Das Seminar für Geistesgeschichte und Philosophie der Renaissance beehrt sich, zu folgendem Vortrag mit anschließender Diskussion einzuladen:
During the 17th century, commerce was discussed mainly in academic philosophical writings devoted — in whole or in part — to ethics, and family life (oeconomica), politics. Philosophical discussions of family life were routinely divided into sections on family members (husband and wife; parents and children; master(s) and servants) and on family possessions (categories of possessions as well as the proper means of acquiring and administering them). Commerce was frequently discussed with the context of family possessions. In academic discussions of politics, commerce was sometimes discussed in the context of the duties of the (supreme) political magistrate (normally within a monarchy, an aristocracy, or a "mixed" form of government).
In academic writings that discussed ethics, usury was sometimes discussed.
In the course of the 17th century there appear to have been changes in attitudes towards commerce. In early seventeenth-century philosophical writings, the acquisition of possessions via commerce often had to be justified as being ‘just" and/or "good." Such justifications appear to have been considered as increasingly less necessary as that century progressed; attitudes towards commerce became more positive. Philosophical disputations on commerce began to be published beginning in the mid-16th century. And some late seventeenth-century treatises on ethics discuss commerce within the context of natural law.
In this lecture, some reasons will be presented — including but not limited to the emergence of "absolutist" governments — as to why commerce was regarded with increasing favor within these philosophical writings. These include a greater openness to novelty and the emerging view that certain moral norms — in contrast to universally valid moral precepts — apply directly to specific societies or social groups. These evolving philosophical views towards commerce have relevance insofar as they were communicated to large numbers of students — and many future leaders — at seventeenth-century European academic institutions.