The Check Is Not In the Mail

writing a check

According to this story (CHT LRC), the first check (or cheque) in England was written in 1659.

Clearly this is false. Nobody would have accepted the first check; indeed, nothing even counts as “writing a check” except against the background of an established practice of check-writing.

Hence there could never have been a first check. And that leaves us only two options.

Either the practice of check-writing must stretch back to infinity – which in turn means that the creationists and the evolutionists are both wrong, and Aristotle is right: the universe and the human race are infinitely old, and we’ve been writing checks forever – or else there has never yet been a check, and all experience to the contrary is an illusion.

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6 Responses to The Check Is Not In the Mail

  1. Richard Garner December 18, 2009 at 2:51 pm #

    According to Wikipedia, the Romans were using cheques in the first century AD:

  2. Neverfox December 18, 2009 at 3:26 pm #

    Roderick’s dry praxeological humor aside, this is a good place to plug Meir Kohn’s excellent work on Commerce, Finance, and Government in Preindustrial Europe. Chapter 9 covers bills of exchange.

  3. aretae December 18, 2009 at 4:11 pm #

    I’m sure you meant: or else Parmenides is right and there has never yet been a check, and all experience to the contrary is an illusion

  4. Mike Gogulski December 18, 2009 at 8:55 pm #

    Neverfox dismisses Roderick’s “dry” praxeological humor too quickly, methinks. I LOLed. 🙂

  5. Neil December 18, 2009 at 9:19 pm #

    So the article states this:

    “Ever since trader Nicholas Van Acker wrote out the first known British check in 1659, Britain’s small businesses, its corner stores, plumbers and builders have depended on checks for their lifeblood.”

    So how does the “first known British check” or the “first cheque in England” apply to the notion of the first check ever, which is what Dr. Long seems to be refuting? Both statements about English checks seem to leave open the possibility of checks being used prior to the first known British use.

    There may be a gap in the praxeological analysis. The English check statements seem to stand on their own. I lack the grounds for seriously doubting that the “first check (ever)” statement is true, so it seems to hold on its own as well. Yet to refute the assertion about the first English check with a statement refuting the first check (ever) is apparently fallacious.

  6. P.M.Lawrence December 20, 2009 at 2:56 am #

    “And that leaves us only two options”.

    There is a fallacy in that reasoning. For instance, it omits the possibility that time is circular.

    I’m glad to see that someone else is familiar with the work of Meir Kohn. His accounts of various kinds of land pawn, and of the purchasing and diversifying of annuities issued, e.g., by municipalities, are particularly instructive.

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