranks of things: the first is that of simple things in nature, the second of living things, the third of things endowed with sense, and the final one of those who employ reason. In these ranks it so so arranged that all things less perfect exist for the sake of things more perfect, and that things so constituted must serve and obey Man, who exists in the final rank. Divine providence proves this too, because it has thus arranged all things so that superior things should possess sovereignty over inferior things. The property of Man is reason and foresight, which claim by right dominance over beasts, plants, and elements. Lastly, the mind’s virtue is wisdom and a certain likeness of God, to which (because of the influence of divine nature) all things which exist in nature are subjected. The poet once did a fine job of representing Man’s domination: Thus you bear wool, but not for yourselves, ye sheep. Thus make honey, but not for yourselves, ye bees. Thus you pull the plow, but not for yourselves, ye oxen. Thus you build nests, but not for yourselves, ye birds. Thus by natural right all things created by God bear their usefulness and fruit first for God, and then for Man. So to you, oh Man, heaven earth, plants and beasts, each and every one of nature’s works is subjected. “Why so?” You ask why, you most ungrateful animal? So that you might learn to be subjected to God, Who placed you in this rank. But you will say, “The sky does not obey.” Here I am not speaking of Joshua, at whose word the sun itself stood still, nor of Elijah, who called down fire from heaven, but of the wise man who (as it is said in the proverb) governs the very stars, and if he governs the stars, much more so he governs other things placed in these deep seats of nature, which from heaven contain his being and his well-being. From these things I conclude, together with Aristotle, that everything occurs for the sake of Man, and are by nature herself destined for his use.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE FIRST QUESTION
Is the science of acquiring money the same thing as the art of managing the family?
The science of acquiring money differs from the art of managing the family in:
Its object, since its object is money, i . e. every necessary thing;
but the object of the other is the entire family.
5. OBJECTION The part does not differ from the whole, the science of acquiring money is a part of household management, therefore it does not differ from it. The minor premise is proven, since, as the hand is a part in the body, thus the science of acquiring money is a part in household economics, therefore the science of acquiring money is a part of managing the household.
RESPONSE A part, like the hand of man, is considered in two ways, either in its own proper essence (and thus it differs from the whole), or in regard to the complete essence of the whole (and thus it does not differ). For the whole is understood as nothing other than the sum of its parts. I therefore acknowledge that the art of acquiring money is indeed a part of household management, but I respond here it ought to be considered in its own proper essence and office.
OBJECTION The arts, of which (as they say) one is subject to another in subordination, do not differ between themselves in nature: the science of acquiring money is subordinate to the art of managing the family, therefore in realty and nature it does not differ from it. The major premise is that of Aristotle in the Analytics, and it is proven by reason in the examples of surgery and medicine, natural magic and philosophy, &c. The minor is proven, because the science of acquiring money supplies the instruments which the science of managing employs.
RESPONSE Subordinate arts are not otherwise considered than are parts, either per se (and thus they differ), or in terms of the existence of the whole, and thus they comprise one complete art, like surgery and medicine, household management and moral philosophy. Surgery indeed is a part of medicine, household management is a part of moral philosophy. Just as these have their distinct subjects, properties and ends if they are considered separately, thus these two sciences are distinguished in those we have mentioned.
OBJECTION Those things do not differ which cannot exist without each other, the science of managing the family does not exist without that of acquiring money, therefore these two sciences do not differ by nature. The major premise is agreed on the basis of the definition of a necessary thing. The minor is proven, since there is no management of things unless there first exists the acquisition of those things.
REPLY In these things there is a necessity of consequence, not a necessity of cause. For, just as there is no choice if there is no preceding deliberation, and yet deliberation is not the same thing as choice, thus there is no administration of things if it is not preceded by their acquisition, and yet acquisition differs from administration in its reality and nature.
OBJECTION Cause does not differ from effect, the science of acquiring money is the cause of its use, therefore the science of acquiring money does not differ from the science of its use. The minor premise is proven, since management flows from acquisition.
REPLY Internal cause does not differ from effect, but external cause differs (such as sun from light, fire from heat), but in this place we are not judging that the science of acquiring money is the cause of household management, unless you should say that the cause is a sine qua non, which in this, as in all things, is separated by nature from its effects.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE SECOND QUESTION
Is the science of acquiring money a part of a household or a handmaid thereof, and, if it is, does it supply an instrument or material?
The science of acquiring money is either:
6. OBJECTION Part and instrument are distinguished, the science of acquiring money is a part of the household, therefore it is not its handmaid or instrument. The major premise is proven, since a part is conjoined with the whole, but an instrument is separated.
RESPONSE As a slave is a part of the household, and yet in a diverse respect, thus the science of acquiring the slave and other necessities can be called both a part and an instrument: a part, by which the entire house is brought to completion; an instrument, which the household employs for the acquisition of necessary things.
OBJECTION The science of acquiring money is neither a material nor a formal part, therefore it is not a part at all. The antecedent is proven. It is not material, since the three associations make up the household. It is not formal, since it does not distinguish the household from the commonwealth (in which exists a science of acquisition).
RESPONSE The form of things is twofold, common and remote, by which it make no distinction, and proximate, by which it makes a definite thing to differ from all others. This is a common and remote form, not a proper and proximate one.
OBJECTION Nature provides material (such as wool, oil, and wine), therefore the art of acquiring necessary things does not supply material.
RESPONSE Nature supplies material commonly and remotely, but the art of acquiring necessary things does so distinctly and proximately, and accommodates nature to this or that mode of organization in managing the household.
OBJECTION The science of acquiring necessary things in the household is an instrument itself, therefore it does not provide an instrument. The antecedent is in the text. The argument is proven, since like cannot produce like.
RESPONSE It is no strange thing that a hammer can produce a hammer, or that a hammer can make a knife, a sword, or other instruments. I admit that something cannot make itself, but I join Aristotle in affirming it can make something like itself. Wherefore, even if the science of acquiring necessary things should be an instrument of the household, it can still supply other instruments for life’s necessity.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE THIRD QUESTION
Is the science of acquiring sustenance natural?
The science of acquiring sustenance is proven to be natural
By the multiple material of sustenance, which nature herself pours
forth without human effort.
7. OBJECTION Art and nature are opposites, in the republic sustenance is acquired by many by means of art, therefore the science of acquiring sustenance is not natural. The major premise stands in Book I, chapter i of the Physics, where the Philosopher shows that there there is a difference between art and nature. The minor is proven, since the hands of many men are calloused by working at laborious and mechanical arts, so that they may procure sustenance for themselves and their family.
RESPONSE The reckoning of sustenance is twofold, one immediately and simply from nature, as that which depends on agriculture, pastoral activity, birding, and hunting (about which we have already disputed), the other remote and less proper, such as flows from mercantile activity, art, and the exchange of things. Here we are speaking particularly of the former kind, the other is disputed in the sequel; the one is absolutely natural, the other is said to be partially natural, partially artificial. This is Burleius’ response, and it is quite probable, and yet, pace such a learned interpreter, I say that, although a material or an instrument may exist in exchange by which sustenance is acquired, it is not natural. But the science of acquiring, which is given all men by nature for the acquisition of sustenance, seems to me to be natural. For even if a cobbler make shoes to gain his sustenance, a natural science impels the cobbler that he make and cobble together shoes for this end.
OBJECTION Nothing violent is natural, but some of the means of acquiring sustenance which Aristotle enumerates are violent, therefore they are not natural. The major premise is agreed. The assumption is proven, since to despoil others by banditry, kill little birds by birdliming, slaughter beasts in the hunt, is a savage and cruel business.
RESPONSE In the text Aristotle understands banditry as the art of looting. To the rest of your examples I answer that this human rule over birds, fish and beasts is not violent, especially when all these things exist for Man’s cause and are destined for this very use.
OBJECTION At the beginning of his sixth chapter Aristotle openly says that the money-oriented kind of seeking sustenance is most justly called artificial. Furthermore, a little after the beginning of this same chapter, making a distinction between both sciences of seeking sustenance, he has these words: It is agreed that the one of these is plied and exercised in accordance with nature, but the other not by nature, but by experience and art. Therefore you wrongly teach that this science too is in derived from nature.
RESPONSE I reply that this science that lies in the exchange of thing is considered in two ways, inchoatively (and thus it is natural) and perfectively (and thus it is called artificial). So when the Philosopher teaches that it is most deservedly called artificial, and exists according to art rather than nature insofar as it is discussed according to form rather than material, according to the usage of the art rather than the motion of nature. For nature moves any man at all to the seeking of nourishment, even if art itself brings this movement to completion.
