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The Church and The Merchant

De
6 pages
Essay for a Philosophy & Trade course.
“Trade is not merely related to the exchange of goods. Trade represents a major instrument for any political power in adjusting social-economic equilibria.” This paper aims at showing how the religious power has greatly influenced the development of trade in the western world, and has notably shaped the “New World”.
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B00135717
Philosophy & Trade The Church and the Merchant
“Virtue has never been as respectable as money” Mark Twain (American author, 1835-1910)
15/06/09 1/6
“Trade is not merely related to the exchange of goods. Trade represents a major instrument for any political power in adjusting social-economic equilibria.” This paper aims at showing how the religious power has greatly influenced the development of trade in the western world, and has notably shaped the “New World”. European trade has indeed been very much influenced by its Roman Catholic legacy and its interpretation of money and success. As opposed to “old Europe” stands America, the “self-made country”, whose principles, and thus whose trading habits have been directly shaped by religious concerns. The question of the criss-crossed impact of culture and religious ideas on social innovations and the development of the economic system both in Europe and in the US is to be raised.
1°) The Roman Catholic influence over trade and society in Europe A- TheCatholic Heritage: suspicion related to money
Roman Catholic principles have spread in Europe a certain suspicion as far as success and money are concerned. Money and Virtue are disconnected. This belief is deeply rooted, in fact, the Old Testament already points out money as a potential idol. The Decalogue states the following: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; Do not have any other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” (Exodus, 20:2-17), and the wrath of Moses is boundless when he sees the golden calf idol made by his people while he was “receiving” those Ten Commandments. “Do not turn to idols or make gods of cast metal for yourselves. I am the Lord your God.” (Lev 19:4, New International Version)
The position of the Church towards usury is also revealing. From the beginning on, the Church has been reluctant towards lending money at interest. It is the time of God; one is not