Aristotle- The Banker's Best Friend

By Martin Sandbu, The Financial Times

January 13, 2011

Aristotle took a dim view of business. Sometimes, of course, business people give  the impression of being equally unconcerned with Aristotle’s main concern: living a good life. Just witness the grilling Bob Diamond, chief executive of Barclays, received this week from UK legislators angry at his bank’s bonuses. Yet today’s corporate titans would do well to pay the Greek philosopher more respect than he did to their predecessors. Indeed, reading his works may be one of the best investments they can make.

Aristotle was not against a certain degree of greed, especially in the context of managing a household: household heads accumulate possessions for their usefulness. But he saw the aim of commerce simply as increasing wealth without end, or making money for the sake of accumulation. Aristotle admonished those who were “serious about living, but not about living well”. Mr Diamond would probably not have escaped his scorn.

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