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The True Idea of Value (1844)

Jaime Balmes


Value: Here we have one of those words that everyone uses and no one defines—the greater the ignorance of its true meaning and the carelessness with which it is employed, the more difficult it is to use correctly. A remarkable peculiarity constantly presented by language has not been sufficiently examined: Namely, even though language seems abandoned to whims, to ignorance, to carelessness—in sum, to everything that would make it fit to give up on entirely, or at least rob it of any presumption of accuracy—it nevertheless usually has a wondrous store of good sense, and often a store of very fine distinctions. Above all when dealing with those words that are, so to speak, the currency of society because of their connections and points of contact with all types of objects, we find stored up in words that good sense, that precise and profound reason, simple and above dispute, that the Author of nature was pleased to pour out generously on societies, in a way as wise and judicious as it is unappreciated.

Jaime Balmes, "The True Idea of Value (1844)," Journal of Markets & Morality 23, no. 1 (2020): 215-223.

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