Teachings from the Worldly Philosophy

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Selections from great writings on economics, annotated and introduced by a distinguished economist and teacher.
Author of The Worldly Philosophers, a 3-million-copy seller, Robert Heilbroner offers here a compendium of readings from the "worldly philosophers" themselves. The selections range from the earliest economic thought to such towering volumes as Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, Thomas Malthus's Essay on the Principle of Population, David Ricardo's Principles of Political Economy, and John Maynard Keynes's The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money. Acting as "a docent, not merely an editor," he takes the reader through the core arguments with "brilliantly clear commentary" (New York Times Book Review).

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Editorial Reviews

“Heilbroner has come as close as a historian of economics gets to being a household name. . . . He makes hundreds of years of economic writings accessible and lively.”— Gina Neff
New York Observer
“An easy-access guide to the seminal writings of the great economists, selected and annotated with the idea that 'economics is inextricably sociopolitical in nature.' . . . A welcome refresher course.”
Nation - Gina Neff
“Heilbroner has come as close as a historian of economics gets to being a household name. . . . He makes hundreds of years of economic writings accessible and lively.”
Gina Neff - Nation
“Heilbroner has come as close as a historian of economics gets to being a household name. . . . He makes hundreds of years of economic writings accessible and lively.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This sequel to Heilbroner's classic survey of the great economists, The Worldly Philosophers, published four decades ago, is an anthology of writings of some 20 economic thinkers ranging from Aristotle to Malthus, Marx, Veblen and Schumpeter, with interlinking commentaries. Making the dismal science palatable with carefully chosen selections, Heilbroner often highlights underappreciated aspects of these economists' thinking; for example, Lord Keynes's wholly negative appraisal of Marxism, or Adam Smith's scathing critique of landlords and capitalists. He lets the thinkers speak for themselves as they analyze the workings of a market-driven economy and how it molds the behaviors of ordinary people. This adventurous omnibus includes economic insights from the Bible and Bernard Mandeville's 1705 poem, "The Grumblilng Hive," upholding mild fraud, luxury and appeals to pride as necessary agents of a prosperous business civilization. Heilbroner concludes that economics is inextricably sociopolitical in nature, and he urges a new crop of dissenting economists to take full account of ecological threats, political instabilities and new technologies. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Heilbroner (economics emeritus, New Sch. for Social Research) is the author of the widely read The Worldly Philosophers (1953), which concerns the evolution of economic theory. In a new work, he has compiled a companion volume consisting of short selections of economic thought from the writings of major figures such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and Thomas Malthus of the Classical School; their later 19th-century dissenters, Karl Marx and Thorstein Veblen; and John Maynard Keynes, whose seminal works appeared in the late 1930s. Heilbroner's lucidly written commentaries illuminate the leading ideas and locate them in their social context. His book will be useful mostly as a supplement to works on economic theory and principles. Recommended for academic libraries.-Harry Frumerman, formerly with Hunter Coll., New York
Kirkus Reviews
A lively medley of readings from nearly 20 economists who have left their mark on Western civilization.

In a landmark work on the evolution of economic thought published over 40 years ago, Heilbroner (Visions of the Future, 1995, etc.) felicitously dubbed fellow practitioners of the dismal science worldly philosophers. He now fulfills a longstanding ambition to provide a companion piece that allows influential figures from the distant and recent past to speak for themselves. While prototypical economists and their ideas occupy center stage, the author does not hesitate to offer either brief critiques or his own opinions on innovative canons and consequential schools of thought. The result is an agreeable guided tour that begins with the Judeo-Christian Bible (which took a decidedly dim view of wealth) and ends with Joseph Alois Schumpeter (the father of entrepreneurship theory). On his trek through time, Heilbroner presents Aristotle (no friend of commerce), early mercantile apologists (Richard Cantillon, Thomas Mun), and a brace of physiocrats (François Quesnay, Anne Robert, Jacques Turgot) whose conviction that land was the source of all riches provided a bridge from prehistory to the classical era adorned by Adam Smith. Although the illustrious Scot is accorded pride of place, the author makes room aplenty for his intellectual heirs, including Thomas Robert Malthus, John Stuart Mill, and David Ricardo (a wildly successful securities speculator). In Heilbroner's compendium, John Maynard Keynes, along with Karl Marx (capitalism's hanging judge) and Thorstein Veblen (of conspicuous consumption fame), is in a class by himself.

Judicious and generous selections from the key writings of masters of the economics game, complete with perceptive commentary from their latter-day Boswell.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393316070
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/28/1997
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 589,343
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert L. Heilbroner was Norman Thomas Professor of Economics at the New School for Social Research and author of The Worldly Philosophers and many other books.

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Table of Contents

I Earliest Economic Thought 1
The Bible 3
Aristotle 7
St. Thomas Aquinas 11
II The Commercial Revolution 15
Bernard Mandeville 19
Thomas Mun 24
Richard Cantillon 29
Francois Quesnay 35
Anne Robert Jacques Turgot 41
III The Classical Economists 53
Adam Smith 55
Thomas Robert Malthus and David Ricardo 106
John Stuart Mill 127
IV Karl Marx 159
V The Marginalists 197
Jeremy Bentham 199
William Stanley Jevons 208
Leon Walras 219
Alfred Marshall 228
VI Twentieth Century Economists 245
Thorstein Veblen 247
John Maynard Keynes 264
Joseph Alois Schumpeter 297
VII Envoi 331
Index 337
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