New PDF release: A History of Economic Thought

By Lionel Robbins

Those lectures, added on the London institution of Economics among 1979 and 1981 and tape-recorded by way of Robbins's grandson, demonstrate his mastery of the highbrow historical past of economics and his enthusiasm for the topic. They hide a wide chronological variety, starting with Plato, Aristotle, and Aquinas, focusing widely on Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus and the classicals, and completing with a dialogue of moderns and marginalists from Marx to Alfred Marshall. Robbins takes a diversified and inclusive method of intellectural background and the lectures are united by way of his conviction that it's very unlikely to appreciate safely modern associations and social sciences with out realizing the guidelines in the back of their improvement.

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Now, the first and greatest of necessities is food, which is the condition of life and existence. Certainly. The second is a dwelling, and the third clothing and the like. True. And now let us see what must be the size of a city able to supply such a demand: We may suppose that one man is a husbandman, another a builder, someone else a weaver—shall we add to them a shoemaker, or perhaps some other purveyor to our bodily wants? By all means. The simplest possible State must include four or five men.

Saint Thomas’ disquisition on the sins which arise in the course of exchange is rather wooden and slightly pedantic, and it is very difficult to put an exact interpretation on what he is getting at at different times. From time to time, if you read the extracts in the Summa, he seems to be talking about isolated exchange, and this point is taken up by Ashley among the apologists for the view which de Roover poses, and of course isolated exchange does raise moral problems of quite a different order from a more organised social exchange.

17–18]. You all know the fable of Midas to whom the gods promised the fulfilment of whatever he asked for, and he asked that he should have the gift of turning anything into gold. And having received that gift he starved to death. He 22 • L E C T U R E 2 • goes on to say that “Men seek after a better notion of wealth and of the art of making money than the mere acquisition of coin, and they are right. , p. 18]. It is alright if you use money in order to procure the things that you need in the management of the household.

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A History of Economic Thought by Lionel Robbins


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