Plato on Money and Commerical Life
Plato argued in various works that commercial life is psychologically corrupting. In his two works in which the ideal city is formulated — i.e. The Republic and The Laws — we find proposals for ensuring that the citizens are quarantined from such effects. I argue herein that although Plato’s world is very distinct from our own and his attitudes involve an extreme form of anti-commercialism, his thoughts on how money might corrode still have much to teach us. He describes how societies with large discrepancies in wealth fracture into classes and this undermines any communal solidarity and he considers how immersion in the world of money can corrupt our sense of what is morally appropriate. These lessons are as compelling today as they were in ancient Greece.