money is neither good or bad

For Socrates, and later the Stoics, this concern with taking care of one's soul was all the more important because he and they held that the condition of our soul ultimately determines the quality of our lives.


In an important argument later taken up by the Stoics, Socrates sought to show that something like great wealth is, in a sense, worthless. To be more precise, he argued that material wealth is value-neutral, because it can be used for good or bad ends. The money in itself is neither good nor bad. Whether it is used for good or bad ends depends upon the character of the person who has it. A virtuous person can use money to do good things, while a not so virtuous individual might use it to generate great harm.

What does this tell us? It shows that the real value – the source of what is good or bad – resides in the character of the person who has the money, not in the money itself. It also tells us that paying excessive attention to our money and possessions while neglecting the state of our character is a grave mistake.

From Lessons in Stoicism by John Sellars

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