OBJECTION Nothing indifferent and superfluous is called natural, but a mixed kind of life is indifferent and superfluous, therefore it is not natural. The minor premise is proven, since many men mix and join together several kinds of making a livelihood. For example, agriculture with birding, hunt, or pastoral activity, so that, heaped with all manner of resources, they might live happily and at leisure. If you should deny this is done for that end, I tell you this rationale of connection is found in the text.
RESPONSE In the text the Philosopher says that several kinds are mixed by many men, so that they might live heaped with all manner of resources, not that they might live at leisure. So I respond that out of her storehouses nature bestows on mortals not just all things for their necessity, but many things for their delight and pleasure. For, since nature’s hand is not stingy, it is not greedy. But the reason that many things are lacking to many men is not the fault of nature, but the sloth in those to whom they are lacking, or the avarice of many men who, without any right or movement of nature snatch everything in their claws and their money-chests, not otherwise than vultures.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE FOURTH QUESTION
Do all things exist for Man’s use according to God and nature?
It is plainly proven that everything exists for the same of Man, by
ranks of things, according which the less perfect exist for the sake of
the more perfect: thus earth provides food for plants, plants for
beasts, and all these things for men.
8. OBJECTION Man strikes plants with an axe and sheds the blood of beasts, therefore it does not appear arranged by nature that plants and beasts should naturally be at Man’s service. The argument is proven, since nature shrinks from an enemy and does not voluntarily defer to his rule who injures it, let alone who kills it.
RESPONSE Although Pythagoreans motivated by this argument deemed it cruel and inhuman to kill a beast and devour its meat, nevertheless these men little heed either the order of nature or divine providence, by whose decree this act, which strikes them as savage and inhumane, is natural. For, since by nature’s instinct everything must defer to the use of its superiors, and since Man is the sovereign and ruler of all that exists, in Man it is not cruel if he accommodates to his use those things destined for it by nature. Others respond to this argument that, although it is against their particular nature that this plant, this animal should die, yet it is not against universal nature, which in this way is preserved.
OBJECTION Sometimes by its evil aspect and influence heaven creates famine, and often it creates plague for the ruination of the human race, and in six hundred other ways the elements by their storms, the beasts by their toxins vex and harry Man. Therefore not everything has been born to obey Man’s rule.
RESPONSE I acknowledge that that sometimes heaven is transformed, as it were, into brass and the earth into iron. I acknowledge that, while sailing to demolish Apollo’s temple, Xerxes’ army was destroyed by fast-flying lightning. I know that a plant did not spare Milo, a lethal poison did not spare Alexander. But what of it? Just as the error of a few does not destroy the truth, thus the rage of a few does not destroy Man’s rule. The heaven does not favor me, I acknowledge the Fall. A beast attacks me, I acknowledge God: He has made the heaven to be as my slave when I am prudent, as my enemy when I sin.
OBJECTION Man cannot change the aspect of the stars and the course of heaven, therefore not everything seems subject to his rule. The argument follows, since servitude is properly acting according to the will of one’s master.
RESPONSE Dominion consists of two things, either in commanding or in using. Though Man does not have heaven under his government so that he may rule it, yet he has it so that, by using its light, its motion, its influence, he may live much more happily in this center of the universe.
THE CHAPTER’S DOUBTFUL QUESTION
Is war against beasts and barbarians legitimate and natural?
9. You are more monstrous than the Cyclops, my little man, who take delight in slaughter and bloodshed. You think this well said: In your course you will often drive the wild asses, and with hounds you will hunt the hare, with hounds the does. Perhaps this is well said, but it is ill done. What what savagery is it to pierce fearful beasts with a weapon? What victory is it to triumph over an ass and a hare? “You are joking, philosopher, and calling the reader from serious matters to playthings.” I am playing, but I return to myself. “What then? Do you think that nature declares war on beasts and barbarians?” I think so. “But killing is contrary to nature.” It is not, if it occurs according to right and rule. “Do you think this right and rule extends to barbarians?” Why not? “Barbarians are men too.” Indeed they are, but they are monstrous, against whom nature has taught us to wage war not otherwise than against savage beasts.
War against barbarians is proved to be legitimate and natural:
imitation and example of nature, which teaches men to pursue beasts in
the hunt; barbarians are bestial, who refuse to submit and obey
government unless they are compelled..
10. OBJECTION An unjust cause makes an unjust war, the cause of a war undertaken against barbarians is unjust, therefore the war itself is also unjust. The major premise is agreed. The minor is proven, because in nature herself the offering of violence is unjust. Nature’s dictum is “what you do not wish to be done to you, do not do against another.”
RESPONSE To declare war against barbarians is not an act of violence, nor is it to do an injury. For, as a judge can be neither said to do an act of violence nor an injury when he condemns the guilty to punishment, thus those who wage war against men barbaric in their monstrosity are said to ply and exercise government rather than violence, nature’s dictate rather than an injury.
OBJECTION Infidels are regarded as barbarians, it is impermissible to wage war against infidels, therefore it is also impermissible to wage war against barbarians. The major premise is agreed regarding Scythians and Indians. The minor is proven, since no men, not even barbarians, are to be compelled to accept the Faith. For faith comes only from God, not enforced by violence but accepted by free will.
RESPONSE Even though I do not cheerfully hear of the great severity of the Spanish and Portuguese against the Indians which they have exercised in their remarkable exploration, neverthless one should drive and compel barbarians to order and government (which nature’s reason has bidden). Wherefore, though infidels are alien to the Faith, they are not to be compelled it, but they are to be dragged by force of arms to the embrace and pursuit of civil life.
Is the exchange of things natural and permissible in the republic?
Is need the cause of exchange?
Is a large supply of money the true riches of the commonwealth?
| Is money necessary for exchange?
INCE the science of seeking wealth is twofold, the one wholly natural (such as agriculture, hunting, &c.), and the other is situated in exchange (such as commerce and innkeeping), since we have disputed sufficiently about the former, now it remains that we dispute about the latter in its place and order. So it is first asked whether the exchange of things is natural and permissible in the republic? Even if twice or thrice in the text Aristotle distinguishes this form of moneymaking from that of acquiring sustenance (but under the name of art and industry), he associates the one with nature, and the other with art and human intelligence. But if in your mind you more closely examine the causes of both, you may see that this pecuniary art also emanates from nature in a certain way. I therefore make the distinction that this science of sustenance is simply and entirely natural, but that this pecuniary faculty has its beginning in nature herself, but is perfected by art, from whence it has its form and proper use. Hence it has obtained its name more from art than nature, from its form and use than from its material and natural impulse. Yet if you think more carefully about human neediness, which is the cause of exchange, or of its material, which is everything that has been produced for human use, or of nature’s power, by which Man is compelled this means of living, you will surely discover that which I am now defending to be true, namely that this science too, which is located in exchange, is in part natural. But you will say “nature has given us neither sordid mercantile trade nor filthy lucre.” You indeed speak like a philosopher, but are dealing with me in a manner that is scarce friendly, when you conceal the preceding passage, wherein the Philosopher shows that it indeed is consistent with nature that the exchange of things be deemed such. But if mercantile trade is to be called squalid and money is to be called filthy lucre, as they say, how can you defend the fact that this art and science is permitted in the republic? They are called so in a certain respect, but not absolutely, for, as the mechanical arts are sordid in comparison with the liberal arts, thus mercantile trade, which is wholly concerned with moneymaking, if you compare it with the science of acquiring sustenance, may be called less liberal. So, just as that one (I mean the science of acquiring sustenance) is necessary in the republic, thus indeed this one is and should be permitted. Nature’s neediness has taught us this, the necessity of exchange has established this, long experience has confirmed this: nature’s neediness, since otherwise she could not cure herself of her defects; the necessity of exchanging, since otherwise a confusion of affairs would arise in the commonwealth; experience, since without this means the republic would not be rendered happy in fortune’s good things. But since the science of exchange is twofold, either when things are exchanged for each other, such as grain for wool, wine for oil, or when things are exchanged for money (which is a measure of exchange value), I assert the former is wholly natural and legitimate, and I consider the latter also to be necessary and legitimate, if it is does not progress to the point of being conducted for sordid profit.
