Can doing good deeds lead to an economic perspective?

Lindsley Harris (Mrs. Stewart)

How does living with and understanding the economic philosophies positively impact our life and connect with our moral actions and value? How can learning more about the economic philosophies positively impact our life and help us attain more wealth? Do the economic philosophies and Aristotle’s moral code have any connection? Can the economic ideas relate to the moral code and values of life?

A person can’t be educated about their economic choices if they do not first understand the true definition of economy and how to attain an economic perspective. The Macroeconomics textbook defines an “Economic Perspective as an economic way of thinking.” This means that people think ahead to the future and understand that in order to attain the maximum amount of what they need or want they must economize or forgo some things. This also ties into the idea of scarcity and limited resources, which I will address later. First to learn about society and way of thought, we must examine the way society and the economy works, specifically why human beings are greedy and have a desire to attain wealth, sometimes to the point of sacrificing their virtue and integrity. The connection between society and economics is evident, according to Aristotle in the first book of the Nicomachean Ethics, “This good is the same for the individual and the state,” he means to say that the economy benefits the individual as well as the community. Being educated about your own economic choices can benefit your community and your own economic future. This also ties in and connects with the idea that your own economic choices can impact society, which makes your economic choices a direct result of how wise your economic perspective is. The stronger and more developed your perspective, the wiser choices you can make according to your own economics, which will eventually impact the community’s economy. Aristotle states that happiness is a result and consequence of “living well” and doing well, which leads to wise economic choices and is ultimately an effect of the individual’s understanding of the economic philosophies and knowledge of what Aristotle defines as the “good life.” The “good life” involves a moral code, conservative economic choices, and a strong foundation in reason. All of these things that Aristotle describes work cohesively to lead to happiness and wise economic choices. Furthermore, Aristotle believes that living “the good life” and making wise economic choices is essential to the potential happiness of an individual; which is why this article will stress the importance of understanding economic philosophies and applying them personally to life. Aristotle says that the “absolute good” is the good which is the cause of their goodness,” this is the beginning of a well-developed economic perspective. Begin examining every economic choice with the idea and aim of goodness in mind, so the goodness will spread to the other areas of the individual’s life.  So in conclusion all of these important areas of life, connect and influence economics because of the economic mindset.

To in explaining the basic and beginning of important economic information, the very beginning is scarcity. Scarcity is the root of all economic choices, because it forces a person to have and develop an economic mindset. In all examinations and studies of economics that idea of scarcity is present. Throughout history human’s needs and desires have never been equal. Every act that a person partakes in has an objective and an end; but, most of the time the objective is to benefit the person without exhausting their resources, but also fulfilling their wants and needs. It is known and accepted that the complete satisfaction of human wants and needs will never be reached. Economics is the study of that and deciding what to sacrifice in order to achieve something or to reach the initial objective. This fact is the reason for the study of economics and its importance to humans, and how it directly benefits them and increases their wealth. Economics is a direct result of human beings examining goods and resources and how to attain the highest quantity of both without draining their energy and effort. Many writers and philosophers have tried to define this and explain their theories and ideas about economics because it is an essential part of the human lifestyle. Lionel Robbins tries to define the definition of economics in his Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science, “Economics is the science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which has alternative uses (Robbins, The Subject Matter of Economics, Chapter One.)” The objective of his essay is to find the actual definition of economics while examining the science behind it, to provide a more complete and holistic view of the subject.

We learn that the definition of economics in the most basic sense has to do with goods and services; also the important exchanges of money for material welfare and social pleasures. The social pleasures and happy experiences are called utility, which is an important factor when determining the value of certain goods and services. Economics in the most correct definition must include the subject and study of material welfare and also the production of immaterial welfare and the services of those laborers. When examining economics people realize that goods are scarce, and that pulls the definition together; creating the thought process of economizing. Economizing is the economic way of thought, determining the way to get the most goods out of all of the resources you have. Many people do not understand how immaterial goods and services are directly related to the stimulation of our economy, Robbins says, “Economics deals with the pricing of these services (the services that do not produce material welfare).” The writer, Adam Smith distinguished between, what he calls productive and unproductive labor, stating that productive labor must be part of the process of producing a material good and unproductive labor is any work or wages involved with a good or service that does not produce a material object. The “unproductive labor” as he states is directly related to serving others and providing a service to people that does not include goods or as he calls them “material wealth.” This study clearly states that whatever definition of economics must include immaterial welfare and material welfare and goods. In a capitalist society the people’s definition of economics includes services and goods, unproductive and productive labor, and economic and non-economic activities. It is an important goal of many of the economic philosophers and thinkers that if a person lives convulsively and accordance with the basic economic ideals, his outcome will be personal wealth and a fulfilling life. This is considered the ultimate goal when studying economics and discovering the true importance of it.

These economic ideas and conclusions directly relate to Aristotle’s opinions and studies about human life, because human life in every aspect involves economics. Aristotle states that every act and purpose contains a goal, usually aiming at a good outcome. It is determined that all actions have an intention and an end; he encourages good acts because if they are truly good then the state and the people will benefit from the good act. The end is affecting a person and is a direct result of the person’s intention. So every action has a good goal or purpose that is not always accomplished but is always aimed, only if the person acting has good virtues and exercises his moral capabilities often. Then Aristotle then states, “the end is the good” he means that when acting we must take the god of others into account and also the proper good of man. What does this have to do with economizing opportunity cost and living to the best of you capabilities? This brings in the moral and virtuous aspect of a good life. It is not just enough to live an economically aware life, but you must be virtuous and moral while living it. By bringing the philosophical and virtuous side to economics he is deterring people from cheating and using greed to get ahead, which is harmful to their spiritual future as well as their economic future. He brings all of these ideas and aspects of living together, to draw attention to the fact that living economically influences your entire life and, you must not abandon your ethics for the sake of being more economical or expanding your material wealth.

Aristotle states that the good of humans is in accordance with the good of the state, therefore bringing another part of the equation into living a moral, virtuous, and economically good life.


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