Aristotle on Interest


He accepted the empirical fact of interest on money loans and saw no problem in it. He did not even classify loans according to the various purposes they are capable of serving and does not seem to have noticed that a loan that financed consumption is something very different from a loan that financed maritime trade (foenus nauticum). He condemned interest—which he equated to ‘usury’ in all cases—on the ground that there was no justification for money, a mere medium of exchange, to increase in going from hand to hand (which of course it does not do). But he never asked the question why interest was being paid all the same.9 This question was first asked by the scholastic doctors. It is to them that the credit belongs of having been the first both to collect facts about interest and to develop the outlines of a theory of it. Aristotle himself had no theory of interest. In particular, he should not be hailed as the forerunner of the monetary interest theories of today. For though he linked up interest with money, this was not due to analytic effort but to the absence of it: analysis that eventually leads back to a pre-analytic view, that earlier analysis seemed to have disproved, imparts a different meaning to it.

1. Schumpeter, Joseph A. History of Economic Analysis. New York: Oxford UP, 1954. Print. 65.



Filed under History of Economic Analysis

2 responses to “Aristotle on Interest

  1. Pingback: History of Economics Analysis | Irrepressible Thought

  2. Pingback: History of Economics Analysis | Gedanken zur Geschichte

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