What is the nature of economics? How does economics relate to politics? Readers searching for the Ancient Greeks’ answers to these questions often turn to Aristotle, focusing on small portions of the Politics and Nicomachean Ethics that relate to money-making, exchange, and household management. While this approach yields some understanding of economics and politics, it fails to account for how Aristotle’s theoretical inquiry into these practical matters reflects the character of his political philosophy. According to Aristotle, the Ethics and Politics together form “the philosophy concerning the human things.” All human things begin with choice, an intellectual desire and need for the good. Aristotle’s care for this desire is the heart of his political philosophy. Through a close, literal, and careful reading of Aristotle’s political philosophy, readers discover the natural boundaries to economic and political life. Simultaneously theoretical and practical, Aristotle’s political philosophy offers readers a perspective of economics and politics that provides them the experience of the knowledge they need to desire and live within the limit of the good.
John Antonio Pascarella earned his Ph.D. in Political Theory at the University of North Texas, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Utah State University.
Chapter 1: The Problem of the Money-Making Art in Aristotle’s Politics
Chapter 2: Liberating Household Management and Political Life from Money-making
Chapter 3: Choice and the Intellectual Foundations of Politics and Economics
Chapter 4: Choice and the Limits of Self-sufficiency as a Political and Economic End
Chapter 5: Political Philosophy, Pleasure, and the Good Things
Chapter 6: Friendship and the Natural Foundations of Politics and Economics
Chapter 7: Justice, Pleasure, and the Good
Chapter 8: Justice, Economic Exchange, and Friendship
Chapter 9: Economics’ Need for Political Philosophy
Very few people who write about the Ethics or Politics focus on the economic aspect of Aristotle’s work. Scholars want to talk about happiness and virtue, the contemplative life and friendship, Aristotle’s treatment of regimes and so on. John Antonio Pascarella talks about all those things, but also frames them in terms of a theme that’s clearly there in Aristotle’s work but that has remained largely invisible until now. It’s about time someone did it.
There is much to admire in Pascarella’s engaging treatment of Aristotle’s Politics and Ethics: the loving attention to Greek terms, the wide-ranging inquiry into the money-making art, the welcome emphasis on individual choice, the musical interweaving of recurring themes, and the culminating reflections on how philosophic logos serves the ends of happiness and the public good.
This original and thought-provoking study integrates Aristotle’s economic thought into his broader political theory, showing how economics serves the purposes of politics, while giving us a fuller picture of his political thought. Pascarella’s discussion of the connection between economics and friendship for Aristotle, for example, is especially eye-opening. While the desire for wealth may be without end, he shows, human desire ends in the good, politically and philosophically.