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Mercato, bisogni e valori

Market, Needs and Values

Anno XXIII, n. 101, aprile-giugno 1988
Centro Einaudi


Abstract disponibile solo in lingua inglese

Aristotle’s juxtaposition of exchange and "good life" must be refuted: in the first place, because it is an idea that is patently, and tenaciously, rooted in the pre-modern culture of the oppositions between wellbeing and ethics—in the final analysis, between body and soul; in the second place, because it is scientifically deviant from a proper evaluation of the problems of the modern market and of the social phenomena connected to it. Two fundamental requirements do emerge from behind the juxtaposition, however: on the one hand, a realistic economy which does not ignore the centrality of interest and of the individual in relation-based modern life; on the other hand, the profoundly relational nature of the modern world which takes into account individuality-corporeity but is not satisfied by them.
Moreover, the most significant exchange is between "employer" and "employee" and this reminds us that, somewhere in the market, man has a part. On the whole, the juxtaposition market-"good life" contains an excess of economism. In practice, mass society transforms natural needs into the rights of all, and converts the superfluous needs of some into general "natural" needs: in short, it transforms needs into rights and luxuries into needs.
To continue to regard exchange as "exterior" would be to consider "superfluous" the representative state which not only protects the market but also developes an economic policy of promotion, intervention and balance, together with a socio-cultural policy which levels wellbeing and intensifies the "good life". All this entails the maturation of higher needs for intellectual wellbeing. These were formerly reserved to the few and today are an objective for many, hopefully for everybody.