“Money is not, properly speaking, one of the subjects of commerce; but only the instrument which men have agreed upon to facilitate the exchange of one commodity for another” — David Hume
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In this quote, David Hume is making an observation about the role and function of money in commercial exchange. The best interpretation is:
- Hume states that money itself is not actually one of the goods or “subjects of commerce” that are directly bought and sold.
- He describes money as simply an “instrument” or tool that societies adopt to more easily enable the trading of real commodities between parties.
- Hume implies that at its core, commerce is about the exchange of material products and services, not money, which acts as a lubricant making these trades more practical.
Overall, Hume appears to be suggesting that money’s true purpose is as a facilitator for efficient barter, rather than being an end in itself. It provides a standardized medium that allows actual commodities and services to change hands, but is not itself one of the subjects being exchanged according to Hume’s perspective.