Friday, June 19, 2009

Money, Philosophy, and Tragedy in Ancient Greece

The Greeks and money by Richard Seaford in the TLS:

This new and revolutionary phenomenon of money itself underpinned and stimulated two great inventions in the Greek polis of the sixth century, “philosophy” and tragedy. “Philosophy” (or rather idea of the cosmos as an impersonal system) was first produced in the very first monetized society, early sixth-century Ionia, and – even more specifically – in its commercial centre Miletos. The tendency of pre-modern society to project social power onto cosmology (for example, “king Zeus rules the world”) applies to the new social power of money. And the following description applies equally to money and to much of the cosmology of the early philosophers: universal power resides not in a person but in an impersonal, all-underlying, semi-abstract substance.

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