2. But since the use of every exchangeable commodity is twofold (common and proper) let us briefly see in what the legitimate cause of exchange exists. The Philosopher says that the use of every possessed thing is twofold, one proper and one common. An example of the proper is to protect the feet with shoes so they are not hurt by stones, the common is the very exchange of shoes, which was invented out of necessity, so that in exchange for things of which we have a superabundance other things may be substituted in their place. For example, God has blessed England with grain, France with wine; the Frenchman lacking in wheat transports wine into England, and hence arises that genuine exchange of which we are now speaking. So do you wish to understand the reason for exchanging? It is the short supply of things necessary for the usages of life. You lack bread, I lack clothing; I give you bread, you give me clothing. In this way our lack of things is assuaged, in this way nature’s defect is removed, in this way the peace of the commonwealth is preserved. In the text the Philosopher calls this kind of exchange most natural, because in these matters exist the means of offering nature help and assistance. But there is another kind that transgresses the limits of nature, which looks at most shameful profit and gain as its end, since it pursues the increase of money and not human use, which he wisely deems to be completely alien to nature. Exchange has been invented for the acquisition of necessary things, not superfluous ones, and so in this passage he calls mercantile trade base and sordid, the kind plied by loathsome moneylenders, who invest and bargain with all their property for gain rather than sustenance, excess rather than use, increase of money (to which there is no limit) rather than necessity of life. These men are, as it were, voracious crows in the republic who are like insatiable wolves, whose greed is inextinguishable, whose dropsy is incurable by any medicines or herbs. But still, there is another kind of mercantile trade in the commonwealth, which is useful and fruitful, for the sake of which exclusively money (which is the measure of exchanged things) was invented and designed. This kind, albeit it indeed employs money, yet is not referred to money as its end: it uses money as a means and a instrument not so that it might be enslaved by its dominion. For the miser is the man who marvels at money. But that money was invented for the sake of exchange, and that it is quite necessary for it, is proven by the Philosopher in four ways: from the distance of places, from the difference of times, from the quantity of the things, and from human need and necessity. From the distance of things in which the things to be exchanged exist. For example, in Arabia there are spices, which the English lack, and it is inconvenient to bring other exchangeable goods there from England, like for instance wool or iron; therefore it is necessary to discover something of small quantity which can equal those things in value. From the difference of times. For example, this year I have a large supply of wine, I am unable to store it until next year lest it turn sour, you will not give me grain or oil, so it is necessary that I seek money. From the quantity of the things which are exchanged. By way of illustration, I have a horse but I lack food and clothing. If I trade the horse for nourishment, I still lack clothing, so it is necessary that I seek the coins with which I may get both food and clothing. From human need. For example, a poor man does a job so that he might gain the things necessary for his sustenance, but you, for whom he does the job, have a coin at hand rather than food. It is therefore necessary that the poor man take the coin, with which he may acquire sustenance for himself and his family. From these examples it is sufficiently established that money was invented for the sake of exchange, and that it is most necessary in the commonwealth. And this one thing is rendered quite clear, that there is nothing more dangerous to the commonwealth, nothing more pernicious to its citizens, than to change its legal currency frequently, which justice has made the measure of exchanged things, and a permanent one. I read of a number of conditions for currency: 1.) that it be small in quantity; 2.) that it be stamped with the image of some sovereign; 3.) that it be distinguished by a fixed weight and value; 4.) that it not be easily corrosable or liable to decay; 5.) that it be rare and precious; 6.) that for the uses of the poor it be divided into small denominations; finally (and this is the most important of all) that it be destined for necessary exchange and not for sordid usury.
3. Hence arises the issue which is treated in last place, namely whether a mass of money is not the commonwealth’s true riches. Cicero, you were right: It is a man’s mind, not his money-chest, that is wont to be called rich. What vain ostentation in discussing money exists in the world nowadays! What a foolish striving for wealth men have! You want to be wealthy? Shun money. You desire riches? Cultivate the virtues. Hear Aristotle talking about this thing: currency seems a silly thing. He adds the reason, because by the decree of those who use it, it is in no way exchanged, nor is it useful for acquiring any necessary thing. And these words follow, that he who abounds in currency often lacks the things necessary for sustenance and life. If you wish an example, he adduces Midas, who, when his golden wish was granted by Jove, finally died foolishly of starvation. The Philosopher seems to argue thus: whatever things are not certain are not the true riches of the commonwealth, money is unstable and uncertain, therefore money is not the true riches of the commonwealth. Again, those things are not the true riches of the commonwealth, the possessors of which sometimes die of the lack of things necessary for sustenance, well-moneyed men often die because of a lack of things necessary for life, therefore money is not the true riches of the commonwealth. Moreover, money now in circulation according to a sovereign’s edict can be a wholly useless thing, therefore it is not the true riches of the commonwealth. Finally, how can money be called the commonwealth’s goods, when it is used by bad and good men alike? Therefore we are not to heed that saying, Oh citizens, citizens, first we must seek money, and virtue after coins. For, although this was most rightly said, At the moment coinage is king of the world, the true riches of the commonwealth nevertheless do not lie in coinage. Aristotle is very much concerned with decreasing this opinion about money-grubbing which men cherish, and he teaches the very same thing as sang the poet, the love of money grows as much as does money itself. He says the thirst and greed for money is boundless, there is no satiation, no limit. The reason is that the more water you drink, the thirstier you are. Aristotle urges this point rather vehemently, and he urges it in an oratorical vein, as I think, so that the might wound the minds of moneylenders, so that if they will not finally abandon their ways, they will at least gnaw more gently at the commonwealth’s guts and vitals. For, just as nothing is more helpful to a republic than honest exchange and mercantile trade, thus their is no more fatal plague in the commonwealth than the mordant exaction of money and intolerable usury. But since this subject is to be put off until the following chapter, I shall forbear to say more about it now.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE FIRST QUESTION
Is exchange permissible and natural?
Exchange is twofold:
things with things, such as wine for oil, and this is simply natural
and legitimate. . Of
things for money, and this is considered either: Inchoatively, and thus it is natural. The necessity of nature, whose defects the
commonwealth thus cures. Of money for money, and this is neither
natural nor tolerable in the commonwealth, as the ...Philosopher teaches.
Of things with things, such as wine for oil, and this is simply natural and legitimate.
Of things for money, and this is considered either:
Inchoatively, and thus it is natural.
The necessity of nature, whose defects the
commonwealth thus cures.
Of money for money, and this is neither natural nor tolerable in the commonwealth, as the ...Philosopher teaches.
4. OBJECTION A defect or lack of things is not natural, the first exchange came about because of a defect and lack of things, therefore it is not natural. The major premise is proven, since in any thing nature seeks for an end and a perfection. The minor is proven from the text, where the Philosopher teaches that a lack of things is the cause of exchange.
RESPONSE Although lack of things is not natural, properly speaking, yet exchange, by which this lack is corrected, can rightly be called natural. Furthermore although lack is not natural, properly speaking, in respect to this man’s or that man’s nature, nevertheless in respect to the entire universe it is rightly said to be natural, as can be said of disease which arises from intemperance, or old age which arises from the decay and defect of the humors.
OBJECTION It is not nature but avarice that introduced the distinction of mine and thine, exchange depends on the distinction of mine and thine, therefore exchange is not in accordance with nature. The major premise comes from Plato, who taught that nature gave us everything in common and created all men equals. The assumption is proven, since it is from the inequality of ownership that the exchange of thins arises, in accordance with our need.
RESPONSE The distinction of mine and thine can be considered in two ways, either in respect to possession, or in respect to use: possession is personal, but common use is according to nature. For, just as the sun’s brightness is its property, if you consider its inherence, but common if you consider its influence, thus any exchangeable thing is personal in respect to right of ownership, but common in respect to the use of the commonwealth. I say an exchangeable thing, lest you understand wives, who are indeed have been given to men by nature herself and by divine law both as private possessions and for their personal use.
OBJECTION Nature did not create money: therefore the exchange of things for money is not natural. The antecedent is in the text, where it is taught that money is a thing of art, not nature. The reason holds, because this species of exchange has taken its name and form from its very nature.
RESPONSE This species of exchange is considered in two ways, either inchoatively, and thus it is natural, because the things exchanged according to this species are natural, or perspectively, and thus it is called artificial rather than natural.
OBJECTION In the household, which is most natural, there is no exchange at all: therefore it is probable that no exchange is natural. The antecedent comes from Aristotle in the text. The argument is from the greater to the lesser.
RESPONSE The great commonwealth belongs to nature no less than the small household. For even if households are more closely united in blood, the commonwealth contains a larger number of associations: because there is no exchange in households is caused by the small number of men; that it does in the commonwealth is caused by its multitude of men and lack of things.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE SECOND QUESTION
Is the necessity of things the cause of exchange?
The cause of exchange is either:
5. OBJECTION In Book V, chapter v of the Ethics lack is called the natural measure of exchange, therefore in this place it is ill defined as the cause of exchange. The argument holds, since a measure or an instrument is a less primary cause.
RESPONSE Lack has pertains to two things, the thing and the person: in respect to the thing it is called a measure, in respect to the person a primary cause. For it evaluates the thing as a measure, as a cause it moves the man to making an exchange.
OBJECTION Many men exchange their things for money, who lack nothing necessary for life and sustenance, therefore lack is not always the cause of exchange. The antecedent is agreed, because greedy merchants who abound in every store of necessary things sometimes are borne over sea and land, so that by making exchanges they can enhance their treasuries. The argument is proven, because where nothing is wanting lack should not be called the cause of exchange.
