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According to legend anyway (ie Aristotle's account), Thales was a business man of his time! On the motive Thales had for attaining material possession, Aristotle held that Thales was only out to prove the relevance of philosophy in acquiring wealth - not wealth for its own sake. Regarding the means of his acquisitions, Thales is credited with the creation of both futures and options.

We've come a long way since Thales, for the games that both people and organizations play for financial gain today are studied in detail. Today, such a study requires rigor. The spirit of such an approach would, on paper anyway, seem to run counter to Thales' detachment towards money. After all, why go through the tedious process of innovative profit unless you're out to prove a point, like Thales supposedly was?

Along these lines has there been anyone since then that has, none the less, had such an openly negative view of wealth on a personal level, yet introduced new concepts in business and economics?

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  • $\begingroup$ There is a limitation for all idealism, including gathering of wealth. E.g. the wealth can't help billionaire to find a cure for his late stage cancer, because there is too little resources pour into it, because it is not profitable in the first place. $\endgroup$ – mootmoot Dec 22 '16 at 12:29
  • $\begingroup$ I agree that idealism is limited, however, I don't know that this attitude towards wealth necessarily implies an idealistic philosophy in the academic sense. Thales, for example, believed in the reality of things outside his mind, but also held this attitude. $\endgroup$ – Paul Burchett Dec 22 '16 at 19:56
  • $\begingroup$ I should say that Thales believed in the reality of things outside of his own mind or others'; namely, the reality of things being that all is water. $\endgroup$ – Paul Burchett Dec 22 '16 at 21:41

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