Full text: Ownership as interpersonal dominance

specific topic. He also seems to have made the first discussion of cultural ecology when he 
noted that property will differ according to the manner in which nurturance is acquired (Mathie, 
1979). Just as animals are more social or more solitary in their acquisition of resources, so are 
men. Aristotle noted that pirates, robbers, subsistence farmers, hunters and nomads all get 
their sustenance without recourse to social economy. Indeed, they have more leisure than the 
householder; though being barbarians, they make little use of that leisure for oral and rational 
development (Mathie, 1979). The first quantitative cross-cultural studies of property 2500 years 
later (e.g. Hobhouse, Wheeler & Ginsberg, 1915; Sumner & Keller, 1927), were similarly to 
differentiate peoples according to their means of sustenance, with particular attention to 
hunters and nomads. 
Romans & Early Christians 
Aristotle culminated and marked the end of an era in theories of property (Telly, 1978). The 
Greek city-state was to be replaced by civic and theological empire, and with that there would 
arise a corresponding emphasis on universal law and on theories of natural equality. Where 
Aristotle examined numerous societies and described various generic legal regimes, Cicero 
described universality: 
True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging 
and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrongdoing by its 
prohibitions....It is a sin to try to alter this law, nor is it allowable to attempt to repeal any 
part of it, and it is impossible to abolish it entirely. We cannot be freed from its obligations 
by senate or people, and we need not look outside ourselves for an expounder and 
interpreter of it. And there will no be different laws at Rome and at Athens, or different laws 
now and in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and 
ail times, and there will be one master and ruler, that is, God, over us ali, for he is the author 
of this law, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge. Whoever is disobedient is fleeing from 
himself and denying his human nature. (Cicero's Republic, lil, 32, in Schlatter, 1951, p. 21) 
The philosophical support for this, harkening back to the Pythagorean principle of unity of life, 
was the Stoic concept of Logos, the rational principle permeating all things (Rashdall, 1922; 
Schlatter, 1951; Telly, 1978). Since all men were equally possessed of Logos, they should be 
equal in rights and in wealth. Through the development of a mature legal system in Rome, 
equality of rights was interpreted as protection of individual rights (Schlatter, 1951). However, 
equality of wealth posed a problem, which was resolved by positing a distinction between 
conventional ownership, based on civil law, and natural ownership, based on equal access to 
the domain of nature:

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