RESPONSE Lack pertains to the buyer as well as the seller. Therefore, even though lack does not compel the rich merchant to making exchanges, it still perhaps compels the buyer. Furthermore, need is called a general cause for exchanging with respect to the entire commonwealth, not a singular cause with respect to one man.
OBJECTION Want or lack of things argues that nature has been deficient regarding necessities, this is contrary to the philosopher, therefore it does not seem to be a cause of exchange. The major premise is proven, since the lack of things argues that nature has not given enough for life. The assumption is Aristotle’s. The conclusion follows, because, if nature has furnished a sufficiency of necessities, lack would not exist as a cause of exchange.
RESPONSE Nature is considered in a double way, either in general (and thus she is not deficient) or in particular (and thus she is sometimes defective). For nature has given enough to all men, but more to this one, less to that one. But she has done so for this reason, that with goods given and exchanged back and forth, the greatest concord might arise. Rightly he said, nature has granted all men to be happy, if a man knows how to use this. This to use can be understood as the exchange of things and their prudent administration.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE THIRD QUESTION
Is money necessary for exchange?
Money is understood in two ways, either:
Generally, as every means of acquisition, and thus whatever thing is
exchangeable is said to be money.
Distance of places, to which things are not easily transported.
Generally, as every means of acquisition, and thus whatever thing is
exchangeable is said to be money.
Distance of places, to which things are not easily transported.
6. OBJECTION Whatever is required for exchange, without which civil exchange cannot exist, this is derived from nature, but money is not derived from nature, therefore money is not necessary for exchange. The major premise is self-evident, because nature is not deficient in necessary things. The minor premise is in the text, because money is an invention of the law, not nature.
RESPONSE This phrase “not necessary” is understood in two ways, either simply, and thus money is not necessary, since trade existed before the invention of money, or comparatively, for the welfare of the commonwealth , and thus money is said to be necessary, because the commonwealth cannot fare well if this measure of the value of things is absent. Furthermore, one should not think nature to be deficient in necessary things, if she can find a means by which she can be replenished.
OBJECTION Those republics are happier which lack money than those that use it, therefore money is not necessary. The antecedent is proven, since those men live closest to nature. This is also proven by the examples of the Spartans and the Athenians, for the benefit of whom whom Lycurgus took away the use of money for the former, and Solon for the latter.
RESPONSE Anything you choose follows from an impossible argument: it is impossible that a man can live without a soul, it cannot be that a commonwealth can exist without money. As for what you say that republics that lack money are happier than those that have, first of all I ask where do these commonwealths exist? If you mention Athens or Sparta, I would be so bold as to say that this is the one cause why they are now extinct. As to your saying that those republics live more in accordance with nature, I deny it: the reason is that money comes to nature’s aid when she is defective.
OBJECTION Take away money and two monstrosities are simultaneously removed from the commonwealth, namely sordid greed and usury, therefore money seems not not so useful and necessary for the commonwealth. The antecedent is proven, since money is the seed or material, which if you remove, those things disappear of necessity. This is taught by the example of Lycurgus, who, when he saw the multitude gaping after money in his republic, he exchanged silver for lead, gold for iron, and made his obols of such a size and weight that you could scarce have carried three on your shoulders. Thus by degrees this wise man removed the greed for money, and at length recalled his people to a natural exchange of things.
RESPONSE First I deny that avarice and usury are only concerned with money. For, even if the end of the harmful usurer is the enlargement of his money, even if he seeks self-begetting money, like some monstrosity, yet this plague creeps widely in the bowels of the republic, and also, like a cancer, eats at its bones and sinews. For example, give me a hundred sheep this year, according to an agreement that next year you will receive two hundred: this is usury, albeit money is absent. So where the Philosopher says the usurer looks at money as his end, he does not mean just brass and silver, but every medium of exchange which is used not just as a means but also as an end. I do not approve the example upon which you place so much stress, for this is the fault of Man rather than money, if citizens seek after money more than is reasonable.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE FOURTH QUESTION
Is money the true riches of the commonwealth?
Money is not the true riches of the commonwealth:
Since it is unstable and uncertain, and exposed to every storm of
7. OBJECTION The true riches of the commonwealth are the things which bring to completion the commonwealth’s well-being, money brings to completion the commonwealth’s well-being, therefore it is the true riches of the commonwealth. The major and minor premises are agreed by the words of the Philosopher, where he teaches that exchange cures the defects of nature in the commonwealth with the aid of money.
RESPONSE The well-being of the commonwealth is either internal in the goods of the mind, as in prudence, justice and equity, or external in the goods of body and fortune, as in strength and affluence of property. The former are goods per se, but the latter accidentally bring the city’s well-being to completion.
OBJECTION A polity does not respect an internal good as much as an external one, therefore money can be the true riches of the commonwealth. The antecedent is proven out of Aristotle himself in this Book, where he teaches that a citizen’s goodness does not consist in virtue. For, as he says, he can be a good citizen albeit he is a bad man.
RESPONSE Here you come to a bad conclusion, for even he can be a good citizen in the virtue of his duty (such as to fight well if he be a soldier, to judge well if he be a judge), it does not follow that the statesman should not establish and admire the good of the mind as the goal of the commonwealth. It sometimes happens by accident that a bad man performs an external duty well, hence you draw the conclusion that the entire polity neglects and scorns the moral virtues. Read the Philosopher about the difference between the just and just action, and there you will find that a bad man sometimes does something good and just, but that he never acts well and justly.
OBJECTION Money can be true riches in that kind of commonwealth from which justice is banished: a tyranny is a kind of commonwealth from which justice is banished, therefore in a tyranny money can be true riches. The major and minor premises are Aristotle’s.
RESPONSE A tyranny is not a kind of commonwealth save by analogy, as will be explained later. For in it is confusion rather than order, sedition rather than peace, the perpetual ignominy and baseness of its citizens, not their honor.
THE CHAPTER’S DOUBTFUL QUESTION
Is it permissible to seek boundless wealth?
8. You have an immense gullet, you very voracious glutton, you who seek a very Ocean of wealth so ardently. Does not your household, your single commonwealth, your kingdom suffice? Assuredly the whole world will not suffice. You fool, death stalks you from behind: if you don’t believe me, look at the tomb. Oh if you would think upon Hell! What are you seeking. “Money.” What are you dreaming of? “Money.” Pray tell me what you worship. “Money.” What voice am I hearing? “The world’s voice.” Does the world want money? “Indeed, the whole world wants money.” But this is not allowed. “Tell me the reason.” There is a limit to things. “But not to money.” You are mistaken, if you are considering use; you are not mistaken, if you are considering usury.
In the moneymaking faculty two things are considered:
acquisition of things necessary for the use of the family; and thus
riches are sought permissibly, but not infinitely, as the Philosopher
proves in the text, By
its similarity with art, which has an end. The
enhancement of money according to the greed of the moneylender, and
thus money is sought infinitely. The philosopher proves this from: The example of medicine, which hopes to heal
The acquisition of things necessary for the use of the family; and thus riches are sought permissibly, but not infinitely, as the Philosopher proves in the text,
its similarity with art, which has an end.
The enhancement of money according to the greed of the moneylender, and thus money is sought infinitely. The philosopher proves this from:
The example of medicine, which hopes to heal
9 . OBJECTION It is permitted to seek money infinitely in the management of a family estate, therefore the Philosopher appears to have erred in arguing otherwise. The antecedent is proven: it is permissible to consult for one’s posterity to an infinite degree, therefore it will be permissible to gather money to an infinite degree. The antecedent is deduced from nature’s property, which is zealous for eternal life by means of descendants.
RESPONSE In posterity two things are considered, the succession of children (and thus we strive to live infinitely) and the possession of things (and thus we attempt to bequeath descendants only that which is sufficient for them). For example, you have an income of 100 £, you bequeath it to your son that he may bequeath it to your grandson; this is an infinite wish, if you consider the life of your descendants, but circumscribed, if you consider the use of the property.
OBJECTION In usury money cannot be sought infinitely, therefore the Philosopher’s contention is false. The antecedent is proven, since there ought to be a proportion between a power and its object, but neither the power by which money is sought, nor money itself is infinite, therefore it cannot be sought infinitely. The major premise is Aristotle’s. The minor is proven, since appetite belongs to a finite thing, namely Man’s power, and money is a thing of fixed and determined measure.
RESPONSE Albeit Man is a finite being, as the philosophers teach, yet within Man is one divine part, the powers of which are considered infinite. For the human mind is enclosed by no walls, no fences: therefore as the well-schooled appetite seeks use and limit in money, so the depraved appetite is swept to an immense craving for both pleasures and money.
Are medicines a part of household management?
Is usury permitted or tolerable in the commonwealth?
