The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times And Ideas Of The Great Economic Thinkers, Seventh Edition
Robert L. Heilbroner
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
The bestselling classic that examines the history of economic thought from Adam Smith to Karl Marx—“all the economic lore most general readers conceivably could want to know, served up with a flourish” (The New York Times).
The Worldly Philosophers not only enables us to see more deeply into our history but helps us better understand our own times. In this seventh edition, Robert L. Heilbroner provides a new theme that connects thinkers as diverse as Adam Smith and Karl Marx. The theme is the common focus of their highly varied ideas—namely, the search to understand how a capitalist society works. It is a focus never more needed than in this age of confusing economic headlines.
In a bold new concluding chapter entitled “The End of the Worldly Philosophy?” Heilbroner reminds us that the word “end” refers to both the purpose and limits of economics. This chapter conveys a concern that today’s increasingly “scientific” economics may overlook fundamental social and political issues that are central to economics. Thus, unlike its predecessors, this new edition provides not just an indispensable illumination of our past but a call to action for our future.
the age of Adam Smith for its pyrotechnic burst of technology, the Industrial Revolution could not have taken place had not the ground been prepared by a succession of basic subindustrial discoveries. The precapitalist era saw the birth of the printing press, the paper mill, the windmill, the mechanical clock, the map, and a host of other inventions. The idea of invention itself took hold; experimentation and innovation were looked on for the first time with a friendly eye. No single one of these
ferocious. On the land, too, an observant traveler would have seen sights hardly more suggestive of order, harmony, and design. In many parts of the country bands of agricultural poor roamed in search of work. From the Welsh highlands, Companies of Ancient Britons (as they styled themselves) would come trooping down at harvest time; sometimes they had one horse, unsaddled and unbridled, for the entire company; sometimes they all simply walked. Not infrequently there would be only one of the lot
land is bought and sold, appraised and reappraised. Suffice it to point out that rental income in the United States has shrunk from 6 percent of the national income in 1929 to less than 2 percent today. But no matter whether the thesis held together logically or whether its moral condemnation was fully justified. The book struck a tremendously responsive chord. Progress and Poverty became a best-seller, and overnight Henry George was catapulted into national prominence. “I consider Progress and
trouble buying all the goods thrown on the market because their incomes were too small, how, he asked, could a sensible capitalist invest in equipment that would throw still more goods on an overcrowded market? What would be gained from investing savings in another shoe factory, let us say, when the market was already swamped with more shoes than could be readily absorbed? What was to be done? Hobson’s answer was devilishly neat. The automatic savings of the rich could be invested in one way that
main contribution—the one to which Marshall himself returned time and again—was the insistence on the importance of time as the quintessential element in the working-out of the equilibrium process. For equilibrium, as Marshall pointed out, changed its basic meaning according to whether the adjustment process of the economy took place in a short-run or a long-run period. In the short run, buyers and sellers met to higgle on the marketplace, but basically the bargaining process revolved about a