Metrology, Law and Providence

"One of the central ideas of ancient metrology is explained by the much read and little understood Fifth Book of Aristotle's Ethics, in which the idea of justice is explained by referring to money and to the price structure. This book explains why money [in Greek] is called by the same name that applies to civil law and to natural law (nomos) and why this term is synonymous with arithmos [(number)]. Metrology first developed as an attempt to assure justice in the contract of sale by mathematizing the relation."

"The origins of the art of legislation and of legal science are to be found in the lists that state how many measures of a given commodity would correspond to a measure of another commodity. Once one takes this practical outlook, one can see how the idea of Divine Providence is linked with the methods used in the rationing of food, of which Greek inscriptions provide the most abundant evidence. Once one keeps in mind the metrological aspects of the idea of Providence, one can see the meaning of the word epiousios [daily] in the Lord's Prayer, a word on the interpretation of which an entire library has been written. One must keep in mind the ethical aspects of metrology to see in the Gospels the metrological reasons for the two miracles of the multiplication of the bread, the Feeding of the Four Thousand and the Feeding of the Five Thousand. In metrology, one must steadily shift from metaphysical and ethical presuppositions to practical aspects."

from "A History of Measures" by Livio C. Stecchini (ca. 1960).


Metrology, Law and Providence. L.C. Stecchi … 17:2 p. 927



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