HE doubt was handled at the beginning of chapter v, whether the science of acquiring necessary things is a part of the household or a handmaid, and, if it is, whether it provides a material or an instrument. The Philosopher does not give an exposition of that question there, but completes it here. Lest frustrated expectation distract the reader’s mind, as the question moved there has been held over by me, a summary of the things disputed there amounts to this, that nature provides food, industry provides experience. For, just as civil science does not create men, but employs those it has received from nature, thus it does not create the things necessary for sustenance from the earth and the ocean, but, once they have been created, it enjoys them according to its will and prudence; and, just as it does not pertain to the art of weaving to produce wool, but to use it, thus it does not pertain to the household science to create things necessary for life and sustenance, but both to accommodate them to its use and to make provision that they will never be deficient. But here the Philosopher says that one may wonder whether, inasmuch as the art of moneymaking is a small part of domestic affairs, medicine is not such too, especially when those who live in the household should be in good health no less than they should be alive. Once Galen rightly said life is not living but being in good health. Nothing that touches the mind is more divine than virtue, nothing touches the body more divinely than health. It therefore is the responsibility of the paterfamilias in the household, no less than the sovereign in the commonwealth, to have the greatest care that those subject to himself live rightly and be in good health, and this he can exactly do if in this matter he carefully and diligently has a heed for medicine. But medicine is twofold: one kind is derived from nature, the other acquired from practice and art; the former is necessary to the governor of household and that of the commonwealth, the latter only to students of Galen and Hippocrates; it behooves the paterfamilias and the governor to know the former, and also to employ the latter if the need be pressing. You have the former if you have a consideration for work, sustenance, and air: for work, by which citizens may be moderately exercised; for sustenance, by which they may be wholesomely fed; by air, by which they may be freed of contagion. For the preservation of health is located primarily in bodily exercise, wholesome sustenance, and pleasantness of air. This medicine is, in a way, a part of the household and the commonwealth, for it wholly depends upon nature, inasmuch as labor, sustenance and are are natural things, and nature herself has taught us their use. Wherefore I cannot sufficiently wonder, when I see many cities, and well-situated ones at that, endangered by the foulest sewers, and plague-exhaling dunghills. The unconcern of the citizenry is great, as is the negligence of magistrates: nature has given us medicine, why should we not employ it? And she has taught us its use, why do we scorn it? She prescribes that our buildings be swept clean, that our sewers be purged, that our dunghills be removed, that our hospitals for victims of the plague be situated far from the city. But I ask where these things happen, and I assuredly know where they do not.
2. But, these things being omitted, I come to more serious ones. Next usury is dealt with, and it asked whether this is permitted and tolerable in the commonwealth. Since there is a twofold science of acquiring things, one from things created by nature, for instance plants and animals, and the other from money itself (abhorred by nature), in this place Aristotle praises the one and greatly criticizes the other. But inasmuch as there are four varieties of this science which they call the pecuniary, or rather the profit-seeking, namely mercantile trade, moneylending, the faculty of labor for hire, and a mixed kind, it is necessary to know that in this place in particular moneylending (which they call usury) is disputed. O worst of beasts, deadlier than every asp, would that you had never existed, or at least that you had never slithered into flourishing and well-regulated republics! Nature has spewed you forth as if you were filth, avarice took you up and acknowledged you as her child, monstrous greed reared and nourished you as the bane of many a commonwealth. But what am I doing? Now I must philosophize, it is not allowed to practice usury in the commonwealth. I prove the antecedent thus: nature denies this, justice forbids it, therefore it is not permissible. Nature denies it, because it is a monstrous thing that money should beget money; justice forbids it, because it is unfair that a man should sell the use of money. But that all of this might be understood more clearly, after having made a couple of distinctions I shall deduce each detail into syllogisms. The first distinction is this, that in possessed things two things should be considered, substance and use: but, as shown above, use is twofold, private (such as the occupation of a house), and common (such as exchange). Add to this that things possessed are likewise twofold that, in the case of some ownership is transferred to another man together with use (such as bread, wine, and oil), and other in which ownership is not transferred together with use (such as a house and a field). In the case of these latter, if you receive more than a fair price for the use, it is usury: ownership and possession of the thing being reserved, it is permitted to demand something in exchange for its use. The logic is, that in many cases the use is distinguished from the thing, and the thing from its use (such as a house from habitation and a field from its leasing). These assumptions having been made, I would argue as follows. What is contrary to nature’s law is not permissible, usury is against nature’s law, therefore usury is not permitted. The major premise is agreed. The assumption is proven. Whatever perverts the natural use of a thing is against natural law, usury perverts the natural use of money, therefore it is contrary to nature’s law. The minor premise is evident, because the natural use of money is that it be a measure of things, and usury makes this very thing the object of exchange. Furthermore, whatever seeks a birth or offspring from those things which do not have the power of childbirth (such as iron or stone), this is clearly contrary to nature’s law, but usury seeks, as it were, offspring from money, as if from a mother (although money does not have the power of procreation), therefore usury is obviously contrary the law of nature. Thirdly, it is not contrary to the nature of law to sell an existing thing, or to resell it, but in usury either a nonexistent thing is sold, or that thing is resold, therefore it is contrary to the law of nature. The major premise is agreed, because according to the law of nature it is not permitted to cheat or oppress another man. The minor premise is obvious, since, because either use (which does not exist) is sold, or money (which is transferred together with its use) is resold, and nothing in nature herself is more hateful, or more detestable in a well-regulated republic. 4. To separate a thing, the use of which is itself a consumption, from its use is contrary to legitimate or positive right, usury does this, therefore usury is contrary to legitimate or positive right. The minor premise is proven, since with money, oil, wine and so forth, the use of which involves their consumption, usury separates from their use, and this extracts and hunts after the basest profit. Finally, both the law of nature and the law of the commonwealth forbid the infinite appetite for money, in usury there is an infinite appetite for money, therefore both the law of nature and the law of the commonwealth forbid usury. The minor premise is that of Aristotle in chapter vi of this Book, and it is also proven by logic, since, for example, even if you receive only 10£ interest on a loan of 100£, yet for these you hope for 10£, and in the case of loans something beyond their fair price goes on to infinity; hence, even if the money you ask for is finite, yet the sin you commit is infinite. For this sin is to be measured not according to the thing to which it is attached, but by the desire you have when you undertake it, since your will conceives your sin and your act reveals it. Here I say nothing of divine law, although that expressly forbids usury. The gist of all these considerations is that in usury there exists an insatiable greed for money, which is a hateful perversion of natural use, that it involves the production of monstrous offspring, that it is a hurt suffered by the citizen, that it is a violation both of human and divine law. It therefore follows that usury should not be permissible in a well-designed republic, it should not be praiseworthy.
3. But at this point it is asked, can it be tolerated? God spares many men, is willing to turn a blind eye towards many. Justice forbids what is evil, yet political experience tolerates evil, and to tolerate evil is not to approve it. Human nature is savage, monstrous, truculent, and it is not always ruled by counsel, nor coerced by judgment. Hence a certain tolerance of evils has crept into the commonwealth, hence we have brothels, hence we have usury, not because a just republic approves these evils, but because the commonwealth thinks they are to be permitted lest worse evils ensue, but be thus permitted that sinners do not get away scot-free with their crimes. For those who persist in these evils are accursed in life, and lie unburied in death, and this according to the censure of the laws. So the law permits and yet forbids, it tolerates and yet it prosecutes: it looks at these evils, as it were, with closed eyes, lest it look too closely upon monstrosities which it certainly could not behold without its own death and shipwreck, if it did not sometimes turn a blind eye towards many and great evils. For such is human infirmity, the descent to Avernus is so easy, that often, if such a lapse were prohibited, the commonwealth would plunge more headlong into an immensity of crime.
4. In Aristotle’s work, another part of the chapter now follows, and which he disputes about the practice and use of the profit-seeking faculty, and in its first section he teaches that a head of household should possess the science of animals, fields, pasturage, and all the other things that pertain to life’s use. In the second part he divides the moneymaking science into four species, namely into mercantile trade (as they call it), moneymaking, working for hire, and a mixed form which is commonly called metallic. To mercantile trade he attributes three parts: navigation (achieved by ships), transportation (achieved by beasts of burden), and negotiation (achieved at the same place the wares are created). Next, he compares the actions of these faculties, so that some are called most artificial, others most sordid, and yet others very servile and ignoble. That we may learn more of these things, he refers us to certain authors who wrote about these matters, namely to Chares of Paros and Apollodorus of Lemnos, who (as Cato and Columella once did) published works on agriculture. He urges to learn from these writers precepts, imbued by which we may become wealthy, as did the philosopher Thales. This Thales, when somebody once reproached him for his poverty, said foolish man, it is easy for a philosopher to become rich when he wants. So this student of the stars, foreseeing that in the forthcoming year there would be a great shortage of olives, bought up all the oil in his city at a cheap price, and after he had held it back against that time, the next year arrived, the olive trees failed to bear their usual fruit, and when it was heard that Thales had oil the crowd came flocking to him. In this way Thales came out rich, and showed the populace a specimen of his wisdom. What now, Thales, is it easy for a philosopher to become rich when he wants? Fruitful the olive-tree which enriched you, blessed philosophy, which made you wise! But listen, philosopher, the times change, and we change within them. Nowadays olive oil does not flow, usury has left philosophers scarcely a cloak.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE FIRST QUESTION
Is medicine a part of household management?
