"The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else." - John Maynard Keynes, 1936.
Hello, I'm Heinz Kurz of the University of Graz, Austria. Gilbert Faccarello from the Université Panthéon-Assas in Paris and I are the editors of this online resource from Routledge on the History of Economic Thought. The project focuses on the history of economic thought from 1700 up until 1914 and is the second in a large suite of digital products from the Routledge Historical Resources programme.
Economics grew out of moral philosophy and apparently became a subject of its own within the grand division of labour amongst the various sciences. The history of economic thought traces the development of the subject over time. It focuses attention on the contributions of important thinkers, discusses the advancement of ideas in various fields of research, such as employment, economic growth and income distribution, and identifies and compares characteristics of different currents of thought.
Does the history of economic thought have any claim to importance? Of course it does! First, as novelist William Faulkner stressed, "History is not was, it is". This applies also to our subject, economics.
The present project provides a treasure trove of useful material that will be of great value to students and researchers in economics and its neighbouring fields, such as sociology, political science, philosophy and history.
The subjects covered include the contributions of major economists, of important subjects or fields in economics, and of currents of thought. Not only the ideas of the sung heroes of our discipline including François Quesnay, Adam Smith, Marshall and Schumpeter will be dealt with, but also less well known scholars who were important for the elaboration and dissemination of ideas. Think, for example, of John Ramsay McCulloch's role in propagating certain ideas of Ricardo, or members of the Fabian Society in propagating socialist doctrines. Subjects including Value and Distribution, Money and Banking and Public Economics are covered in great detail, and so are well known currents of thought such as Classical Economics, Marxism, Marginalism and Historical Schools, to mention but a few.
The following features of the project and the benefits readers can derive from it deserve to be mentioned.
First, the resource covers a wide range of primary and secondary book content and journal articles devoted to the history of economic thought. This provides readers with a one-stop-shop for resources in the field. Readers may search by notable figure, subject, current of thought, content type or period of time to get the most out of the content.
Secondly, the resource contains many of the primary source texts in electronic form for the first time. This allows students and researchers to explore the history of economic thought first hand and it simplifies tracing the location of ideas in the primary texts for research papers.
Third, specially commissioned short essays from leading experts introduce key subjects. These essays provide crisp summary accounts of the areas under consideration, and draw the attention to the current frontiers of knowledge.
To use this platform, you need not be possessed of special talents. It suffices to cite Albert Einstein that you are "passionately curious" (1952). In view of the overwhelming importance of economic ideas in the world in which we live, who could not be passionately curious about what economists had and have to say about it?
Keynes, John Maynard. (1936). The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. Macmillan: Cambridge University Press, for the Royal Economic Society in 1936.
Einstein, Albert. (1952) Letter to Carl Seelig (11th March 1952), Einstein Archive 39-013.
Merriweather, James B. and Millgate, Michael (Eds). (1980). Lion in the Garden: Interviews with William Faulkner, 1926 - 62. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.