What is the meaning of oikos?

What oikos means in ecology

The Greeks called oikos the house including all its contents and its administrator “nemo”.    In this way “Okomos” was formed, which was the name given to the administration of the house. These would be the roots of what later came to be called economy.

Today, however, there are many efforts to make sure that economy and ecology, i.e. industrial development and environment, are not incompatible terms. The fact that both come from the same Greek root “oikos” which means house, leads me to think that this effort so that they are not incompatible, is the effort in both cases, that the Earth be a welcoming house for man and a protective house for nature.

The effort to work and live in a “greener” way is not only a matter for companies, but for everyone. In fact, the relationship between human beings and the natural resources necessary for their subsistence has forced States and international institutions to formulate abundant legislation for companies and extensive recommendations for citizens to know how to preserve the environment.

Oikos grecia

The dialogue with which the work opens, and which serves as its framework, takes place between Socrates and Critobulus, the son of Criton. In it Socrates discusses the concept of “wealth”, and identifies it with worth and well-being, not only with possessions. He relates moderation in spending and hard work to prosperity in domestic economy. The date of writing of this part of the work cannot be earlier than 401 B.C., since in 4.18 there is a reference to the battle of Cunaxa.

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When Chrysobulos asks about the tasks related to the management of household economy, Socrates confesses his ignorance on the subject, but refers to what he heard about it from a prosperous farmer (kaloskagathos) named Ischomachus. In the conversation referred to by Socrates, Ischomachus describes the methods he used to educate his wife in the governance of the household, his customs in governing the slaves, as well as the technology used on the farms. About two-thirds of the dialogue is devoted to the discussion between Socrates and Iscomachus. In the end of the play there is no return to the discussion with Chrysobulos.

Oikia meaning

The Oikos in Ancient Greece was the house as a collection of goods and people. In the city states the Oikos was the “basic unit” of society. The head of the Oikos was usually a male, the eldest, it was composed of the family, the goods, all the staff, and the slaves. To head it was to manage the overall farm and keep the family together.

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Around the Oikos revolved the whole life of the family, in it all the needs were satisfied, all the material needs of its members, but also the social, security, ethics, obligations, everything related to the gods, etc.

In the 5th century B.C. different ancient Greek authors defined the concept Oikos and “oriented the nature of the Oikos with the polis; the conflict between these two was treated in the Greek tragic theater. The contradictory interests of the Oikos and the polis led to the structural decay of society”.

What oikos and logos mean

In other words, the possibility for change and well-being offered by architecture is relegated to the economy, and must be reduced to quantitative futility: to amounts, interest rates, coefficients and estimates. Why is this so, why must architecture yield to the economy, instead of the other way around?    Additionally, the economic imperative of any building is not restricted exclusively to its financial scope, but must also optimize natural resources. As we know, our era – the Anthropocene, as it is called – is characterized by a lurking ecological crisis. In this triad (architecture, economy, and ecology) there is an overlap whose origin is the oikos.

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From this perspective, it is not the economy that makes room for architecture, but the other way around. Every homo economicus, that is, every economically active person, is first a homo oikonomicus, that is, a person of the house. People who sleep on the street could be considered poor both because of their unfortunate lack of economic capacity and because of their lack of a home.