Medicine is either:
Natural, which is a certain innate science of
maintaining health, and this is in a way a part of household
management, consisting in: Exercise of the body. Artificial, which is the science of healthful,
unhealthful things and their intermediates, which the governor of the
household and the commonwealth should employ when necessity is urgent.
Natural, which is a certain innate science of maintaining health, and this is in a way a part of household management, consisting in:
Exercise of the body.
Artificial, which is the science of healthful, unhealthful things and their intermediates, which the governor of the household and the commonwealth should employ when necessity is urgent.
5. OBJECTION Medicine is neither a formal nor a material part of either the household or the commonwealth, therefore it is no part. The argument holds from a sufficient division of the parts.
RESPONSE Every internal part is either matter or form, but medicine is classified among the external and assumed parts, namely among the necessary instruments which the household and the commonwealth employ for the preservation of their members’ health.
OBJECTION The business of artificial medicine is to prescribe an account of motion and rest, wholesomeness of sustenance, pleasantness of air, therefore it seems not to pertain to natural medicine. The argument follows, since nature and science are opposites.
RESPONSE Nature and the science of nature are not not opposites. For nature is the material and object of such a science. Furthermore, I am not teaching here that an exact and exquisite science of these things is required for the governors of the household or the commonwealth, but only insofar as daily usage and experience has taught.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE SECOND QUESTION
Is usury permitted?
6. Usury is a certain illicit exaction of money according to an agreement made openly or furtively, by which the borrower is bound to give back in excess of a fair share in exchange for the employment of things, the use of which involves their own consumption. It is defined more briefly thus: usury is the illegitimate profit of things which is not separated from their uses.
The reasons why usury is not deemed permissible are:
Because it perverts the natural use of money.
OBJECTION Whatever civil law tolerates is permissible, civil law tolerates usury, therefore usury is permissible. The major premise is obvious, because the foundation of this law is justice. The minor stands in many laws of the emperors.
RESPONSE Civil law permits usury (as I have taught above), but does not think it is to be approved. This is agreed, because in civil law itself it is says that things consumed by their use are to not receive any usufruct, either in accordance with natural or civil reason.
OBJECTION It was permitted the Jews to receive interest from aliens and foreigners, as is obvious in the law of Moses, therefore usury is permitted.
RESPONSE This was allowed the Jews, not as a permissible thing, but to avoid a greater evil. The infirmity of this people was great, hence their Lawmaker permitted them divorce and tolerated usury. But if you pay look carefully, he restricted this evil, for he permitted them to extract interest from gentiles and strangers to the House of God, not from their brothers. Now, however, that the veil of the temple has been rent, and the way to salvation opened to the gentiles, we are all brothers. Therefore if it is expressly enjoined that you not take interest from your brothers, it seems to be simply and wholly forbidden. For I repeat this often, now we are all brothers.
OBJECTION Silver and gold stamped with Caesar’s image does not differ in distinct species from gold and silver molded into tableware, but it is permissible to ask for something beyond their fair share for the latter, therefore it also is for the former, namely for money. The major premise is obvious, since gold and silver have the same species both in money and in a vase. Use and experience teach the minor premise.
RESPONSE Just as many natural things having the same material differ in form and species (as nearly all mixtures), so, concerning artificial things, it happens that, although they have the same material, they are still distinguished in their natures. I therefore answer that gold in coins and gold in tableware differ in species. For the gold in coins has a different form and end than the gold in tableware: the use of the one cannot be transferred without a transfer of its ownership, but the other can.
7. OBJECTION The purpose of making something permissible has always been to benefit citizens, usury benefits citizens, therefore it is permissible. The minor premise is proven, since thus the indigence of many men is relieved, and a great amount of wealth is amassed beyond what usury demands.
RESPONSE Science is unsure of future matters, the man oppressed by your loan can perhaps enrich himself, but (if fortune does not favor him) he may also suffer bankruptcy. By this unjust agreement you require something certain, while he, as his fortune fluctuates, hunts after something doubtful. So listen, it is permissible to benefit your fellow citizens in just ways, but a monstrous offspring is born from money.
OBJECTION Nobody willingly submits to an injustice, but many men freely and willingly submit to usury, therefore usury is not unjust, and in consequence it is not impermissible. The major premise is Aristotles’ in Book V of the Ethics. The minor is agreed from out of experience.
RESPONSE A voluntary contract is discussed in two ways, either simply, and thus usury is not absolutely voluntary on the part of the borrower, or comparatively, and thus it is, but this fails to prove that usury is just. The reason is because the borrower’s will is not free, but is compelled by necessity’s spur to submit to this.
OBJECTION If everything is given beyond a fair share in those things, the consumption of which is usury, then it would not be permissible to purchase with money an income for a fixed space of time, but this is absurd, therefore in a certain fashion usury is permitted. The major premise is proven, since in an annual income for a fixed space of time something beyond the fair share is returned and acquired. The minor is obvious, since any instrument can be rented out for a fixed price, money is an instrument of exchange, therefore it can be put out and rented for a fixed price: let this be, for example, an annuity or a stipend.
RESPONSE Some wise and learned men do think that annual incomes should not be purchased for fixed periods of time, and urge this example. If some citizen would give somebody 100£ sterling on the terms that for the space of years he would receive £20 per annum, since during this period of time he would earn as his profit from the money thus let out £60 above and beyond the fair share, this is usury, for money is not born from money in these ways. There is therefore a twofold instrument, one whose use consists in its consumption, and such should not be rented out, and another whose use does not so consist, and this may be rented out, as is shown above.
OBJECTION Usury sometimes occurs concerning things whose use is not their consumption, therefore it is ill defined. The antecedent is proven by an example. You ask for a loan of 100£ from a merchant, he denies he has the money, but gives you wares that you may resell. Compelled by necessity, you sell the wares you purchased for 100£ to somebody else for 80£. The merchant comes along and repurchases his wares from this other suborned rascal for 80£, and thus he turns a profit of 20£, not from the money (as you see) but from the wares, which appears to be legitimate.
RESPONSE This swindle is terrible and all too frequent: a bad mind has a bad intention, as the poet says. But you can readily reply to this argument, that if this profit is turned from the wares by fraud, you can actually say it is derived from money. For the intention was to elicit and hunt for 100£ out of 80£, as the result shows. This example concerning a certain shoemaker is similar, to whom came a pauper asking if he could borrow twenty solidi for a year. “I’ll give it,” he said, “but on that condition you give me a solidus a month for a renewed piece of writing which I’ll prepare myself, for I am skilled at writing.” The agreement was made, the shoemaker often produced the writings, and the pauper, oppressed by these writings, went to a magistrate and accused the man of usury. This black villain answered that he had not demanded money for money, but money for writing. The judge said “see how excellently the Devil has schooled this shoemaker in fraud!”
OBJECTION Usury is an evil per se, usury is a certain species of theft and plunder, usury tends to the ruin of the commonwealth and the destruction of its citizens, therefore usury is not to be permitted in a well-regulated commonwealth. These arguments, gathered into a few words, are insinuated in the second part of the question.
RESPONSE I have satisfied this argument with the supposition that this rule is given us by the jurisprudents, that a blind eye is to be turned to evils, the sudden prohibition of which would lead to even more deadly ones. So, just as instrumental musicians in holding their fiddles, thus in removing evils from the commonwealth, one should act gradually and step by step: those fiddles screech and are smashed if you bend them suddenly, these things cause tumults if you remove them immediately.
THE CHAPTER’S DOUBTFUL QUESTION
Is it permissible to imitate Thales, buy things cheaply, and immediately sell them for more?
9. Merchant, what’s the meaning of these packs with which you come laden to market? Go away, you greedy fellow, it is not allowed for you to sell things at such a high price. You bought paints cheaply, now you call them cosmetics: I know your dodge. How much does this item of yours cost. “It came from India.” Answer to the point. “It’s expensive.” But I’m asking how much it costs. “Surely I’ll deal with you in a friendly way, I’ll make no profit.” You’re playing the fool, tell me for how much you’ll sell it. “It came from India, it’s an expensive thing, you’ll get it for a cheaper price than I myself paid.” You’re lying about all of this. For yesterday you bought it cheap, and today you hope to vend it for a great price. But this not fitting, if what the Philosopher says is true. “What does philosophy say?” Certainly that you do not immediately sell what you have bought, that you make a marketable commodity better, that you point any hidden defect in the thing. “I am a merchant, not a philosopher.” But indeed you should do these things, if you wish to be regarded as just.
OBJECTION If it is not permitted that that we by things cheaply so that we may sell them for more, there will be no profit, but with profit taken away all mercantile enterprise will be destroyed, therefore it is permitted that we buy things cheaply so we may sell them for more.
RESPONSE It is permitted to buy things cheaply so you may sell them for more, but it indeed is forbidden by law that you do this immediately, before the purchased article is improved by your effort. For consider the injury. A greedy man comes to market and buys up all the grain rather cheaply. People throng him from all sides, now he sells it at a higher price. Who does not see this was done unjustly? But you ask in what way a thing can be improved by a merchant. I answer that with many things this happens because of art, in many because of effort. For, although the article purchased by the merchant in India is not changed, by its transportation to England it is converted to a better use.
Should wife, son and slave be ruled and governed in the same way?
Is the virtue of one who obeys and one who commands the same?
F the three parts of household management, enough has now been disputed about the master-slave relationship and the faculty of acquiring property. It therefore remains that we dispute about the the other two associations of the household, namely the nuptial and the paternal. The sequence of this treatise is readily understood from the order of the questions proposed, for in raising questions I always adhere to the same order as the Philosopher chose and defined for himself in discussing things. So it is first asked whether a wife, a son and a slave be ruled and governed in the same way. Once upon a time philosophers illuminated by the light of nature and reason, perceiving in a single man the expressed idea and, as it were, the living image of an empire, not undeservedly called him a microcosm. For just as this entire universe is ruled by a single infinite emperor, namely God, Who is separate, simple, and pure spirit, thus everything, which has been created for the sake of Man (as the Philosopher says) is most justly subject to Man’s government. Thus, if in a single man the image of this universal empire is delineated, as it were, by nature’s pencil, how much more should the management of the commonwealth appear to us in the household (which seems to be a miniature commonwealth)? Hence at the beginning of this chapter is bequeathed us by Aristotle an illuminating comparison between the commonwealth and the family. Why say more? The philosopher compared paternal government to royal government, and matrimonial government to civil government: paternal to royal, since, as in the commonwealth the king rules his subjects according to his will, so within the family the father governs his children according to his wishes; matrimonial to civil, since, as in the republic the magistrate governs the multitude according to laws, so in the household the husband is said to superintend the wife according to conditions. The king’s authority over his subjects is absolute, and so is the father’s over his son; the magistrate’s rule over his fellow citizens is restricted, and so is the husband’s over is wife. The king rules according to laws he himself passed, and so the father; the senator rules according to laws made by consensus, and so the husband governs his wife. The father does not govern his son, nor the husband his wife, as a master governs his slaves, but as a king and a magistrate preside over free men. For nature did not subject woman as a slave, but as a helpmeet, not for existence as chattel but for her life’s freedom. Here it is to be observed that civil government differs from matrimonial in this one thing, that in the former there is alternation of authority, but not in the latter: not even a Xanthippe should govern a Socrates, and if she tries to, this is according to the impulse of her infirmity, not that of nature. For, as Aristotle says here, the male is fitter for obtaining sovereignty than the female, and the elder fitter than the youth. But who does not see that this is argued by the Philosopher about the woman joined to the man, not the independent woman? If she be a Hecuba, let her obey Priam; if she be a Dido, let her govern the commonwealth, which is to say, if a queen be married, let her be subjected to her husband, but if nature granted her the kingdom, let her govern as an independent woman. There is no reason for you to scorn woman’s infirmity than once the Egyptians disdained the ignoble position and poverty of their ruler Amasis. This Amasis was king of Egypt, and when the people indignantly cast in his teeth the fact that his parents were lowly artisans, and refused to obey him according to their duty, he commanded that a certain golden vessel in which the sovereigns of Egypt were wont to puke and piss be melted down and changed into a distinguished religious statue. He set it up in a temple, established a festal day, convened the people, everybody admired the new god, and each one worshiped it. Wise King Amasis mounted up to a high place, and spoke thus: “My dearest fellow citizens, why scorn me and yet adore a god made out of a piss-pot? Oh my fellow citizens, you should respect the man rather than the station, you should respect me as a king rather than a slave.” Understanding this, the people fell prostrate and worshiped the king they had scorned. So here how the humility of his station did not deny this great man his kingdom: just so infirmity of nature does not debar every woman from access to dignity.
2. But I have discussed this manner sufficiently above, now I come to the second question, in which it is asked whether the man who obeys and the man who commands possess the same virtue. First treating this question in connection with the association of master and slave, the Philosopher inquires whether there is any other virtue in a slave besides that which pertains to instruments and helpers: temperance, for instance, fortitude, or justice. For if there is any other, how, he asks, does the slave differ by nature from his master? But if there is none, how can the slave be said to partake of reason? Therefore he acknowledges that virtues are present in the slave was well as in the master, in him who obeys no less than in him who commands, but thus to be present that these are distinguished from those both in nature and species. He proves this from contraries, similarities, and testimonies. From contraries, because obeying and commanding differ in nature and species. From similarities, since they are derived from virtues of mind and morals. From the testimonies of Gorgias the orator and Sophocles the poet. The first argument is as follows. To obey a command and to command differ in species, therefore the virtues of the obeyer and the commander differ in nature. The second goes like this: just as in the soul virtues of the mind differ from virtues of morals, so in the commonwealth virtues of the obeyer (who follows appetite) and of the commander (who follows intellect) differ from each other in nature, but it is agreed that the former are distinguished in species, therefore it is necessary that that the latter differ in species. The final one is from authority, in which he partially refutes Socrates, who thought that the same moral virtues exist in man and woman, and partially praises Gorgias and Homer, who ascribed proper virtues to a man and proper virtues to a woman. Hence that silence confers grace on every woman.
3. “But what is this novel opinion about virtue? Where has the philosophers’ enthusiasm for contradiction and their malice led them? Socrates discovered the same virtue, the same justice, the same equity of mind in women as in men. Because Socrates discovered them, Aristotle denied them.” You are mistaken: he does not deny them for that reason, he denies them with truth. “So why does he deny them? Once more I affirm he should not do so. So what does he say?” He says this, that everybody (by which he understands husband and wife, master and slave, father and son) should partake of reason, yet not in the same way, but to the degree that each one requires for the performance of his office. “Right. How do you understand these words?” Pay attention. In Man two things need to be considered, the essence of mind and the rationale of his office. If you look at the former, I think the same virtues exist in master and slave, husband and wife, father and son. But if you look at the latter, that is, at the rationale of their office, it is not the same. It is one thing to be a man, another to be a slave; it is one thing to be a man, another to be a king: hence one speaks of certain virtues of the man, certain virtues of the office. For example, a man lives prudently, so does a woman. The same prudence is in the both of them, if you consider the character of the virtue, but yet not the same, if you look at both their offices. For prudence is in the man so that he may take careful care for his wife and his woman; it is in the woman, so that she may dutifully obey her husband in legitimate things. Thus as obedience in her differs from commanding in him, so prudence in her differs from prudence in him, although this is not so in regard to the essence of their mind, but in regard to the rationale and existence of their office. This is the gist of it, and the virtues of one who obeys and one who commands differ in four things: in subject, object, act, and end: in subject, for one commands, another obeys; in object, because the object of the commander is commanding, the object of the obeyer is that person’s own office; in act,because one plays the part of the commander, the other of the obeyer; in end, because the former’s end is to prescribe and obey, but the other’s to comply and obey. Hence when the Philosopher says that in a slave there is absolutely no faculty for taking counsel, but that there is such in women, but a feeble one, and also in children but an imperfect one, he understands this in respect of the office, in which there is inequality, not in respect of the man, in which it is possible for there to be an equal measure of virtue. Therefore certain men unfairly twist these passages against women, as if they were not only alien from all virtue and command, but even some kind of monsters and freaks of nature. Indeed, he ill said, “A women is an imperfection of nature, therefore a monster. Woman is naturally weaker than man, therefore rule should not be granted her. Silence befits a woman, therefore command does not. Virtue does not exist in women, as it does in men, therefore the helm of state should not be conceded them. There is no effective counsel in women, therefore their regiment is monstrous.” Philosophers without sense and judgment spill forth these and six hundred yet more foolish arguments from these and other passages. They would laugh if I were to gather contrary arguments in this manner. A woman is endowed with greater piety than a man. A woman is often more intelligent than a man. A woman surpasses men in shame, mercy, and counsel. So why should she not surpass them in government? But I omit these arguments, indeed acknowledging that many things are said against this sex not without reason: woman is often more talkative than man, she is more petulant, more inconstant. He is wise, if you read him on the subject of a bad woman: “A woman is the confusion of men, an insatiable beast, a constant care, an unceasing battle, a daily ruination, an impediment to chastity, a house full of storms, a most fierce struggle, a most heavy weight, an intolerable viper, an item of human chattel.” But what am I doing? I am seeking after women’s virtues, not their vices. As the Philosopher teaches here, the requirement in a good wife are chastity, that she may live honorably with her husband, sobriety so she can live with him in moderation, silence so she live with him in peace, constancy so she may live with him in justice, loyalty so that she can live with him alone.
4. Two things follow at the end of this chapter, namely a comparison of the slave with the artisan, and a repetition of the things contained in this Book. The comparison is that the slave is such by nature, but the artisan by science; that the slave lives with us in the household, the artisan only to be hired by a fee; that the slave should have good morals to be obedient, the artisan should have good art to do his work well. Why waste many words? Here the philosopher urges that king and subject, master and slave, husband and wife, father and son, each and every one who live in the light of the commonwealth should study and apply themselves to moral virtue. Seneca excellently said never is noble virtue borne to the shadows of the Styx. So it is a happy household, a happy commonwealth, in which virtue is greatly honored. You will find the repetition Aristotle has in this place in a table following the arguments. Wherefore here I now cease, and close this first Book. You see, reader, a description of the household, you see the image of the commonwealth. In other books I shall strive that you may see the commonwealth itself.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE FIRST QUESTION
Should wife, son and slave be ruled and governed in the same way?
The image of the commonwealth is discerned in three ways, in respect to
royal rule which a father has over his sons, whom he presides over
according to his will.
5. OBJECTION Whoever compares a father’s rule over his son with royal rule, and that of a husband over his wife with civil rule, he makes the household, as it were, a miniature commonwealth. In this passage Aristotle compares the management of the household with that of the commonwealth, as if he is making it a miniature commonwealth. This being conceded, he appears to contradict what he says in the first chapter of this Book, where he criticizes Plato and others who thus compare the household with the commonwealth.
RESPONSE It is disgraceful for a doctor when he engages in a self-contradiction, but in this Aristotle does not offend. For in the earlier passage he indeed does criticize those who said the household is nothing other than a miniature commonwealth, and he teaches this very same thing in this passage. For, although there exists a certain analogy between household and commonwealth regarding similarity of management, there is still a great difference between them if you consider their essence and scheme. So all these things are said by analogy, not unequivocally, in the comparison of these two.
OBJECTION It is permitted the king to put to death bad citizens, but it is not permitted a father to kill bad sons, therefore the father’s authority is not royal.
RESPONSE Just now I taught that this comparison is not absolute, but rather analogous and respective. Therefore it suffices that they agree in a certain similitude and proportion, and thus indeed they do agree. For as the king rules his citizens according to his will, thus the father rules his sons by the authority which nature has granted him.
OBJECTION Civil rule is that in which an alternation of government occurs, in a marriage there is no alternation of government, therefore matrimonial government is wrongly compared to civil government. The major premise is agreed. The minor is proven, since if we assumed there to be an alternation of government, wives would govern, which is contrary to nature’s law, as the Philosopher teaches.
RESPONSE This argument is answered in the same way as the preceding one, namely that these two forms of government do not agree in all respects, but analogously and in part.
THE DISTINCTION OF THE SECOND QUESTION
Is the virtue of one who obeys and one who commands the same?
In those who obey and those who command, two things are considered:
The essence of the mind, and thus in species the
same virtue may be in the one who obeys and the one who commands (such
as fortitude and temperance) The existence of their office, and thus the virtues
of both differ: In subject.
The essence of the mind, and thus in species the same virtue may be in the one who obeys and the one who commands (such as fortitude and temperance)
The existence of their office, and thus the virtues of both differ:
6. OBJECTION The virtues of the one who obeys and the one who commands are either moral or mental, but in every man the former have appetite as their sole subject, the latter have the intellect as their only subject, therefore the virtues of the of the one who obeys and the one who commands do not differ. The major and minor premises are found in Book V of the Ethics.
RESPONSE Appetite and intellect are considered in two ways, either absolutely with respect to the mind, and thus they are the subjects of the virtues in every man, or comparatively in respect to office, and thus affected one way in the slave, in another in the master. For example, the intellect of the slave is said to be passive with respect to virtue, the intellect of the master is said to be active in respect to authority. Thus we are speak of appetite and will. For although intellect, appetite, will, and other potentialities of the mind do not differ essentially in those who obey and those who command, insofar as they are men, yet they differ if you consider their diverse offices.
OBJECTION Temperance in a man is the same thing as temperance in a woman, therefore virtue is the same in one who obeys and one who commands. The antecedent is proven, since it has the same object (namely, will), the same subject (namely, appetite), the same act (namely, to moderate the emotion), and the same end (namely, a chaste life).
RESPONSE Temperance and every virtue can be considered in two way: absolutely (and thus temperance is the same in both man and woman), and respectively (and thus it is not, for the respect of office has altered its nature). For example, temperance, considered absolutely, makes a man good and a woman good, but respectively temperance makes a husband good in his government, and a wife good in her duty. So absolute virtue is that of the man, comparative is that of the respect. But just as man (which is a substance) and a king (which is a respect) differ, thus absolute virtue differs from respective virtue. So I answer that temperance is the same in a man and a woman, if it is considered absolutely, but if they are regarded as husband and wife, which are respects, thus this temperance is not the same, but diverse.
OBJECTION There is no virtue at all in a slave, therefore here it is ill-argued that it is diverse. The antecedent is proven, since, if there were virtue in a slave, then the slave could be the master, for Aristotle previously distinguished master from slave by means of virtue.
RESPONSE Aristotle distinguished master from slave by means of mental virtue, not moral, but in this passage he demands that the slave be endowed with moral virtues. For if the slave be unjust, if he be intemperate, what will the master’s management be?
THE CHAPTER’S DOUBTFUL QUESTION
Is silence a woman’s greatest glory?
7. Hold your silence, chatterbox, you are very troublesome to me with that loquacity of yours. “You hold your silence, for when you command I won’t keep still.” You’re a magpie, do you continue to talk? “I’m no magpie, but still I’ll talk.” But silence befits you more. “Teach yourself.” But you should learn this. “No, you.” You’re headstrong. “That’s false.” You’re impious. “That’s also a falsehood.” You’re a whore. “You lie, gallows-bait.” Still not silent? “Tell me why I should be.” Listen to the Philosopher. “You ought to say the man who talks foolishness.” Please pay attention. “That will happen, if you beg me.” Nature has schooled you in modesty of countenance, philosophy has taught you silence of mouth. “I heed nature, but not philosophy.” But listen to it. “I surely will not listen to it.” Tell me the reason. “Because it orders silence.” Is this troublesome? “You should say unjust.” Oh silly woman, you are refusing a jewel. “You’re beating at thin air, I’ll not hold my tongue.” You can hold it, if you moderate it. “I’ll be happy to moderate it, if you go away.” I’m vanquished, I’m going away. Farewell, chatterbox. “I’m going away the victor. Farewell, good sir.”
Silence is taught to be a woman’s greatest glory, because:
argues that the weakness of her nature (which is often more excessive
for talking) to be restrained by the rule of reason.
8. OBJECTION Some women are prudent and learned, silence does not suit these, therefore silence does not befit all women, as you teach. The major premise is agreed, because in both sacred and profane histories we read that certain women have excelled in prudence and eloquent disputation. For such were the Queen of Sheba, Judith, Hester, and, among the Romans, Hortensia, Cornelia, and the Sibyls, who were deemed wise because of their oracles. The minor premise is proven, since in them to keep silent like concealing precious jewels under a physical mass, and, with no advantage to the republic, as it were, to stifle their great virtues in Cimmerian darkness.
RESPONSE Nature has given all women the power of speech, industry has given a very few eloquence, but the fewest of all the ability to philosophize. Yet if they are Queens of Sheba, let them obey Solomon; if they are Hortensias, let them be allowed to plead their cases in the Senate. But these women do not serve to disprove that in a sex in which there is a certain imperfection, silence should be called a virtue: not that they should keep their silence altogether, but that that (if unschooled) they should not advance beyond wool and the shuttle.
OBJECTION Words are women’s weapons, their tongue is like a as shield, with which they often protect their frailty and innocence, so it is unfair to bid them keep silent.
RESPONSE The purpose of enjoining silence in this passage is not to restrain their words but their wordiness, not their tongue but their petulance, to deny them the license of squabbling and chattering, and to prescribe for them the right use of language and the tongue. For talkative women are silent, and silent ones are eloquent when they comport themselves decorously, employing the restraints of modesty.
PRAISE BE TO GOD
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